Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Series Pre Game 3

Just thought I would throw in a bonus blog…

The crew chief umpire said and I quote. “The objective is to get it right, we asked each other what we had seen and the replay confirmed we were right.” WHAT? How is it possible that no reporter asked a follow-up question, say something like, “what replay were you watching?” This quote actually scares me. Even Howard knew, Howard said, “did I catch it?” “Well he called him out.” Now, my point is not to criticize the poor umpiring, but how could the crew chief say that?

My only hope is that Rivera, who was “forced” to throw 22% more pitches than he has thrown during any game this year (32 was his high before this 39) because we didn’t have a lead big enough for Girardi to feel comfortable enough to mix and match for a few more outs, will not have any loss of effectiveness moving forward. It is very possible he will struggle giving us an inning tonight. My hope is that our offense, which has really struggled most of the playoffs, gets on track and gives us a large enough lead where Rivera can rest one more day.

The offense needs to put up a big day and earn their paychecks over the next two days. Blanton is scheduled to pitch on Sunday and he is a guy we should be able to knock around if we were swinging well. Philly made an interesting decision holding Lee back and it is one that I am glad they did. He has never pitched on 3 days rest, but I don’t think it is as big a deal as some people are making it out to be. I know many pitchers are creatures of habit. Lee (and most pitchers) normally rests for 2 days then has a bullpen session on the 3rd day followed by one more day of rest before the start, but why not just rest for one during the WS? One mistake I feel that Manual made was allowing lee to pitch the 9th inning with a 6-0 lead. Instead of throwing 104 pitches and leaving the game, he ended up with 122 pitches. That might have weighed into the decision and if so, was a poor one in my opinion.

I hope Girardi uses our pen correctly.

Hughes should be used against the righties from Werth down through Francisco, Feliz and Ruiz. The worst matchup is Hughes against Howard (no righty should be brought in to face him but Hughes being worse against lefties exacerbates this problem). In general, Hughes should not pitch to the top of the order (Rollins, Victorino and Utley) which is where Girardi used him last time.

Joba is more balanced so if you had to go to Hughes or Joba against the top of the order, I would go with Joba. However, if Robertson was available he is your best choice to face the top of the order as he is better against lefties. Remember Utley is better against lefties so if Robertson is looking very sharp you may want to leave him in rather than using Marte or Coke. But, when Howard comes up you always go to the lefty (unless Rivera is on the mound). One last point is that Aceves is also a little better against lefties so he is a good choice as well. I know he has struggled as well, but I would have more confidence against the top than I would for Hughes. Remember, one of the reasons I liked the Burnett matchup against this team was because of the entire team hitting lefties better except Howard and Burnett is better against lefties himself.

Hypothetical situation: and I know this will never happen, but if Rivera is in another situation where he is struggling and has thrown a lot of pitches (let’s say 35) and the last few guys have worked the bases juiced and Howard is coming up with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, I would bring in Marte to try and close it out. I only bring this up because I had just made the absolute statement in the previous paragraph "unless Rivera is on the mound."

I hope the offense shows up because for the above reasons Andy does not have a great matchup. Every game is huge, but if we look at this objectively, we SHOULD win game 4 and game 7 with CC on the mound against Blanton and whoever they start game 7. Therefore, if we win tonight we should win the series. Of course, what should happen and what does can be very different and can swing on one pitch, but I believe this game and game 6 are the swing games of the series and we will need to win one of them.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Series Post Game 2

Pre game thoughts:

I made the statement that because the Yankees screwed up down the stretch and allowed Molina to start with Burnett, I would continue to start Molina over Posada (even though I would not have let it get to that point). While I still agree with my concept, I would start Posada this game 2 because the Yankee offense is simply struggling and having Molina in the lineup won’t help (also he is a righty and Pedro is better against righties).

While the above point can be debated, I believe that the move to start Hairston is simply bad. Hairston may very well get a hit or if we roll the dice and extremely lucky maybe even a double or more, but that does jot excuse starting him. Think about this, a righty pitcher who is better against righties, pitching against a right batter (a weaker one at that) who hits lefties better. Yes he has had some success off of Pedro and yes it is a decent sample (30+ AB’s can give you some basis of knowledge), but I would like to see whether the .370 BA has any extra base hits or walks so without OPS I still say this is stupid. I would play Gardner, but I could understand wanting to get more offense because Molina will start.

Onto the game:

I will first address my pre game comments: Hairston really didn’t play too much into the game as he had no challenging plays in the field and he went 1-3 with a cheap hit and finished doing as well as I could hope. 1-3 is .333, but with no walks or extra base hits that is an OPS of .666 which is in line with what you would expect. I still say bad move, but it didn’t seem to matter…this time.

As for the Molina Posada debate, I would have to say that Molina earned his keep today. He didn’t get a hit, but he did get a walk and Burnett was very sharp all day (Huge game AJ!). Not sure Molina can take credit for that, but he can take credit for the GREAT pick off throw on a ball in the dirt. He threw right over the batter helmet so Werth didn’t even know what happened. The play sparked the Yanks and we outscored Philly 3-0 the rest of the way.

Texiera’s homer was important as he has done very little.

ARod had a bad game failing to at least knock down the hard hit ball by Stairs that put us down 1-0 after the cheap hit by Ibanez and then struggling at the plate. I did pop out of my seat after the Texiera homer as I thought ARod had hit back to back shots, but he got it off the end of the bat.

Matsui gave us the 2-1 lead (he had a very productive game at the plate)

Up 3-1 with 1st and 2nd (after Jeter messed up bunting) the umpires reared the ugly head again. That was simply a bad call and instead of bases loaded and one out the inning was over. Howard knew he didn’t catch it and the ump behind the play should not have made that call. I am glad the Yankees won, because that call could have cost us the game.

The ump behind home plate was not consistent and by the end of the game the strike zone had expanded about 6 inches on each side of plate.

So here we are up 3-1 and we enter the 8th inning and Rivera comes in for another 6 out save. There is a part of me that understands this, but I worry about what impact this has on him the rest of the series. Yes, you must win this game, but perhaps a 6 out save does not give us the best chance? I would have let Joba face Ruiz to lead off the 8th and first guy on I would have made the move. Depending on how Joba looked after getting the first out, if he looked sharp I would let him face Rollins, if he got the out but was not sharp I would have gone to Robertson until he let a runner one and then gone to Rivera. But, like I said, I understand wanting to hear Enter Sandman and of more importance, I knew we would be hearing it.

Rivera was not sharp with his control, but was able to work his way out of trouble with a DP ball that was amazingly close at 1st base. Live I thought he was out and I made the comment that I am glad he was out because Jeter was slow on his exchange. Other guys are quicker to get rid of the ball than Jeter; but it didn’t cost them. When we came back form commercial they showed a bad angle but it looked like he was safe (that was close enough though where I wouldn’t be too ticked off either way). It should make you understand the importance of the quickness around 2nd base because if he were called safe, who knows what could have happened. Either way, the genius maker came through again! Simply amazing! Unfortunately, he threw 39 pitches! That is a lot of pitches for 2 innings and 2 innings is a lot for Rivera. Think about it, if you threw 20 pitches an inning you would be at 100 after 5 innings.

If you are going to use Rivera like this then why keep Bruney? I would much rather have Guzman on the team as you won't need all those pitchers as much as you would use Guzman.

I worry about our hitting, but they better get going on Halloween because Hamels has not pitched well in his two postseason starts. The Yankee offense needs to play better. Hamels had an OPS against lefties of .708 and .765 against righties, so he is a little better against lefties. So who would you start in RF? In weighing all the options, I would turn back to Swisher and if he looks bad again and a big spot is up, I let Matsui, Hinske or Hairston pinch hit and then bring in Gardner for defense (and hopefully the pinch runner). One of the serious options I would think about also is Matsui. However, because he has not played RF and he isn’t at top speed and his arm is a left fielders arm, I think those are too many strikes against him.

Boy is Girardi lucky he has the Genius Maker!

3 more wins to the big prize!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Series Post Game 1

Our two best went at it and they came out ahead. Why?

