Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Genius Maker #64

Hughes had good numbers 3 starts ago and at that point I said he was lucky and didn’t pitch well. 2 starts ago, he got crushed. Yesterday, he only allowed 2 runs in 6 innings, but it was the Mariners and he did allow 9 hits. I am thoroughly unimpressed with Hughes right now. While he did get squeezed on a few pitches, his control within the strike zone was awful. He hung curves and missed with his fastball more than hitting the target (looking for a fastball inside and he threw it outside yet still for a strike). If Hughes pitched against a decent team he would have been crushed again…look beyond the runs and it is clear he is not where he needs to be. His cutter was non existent and his changeup was not usable yesterday.

Later in the game, the Yanks defense failed them. Cano and Jeter combined for 2 bad plays that both should have been outs and neither player did the job on either play. Then, Granderson misplayed a ball in CF and had a bad jump on another one. I said this the day they got Granderson and that is Gardner should be in CF and Granderson in LF. I know Gardner’s arm plays well in LF and he had another assist yesterday, but Gardner’s speed in CF would cover a few more plays that Granderson is just short on (probably about 6 this year I feel would be made. While this is 6 doubles, one could argue that Granderson would miss a few in LF that Gardner gets, but I think you get a few more chances in CF where the long runs matter.

The Yanks had some chances, but simply couldn’t get the job done. The key AB was with Jeter up, bases loaded and one out. He hit a sac fly, but that is all we got out of the inning.

Boston won so we are 3 out, but 5.5 up on the Angels for the wild card.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Genius Maker #63

What happens when you get a top end pitcher who is pitching well facing a team that is struggling? You get a perfect game through 6 innings and a game where your starting pitcher breaks his own record for strikeouts in a game. CC’s buzz saw continued last night as he retired the first 19 batters of the game striking out 14 batters. After a rain delay CC struck out Suzuki (who BTW, has been awful this year) before throwing 2 balls to start the next AB against Brendan Ryan. He then hit the outside corner, but Ryan hit it off the end of the bat for a clean soft liner into LF for the only hit of the night for Seattle. CC got out of the inning before another short rain delay. In the 8th he walked the bases loaded before recording an out. Girardi made the correct move at that point taking CC out. CC did not have good use of changeup, but he was painting the extended corners with his fastball and his breaking ball was sharp with the downward movement that is important to him.

Girardi brought in Robertson who had a crazy streak of his own, he had struck out the last 9 batters he faced with the bases loaded. Robertson extended his streak to 10 getting Adam Kennedy to swing at ball 5. I say this because Robertson got the benefit of a strike call on a 3-1 pitch that was outside. The ump did have a big strike zone which helped the pitchers (for example Cano took strike 3 on a pitch that was clearly outside) a lot. Robertson then got a FC allowing a run to score before striking out the next batter to end the threat and keep the lead at 3-1. The game was still in doubt at this point so that strike call on Kennedy was huge…of course him waving at a pitch very low was huge also.

The Genius Maker finished up striking out 2 so overall Seattle managed 1 hit while striking out 18 times – this tied a club record in a 9 inning game that was held by Ron Guidry.

Hughes better keep these guys in check, or we should take him out of the rotation.

The Yankees got a big boost with Chavez coming off the very long DL stint. With ARod out the drop off now is a little less as Chavez can still field very well (and you could see it right away) and was 1-3 with a RBI at the plate. For the year his OPS is .822 and I would sign up in a second.

Boston won so we are still 2 out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Genius Maker #62

Going back to Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Oakland…Cano was up with the tying run at 3rd base and 2 outs when he asked for a timeout BEFORE the pitcher started moving. The ump didn’t grant him timeout and then Cano decided to swing at a pitch up and away to end the game. This wasn’t an instant where Cano was too late in asking, it was an instant where the ump didn’t do his job…unfortunately Cano decided to swing anyway. Cano needs to recognize a bad pitch and not swing. His ability to hit anything actually makes him a worse hitter because he can’t control himself. When he learns some plate discipline he will lead the league in hitting; he has that much talent. Not sure he will learn it as there are so many times where he decides he will take the first pitch for a strike and then swings at the next curve no matter what. I would have to see some numbers, but I bet he swings at a higher % of breaking balls than any player in baseball. What he needs to understand is that when he did HR derby he had his dad throw fastballs and not breaking balls for a reason.

Sunday was almost a rare time where both Robertson and Rivera didn’t get it done when they had some spare room. Robertson was really off as he had little velocity and didn’t have a tight spin on his curve. Rivera got the final 4 outs, but allowed 4 hits and the Yanks held on to a 7-5 victory with Robertson and Rivera allowing 3 of the runs.

Monday was a game against a team really struggling…Seattle played poorly and we just got the job done winning 10-3. With CC going tonight, this has to be a win. Tomorrow nights game is the one where we will struggle with. Hughes continues to look like a worse option than Nova (who I said at the time I would rather stick with)
And he is going against King Felix. Felix just lost to the Red Sox allowing 6 runs so we can beat him, but we will need Hughes to do his job to a team who just lost their 17th game in a row (I hope and expect).

BTW, there are a lot of names being bantered around. The Yanks focus needs to be on EXCELLENT starters and nobody else. Getting a decent guy doesn’t help us at all because I think we have that already. We either go after a stud like King Felix or we stand pat with our starters. Nova is in the minors and can do what any of the White Sox pitchers could do (as an example). When you are the Yanks you go after the stars and you fill in the rest with your young guys and a few fill in guys.

Garrison, a young lefty starter in the minors was called up and pitched the final 2 outs last night, but I didn’t see how he looked. His minor league numbers are not impressive, but my hopes are that he is great against lefties and is awful against righties and he will be a one out or 2 of 3 lefty type of guy…otherwise, not sure why he is here. Then again, I have not watched him pitch so just looking at the numbers may be a little short sighted.

