Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Genius Maker #40

First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day...without the folks we honor today, I would most likely not be able to write this blog and we most certainly would not be able to root for the greatest franchise in all of sports!

and one more note before I get into todays game. Not sure if you heard it or not, but Kendry Morales of the Angels broke his leg when his teammates broke his leg celebrating a walk off grand slam. Now what makes this interesting is that my brother and I have been talking about the celebrations and how people could get hurt for awhile. I am not sure if I ever put it in a blog or not for a home run, but I do remember talking about the players on the bottom of piles when teammates jump onto the pile. Regardless, it is absurd to celebrate with such force; hard high fives are bad enough.

I thought this game was interesting because we were facing a pitcher who had lost his last 11 decisions and pretty much was a human victory cigar for other teams. But, he had very good movement today and combined with an ump who called the low strike, this made for a good afternoon for a sinker baller. The ump was good and consistent, but it did help a sinker baller. I do think the Yanks helped him a lot swinging at balls rather than forcing him to bring up the pitches, but he had good stuff today.

On our side, Burnett, was not throwing as hard as he normally does, but he had excellent downward movement on his pitch. It almost looked like he was throwing a 93 MPH sinker at times. I also though Moeller did a good job in calling the game (I have been down on Cervelli lately).

The Yanks found themselves down 1-0 going into the 7th and had only one good offensive opportunity but Swisher K'd with 2nd and 3rd and 1 out with the infield back and the Yanks failed to get in the run. In the top of the 7th Burnett got 2 outs and then on an 0-2 pitch got unlucky as a curve ball hit Valbuena on the back foot (he almost swung). He then stole 2nd base and here is when it got interesting. Marson hit a ball that Jeter easily got to and set his feet but threw slightly off line. Tex did a terrible job at first base by stretching far too early and straight toward Jeter. This early stretch made it impossible for him to reach to his right and get a ball that really should have been routine for a 1st baseman if he would have stretched to his right instead of straight ahead. I honestly believe that error should have been on Tex as it was a very bad play and the stretch itself was not needed. So the ball got away from tex, the run scored and the next guy tripled in the 3rd run of the game. The Yanks were down 3-0 instead of 1-0 and it was 80% Tex's fault in my opinion. BTW, if my description was poor, stand up and stretch straight ahead of yourself and then reach your glove to the right side as far as you can and see how far you got. Now take your stretch toward your right and then reach out your arm to the right as far as you can. You should be able to stretch 2+ feet more in that direction...the ball tipped off the edge of Tex's glove.

Fortunately, Swisher singled to leadoff the 7th and after Miranda moved Swisher up on a groundout, Gardner hit one up the middle that they had no play on him. After Cervelli's struck out pinch hitting (correctly)for Moeller, it looked like the Yanks would once again leave a runner on 3rd base with 1 out. But Jeter came through with a huge 2 out hit scoring 2 (Gardner stole 2nd). Cleveland went to the bullpen to summon the lefty against Granderson, but fortunately, he hung a pitch to Granderson and he ripped a double. Now Tex was up with 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs and they left the lefty in to face Tex. This surprised me because the guy made a bad pitch to Granderson and now he had Tex who has been hitting almost 200 OPS points higher as a righty followed by ARod. Tex made them pay with a 3 run 2 out blast. the Yanks tacked on 2 more in the 8th and Rivera pitched a perfect 9th to win 7-3.

Other notes:

Rivera looked great tonight. he was throwing 91-93 with great movement (looked like a slider) and then against righties he would tail the ball in at times. The bat against Peralta was one of beauty as he had 2 strikes on Peralta and then threw the traditional cutter on the inside part of the plate that started inside and didn't quite get to the plate for a strike. Then Rivera tailed the fastball that started as a strike and ended up inside and Peralta struck out swinging. The final out was an athletic one as well where Valbuena got sawed off (more proof that the cutter was buzzing today) and the bat flew right at Rivera who leaped over the bat and then immediately stuck out his glove to knock the ball down and then threw him out to the end the game. I would love to see more outings like that by the Genius Maker!

Right before Tex's HR, I thought the Cleveland pitcher should have been called for a balk as he moved his front leg before stepping off...maybe that was a break?

Gardner took the wrong angle on a ball in LF and I think it was a classic example of a CF'r in LF not playing the slice off the lefty bat well. Gardner also showed his speed scoring on Jeter's clutch single, but he did the slide I hate at home and made the play a little closer than it needed to be, more important, he got clipped a little by the catchers cleat in his hand. he did shake his hand, but he seemed OK. Someone needs to tell the Yanks to get to the bag first most of the time.

BTW, I didn't mention the gifts the Yanks got at 1st base the other night where the ump Buckner had 4 close calls at first base and every one of them went the Yanks way, including 2 that I think were gifts for us.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Genius Maker #39

Well that was truly awful! That is a game that can ruin a weekend. the offense did a really nice job (until the final 3 innings) and the pitching simply stunk. I think it is 2nd guessing to blame Girardi for this one as he didn't take anything for granted. I would not have used Mitre when Robertson tweaked his back and I would have gone right to Gaudin there, but the rest of the moves were not wrong, they just didn't work, includng the Mitre one. Joba stunk and I had the same issue with pitch selection by Cervelli again. When he did what I said I would throw it worked and when he didn't it usually didn't work. I blame this game on poor pitch selection (which is on the pitchers too) along with CC and Joba. CC has to do a better job with That type of lead, but he never could throw his change up for a quality strike all game. Joba just made too many hittable pitches and the wrong ones. No matter what, when you are up 10-4 against Cleveland and you have Rivera and Joba rested, you should win 99% of those games...and 99% is probably not an exaggeration; one a year.

Of course TB and the Red Sox won so this baseball day was horrible.

Halladay pitched a perfect game for the Phillies; he is a stud.

The Genius Maker #38

The Yankees have a stretch of games against weaker opponents over the next 15 games (16 including last night). I had a number of 11-5 as the record I would like to see for these games. Let’s view it as the quest for 11 (kind of like what we did during the playoffs as a quest for 11 wins and the Championship)

Well, 1 down and 10 to go. With Granderson back it really helps our lineup against righties and our defense. Of course when you have Moeller and Pena in the lineup it still doesn’t turn over like one would want.

First the rants…I really don’t have anything of note from last night. Red Sox lost (to KC), TB lost, our young starter was dominant, Cano hit a grand slam and we won without burning out the bullpen! What could be wrong? least for a day.

People have talked about Hughes throwing the cutter too much. I don’t agree with that, what I think is that when the cutter isn’t good then he shouldn’t throw it as often. Last night he had excellent movement on it and not coincidentally, he was dominant.

My prediction at the start of the year that Winn was a bad signing and would be released happened already…and it was the right move. At least the Yanks will admit their mistakes. I expect we will see Miranda and Thames platoon at DH with Russo playing against lefties in the OF spots and resting infielders the same way; Pena will rest infielders against righties as he did yesterday. Of course, if Pena doesn’t start to hit better he may find himself down in the minors, but Pena is usually decent from the left side.

It seems like Cano is the only guy who can hit with runners in scoring position, but that will change. Remember when everyone said ARod was a great player, but was a choker and then everyone was saying we have to worry about Cano in the 5 hole because he can’t hit with runners in scoring position? Can we please put that entire BS to rest? Isn’t it pretty clear that guys are streaky and go through bad stretches and good stretches? I remember countless long arguments with people where I was defending ARod and stating that one good postseason would get him on target with his regular season and it was a not a long enough stretch to make any meaningful conclusions…I also remember people with the same “I don’t care what you tell me, he is a choker” response time and time again. After Cano dispelled this “mistruth” again this year, we should be able to roll our eyes the next time we hear so and so isn’t clutch.

