Monday, April 21, 2014

Before I get into last night's game and then a more thorough view of the team to date, I was looking through this site and down the right side of the page.  I was looking at my archive of posts and noticed that if I were a ball player the trend would be that peaked in 2010.  My posts started low in 08 and then increased to 29 in 09 until my peak of 2010 where I had 156 and then down hill to 111, 91 and only 40 last year. The way this year started and I am in the process of moving (only around the corner), I may need to work to get to 40...hopefully I can have a bounce back year!

Last night's game (Sunday):  Nuno did a nice job stepping in and mixing things up and seemed more comfortable starting than in relief where he might not "pitch" as much as throw strikes.  His stuff is not great, but yesterday he did the job for us.  In a 1-0 game I was surprised Girardi took Phelps out after only 1.1 innings and he had just struck out Myers to lead off the inning?   He wanted Thornton to face a lefty (Loney),  but when your starter is out after 5 you need to get some length out of someone who is looking decent.  Unless it is a key situation you should not be matching up so much in a tight game with 8 more outs to go; because it could be a lot more outs and in this case it was as it went into extra innings.

Speaking the obvious, our defense in the infield is pretty bad.  The one guy you expected to be your best, Tex, has been bad with 3 errors in limited time.  Even Dean Anna, who has been very good defensively blew one yesterday.  Roberts, who has been awful at the plate and weak defensively, had a poor call error against him as he clearly caught the ball on the attempted DP and then moved the ball toward his throwing hand and lost the ball in the exchange.  I am not sure why Girardi didn't review it as I thought it was clear?  It ended up costing us as we would have been out of the inning with no damage, but instead they tied the score.

Staying on defense; Jeter's lack of range has been extremely evident all year as many times I was very surprised he didn't get to a ball.  In this same 7th inning a rocket was hit to his right (in the hole) and Jeter was only able to dive similar to what a 3rd baseman would do on a rocket shot, but if Jeter could have taken a half or a full step he would have made the play.  I looked at the play in slow mo and other player did take a step; the reaction is just not there for Jeter.

I am glad to see Girardi not be afraid of taking Jeter out and in this game he took Jeter out after a leadoff single in the 11th to use Ichiro as a pinch runner.  It didn't work as Ichiro got thrown out and then Anna ended up batting in a key spot (not the way you would draw it up), but Anna did come through with the key AB in the game working a walk in a good 8 pitch AB where Anna was down 1-2 before working the count back and fouling off pitches before he held up on a breaking ball away.  This forced in the go ahead run after Maddon intentionally walked Ellsbury to load up the bases.  Maddon is not afraid to go the unorthodox way and I think he is an excellent manager.  I think he turned the game around in this series when the Yanks were up 4-0 and had a threat going when Jeter stepped to the plate in the 4th inning.  He decided to make a move early because this was the one opportunity to try and stop the bleeding and keep the game in check.  He yanked his pitcher early and brought in a righty to face Jeter...he got Jeter out and then Tampa came back and ended up blowing us out.  That was a key point in the game and Maddon knew it.

Two quick things and I will go through the players later tonight.  I hope Nova will be fine.  His stuff is good, but he just needs to get it under control as he hung far too many pitches, but give Tampa credit as they took advantage when he made a mistake.  I am very interested to see Pineda pitch again.  His first game I commented on him throwing a consistent 93 and getting up to 95.  This last outing he started about the same and then the rest of the game he was at 90.  I am not sure if anyone else said anything as he was very effective, but it was clear his velocity dropped a lot.  he was getting a lot of movement and that is probably better, but still showing the 93+ MPH makes the other pitches that much better.  He has done a great job of throwing strikes, walking only 3 batters in 18 innings.  I am interested to see how his velocity is though...it is possible the cold weather does impact this, but when he started at one speed and then it changed a lot I have concerns.  Like I said though, he can still be effective changing speeds, having good movement and hitting spots without walking many guys; and he has done that so far.

Hey, we are in 1st place!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I watched game 5 and I thought Pineda looked pretty good.  His slider was clearly very good and his fastball was a consistent 93, but my hope is that fastball becomes a consistent 94+.  I liked that he is not walking many batters.

One item I wanted to discuss in the earlier games was when McCann got hit on a foul tip off his hand. I have had an issue about this for some time and after Cervelli went out last year (much after I already complained about a bunch of times) you would think the Yanks would be all over this?  Well McCann still was leaving his hand out in the open in that game.  However, since then he seems to be hiding it a lot more and that is a good thing.  It will not impact anything as you can take the hand out if you need to if a guy is running or even take chances in times like that, but with nobody on you surely can hide your bare hand...Hopefully we will see all the catchers do this.