The Yankees took strikes and swung at balls
Lee had good movement on his pitches and pitched well, but he was aided by a poor Yankee performance. Lee missed his spots a lot yesterday but was fortunately wild at times. What I mean is that sometimes he missed his spot by a lot but the ball ended up in a very good alternative spot. Compare that to when CC missed his spot to Utley on the 0-2 pitch and threw a meatball down the middle. Utley hit it a long way (not the first one). The Yankees swung through or just didn’t swing at many very hittable pitches. Of course you could say that they kept the Yankee hitters off balance and they did, but the Yankees did not swing the bats well on very hittable pitches. I bet the Yankees approach will be very different next time.
Girardi didn’t read this blog. If he did, he would have known that the 8th inning should have started with Robertson instead of Hughes. Why would you bring in Hughes who is a lot better against righties when 4 straight lefties are coming up? Why am I stating this immediately with the people I am watching the game with and Girardi is not aware of this? Rollins and Victorino are both switch hitters and Victorino hits lefties better (Rollins about equal). Then Utley who is better against lefties is up followed by Howard. So Girardi goes with Hughes to maximize the DISadvantage in matchups. Hughes walks both hitters as he continues to struggle. Then Girardi goes to Marte who does another good job against Utley and Howard. Unfortunately, Girardi was backward in his use of the pen as he then goes to Robertson even though Robertson is much better against lefties to face the righty Werth. Now Werth is much better against lefties, but wouldn’t have made perfect sense to start Robertson and then go to Hughes for the Werth and below part of the lineup? Absurd that the Yankees didn’t go that way. Robertson ended up walking Werth and then with a decent matchup against Ibanez (Robertson, Rivera, and Marte would be our best choices against him) he induced a weak grounder that got through the right side that pretty much ended the game. It looked like Texiera could have made a play on the ball, but he broke back to first base and it just found the perfect spot. That was a tough break.
Less relevant than the above points, but one that ticked me off was the Check swing to Cano; it was an awful call that took his bat away from him and then he hits into a DP where Matsui was kind of in no mans land because the ump at 2nd base was a little late with the call. Either way he should have run back to 1st base instead of guaranteeing he had no chance by standing in the middle of base paths.
Swisher needs to sit down. He missed very hittable pitches and then took strike 3 down the middle. Sure he could come out if it at any time and maybe he will, but on the same note maybe Hinske or Gardner hit well too? Gardner will get you better defense and that is probably worth it. I get the sense Girardi will go to Hinske though.

Time for AJ to come through for us; I hope Posada catches.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WORLD SERIES pre game 1

Well we made it to the big show! I know if we don’t win we will all be very disappointed, but it has been a very good year and the moves made to get here were good ones. The Phillies made some great moves as well getting Ibanez and their ace Cliff Lee.

I thought I would take a look at the matchups a little bit so that everyone could have a feel for why moves are made and what to expect based on the yearly totals as well looking at past years to make sure trends are real and not just a one year aberration.

The most important piece of information to know is that Ryan Howard is MUCH better against righties than lefties. In fact, he has one of the larger discrepancies you will find in a star player. His OPS against righties is a superb 1.088 and his OPS against lefties is a weak .654! The Yankees should have Marte and Coke face him every single time.

Cliff Lee is better against lefties in a similar way that Saunders was better against lefties, but Lee is a better pitcher.

Cole Hamels had an average year with a .708 OPS against lefties and a .765 against righties.

Brad Lidge is their closer and he was awful this year, including blowing saves against us in 3 games. But he has picked it up in the postseason and has been tough on righties in his career with an excellent slider.

The other relievers are Madsen and Park. Madsen is the better guy with a .634 OPS against righties and a .710 against lefties, but he is not great. Park is similar with a .678 against righties and a .752 against lefties.

Utley (Lefty) is better against lefties over the last 3 years, but not very significant. A guy like Coke who isn’t as lopsided as Marte in terms of platooning is probably not the best matchup. However, a guy like Rivera and Robertson, who are both better against lefties are good matchups. Utley is a very good player.

Rollins (s) Rollins got off to a terrible start but then hit his usual career .800 OPS from that point on. Pretty equal overall over the years. He is their best base stealer

Ibanez (lefty) has a .900 OPS and is pretty equal

Catcher Carlos Ruiz. (Righty) .780 OPS – His OPS against lefties is very good at .894 and is mediocre against righties at .742.

Shane Victorino (Switch) hits lefties better .844 compared to .787.

Werth – Crushes lefties and 1.08 and still is fairly solid against righties at .805

Dobbs and Stairs are the lefties off the bench and they both hit righties better, but neither is a particularly good hitter and would not scare me with any matchup. Being lefties Robertson and Rivera matchup the best.

Ben Francisco LF – is a righty who is better against lefties.

As you can tell, the Phillies are a better hitting team against lefties almost down the line with the one huge exception of Howard.

As for the Yankees there are a couple of surprises you may not be aware of.

CC is very tough on lefties at .560 against and a still very good .679 against righties.

Burnett is surprisingly much better against lefties with an OPS against of .655 against lefties and .815 against righties. I know he got hit for 5 HR’s during the regular season (although we were not rolling yet) against the Phillies, but on paper he should matchup well against them. Now the righty lefty trends are very real, but sometimes one player just sees the ball well off of a pitcher. After one bad start I don’t think that means anything and if Burnett is on he should be able to pitch well to this very good lineup.

I mentioned this before but Robertson is .601 against lefties and .751 against righties. He is a guy we should be using more in this series.

Joba is fairly equal against both

Hughes is much better against righties and should be used against Ruiz and Werth. Hughes is .546 against righties and .740 against lefties.

Rivera is .511 against lefties and .586 against righties

Aceves has been good against lefties and decent against righties. His matchup is better than Gaudin's

Gaudin is .667 against righties and .823 against lefties. I don’t really like his matchup as a starter, but he could be used like Hughes or if we really need him to start.

As for our hitters, the guys who are worth noting as having any significant differences against lefties and righties are Damon who is .776 against lefties and .889 against righties (Not the best matchup against Lee) and Jeter, 1.01 against lefties and .816 against righties. The rest of the team is pretty much the same although Posada is a little better against righties and Matsui has hit lefties better this year.

There has been some talk about what rotation the Yankees should go with. I think there is no question what we do the first 4 games. CC, Burnett, Pettitte and CC again. At that point, I would see how things have gone and who has pitched well etc…Depending on the situation I might start Aceves. I know he has not pitches well, but I like his matchup better than Gaudin’s. Most likely I would pitch Burnett on 3 days rest and Pettitte on 3 days rest. This is the World Series and it is not that big a deal for one start. The way I see it none of our pitchers will have to pitch more than once on 3 days rest J

The Phillies are a very good hitting team and they are the defending World Champs so there is no intimidation. However, I think our pitching is better than theirs. After Cliff Lee there is nobody who scares me (including their pen) and it is up to our offense to put up solid production 5+ runs should happen if they are doing their job.

The Philly offense is really good, but I like our team a lot and I would hope we handle them just as we did Anaheim . There should be some more great games.

Either way, let’s enjoy the ride...
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playoff Edition Post ALCS

Bring on the Phillies!

4 more wins for the big prize.

I try to avoid listening to much of the hoopla and “experts” because I get sick of all the cliché’s and reviews of what happened and the explanations behind it. All the talk was about how the Angels were a team of destiny because of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and if the Angels did win people would say it was because it pulled them together and they were playing for Nick. Now that they have lost it is forgotten (not the tragic death of course).

The Yankees took care of business again and took 4 of 6 from a very solid Angel team that didn’t play their best. I don’t think we have either as the majority of our team is not swinging the bats well. Both pitchers were not sharp today, but the Angels didn’t swing the bats today. Andy did OK, but they missed some hittable pitchers and the stat line doesn’t show it, but Andy was not incredibly sharp today.

I am not going to go into the game too much as I would like to get out a pre series blog analyzing the Phillies team. But a few points:

I had mentioned bunting with 1st and 2nd with nobody out and in the 4 times we had that situation we did not bunt and scored no runs. Tonight we bunted twice in those situations (These were obvious with Melky up) and we scored all our runs in those innings (the 1st 3 after the big hit by Damon).

In the 5th inning the Yankees are winning 3-1 and swisher had just K’d…I would have taken him out for Gardner and got my best defensive team in there. As it turned out swisher was up again in the 8th and for some reason he let Swisher sacrifice instead of letting Gardner bunt? I have no idea what he was thinking but after the Angels made an error somebody might have tapped Joe on the shoulder and mentioned pinch running Gardner may make sense…Joe woke up and put Gardner in.

Girardi pulled Andy at the right time.