We have a mismatch in our favor today with CC going against a weak pitcher…time for number 2 (BTW, I would be happy to win more than 11).

Finally, some people have been posting some comments at the end of posts (just a few), but please take the time to respond to them or ask me questions or leave your own would be nice to get a little back and forth dialogue.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Genius Maker #37

This game was extremely frustrating.

Blackburn was very hittable tonight...sinker baller that was getting the ball up and we did little.

I didn’t like the ump behind home plate, especially after a 1-1 pitch was called a ball and instead of 1-2 it was 2-1 and Vazquez had to come in with a strike and it was deposited for a homer. I didn’t like how poorly the Yankees hit, especially ARod, Miranda and Teixeira. Tex probably got me ticked off more than anyone when he swung at a 3-0 pitch down by 3 runs and Gardner on first base with nobody out! What the heck was he thinking, especially when he is slumping and not swinging so well. It was a selfish thing to do that was made worse by the fact he swung at ball 4! At least make sure it was a very hittable pitch and I could disagree, but not get all bent out of shape.

While I am on Tex, he made a great stop with 1st and 3rd and nobody out, but after stepping on 1st base he should have thrown home to get the 2nd out instead of 2nd base; he could have saved a run.

While I pile on Tex, yesterday I forgot to mention that he made a horrible slide into 2nd when he tried to stretch a single. If he goes straight into the bag he easily beats the throw, but instead he slides on the CF side of the bag and misses the bag with his feet (kind of like the home plate slide) and tries to touch with his hand. Once again, no idea what he was thinking?

2-4 with a great play in the field and Tex really got me annoyed...

Finally, what was Girardi thinking when he started Chan Ho Park in 7th inning with Mauer, Morneau and Thome coming up? The score was 5-2 so the game was not over, but after Park (who is better against righties) allowed the M&M boys to get on; he summoned Marte to pitch to Thome (who Marte got to pop up. Now if you are going to go to Marte, why in the world would you wait until after the two lefties were up? In fact, Thome could have been pinch hit for, but he wasn’t. Also, with a righty after Thome and then Kubel up, why wouldn’t you keep Marte in for more than 1 batter? Kubel is a lot better against righties and to have a shot in the game you must get out of the inning. Girardi made bad move after bad move and brought in Gaudin to get the righty out but then allowed a 3 run homer to Kubel that ended the game.

Sticking with my theme, what the heck was Girardi thinking? That was an awful job by Joe.

Let’s turn the page on a simply awful game!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Genius Maker #36

Two games today as we needed to finish up the 1st game that was suspended because of rain yesterday. Burnett was hoping for a run in the 6th and then for the Yanks to not relinquish the lead so he could pickup a win. Jeter obliged with a homer in the 6th and then the Yanks bullpen did their job (barely) as the 1-0 lead held up in an exciting, every pitch counts, 1-0 game.

Jeter also made a really good play in the field with 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs ranging to his right and making his patented Jeter throw, but this was not one where he takes a lot of steps; this one he released very quickly and made the play. This play made the excellent relay by the Yanks holding Morneau at 3rd very important. Jeter did also fail to start a DP by waiting on a grounder, but overall had a really good game.

Tex was up with 1st and 2nd and nobody out right after a walk and he swung at the 1st pitch. That by itself wasn’t so bad, but it was a breaking ball for a ball and Tex better start swinging at strikes or he will stay in this worst slump to start a year in his career. (boy that was a mouthful)

Rivera came on to pitch the 9th and was very shaky, but got a huge break on a hard hit DP top end the game. Control and movement was not very good and it showed.

But we got a 1 run win!

Game 2 saw the Yanks swing at a lot of balls again, but I do have to say that Liriano has an excellent change that goes away from righties and a slider that the righties really have trouble hitting as it ducks under the bat when he gets it down and in. Then he can slip his 92-93 fastball by you as well; he really kept the Yanks off balance and swinging at balls.

Cervelli needs to stop calling for the ball down and in to Spahn, he hit the ball hard each time.

In a huge play, Cervelli beat out a DP play ball that Orlando Hudson really took his time on. With 2 outs, it might not matter, but in this case, Russo (who has done a very nice job) hit a double into the gap scoring Cervelli and tying the game.

Gardner seems a tiny step slower than his blazing normal self…I could be wrong but he just seems it.

Russo made a nice catch on a Mauer line drive to LF!

Pettitte worked his changeup into the game a few times and left a guy at 2nd base with a beauty for strike 3 swinging. Pettitte mixed his pitches really well all game and Minnesota had trouble centering a lot of pitches and when they did they were hit at us.

Getting tired of the announcers talking about how every hit won’t go out of the park…the only ball I thought might go out was the long shot against Mariano in game 1, but he didn’t get all of it.

In the 5th Jeter led off with a double and Swisher swung at the first pitch and it was an off speed pitch and Swisher swung tentatively on it and grounded weakly to 3rd. I know Liriano can fool you, but when you are up in that spot look for something to drive, but you surely can’t pull a slow outside pitch with a weak swing on the 1st pitch…bad job there.

Gardner got a big 2 out triple knocking in Russo which was needed because Minnesota doubled in their own run in the 7th to make it 2-2

The bottom of the 8th was exciting as again every pitch was critical. Butera led off with a line drive to right center that Gardner was flying after (he did look fast there) and he had to go to his back hand with the ball about head high. Brett might have had to take his eye off the ball slightly and the ball went in and out of his glove…he got to it but just couldn’t hang on. It would have been a heck of a catch, but he was not able to make the play. So Butera had a leadoff double and Spahn was up to bunt. The Yanks put the wheel play on with Jeter covering 3rd so ARod charged and got to the ball almost on a fly but was in between trying to catch it and had to scoop the ball and messed it up so they 1st and 3rd and nobody out. After Orlando Hudson lined to Pettitte and the Twins runners did a good job of not getting doubled off up stepped Joe Mauer. This was an interesting call because you could walk him, but with Morneau on deck that would not be a good choice. You just had to take your chances. We got a break as he hit a hard grounder to Jeter (who the Yanks correctly had a DP depth) and Jeter to Cano to Tex for the inning ending DP! Pettitte (and I) were pumped!

Rauch came on for Minnesota to pitch the 9th as he is their closer. He has fairly pedestrian stuff and I was thinking this was good until he got two easy outs on Gardner and Jeter. Swisher came to the plate and took a breaking ball strike, then took a breaking for a ball and the Rauch tried to sneak his 90 MPH fastball by Swisher and he put it in the middle of the plate and Swisher crushed it! The park is fine folks!

Now the question remained, do you leave Pettitte in there against Morneau who he has taken care of today (and Pettitte has been tough on lefties this year) or do you go to the Genius Maker who has not been sharp…even earlier in the day? Andy had only thrown 94 pitches so I was OK with letting him pitch to the lefty and perhaps that would be his last batter no matter what, but Girardi decided to go right to Mo. It was one of those decisions that could go either way and to Girardi’s credit Rivera was much sharper hitting his spots and he even had good movement on his cutter…thereby living up to his name! Of course if Rivera had blown the one run lead Girardi would have been criticized…I am not so sure either move was the right or wrong one and both might have worked, but give Girardi the nod because the decision he did make was the correct one!

