Friday, September 30, 2011

The Genius Maker #95 Pre game 1 UPDATE

The Yanks chose to leave Colon off the roster. Also, I should note and this was shabby of me but I didn't discuss Noesi as an option. Because he had just pitched I didn't expect him to be on it. That being said, while I probably agree, I do want to point out that I think Noesi has a bright future. he has similar stuff to what I saw in Nova last year and again when I was annoyed the Yanks sent down Nova the first time. Noesi isn't as sharp on his breaking stuff, but he will make a jump for us from what he was this year to next year.

I kind of feel bad for Colon who was always smiling and part of the team in a positive way. No complaints, attitude or anything...he also pitched well overall and was a great signing.

The Genius Maker #94 Pre game 1

Ahh, the beautiful parts of a loss. Girardi did a good job bringing in Proctor and guaranteeing we would lose the game! I am sure you are like me where there was such a sense of “hidden” enthusiasm for the Red Sox having one of the biggest collapses in history and failing to make the playoffs. Entering the 8th inning of each of the games TB was down 7-0 and Boston was up 3-2 so it appeared that a playoff game would not be needed and the Red Sox would advance to the playoffs. Then TB put up 6 runs in the 8th inning. This event was the only event that I was unhappy with and that was because Logan and Ayala didn’t get the job done. Logan in particular as he is our only somewhat reliable lefty. Ayala has been pretty good as well as has Wade, but Wade faded a little down the stretch and my original thought was might have pitched himself off the postseason roster. Logan is definitely on it more on this later.

Anyway, TB down to their final strike and Baltimore down to their final strike with 2 outs and nobody on…set up a dramatic HR from TB and back to back doubles followed by a single sending Boston to an excruciatingly devastating loss (not sure I have ever used those two words back to back). Proctor sealed the deal on our side and TB enters the playoffs.

Some people said the Yanks should have used Rivera and gave some BS about that, but anyone who said that is a moron. The plan was to give Rivera, Robertson and Soriano work Tuesday and then rest for two day before tonight…NOTHING should change that. The classy Francona even said as much when he said the Yanks earned the right to play all their backups if they want; we have to do our job.

Let’s talk about Detroit. I haven’t seen that much of them, but we know they have Verlander and Cabrera. CC has a neutral matchup against them as they have righties but they are not lefty killers – some hit righties slightly better and some are a little better against lefties…pretty even overall. CC has pitched twice against them this year and had an ERA of 4.15; we will need better than that; the changeup better be working. They don’t have a lot of lefties that aren’t switch hitters so we will see a ton of righties; CC has been great against lefties this year (.554 OPS against compared to .709 for righties). Avila is the main lefty – catcher – who a lefty to face makes sense as his splits are pronounced with a .939 against righties and a still respectable .779 against lefties. The others are

Detroit is a solid team, but they are not as powerful as the Yankees or Texas in the lineup, they do have Verlander though and he is a stud. Just like CC he pitched twice against us and had an ERA of 4.5; I would be happy if he pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 run again.

They will then throw Fister who has pitched great since going to Detroit (8-1) with a microscopic 1.79 ERA. In a short series like this (and I hate the 3 out of 5 with so many days off; you really only need a 2 man rotation and it doesn’t tell you who the best team is) those 2 are tough to beat. Fister is a control pitcher and we need to hit his mistakes. He walked only 5 batters in 70 innings with Detroit this year…very Mariano like.

Their should be closer, Al Albuquerque is extremely tough to hit; batters only hit .142 and had only ONE extra base hit all year off of him (a double). His slug against is (what might be a major league record) .149! That is not a misprint; .149 slug against is unheard of. He does walk guys though, walking 29 batters in 43 innings. Obviously, he has electric stuff and did not allow a single earned run after the all star break. Having a reliable relief group is always critical in the postseason and he has been great. It is surprising he is not their closer. Against us he has been typical, pitching 2 innings, not allowing a hit and walking one and striking out 2. 2 starters and a good pen are tough in a short series.

As I have said many times, once you get to the playoffs it is a crap shoot as anything can happen. One hot pitcher or cold pitcher can win or lose a series…one hot batter or cold batter could sway things as well. The Yankees offense should be our big advantage and they need to get the job done against these pitchers. Our defense is also an advantage over other teams, but that helps our pitching. Again, the offense needs to do their job. As much as Soriano has been up and down, I like that we can shut down the game in the 7th, 8th and 9th.

I might post more about our roster later, but many people said that Colon has pitched his last game in pinstripes and while he has not pitched well of late, I would consider him out of the pen. I would also definitely keep Golson or Dickerson on the roster (probably not both). Against Detroit, I also would not keep Romine on the roster as Montero could be the backup and I would also have Posada on the lineup (which surprises me, but he did have a .269/.348/.466 against righties for a decent .814 OPS).

The Yankees will release their roster later today, but I would go with all the guarantees of Rivera
Chavez (19)
I would have Posada and one of Golson/Dickerson as well which puts us at 21.