In the 3rd inning there was a play at the plate and Cervelli was called out when the catcher was blocking home plate without the ball. As it turned out the umps reviewed the play and upheld the call.  Kay thinks it will be a big issue but I think it is the right thing that they are trying to do.  Of course, being an ex catcher I have a bias, but I never understood how a runner could just plow a catcher over even if the catcher was giving him the plate.  I once got hit by a linebacker running full speed and he came up with forearm to my lip and I literally went flying a good 5 feet (explains a lot).  They also were saying the catcher had to go get the ball and that is why he drifted to block the plate.  I do not agree with that at all, he didn't have to drift, he did what catchers always had done which was position himself to catch the ball and block the plate.  He could have just drifted over in front of the plate instead of drifting back and over to block the plate?  I have no idea how Kay harped on the wrong thing?  Of course, the other part that Singleton did mention was that I thought Cervelli was simply touching the plate before he was tagged and I don't know hwy Girardi didn't challenge that as he was safe.

the Yankees offense was just baffled by the knuckle baller today.  I skimmed a lot of the AB's so I do not have enough opinion on the hitting strategy today, but it clearly didn't work.  Without Tex the lineup is toothless.  They will need to win with pitching because their IF defense is not strong.  In fact, the first AB of the game Melky grounded a routine ball to Jeter who stayed back on the ball and then didn't have the arm strength to throw Melky out and bounced the throw and Melky just barely beat it out.  It was a terrible play by Jeter and I don't know how Melky got a hit when the fielder stayed back on the ball and then threw in the dirt even though it was picked.  It was an error and a play that should be made at least 90% of the time.

BTW, look at the previous blog regarding the first 4 games

Hello Yankee fans; yes I am still doing this! 

Let me get right to some predictions. 

I get the feeling CC will struggle opening day followed by a decent performance by Kuroda who will surprisingly have Mark Teixeira (our only good infield defender) fail him as Tex will fail the other pitchers as well, in the first few games.  The Yanks will lose the first two games before rebounding to equal their record after 4

Seriously, my comments through the 1st four games…This was written BEFORE game 5

I was glad to see the Yankees keep Dean Anna and Solarte for a few reasons.   I had written this about Anna in December, “may platoon with lefty Dean Anna (27) who is a guy the Yanks picked up as part of a trade with SD who couldn’t keep him on their 40 man roster.  This is a deal that could be an excellent one.  He had very good stats in the minors last year (.929 OPS against righties but in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League), however, he has been a career minor leaguer.  I have no idea about his defense, but this deal is one that appears to be a good one.”  He is a guy who gives us flexibility and I did like that he played SS in game 4 so he can support the infield in many places.  If he can give us an 800+ OPS against righties I think he will be playing 2nd base a lot for us.  Anna, seems to have a good eye at the plate and I like high OBP guys.  Solarte was hot in the minors and I would rather give him a shot than Nunez who, as you know, I was never a fan of his defense.  It is early but Solarte has been our best player so far so let’s ride it out!

Game 1:  As I wrote earlier, CC didn’t look any different than last year as his command is not where it needs to be.  He needs to be spotting his pitches far better.  We were sleep walking at the bat most of that game. There was very poor defense as well.  McCann threw one away, but the ump was in the way.  tex was bad as well.

Game 2:  Kuroda did look pretty good but our defense didn’t help again and our bats were pretty silent again.  Kuroda won’t pitch to the same ERA as last year but he will be good; in fact, I am very excited about our starters and want to watch Pineda pitch because if he pitches well our starting staff is as good as almost anyone’s; CC may be our weakest pitcher.  I am very hopeful about Pineda and was one of teh few people in favor of the trade to get him and trade away Montero.

Game 3: Nova’s stuff looked good, but he had poor command with 5 walks (4 too many), but got through with the help of double plays.  We got just enough hitting to take our first game of the year.  Solarte did the heavy lifting for us and Robertson did his job.  Probably the most popular question I received in the off season was about Robertson and how he would do.  I don’t expect him to be Rivera, but his stuff is good enough where he shouldn’t be an issue.  He will blow 3-6 saves which is in line; hopefully it is close to the lower end. I am more worried about our infield defense and now Tex being out as he is important to our power of the team.   I do hate that Tex refuses to go the other way with the shift, even if it is to lay down a bunt.  I find the arrogance/stubbornness to be self-defeating.

Game 4:  I liked what I saw from Tanaka.  I was very interested in watching him and I liked that he was consistently at 93, and showed a good slider and a solid splitter and very good control.  I love the fact he doesn’t walk many batters (the same reason why I like high OBP guys on the offensive side).  It was a little uncomfortable to see the first batter of his Yankee career go deep on him, but it was a hanging split and Melky jumped on it.  The next inning Tex blew it by not taking the out at 1st, but after that Tanaka was sharp and honestly could have easily pitched the 8th inning as he had retired the last 12 batters he faced.  He had thrown 97 pitches, but he was in complete control and he is used to throwing complete games.  It was game 1 but I would have let him go until a batter got on.  Ellsbury and Solarte had great games and Robertson did his job; 2 for 2, even if this one was not a save.  I have to say that Girardi really ticked me off.  Why in the world would he leave Betances in to start the 9th just because we scored another run to make it a 4 run lead and not a save situation?  I mean it is absurd that he manages differently because of the save rule.  I honestly believe he would manage the 9th inning differently if they changed the save rule; which makes no sense to me.  Tex commits 3 mistakes in 4 games (I think he only got 2 errors as the throw home was a fielder’s choice), and now pulls his hammy again.  This really stinks as he needs to be at least solid for us.  If he is out for a long time, I wonder if we can try Soriano over there?  They did move Kelly Johnson to 1st and he made a nice diving stop.  Without Tex our offense may be very weak...of course that assumed Tex would be hitting well.