Boston lost and I have removed TB from my standings on the right side of the blog because they are 9.5 out. 60-40 isn’t great, but it is good for 3rd overall and 2nd in the AL. I think if our offense were playing up to their potential we would be in 1st place. The good thing is that we should get a Soriano and another lefty back in the pen as well as ARod and that helps the team a lot. We also will need to make a decision about DH very soon. If Posada does not get going soon, we need to look for a DH or a guy like Beltran to put in RF and move Swisher to DH.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Genius Maker #61

Disappointed that our offense can't get 3 runs to win a game even with ARod and Granderson not starting. I was happy that Gardner was leading off against a righty, but it would have been nice if Granderson was batting 2nd. I know Girardi wanted to rest Granderson, but if that were true then why get him 2 AB's later in the game? Yeah, I know it was close and he was trying to win, but you could get a lead also and then rest him as well. The main issue was Tex and Swisher going a combined 0-8. When your lineup is a little light you need those guys to produce.

Shields threw a good game mixing up speeds and had good movement, but still this one was on the offense. CC hung a breaking ball to Longoria that didn't have any downward bite and that set the catchup tone all game. CC did his job though only allowing 2 runs in 8 innings, but a 2-1 loss is no different than a 5-1 loss to me. We are now 2 games back and TB still has life.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Genius Maker #60

Freddie Garcia pitched a very good game. He is the rare craft righty. His splitter which should probably be called a sinker because of how slow he throws it had great downward movement and after seeing the curve the TB team had trouble picking it up. This is why if you saw the game or the highlights you saw a lot of swings and misses on balls very low. Garcia did allow 8 hits in 7 innings which will happen with him, but not walking anyone is huge for him. He can’t afford free passes and it shows in his game as the 3 times he has walked 3 or more batters in a start he was lit up. Overall, his ERA is a fantastic 3.21 and the offense has really let him down. He has one loss in relief so he is 8-6 as a starter (17 starts), but at 3.21 the Yankee offense has really let him down (and is a good reason why W-L record is as much about run support as ERA). His OPS against is .750 but his record should really be 11-5 based on the amount of runs allowed.

Because Garcia was throwing strikes and mixing in a lot of different pitches and locations it was a very interesting game to call. Cone, who has an odd way about him, but does a good job of getting into the pitch selection, although he doesn’t always say what he would call, he does ask “what would you call here” or says “let’s see what he comes back with.” I would like to see a little more of “let’s see if he comes back with another curve ball a little lower” as a comment stating what he thinks is the best to call. I say this because that is what I do when I watch the game…in fact, when I am watching with people I say what I would throw and where. Cone does call it sometimes though. Anyway, there were a lot of interesting times to go over pitch selection yesterday and I felt Martin/Garcia did a very good mixing it up.

The 7th inning was a good inning to enjoy the nuances of the game. With the Yanks leading 2-0, TB started off with a bunt down the 3rd base line by Sean Rodriguez that started fair and then rolled foul…only to roll back and touch the outside part of the 3rd base bag and roll just beyond the bag. If you have ever seen a 3rd baseman, 1st baseman or catcher immediately grab a ball once it goes foul; this is the reason. Nunez charged the bunt, but then didn’t follow fast after the play and Garcia who looks in slow motion all the time didn’t hustle either, but the fact the Yanks didn’t even try to touch it was pretty sad…In fact Girardi came out on the play almost as if the Yankees didn’t know the rule? One play like that can cost a game for you. Freddie came back on got Brignac to pop up to 3rd (BTW, Brignac looked awful yesterday at the plate and looks to be earning his .453 OPS…yes that is not a typo). After Damon grounded out to 1st moving Rodriguez to 2nd Nunez booted another ball making it 1st and 3rd and 2 outs. Girardi had an interesting decision here as Garcia was pitching very well but the lefty Kotchman was up and he had 3 hits (aided by the poor range of Jeter). Girardi decided to go to Logan because Kotchman has an OPS of .620 against lefties and .935 against righties. I think this was a correct move because Logan has been pitching well and if TB kept the matchup the Logan one is better than the Garcia one taking all factors into consideration. If they did decide to pinch hit for Kotchman, the matchup probably would not have been as good, however, you take out one of the top 2 hitters in a close game that you are winning (key factor).

Now is where some interesting pitch selection came into play…Logan started Kotchman off with a breaking ball for a strike (his pitch is kind of a slurve but he sometimes throws it more down and sometimes more like a slider) then threw a slurve for a low ball followed by a slurve that was very close on the outside corner for a ball. Logan then fired a fastball strike on the outside edge for a 2-2 count. Now is when the pitch selection is critical. They are setup where they could call anything right now and in my opinion there are advantages to throwing each pitch. If you can get by with the fastball the next pitch being a breaking ball is a very good option, but the curve is the slightly better pitch to get Kotchman out on at this very moment. Martin went with the fastball that just missed off the plate for a ball. Now at 3-2 I felt the curve was the correct pitch to throw as the fastball is the pitch that would be more expected and shown a little more control. Logan threw a good slurve but Kotchman, who was fooled, reached out and hit a weak grounder just foul. Darn! That was the pitch you wanted the out on and now what do you do is what raced through my mind. At that moment, Cone said, “so now what do you come back with?” This was really an interesting call because Kotchman was clearly geared for the fastball on the last pitch and was lucky to still be alive so how much would he adjust on this next swing and look a little more for the curve? That tiny difference was enough for Martin to call the fastball and that tiny bit of recognition was the difference in getting the fastball by Kotchman for strike 3!!! I know this excites me more than most people, but it was an incredibly strategic battle going on that is not enjoyed by enough if us.”

This blog is long enough and I have to get to work, but Jeter missed 2 plays I thought SS’s should make with decent range in this game; one in particular he thought Nunez would get and didn’t play it like you would if you were the only option and it cost a hit.

I am pretty down on Nunez as I have no confidence in him defensively right now and I really wish Chavez was ready (should be soon). His offense hasn’t been good either, but he did drop in a huge 2 out single knocking in 2 runs to give Rivera an easy 4 run save.