I was good with Joba being the guy, but I thought it was interesting he didn’t go to Robertson.

In the 8th, I would have brought Marte in to face Chone Figgins and Abreu, but I understand turning it over to the Genius Maker. I don’t thin it was needed and I stated at the time what I would have done.

So, CC was the MVP of the series? He was great and deserving, but ARod really has been great. For the postseason ARod has an OPS of 1.516! He has only been up 41 times including walks, but if you took those numbers over 600 AB’s he would hit 73 HR’s with 175 HR’s and 131 walks and 146 runs scored. That is pretty darn good. Hey, I would sign up for an OPS of 1.000 or above for Alex in the World Series!

What else can you say about Rivera? You see all these other closers fail so often and it is amazing how few times he has failed. To be able to continue at his age is even more head scratching. THE GENIUS MAKER!

Bring on the defending Champs!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Playoff Edition Post ALCS

Bring on the Phillies!

4 more wins for the big prize.

I try to avoid listening to much of the hoopla and “experts” because I get sick of all the cliché’s and reviews of what happened and the explanations behind it. All the talk was about how the Angels were a team of destiny because of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and if the Angels did win people would say it was because it pulled them together and they were playing for Nick. Now that they have lost it is forgotten (not the tragic death of course).

The Yankees took care of business again and took 4 of 6 from a very solid Angel team that didn’t play their best. I don’t think we have either as the majority of our team is not swinging the bats well. Both pitchers were not sharp today, but the Angels didn’t swing the bats today. Andy did OK, but they missed some hittable pitchers and the stat line doesn’t show it, but Andy was not incredibly sharp today.

I am not going to go into the game too much as I would like to get out a pre series blog analyzing the Phillies team. But a few points:

I had mentioned bunting with 1st and 2nd with nobody out and in the 4 times we had that situation we did not bunt and scored no runs. Tonight we bunted twice in those situations (These were obvious with Melky up) and we scored all our runs in those innings (the 1st 3 after the big hit by Damon).

In the 5th inning the Yankees are winning 3-1 and swisher had just K’d…I would have taken him out for Gardner and got my best defensive team in there. As it turned out swisher was up again in the 8th and for some reason he let Swisher sacrifice instead of letting Gardner bunt? I have no idea what he was thinking but after the Angels made an error somebody might have tapped Joe on the shoulder and mentioned pinch running Gardner may make sense…Joe woke up and put Gardner in.

Girardi pulled Andy at the right time.

I was good with Joba being the guy, but I thought it was interesting he didn’t go to Robertson.

In the 8th, I would have brought Marte in to face Chone Figgins and Abreu, but I understand turning it over to the Genius Maker. I don’t thin it was needed and I stated at the time what I would have done.

So, CC was the MVP of the series? He was great and deserving, but ARod really has been great. For the postseason ARod has an OPS of 1.516! He has only been up 41 times including walks, but if you took those numbers over 600 AB’s he would hit 73 HR’s with 175 HR’s and 131 walks and 146 runs scored. That is pretty darn good. Hey, I would sign up for an OPS of 1.000 or above for Alex in the World Series!

What else can you say about Rivera? You see all these other closers fail so often and it is amazing how few times he has failed. To be able to continue at his age is even more head scratching. THE GENIUS MAKER!

Bring on the defending Champs!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bonus Blog Before Game 6

Just thought I would get in a bonus blog as I had received many emails from you folks and I wanted to address them as well as a couple of points I forgot to mention in my blog.

I don’t think it is fair to be critical of Girardi for failing to take Burnett out after 5 straight scoreless innings and 80 pitches, however a quicker hook was probably in order, meaning one batter and done. I think his lack of confidence in Hughes and Joba was also a reason to try and squeeze a few more outs of AJ. The downside was the long inning before makes you lean toward starting Joba or Hughes. While in hindsight my choice might not have been correct as Joba didn’t pitch well, he would have been my choice to start the 7th.
Some people mentioned pinch hitting for Swisher in the 9th inning. I can hardly disagree with that thought as I was the one who said I didn’t have confidence Thursday night in Swisher. However, it underscores exactly what I have been saying the Yankees need; specialists. If you have a righty and lefty killer to go along with a speedy pinch runner and a defensive replacement you are set. What we needed was a lefty killer in the 9th inning and that makes the move a no brainer. I mean pinch hitting with Hairston, while maybe preferable to a lost Swisher is a better option; it still is not a good option. One interesting point here is that Girardi made a mistake by not bringing in Gardner as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the 7th. Swisher had just made his bookend second out to end the inning and I have no idea why the defensive substitution was not made with a 2 run lead and 9 outs to go? At the time I thought it was a must move that Girardi fell asleep on. The interesting part is that if he did make that move, it would have been Gardner up in the 9th inning against Fuentes. Which means that most likely Hairston would have pinch hit and maybe the outcome would have been different?
I wrote that I wanted Gardner to start against Lackey to begin with and the way Swisher played, it would have been much better. Gardner probably won't play against a left in Saunders who is tougher on lefties. Yes Gardner hit better against lefties in 50 AB's this year, but usually that is not the case with him. That being said, one of the main reasons you play Gardy is because he makes the team MUCH better defensively. He can save a double compared to Melky and then Melky is better than Swisher in RF. The important part here is that with Swisher struggling you probably won’t lose offense and you gain a lot defensively. Sadly Swisher only has one more hit than Gardner in these playoffs as Gardy is 2-3 and Swisher is 3-29.
Most likely the two pitchers we have the most confidence in are Robertson and Marte. It appears Marte is the choice form the left side now and I wonder if Girardi will give more time to Robertson if Pettitte goes a solid 6 or so.
Speaking of how to use the bullpen, a few of you brought up something I had mentioned last year and that is to use your best pitcher in what appears to be (it may not be) the key moment in the game. While it is rarely done in the 7th inning, with 1st and 2nd and nobody out it is not totally absurd to use Rivera right at that spot with the meat of the Angels lineup coming up. In general I am more in favor of that when the traditional “setup guy pitches the 8th and closer pitches the 9th” situation happens and the 8th inning has the 2-5 hitters coming up and the setup guy has a tough inning and your best pitcher gets to pickup the save against the 6-9 hitters. Either way, I am not opposed to Rivera getting in when it is needed and then figuring out a way to close out the game…
Hopefully the Yankees have learned to throw more breaking stuff.
Many people felt it was not smart to pinch run for ARod and part of the reason was that Guzman never tried to steal. I believe it was the correct move even if he didn’t try and steal. First priority is giving your team the best chance to tie the game in that spot and having a faster runner does that. You need to make sure that on a double you can score. You also have a guy who can steal a base and that puts pressure on the pitcher and catcher to throw less breaking stuff and to alter their concentration and delivery. In this case it might have worked as Matsui walked and then he hit Cano? It wasn’t as obvious as the defensive replacement for Swisher, but it is the right move IMO.
The weather entering the NY area is bad for the Yankees. It really looks like the game will be cancelled tomorrow judging from the forecast. This hurts us a lot because it means that Lackey will be available to pitch game 7. It also means that if the series does go 7, that CC would pitch Monday instead of Sunday and it also means that game 7 will be another day closer to the WS. First and foremost you have to win THIS series. 2nd, you would like to do it in 6 games so that CC can pitch 3 times in the WS (twice on 3 days rest). If we win in 6, CC will have a lot of time off before the series so he should be OK. If the series goes 7 (Monday) CC can’t get 3 games in barring a few rain outs. If CC pitches Monday he would pitch his first game in game 3 on Saturday because Thursday (game 2) would only be 2 days of rest. CC would then pitch game 7 if necessary. It also means that we need to get to game 7 ties with CC only pitching once out of the 6 games.
In thinking this through I think it is better to pitch Pettitte in game 6 and hope we win and then if he doesn’t you still have CC to pitch game 7. The way I see it, it does not lessen the chances of us beating the Angels (I don’t believe in the momentum factor) but it does increase our chances of winning the WS IF we get there. The only negative factor in CC going Monday instead of Sunday is that it is possible that if there is one day of rainout CC could pitch game 7 if it were timed well. Further, even if no game was called, If CC pitched on 3 days rest he could be available out of the pen for game 7. Weighing all that, I pitch Pettitte on Sunday assuming Saturday is rained out

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Playoff Edition post game 5 Anaheim

Wow, that was a game that can’t be any closer. Here we are down by a run with bases loaded and a 3-2 count against a pitcher who is really struggling. Runners will be going so a single easily scores two and any long single could score 3. Unfortunately, we had our own guy who is looking horrible at the plate. I am on a conference call with 2 other people analyzing every pitch and I said, “I don’t usually say this, but I am not confident at all with Swish up in this spot, but I hope he can find a way to get the game tied…hit him!” On that 3-2 pitch Swish was still out in front of the fastball down the middle as he dropped his shoulder. A pitch that was very hittable and he still missed it. I have been saying I would rather have Gardner playing right now instead of Swish (and put Melky in RF), but I can only hope that a flight back home gets him back in the groove because with Saunders on the mound, Swish will be in right for game 6; gulp, unless Hairston plays…gulp.