One other comment was when Ichiro was up against a touch lefty, with a runner on 3rd and one out with the score 5-3 in the 7th inning, it was a perfect opportunity to squeeze bunt.  Ichiro is not a good sac fly guy, he is also a good bunter so why not do it then?  Girardi refuses to EVER try a squeeze; I honestly don’t believe he has tried it yet, if anyone can refute that please do.  I would bet it didn’t happen more than once in his managerial career with us. 

Instant replay was very helpful for us as changing the call at first base allowed us to get 2 runs we would not have had.  I like it in baseball as the game is not bound by time like other sports.  Also, momentum is not as big a deal as other sports as well.

I will update the Pineda game after I watch it

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12-18-13


 

Since Cano left the Yankees appear to be trying to “save face.”  Unfortunately, they have continued to react and not set out the plan of attack that they wanted. 

Beltran has been good the last few years (and his career).  He played the OF the last two years and played a lot of games (over 600 plate appearances each year with a combined OPS of .837).  Beltran will be 37 in April so the Yanks have gone old again, but he can play some DH to keep him fresh.  I would not have been in favor of spending this money on Beltran, but once Cano was gone it is not a bad move; I just think we are spending the money that could have gone to Cano (remember, my issue is not that I would have wanted to pay Cano what Seattle did…in fact I heard Cano would have taken 5 mil or so less to stay here and I would not have done that either – my issue was that we should have locked Cano up before he became a free agent and I am 100% sure we could have gotten him for MUCH less.  Remember that there were some slumps a year or so ago when I said they should speak to him now and sign him when he was struggling).  Beltran is the type of hitter who can hit good pitching (not a phrase I use often) and I only bring that up because mistake hitters feed off poor pitching and come playoff time they usually see less poor pitches to hit.  Please keep in mind this is not saying he is clutch (I have discussed this numerous times), I am just saying he is a hitter that is not overpowered by fastballs or has to cheat too much for plate coverage.  Of course, as he ages his skills are eroding.  But 45 mil for 3 years is more than Pedroia is getting (I won’t keep harping on this) and we are getting him at 37, 38 and 39 years of age.  He will help us but at 15 mil a year for 3 years, I would want more help.  It also highlights what I said last year; the wasted money on Ichiro (6.5 mil) and Wells (2.4 mil).  Ichiro is an OK backup OF’r, but at 6.5 mil I would want more…or at least a specialist at something.  His defense is still above average, but clearly not great. 

So my message has been about spending the money wisely.  So again, let me give some comparisons.  The O’s signed Grant Balfour to a 2 year 15 mil dollar deal.   Because of the bad deals we made last year we have 8.9 mil a year for Wells and Ichiro…would you rather have wells and Ichiro or a solid closer who has had around a 2.45 ERA the last 4 years and the last 2 years as a closer has saved 92% of his games?  I am not such a huge fan of Balfour (I believe we actually hit him), but my point is who would you rather have?  The answer is pretty clear.

The Yanks just signed Matt Thornton (2 years at 3.5 per year) and Brian Roberts (1 year at 2 mil).  These are pretty low level signings (which can add up), but these will help us.  Thornton used to be very good, but he still is effective and is kind of like Logan, although not as good overall (Boone had his best year last year), but a little better against lefties.  Boone is 5 or so year’s younger but for 2 years the signing is fine.  Boone got a 3 year deal that averages 5.5 a year as a comp.   All the money is a bit crazy so the comps keep it in perspective (for at least me).   Roberts is a good one year deal because he can hit lefties pretty well (.800 OPS) and he may platoon with lefty Dean Anna (27) who is a guy the Yanks picked up as part of a trade with SD who couldn’t keep him on their 40 man roster.  This is a deal that could be an excellent one.  He had very good stats in the minors last year (.929 OPS against righties but in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League), but has been a career minor leaguer.  I have no idea about his defense, but this deal is one that appears to be a good one.

While on 2nd base, I was not in favor of the Gardner for Brandon Phillips trade straight up.  Phillips is a stellar defender which I like, but his offense is suspect (OPS of .706 last year but a career .749).  He is 32 and is signed for a reasonable 12.5 mil a year for the next 4).  It would not have been a bad deal considering what has already been done (I think the Yankee would have been better off not signing Ellsbury to such a long deal and try to lock up Gardner before he is a free agent), but I was fine holding Gardner as insurance for Ellsbury getting injured.  Basically, we decided to get Beltran and not get Phillips because we didn’t have to give up a player to get Beltran.

The Yanks are going for the Japanese pitcher Tanaka…it makes sense if he is as good as people say he is.   Hopefully Pineda is back (critical for us), but Tanaka would help a lot as CC performed like a 5th starter last year.  Hopefully it was an aberration year, but the loss of velocity is a huge concern.  If his velocity were the same and he just got hammered for a bad year I would feel much better.  But, honestly, last year, he simply had mediocre stuff. 