I think Nunez needs more time and seasoning at whatever position they feel he is best for. The backup options are not good until Chavez comes back. The Yanks might take a look at Laird at 3rd?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Genius Maker #59

My ramblings from Tuesday’s TB game

As I suspected after last game, I was not too worried about Colon as you can tell he is still feeling his way back from his hammy. He threw pretty well last night and worked in a few changes and showed a good breaking ball as well. His fastball never reached 95, but he did hit 94 twice and was mostly at 93 with his running fastball at 91-92. His control was much better last night as well. TB is not a big hitting team so he was aided there, but he looked good. He did lose about 2 MPH from the stretch so there is still a little “feeling” to get back; but it was encouraging. At the end of the day the results were good and could have been really good if not for some very bad luck.

Girardi took Colon out at the right time and brought in Logan. Logan looked very sharp (threw 94-95) as he came in with 1st and 2nd and 1 out in the 7th inning (the Yanks winning 2-1).

I want to back track for a moment to get a comment in…The Yanks offense did not do a good job. Once again Jeter leading off against a righty looked awful and was up in a key spot in the top of the 7th with 1st and 2nd and 2 outs and then 2nd and 3rd after a double steal. He looked totally overmatched and weakly grounded out to first in this key spot. He is behind the fastball and ahead of the off speed stuff. I said it last year and expected this year he would slow his bat up and drop it on his shoulder similar to Swisher and ARod, but he simply refuses to make adjustments and he is hurting us (along with Girardi’s stubborn stupidity to keep hitting his head against the wall)

OK, back to Logan. Logan did his job getting a high pop up to CF that Granderson just lost in the absurd dome. It was a terrible break in the game and instead of 1st and 2nd with 2 outs it was bases juiced. Logan got the next guy to hit a grounder up the middle that he should have fielded for a probable DP or he could have just let it go and it would have been a DP…instead he reacted a little late and then reached up and it tipped off his glove for an error. He might have been thinking about letting it go and then decided to play it at the last 2nd, but it was a shame as the worse result happened. The next guy pops up weakly but perfectly in between Granderson, Jeter and Cano, but Granderson made a sliding catch but was not expecting immediately the guy to tag from 3rd and then threw wildly home for the game winning run. I know Grandy was just trying to catch the ball first, but he could have been slightly more aware…hard to kill him for it though because he has to make the catch first.

BTW, I still go back to what I said last year and that is Gardner should be in CF. I think his speed would have gotten to a bunch of balls the Granderson didn’t reach and this is one of those cases where Gardner would have been in better position to stop the run form scoring…Maybe Girardi will finally come around on that one as well.

The Yankee offense did not perform well and with Jeter leading off against a righty and the huge drop off from ARod to Nunez the Yankee offense is not getting it done. Martin hit the final out to the warning track BTW and just missed it.

Gardner had another excellent offensive game going 2-3 and seeing a lot of pitches and also picking up another 2 SB’s. The TB catcher took too long to release the ball on steals. I have to look back and what I said Gardner would have on total SB’s if he led off, but he has really come on and it would have been nice if he had the extra AB instead of Jeter. UPDATE: I did look back and 3 weeks ago I found this comment about Gardner and his SB’s, “Gardner is on pace for only 40 SB’s. I felt he was a lock for 50 if he played every day. I still think he could have a shot at 50 if he leads off.” Right now he will get to 50 as long as he stays healthy and even if Girardi continues to be stubborn about the lineup. BTW, I also saw myself as a broken record saying Gardner should be leading off against righties…

At least Boston lost too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Genius Maker #58

The game started on a sour note for me. It is hard to get mad at Jeter, but I get that way mostly because of Girardi. Let me explain…Why is Jeter still leading off against a righty? Girardi needs to wake the heck up and make the move to Gardner. Not only is Gardner swinging the bat well, he is waking up the team with his speed. Jeter is hurting the team and is not deserving of the extra AB in the game. In fact, this was a game where Jeter was up in key spots and cost the Yankees runs. It is hard to expect Jeter to ask to be dropped, but if he is about what is best for the team, he would go to Girardi and let him know that against righties he should bat down low and Gardner should lead off…

Gardner did a great job in this game and took a lot of pitches and still was very productive getting a key 2 out hit, walking a few times and using his speed to help break up a DP hit by Nunez that scored the tying run. Nunez might have beaten it out but it was close; either way Gardner speed was important to rush a throw.

Burnett struggled all game, but the play that was most annoying was after 1st and 3rd with nobody out the Yanks got an excellent play by Teixeira where he fielded a grounder and made it look like he was going to go to 3rd but in one motion threw to 2nd and then back to 1st for a DP. It looked like Burnett would get out of it, but after a chopper went over the mound that he fielded and bounced a throw to Mark that he couldn’t handle TB had a 3-1 lead. It was terrible throw but I would have liked to see Teixeira make that scoop. I said this a few times last year, but does anyone else notice how Mark makes these dramatic sweeps and jumps with his glove that make routine plays look a little more dramatic? I don’t think it is intentional, but I think it makes people overrate his good defense into the great range. One area he does excel in his throwing though, he throws very well for a 1st baseman.

Burnett allowed 14 guys on base in 5.1 innings, but the Yanks got good relief from Noesi (5 outs), Robertson (3 outs) and the Genius Maker to close out the one run save!

With 1st and 2nd and nobody out in the 8th inning Girardi pinch hit for Posada with Andrew Jones. This was of note as Girardi seems to have baby gloves on Jeter, but doesn’t have an issue taking Posada out (against a lefty). I know Posada has been awful against lefties for the year, but I don’t think he has been so bad of late after an atrocious start. Jones didn’t get the job done, but that didn’t make it a good or bad move. I just thought it was interesting that a player like Jeter who has a .671 OPS this (and was only .710 all last year) compared to a .695 of Posada this year (and over .800 last year), yet Jeter leads off while Posada gets pinch hit for? When do you think we will see Girardi pinch hit for Jeter against a righty? As usual, Girardi is just not consistent in his approach and it ticks me off. Oh and before someone writes me and tells me that a manager shouldn’t always do the consistent thing; I recognize this, and in fact agree that every situation needs to be analyzed, but I would like to know the logic string instead of the line of BS Girardi gives us.

