Friday, August 24, 2012

The Genius Maker 8-24-12

The below was written yesterday and all the way down I will write about last night’s game.

Our spiral downward started with yet another bonehead decision by our terrible 3rd base coach.  Sending Cano home with the bases loaded and 2 out and getting thrown out by 20 feet shows he just doesn’t have good judgment.  The Yankees were winning that game at that point 3-0 and from that point on the Yanks have lost 3 in a row.  It doesn’t all correlate, but Thompson is terrible and this is not new…it has been going on since we lost Bowa (and I complained then).  It should also be noted that as a player I really did not like Bowa so he had to really turn me around, but I thought he was an excellent 3rd base coach.

The only other comment I want to make surround my disappointment with Nova.  His stuff is really good and I am convinced he is tipping his pitches.  I think he is doing something in his glove or the transfer of the ball or maybe his facial expression that is tipping the hitter off.  Konerko hit a HR on a good fastball inside that he turned on really well.  It just doesn’t add up to only poor location to me.

Jeter has been on a tear and is getting his season at least closer to the “great season” people were saying. Maybe I should talk more about that to keep him hot.  His OPS is a solid .814 but including the last 2 poor years, his career OPS is .831 so he is having a below average Derek Jeter offensive year for perspective.  That being said, if you told me he would have an OPS of .780, I would have signed off on it so I am really happy.

Just for more perspective, while Jeter is leading the league in hits, he has more AB’s than any of the guys.  For example, Trout, has 108 less AB’s than Jeter, but has 15 more walks, 33 more SB’s and while he has 5 less doubles has 6 more triples and 11 more HR’s.  Ok maybe not fair comparing him to the guy who should get the MVP.

BTW, the next person who says, “well he didn’t play for a playoff team so he shouldn’t be MVP because how valuable could he be if they didn’t make the playoffs,” please kick them hard in their privates.  I mean this, this is one of the dumbest comments I hear many people make.  So he shouldn’t win the MVP because he has a lesser team around him?  What does that have to do with anything?  Anaheim is 2.5 games out of the WC race; where would they be without him?  FWIW, there is a stat called WAR, which is wins above replacement value and this tries to measure a players value taking everything into account.  There are issues I have with it, but it isn’t worthless.  For more detail click this link if you care…   Jeter is 1.9 (3.6 for offense and a negative 1.3 for defense) and Trout is 8.9 (7 for offense and 1.9 for defense).  This states that Trout is worth 9 wins for his team so that would mean 9 losses were turned into wins.  Jeter has never had a WAR this high.  I didn’t look at everyone but looked to see what Barry Bonds had and he has 11.6 twice in 2001 and 2002 when his OPS was a ridiculous 1.381 and 1.379.  He actually had one year with a higher OPS and that was 1.422 when he walked 232 times…(Man what a strat-o-matic baseball card that would have been to play - only a few of you will get that)  The 232 walks in one year is nuts and for some more perspective, Cano has only walked 266 times in his 8 year career.

OK back to final meaningless comment…Seattle has won 8 games in a row…Cleveland has lost 8 in a row…anything but a sweep is not satisfactory.

The Friday night game.

The Yanks had a huge chance in the first two innings getting 2 doubles, 2 singles, 2 walks and a HBP and only scored 1 run.

Jeter was hit on the brim of the helmet on a pitch their pitcher was trying to come up and in.  No intent to hit as his control wasn’t good, but he was trying to stop Jeter from stepping toward the plate.  CC who was cruising with a perfect game through the first 10 batters retaliated by throwing at Cabrera’s butt, however, he threw behind him and the next pitch Cabrera homered to tie the game at 1.  The retaliation is always something I wonder about, but in this case we did it classy and I only wish his next pitch was better.

Swisher homered later to knock in all 3 of our runs.  Robertson came after CC gave us 7.1 innings of very good ball and did the job for his two outs.  The things that stood out to me was a pitch Robertson threw to get the 2nd out.  Cabrera was up and after 3 straight cutters, he threw a changeup that fell outside and low of the strike zone and Cabrera missed it by a lot.  I don’t think I have seen that from Robertson and using it every once in a while is a great thing.