2 wins and 2 saves by the Genius Maker in one day is always good. The Red Sox are hot but have helped us inch back toward the top of the division…

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Genius Maker #35

I know many people feel these “rivalry” games are very important, but chalk me up to the person who feels these games are the least important ones of the year. While I am not necessarily against playing a NL division every year, I think the rivalry games are for unfair. Now, this year the Mets are a .500 team so it is an advantage for the Yankees and a disadvantage for the Mets (stuck playing the Yanks 6 times!) Meanwhile Boston has to play Philly and TB gets who??? maybe Florida (I honestly didn’t look it up). But the point is the same; get rid of the rivalry games as it is artificial and actually unfair. Please note that this doesn’t mean the Mets could beat the yanks 5 out of 6 games, it is just to point out that 6 games playing a harder team is unfair. I also would like the DH to be in place for these games…as I like the good batter pitcher matchups (that is another discussion)

On to the games…Friday night’s game was simply that Cora gave the Yankees a break and the Yanks pitching did the rest of the job. It was great to see Javier Vazquez pitch extremely well again…I hope his finger is OK (I had not heard anything new)

As for Saturday, the game was simply about hitting with runners in scoring position and the specifically with 2 outs. The Mets had 2 outs and nobody on in the 1st inning and pushed over 2 runs with 2 out hitting. In the 3rd inning The Mets got their 3rd 2 out hit to knock in runs as David Wright came through for his 2nd 2 out hit (both on fastballs away, although one was a cutter). Then again in the 6th the Mets got a 2 out RBI to knock in their run. Finally, in the 7th the Mets again got a 2 out RBI to put the final nail in the coffin. The Yanks did try and mount a rally, but they failed to score with 2nd and 3rd and one 1 out…again. Outside of Cervelli, nobody could get a hit to knock in a run. For the record, Swisher did get a hit in the last inning with ARod on 2nd but it did not score him, however, if the Yanks could have stopped the Mets ONCE in all those 2 out spots ARod would have been sent home.

Jeter, Gardner and Teixeira were the main issue in losing as they were a combined 0-13. Jeter is continuing to struggle and has a very poor OPS of .698 now. Teixeira’s OPS is .702. These guys both have to get MUCH better.

Once again I had issues with some of the pitch selection, but the main difference I see in Hughes is that his cutter has not had good or consistent movement. In fact, a few times it seemed to almost backup (in the way a backup slider would) and it got hit. People have made a big deal about his changeup being the key pitch for him, but I disagree, the pitch that made the difference for him is the cutter and the movement and location of the cutter have not been good of late.

I liked this ump the best so far (overall he was very good), but he did mess up in a huge spot when he called the first pitch a strike against Miranda (with the bases loaded). The difference between 0-1 and 1-0 is very large.

One of the things that makes Tex an excellent offensive player is his high at the plate, of late he has been letting strikes go by and swinging at a lot of bad pitches…he needs to get the discipline going again.

Chan Ho Park had yet another poor outing. Hard to say what he is doing wrong other than he is hanging too many bad pitches and teams are hitting them. His consistency is not there…he is better than this, but not as good as some of the Yankees brass were making him out to be. You can read what I said about CHP in my World Series preview…

Kevin Russo is doing a nice job. I didn’t really like Hairston very much because I like specialists on the Yanks, however, with the injuries we need some guys who are competent now and Russo reminds of me of a younger and probably slightly better Hairston.

Gardner made another running catch that not many CF’rs could make…this time coming in.

Randy Winn dropped a ball that not many LF’rs would have dropped.

TB and Boston won…back at it tomorrow!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Genius Maker #34

You have to give credit to TB, they just kept tacking on runs and the Yanks just couldn't stay with them. A very big set of AB's was in the bottom of the 3rd as the Yanks had 2nd and 3rd with nobody out after a few good bunts. The score was 3-3 and Teixeira, ARod and Cano were coming up. Teixeira weakly grounded to the pitcher and ARod and Cano struck out. I thought that was the biggest sequence of the game.

I was surprised Pettitte came out to pitch the 6th after having very poor command all day, but I think Girardi felt that he would let him face Pena as possibly his last AB because Pena has really struggled this year (hitting .194), but I thought Andy was done. After Pena's homer Pettitte's bad night was over. Honestly as bad as his command was, the ump was inconsistent and TB did a good job of driving the ball the opposite way for 2 of their homers. Overall, though the TB lineup is not that good and Pena having about a .650 OPS coming in it is amazing they are doing as well as they have...their pitching has been outstanding. Unfortunately, our pitching did a very poor job against this team and allowed far too many runs. Our offense did decent considering the guys playing...6 runs should be enough to win both games against them, but our pitching/defense didn't get it done.

The ump was bad again..sometimes both ways, but the ARod AB in the 9th was bad as he should have walked on 4 pitches and instead was down in the count.

Cano hit a dribbler down the 1st base line in the 8th inning and for some reason he ran on the left side (3rd base side) of the running lane which allowed Pena to barely and I mean barely touch him before reaching base. If he slid or ran to the right side I think he would have been safe.

Getting back to Pena, both his homers were on off speed pitches (curve from Pettitte and changeup from Chan Ho Park); with him struggling with the fastball Cervelli didn't do a good job. Cervelli has hit way over his head so far and obviously is a very good defensive catcher, but his pitch calling skills are still lacking some. there were many times where I said to myself why are you throwing there or that pitch. The off speed pitches to Pena were 2 of those times. To be fair, against Upton, I didn't want Robertson to throw another fastball outside but he did and Upton swung threw it, but in general Cervelli's calling skills are not as good as Posada's. He does need to learn the situations though and that comes with experience.

Just for some perspective, in these 2 games, TB had 2 guys hit their first homers of the year and Pena broke a 6-64 slide with his 2 dingers.

On a positive note, Robertson had nice life and good location on his fastball as he worked 2 perfect innings striking out 4. Miranda also is showing a decent eye at the plate and ripped a homer to go along with a lucky triple where Upton just lost the ball.

Now we move from the most important games of the year to the least important games against the NL...we just need to get some wins until the cavalry comes back and in this case it is Granderson as the main guy along with Swisher being able to play both ways. It was obvious his swing was different as Swish was swinging a lot more with the front arm (the left arm would let go much faster than normal.

We are losing a lot but there is no reason to panic as we are still in the top of the 3rd for the season and we are in good position...just need to get healthy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Genius Maker #33

Umpires, defense, sliding and the injury report...

1) The umpires have been awful of late; missing calls and terribly inconsistent behind home plate. The guy behind home plate in the Tuesday game against the Red Sox was terrible and it impacted the game greatly. Yesterday, the ump at 2nd called the TB guy safe on a SB that was not close; he was easily out. In general the guys on the bases do a pretty good job, but lately the umpiring has been poor.

2) Shabby defense has been the norm of late watching both the Yankees and other teams really play poorly. While Thames dropped pop was awful, the competition has played much worse than us defensively. However, I want to comment about something that I wrote in the blog last year and that is the way ARod takes throws at 3rd from the catcher. In last nights game, a TB guy was stealing 3rd (I think Upton) and ARod was in front of the bag and took the throw in front of the bag and then had to reach back to make the tag. If he is straddling the bag he just catches and drops the tag and he would have been out. There is little doubt about this and at the big league level I don't understand how this is not fixed as I mentioned it last year. ARod is not the only one who does this as Jeter many times does the same things on throws to 2nd. Cano, like many take the throw a little in front, but they are moving the glove back toward the runner as they catch so it is more of a catch while swiping and it quickly gets the tag there without the risk of the ball hitting the runner. On Tuesday, when Cervelli was bunting in the 9th inning (BTW, that was the wrong call knowing Posada could not pinch hit) and Cervelli took a strike and Cano was getting a good secondary and the catcher threw to 2nd where Scutaro took the throw in front of the runner too far and couldn't get the tag back in time. That was an awful play as Cano should have been out.