OK, back to the nice comeback win. The Yanks walked 9 times including the game winner by Martin who had a good AB.

Boston scored 8 runs in the 8th to win again 15-10 over Baltimore. Is Buck now a good manager or a bad one? Remember who called that out early in the year. My point is not that Buck isn’t a decent manager; my point is that a team with talent will win more than a team with less talent and the manager makes some difference but not THAT much difference.

TB is fading...

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Genius Maker #57

CC was dominant again on Saturday. Slowly throwing harder as the game went on again and reaching 97 by the end of the game. His curve was as good as it has been all year, but he hasn’t been throwing his change with as good as feel as last year yet. This bodes well for CC as he has been throwing a great fastball for the last few months and has usually had at least one of his other pitches going for him. Rivera closed out the 4-1 victory looking good with excellent movement and velocity. Not sure if the gun was correct, but on his 4 seamer he reached 95 twice. He allowed 2 cheap hits, but that will happen sometimes…he also K’d 2.

Sunday saw Brett Gardner lead off the game with an excellent AB seeing a lot of pitches and then lining a single up the middle. He then followed with his 11th straight SB without being caught (later he would add his 12th in a row giving him 26 SB’s and 10 CS) and scored on a Swisher single. The Yanks kept chipping away and put up 7 runs.

Hughes’ final stats look good, but I didn’t think he looked all that good. His curve was better and had good break, but his fastball was 90-93 and mostly 91-92. His cutter had good break, but he was throwing it at 88-89 and all of that would be OK if he had better command of each of the fastballs but he didn’t. He barely threw his cutter for a strike and while he did get some swings and misses on his fastball, most were on balls. I might have missed one, but I am not sure if I saw a changeup all night and that is odd. Again the numbers looked a lot better than I thought he pitched (bad hitting by Toronto). Also, Hughes seems to be short arming the ball more than in the past…I don’t have any old video of him, but he just seems different. Last note on Phil, I am not throwing the towel in on him by any means, but he will need to keep getting his stuff and control more refined. Hughes went 6 allowing 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5.

Wade came on in the 7th and showed an excellent change. He also was not afraid to throw it against a righty. I have said this before and I know the change tends to tail so a righty throwing a change to a lefty is a little more effective that throwing against a righty, but a good pitch that changes speeds and eye levels is a good pitcher regardless of the hand. Wade threw two changeups to a righty in one AB and got two strikes with them.

Granderson got a very big 3-2 2 out hit that scored Nunez from 2nd and Gardner easily all the way from 1st as he was running on the pitch. This hit basically ended the game and brought us to a 7-2 victory.

One odd play happened in this game and they didn’t go back to discuss of replay. A ball was hit up the middle and Cano backhanded it and threw to first base where Posada was playing. Posada had trouble finding the bag and while catching the ball was feeling for the bag with his foot. In doing so, the runner tried to avoid the foot and missed the bag (as did Posada). The umpire correctly didn’t make a call, but Posada correctly just stepped on the bag with the ball in his glove. The ump still didn’t make a call and Jorge stayed on the bag another 2 seconds but no call, so Posada went to tag the runner who had run by 1st base. When Posada went to tag the runner the ump immediately called the runner out. Interestingly Posada actually missed the tag, but that was just absurd. First, this was first base so it was a force out so once Posada stepped on the bag the batter was out??? This isn’t home plate where occasionally the play at the plate sees the runner and catcher each miss the base and the tag respectively. That is terrible umpiring and nobody said anything because the right outcome happened. I have no idea what he was thinking? BTW, the ump was Angel Hernandez who I didn’t like in yesterday’s game.

Boston beat TB 1-0 in 16 innings and has won 12 of their last 14 games. The only thing good is that we play TB tonight at 7 PM on ESPN.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Genius Maker #56

I had stated that the first few games back for Colon after his injury would be really important to see how he does. I am concerned, but I am not as worried as I thought I would be. This may mean that my initial thought was wrong or it may be that I am being too optimistic? The results were horrible yesterday, but he was also very unlucky as Nunez misplayed another ball into an error (although it was a tough play and one of the few ones where the infielder should NOT have charged the ball) and he also allowed 2 swinging “bunts” for hits. Also, anyone who watched the game could see that the ump really hurt the Yanks in the first 2 innings. Not only did he miss 2 strikes on Bautista, I really had no idea where the ump was looking when pitches looked like strikes to me were called balls. On the pitch before Colon was knocked out, he had the batter struck out on a pitch that was right down the middle and on the low side, but it was clearly a strike. In fact, the announcers were talking about Angel Hernandez' tight strike zone. That would be fine, but then the very next inning, Granderson had a 2-0 count on him when a fastball was up and in (more up) was called a strike. Granderson's body language was like "wow that was a ball" and then he grounded out on the next pitch. The same exact scenario occurred when Swisher was up but Swisher let Hernandez know he was unhappy; I was thinking how different the strike zones were. The ump made a huge difference and was just another one of those things that worked against Colon.

All that being said, what is wrong with Colon? It looks to me that he is not trusting his hammy and is not lifting his leg as high as he did before which is throwing off everything. It is clear his control has not been as good and his velocity never got above 92 yesterday. Previously he was hitting 94 consistently. He was throwing his 4 seamer about 93-95 and his running fastball around 91-93 with his sinker around the 90-92 Yesterday he was a good 2 MPH less in all categories. He also had poor control of his breaking pitches. Anyone who has had a hamstring injury (all mine were after I played baseball - playing softball) it is an odd feeling because it is hard to put it out of your mind. It takes a lot of health to get over it and maybe this is why I feel he will be ok in a few starts. Obviously, we can't have more 8 run first innings being allowed though.