Soriano allowed 1st and 3rd with nobody out before some interesting pitching went on.  Laporta was up and he clearly struggles on the breaking ball so Soriano threw 5 straight before throwing a good fastball up to get the strike out.  The location was excellent even if it wasn’t where Martin’s glove was.

Martin was lazy on a breaking ball that allowed the tying run and also eliminate the DP as the runner moved up to 2nd.  It was one of those plays that bothered me as a catcher.

He then got a pop up before getting the 3rd pinch hitter in a row to ground out to Tex after some good mixing of his slider and fastball.  It was a good battle and Soriano hit spots after getting into trouble.  He is getting the job done regardless of how non great the stuff is.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Genius Maker 8-17

I have said this before but Hughes is frustrating for me to watch as he misses so many spots and he is out of position as he pitches.  He also threw away an easy DP ball leading to all his runs being unearned.  His total line was good, but he still allowed 4 runs and the HR was his fault regardless if it was unearned because of his own error.  The pitch to Pedroia missed by the full plate and cost us 3 runs.  Also, he barely threw his curve ball and his fastball was only 91 most of the day so he really didn’t have much.  His change was a little better though.

Russell Martin – He made a fantastic catch on a pop up in the torrential down pour that was almost by the pitchers mound that nobody else saw.  That play is so hard for a catcher because the ball is coming down with a lot of spin so it moves toward 2nd base.  He stayed with it and made a tremendous play.  He also homered to RF.  Then he also had a horrible AB with 1st and 3rd and 1 out with the score tied.  The pitcher was throwing him nothing but breaking balls.  After missing with 2 away, he hung one for a strike and then missed again low and away.  On the 3-1 count Martin swung at a pitch way off the plate and in the dirt.  I have no idea what he was thinking as he waved at that pitch that was just like all the others he didn’t swing, in fact it was worse.  Then he waved at ball 4 again to strike out.  Horrible AB!

Nix picked him up serving a single out to RF for our only non HR RBI.

In the 5th, Jeter had a cat and mouse AB with their pitcher where both players were slowing up the game.  On the 6th pitch of the AB Jeter deposited a curve ball for a solo HR.  The AB was 2.5 minutes long which is pretty long for a 2 out and nobody on base AB and only 6 pitches.  It was his 250th HR...congrats to Jeter on yet another milestone on an amazing career.  His 250 HR's combined with 3,000 hits, 1,200 RBI, and 300 steals have only been done by one other player, Willie Mays.

Early in the game, their pitcher balked when Jeter was on 1st.  Not only did he break the plane of the pitching rubber, he broke the 45 degree angle that you must step toward first.  The umps missed a blatant balk there.  Also, I am really glad they are getting rid of the fake to 3rd and then go back to 1st is not good.

Ichiro – I have said that I always thought he was overrated.  I never said he wasn’t very good and valuable, but I never thought of him as an elite player because his career OPS was an only decent .783.  Taking his SB’s into account his OPS was a pretty good .813.  His defense was excellent but while his throwing arm is strong, I hate all the extra steps he takes (I am not sure if he always did that, but if he did his overall throw is average at best).  People were always talking about him leading the league in hits, but he also led the league in AB’s every one of the years he led the league in hits, except one.  He didn’t walk much so he had a lot of AB’s.  Good player, yes and he did have 2 excellent years, but he was usually in the top 20 for MVP voting for his first 10 years and I only saw that for 3 years.  Anyway, not to disparage him too much because we need him now and if he can give us a .750 OPS and some speed and defense that is what we need.  Some people see Gardner in him, but Gardner over the last 2+ years has been a better all around player than Ichiro. 

I brought up Ichiro because he had an AB like Martin that frustrated me.  After the Nix single to make the score 5-4, Ichiro was up with 1st and 3rd and 2 outs.  With a 2-0 count on him he tried to bunt for a hit.  I couldn’t see what the defense was doing, but this was a very odd choice with the count in his favor.  He then took a very hittable hanging curve before swing at a ball in the dirt to strike out.  Bad!