One final note as an ex catcher I must speak to…and that is the new rules they want to implement regarding collisions.  I have written a few times over the years wondering why catchers are allowed to get run over.  I am glad they are looking at it (it takes a star to get hurt before they wake up), but I think the rules should just be the same for all bases.  That is, no defender can block the path of a runner going into any base.  They must be allowed to slide into a base safely, you can only block the path with the ball either in the hand or in the glove.  This solves the issue.  Catchers must leave the back part of the plate for a runner as an example.  The next logical discussion will be runners breaking up DP’s and how they can’t interfere with fielders unless a slide into the base and slightly over base.  With instant replay becoming a larger part of baseball, the “area” play where the SS or 2nd baseman leave the base a little early should be enforced.

Tanaka next

Friday, December 6, 2013

The new signings!


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I know it has been awhile, but …let’s get at it!
I hate the Ellsbury signing!  The Yankees have blown it!  They simply don’t understand what value means and they waste so much money and then still want to get under 189?   I do understand the "want" to get under $189 BTW.

The Ellsbury contract is basically a 7 year deal at 153 mil (21.86/year because of 5 mil buyout) or 8 years at $169 mil ($21.13/yr).  This allows us to get Ellsbury for 16 mil the last year if the Yanks want to.
I think they were smart to hold the dollar amount on Cano to 25 mil a year for 7 years.  I would have held at 6 years because I am not so sure who is giving out that type of coin, but I am ok 7 because he is your main guy and making him a Yankee for life has some value.  He has a chance to go down as the greatest 2nd baseman of all time…and will be up there.  BUT, how do you tell a proven elite player, that is yours, that you don’t want to go more than 25 and then you go give 22 mil a year for Jacoby Ellsbury?  WHAT?   JE is a very good player; in fact he is a slightly rich man’s version of Gardner who I think is very valuable, but 22 mil and at 7 years?  NO WAY!  Who was going to give him even close to that amount?  Who were the Yanks bidding against?  This is the same stupidity they did with ARod when they gave the 3 final years when they didn’t need to; 7 years would have gotten it done.  In this case 5 at 100 seemed more than enough to get it done; the Yanks just needed to be patient. 

Now how do you go back to Cano and say you are only worth 3 mil more than a guy who has had some injuries and his game is predicated on speed?  HORRIBLE decision and a much bigger risk than Cano.  Now the Yanks will sign Kelly Johnson for 3-4 mil so they chose Ellsbury and Johnson instead of Cano?  Johnson is an OK guy but not a difference maker.  Again, Ellsbury is a very good player, but his speed will be diminished 5 years from now and you have an albatross contract once again at the end.   I hope we can sign Cano, but I think this contract makes it highly unlikely and if nothing else hurts your bargaining situation.

Let me put into perspective why Boston just won the WS and we are acting like a desperate franchise.   Boston signed Pedrioa to a 6 year extension that starts in 2016 for a whopping $14.2 mil a year.  Yeah, 14.2 mil a year.   Ellsbury is a pretty similar worth to Pedroia when Jacoby is healthy.   Cano is a little better than Pedroia.  The Yanks should have kept Cano (and they would have), I mean would he really go to Seattle for a few more mil a year…no way, he wants to win and I would be surprised Seattle would give him some 8 year deal worth much more than the yanks anyway. 

Ellsbury had a career year in 2011 where he was truly elite.  He had a .928 OPS to go along with his speed.  He hit 32 HR’s that year but never hit more than 9 before or after (kind of strange).  He had injured years in 2010 and 2012 that were bad, but overall his career numbers show an OPS of .789 with adjusting for his SB’s he gets another 50 points for SB’s which puts him at an OPS of .840.   (this is pretty similar to what he did last year so that is a good expectation.  He is fast but not an elite defender, perhaps similar to Gardner in CF but probably slightly worse. (Gardner played elite in LF and was starting to play really well in CF)

The Yanks also signed McCann who is another huge risk.  Nothing is guaranteed, but the Yanks just shot their money on two risks.   Ellsbury is a low to mid .800 OPS guy and a good defender who has to stay healthy and McCann is a guy who is showing signs of slowing down from catching a lot.  I love offensive catchers and if he can come back to be a good hitter the risk will pay off, but again it is a risk because in 2012 he had the least amount of AB’s he has had since his rookie year to only have even less in 2013.  His career OPS is .823 (which is really good for a catcher), but his last 2 years were .698 and .796 respectively.  Now, we could look at all of this and say that the .698 was an aberration because it was only one bad year.  However, one thing really concerns me, and it is not that he was 0-13 in the playoffs last year.  It is that the 2nd half of last year his OPS was .680 and this is showing a little bit of breakdown over the past 2 years.  He also had an OPS of .858 at home and .740 on the road.  He is a big pull hitter so the short porch can help, but we better make sure we can offset the lefties out of the pen because most teams have 2-3 lefties in the pen (only we don’t) and in key AB’s lefties will be used.  His career OPS is just over 100 points higher against righties (.857-.744).