As for the offense, they came back well and actually closed the game to 9-7 on the strength of 2 homers by Andrew Jones. Then a very big play in the game happened...Noesi had allowed 2 singles and it was 1 out with 1st and 2nd with Adam Lind coming up. Having only one lefty in the pen is really embarrassing, but Girardi went to Logan who matches up well against Lind and he got Lind to pop up. Aaron Hill was next and while Hill is a righty he hits righties better so leaving Logan in made sense. Here is the play that changed the game in my opinion. Hill hit a weak grounder in the hole that Jeter took a terrible angle on. The announcers didn't mention this but Jeter kept backing up and backing up going into the hole and fielded the ball in the OF and then threw late to 2nd base which left the bases loaded. The announcers stated that because the ball was hit so slow he had no chance, but it was the way he played it that caused the issue. What Jeter needed to was aggressively cut the ball off by ranging straight toward 3rd and throw the ball to 3rd base rather than fading into the OF. Think about it, the ball was hit weakly, why give ground? He wasn't going full speed in the hole and even with his limited range if he cut straight across and threw to 3rd the runner would have been out. I think most SS's could have made that play and Jeter's lack of range and wrong approach kept the inning alive. Now with bases juiced Girardi stuck with Logan against an average hitter in Encarnacion who this year has struggled and normally hits lefties a lot better but this year is slightly better against righties. I would have brought in a righty, but I don’t have a huge issue with Girardi leaving Logan in with Travis Snider on deck and Logan was looking OK. Logan allowed a single scoring 2 runs and thus putting the game out of reach and taking the wind out of the Yanks. This really underscores how sad it is not to have 2 lefties on the squad. I think Joe should have managed that area of the game like the game was the 8th inning because it seemed to me that failure in that spot would ruin the game...and it did end up being the case. Again, it was not a terrible move, but one I would have done differently…then again a SS with any range gets us out of the inning.

The only other plus that happened was that maybe after Mitre stunk again that Cashman will overrule Girardi's man love with Mitre and we could get any lefty who can get some lefties out brought up. Mitre now has an ERA of 14.54...he is not needed.

16-7 loss puts us 1.5 behind the idle Red Sox.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Genius Maker #55

Before I get into today’s game, there was something that happened in yesterday’s game that I was surprised about but forgot to write about it. It happened when I noticed that Dickerson did not pinch hit for Andrew Jones against a righty and then Jones stayed in to play RF. Why in the world would the Yanks not have Dickerson up when he is clearly their best defensive RF and also their best RF’r against righties with Swisher out? I don’t get it. I would get rid of one of the superfluous relievers.

Onto the Sunday game. This was the type of game I like (probably more than most people). Every pitch was important and we saw too excellent pitchers going at it. Shields was changing speeds with a lot of movement and CC was throwing gas from the 2nd inning on and also worked in a change and good curve. CC was awesome.

The game was going to be tight on runs and in the 3rd the Yanks played it like that as Nunez got on first base and then was bunted to 2nd by Jeter who beat the throw to first. I may be wrong here but I watched the replay a few times and I think Jeter fouled the bunt off his foot and then it trickled fair. Live, I thought something seemed odd and then I watched it a few times. Anyway, we got a break and with 1st and 2nd with nobody out Granderson sacrificed again. I didn’t love the call, but he might have done it on his own. Tex hit a very short fly ball to Upton who threw a strike home and nailed Nunez. Everyone ion this blog knows I don’t like Thompson as our 3rd base coach, but I didn’t have a huge issue with this as it took a good throw and tag to get him out. Live I thought it was too shallow, but I am not making a big deal about it. I was more upset at tex for getting out. BTW, I listened to Flaherty and Kay more than normal as I was working and they Kay was making a big deal about “all Tex had to do was direct the ball to SS and you get 2 runs” because the shift was on. Flaherty said he could direct the ball the other way, but if they are throwing off speed stuff inside to him, I am not sure he would do anything but pop out if he tried to hit to SS. There are times I think Tex should bunt for a hit but bunting past the pitcher is a little harder than bunting down the 3rd base line where a foul ball won’t kill you. Anyway, Tex didn’t get the job done.

In the 7th we caught a break where Upton could have doubled up Cano at 1st base with a good throw, but he aired it into the dugout moving Cano to 3rd with only one out. Unfortunately, Martin, who had a terrible offensive day, grounded out on the 1st pitch freezing Cano at 3rd. Then came the play of the night. Shields tried to pick Cano off of 3rd the way a lefty would try to pick a guy off at 1st and he threw the ball away. Kay and Flaherty (who I like a lot BTW) were both talking about what a bad move it was (mostly Kay) and then after I was saying how an average throw had Cano easily picked off, Flaherty finally said, a good throw might have had him…I was thinking what are they looking at? Cano was dead to rights there and you really have to say to yourself, Cano made 2 bad base running plays and TB threw the game away to us.

Of course that is because CC was throwing a gem and I was thrilled to see Girardi stick with CC for the 9th inning. Girardi was rewarded as on the final pitch of the night, CC threw his fastest fastball of the day – hitting 98 on the radar gun – and he threw it right past the batter! What a great game by CC!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Genius Maker #54 - Congratulations Jeter!

Jeter gets his 2,999, 3000th, 3001, 3002 and 3003rd hit! Not much more news than that is there? Well, yes actually. On top of the terrific day by Jeter and his flare for the dramatic, we needed all of his hits as his last one knocked in the winning run and the others were important as well. His HR on his 3000th hit was really cool. But there was more good stuff…

The major highlight I saw was “proof” that someone in the Yankee organization is reading this blog. That was with martin catching, Rivera threw a cutter on the outside corner of the strike zone (this is normal), but then I saw it, I saw Rivera shake off Martin (rare) and then he threw his running fastball inside to a righty for a swinging strike. Then he threw another one that went inside…Then he did what he should do as it was setup perfectly. He threw a cutter that started slightly inside and cut back just to catch in the inside corner for a called 3rd strike! This is exactly what I was talking about the other day that has been absent. Perfect end to a perfect day!

The rest was all window dressing, but I did have a few comments:

Nunez with a big double followed by a perfect sac by Gardner led to Jeter’s drawn in single.

Boone Logan and Cory Wade each pitched a perfect 2/3 of an inning striking out a batter.

Robertson made 2 horrible 0-2 pitches that cost him a triple and a single and the lead, but the Yanks came back to win. When you throw a curve and guy swings at it and then you throw another curve, it needs to be more out of the strike zone or in the same spot to be effective.