Robertson had the toughest battle in the 8th as he faced the heart of the lineup.  After he did his job, Soriano had a cake walk in the 9th.  The bottom of the Sox lineup is very weak.

Let’s bury the Red Sox this weekend as they are barely alive.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Genius Maker 8-16

Wow, did I hate the way Girardi managed.  All the good feeling I had after last night’s game was wiped out on this one.  Outside of pulling Nova at the right time, I had a different view of almost every decision and thus I can’t write about every one of them, but I will try.

First, I didn’t like the ump all night long.  It was inconsistent for both teams and I felt we got a little more of the bad calls although the main guy arguing was Tex on a pitch I thought was a strike.  Their guy got tossed on a strike also.  Perhaps the ump was just so inconsistent the players got mad when they shouldn’t have?

Holland the lefty was pitching for Texas and he was shutting us down until we put up a 5 spot on him after being down 4-0 going into the bottom of the 6th.   I noticed that Holland was a different pitcher from the stretch; not as much movement or accuracy.  I don’t know if the numbers will show this, but he definitely is better from the windup than the stretch.

Yanks had a 5-4 lead going into the 7th.  My plan would be to mix and match in the 7th and then turn to Robertson and Soriano in the 8th and 9th.  We have so many pitchers and they are rested so why not?  Eppley was in from the inning before and I could understand leaving him in there, but with the lead I would have gone to Joba to pitch to Young (righty).  But, let’s say I leave Eppley in there because it is not a bad move and he singles… like he did.  Here I go to Logan or Rapada for Hamilton, Girardi went to Logan and he K’d Hamilton.  I then take out Logan and bring in Joba to face Beltre.  Girardi stayed with Logan who allowed a single to Beltre (this was the move I was most upset about).  This way I could use Rapada against Murphy.  After Logan then allowed the double, Girardi went to Joba.  If I had my way I would hope I was out of the inning by now, but unfortunately Joba let up 2 runs after striking out the righty Soto.  You can see why going lefty righty makes it more difficult to manage against but we had enough arms to do it.   

The Yanks closed the gap to 7-6 before Joba gave up two more runs.  Again the bad decisions early on left this position open because Robertson would have been pitching in the 8th.

The Yanks tried to mount another comeback.  Cano pinch hit and walked and Ichiro followed with a ball that blooped in for a double that they dove for and missed.  Cano could have easily scored, but our horrible 3rd base coach didn’t tell him what to do and just kind of gestured to cross the bag and see what happens?  It was another blunder by our 3rd base coach.  Have you ever seen a 3rd base coach make so many blunders?  Anyway, we would have only scored a run probably but you never know how things change.

Then Girardi let Rapada stay in for the 9th just letting him take one for the team with some righties up and they managed a run off of him, but then after “giving up” he pinch hit Granderson in the 9th?  Not sure why he gets his bench guys up, but…

It just seemed every move was different than I would have done and we lost.  One other move was in the 6th inning when the Yanks took the lead, Martin was on 1st and Nix was up.  I would have pinch hit for Nix with Cano and then let Cano play 2nd base as we were up by a run.  It was odd to not use Cano in that spot and then use him later down by 3.

The defense was terrible as Jones lost one in the sun for a “double”, Swisher played a ball into a triple, Ichiro stepped back on a ball only to see it drop in front of him and Ibanez showed off a kinder kids arm.  Shallow fly ball that he had momentum on and he took extra steps and still made a really weak throw.  I didn’t even think the guy would try and score and he made it fairly easily. 

I also should note that Washington gave us some chances by managing very odd with his bullpen and we took some advantage of it, but not enough.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Genius Maker 8-15

would have been a painful loss. Yanks had 10 hits and 4 walks to Texas’ 4 hits and 2 walks.   In the 9th inning, the game should have been over as Chavez fielded a grounder and weakly threw one to first that Swisher scooped and kept his foot on the bag but the 1st base ump thought he saw him come off and ruled the game ending play safe.  Soriano was able to get the final out though and we held on 3-2.  We left a lot of opportunities on the table offensively (even though Chavez came through with a big 2 out hit) and Texas did nothing but two well struck homers by Hamilton. 