The other defensive situation I have brought up many times is when the 1st baseman fields a throw from a catcher/pitcher on a bunt or swinging bunt and his feet are in line with 1st and 2nd base and they don't stretch on a close play. Most 1st baseman do this, but on a close play they lose the advantage of the stretch and lose outs that way (many times I have shown this in the past)

BTW, I do want to add that Gardner made a heck of a catch yesterday and against Boston made a nice throw to nail Ortiz at 2nd base on a deep fly ball that Ortiz thought was gone. Gardner has really been great and while his non adjusted OPS (not including his SB's) may not stay above .800, it doesn't need to for him to be a valuable player.

Sliding - When we slide into home plate our guys are consistently sliding past home plate and tagging with our hands or going around the catcher. I would like to see more straight in hard slides more toward the front or middle of the plate. This makes it almost impossible for the catcher to block the plate when you go in hard and straight. There is always a soft spot or "5 hole" and if not that means the catcher has the ball and you better just lower your shoulder. But outside of Robby Thompson getting us thrown out a lot, we could do a better job of sliding.

Posada is out 3-4 weeks with a hairline fracture in the bottom of his foot.

Others still out are Granderson, NJ, and Aceves. These are big cogs.

Finally, we have injuries to Swisher (he is day to day, but unknown), and Marcus Thames who sprained his ankle stepping on his bat and he is considered day to day as well.

Everyone knows I have a lot of respect for what Aceves brings to our bullpen and I think he would be an effective starter too. Combine his loss to the losing of 33% of your lineup (44% if you count Swisher) we will struggle. We especially get hurt against righties. We have to try and split with TB tonight and just hang in there until we get some help. Long term we should be fine, but the injury bug needs to clear up...and our manager/GM need to be a little smarter in the decisions we do make and control.

The Genius Maker #32

The MASH unit continues as Posada will be gone for awhile and then Thames hurt himself and had to take himself out. The part that is the most puzzling to me is that the Yankees in some crazy stupidity feel that they should have 13 pitchers and 12 position players when 2 of the players you didn't even want to play the other night??? This is like watching some bad softball coach put together his team. What the heck are they thinking? 13 pitchers???

As for the game, AJ struggled but tried to keep us around, but the weakened lineup could not mount much until 2 outs in the 9th. AJ seemed to be flying open and then coming a little more sidearm than usual and this led to his fastball riding up and in to the righty and out of the zone.

Randy Winn still sucks

Jeter is really struggling and had the big AB with bases loaded and had a 3-0 count but hit a grounder on a 3-1 pitch - he needs to step up.

The Yanks need to call up either Romine or Montero and an OF'r.

BTW, why would the Yanks take a GG guy off of 1st base in the most important games of the year? Once again, it just isn't logical. Rest him any other time, but why against the only team ahead of us? Miranda didn't miss anything, but a lot of the stuff I say may not matter (but I bring them up anyway)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Genius Maker #31.75

From what I gathered, Posada was available but didn't start because he got hit in the top of his foot with a foul ball, but the bottom of the foot had some pain...this is what I read.

“As soon as I got hit, the bottom of my foot was barking. Right off the foul tip, I felt it right on my foot already. This was weird. You feel the blow on top, then that goes away. But this, for some reason, I guess nerves or something messed up the bottom of it.”

That said, Posada said he could play tonight if he the Yankees needed him, and he hopes to be back in the lineup tomorrow.

Girardi really screwed up! I would even bat Swisher right handed rather than have Winn up. Also, with a 5-1 lead it would have been nice to have Golson in teh OF instead of Thames, but Girardi wanted Melancon up instead???

The Genius Maker #31.5

I tried to watch the rest of the game and because the game was on 9 I didn’t have enough recorded to get past the 1st batter in the 8th where Joba allowed a groundball that ARod threw a little wide and Tex was called off the bag by the ump. Not sure it was the right call and I saw an instant replay before my tape ran out, but it was not conclusive.

So, while taking lunch I watched the 9 am encore recording to find out the ending…


OK, the ARod error didn’t help Joba, but there is an amazing difference to Joba when he is throwing 92 or 95. I think even his confidence to throw strikes is lessened. Now, the other day I stated that the 8th is Joba’s inning, but that does not hold water when a guy is not throwing well…

Score now tied going into the 9th…

Rivera should start the 9th so I have no issue on that. I have a huge issue with the ump not ringing up Macdonald, that was a no doubt strike 3 (and please don’t bring up the Pedroia play from before because strike 2 was borderline low, strike 3 was a as much a no doubter as this one). The ump was fooled because he thought the batter was going to swing (which the replay showed he might have as well), but the ump screwed us there. So instead of 2 outs and nobody on, Macdonald is on 1st with 1 out and moves to 2nd on a horrible play by Thames on a popup. I would have liked to have seen Cano be aggressive there and call for the ball, but he didn’t and once Thames called it is all his…in this case to screw up. Then Rivera was not sharp again…I am worried because even though his numbers were great, I have not felt he has been that good this year. As I said in earlier blogs, he will have more inconsistent outings and unfortunately we just saw 2 of them…although the ump and Thames made a huge difference and it is hard to blame him too much.

After Scutaro gave us life in the 9th on his 2nd error, Cano gave us a lot of hope as he doubled and now the Yanks were down by one. Here is where I had issues. Cervelli is batting 6th (kind of surprising) and while he is a great bunter, I want 3 cracks to score the run, especially with Thames on deck who is a strike out guy. With the corners far in, I would have had Cervelli hit away. After Cervelli put down a great bunt Thames worked a walk so perhaps Joe was right in this case, but I still didn’t like giving away an out. Pinch running Pena was the right move. Miranda is up followed by Winn. My assumption is that Posada is available and Swisher, I guess can’t hit from the left side, so I was OK saving Posada for Winn as Miranda had a good day so far. With Papelbon’s slow move (high leg kick) I would try and get Pena moving right away as we can’t risk a DP and while Martinez has a decent arm, he has a slow release…unfortunately, Miranda took a quick strike. After Papelbon made a nice stab at Miranda’s grounder and everyone did their job (Pena went and Cano smartly retreated to 3rd). We had 2 outs and 2nd 3rd…with Winn up. Posada must be dead for him not to pinch hit in this spot??? I have taken about 30 minutes too watch and type this so I will eventually find out what happened but how is it possible Randy Winn bats in that spot? You can’t worry about your defense, you need to tie or win the game.

Joe has some explaining to do…oh and I wish he would have left CC in as he had 112 pitches and could have thrown another 15 in my eyes easily. If Hughes can throw 108 on opening day, CC could throw over 120 on this day.