All in all, I think the Yanks messed up and far overpaid for Ellsbury.  The McCann contract was a lot as well, but our catching situation was terrible and now while risky should be at least average and could be very good.  17 mil was on the higher side, but I do think that was around where they needed to be to sign him.   I don’t love the signing but at least it makes some sense.  Ellsbury was just as risky but committed more money and overpaid for the risk…bad decision.

Now, let’s hope we get lucky with these…of course it could work out for a few years but I bet the last 2 years will probably going to be ugly.

Moving forward, I want to discuss some of the thoughts I had regarding the moves we made last year.  My main issues with the Wells and Ichiro signings had to do with the payments for the years but just as important; the road block for young guys to come up and contribute.  It is pathetic that in a year like last year we once again didn’t develop anyone!  This is a critical point as you never get a chance to see if the young talent can contribute and thus contribute cheaply.  It is fine if the older and costlier players are producing, but we didn’t get much, nor should have we expected much.  The big picture showed:

Ichiro – .660 ops and good defense for 6.5 mil for 2 years

Wells - .631 OPS for 11.5 mil (Yanks cost)  and 2.4 this year.  We are giving Wells 2.4 mil and my issue is that if you take both their salaries this year, for 9 mil. you could get a good player that can help.  Shoot, Pedroia was only 14 mil so if we don’t spend 5 mil on mediocre players a few more times you get a star.  Like I have said over and over on this blog, the yanks should go spend the money on the truly elite players and then fill in with young rookies/inexpensive people and then when making a run you see what is needed and you get a “Soriano” as needed.  BTW, Soriano costs us 5 mil this year as the Cubs pay 13 mil of his 18 mil this year.  Even if Soriano was not as hot as he was for us and he gave us his career numbers (.825 OPS) that makes more sense to fill in as needed.  I am not in love with his type of offense (not working walks and swinging at everything, but at least he can be productive.

Just going back to Ichiro…and the signing for 6.5 million a year for 2 years.  Last year I used the example of Chris Dickerson as someone we could have had for league minimum (400k) and he would do what Ichiro did.  Ichiro ended up with an adjusted OPS of .660 when you take SB’s into account.  Dickerson who didn’t get many AB’s finished with an OPS of .666 so they were pretty darn similar.  Of course, part of my argument was that a younger player (even younger than Dickerson) who is given a shot to play all the time could get better (in truth, they could get worse as well as they could get exposed as well).  The other part is what you could do with the 6 mil in savings as noted above?

Needless to say I am disappointed because I don’t think we get Cano now because of the Ellsbury signing.  If he can stay healthy he will help us, but I think we will at best get our monies worth if all goes perfectly and the odds are we will have yet again overspent needlessly.

Friday, September 13, 2013

9-12-13

We won and that is all that matters but this win didn’t gain too much for us as everyone who played won except of course Baltimore.  Texas and KC were idle.  It was huge to come back and win the last 3 games against Baltimore but Gardner being hurt is an issue as he is probably our 3rd most important position player (Behind Cano and ARod).  He had a twinge in his oblique and that can be an issue in baseball (has sidelined Joba and Nunez for over a month).  Hopefully they can shoot him up and keep him in the game…even if just a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Some notes:


  • I was extremely pleased that Girardi recognized the righty lefty advantage that was discussed here and had the short leash on Hughes and I thought he took him out at the perfect time.  I also thought he did a good job with Huff as well.  Good job to change your “way” Girardi!
  • Both Huff and Hughes did their jobs allowing 2 runs in 6 innings of work (no walks).  Hughes was missing his spots like crazy, but he did have a little pop in his fastball.  Huff had a good changeup, which he used well
  • Unfortunately, Robertson was awful.  He was grooving fastballs with little movement and for some reason Stewart was not calling for breaking balls?  If you remember I mentioned Valencia being a first pitch swinger and a good fastball hitter.  Of course, Stewart called for a fastball and Robertson grooved it for a 3 run tying HR.  It was a brutal blow and it could have possibly been avoided if Stewart and Roberston used his good curve ball.  Later on they used the curve and got out of the inning. 
  • It was good to see our new SS (Ryan) contribute with the leadoff hit in the 9th.  After Baltimore messed up the sac attempt, Granderson bunted and they threw a wild pitch Baltimore walked Arod setting up 1st and 3rd with one out and Soriano grounded into what could have been a huge DP with a 2-0 count on him.  I thought he would beat it out but he didn't get down the line well.  Speaking of running, ARod is playing with a bad leg as you saw him literally jog to 3rd on a double. 
  • Stewart throws great but he had a bad game calling pitches and receiving/blocking last night.
  • The Genius Maker spotted his pitches pretty well and retired 3 straight batters (in his 3rd straight game of work) and picked up the win!  I was actually disappointed he picked up the win as I wanted him to get the save but the official scorer felt Robertson didn’t deserve the win pitching so poorly.  C’mon, throw Rivera another save please???  After the DP by Soriano I was concerned but Mo came through.
  • Now 3 in Boston before we get a day off and go to Toronto

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Somehow, only one out

Wow, one out!  The last 2 games against Baltimore were huge and tonight is no different.  Many of the teams are playing each other and control their own destiny down the stretch so any good wining streak can put any team in great shape.  Tonight’s game is very big and of course the Tampa games are as well…that being said, every game is big as the standings flip flop quickly as bunched up as they are.  Tampa has won only 4 of their last 20 or so and Texas is 2-8 in their last 10 so they are opening the door for us...and others.