We then have Hughes, Colon and Burnett, Wade and Ayala (and Valdez, but against Detroit I would not roster him…and this is form someone that finds it absurd that we have only one lefty in the pen) One of these 5 will be left off. For the year Ayala and Wade deserve to be on, but Wade has struggled of late with HR’s. For the year he has been very good against righties with an OPS against of .541 (and I like specialty guys in the postseason). Ayala has been more consistent, but also gets hit a higher clip and has been pretty even against each. They both had ERA’s below 2.20 so they have been good, but we saw them not get the job done against TB in the last game. Ayala in only 2 innings did allow 2 runs against Detroit and had a 2.79 ERA after the All Star break. When looking at the numbers, Wade was not as bad as I felt. The two homers he allowed were big, but those were his only 2 runs allowed in the month of September, but 2 HR’s in 11 innings is not that good. Overall, I would keep Wade over Ayala (this surprises me as if you would have asked me before reviewing the stats my answer would have been different) and I would use Wade against righties as a specialist or depending on the situation extend a little.

Hughes – for some reason I feel like he would be OK out of the pen. His walks have been killing me and I am not in love with his stuff, but I could see him coming in and helping. For the year he is .841/.729 (so lefties have crushed him).

Burnett – Last year I said he should not be on the postseason roster and Girardi mishandled him and allowed him to lose a game (Girardi was awful last year and can’t be trusted to be smart with someone). AJ, looked better with his adjustment in his mechanics and as I said last year and earlier this year I would have liked to see him out of the pen more as his stuff (2 pitches) is more conducive for that. I could see him coming in and doing well. Of course, he could come in and be wild as heck as well. He is a little better against lefties .777/.831. It is a bad time to experiment, but he is suited to come in with nobody on or come in with a runner on 2nd where a walk won’t kill you. He also could matchup with the switch hitters who hit better against lefties.

Colon – people have been quick to throw him out, but I am not in agreement. The main concern I have is that his velocity is down. This is key for him. If he is throwing 92 you have too be careful (much like Hughes even though they are very different). For the year he was very good against righties as well with a .621 OPS but lefties got him at .880.

So what you have is a steady but unspectacular Ayala, you have a righty specialist in Wade, you have 2 longer relief guys in Hughes and Colon who are good against righties and then Burnett who is the longer relief guy slightly better against lefties. One could argue that Wade is not needed if Colon or Hughes are kept even though Wade has been better. One could easily argue that Burnett doesn’t deserve any postseason…period.

I honestly don’t believe a clear wrong or right decision can be made here. You could go with any variety of guys (4 out of 5 and it is not wrong or right. My 1st take is Wade should get on it because he is the best at one thing and I want that righty specialist. Not to cop out but the rest is superfluous as it is all about who do you think will pitch better. For some odd reason I feel Burnett would do well as a reliever. I think I would leave Ayala off the roster, but I could understand other views. I also think we probably don’t need more than 10 pitchers, but I would rather be able to matchup pitchers than the possible choice of needing Romine in case we pinch hit for Martin. The issue is that we don’t have a pinch hitter most likely that would make sense, unless a lefty was brought in and Montero was on the bench. At that point I would let him catch.

I could see carrying Romine instead of an 11th pitcher as well because of all the days off. The one thing that is critical from Girardi is that if a pitcher is off, you don’t stick with them as we have plenty of pitchers and plenty of days off. This short series is something I hate, but the truth is that Soriano, Robertson and Rivera could pitch EVERY game in the 7-9 innings so all we need is 5 innings and a matchup game. This underscores the silliness of a 5 game series with 2 off days. I think the postseason should be played every day, just like the regular season.

CC against Verlander should be fun to watch.

Last funny item I read…

The other day Martin got thrown out of the game…he said to the ump, “did you stretch before the game?”…the ump looked funny and asked, what?... and Martin asked the same question, “did you stretch before the game?” The ump gave a quizzical look and Martin said, “You seem a little tight today” that ended Martin’s day and was tossed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Yankees Clinch the playoffs and then the Division

2 Goals are complete! Only the best record in the AL is still out there, but we are looking good for that. Some people have talked about losing to TB so that Boston does not make it. My feeling is that you keep the pedal down while you can and until you have clinched home field throughout, but I do admit that tonight I wouldn’t waste my best relievers.

I have had a lot of issues with Girardi and honestly I think he should have left Robertson to pitch the 9th after throwing only 1 pitch in the 8th, but he pushed all the right buttons in the 8th inning countering every move made by Maddon and our guys all came through. Obviously, Posada getting the big hit was really cool for him. After taking a changeup on the first pitch he got a tailing fastball that came back over the plate and ripped it into RC for the game winning runs!

CC pitched well and was throwing hard, but I did question letting him throw 127 pitches. His change was a little better than it has been and that helped. I would still like to see the change at about 86-87 instead of 88 though.