If anyone has news about Posada not being available then please post on the site with comments


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Genius Maker #31

I am going to do something different and post before the game is done because I will watch the rest in the morning. I am turning off the game going into the 8th inning as the Yanks have a 5-1 lead and I can say that Girardi and eye have a different take on what he should be doing with the bullpen. Keep in mind that one of the areas I felt Girardi was MUCH better than Torre on is his bullpen management and in general he does a good job. However, I have been on a different wave length on him a lot of late. For the most part Girardi's moves are rarely idiotic as they have some logic in them, but I have just been choosing to do different things a lot of late.

Take this game; the Yanks are up 5-1 with a rested Joba and Rivera. I can understand letting Joba and Rivera pitch the 8th and 9th to close out this Boston game, however, the manager said before the game how his "bullpen is a mess," and if that is the case, why go to it when your starter has just turned in 2 straight 10 pitch innings??? I don't know the pitch count exactly and I can't go to the box score because I am a few minutes behind as I write this, but I don't think CC has thrown more than 120 pitches and he has been cruising so why go to the "messed up bullpen"? CC is a guy who has thrown over 140 pitches and while I don't want to do that, there is no doubt I would have let him start the 8th inning and save as many outs for Joba and Rivera because we have TB the next 2 games as well. Now, I am not saying you worry too much about tomorrow rather than beating the Red sox, but I am saying that I think the better chance of winning this game against the Red Sox is to leave CC in while it also helps tomorrow.

Now, I write this stuff because it is what I am thinking at the time and the odds are it won't matter in the least (Joba and Rivera should be able to hold a 4 run lead) but as I always say, what happens if it does.

One other thought, it is possible that CC gets 1 or 2 outs and Joba pitches the last out in the 8th and then the Yanks score some runs and Joba gets just a little work and Rivera is not needed (yes this can happen if Joba pitches the entire 8th but he would have pitched the full inning and will not be as rested).

I will update in the morning.

The Genius Maker #30

Thanks to my good friend Don, I was able to watch that great game from the stadium!

The Yanks jumped out to a 5-0 lead and it could have been more if Robby Thompson would stop getting our guys thrown out at home plate with nobody out! I believe that is 3 times now so he has already gone over his yearly limit.

The 2 out 3 run homer by Drew was a huge blow that got the game close at 6-5. Hughes was not able to get to the 6th inning, but at least his record remained unblemished. The Yanks were not able to pull away, but they did get another run to make it 7-5 when Thames ripped a double to LC.

I didn’t understand why Joe left Chan Ho Park in after he got through the prior inning and with the matchups with lefties. CHP just got off of the 15 day DL so why extend him? He also struggled some. I said to Don that I would have Marte in right now. After Drew singled he allowed a homer to Youkilis and then Joe still stayed with CHP… who allowed another homer and finally Joe took him out. From then on, Marte did a good job and then Vazquez got on out setting up the dramatic 9th inning comeback. First Gardner slapped a line drive, 2 strike pitch to LF for a double that skipped past Hermida (Gardner also gave one a ride earlier to deep center). Captain Clutch then stepped to the plate and hit a 2 run ABomb to tie the game. After Cervelli got hit (probably not intentional, but…) Marcus Thames became and official member of the NY Yankees with a 2 out 2 run homer to win the game. Nice work boys!

Tomorrow we want to put the Red Sox 7.5 back on us...that is much better than 5.5.

One negative was that TB won in extra innings.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Genius Maker #29

There is a lot to write about this game, but I will start with my summary. Minnesota played a terrible game and we still couldn’t win.

Going into the 8th inning my comment was that we are about to win a game that was given to us with shabby defense and some poor base running by the opposition. However, with some questionable moves and the continued poor offense, we could not win.

This also was the classic antithesis of why Mariano Rivera became the Genius Maker. This was the exact type of game where the manager unjustifiably panics and goes to Rivera and where Mo would normally bail out the manager and the team. However, in this case, Girardi went to Mo and Rivera did a terrible job. He did get a bad call on one pitch to Thome that really changed the AB and ended up being a walk, but one bad call should not derail anyone. The one item I noticed was that Rivera kept going down and in to Thome and I thought that was dangerous (rather than when his cutter is up and in) and it ended up being the game ender as Kubel golfed it into the stands.

Getting back to the situation, I was not happy when Joba came out with 2 outs in the 8th inning and the bases loaded. Rivera was fully rested so that was not the issue, but Joba was rested as well and his stuff was good and I would have let him pitch his way out of the trouble he was in; let him feel like he owns the 8th inning (even if you won’t always manage that way). His stuff was there which is what I watch for most of the time. He was throwing 95-96 and good bite on his slider and had just struck out Morneau and gotten Cuddyer to line (not a bullet) to Texieara who missed the play. BTW, Tex makes great plays, but am I the only one who feels he makes every play look harder? I have said this before and I am not picking on Tex who has been excellent defensively… and honestly as long as he makes the plays I could care less, but every scoop or play he makes a demonstrative action compared to some guys who just smoothly get it done and it doesn’t looks as flashy (see Cano). This one he didn’t make the play so we just move on.

Some other notes:

Robertson pitched 2 scoreless innings, but looked bad as he had no command of his fastball missing spots by the length of the plate. His 2nd inning was good, but the first was awful. Maybe the 2nd inning will get him going.

Gardner and Jeter had bad offensive games and specifically I thought Gardner had 2 awful AB’s and they were in big spots. He seemed as if he felt he had to have a very different approach with runners on and he felt like he had to swing at everything. I know they have talked about situational hitting, but it is more important to get good AB’s and if you feel like you must put the ball in play, then be a little more aggressive earlier in the count, but you do that once and get back to your normal approach.

Cano and ARod had bad games as well going 0-8.

Texiera had 2 hits, but made a rare bad play in the field on a line drive where he over jumped for a ball and it hit off the heal of his glove. He makes that play and the yanks win the game because it would have been the 3rd out in the 8th inning. Honestly, that was a fairly routine play and it was one of the other reasons Joba should have stayed in the game.

Winn came through with a big triple in the game and also got a hit that gave us some life in the 9th before Jeter, Gardner and then Tex all struck out to end the game.

I am always saddened when Rivera doesn’t get the job done, but I do think Girardi made a mistake as Joba was going through the meat of the Minnesota lineup and if Joe felt it so important to get Rivera out there he should have started him in the 8th inning as that was the toughest inning to close out the game. I also would not have an issue if Job looked bad right away, but with Boston and TB over the next 4 days do you really want Rivera to throw more than an inning when Joba looks pretty good?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Genius Maker #28

First, Liriano didn’t start for Minnesota (I pulled it off of ESPN) so I apologize to anyone who thought he was going to start.

The bottom of our lineup had Winn, Thames against a righty and Miranda a call up first baseman who seems a little shy of major league talent, but has a swing that may be worked with. Anyway, that is a very weak end of order against a righty and true to form, Winn sucked, Thames struggled against a righty and Miranda didn‘t come through until the 8th when he stroked a long double against a lefty. Winn was up twice in spots where a sac fly or moving the runner over would have been productive outs and popped up and struck out. I am sure he will have some good games as he is not horrible, but he belongs on a Pittsburgh type of team, not the Yanks. I still think they will cut him before the end of the year and Cashman made a mistake. Thames is playing out of necessity against a righty, but I would play Golson and see how he does.