The Yanks have shown very good comeback ability of late and it has been fueled mostly by the HR.  Last night was no different as Granderson closed a 3-1 gap to 3-2, then ARod tied up with a nice opposite field HR in the 6th and then in the top of the 9th Cano gave the Yankees the lead.  While the HR’s were key the Yanks did play some small ball.  Gardner got the Yanks started by walking, stealing 2nd, and then he moved to 3rd on an ARod ground ball and scored on a Cano GB.  Then the huge insurance run in the 9th occurred after Granderson tripled on a ball that was somewhat misplayed by Adam Jones.  Reynolds struck out and against the lefty, Girardi had to leave Overbay in their because you wanted to have your best defensive player in the field with a lead  and Lyle delivered with a ground ball infield single with 2 outs.  Obviously with Overbay running the ball had to be placed well and he definitely beat the throw but it was a long play…and a crucial one, especially in such a small park.

Rivera let up another run with 2 outs (seems to be struggling closing some of these out), but some credit needed to go to the Baltimore hitters, specifically Roberts, but also McClouth (who drove an outside pitch to deep center that would have been caught but Gardner was correctly positioned very shallow to give maximum chance for an out).  The Roberts AB was interesting as Rivera worked both sides of the plate but Roberts seemed to protect both sides well.  Rivera could get strikes on Roberts buy coming inside and having him pull them foul, but finishing him off was the hard part.  After a discussion, Stewart and Mo decided to come up and in on Roberts and Rivera nailed the glove perfectly, but Roberts got on top of the pitch and hit a single to RF to cut the lead to one.  Rivera did close it out by striking out Machado on a high inside cutter.  The Genius Maker also got a possible break on a call to Machado but it was close…might have been low but it crossed the plate.

Some other notes:

  • I said this last year and again this year (not sure if I said it in the blog this year), but I like ARod in the 2 hole.  He can hit to all fields, can take pitches to allow Gardner to steal and ARod gets on base (.383 OBP tied for team lead with Cano).  In fact ARod’s OPS is .896 and Cano’s is .899 to easily lead the team (Soriano 3rd with an .827…low because of his bad .298 OBP).
  • Gardner does not seem to be running as well as usual.  In his SB in the 1st, he got a decent jump and the pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt and while the throw was very quick, strong and accurate, usually on a breaking ball Gardner is easily safe and he was barely safe.  He used to get weak jumps and beat throws.
  • Stewart has not been calling great games lately IMO (the pitchers sometimes shake him off and have something to do with it as well) and we know he is not a good hitter, but he can throw with the best of them.  His last 3-4 throws have been excellent.  Great release, good strength on the throws as well and pretty good accuracy.  Yesterday he made another great throw.  That is clearly his strength.
  • I think shutting Jeter down will help the team.  His defense has been below average before the injury and with the injury he was as much a liability defensively as Nunez.  Further, Jeter was swinging awful and Girardi kept putting him up in the 2 hole and it was killing us.  His .190 BA and .542 OPS speak volumes.  I said this before and I still think it is true, Jeter should be playing 3rd base next year as he simply is not good enough to play SS and the Yanks are going to need to have that conversation with him. ARod could DH and play some 3rd base and or 1st.  Jeter is 39 and in June next year he will be 40…no shame in getting off of SS.
  • I like the pickup up of Brendan Ryan.  The Yanks needed a good fielding SS and you can see the range and the quicker hands and crisp arm he has.  He did miss a play he could have gotten in the hole, but the ball was hit very hard and you can see a guy who can play some very good SS and the Yanks need that desperately.  He can’t hit well, but I think you will see him start and get pinch hit for if needed, or we play Nunez and bring him in with a lead.  I
  • It is a shame, but the same things written here about Nunez still hold true, he simply is not good defensively and while he has been swinging better of late, his overall stick does not come close to making up for his defensive shortcomings.  For the year Nunez has an OPS of .666…but for the month of September (27 AB’s he is has an OPS of .935.  He should be used as a pinch runner and a pinch hitter.
  • Switching to the Girardi/Showalter spat…Girardi was foolish…stealing signs is not something to get mad at unless the batter is trying to look into the catchers signs when he is up.  Girardi should have shut up and not made an issue of it and instead change his signs.  Barking at the 3rd base coach was not his place IMO.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

9-5 and 9-6 game

Thursday night.  

It was a great comeback and heartbreaking to see Mo blow the save with 2 outs and 2 strikes on the batter, but a few things went wrong.  1) After the single, Boston pinch runs with their blazing guy.  We do nothing but throw our pitch???  No throw over, no pitch out, we just let him run and while I think Romine gives us the best chance to win IMO, he does not throw as well as Stewart (who made an outstanding throw the other day that Cano whiffed on).   Romine threw the ball into the dirt and Jeter couldn’t handle it and the runner went to 3rd.  Then Rivera allowed the tying single.  It really let the win out of our sails, but the game was still tied. 