In the first game, also a 4-2 win, (which I was at with my son for his first Yankee game – it was a blast) the Yankees came back with 3 in the 8th. The Yanks used 8 pitchers which I would imagine is the most for the year? Nunez hit the ball very hard all day and had a big HR to tie the game and then Cano came through with a big double that he lined over the head of Upton (who seems like a lazy player to me).
Other notes: Montero has hit all 3 of his HR’s against righties, but he is really struggling badly against them as the off speed stuff is really confusing him. The change in particular seems like a pitch he is not picking up. Pinch hitting against the righty with Posada was the correct move by Joe, but if Montero had good AB’s previously, I would have let him hit. These next games will really decide on who makes the post season roster. The 2nd lefty in the pen may be a big choice and it would be great if Laffey or Valdez was good enough, but I am not so sure. I also would like a roster spot for some speed, whether that is Golson or Dickerson who might actually help against a tough lefty one must make the lineup. I will review the lineup I would bring a little later…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Best Ever Makes it Official - Congratulations The Genius Maker

I have more to say, but just want to say that while Mariano talks about how blessed he is, we as fans have been blessed to watch the greatest closer in the history of the game. It has been a privilege to watch him over these years and we should not take it for granted; we have been able to watch history. I was honored to be able to be at the stadium yesterday to watch Rivera break the record. The final pitch he threw was not the cutter boring in on a lefty, but a perfectly painted cutter that started outside and caught the outside lower corner for a correctly called strike. Rivera also was able to break a bat in his record breaking inning!

The Genius Maker appears to have a few more years left in him and as I have said before, when he leaves, the closer we have will probably not be a liked individual as he will have the largest shoes imaginable to fill!

In most cases when you talk about the best ever, there are tons of questions and debate points…With Mariano Rivera, there is no question or debate.

Congratulations Mariano Rivera; you are without question the best ever!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Genius Maker ties the Major League Record for Saves at 601!

Congratulations for tying a Major League Record Mariano Rivera! The Genius Maker has now tied the Major League record for saves and is clearly the best closer in the history of the game and perhaps the greatest post season performer in the history of the game (I recognize the two may not be linked by a milestone) and it seems to be very ho hum. Why? When Jeter was going for 3000 hits people were talking about a month in advance. The days leading up to it were a countdown on every local and ESPN channels. Yet Rivera tied the record and it was really less exciting than a comeback victory save. Interestingly, the tying save was a win where the Yankees came back from a 6-1 deficit and it was kind of ho hum. Maybe it was the crickets of the Toronto fans, but for some reason 300 hits, which a lot of guys have done, seems to be much more popular. Maybe it is because the save rule only became aware around in early 1960 and became an official stat in 1969 so maybe because it hasn’t been around so long people don’t think of a plateau of 600 saves as historic? OK, I get it. Maybe it is because some saves are fairly bogus; I mean coming in and pitching one inning with a 3 run lead doesn’t take a great pitcher to get the job done. In fact, having an ERA of 18.00 in those situations will get you a save. But, one could argue that many hits are bloop hits and broken bat hits and may occur in blow outs; at least a save is always considered a fairly close game at the time of getting it.

I bring all of this up now, because I won’t have anything negative to say when Rivera is the All Time Leader and hold the record by himself. I say it only as a surprise that it has not received much fan fare.

(Editors note…I just read ESPN and they actually said Ho Hum save – just for the record I came up with this without reading their comment…not that it matters)

To the game…In reverse Clint Eastwood format…

The Ugly

Down 4-1, I was pretty annoyed because of the way it happened. Mostly that after it appeared Robbie Thompson was getting his act together, he got Andrew Jones thrown out the other day in a terrible spot that probably cost us the game, and Robbie Cano made his 2nd boneheaded base running play in a few games. I believe the coaches are at fault a little as well as you must constantly remind the players of the situation. In yesterday’s situation, it was 2nd and 3rd and 1 out when Swisher hit a ball deep to RC that was tracked down; at least we would get a sac fly and the score would be 4-2 with a runner on 2nd or 3rd and 2 outs. But then inexplicably Cano ran as if there were two outs (not full speed but knowing he would score on this hit no matter what and then he passed Tex at 3rd which ended the inning immediately at that point. Now two other items I saw that got me annoyed. I didn’t re play this to see exactly, but it appeared to me that Tex went off the bag and wasn’t just waiting for the ball to be caught or not caught and then waltzed home either way; he seemed to go back and tag after the ball was caught and then this is when Cano passed him. If so, all Tex would have had to do was tag as he should and he would have scored even if Robbie was doubled off of 2nd. But the other thing I clearly saw was Robbie Thompson not paying any attention to Robbie Cano (The Clueless Robbie’s – maybe the sequel to The Ballad of Rickie Bobby…ok I will stick to the game. His attention was 100% on Tex and didn’t even realize Cano was blundering and it was right in front of him. If he could be this clueless with a play right in front of him, it is very probable that he was not reminding Cano how many outs there were before the pitch. This is unacceptable! While Cano deserves a lot of blame 9especially two times in a week; the coach deserves a lot of blame. As you know I thought Robbie Thompson was horrible and this year he has been better, but I don’t think he understand how bad it is to get thrown out at the plate as he has said he isn’t doing his job if he isn’t getting guys thrown out at the plate…well I disagree with that philosophy! That type of remark should be reserved for 6-12’ softball pitching where if you don’t get called for an illegal pitch higher than 12’ a few times a game, you are not pitching as effectively as you could.