The biggest managerial play for Girardi happened in the 7th inning with Burnett having thrown 100 pitches, but had been going very well since a rocky start. Girardi took out Burnett with a man on 2nd and 2 outs to play the matchup game with Marte against the two lefties and then the 4th batter was Kubel. Now you know I believe strongly in the matchup game, but at the time I stated this was forcing the matchup game. Hard to say it was stupid with 3 out of lefties coming up, but Burnett was throwing well and does a good job against lefties. I would have left Burnett in there, but it wasn’t a terrible decision…just forced for my liking. Marte had a very good fastball but didn’t spot his slider too well. Cervelli should have called for another fastball, but after seeing a previous slider ad taking a fastball Mauer singled in the tying run on a slider. What made it worse was a terrible decision by prior home run hitting Brett Gardner, who tried to throw the runner out at home and missed the cut off man allowing Mauer to get to 2nd base. Fundamentally horrible play that cost us after Morneau hit a slider for double.

The Yankees came right back as Cervelli and Jeter set the table for Texiera to be intentionally walked to face ARod. ARod, came through with a grand slam that gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead! This time Michael Kay said it exactly correct when he stated, “ARod has not been bad, but the power has been lacking for him.” Fortunately, Captain Clutch (yes I coined him that after I was one of the few defending his lack of success in the postseason with the Yanks) came through in a very exciting way with his 19th career grand slam.

Joba came on in the 8th and was throwing a consistent 95 which made his slider tough to lay off. It makes a huge difference for Joba to throw 95+ because the batter needs to react faster and then the slider gets swung at instead of taken for a ball. It is like night and day with Joba when he has a good fastball.

Rivera pitched an excellent 9th pinpointing his cutter on almost every pitch and getting a slow grounder, a soft chopper back to the mound followed by a fairly hard grounder to Cano to end the game. The 1st slow grounder to Cano was a very good play by Robbie charging and firing just getting the speedy Spahn at first base. While on Cano, Hudson Minnesota’s 2nd baseman, had a play similar to the great play Cano made up the middle the other day and Hudson took a few more steps and “Jeter jumped” to try and get Cervelli at first base and was late. The smooth play of Cano makes it hard to realize what a great play it was.

Other notes:

Cervelli made a great throw to 2nd base on a stolen base attempt getting rid of the ball lightning quick and making an accurate and strong throw that allowed Jeter to basically catch and tag. Cervelli also is now10-13 with runner is scoring position…wow!

Robbie Thompson got Texiera thrown out at home by 4 steps. It was with 2 outs, but boy I miss Larry Bowa as Thompson has had a very bad year so far.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Genius Maker #27

It appears the injuries are starting make an impact to the offense as we got shut out twice in 3 games. The game that bothered me more was the 2-0 loss to Porcello in the 1st game Wednesday as we got a very good outing from Vazquez (nice to say that) and the offense was, well, offensive. Winn actually had a productive day getting on base 3 times, but nobody else did much of anything. One of the main guys who is not producing and is swinging terribly is Pena. Usually he is solid from the left side, but he is swinging at anything. I like Pena and was supportive of him playing over Hairston last year and defensively he is better than Jeter, but he has been awful at the plate, he is pressing and should be removed from the game to get himself straightened out. His OPS is .360 hitting a very weak .138.

I am not blaming the offense on just him as Jeter has been very poor of late with his OPS dropping to a poor .721. Cano also has started to swing at the inside pitch and getting himself out. He is still doing a pretty good job at laying off the balls away and in the dirt, but he was very productive when he wouldn't constantly swing at the inside pitch that is a ball. he got himself out a few times yesterday when he couldn't lay off of it.

I also would not let Thames play at all against righties; not really sure why Girardi would either. I would play Winn if he is on the team (I still think he may be cut later in the year) or Golson because the better defense will be worth more than the possibility of Thames hitting better against a righty. That being said Thames has not hit righties yet...just play him against lefties.

I can't be all negative. Rivera finally got into a game and did the job; it is always great to see Rivera on the mound! Finally, Hughes has been phenomenal; he is now 5-0 with a microscopic 1.39 ERA! Hughes has 39 K's in 39 innings which shows he has some dominance in him and also the OPS against him is fantastic .446. While keeping this up is improbable, it is incredibly encouraging how much better he is with the cutter adding to his well spotted fastball and good breaking ball.

We have now lost 4 of of our last 5 games and face a very tough pitcher (and team) in Liriano of Minnesota. Liriano has a 2.36 ERA and is pitching like he used to.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Genius Maker #26

First, to the final Boston game...The game was mostly about AJ getting beaten up and staying in a little long. We blew them out twice and they got us once. I was excited to see Sanchez pitch as he has a good power 95 MPH fastball and a nice off speed pitch. It was a blowout, but he pitched great 3.2 innings with only a hit and walk allowed.

On to the Tiger game. We fell behind 3-0 as Mitre was mediocre, but he was not helped by ARod who had a throwing error. The Yanks got it going, but I had 2 main issue in the game and they were both with Randy Winn (who did single once). The first was after Zumaya came in throwing 102...yes 102 and 101 consistently. Winn was up with bases loaded after Zumaya had just walked Brett Gardner on 4 pitches. now when you are a weak hitter and the bases are loaded you don;t want to do the pitcher any favors, but Winn swung at the first pitch and was very late and weakly flew out to LF for the 3rd out. STUPID. The second time I was ticked at Winn was the 8th inning as the Yanks mounted a nice comeback (down 5-2) and had 1st and 3rd with one out against Phil Coke with the score 5-4. Winn had a 2-0 count in his favor and I am OK with him swinging here, but you better pick out a very good pitch to hit and instead he swung at a pitch that was high,inside and a ball and popped up so the tying run didn't score. Use your head up there!

BTW, Joba came and maybe the gun was fast, but registered 98 a few times and not coincidentally, struck out the side. Unfortunately, the Yanks all struck out in the 9th as well.

Time to win tomorrow!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Genius Maker #25

The Yanks have now built up a 7 game lead on the Red Sox and tonight it will be at 8 or 6 so this could swing the Red Sox thought process on making moves. They are a good team with good pitching, but a banged up Yankee team still hit hard two very good pitchers. Buchholz has very good stuff, but simply couldn’t throw his breaking pitches, which are excellent, for strikes. The one time he did Swisher took a strike 3 on a nasty breaking ball on the outside corner. He also throws 94 consistently and with movement. Obviously, controlling it is a huge part of pitching, but the Red Sox have to feel down and this is a little bigger game than your normal May game. Not trying to make more out of it than it is, but Lester has only allowed one run in his last 15 innings so losing with him could divide their team a little bit…

Then again, it is only May, we have Burnett on the mound who has been as hot as Lester and the offense is clicking…either way, this is an opportunity to put together a larger lead while Boston is not playing well and I would love to see us take advantage of this.

As for the game yesterday, there were a few things that stood out to me.

1. We have now been thrown out twice at home plate with nobody out; that should be a season total. That being said, yesterday Randy Winn beat the throw but did the stupid slide to home, I have commented many times at how much I hate it, where ¾ of the player’s body is past the bad before they touch home plate with their hand. Just go in very hard and straight to the softest part of the catchers positioning. I am telling you form experience that it is almost impossible to stop a hard straight slide in with one leg; the leverage is almost impossible. In fact, if find the opening, and there always is one, you just slide into the five hole, but you go in straight and hard. Johnny Damon did this a few times and he was safe every time.
2. After Cervelli’s clutch 2 out 2 run single to make the score 6-3, Randy Winn got caught trying to take 3rd, but was really just forcing the throw to 3rd and ensuring the run scored. The Yankees do this too often and give away out they don’t need to. It is possible that with 2 outs and 1st and 2nd some more could have scored and unless the run is either extremely close (play at the plate) or you have a 2 run lead in the 8th inning and you want that 3rd run to be guaranteed, I think it is a waste of an out and possibly needed runs.
3. Back to Cervelli, the guy has been excellent! He is getting big hits, has an OPS of 1.000 and has played solid defense. He made a fantastic block the other day quickly moving his body out and turning his body back toward home plate so the ball went in that direction.
4. Gardner continues to be excellent as well; doing everything we could ask.
5. Texiera finally broke out and had a phenomenal game (3 HR’s); hopefully this will be the start of his 900+ OPS the rest of the way. He also made a great leaping across the body snag of a line drive (I think it was Pedroia).
6. The injuries are continuing as Aceves had to leave the game and hopefully he is ok.