The recap:

I was beside myself in the first inning when Texiera got called out on a 3-2 breaking ball that was outside and probably high. With 1st and 2nd we would have had bases juiced with nobody out and ARod coming up. It also would have put a ton of pressure on Lackey and as we saw with Burnett, the first inning is a great time to get to a pitcher. That call by the ump made a huge difference in the game; this is without question in my mind.

The bottom of the 1st saw the Yanks make the mistake they have made too often and that is throwing too many fastballs to this team.

So we are down 4-0 and all I am thinking about is that bad 3-2 call…

Oh that and the fact that Molina is the laziest blocker of balls in the dirt I have ever seen. The ball that went to the steps of the Angels dugout went right through his legs.

Also, what was Molina thinking about on that rundown? He threw the ball back to ARod without running the guy back at all and then Burnett had to get involved because you always want to run the runner back to the earlier base (in this case 3rd).

The Yankees had some life after leaving a 2 out double on 2nd base when in the following inning Melky singled after a Swisher K. Then Molina was correctly pinch hit for with Posada. On a 1-1 count the guessing Posada couldn’t hold up on a very good but low curve by Lackey. I bring this up because not only did that good pitch have Posada looking for it again when he watched a fastball pain the outside corner, but it was the same curve that the Yankees could not lay off all game. They kept chasing it.

Meanwhile, amazingly, Burnett has two good innings with Posada catching him…how can that be, didn’t the media tell us differently?

BTW, Damon was easily safe at first, what the heck was with that call?

Then we move to the crazy 7th. Swisher got us going by flying out…After a Melky doubled. We finally got a break on what should have been strike 3 to Posada; at least this evened things out. Lackey then lost his composure and walked Jeter on 4 pitches. Now, if I am Scoscia I would consider going to Jepsen, but he stuck with Lackey and lackey regained his composure and got Damon to fly out to short LF. Then Scoscia very surprisingly went to Darren Oliver and Texiera finally came through with a big hit. After the ARod walk Matsui gets another big hit and the game is tied. Then with Cano up Scoscia takes the lefty out for Jepsen and Cano triples scoring 2 and the Yanks should be in business. Fittingly swisher flied out to end the inning, completing his bookend.

So we have a 2 run lead in the 7th inning with a chance to go to the WS and Girardi has a tough choice. Stick with Burnett who has thrown 5 straight goose eggs and has been cruising or turn it over to Joba, Hughes and some lefties to get us 4 or 5 outs. Burnett had only thrown about 80 pitches so this was not a no brainer decision. I made the comment that if he does start you have a very short leash. After the first hit I would gone to Joba, but Girardi stuck with Burnett for another walk before pulling the plug. In retrospect it was the wrong move, but I can only get on him for allowing Burnett to walk Aybar. At this point with 1st and 2nd nobody out I like the move to Marte (as you know I have faith in the guy) He does his job and gets 2 outs and the Yanks stayed back correctly and gave up one run. You don’t want to have the infield in and give up 2 runs there; you need to make them get a hit to tie the game. Then instead of going to Joba, Girardi goes to Hughes who has struggled. That is questionable, but not crazy. Unfortunately, Hughes has no control and walks Hunter after throwing a slider that just spun on 3-0 for a strike. This next AB was a scary one. Hughes didn’t look good against Hunter and missed his spots against Vlad but had him at 1-2. Hughes’ best pitch right now is clearly the curve and he had just thrown one in the dirt to get the 2nd strike on Vlad. Hughes then shook off Posada and Posada called for a high and in fastball. This is not a bad call, but Hughes misses badly and grooves a fastball to tie the score. That was a HUGE pitch. It is obvious Hughes has no command and he should have been out of the game right there for Coke against Morales. Instead Girardi stayed with Hughes who allowed the lead to get away on another fastball. Finally he struck out Izturis on a curve ball. BTW, anyone notice a trend on most of the hits the Angels get? We may want to throw more breaking balls???

I do need to acknowledge The Genius Maker coming in with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and giving us the chance in the 9th inning…man he is sick.

Obviously we want to get the WS, but winning in game 6 will really help us in the WS because we can pitch CC 3 times if we can win in game 6, otherwise he can only pitch twice.

1 game to go and 5 to reach the big prize.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playoff Edition post game 4 Anaheim

by Steve Wigdor

I want to start out and bring up the ump behind home plate has been good for 3 games. Obviously the other umpires have been bad, but the ump behind home plate has been pretty solid and that makes a game much more enjoyable for me. of course a 10-1 game is very enjoyable anyway.

You knew CC was dealing when he had no issue throwing his changeup on 3-2 early in the game Also, the Yankees were all over the fastball from Kazmir even if they didn’t hit them fair at first. Once Kazmir couldn’t throw strikes with his other pitches it was just a matter of time.

Melky really got the big hit to get us going!

We may want to start thinking that bunting with 1st and 2nd and nobody out? Considering we have not scored by hitting away in the 3 or 4 times we had the situation.

How many times have we seen Cano walk and Posada get a real SB in the same game?

ARod really did it all today. Stolen base, great hitting day, great jump to score, taking the extra base and forcing a bad throw. Great game.

I would like to see more from Texiera and Swisher even though both helped a little bit.

Matsui really had a bad game.
Speaking of bad, how bad was the umpiring at 2nd base and 3rd base. The crew chief at 3rd made bad call after bad call. What was he thinking on the dumb baserunning plays by Cano and Jorge. Cano needs to be standing on the bag and Posada shouldn’t over run it, but how did the ump miss that call?

Was anyone else shocked that Scoscia left Kazmir in to start the 5th inning? After allowing 3 in the 4th no way he should have started against Texiera and ARod. After Texiera actually got a hit, Kazmir came out, but what was Mike thinking?

I think the DP induced by CC in the 6th inning when the Angels had 1st and 2nd with nobody out was huge. That ended the game as far as I was concerned.

Fantastic game by CC on 3 days rest. I still think this format is absurd, but it is to our advantage right now.

Is anyone else sick of the “ARod being in a better place” or “so and so looks relaxed?” Why does everything have to be a nice and neat explanation of how the player did so well or did poorly? I mean yeah don't you think someone will look good when they are playing well and look bad when they are not playing well? Further, the over analysis of a guy supposedly doing well or bad based on 3 games is really over the top.

Back to important things.

1 game to go and 5 to reach the big prize.

Let's wrap this up Thursday

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Playoff Edition post game 3 Anaheim - steve wigdor

I will do my best to fulfill my promise yesterday…

Jeter started things off with a bomb. Then ARod follows with one in the 4th and then Damon in the 5th and the Yanks are up 2-0 in the series and 3-0 in the game. Pretty good considering this game and last they were something like 0-14 with RISP.

Now I will move into the strategy part of the game (or lack thereof)

I was making comments about pitch selection to my brother most of the night and one of the guys we zeroed in on was Howie Kendrick who is someone who always kills us. I think they said something like .380 against us. My comment was that I hope we learned form our mistakes and stop throwing this guy inside pitches, he loves the fast ball and we need to go outside with slow stuff or at least stay away. Let’s say that they should pitch him like other teams are pitching to Swisher, who I said shouldn’t play if Girardi insists on playing Melky. I said that I would play Gardner in CF and then Girardi can play Melky in RF if he wanted to bench Swisher (who has looked awful and never adjusted to any off speed pitches all night).

Now remember I am calling every pitch so when Kendrick comes up I am talking about pitching him away and working the off speed pitches. Pettitte and Posada decide to bring a fastball inside to Hendrick and the score is 3-1. I am ticked at the stupidity.