The Bad

After Colon allowed 2 more runs on a big 2 out hit the game looked in great trouble. Colon didn’t have good velocity; in fact he was at 91-92 all day and only threw a few pitches at 93. He did have very good sinking movement when he threw 90 though. The odd part was I didn’t see a breaking ball thrown all game; not a single one. I kept asking for it but it never came. I am hoping that Romine didn’t call for it and not that the Yankees didn’t want him to throw it for some reason. Either way, unless you are Rivera, you aren’t living off of a one speed pitch.

Jeter keeps making very bad throws to first; tex has scooped 4 over the past few days from Jeter on routine plays and also couldn’t get the high throw the other day…I hope Jeter straightens it out. Jeter has also cooled off a lot not collecting an extra base hit or a walk in his last 28 AB’s with only 6 singles (OPS of .428). Only 28 AB’s, but I would like him to at least keep pace on an OPS of 750 +

CB Buckner was called out by me last year as the ump I dislike the most behind home plate and he lived up to it yesterday; he is very inconsistent and I don’t like his the job he does.

The Good

A lot here and I will start with the bullpen that held Toronto 5 hitless and scoreless innings with only 1 walk. Soriano struck out the side and if memory serves struck out the side the other night also. Good job holding Toronto scoreless.

ARod, hitting a line drive 3 run HR on an inside 93 MPH fastball. It was good to see him not only get around on it but drive it. He also turned on another one later in the game that he pulled foul. BTW, I am glad Girardi dropped him in the lineup. I don’t like Cano and Granderson being so close, but I think Cano is a better hitter until ARod shows he is back (even if Cano had a hacking game).
Granderson had an absolutely terrific AB and a terrific day. The AB I am talking about was around (not exactly sure) a 13 pitch AB that culminated in a CF HR off a changeup. It was simply a great AB that gave us the 7-6 lead the bullpen and Rivera saved.

Last comment: I would like to see Tex lay a bunt down when they shift him; it is absurd that he can’t just get a ball down in fair territory past the pitcher down the 3rd base line. It would be an easy play and as long as his OPS is below 1.000 or even .900 I think he should be trying this often, even if only to keep them honest. He is not doing so well that it doesn’t matter. His OPS is .826 which is 11th in baseball for 1st baseman. Above avg is not where Tex needs to be, he needs to be in the top 5 in OPS for 1st baseman otherwise he needs to look at taking what the defense gives him. After watching Toronto easily pull off a squeeze, I can only hope Girardi has been practicing with the guys on those bunts and squeezes and he is just waiting for the right opportunity in the playoffs to unveil them…I am also pretty sure I am wrong about this and Girardi is not doing anything of the sort.

Boston Lost to TB…it is getting interesting.

Tell everyone to watch history and enjoy the Genius Maker!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Genius Maker #90

Had a lot of issues with the game Wednesday night that we lost 2-1. So many questionable moves once again by Girardi, but the worst decision was made by someone who I really felt was a huge liability but surprisingly has been doing a very good job for a good stretch of time…up until blowing the game Wednesday night. I am talking about Robby Thompson. With the score 0-0 Andrew Jones led off with a walk and after Martin struck out looking, Nunez ripped a ball to LF and for some reason Thompson tried to score the fairly slow Jones all the way from 1st and he was thrown out by a lot. In fact, the usually clueless Kay even stated that he would be held up at 3rd before saying they sent him home, that is how obvious it was. Instead of 2nd and 3rd and 1 out with Jeter against a lefty coming up, we had a man on 3rd and 2 outs and Jeter grounded out to end the inning. This was an enormous play in the game.

The only run Nova allowed was self inflicted as he had multiple walks and a wild pitch, although I have to say Martin should have caught the ball as it was a curve ball that he over reached for and it bounced off the heel of his glove. He will be the first to tell you that he should get that most every time.

Girardi made some bad decisions as he needs to control what is going on with Gardner. With the score at 1-1, the leading base stealer in the AL is on first base and instead of letting Gardner steal and then bunting, he just wasted the out by bunting Jeter. I don’t like the move at all, a run and hit would have even been better.

Then with Gardner on 2nd and one out Nunez is up and Girardi does not pinch hit for him??? This is really silly and gets worse as he ends up pinch hitting for Nunez later on in the game with 2 outs and nobody on???…I guess Joe wanted his defense in there??? We end up losing 2-1 as the offense once again is weak.

Switching gears to last night. CC had issues with his command walking 4 batters. He was high with his fastball most of the night as his arm was dragging a little. Usually that is from over striding although I couldn’t see that from the angle we had. He also struggled with his change again and this is a critical pitch for him. He only threw one or 2 effective changes all game; he must get the feel for that back. It was a shame because his breaking ball was VERY sharp. Too many pitches though as he is not pumping strikes on the corners.

Once again the offense did a poor job; too many guys struggling at once. All of our hits came from Cano, Swisher and Chavez and the team is swinging at so many balls. The other day I complained about the Yankees not running hard down to first…Posada decided to take care of that as he decided to not even take a step down to first on a grounder down the line…While I actually think Posada can still swing the bat better than he has; he deserves to be benched for that. I would however, give him a few more games to see if he can turn it on and otherwise he is done and should not make the postseason roster. My opinion is that ARod should DH against righties and Chavez should start against righties with Montero DHing against lefties…but let me get back to the game…
Cano was thrown out trying to stretch a ball down the line to a double. While it was an excellent tag, it was an atrocious slide that almost stopped Cano before he got to the bag…one can’t dig their lead foot into the ground as it slows you up a lot. An average slide and Cano is easily safe, but he slid too early and slowed himself up a lot.