Sometimes I am not sure how Soriano gets the job done, but he does.  He has good movement and usually good control, but he seems to get a little lucky as well.  He hung a curve to Hamilton that we were very lucky wasn’t a game tying pitch.  He is getting the job done, but his stuff is not electric that is for sure.  Not trying to be too critical, because movement and location is a huge part of pitching, but he has been a little too inconsistent with those two items for the success he has had in my opinion.

Hamilton’s bat speed is really impressive and the best way to get him out is to throw balls in the dirt and inside of the strike zone, but if you miss you are in trouble as he hits the ball really well if it is a strike.

Chavez’ arm is really weak at 3rd but his glove is excellent.  We saw earlier Chavez make a bad play staying back on a ball and then trying to get the force out at 2nd and being late and instead of getting the out at 1st Texas had two men on.  His defense is fine though, but his arm is very weak.

Garcia did a nice job hitting spots and mixing up his pitches just enough.  His slider had very good movement and he did really well sans the Hamilton pitches which were both poor (even if one didn’t miss by much and was the wrong pitch selection).

On a Nix bunt that he beat out the Rangers 1st baseman (not sure if the 2nd baseman was covering) did the play I don’t understand where both his feet are on the imaginary line to 2nd base instead of stretching toward the catcher who was fielding the bunt.  If he did stretch Nix would have been out.  I have talked about this dozens of times and in this case the bang bang play was in our favor because of this odd fielding way that most guys perform.  It was a huge opportunity for us as we had 1st and 2nd nobody out.  Unfortunately, Jeter did a terrible job bunting by dropping the head of the bat below handle and he pooped the ball up into a DP.  It could have been a triple play but Ichiro was all over knowing what to do while Jeter was thrown out and Nix was in a run down.  He just stayed put with a foot off the bag giving Nix a chance if Texas messed up.  They didn’t but Ichiro was still in scoring position.  Ironically, because he was in scoring position the line drive Swisher hit up the middle was caught by the SS trying to keep him close, but what can you do?

Also, the Yanks had Ichiro on 1st with 1 out and Nix up.  I said to my son the Yanks need to either steal, hit and run or even bunt here (this was my last option).  Of course, Girardi had another option and that was allowing Nix to hit into a DP.  I didn’t like that option.

Just to show I am not 2nd guessing after the fact (redundant), I would have started Logan in the 7th inning as Garcia had thrown about 90 pitches and he could easily make a mistake and allow a HR.  He actually was very sloppy but got his two guys out before Girardi correctly went to Logan (Rapada was not a good choice there as a pinch hitter was likely)

People are making a big deal about Jeter being the it leader now that Melky is suspended for PED’s, but leading off on the Yankees will get you a lot of AB’s especially when you don’t walk so he is doing a little like my issue with Ichiro when he leads off and plays every game and doesn’t walk; you will get a lot of hits if your average is decent.  Now a .320 BA is nothing to sneeze at, but it is more a tribute to being healthy, leading off and getting hits, not really a very important stat outside of being healthy.  Just another reason why OPS tells you a lot more…even if OBP is more important out of the lead off position than it is in the middle of the lineup.  At .361, that is a solid OBP for Jeter and I surely could not ask for anything more from him (although I would like him to get a bunt down J)

Chavez now has an OPS of .909

With King Felix pitching a perfect game against TB, the Yanks now have a 6 game lead over Baltimore and 7 over TB.  Baltimore is hanging in there, but their run differential says they should not be in this race.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Genius Maker 8-14-12

I am back at it after a break!  More important, the Yanks are doing what they need to; playing well in midst of a lot of injuries and taking two games with authority form the Rangers.