BTW, did anyone want Cano to bunt with 1st and 2nd and nobody out? Twice we had this opportunity and twice we chose not and didn’t score. I am not a big fan of the sacrifice, except real late and as I said before 1st and 2nd with nobody out is the best time to give up an out.

6th inning 2 outs nobody on and Abreu gets a hit with 2 outs and up steps Guerrero. Vlad can hit and also swing at anything. Once again we come inside on Vlad when off speed stuff away or high fastballs were the calls. At 2-2 Girardi came out to the mound as it appeared they didn’t know what to throw and when Girardi left it seemed Pettitte was really ticked off? Anyway, whatever Girardi said seemed to work perfectly…for Anaheim as Posada put down a 2 for the curve which made sense but Pettitte threw to first. Then the pitch was changed and Vlad, who is a terrific low ball hitter, got a fastball down and in to give him the easiest swing at a ball and he hits a 2 run bomb. I am really ticked as I would not have thrown that pitch nor is it what I said I wanted to throw. I am incredibly ticked and can’t believe they changed the pitch. I am sure we won’t get the truth but that one pitch was enormous. I have now blown my top at the terrible pitch selection.

Bottom of the 7th inning Joba comes and even though we have a ton of tape on Kendrick and even know he already turned on a fastball for a homer, Joba throws a fastball and Kendrick hits a triple! Are you kidding me? My head is exploding right now. Joba not looking very good and they get a long sac fly. Then after a double against Joba, it is clear he isn’t that sharp so correctly (or maybe lucky) Girardi takes Joba out for Marte. On one pitch Marte gets out of the jam. Good job.

Top 8th - Matsui walks and Girardi runs for Matsui with Gardner ? Gardner ? Why not Guzman? I didn’t get that. Also, if you remember last time Gardner never stole so Scoscia knows the Yanks will try to get moving. He calls for the pitchout at the obvious time and Gardner is thrown out. Out managed there; it was too obvious. Posada follows and gets a good pitch to drive and he hits a clutch solo homer. The Yanks are back in business with a tie game even though they still have yet to get a hit with RISP in 2 games.

Bottom of the 8th: Coke comes in to face Abreu. What? You have Marte in the game, who looked good again and just pitched to ONE batter and threw ONE pitch and he is better against lefties than Coke and he takes him out??? Doesn’t Joe know that the score is tied in the 8th inning; we may need another lefty at a key spot later in the game? How about letting a guy who looks good continue against a good match up? Coke allows Abreu to drive the ball to RC and Melky fails to cut it off so it looks like Abreu will get a triple, but then Abreu stops and Jeter who had to leap for the Melky throw stops and fires to Texiera and gets Abreu before he gets back to 2nd. First, horrible job by Abreu and that is pretty inexcusable. Second, good job by Texiera being where he is supposed to in trailing the play and making the tag. Third, good job by Jeter, who probably had more time to look because he had to leap for the ball, but noticing Abreu stopping and getting the ball to Texiera. Huge break for the good guys. Girardi then takes Coke out for Hughes which is the right move, but it should have been Marte he was replacing as Joe just wasted a reliever.

Hughes goes 1.2 innings and looks OK, but is not pitching great as he got away with some bad pitches but they didn’t hit them. When Hughes threw the curve he was most effective.

Bottom 10, Girardi all of a sudden decides to let Hughes pitch again in his 3rd inning of work (not sure when the last time that was) and he throws a pitch down the middle for a leadoff double. Wrong pitch, (fastball) and wrong location (down the middle) and we are in deep trouble. When in doubt, go to the Genius Maker. For some reason Scoscia does not pinch run Willits at 2nd base for their catcher? I am surprised as he should pinch run; kind of dumb. Anaheim tries to bunt and Rivera was like a cat off the mound and with a slower runner he has him dead to rights…but he wheeled and fired wildly to 3rd base. Damon saves the game with a great backup. Of course that is his job, but he did it at a crucial time. Correct decision by Rivera, just bad execution. Now we are in deep trouble with 1st and 3rd nobody out and the Yanks bring the infield in. Once again Scoscia does something different than I would have as I would have stolen 2nd base which would have gone uncontested. Then I would try the squeeze play because if it didn’t work, I would have still had a man on 3rd and 1 out. But he swings away and hits a grounder down first base to Texiera who makes a little dive and looks to throw home but there is no throw because the slower runner stands there. Now if the runner is on 2nd the guy on 3rd has to go home and if that runner is Willits the game would have been over. We were lucky again. Then after 2 groundouts the Genius Maker works his way out of the jam. Words can not do justice; simply amazing.

During this inning Girardi decides to give up the DH to put Hairston in LF to get a better arm. This is kind of questionable because while Damon has no arm, if Gardner were in CF Melky could be in LF with the better arm. It is harder to throw a guy out form CF usually as balls are usually hit farther to CF, but it isn’t a bad decision and I understand it.

However, next inning Cervelli bats instead of Hairston and he does what Hairston did and looked bad at the plate.

Next inning Girardi takes out Rivera and brings in Robertson. I am sure if this were game 6 or 7 he would have left Rivera in, but again I understand it as you have Robertson, Aceves and Gaudin left. Of course you should have another lefty as well. Anyway, Robertson has his work cut out for him with Rivera, Morales (who is very good against righties) and then Kendrick. Robertson is sharp and throws good fastballs and then the curveballs to get Rivera out. Robertson again is making good pitches against Morales and then gets him to fly out. Then, Girardi makes a terrible decision and over manages again. Roberston is throwing really well and he takes him out to bring in Aceves? I have now blown my gasket; what the %$#@ is he thinking? This is an extra inning game; you want to get as much out of the guys throwing well as you can. Now, after I clamed down (to the point where I was rational) I tried to think what possible reason could Girardi be thinking. The only thing I could come up with (and I haven’t listened to any interviews so I don’t know) is that Aceves throws a lot of off speed pitches and maybe they realized this is the best way to get Kendrick out? Either way, this is absurdly stupid. So what happens, Aceves throws a fastball and Kendrick hits for a single. Yes, I am blowing my stack. Then another fastball later and a ball is hit deep to LC and Hairston can’t get to it and the game is over. First, Hairston kind of over ran the ball and could have had it. Second, I wonder if Damon would have caught it and #rd I wonder if Melky would have caught it (or Maybe even Gardner if he were in CF – but I doubt that). Third, what is with all the fastballs?

I am Ticked off because they played badly Abreu and coaching (they did get the pitchout right) and we played ok, but the pitch selection was horrendous and the quick hook decisions were absurdly stupid. Marte coming out and Robertson coming out were just asinine.

It was another exciting and close game that had a lot of flaws…we won one and lost one. Time for our ace to get the job done tomorrow.

Still 2 to go and 6 for the big prize

Playoff Edition post game 2 Anaheim

I promised myself that no matter who won the game I would be excited to discuss the game. I am glad that I don’t have to draw deep to do it.

Man, there is so much to discuss and so many different decisions that were good and bad.

Without writing a book I will try and hit the highlights.