We lost this game 5-4, but there were a lot of small things that could have changed the outcome. Jeter had an interesting AB that I wish could have turned out better. Gardner was on 1st and one thing I hate is when the batter swings at the first pitch when Gardner is on base, especially with 2 outs. Unless you are a power hitter and you zone out a spot, you must give Gardner a chance to take an extra base. What made it worse was Jeter waved at a high pitch and didn’t even swing hard. That is the type of action one would expect from a rookie, not a team player. Then as Gardner attempted to steal 3rd (had already taken 2nd) Jeter watched a fastball right down the middle…you couldn’t ask for a better pitch. I was really annoyed, but felt better when Jeter held off on swinging at a slider just off the plate. I was hopeful I could talk about how this excellent “take” was important to the win…unfortunately, Jeter swung at a slider that was much more of a ball and struck out.

Another little thing that has happened many times is CC not covering first base on a ball to the right side. I think this is the 4th time it has happened and it cost us…

Also, in the game both Cano and Jeter failed to turn two on easy DP balls. Jeter threw high and Cano had trouble getting it out of his glove.

Back to CC, I am not concerned about CC, but he does need to get the feel of his curve back. Maybe it is the 6 man rotation? Hard to say, but I know I would not let Burnett back in and Hughes is my 5th guy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Genius Maker 600 saves

600 saves for the Genius Maker! He recorded the final out (after striking out the other 2) when Martin made a great throw and Jeter actually made a quick tag to barely get Ichiro attempting to steal 2nd base(who singled). It is a great milestone that only Trevor Hoffman has done and he only had one more save after. Therefore 2 saves from now, Rivera will hold the record! We already know he is the best, but having him on top will solidify it.

A reader of this blog, Marc Ivry, wrote me the following which sums up things pretty well:

"I've been a Mo fan since the beginning. I never thought Wetteland was good and he was shaky at best, so in 96 when they won, I was happy but you can see that the Yanks had bigger plans for Mo. I still think he is the greatest Yankee. I know that he comes in and gets 3 or 4 outs, but just look at the numbers and you can see. 42 post-season saves, I think his ERA is 0.76 in post-season. And if it weren't for an errant throw in 2001, he would have 6 rings. Anyone who can come in at a LIPS and perform the way he does is the best."

"He could have 2 more seasons left, he's still going strong! But once he is gone, people will realize his true value. And every time I hear Metallica's "Enter Sandman", images of him jogging from the pen come to mind and I think, GAME OVER!"

As you know, I don't believe too much in clutch ability, but Mo has been at his best in the postseason and while that probably does not predict future performance (like clutch ability would), the fact is that Rivera DID perform amazingly in the postseason and that makes his legacy that much greater.

Oh and there is a very good reason why my phones ring tone is...Enter Sandman!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Genius Maker #88

Seattle is a bad team (especially offense), but at home and with King Felix on the mound against one of our weaker pitchers, the game looked like a loss for us on paper. However, the bats were solid throughout the game getting 14 hits in route to an easy victory. Hughes pitched ok, but Seattle's weak offense couldn't get anything done. Hughes walked 3 batters in 6 innings and he simply won't get away with that against good hitting teams. He did work his cutter a little smarter (by setting it up with a fastball a little farther to the left) but will still need to throw more changeups or get confidence in a slider to be effective.

Romine caught the entire game and is smoother defensively than Montero, but I did not see him throw. His stick isn't as strong, but he did get his 1st major league hit!

I meant to write this yesterday, but I was annoyed that Andrew Jones started against a righty with Dickerson on the team. Jones (I believe) did OK yesterday walking twice and in 4 AB's, but the point was why not play Dickerson who has an OPS of .856, only 35 plate appearances(PA's) or so, who will hit righties better than Jones and also play better defense? I think Dickerson is a good 4th OF'r and should be playing against righties if Swisher is not in RF. Dickerson doesn't get much ink, but he is pretty solid in that role.

Cano had a great AB to clear the bases fouling off numerous pitches before lining a bullet double over the LF'rs head. Interestingly, later on, Gardner made a catch on a similar ball getting a good jump, taking the correct angle and running it down.

Proctor was used correctly as he was brought in when the score was 9-1.

TB won again so we have a 4 game lead on the idle Sawx and TB is 3 back of them.

BTW, Detroit has won 10 in a row.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Genius Maker #87

The main thing to take out of this game was that Garcia was not sharp; he simply can’t be walking guys and it was great to see Montero and then Romine get some time behind the plate (this is excellent for them). What I saw form limited action was that Montero has a very strong arm and threw a strike, however, his receiving skills are not smooth and his footwork and blocking ability was weak. His release on the throw was a little on the slow side, but overall throw was fine. His blocking ability was poor and he simply let too many balls go by him; especially letting one go through his legs which is a sin for a catcher.