A few of you have asked me what we will do about the DH position, but one enormous plus we have now is that if Cervelli can catch as a full time player (not convinced that is the case yet, but hopefully a light has turned on and he can at least be solid), we could use Posada as DH and occasional catcher. I also thought the Yanks may bring up Montero their hitting star in the minors. I think Thames against lefties will play all the time and Pena should play against righties frequently as to give the Yankee infielders a DH spot along with Posada DH’ing, I think we will be ok. Hopefully Winn can give us a .750 OPS as well, although I am not optimistic.

Happy Mothers Day to all!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Genius Maker #24

The Yanks crushed the Red Sox, but added more people to the MASH unit as Cano got hit with a splitter and Nick Johnson hurt his wrist…again. Interestingly, people were talking about the Sports Illustrated jinx and while I don’t buy any of it, Jeter is the only one not injured form the core 4 and he took one in the back from Beckett that seemed a frustration hit to me. Beckett was cruising along throwing 96 and having an excellent curveball and a decent splitter when Nick Swisher followed a couple of hits with a huge 2 out 3 run homer to tick Beckett off. After almost hitting Cervelli on a 3-2 count and then pegging Jeter square in the back, he was done. I would have liked to see the Yankees retaliate at some point because of the lead…I don’t like to retaliate from getting hit, but Cano and Jeter…that is enough. Robertson should have pegged someone instead of walking 2 more guys. Screw Beckett and I am glad to see his ERA go to 7.46.

Meanwhile Phil Hughes continues to deal with a very solid 7 innings and moving to 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

Hughes and Swisher were the big players, but there were a lot of contributors including Randy Winn getting 2 hits and Cervelli getting 2 hits and a walk.

One interesting note on the game was Swisher seeing 25 pitches this game.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Genius Maker #23

On Monday I wrote, “NJ had a back issue but that seems to be behind him as he has been hitting a lot of hard balls, but not finding any holes.” This was interesting for two reasons…First, I was discussing the Yankees who were starting to get banged up and second, the fact that Nick Johnson was starting to find a good stroke but was getting unlucky. The good part is that NJ kept it up as he drilled a very deep line drive homer to go along with a line drive double, single and 2 walks to have a terrific day at the plate. It was all needed because the bad part was that Pettitte had to leave the game after the 5th inning and 77 pitches because of elbow stiffness. It appears that he has some elbow inflammation which may not be a huge deal, but at his age it also could be a big deal. Andy leaving early caused some unrest as the Yankees did not have Joba or Rivera available and still needed 12 more outs to be recorded. Fortunately this was against the orioles and a 6-1 lead should be enough. Mitre came in and did a nice job for the first 7 outs, but in the 8th inning he allowed an infield single and then a 2 run homer to make the score 6-3 Marte relieved Mitre correctly and struck out the O’s best hitter Markakis and Girardi then went to Robertson. I thought Joe handled the bullpen well all night, but I had an issue with this move as Marte looked good and I would have let him face Tejada. The 9th inning was still wide open and the 2 pitchers I have the most faith in, that were left, are Marte and Aceves, so when Marte looks sharp I am going to try and get a few more outs from him. But, when Robertson got Tejada (although it was a deep fly ball to Swisher) the Yanks got out of the 8th.

The Yanks got a run back as Nick Johnson got his 3rd hit and scored on Baltimore’s poor defense as they committed 2 errors to make the score 7-3. The extra room was needed as Robertson continued his awful command. After getting the 1st out he allowed back to back homers and now the score was 7-5. Girardi went to Boone Logan, who again was throwing 95 consistently and reached 97 again on a pitch, but he walked his first batter. After getting the 2nd out of the inning he walked another guy on a 3-2 pitch and that was enough for Girardi. Ace came in and immediately threw a nice breaking ball on the outside corner for a strike and later got Wiggington to weakly fly to right to end the game and give the Yanks the sweep I asked for!

Unfortunately both Boston and TB won again too.

ARod has been getting some hits, but clearly has not found his power zone yet. His .345 OBP is not awful, but his .414 slug is very poor for ARod. For perspective, he is on a pace for 12 homers. Many other guys are picking up the slack for Texiera, ARod and NJ, but they need to get rolling.

Speaking of Texiera, he obviously has been horrible at the plate this year (our worst hitter), but something the announcers kept missing every time he got a hit and proclaimed “maybe that is the hit that breaks him out of his slump” is that Texiera has hit pretty well from the right side of the plate, but he has been atrocious from the left side of the plate. He has an OPS of .494 hitting lefty and .840 hitting righty. My brother and I noticed this about a week ago that he was much more comfortable swinging against a LH pitcher and I kept forgetting to look up the splits until now. This notion about just being April or now May is kind of off base and the key is he has a mechanical flaw in his swing from the left side. Normally I can see something a player is doing from discipline or dropping his shoulder etc…but Texiera has an odd swing and when he is going well he drops his shoulder so I am not sure what he is doing wrong, but they need to fix it because we have some other guys over performing and when they start to come back to reality our 2-4 guys better get it going.

Gardner now has 13 SB’s and is on an unsustainable, crazy pace of stealing 83 bases while being caught only 6 times. His OPS is .862 but has an adjusted for SB’s OPS of .999. Add this to his wide range in the OF and he has been a star thus far. When I was pushing for him to be the every day starter last year and even when I said his performance would have the same value as Damon when I said I had no issue with Damon leaving, I never expected this. He won’t continue at this pace, but he has been fantastic.

Finally, for those who care, in the middle of the 2nd inning of the year: Johnny Damon has a very respectable OPS of .854 with Detroit (remember his defense is weak), Hideki Matsui has an OPS of .722 (obviously he has been slumping) and Austin Jackson, who was traded away for Granderson, has an excellent OPS of .929 thus far.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Genius Maker #22

Starting lineup...I meant to mention this the other day, but when resting players, I am surprised that Girardi plays Pena against lefties? I know he rests Nick Johnson that way and moves his players to DH sometimes, but why not play Pena and give rest when a righty pitcher is on the mound because Pena is a decent hitter from the left side of the plate, but awful from the right side. For perspective, last year Pena had a .818 OPS (hitting .333) batting as a lefty and had an OPS of .274 (hitting .120) from the right side of the plate. When we rest guys, it should be when a righty is on the mound. I do know that occasionally you want to give a guy a rest and it isn’t the perfect matchup, but putting Jeter at DH is not a “forced” rest and Girardi should wait to use Pena against a righty.

Cervelli had a great game yesterday, making an excellent catch going into the dugout 9with 2 outs and a guy on 3rd) on top of getting a triple that went past a diving Adam Jones, two singles and a walk! His OPS is now .941!

Gardner was productive again getting on base twice and tying the lead in SB’s with 12.