Cano’s triple was good to see as his production along with Swisher (who scored after a walk) and Texiera’s has been very weak.
I thought Burnett pitched well, but I had a lot of issues with the pitch selection. Once again Molina was trying to go for strikeouts rather than letting Burnett’s stuff take over (of course it could be Burnett, but I don’t see Burnett shaking off too many curve balls). Molina going out to the mound so much also gets Burnett out of his rhythm
I had some issues with Girardi in the 5th inning. After the very long AJ Burnett inning Cabrera led off with a single. Now, I probably would have pinch hit for Molina in that spot. I know Burnett was still in the game, but he had 2 more innings max and I want my better hitter up there. But, I understand if you are going to bunt, then Molina staying up there is OK. I am not a fan of the bunt in that situation (4 innings to go playing for only 1 run is not the best, but if Molina is up you bunt and there is no question you bunt). After Molina failed to bunt (pretty pathetic), we got a gift and hit that 22% chance of Molina getting hit (it actually happens 1-5 times so it will happen) we had 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Now, this is a great time to bunt as you get twice the production out of your sacrifice. I thought a bunt with Jeter was the correct call (BTW, none of my thoughts here are hindsight and the 4 people I was in touch with during the game can back me up. Molina did get a hit and I would pinch hit for him so all my decisions are not correct). Girardi eschewed the bunt and Jeter hit into a DP. All the Yankee DP’s are frustrating but this one was especially annoying to me.
I thought Girardi took out Burnett at the exact time I would. In fact, I said the next guy that gets on I would take him out because he had thrown over 100 pitches and I didn’t want him pitching from the stretch. Unfortunately, it happened because of an error by Cano, but I still think it was the right move with the score 2-2 and 1 out in the 7th inning.
Going to Coke (or Marte) was the right move as well turning Chone Figgins to his weak side, but Coke made the huge mistake of walking Figgins (who is not good from the right side) Coke did come back to get a huge out striking out Abreu
Then it was Joba time. He induced a weak grounder and then struck out Guerrero and did a great job
Bottom of the 7th after Swisher singled, I think Girardi again did the right thing by pinch running Gardner for Swisher, but Gardner never got a read on Saunders and Cano hit into the DP. They could have tried a hit and run, but this is just one of those things as Gardner doesn’t have great reading instincts
Big issue in the top of the 8th. If Girardi already has in his mind that bringing Rivera in the 8th with 2 outs is OK (Something I still find very strange as what is with this threshold of only 1 and 1/3 innings?) then Joba should have stayed in the game so that if the game went into extra innings you have Hughes for 2 later on. But, Girardi did what Torre used to do (never plan for extra innings) and used our two best setup guys for 3 outs.
Now, I actually had something written in my blog yesterday that when I erased it never made it to the published blog. It was about being at the stadium and hearing Enter Sandman and then watching Rivera jog out to the mound. It really is something special we all should cherish. It is amazing how fantastic he has been and for so long. He is the true Genius Maker and tonight while Girardi only got 3 outs form Hughes and Joba, Rivera throws 2.1 innings of scoreless innings. I also think we saw about 5 bloop hits/outs in the time he was in. For perspective, Coke, Joba, Hughes and Marte pitched a total of 1.2 innings. Everyone should have Enter Sandman queued up in their house and ready to blast when he comes into the game. Play the music, stand there and bow or clap and tell every young person you see that the best this game has ever seen is about to pitch. What really blows my mind is how incredible effective he still is; Mariano is about to turn 40 in November!
Ace walking Matthews to lead of the 11th was terrible and I really hated the pitch selection. I wanted the changeup bad in that AB and they never through it. Chone dropped that one in front of a shallow Damon and most LF’rs would have been able to throw out the speedy Matthews at home but with Damons rag arm, I was screaming to throw to 2nd as I only wanted one run in Fuentes pitching. Damon threw home and gave up 2nd base. Fortunately ARod started the DP to get us out of further trouble.
Then ARod makes a mockery of the clutch folks once again with an almost mid boggling homer if you watched his hand position and arms on the swing. He simply has amazing power and he did it again for us!
I was surprised Girardi let Guzman bat after ARod as I thought he would go to Hairston with the lefty on the mound and predictable Guzman looked bad.
Top 12 I thought Girardi again made the right move going to Marte with one out with Morales coming up and Marte did a great job and looked good getting Morales out. Girardi then went to Robertson and while I like Marte better than most and would give him more leeway than most, I understand not having much confidence in him as he hasn’t been that good. However, with him looking good in that AB, I would have left him in to get more innings out of a good pitcher. In fact I was reminded of my own words of leaving a guy in when he was pitching well and it was also one of the reasons why taking Aceves out was a good move as he wasn’t too sharp. Robertson relieved and allowed a double to a bad hitter in Mathis, but worked his way out of another nail biting jam.
Bottom Scoscia had an interesting dilemma in walking Texiera, who has done nothing, to pitch to ARod. He made the right decision as ARod popped up. Santana is much better against righties and my guess is that along with Santana having decent career numbers against ARod made the decision.
Amazing that Jeter made a bad mishap as well and then shockingly Cano failed in the top of the 13th again just missing a ball. Robertson did a very good job of pitching out of the jam and saving Cano’s hide.
Bottom of the 13th Girardi finally brought in Hairston and my hero came through…LOL. While I did say that Hairston probably deserved to be on the roster over Hinske, I didn’t think he would get into the game unless something strange happened. Well, it surely did tonight and like Molina did earlier, sometimes you get that 1-5 chance. Santana not wanting to walk Hairston, gave him a pitch to hit, Hairston did a great job and came through with a solid single and it was time for us to play small ball. Gardner did his job and Cano was correctly walked.
Cabrera hits a grounder to the right side and after going a long way, what the heck was Izturis thinking throwing to 2nd base? You go to 1st base and now you have 2 outs; he had NO chance for a DP. Thankfully he threw the ball away, but Chone Figgins was right there to back up. Luckily for us he bobbled the ball because Hairston would have been dead at home plate if he didn’t.

It was a very sloppy game that was played in horrible baseball weather; so maybe some mulligans are in order. There were a ton of interesting decisions and pitch sequences with the game on the line that made this a great game even with the conditions. Huge win for the good guys.

2 to go with 6 to go for the big prize!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Genius Maker Yankee Blog - Playoff Edition pre game 2 Anaheim

The first blog I wrote was accidentally erased so I will make this brief

I was able to go to the game and I wanted to thank loyal blog reader Elliot Braun for the generosity of allowing me to go to a great game. I also want to point out that some of our readers were sprinkled throughout the game and a tip of the hat to John Fahey and Don Goomba (who I drove to the game with).

This game was all about CC. He had a great game and had excellent control, only going to 3 balls on two batters. Who needs a bridge to Mariano when you have CC? There was a new chant in the stadium, “CC..CC..CC” and he said that he really felt the emotion and got pumped up hearing his name. It was a cool chant. From what I saw in reviewing the game after coming home, he had excellent almost screwball like action on his outside pitches. Usually his change goes down more than left. Big game by CC!

I would like to see more than 4 runs considering Anaheim gave us a few with terrible defense and we had 16 guys on base. We will need to make more of our opportunities.

It was good to see Matsui get a big hit along with Damon getting a few and Melky even getting on base a few times. I had a huge issue with Texiera hitting on a 3-0 count with nobody out in the first inning with 2nd and 3rd. Lackey is struggling and you have him on the ropes; you can always swing at the 3-1 pitch if it is a strike. If for some reason you think it is a good idea to swing at the 3-0, you better be ready to crush the pitch and not swing lazy and late as Texiera popped it up. At least ARod bailed us out as did Aybar at SS for the Angels.

ARod made a mistake going through the stop sign and there is no excuse for that. At least he ran into the catcher to try and make something happen, but that was bad.

BTW, if you get into a debate with an Angel fan ask them why someone who stutters named their team. The Los Angeles Angels = THE THE ANGELS ANGELS

3 to go with 7 to go for the big prize!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Genius Maker Yankee Blog - Playoff Edition Game pre game 1 Anaheim

A few quick notes before we embark on wins five through eight.

Here’s the updated schedule of times for the ALCS:

Game 1: Friday, Oct. 16, 7:57 p.m. ET
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 17, 7:57 p.m. ET
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 19, 4:13 p.m. ET
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:57 p.m. ET
Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 22, 7:57 p.m. ET
Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 24, 4:13 p.m. ET (will switch to 7:57 p.m. ET if NLCS is over)
Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, 8:20 p.m. ET

I wanted to comment about the postseason schedule. If you remember I feel that a lot of the playoffs tend to be a crap shoot on who wins. Part of the reason is that teams can be built for the regular season and teams can be built for the postseason. Either way, when you have the longest layoff all year right before the biggest games of the year, then you have days off after every few games and then you play the games in much colder weather than you do all year, you see why it is a crap shoot.

The weather after 5 days off will be wind-chill of about 37 degrees and rainy…sounds like baseball weather! Now this may help us because our guys should be used to colder weather or it may hurt us if we are an older team, but either way, I am not fond of the way baseball playoffs are handled.

I have had some questions regarding our decision of going to a 3 man rotation. I believe it makes the most sense, but I don’t know why we feel the need to discuss it publicly? I think you have a plan and you try to stick to the plan with the understanding that you may need to modify or may want to modify it. If the games end up playing with no rest between them, I would start Gaudin and then have a very quick hook to Aceves.

Let’s hope we can get the game in through the snow flakes (yes we got about an inch of snow at my house in NJ on Thursday; I even made a small 4 foot snowman).

Pitching matchup:

CC - 3.37 ERA who is a better pitcher than Lackey. Lackey is solid and consistent but he doesn't have the greatness of CC. Sabathia is tougher on lefties with a .560 OPS against compared to .679 against righties.