The game itself was very tight and we caught a break with some poor defense by their CF’r who is usually excellent. Soriano, Robertson and Rivera closed out the game holding onto a 1 run lead. Soriano struggled again and has been very disappointing, but Robertson was sharp and Rivera only allowed a Baltimore chop single off the plate.

Two Michael Kay comments that made me shake my head (you wonder why I don’t listen too often). First was Kay stating that the pop up that was caught by Nunez was not an assumed play and wasn’t easy so the infield fly rule should not have been called. Without getting into too much detail, Kay has no clue what he is talking about…it was a popup and was routine; just because Nunez and Tex communicated horribly doesn’t change the fact it was a pop up. Second issue was when Romine was calling for a fastball outside and then inside with Rivera on the mound by putting down a “1” and hitting his thigh on both sides before wiggling the "1" for the Rivera 2 seamer inside…Kay said he was calling for the throw to 1st base. No he wasn’t! He called for the fastball in and out before Rivera asked for the 2 seamer running inside. The throw to first base is usually the thumb out like a hitch hiker and usually it is side ways. Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest because items like that should not be said if you don’t know what you are talking about (and I don’t really have an issue with Kay in general)

Boston lost so the Yankee lead is the largest all year and TB has given themselves a shot by sweeping the Red Sox who have lost 5 in a row.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Genius Maker #86

I don’t believe that I have seen the Yankees swing at more bad pitches in a very long time. They swung at more bad pitches than good in the game in a horrible hitting performance. Maybe the ball from Haren was moving like crazy, but the Yanks would have been better suited standing with the bats on their shoulders as they looked like the bad hacking teams consistently swinging at pitchers pitches or balls. Granderson should do as I mentioned and back off the plate slightly (Tex too) because they are pulling the inside pitches foul because that is the only way they can get the meat of the bat on the ball and then waving at everything else; especially balls.

Jorge…hmmm, I said it a few times in spring training, I didn’t understand why Jorge didn’t get a few games in spring training and then a few starts during the season…why not make him the emergency catcher?…lo and behold look what happened…Martin is hurt and Cervelli is getting a concussion symptoms. The short sighted thinking of Girardi is almost mind boggling…why not give Jorge some work in that role just in case and maybe even help jump start him? I didn’t understand the philosophy of the starting catcher to not ever catching no matter what stance the Yankees took…silly.

CC wasn’t sharp but he only allowed one run in 6.

Noesi allowed the game to blow up in the 7th, but I still think he will be a good pitcher. He made some bad 2 strike pitches, but he will be good for us. Either way, the game was lost by the offense which has been anemic/pathetic!

Nunez’ OPS is now .674 and combined with awful defense is not playable in a game you care about winning (granted right now I don’t think the game are critical). Oh and I made the comment about running down to first in my previous blog and Nunez showed why I can't stand the laziness in the top of the 8th. Most of you probably had tuned out at this time, but Nunez was up with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and hit a line drive to the SS, but it was a low line drive and it might have been a short hop or might have made it on the fly (close). Therefore he should have been running hard (should be doing it anyway) from the start. Instead he took a step and froze and while Aybar had trouble with the ball (I don;t think he purposely dropped it as it was very close to the ground, Aybar chased a few steps for the ball and threw to 2nd to start a DP that could never have been completed with Nunez' speed if he ran. He deserves to get benched for Pena if the Yanks are not playing their starters.

ARod will be critical for us and I would get some rest for Granderson and Tex along with Gardner (this was one of the reasons I was so critical of Girardi for bringing the starters in after all the late games. It was the perfect time to rest the starters and he failed to do it and I believe this losing streak has some remnants of all those rain/late/long games.

It is crazy that both Boston and the Yanks have 4 game losing streaks now. The Angels are only 1.5 behind Texas and TB is 4.5 behind Boston with a ton of games left against Boston (and the Yanks).

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Genius Maker #85

The Yankees get off to a 3-0 and 4-1 lead and then the offense went to sleep - no hits for the final 6 innings of the game!

Baltimore chipped away all game scoring one run every other inning and combined with some spotty defense, a tough ump and some questionable managerial decisions we blew the game.

Cervelli had a bad throw on a dribbler in front of the plate that led to a 2nd and 3rd situation with 1 out. Nova did a good job getting out of the jam though. He had trouble with the consistency of his breaking ball but did pretty well overall. Logan was brought in a little premature if you ask me as Nova had just allowed a bloop double (caused by Swishers sore hand and weak arm). Logan continued his struggling of late and allowed a double making the score 4-3. Logan appears to be throwing more over the top which has flattened his breaking ball and his velocity was not 94-95, it as 91.

Of course Laffey was brought in to face his lefty and he walked him…where are our lefties? Later this inning, Cano made one of the best relay throws you will ever see as he transferred the ball like lightning and threw a strike to Cervelli who caught the ball and then got his head taken off by Markakis, but held on.