Burnett was very sharp showing good movement on his fastball in dominating this weak team. Burnett went 7.1 innings and allowed only 5 hits, 2 walks while striking out 8. Marte and Aceves each got an out, although Aceves allowed a long fly ball to RC that Golson ran down for the final out of the 8th. Speaking of Golson, he is a very fast OF’r and played CF with Gardner moving to LF. In the 9th the two of them converged on a ball to left center that either could have caught and what went through my mind was if Thames and Melky were in those positions the ball would have fallen for a hit. Those two can cover some serious ground. Golson appears to not have much stick (from what I have read), but can be used as a Gardner from last year type of player. I am not sure whether he is that fast, but he is clearly fast.

Both pitchers had a throwing error by throwing into the runners lane on a sac with 1st and 2nd nobody out. These were the 2 biggest threats of the game. It is the best time to sac.

Joba came in and picked up another easy save (3 run lead) looking about the same on back to back games. This was the part I was interested in; to see if Joba could throw 94-95 on back to back games and he did. It is a shame this isn’t 96-97, but I guess he just isn’t the same as he once was? His curve has been a better pitch than his slider the last two nights and I was thrilled to see Cervelli call for it as I was saying out loud, “throw your curve now.” The result was strike 3 looking, although I did think the pitch was outside. The ump was very inconsistent on the 3rd base side of the plate all game; very bad IMO.

Time for the sweep!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Genius Maker #21

CC against the Orioles should be a win…

I said I wanted a sweep against the Orioles…and Randy Winn helped us. Read that one again. Yes, we had a Randy Winn sighting and he actually hit a 3 run homer with 2 outs after Swisher and Gardner got 2 out hits. When Granderson went down, we knew Winn would get his chance and this is a good start, although hitting homers is not his game. I believe this was his first in 400+ AB’s, so we shouldn’t expect many more of them, but I will take any offensive production from him.

Back to Swisher and Gardner. Gardner has been excellent and while he is hitting above where he will finish, I think he is showing what was said in this blog awhile ago and that is he is a guy who is a productive all around player. He is also someone who has improved at every level he has played at once he got used to it. He has been a huge plus for us. As for Swisher, Kevin Long must have worked with him because instead of moving the back and forth like he used to, he is not resting it on his shoulder and then lifting it straight back and limiting his swaying of the bat a lot. I think this is letting him see the ball a little longer and be quicker with is bat. It is easy to say that after he has been hot, but I have to admit I didn’t notice the lack of movement in his bat until tonight. Regardless, that is a good change.

CC went 8 and was not happy with the ump and I agreed with him; I didn’t like the umps zone. Joba closed out a 4-1 victory throwing a powerful 95 MPH fastball and not throwing a single strike with a few curves and a few sliders. One of those sliders was on a 3-2 pitch and he should not have thrown it. He needs to learn that a strike out is the same as a groundout with nobody on and sometimes a groundout with a guy on first may be better.

The Yankees are starting to get a little banged up. We know Granderson will be out for awhile, ARod has a sore knee that he can play with, Posada has a sore calf and was removed from the game and the Genius Maker had a sore side and did not close out the game. Posada will get an MRI. Rivera should be OK from the way they talked. NJ had a back issue but that seems to be behind him as he has been hitting a lot of hard balls, but not finding any holes.

Finally, the Yankees announced that they will skip Javier’s next start. I agree with the decision as he can lineup by missing Boston and then also missing TB. This also gives him a few side sessions to try and straighten himself out. I do think he will straighten himself out and be the same pitcher he was (a 4.50 ERA in the AL) once he gets back on the mound. I would also give him at 3 more starts before I panicked, but I agree with the decision to miss a start.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Genius Maker #20

Saturday’s game was frustrating because the Yankees fought back from another awful performance from Vazquez only to see Robertson and Marte give it back and lose a tough 7-6 game.

Vazquez simply has no command of his pitches right now and better get it going soon. He will only get a few more shots if he continues this bad. If he has 2 more outings like this, I am in favor of getting him straightened out before sending him back out there. I do think he will right the ship as his track record and stuff show a guy who should put up a 4.5 ERA and be a solid #4 starter. However, he simply is missing all his spots and walking guys at an alarming rate. Let’s see our coaches right the ship.

Sunday’s game was a lot more fun as the Yanks just mauled the WS pitchers and Hughes was in complete command. For some reason Al Leiter kept saying that Hughes was using his slider, but it was his cutter. The cutter was effective again, although he didn’t control it that well at first. In general Hughes had excellent command of his fastball and the other pitches were just good enough to keep the Sox hitters off balance.

The Yanks offense was hitting on all cylinders as hitting sensation (kind of funny to say this) Brett Gardner even went yard. Even Texiera grabbed 4 hits to up his batting average to .189 (wow was he bad). Cano hit his 9th homer!

While Gardner, Thames and Cano are playing above their heads (not that Cano isn’t great as you know I have been touting him, but a 1.200 OPS and on a pace for 60 homers is a bit extreme), Nick Johnson, Texiera and ARod are struggling. Granderson has been bad as well and now he is on the DL for what may be a month. This is a big blow because it was expected he would be doing a better job. I would expect the Yanks to call up Golson to help out, but this is a time for Winn and Thames to platoon in LF and see if Winn can do anything; if not just release him and use Golson as the defense is probably at least as good and maybe he can hit better than Winn.

Back to the way the Yanks are playing many people are saying just wait for Tex, NJ and ARod to start hitting, but overall the offense is doing about what you would expect overall. The Yankee bullpen is not doing a good job so far, except Mariano. Joba has been OK, but nobody else has been good thus far.

Melancon was brought up and he pitches in Sunday’s game. He is highly touted, but I have yet to see stuff that looks dominant? I have not seen that much of him, but so far he surely doesn’t have Joba type of excitement surrounding him. I only wish Joba were throwing 97-98 again.

Speaking of throwing hard, I was very impressed with the velocity of Boone Logan the other night. In his prior outing he consistently hit 94-95 and this last one he did again and even dialed one pitch that was clocked at 97! He does not have a sharp breaking ball, but when you can dial up to 95+ and spot it, you can do well. That is a pleasant surprise.

Oh, BTW, Hughes' ERA is now 1.44 and he is 3-0! Not bad for a #5.

I want all 3 games against Baltimore and then let’s see what happens in Boston. Game 1 is Vazquez against Beckett

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Genius Maker #19

Andy struggled for the first time this year but regrouped to at least give the Yankees a shot to come back…and they did. This was on the strength of Jeter’s homer and triple and a good day by Brett Gardner who has been hitting line drives of late and has been our best OF thus far.

It was 4-4 when Aceves came into the game and pitched a scoreless 7th inning. In the bottom of the 7th the Yanks put up two runs which gave Ace his 2nd win of the year. In case you are not keeping track, that makes Ace 13-1 in his Yankee career. Marte came in to get a lefty to start the 8th and Joba took 5 pitches to get the final 2 outs of the 8th. The Genius Maker pitched a solid 9th inning (looking good) for his 7th straight save this year. Mo is now 51 for his last 51 saves at home which ties an all time record with Eric Gagne. Gagne was amazing for those 2 years but like many of the other closers, he fizzled out; The Genius Maker just keeps going and going! We are going to hate our next closer, because there is only one Genius Maker

Boston lost and TB finally lost as their closer did not do the job…picked up a game on each of them

Cano finished April hitting .400 with a gaudy 1.201 OPS