Lackey: 3.83 ERA, similar to last year. Lackey has an OPS against of .757 against lefties and .659 against righties. Notice they both pitch to righties about the same, but CC is a lot stronger against lefties. While the differential of Lackey is 98 OPS pts. the fact that Lackey was stronger against lefties last year (he has a cutter) makes me look at this as more like a 50 point differential against righties. The main difference is Lackey allowing about 35% more HR's against lefties this year. Considering our lineup won't change with the exception of CF and catcher (when Burnett is on the mound), in this case Gardner could (and I think should) play CF when a righty is on the mound and Posada gets to bat from the left side against Lackey.

BTW, the Yankees realized that having Guzman would have been helpful pinch running (maybe also defensively and bunting) a few times and put him on the roster for this series; they decided to drop Hinske. I would expect them to also realize that Gardner should see more action as a starter against righties if only to get the better defense out there and maybe even a spark offensively. As usual, I am not sure why Hairston is on the roster as Hinske could be used as a pinch hitter for Gardner if needed? I guess one could argue if Gardner is struggling and Melky is struggling you could use hairston against a lefty pitcher. Hairston's OPS is better against lefties this year is .741, but over the 3 previous years it is .659. Hinske has an OPS of .786 this year against lefties and .779 against righties. The 3 previous years Hinske's OPS against lefties was similar to Hairston's at .649. Conclusion is that I hope neither has to be used as a pinch hitter against lefties and if we needed to pinch hit against righties, Hinske would be the obvious choice. Considering the odds of either being needed are not that great, it doesn't matter to me which one is kept, but because Hairston can play IF, he would be our backup (God forbid) we get an injury). I am ok with Hairston over Hinske (this might be my first analysis that was in Hairston's favor...that doesn't say much for Hinske (who is an above average hitter against righties)

Philly is up 1-0 on the Dodgers because a good hitting team beat a good pitcher in Krenshaw (who had an absurdly low .583 OPS against him). I am sure the "pundits" will say the Dodgers just didn't pitch well in game 1. Good pitching will beat good hitting every time...except when it doesn't. :-)

Time to find a way to win!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Genius Maker Yankee Blog - Playoff Edition Game #3

Two more steps to take…8 more wins!

ARod did it again! Good for him and good for us and shame on all the Yankee fans that booed him. That HR to right was vintage ARod showing tremendous power to RF and like many of you; it got me out of my chair! Posada had a great game as well. Obviously his HR carried out (he had under spin which helped it clear the wall), but he also was in on two really big plays. The obvious one was the play where Jeter was heads up, although he had no chance at first so he really didn’t have a choice, and threw home (on a bounce I might add) where Posada easily grabbed it and threw an absolute bullet strike to 3rd that made it very easy for ARod to tag out Punto. Great throw by Jorge and an incredibly exciting play for us and excruciating for Twin fans. (The heck with them when they started the Jeter sucks chant, I lost respect). BTW, the 3 Yankees in on that play are the 3 Yankees that are carrying us offensively as well! The other play was on the key strike out Joba had when he bounced the slider and Jorge did a great job of shifting his feet and body so that he turned in toward home plate (the way you should) and he blocked the ball by having it drop straight down (the way you should) and he picked it up and made the throw for the 3rd out in a crucial spot in the game.

The spot just referenced was an interesting one for Girardi. Pettitte only had just over 80 pitches and was not showing any signs of tiring yet, but Girardi showed great confidence in Joba (and of course Hughes and Rivera) by making the move with one out in the 7th. I have to admit that I don’t think I would have made the move there as I would have waited for Andy to either start missing or laboring or if Andy let a runner on, but it was definitely an aggressive move that is not a bad move either. If Joba had pitched more in the pen and been better this year it would have been more obvious, but for a guy who some thought wouldn’t make the postseason roster, I think I would have felt a little more comfortable with Pettitte. Of course, after Joba hung a slider and allowed a double many people were starting to 2nd guess. I do like that Girardi made a move (and even if it didn’t work it was not a bad move) and was not afraid to make a move that could have easily been 2nd guessed. I wasn’t complaining at the time, but I did ask for a pitch count on Pettitte because I was a little surprised. Joba was able to pitch his way out of it…with some help from Jorge.

Pettitte really pitched well. I thought he and Posada called a great game and they moved the ball over the place and really worked great together.

Tangent warning!!!

Sometimes teams don’t score because of good pitching and sometimes it is because of bad hitting (the same is true for scoring a lot as sometimes it is good hitting and not bad pitching), I thought this was a case of good pitching. Conversely, I thought while Pavano pitched pretty well, the Yankees had opportunities with some bad pitches and did less than they should have (although Pavano pitched well). It was the type of game where if the Yankees hit well they would have scored 3 runs in 7 innings (in this case instead of 2) Might not seem like much. but the difference is an ERA of 2.57 or 3.86. Next time someone throws out the cliché’ that “good pitching always beats good hitting” just mentally roll your eyes and understand that this is not always the case. What happens when a good pitcher gets beat; was it because they didn’t pitch well or was it because the team hit well? Cris carpenter was one of the best pitchers in the NL this year, but STL didn’t win because they (or he) didn’t pitch well??? So every time the opposition doesn’t score it is the pitcher and every time they do score it is the pitcher??? Don’t buy into that. Sure, if a guy has nasty stuff and is painting the corners all day, you can say that it will be hard to score much off of that guy, but there are always pitches to hit and if you are hitting well you will hit them.

Tangent end!

So folks, who do you have more faith to pitch the 8th inning in the next series; Hughes or Joba? It is a fair question. Hughes has not had good command and for some reason he is only throwing fastballs. I know they shifted his curve to a harder curve, but I think they made it slightly to fast. Either way, he can’t just throw 94-95 MPH fastballs all the time…Sure if he can spot it every time he will be effective but he needs to work in his breaking ball. I thought Girardi made the no brainer decision to go to the Genius Maker with 2 outs in the 8th with Mauer up. This was the classic confrontation we were all waiting for. Their big gun against ours; this would be the key moment in the game, our old warrior against their young gun…The first pitch was away and the next pitch buzz sawed the bat out of Mauer’s hand and for the most part ended the game. Great moment and fitting for the Genius Maker, the greatest closer of all time. I hope he can continue!

A few other notes:

1 IP, 4 hits, 3 ER 2 BB and 0 k’s.

That is really great to see. Of course we don’t want to see that from the Yankees. No, this was not Joe Nathan’s line either. This was none other than the line of Jonathan Papelbon…couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Credit Anaheim for taking down a good team and sweeping them; much more impressive than what we did. This Angel team is very good and their offense is solid top to bottom. They don’t have much of a bench except for pinch running, but their starting team is very solid. Our team is a slightly better than theirs across the board, but the differences are small and in a 7 game series anything can happen. I think our bullpen is better and our lineup has more greatness, but they are very consistent. They also mounted that comeback with 2 outs and nobody on against Boston. They play like we do and the game is never over.

I would like to see Gardner play a lot more in CF and I think the Yankees should look at the Minnesota series and recognize they don’t need Hairston on the team, he will never be used unless as a pinch runner and you might as well keep Guzman on the team as he is faster than Hairston and a better OF for defensive situations. Hinske is the other guy on the bubble, but I could see where he might have to pinch hit at some point (perhaps for a CF’r and then Guzman plays defense). Marte did not get the job done, but I would keep him on the roster as he might be needed and even the threat of the lefty can make a difference (he is a good lefty regardless of what he just did).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Genius Maker Yankee Blog - Playoff Edition Game #2

Wow, what a great game…and it is always better when the good guys win.

What I don’t get is how it is possible for a guy who is a choker to have 3 big 2 out hits and an enormous 2 run homer in the 9th inning to tie the game? How is this possible? I know he did it all year (but that is regular season) and I know he did in the playoffs way back against Minnesota and the Red Sox series in game 1-4, but since then “we” all know he is a choker when the pressure is on…how is this possible? ;)

Maybe it is what I and many people have been saying, it is just a small sample of AB’s and guys do well and guys stink in stretches…and ARod was going through a bad stretch of stinking? I hope I don’t hear how he is at peace with himself so he is now able to play because what changed in the middle of the playoffs when the Red Sox won? Yes a guy can be in a better mental state, but confidence in doing well is probably more important and a little luck is probably more important than the “choke” word. I hope he keeps teaching this lesson all playoffs!

Back to the game.