Soriano had a one run lead in the 8th and didn’t do his job, in fact he was awful and if not for another thrown out runner at home and a stupid decision they tried to steal 3rd with 2 outs and were thrown out, it would have been much worse. Soriano got one batter out and allowed 3 singles, but the outs on the bases gave us another chance to win this tie ball game. Now instead of seeing what our youngsters have in Kontos and Brackman (who are both up), Girardi again decides to use Proctor??? I don’t know what the fascination is with Proctor, but his fastball is straight and his control isn’t good. Overall he throws hard and usually has a decent curve ball, but hasn’t Rivera taught us how important location is? Proctor allowed a single and a walk but got out of it. Surely we now see what our rookies will do…right?

Proctor starts the 10th and ends the game allowing a single, walk and single.

I think not resting the starters in Wednesday’s game impacted the win here; the team went to sleep after the early start. Girardi gets a lot of blame here. Just to be clear, it is not Girardi’s fault that Soriano didn’t do the job, but it is his fault for setting up the game with such little room for error. In fact, this is why Rivera is called the Genius Maker because he covered up all the bad moves by Torre and won/saved so many games…nobody questions much after a win. Well I do and I know some of you have said why do I get upset after a win and my answer is because you might not get lucky next time and you have to have a plan (that can be adjusted), but it should be a consistent philosophy. Girardi is all over the place and it drives me crazy…almost as crazy as handing so many important inning to a guy who just got released from the NL (Proctor)

Boston lost so we still have a 2.5 lead

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Genius Maker #84

I had a long post ready to go Tuesday night, but then lost it when my computer had an auto restart and for some reason I was not able to recover it. I will summarize what I saw for the last few games rather than get into the detail of the game (usual):

Montero: The guy has great power the other way; this much is pretty clear. However, the difference between the minor league pitchers and the major leagues is the consistency of the better quality pitches. This also means that pitchers at the major league level will be able to throw inside more often. I would imagine that I would pitch Montero like they pitch against ARod; fastballs inside and breaking stuff away. This is a great compliment, but Montero has a natural swing to RC (a little like Jeter but with much more power) and will need to show he can turn on the inside pitch even if it is where he once in awhile guesses and swings very early. He is going to have to keep the pitchers honest. Last night he was jammed with a fastball inside and if I were pitching him that is where I would target. The kid is 21 and has great ability to work with. Of course, the question will be where he will play. I think Cervelli has been hitting a little better of late, but I am not a fan of his defense (his throwing skills have been pretty bad). Cervelli may make for a good trade and then Montero could be the DH and backup catcher and we can see what he can do defensively. Obviously, his value as a catcher is much greater so if we can get that offense from the position it gives us a great advantage, but he can’t be a liability behind the plate. I believe Posada in his prime was such an advantage for us; hopefully Montero can be what Posada was (even if more power and less OBP).

Nova is clearly a better option than Hughes and Burnett and in my opinion; I would rather see Noesi start than Burnett or Hughes. Burnett doesn’t have any upside and this is why I was in favor of giving him away at the trade deadline for nothing or paying most of his deal and getting something of a prospect, but just removing him. Hughes, at least, is young and has some upside, but his lack of command drives me nuts. OK, so maybe he can’t throw 95, but at least throw 92 and hit your spots. His curve is fine, but he needs to develop at least one other pitch and he has not been able to (just as AJ hasn’t). They are actually similar in some ways in that they each miss spots on a regular basis and because of that they are hard to trust.

Nunez will only get better, but right now he is simply awful in the field; his poor play led to the loss in last night’s game.

It was a shame the Yankees had to play the game Tuesday night/morning. But I was glad to see Girardi give our guys a rest in the Wednesday game and go with most of the young guys. Unfortunately, as usual, Girardi shows his lack of consistency by getting all the regulars back in the lineup except for Jeter. After ending the previous game after 2 am, why even play the starters; give them a day off and I mean a FULL day off because if you get loose and then get in, you did not have a day of rest. A full day off is that you stretch a little, but you know you are not going to go in and that is very different than you could play if needed. While the latter is the usual, a full day rest is what is needed at times. So while Girardi plays against Boston and acts as if the games don’t really matter, he unloads 4 starters late in the last night’s game to try and win the game. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t try and win the game, but the argument supporting Girardi is that he is always looking long term…until he actually isn’t. Again, he is so inconsistent in his approach it drives me nuts.

Brandon Laird - I said this before, but the guy is not a major league player.

Dickerson/Golson – I said this before as well, I think he and even a guy like Golson have a place on a roster to help with running and defense. Dickerson actually is a fine 4th or 5th OF and Golson is a specialist. On the Yankees, I think specialists are valuable because he could be an excellent pinch runner (instead of a good one like Dickerson) and Golson can be an excellent defender (instead of a good one like Dickerson)…the trade off is that Dickerson is a reasonable hitter and Golson is not a good hitter at all. My opinion is that a guy like Golson would be valuable on the postseason roster or even regular season because he is a specialist at two areas that could be used every game at some point.

ARod looked stiff again at 3rd base and missed a hard hit ball, but one would expect to make it usually.

Granderson got a few hits in last night’s game after he was brought in so I want to say this now so it doesn’t look like a Monday morning QB. I think Granderson should slightly back off the plate. George Brett once said that when people slump they tend to get closer to the plate and you have to back off usually. I see this with Granderson as it appears to me he is a few inches closer and it has made it so that he can only pull the inside pitch foul (if he gets good wood on it). Brett’s advice seems to make sense to me with Granderson.