Burnett actually had great stuff tonight, but his control was a little spotty…

Anyone else notice how much Price changes his pitching style with guys on base? I don’t know the numbers but I would put money on him being worse when he is pitching from the stretch.

Michael Kay continues to not have any feel of balls off the bat as in the first inning he said that Granderson looped one to CF that he then said was caught by the SS. Later he was shocked that Kelleher (1st base coach) knew that Jeter’s hit was a HR off the bat. Didn’t we all? Finally, he said Tex drilled one to left that was really a soft liner. I am still ok with Kay as an overall announcer, but C’mon man.

Congratulations to a great ambassador of the game who I am proud to have been our SS for all these years!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Genius Maker #53

I called my brother after the 1st inning as I was really impressed with Masterson. He had great movement and velocity throwing a 94-96 MPH fastball along with a 92/93 sinker and he also ran his fastball at 93-94. Great movement. His breaking ball is not very good, but those are some very good fastballs. As it turned out he stymied us and got some terrific defense by Asdrubal Cabrera at SS that ended our threat in the later part of the game. He made 2 very good plays and if he missed both, we probably would have won the game. He made both and they even got ARod out on a grounder up the middle that happened because of good positioning (playing him up the middle).

The real important part of this game was Hughes and how he looked. My opinion is that he was VERY fortunate he didn’t get knocked out before the 5th ended. He started throwing about 93 with his cutter at 91, but by the 5th inning he had nothing and we were lucky he left the bases loaded and only allowed 2 runs in 5 innings. He was throwing 91 with an 88-89 MPH cutter and didn’t have anything at that point. In 5 innings he allowed 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 HBP’s. he did work in a change which I thought was good and his curve was thrown a little harder than in the past at about 75 instead of low 70’s. He used to be able to throw fastballs and get them by guys, now they are teeing off on his fastball; he had ZERO swing and misses on his fastball and I believe only 2 all game on everything (my unofficial tally); that is not good. He will need to be a crafty righty. It is his first game back and he does have enough of a repertoire to be effective, but I was not encouraged. He really seems like a guy who needs to be able to reach 94 consistently to set everything else up better. I will chalk up the reduced velocity in the 5th as only a stamina item that will be corrected.

One other item on Hughes; he seemed much more upright to me rather than driving and reaching toward home like he used to. That may or may not be good, but I noticed a change in his delivery

Other comments:

Mitre let the game get out of hand with a terrible performance allowing 2 runs in one inning; they ended up being the game losing runs. Ayala allowed 2 hits in 2/3 of an inning, but they were very cheap grounders that found the hole each time. Logan did a good job, but then allowed a solo HR in his 2nd inning or work (he only record 3 outs).

Cano had one of those AB’s where you just want to grab him and shake him and say, get your head out of your … and see the ball and hit it! He took a strike and then after a very bad pitch that he couldn’t swing at, he swung at 4 straight pitches where the first was close, the 2nd was a clear ball he swung at as was the 3rd and then he swung at the last pitch that was not even close. He is frustrating because of his elite talent.

Michael Kay had a terrible day of announcing; he constantly had no ability to judge a ball off the bat. While he usually says a ball is driven or hit deep when it is nothing of the sort, when a ball was driven deep by Swisher, he didn’t say anything as he thought it was just a routine fly and it ended up being caught at the wall. He also made a few other comments that I just shook my head about. The only comment he made that was appropriate (well I am sure there were more) was when he said that the ump shouldn’t have given Hafner his base when Logan hit him as he didn’t move at all until after contact and it went off his elbow pad. I am of the belief that if you are going to wear body armor then you must make a legit effort to get out of the way, otherwise you could where a Kevlar arm pad and lean over the plate…just silly they allow that.

BTW, Am I the only one who has ever seen that called by the ump where they did not award a base on a HBP because the batter didn’t get out of the way?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Genius Maker #52

Some of you asked about my comments regarding Rivera and the pitch selection with Martin. In my haste I write things and do not always flush them out so that many of you can follow my logic (or lack of) The main issue with the pitch selection I have seen is that as much as I think Cervelli is a waste of a roster spot, he calls a good game with Rivera. He does this because he calls for the running fastball inside to a righty hitter. In fact, one of the reasons I was so excited about Rivera continuing to pitch at a high level was that he now had a cutter and a running fastball to add to the in and out and something that could really mess up righties. In fact, last year was the first year Rivera was better against righties than lefties since 2004 where he was barely better against righties. The running fastball (tails into the righty) was the main reason in my opinion. For some reason Martin just didn't call that pitch and while I may be wrong about this, Rivera does not seem to call off any pitches from catchers…or rarely does. He feels that if he makes his pitch he will get an out. Posada called for it last year and Cervelli did as well. In terms of the other pitch selection, they are just part of the game and many times mistakes are made and of course I may be wrong in my opinion as well. There are many times where I would be OK with 2 different calls and it is a matter of preference at that point, but other times there are calls that I feel are just wrong. For example, I may feel a slider low and away or a fastball up and in would both be fine to throw, but the change would not be a good call. Usually when you have your choice of good pitches to throw, it is because the previous pitch or pitches were the correct ones to set you up well. Like a lot of the decisions I get angry with, it is the first one that leads to a chain reaction of bad decisions…the same with pitch selection. Last comment, when I say pitch selection, I am referring also to location. Sometimes the actual pitch is the right one and it is the location that is wrong.

As for last night’s game, every Yankee had 2 hits except Cervelli, who had none.

CC did his thing and picked up his 12th win.

Boston got a lucky break as Papelbon came on to protect a 3-0 lead in the 9th inning. He allowed 4 hits and a walk but the game ended on a single with the tying run coming to the plate where the runner beat the throw but slid right into Varitek’s leg but still got hit other leg in as Varitek did not tag him until very late. It was a bad call as the runner was safe and it would have been sweet for him to blow that save and maybe the game.