We still had a chance in the bottom of the 9th as Soriano walked, but got picked off however he beat the throw to 2nd when the first baseman dropped the ball.  After that break Soriano got picked off trying to steal 3rd to erase himself.  At the time, Michael Kay said that it was inexcusable to get picked off there because he was already in scoring position.  He was not fully correct as stealing 3rd with one out is a good idea if you can catch the other team napping.  However, we were running all game (very aggressively) and after just getting picked off of first, they were not sleeping at this point, in fact they were more aware than normal.  THIS is why it was the wrong time to go. 

In the 10th we had a chance to throw the runner out at home, but Ichiro did his extra hop and then didn’t reach home.  It was not a good throw, especially after taking an extra hop to get it home.  Even after the hop if he made the throw home he would have been out, but he didn’t.  That throw should have been made and it cost us.  He didn’t take as long as he does sometimes, but he still took the extra hop which made it a tough play for Romine who might have been able to come up and catch it on the fly and then dive to the play or taken the chance on the in between hop and stayed back…it was tough play on a catcher.   

Friday Night

8-3 lead going to the top of the 6th on some good hitting.  However, I am so tired of us making outs on the base paths.  Wells easily scored on a single to RF as the OF’r backed up to field the ball and Nunez who was on first gets easily thrown out at 3rd (to the point Nunez stopped and said I give up) when the ball was cut off.  We do this all the time (I know e have done this at least 10 times this year) and it is not necessary.  Believe me; if the other team thinks they can throw the guy out at home, they won’t cut the ball off.  You think, it is ok because we are up (I think it was 6-3 at the time), but instead of 2 guys on and 2 outs the inning is over.  You can’t give up opportunities like that

Moving to the possible season ending 7th/8th inning where we allowed 9 runs (lucky Tampa has been awful).  I am not a fan of Hughes (as you all know) but he was a little unlucky (even though he had nothing on his pitches).  The first batter hit a mildly hard line drive to Nunez that he allowed the ball to eat him up.  If he charges that, he gets it on a nice short hop fro an easy play.  Nunez simply is bad at SS and while he has improved, he has improved to bad…from atrocious.  The Hughes allowed a single up the middle.  With one out and carp coming in as a pinch hitter here is where Girardi screwed up the game.  I have no idea why he would let Hughes stay in the game here?  The guy who has been bad all year or the lefty (Logan) who has been pretty good all year?  Joe leaves Hughes in and Hughes who has no put away pitch walks the lefty Carp.  That being said, Hughes should have struck out Carp as he got a strike call earlier in the AB against Carp that was farther outside than the one he called for a ball.  Hughes did catch a break on that call, but the ump can’t keep going back and forth on calls.  Of course, Joe West was also the same guy who blew the Joba check swing call the previous night that was a huge killer for us.  Either way, this was a terrible decision by Joe to leave Hughes in there against the lefty.  Hughes than allowed an infield hit to Pedroia that should have been an out…Arod threw low to Reynolds and Reynolds, who has played very well couldn’t scoop a fairly easy scoop…even if it was ARod’s low throw to be blamed.  Now with bases loaded and 1 out Logan is summoned against big Papi.  In a great AB, Logan froze Ortiz on a curve ball on 3-2.  Now Napoli was up.  On 3-2 Napoli hit a fly ball to RF that Ichiro cruised after instead of running to the fence and tried to time his leap for a ball that was over the fence and Ichiro never really reached the fence.  He really misplayed this.  Interestingly, Girardi put Ichiro in for his defense over Wells (honestly not such a big difference there and I was surprised when I saw it) and perhaps the 2 inch taller Wells might have caught the ball?  Ironically, I heard many people say that the ball Granderson could not catch the other day would have been caught by Ichiro.  The grandy play was a lot harder than this one as the ball was hit much harder and required a lot of speed to get to the spot.    Either way, we made neither play and we are on life support.

The game was still tied after the grand slam, but the Yanks were done.  Claiborne didn’t pitch well and Joba continued that poor pitching to lose 12-8.


BTW, the Boston players all look horrendous with those beards…I actually am glad we can’t grow beards because that is embarrassing (even if they are a better team than us). 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

9-4-13

Tuesday’s Game

Wells made a series of good base running plays That allowed him to score a run on a great double steal.  The first was by running hard out of the box on a bloop hit he allowed himself to be in a position to get to 2nd on the bobbled ball.  He ran hard around first, then paused momentarily before he saw the kicked ball and then took off toward 2nd and made it safely.  If he jogs out of the box he can’t do that or would try and be thrown out (the way Soriano did a few weeks ago).  Then on a ball his to 3rd, he slightly shielded the fielder from getting a clean play on the ball resulting in an error.  He finally scored a run by timing his leave on the double steal perfectly! 

This game was a classic example of how important it is to work the count all game long and why I am always bringing up the guys who swing so early in the count consistently and help the pitcher as well swinging at balls.  ARod has been a classic example since he came back into the lineup as someone seeing a lot of pitches and making the pitcher work.  On Tuesday ARod saw 22 pitches by himself and as a comp Jeter and Cano each saw 11.  mark Reynolds who had a bad day at the plate at least saw 20 pitches.  This was critical because we were able to get Sale out of the game just in time to do damage on the bullpen.  I don’t think people realize the importance of this as getting to the weaker middle relief or just getting a really good starter out is a huge part of the game.  It is not a coincidence we put up 4 hits against only 2 outs when Sale was taken out of the 8th inning (and scored 5 runs).  Rivera had good movement and control in closing the game out for his league record tying 9th 40th save season (tied with Hoffman who is the only player even in a discussion about the top closer ever).