Michael Kay a few times talked about how GREAT the Texas lineup is.  Not to take anything away from them as they are one of the best lineups, but “great?”  Just based on the Yankees having the best record in baseball (with all these injuries) tells you how there aren’t any great teams, let alone offense.  The league has more parity than I can remember.  Hamilton is a great player with tremendous bat speed (his swing is crazy, but he has Cano’s penchant of swinging at balls).  Outside of Hamilton they have pretty good players and no real weak links, but great?  Not so sure.  Especially with Napoli and his career .859 out of the catcher’s position not in the lineup.  This was the same large advantage the Yankees had with Posada in the lineup.

Regardless, they are a very tough lineup and Kuroda was outstanding last night.  The movement on his pitches was great and early in the game you could see the Rangers hitters not picking up the spin on balls as they were waving at breaking balls just like they were fastballs.  His fastball was running and it had good velocity.  He pitched the best game I can remember a Yankee pitcher in a long time (I am not sure what was better over the past few years?)  Against this very good J lineup, he only allowed 2 walks and 2 singles in pitching a complete game.  Both walks were on a 3-2 count, one single was an infield grounder that was stopped by Nix, but with Andres running he just couldn’t throw him out and the other single was on a 3-2 pitch.  Everything was contested by Kuroda.  He pitched a brilliant game that has his ERA at 3.06 now.

The Yanks were getting shut down until their manager made a very odd move.  With his starting pitcher, Harrison, at about 100 pitches Jeter was leading off in the 7th inning.  As you know Jeter has been great against lefties and poor against righties.  Washington let Harrison start the inning (which would make sense, but either you start him and leave him in there for at least two batters (Tex hit a double off of him earlier and if Jeter and Swisher got on I could see a move).  But, why let him face Jeter only when he had shut us out with only one extra base hit all game?  The move to make was either take him out before Jeter or leave him in for at least two guys.  Fortunately for us, he let Jeter get a single and then brought in the flame thrower Ogando with his 99 MPH fastball and a WHIP below 1.  Swisher fell behind taking a pea for a strike before fouling off the next pitch.  He then took two fastballs for balls before fouling off two more.  Swisher shortened his swing and was sitting fastball.  He then was able to lay off a slider that for ball 3.  I get the feeling if that was a meatball strike Swisher would have been going back to the dugout because he was sitting fastball, but maybe he was just locked in.  Regardless the next pitch was a high fastball that Swisher was all over and the Yanks were on the board with a 2 run shot.  Tex followed that up with a frozen rope home run into the RF porch and that was all Kuroda needed.

The Yanks now have two new players on their roster with Lowe and McGehee.  Lowe was getting bludgeoned before coming too the Yanks and pitching a great 4 innings in relief in the first game of this series.  I am not sure if they made an adjustment to his mechanics, but hopefully they noticed something as the movement he had will be effective!   McGehee had a really good 2/3 of a year in 09 (.859 OPS) and a pretty good year in 10 (.801 OPS) before struggling with an OPS of .626 in 2011 and .694 the first half of this year.  He appears to be a guy who has a swing that drives the ball to right field well.  This year he is hitting lefties well (.872), but struggling against righties at .605.  However, that may be an aberration as the 3 years before he was pretty equal.  Again, I hope the Yanks saw a mechanical flaw that can be adjusted, but as long as he hits lefties this is what is needed while ARod is out; so far the results have been good in his 21 AB’s.  Chavez has been much more than we could have hoped.  I have not seen enough of McGehee’s defense to make a comment.

Back to Chavez, while he gets the advantage of platooning, he has done that great for us and has been huge with ARod’s issues.  He has an OPS of .890 overall and .966 against righties (in his 20 AB’s against lefties he has been horrible – I know he got it done the other day).

Suzuki has been used correctly and has been slightly better for us than with Seattle .701 - .645, but with the small sample size it doesn’t mean much.  Overall, we are getting a pretty weak hitter who plays good defense and provides some speed.  We need it so it is good, but it is not a strength.  His one walk in 70 AB’s is the reason why I have said he was overrated as a hitter in the past.  Again, I liked getting him because I felt Gardner was very valuable for us as a team and while Ichiro is a poor man’s Gardner, I was hopeful playing for something would spark him…so far the spark hasn’t been too much (even if helpful).