I had said I wanted Posada catching, but because Girardi had started Molina with Burnett for 8 of his last 9 games and he was doing well, I agreed that Molina should catch him…but again I think that the planning was done wrong, just as it has been wrong with Joba and Hughes. Interestingly, I really disliked the way Molina and Burnett called their game tonight. They called the game like they wanted strikeouts instead of outs and it cost them. There were many examples of this, but mostly throwing 2-2 fastballs when curveballs were the better pitch and then throwing the 3-2 curve ball which many times went for ball 4. Too many walks, but his stuff was good enough to get out of it.

Some bad base running plays by both teams. Gomez made the huge blunder rounding 2nd and then not continuing…just dumb. Then after Damon failed to get the job done after being in front 3-0, Gardner failed to go back on the soft liner to SS and got doubled off, in what appeared to be the game loser when Minnesota loaded the bases with nobody out the next inning. While Robertson allowed the hit to load the bases (could have Mauer scored on that hit to CF?) he did come in and throw strikes and pitch out of it…VERY nicely done.

8th inning, I did not think Hughes was throwing well or in good command and when it was 1st and 3rd with 2 outs I wanted Rivera. After the hit to break the tie Girardi then went to Rivera? This was really the only issue I had with Girardi as I think every other move he made was times correctly…even bringing in Marte who couldn’t control that good curve ball.

A lot of twists and turns, but in that 10th inning when Damon was up I was in favor of sending Jeter and forcing them to walk Damon to pitch to Texiera. I felt if Jeter ran there was no way they would throw to 2nd with Gardner on 3rd and the infield in. I am not going to kill Girardi for that, but that is what I would have done.

Anyway, I want to concentrate on ARod heroics and give him the spot light because he deserves it. Also, good job Jeter on his double and the Texiera homer after just missing one earlier.

Just some other notes:

The umpire simply stunk; that was unprofessional and while we got the shaft form the home plate umpire we got an incredibly favorable call on the ball down the LF line. What the heck was the ump looking at? Those guys are usually excellent on those and he missed Melky touching it and the ball landing fair by a lot. Hard to explain that.

I would like to see Gardner in CF against righties. The ball that Damon made an effort (not sure it was a good one) Gardner would have caught. Also, Melky could have held him to a triple if he backed up the play instead of watching it. Also, while Melky has the better arm, on the play Mauer held up Gardner charged and got to the ball very quickly and I think that helped the decision to hold Mauer with nobody out.

Joba throwing at least 95 was a very good sign. He may actually be better suited for the bullpen. It is much more valuable to have starters, but he just may have the right mind set. I mean who really thought he could be someone we could count on in the pen the way he has been pitching? He may take the 8th inning form Hughes if Hughes doesn’t have better command.

I received so many text messages from many of you about the game; it was great to see the excitement. Some of you were at the game...I hope it gave you some great memories...this team never says die!

Great game…just enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Postseason Game #1

Game 1!

This was a game we had to have an after a tough start being down 2-0 we came right back. BTW, I don’t have an issue with posada getting crossed up but don’t pull a Molina and jog after the ball; get your butt moving!

A few things I was very happy to see:

1) Jeter had a great game and hit the first postseason HR in the new stadium.
2) ARod with 2 big 2 out hits! That is great
3) Girardi did a lot of things very well
4) Marte on roster is good
5) He pulled CC at the right time
6) He pulled Hughes at the right time (Kubel should see our lefty specialists every time we can as he crushed righties and can’t hit lefties)
7) He pulled Coke at the right time
8) Joba came in and threw 95! I would like to see 97, but it is a start (or is that the wrong term to use?)
9) I was happy Marte was put on the roster; sad that it is even a question.

I was surprised Girardi went to Rivera for the 9th He might have needed some work and Thursday is an off day, but I would rather then not see my guy. Not a big deal, just my preference though

I would have liked to see the Yanks take Guzman as another pinch runner or possible bunter because I would like to see Gardner play against righties in CF

Like I said, game 1 had to be a win for us…Time for AJ to do his job.

The Genius Maker #61

I have written this a few times over the years but after the great game yesterday it lends itself to bring it up again as it has been awhile. The idea started back around 1995 when the wild card was brought into baseball and I don't think (I really don't remember) I can take all of the credit for this idea, in fact it probably was mostly from my brother or maybe we just talked it through?...Either way, we didn't like the idea of putting in another wild card team. Our feeling was after 162 games, if you don't finish in 1st place then what does it matter if you are better than a team in another division? You aren't the best so you shouldn't be in the playoffs to prove it. This thought is even more true with the unbalanced schedule where you play the teams in your division 19 times; you can't say you didn't have enough opportunity to prove your superiority.

In coming up a playoff scenario that works there a lot of factors to take into consideration. Some of these would be:
1) Having more teams keeps the interest of more fans/teams because of the greater chance for the post season
2) More playoff games means more revenue
3) More teams in the playoffs means a longer season and you don't want it going too long
4) Not turning the regular season into games that don't mean anything as "everyone" makes the playoffs (See hockey and basketball).
5) Reward a team that wins the division with more than just home field.

Cut to the chase already...what is your playoff idea!

It is really simple...

Keep everything as is, but add another wild card team. Yeah, I know that contradicts my opposition to the wild card to begin with but here is why. You don't add the 2nd wild card to extend the series' in baseball, you add the extra wild card so that they could play the other wild card in a one game "series." The winner of that one game moves on to the 3-5 series (which I would also make all 4 out of 7).

So why is this a good idea?

1) Having the extra team makes the playoffs keeps more fans/teams interested
2) More playoff games means more revenue
3) You get a ton of excitement in a one game is great
4) Most important: You would never have a situation of indifference of whether you win the wild card or win the division; it makes a huge difference as you reward the 3 division winners by not having to play/travel/risk that one game playoff. I think this is a critical component that is missing now.

Some other items for discussion:
1) Shorten the season back to 154 games or some number that works based on the amount of teams. I don't like playing playoff games in the cold as most of the year is not played that way.
2) Keep very little rest between the end of the season and the wild card single game; keep things moving. Division winners should start their post-season 2 or at most 3 days after the end of the season.
3) Stop with so much rest between post-season games. It is absurd that in a 5 game series a team can throw their top 2 guys for 4 (80%) of the games and in a 7 game start 5 of them. While I would have nothing but 7 game series' with one day of rest only, if the 5 game series stayed, there would be no rest.

I am excited to hear how the new Yankee Stadium sounds for the playoffs. Those of you who are going to the playoff game please let me know whether the volume is less or more compared to the old stadium. Time to put on our game face!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Genius Maker #60 Pre Playoffs

Tomorrow at dinner time we will face off against the Twins! I really didn’t care too much who we played as I cared more that the game went into extra innings and I got my wish. Twins are the hot team and actually the better all around team, but the Tigers have some starters that are scary in a short series. As long as our offense plays well we should win. Game one is pivotal because with CC on the mound against a rookie and the Twins flying in for the game; we better win game 1.

As for our rosters, similar to what I have said all along, I want specialists on this team. There will be very little pinch hitting with the exception of Molina and our CF’rs. The only other possibility would be if a really tough lefty faced Damon, but who would you bring up there if Posada is in the game? Maybe a pinch bunter? This leads me to the reason why Pena and Guzman and Marte should be on the team. I want guys who can pinch run and then possibly be used as a defensive replacement. Obviously I have not been a big supporter Hairston and don’t see a place for him over Pena, but I expect him to be on the roster before Pena.

As for Marte, you need 2 lefties in a pen and this should not even be a discussion. As he is still coming into rhythm do you realize that he has faced 25 lefties (and usually the best on the other team) and they are 3-25 against with an OPS of .494! Coke has a .584 OPS against lefties but in well over 100 AB’s. They should be used to face Mauer every game they can or need to. With Morneau out for the year, they won’t have that back to back lefty, but I still think the threat of having a lefty is very important for a few lefty pinch hitters or even Span (their leadoff hitter – who does hit lefties well though. Then again you could just walk Mauer which at times is a good strategy.

Our team is better than theirs; it is time to go prove it!

BTW, Congrats to ARod for an awesome accomplishment of 30 HR's and 100 RBI's for a record 13th straight year. That is very impressive when you figure in how many games he missed this year and the fact that ARod had to do it in the final game of the year. He actually did it in one inning when he broke another AL record getting 7 RBI’s in one inning hitting 2 HR’s.