Wednesday’s Game

I thought CC looked bad all game.  After 7 innings, we were up 6-1, I said to my brother CC is lucky he is facing a team not swinging the bats well because he couldn’t hit any spots, had very little command and his stuff was weak.  He was very lucky to only have allowed one run in 7 innings and Girardi made the mistake of even letting him start the 8th.  Two righties were leading off the inning and he should have either let a righty out of the pen start against them or turned it right to Robertson at that point.  A manager needs to see what is really going on and CC’s over results were good, but he was anything but sharp as he had walked 4 batters, he was throwing 91 almost all night, his curve was loopy and none of his pitches were controlled well.  If Chicago didn’t swing at a ton of balls, CC would have been knocked out.  CC was at 100 pitches and should have been out of the game!  As it turned out, it was almost disastrous, because Robertson was bad allowing 4 straight batters to get on…but all was saved because of the Genius Maker…who not only saved the game but saved Girardi from a lot of 2nd guessing…and thus earned his name The Genius Maker tonight with his first 4 out save since 2011.   This was a very tough save as well.  The batter he struck out to end the 8th inning was one of the best pitches you will ever see.  3-2 count after throwing mostly inside and he paints the outer lower corner for a perfect strike.  It was so good that his cutter caught the back corner of the plate just barely skimming it from the OHD view.  Usually slightly off the plate they give that call so this was without question a strike as it was at the knee caps.  Vintage Mo!

BTW, I don’t give much hope Mo will return next year.  I think he wants to go out pitching well and the season was already a success for him so I think he goes out the best ever and doesn’t tarnish anything.

Tampa won and Oakland won so we didn’t pick up any ground, although because Oakland won, Texas is now tied with them and they are only a half game up on Tampa so it is possible one of them could be caught as well.  Boston scored 20 runs last night so hopefully they used up their runs…although it usually doesn’t work that way.

I have the wild card standing on the right side of this sheet.  I view our schedule like this:
Take 4 of 7 from Boston
Take 3 of 4 from Baltimore
Take 7 of 9 from Toronto (3- Batista is out), Houston (3) and SF (3)
Take 2 of 3 from Tampa (critical)
This gives us 16 wins and 7 losses in the remaining games and gives us 91 wins.  I think this gets us in.  of course it depends on what the others do, but if we do the above the only way we won't win is if Tampa plays really well outside of our games and both Texas and Oakland both need to play pretty well.  Again, if we do the above we have an excellent chance.  Then again, doing the above is clearly less likely than likely, but at least we have something to root for.  Based on how our pitching is going lately I am not confident we can do the above, however, other teams are not that strong either...


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

9-2-13

Chicago’s defense is awful. Yes, you read this blog for such type of great analysis...

Cano’s play on the popup over his shoulder was sick, but the immediate turn and throw made it Willie Mays like.  With his lack of hustle running out balls can be frustrating, he is such a good player.

Romine continues to show that he should be the starter and Stewart should be the backup.  His calling of the game has been very good of late.  Even when catching Mo, he moved back and forth at the right times.  I am curious to keep watching if that continues.  Obviously he has been swinging a pretty hot bat since the All Star Break.  In 47 AB’s his OPS is .929!  (.340/.418/.511)    Romine needs to play a lot more while he is hot and Girardi has only started him 2 of the last 6 games.  Romine had the game breaking hit yesterday and in the month of August (33 AB’s) he is hitting .400.  His defense is not as good as Stewart, but Romine is fine defensively and Stewart has not been playing his best (he may be tiring out as well because he is not used to playing this much (92 games is almost 40% more than any full year he has had).

Last year in the playoffs I mentioned a strategy that I am surprised is not used more against heavy platoon teams; it is to start a pitcher and let him go until the first sign of any trouble (that could be one guy on or maybe 2) and then switch to a pitcher of the other hand and either make the other team switch over and lose a lot of depth the rest of the game or enjoy good matchups.  In last night’s game this happened.  Girardi probably didn’t plan it but the rain delay allowed it to happen and it worked great.  Huff has been good, but his stuff is pedestrian.  The one thing he has done is throw strikes and he did a pretty good job of spotting his pitches.  He would still scare me in a big spot though.  Either way, great job today.


BTW, the other idea I floated a few years ago was to get your specialists (LOOGY and righty specialist) to learn to play the OF (they do shag flies a lot).   Then get your specialists to rotate RF and the pitching mound in key spots late in the game.  If the opposing manager made a move just swap the guys and your matchups outweigh the negative in the field.  I think it could work better if the guys are athletes as well.  Meaning you can’t CC play the OF, but you could have a guy in shape like Robertson and some lefty specialist who is in shape do it.  I am surprised this has not happened or isn’t used more?