Last comment, I know this goes on with all teams, but I think the Yankees don’t run down to 1st base hard enough. This has been going on all year and while it usually doesn’t make a difference, why not run hard all the time for that one time it does make a difference? This is not to pick on Swisher because I could call out every Yankee, but he hit a ball that was bobbled and if he ran hard all the way he could have beaten it out. If the Mets Timo Perez World Series blunder didn’t teach a lesson, I am not sure what else can?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Genius Maker #83

A good win but as usual I have some comments.

First, why such an inconsistent use of the bullpen people? Girardi refuses to use Rivera and Soriano so that he can use Robertson for 2 full innings of work and 30+ pitches? I understand not wanting to use Soriano and Rivera, but then why not understand that to allow Robertson to close out the 9th or maybe go a little more if needed in a critical spot in the 8th...but instead he starts him in the 8th? Just head scratching for his inconsistency and application of his thought process. That being said, it was good to see Robertson step up.

Cervelli's location of where he wanted pitches thrown was really odd. Many times the call Cervelli made ended up costing Colon, but there were 3 specific times where Colon hit Cervelli's glove and Toronto got big hits (one a homer). A good example of the odd thought process was on a 2-0 pitch to Bautista where he called for the fastball in...obviously Bautista was ready for it lined a bullet to LF.

Another nice two plays by Gardner in the field

Speaking of the field, on a play ARod made a nice dive, he looked like an old man getting up and barely missing throwing a guy out. In contrast, on a bullet hit down the 3rd base line, their guy made the diving play and snapped up and fired quickly to 2nd to get the force out and then still had enough time to complete the DP.

Later after Cano's huge 2 run double, Swisher hit a line to the back hand of their SS (not sure who is in at that time but I think Escobar) and instead of getting in front of it, he tried to back hand and let it get into the OF. That was a terrible play as you must keep it in the infield with 2 outs.

Montero got a hit, but looked like he didn't see the breaking pitches well. Still early on him, but hasn't been very good so far and his swing is not smooth yet...even if it is powerful.

The Genius Maker #82

Order is restored as we are back in 1st place!

It was good to see Burnett actually pitch a good game and the bullpen hold on to beat Boston. It was even better to step back and think we went to Boston and if Girardi wouldn't have failed in his decision to take out Hughes, we could have swept Boston in Boston with our 2 worst pitchers going against their 2 best. Sure, we had two close victories, especially the last one with Rivera walking 2 batters in the same inning after only walking 5 all year, but even with struggling for control, he came through and made a perfect pitch to strike out their best hitter...and yes that was a strike and a great pitch. Of course if we hadn't left 13 guys on base we might have had a larger cushion.

Kudos to Burnett who changed his hand position and did a better job and also Martin who had a huge game winning double!

Last night further showed why I was not happy with the Yanks sending Nova down earlier in the year. After a rough start he was dominant...the guy has 15 wins and missed some starts up here. My only concern is whether the long season wears him down.

Montero up - Here is one area I can't talk about yet as I do not have a handle on him...I am excited to watch him though.

We have had some stellar defense in the OF of late. Gardner could hit like Ramiro Pena and he would still be valuable to have; that is how great he is in the OF

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Genius Maker #81

I had all sorts of comments to make about the game last night, but I will boil this down to the 6th inning and a horrible decision by Girardi that greatly reduced our chances of winning the game.

Phil Hughes started off throwing well (but I had a lot of issues with the pitch selection and it might have been Cervelli or Hughes as Hughes shook him off sometimes) as he threw 94 and had a sharp bite on his curve. They did not use the curve enough and the change-ups he threw were very bad.

First perspective: This game was a huge mismatch with one of the ERA leaders (Beckett) at home going against one of the ERA bottom dwellers (Hughes). Hughes had just allowed 4 runs in the last 3 innings and was throwing only 91-92 at this point. The Yankees offense did a great job and put the team in the lead by scoring 3 runs in the top of the 6th to take a 5-4 lead!

So what does the foolish manager do? He struts Hughes back out for the bottom of the 6th inning! I was furious and it got worse when Hughes started Crawford out 3-0. After throwing a 91 MPH strike down the middle, we got VERY lucky as Crawford pulled a HR foul. I was so sure this was a terrible move that I would have taken him out with a 3-2 count on him that was how sure I was Hughes was done. Hughes then threw another meatball down the middle of the plate, but Crawford flew out to CF. Whew! I wrote in my notes to eat crow and say that I would not have let Hughes pitch but we got an out. After seeing your pitcher have nothing left, I have no idea why Girardi didn’t make a move. He decided to wait for Hughes to walk the next guy and then allow a double before finally taking him out. It was one of those moves you would expect a rookie manager in KC to make. It cost us the game and Girardi should be embarrassed. He is so lucky he has a talented team because he simply is not good enough because he does not have a good feel for a game and does not put the team in the best position to win!

We had a chance to win a game we had no right to win and Girardi blew it…I am really annoyed today and all my other comments will have to wait.