Posada solidified his status as the worst base runner in the game after a he ripped a double he was caught standing 9literally standing) as he didn’t know whether to run or go back to 2nd base on a hit kind of at him. He needs to continue to hit well because he has lost about 4 hits with pathetic base running…he is swinging the bat well though.

Is anyone else a little upset Nova was sent down for Hughes? Nova has a respectable 4.12 ERA; the same as Burnett and Nova was also 8-4 and we won the last 5 starts he had. I know his WHIP is high and he has not been an innings eater, but he was pitching well enough to stay. The problem is who else should be dropped? Nobody really and with the options left he was the right choice. The question should be “is Hughes better than Nova?” If Hughes is not throwing a consistent 93 and hopefully 94, the answer is probably no.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Genius Maker #51

Garcia was pitching great all night painting the corners and changing speeds. He had 82 pitches…82! Why did Girardi feel the need to take him out in a 1 run game? I was watching with my father in law and I said this is the type of decision that Girardi makes that drives me crazy. We have a good chance of winning the game with Robertson and Rivera closing it out but in a 1 run game anything can happen so why go to the bullpen where it is possible one of them won’t have “it” this night…or maybe one just allows a run somehow and then you have a weak bullpen for extra innings. Why not let Garcia pitch the 8th and maybe he even goes the distance? If he uses too many pitches in the 8th you can go directly to Rivera for the 9th and if Rivera blows the save you then have Robertson for the 10th.

In the last 3 innings, Garcia faced the minimum 9 batters. You simply do not take him out pitching so well and with such a small amount of pitches. What is the reason to take him out after 82 pitches? Robertson struggled walking 2 batters, but got through the 8th. Rivera actually had good movement, but I didn’t like the location Martin was using with Rivera. He walked Bay with 2 outs by not throwing a single pitch inside. Then after a single that was fought off into RC there was 1st and 3rd. Here is where I was really ticked off at the pitch selection. Rivera got ahead 0-2 after an outside fastball was taken for a strike. I wanted another pitch in the same location but another 5 inches outside. Instead they decided to come inside. I hated the call and said so at the time. As it turned out Rivera made a good pitch that was just low but was taken for a ball. Then he went outside again but for a strike and the batter went with it for an easy single. I think they blew their chance to throw the same pitch and then they could have come inside. Hard to know how it would work, but I was sure enough I made a big deal about it (as my father in law was probably looking at me like I was crazy).

Then came the odd situation where Pena decided to all of a sudden forget he was a good defensive player (and probably sealed his minor league trip Monday). He simply missed a groundball and luckily completely missed it, but instead of the game being over Gardner charged hard and made a good throw home and Martin made a very good tag keeping the game alive.

The offense didn’t get it done and with Robertson already spent we had our only lefty in the pen left and our secondary relievers. Girardi decided to go to Ayala who committed the crime of walking the leadoff hitter. After a sacrifice, Ayala hit the next batter. Girardi made his first correct move since starting Garcia and that was to bring in Logan who has pitched well of late. Logan didn’t disappoint as he struck out Beltran, looking very sharp throwing a 95 MPH heater and some breaking balls to keep him off balance. Logan then turned his attention to Murphy. Again Logan was looking good and Murphy defensively hit a weak ball to SS that Pena goofed up again loading up the bases. Very odd for Pena, but he simply messed it up.

Now Girardi went to the mound and my comment was if he takes Logan out Girardi deserves to lose this game. Why take out a guy who is looking very sharp? I like Noesi and think he will have a good future, but he is the 2nd to last guy in our pen right now (mitre), why take Logan out? Even if Noesi gets out of it, now you have nobody left? Just stupid.

Just to see if there was something crazy I was not aware of I looked at the splits and while Bay has been much better against righties this year, he is almost dead on even for the previous 3 years so probably not a difference. However, Noesi has been torched by righties this year and been good against lefties, so there was no logic, just idiocy. Bay knocks in the winning run and Steve ends up being ticked off all night.

Let’s recap (just as I did all night). Taking Garcia out…stupid and this causes the chain of events to unfold…Then Pena screwed up…then Girardi pressed the wrong button in Ayala, but did take him out after a walk and a HBP to bring in Logan who was razor sharp…so Girardi took him out so we could lose the game.

A couple other points:
I have no idea why Izzy threw Granderson a fastball after 2 straight curves and allowed Grandy to hit a sac fly and get Gardner home after his triple. I was glad though.

I still think Martin has not called good games with Rivera and I have not seen the numbers but I wonder if Rivera has done better with the other catchers?

The strike zone box seemed like it was too far to the left most of the night; meaning a fastball to the lefty that was inside looked like a strike on the box. It seemed better in the later innings.

Boston won so we are 1.5 up

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Genius Maker #50

The main item I wanted to see was how Colon came back…he was still pumping 95, had decent control and didn’t walk anybody; YES! That was so important to see. Colon has an ERA of 1 over his last 4 starts.

Nunez has had an incredible offensive performance against the Mets going 7 for 8 with a HR and 3 doubles in the two games. He also was robbed of a line drive for his only out that probably would have been at least a double. When Girardi was asked about what he will do at SS he laughed and responded Jeter is our SS and then gave his usual BS answer about how Jeter has been our SS forever and he will be our SS when he comes back. Now, I am not ready to give Nunez our SS starting job because of a few games, but not because Jeter deserves to hold it, but because Nunez simply is not a professional defensive SS at this point of his career and I have concerns he isn’t fluid enough to be there on an everyday basis. It is possible that he has played so many positions he can’t get comfortable, but the fluidity is still an issue. Jeter is not a good defensive SS, but he is a SS who makes the plays within his lack of range area at a very high rate. When you combine average defense (at best) with sub .700 OPS that is NOT a valuable player. The issue is we have nobody better right now. Of course, if Nunez would hit .339 with some power (as he has during Jeter being gone) one could make a case that he deserves to play over Jeter. I am fine playing Jeter for now, but I would get Nunez AB’s and rest the starters; he should be playing against every lefty. Oh and Jeter should not bat leadoff against righties…no way I would lead him off against righties. I believe there is little chance Girardi will be smart about this and agree with me though. Make the move now so you don’t have to do it after he breaks 3000 hits.

Not sure if anyone is aware but Cory Wade has now pitched 8 scoreless innings for us allowing only 5 hits while walking only 1. He is not overpowering, but he throws strikes and switches up the speeds and planes he throws. His career ERA in limited innings (107) is 2.97 and looks like a decent middle guy. BTW, his career WHIP is 1.03 so he doesn’t allow a lot of base runners and really limits his walks. I have not analyzed his pitching too much as of yet, but he has done a nice job and the limited history shows he is deserving of a spot. He just turned 28 and had a very good year with the Dodgers in 2008, pitched only 28 innings in 2009 and got injured without pitching at all in 2010. We really need to give Cashman and his team a lot of credit this year. I also believe that Larry Roethschild deserves a lot of credit as the pitching has been excellent all year.

Those of you who have read this blog remember me talking about one of the things ARod just does not do well and that is his feel for tagging runners. Many times he fields the ball too far in front (like Jeter) or is stiff on the tag (also like Jeter) and Friday night you saw him come up on the throw and miss the tag on Reyes. Fortunately the home plate umpire who covered on the play could not see the missed tag. BTW, ARod is still not great on popups (even though he hasn't missed any this year), but outside of that he is remarkably really aware about everything else in the game and has fantastic instincts.

Boston caught an easy matchup on Saturday and won…Tampa also keeps hanging in there playing better than I anticipated after losing Soriano, Carlos Pena and Matt Garza (who looked great pitching a complete game 1-0 loss for the Cubs).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Genius Maker #49

I have not been able to watch the last few games due to travel and only saw highlights so I will comment on a few trends and some questions people have sent as well as some random thoughts…in no order…

We are now at the 80 game mark; only one game shy of the half way mark…this will help with some trends.

The Yanks are 12-3 since Jeter went on the DL. Before we throw Jeter under the bus, I think it is a little coincidence, a little more having Gardner lead off rather than Jeter against righties and mostly the competition. Unfortunately, Jeter is our best SS right now, which is sad, especially against righties. Pena is the best player defensively, but hits even less than Jeter (although against righties he may be on par right now) and Nunez just isn’t getting it done defensively and more important just looks a little too stiff defensively at SS. His offense is also nothing to write home about with an OPS under .700 (even after his 4 hit game). I am not saying Nunez might not have a bright future, the guy has just turned 24, but it might be more utility or at a non SS position. He could also improve defensively, but some guys just look more fluid than he does at SS. Nunez has done well against lefties this year with an OPS of .830.

The Yanks should do what I have been saying for a year and that is leading Gardner off against righties and Jeter against lefties. If the Yanks don’t make the switch when Jeter comes back now, they will struggle with doing it later (and my entire issue with Girardi is it takes him FAR too long to see the obvious things).

I was reading the paper and looked at the disabled list. The Yanks had 11 guys on it and the closest team, the Pirates, had 9.

Colon is scheduled to pitch today. I am sure you are like me and are really hoping he just continuous what he was doing. If you remember in pre-season I said I really liked his stuff well before he had done anything and in fact was statistically doing worse than others. His stuff shouldn’t have suffered from the hamstring, but a guy with past arm problems gives one pause when a hamstring can impact the leg lift and stride which causes the arm to either lag or be out in front of where you want it to be…and thus put too much pressure on it. Hopefully, he is locked on his mechanics and he doesn’t compensate with them.

The Yanks picked up Mitre for Cash and dropped Buddy Carlyle. Not sure Mitre will stay with Colon and then Hughes coming off the DL (hopefully followed by Soriano, Feliciano and Marte), but as I said from the moment they picked Carlyle up, I had no idea why they bothered? Either way, Mitre for Carlyle is a good move.

Considering the Yanks are 1-8 against the Red Sox and the injuries to the pitchers, it is pretty encouraging we are 2.5 games in first place. The Red Sox have gained 7 games on us in h2h play yet are 9.5 games behind us for every other game.

I have written this in the past, but wanted to bring up the Expected win total (Bill James’ Pythagorean Winning Percentage) and how it relates toward the standings. The basic idea is that for every 10 runs you score more than you allow the expected win total should be 1 over .500. For example, the Yanks have scored 119 more than they have allowed and have played 80 games. Therefore at “120” the Yanks should have 12 games above .500 or 12 games greater than 40 and their expected win total should be 52 (we have 49 wins). This is a positive in that one could argue the Yanks are a little unlucky because the expected win totals give a better future predictor than the actual win totals. Of course other trends such as are your players playing above or below expectations are an even larger predicting gauge in my view. There are a few more complicated %’s that are used in the actual stat that can change the win/loss but almost all the time it stays the same or adjusts by only 1 so the above method works well. The Yanks Expected win loss did move by 1 as it shows them at 53 (or 4 off)...which is also rare in that only 3 teams have an expected win loss that varies more than 3 off their actual. Let’s look at a few other teams:
Boston has won 47 and should have 49.
Tampa has won 45 and should have won 44
Minnesota has won 35 and should have won 31
San Fran has won 47 and should have won 42(this could make that race very tight in the 2nd half)

Tex is on pace for 50 homers and 130 RBI (OPS of .897)

Granderson ‘s OPS is .938 and is the only Yankee above .900

Gardner is on pace for only 40 SB’s. I felt he was a lock for 50 if he played every day. I still think he could have a shot at 50 if he leads off.

It may surprise some people but Posada has a higher OPS than Russell Martin .746 - .730 and they have the same amount of AB’s. If you take the SB’s Martin has his OPS would be ever so slightly higher. It would be better if they each were about .800.

Andrew Jones has not been very good this year, but he does have an OPS of .811 against lefties (a pathetic .311 against righties in 17 AB’s). With Nunez doing well against lefties, he may be better off playing LF instead of Jones and this would free up a spot when Chavez comes back. Jones has not been good, but has been adequate against lefties only. Overall, not as valuable as one would want for a roster spot; Jones is an old 34.

Colon can make us make us feel real good today!