Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday's Game

I have said before how I think Flaherty (Flash) is a good announcer, but I have found myself disagreeing with him a lot of late.  In the game Saturday afternoon, He said in the first inning how much sharper Tanaka looked and I was watching the games on tape delay (as usual) with my daughter (who was more just in the room watching occasionally and when I replayed with commentary) and said out loud, “I have no idea what he is seeing?”  From the start, I saw a pitcher who was not painting corners and was behind almost all hitters with decent/mediocre stuff.  His slider and curve were inconsistent each time thrown as was his splitter.  His fastball was 90 most of the time and topping out at 93 a few times but I don’t think any of those were for strikes.   Somewhere in the 4th or so Flash said that his stuff looked good, but he seemed out of sorts.  I didn’t think his stuff looked good and his command was very poor as well.  Now, I am not saying I have no faith in Tanaka, but I am saying he has not thrown well his last two outings and Girardi stuck with him too long in both outings.  He will get it back, I am confident in that, but as a manager you need to see what a guy has... so while Girardi was drinking the same Kool-Aid Flaherty was, Girardi almost cost us the game.  Fortunately, McCann bailed out Tex in the first inning, after Tex popped into an infield fly rule with nobody out and bases loaded , by hitting a no doubt grand slam.  The Yanks added 2 more on a 2 run homer by Chris Young as the Houston pitcher was throwing up hanging changeups after topping out his fastball at 89.

The Yanks had a 6-0 lead until Tanaka gave it back over 5 innings.

Tex, who hurt us early in this game at the plate, came through with a very nice 2 run double to LC and the Yankees almost added another run when McCann also went the other way on a very slow change from Neshak, but Tex got a bad jump/read and held at 3rd.  The Yanks did add their 9th run when Headley crushed a ball to LC (from the right side).  I didn’t hear how far that ball was but I can guarantee it was 50 feet further than the listed 411 feet on ESPN)

The bullpen pitched 4 scoreless innings with all of them looking pretty good.  Mitchell has a 96/97 MPH fastball and a good curve and clearly has strike out stuff.  Shreve got out of a jam and Wilson held the 8th turning it over to Betances who didn’t paint corners but his stuff was good enough to get the final 3 outs only allowing 1 hit.

Other Notes:
·      The ump was pretty bad in this game as he was very inconsistent.  If anything he gave us the benefit of the doubt and we also got a large break when the ump at 2nd ruled their 2nd baseman was off the bag on a possible DP.  He was off but he then kicked the bag with his right foot.  Houston correctly challenged it but we caught a break when the replay ruled inconclusive (I guess?).  I am pretty sure he touched the base, but I can see why the umpire live ruled him off as he was on it then got off to catch the ball, but he missed the drag/kick of the right foot into the bag.  This was a huge call as The Yanks ended up scoring 3 runs in that inning and could have had more if Beltran didn’t hit into a DP with 1st and 3rd and 1 out.
·      Beltran also misplayed a line drive that should have been caught into a double by coming in on the ball and then VERY slowly turning to go back after his mistake.
·      Early in the game Chris Young bunted Gardner over to 2nd on his own and the announcers questioned a hot guy doing that, but I think he was trying for a hit so I have no issue.  That being said, in the 8th inning with Gardner on first, I wanted either Gardner to steal early or a bunt and run or just a bunt and instead Young hit into the fielders’ choice where we caught the break on the reviewed play.  Gardner has to run earlier in the count to avoid the possible DP and in that spot they needed to get something going.
·      Finally, I have said this a few times over the years, but why do we want the Yankees in the All Star game?  I want my guys to rest during the break so we don’t have to rest them during games that matter.  Please, let other teams take all their players so we can rest up and give us the best chance to win games that matter…and we even save some money on All Star appearances that maybe we can spend on some 2nd baseman.  Seriously, do you want to see Betances or Miller pitch during the All Star game?  I don’t!






June 26

I know I have not written in a while but I have been watching, but just haven’t been able to find the time to write it down (I started a new job).  Rather than go through all the games, I wanted to highlight when the Yankees started into a bad funk a few weeks back.  I thought it was 100% because of Girardi’s terrible decision to not pitch Betances in the 8th inning of a game we had just taken a 2 run lead on and instead allowed Lindgren to pitch and allow a 2 run HR to tie the game which sent it into extra innings that we ended up losing.  A terrible decision (a head scratching one) not only cost us that one game, but we had to use pitchers we would not have had to and we went into a bad spell just because of the bad decision.

Last night’s Houston game was a nice win and it came from a source that had been ice cold…until the last week…Chris Young.  After his hot start where his OPS was over 1.000 mid-May, he was horrible compiling a .125 average and a .420 OPS over a month of a play.  However, over the last 8 games he has been 16 -34 and was the entire offense with a 3 run HR last night (and it was a good AB).  I had a feeling we may lose the game when we stranded 5 runner in the 7th and 8th innings but Shreve, who has really been outstanding this year, holding opposing batters to a batting average of .172 and an OPS of .516, struck out the side, Wilson got 2 outs with a walk and Betances went the final 4 outs for his 5th save to win 3-2.    Betances still has not been able to spot his fastball well, but his breaking ball was sharp (after the other night where he was throwing spinners) and he threw enough fastballs to keep the batters off balance.  BTW, Tex made a heads up play on an easy grounder down the line by making sure he charged it and got it in fair territory.  Tex also made a good catch going back on a popup.  It was not that hard, but he did get a great jump on it which enabled the play to be easier.

A couple of other comments:

  • ·       Girardi has still yet to try a suicide squeeze (or safety) in his time as manager.  At some point he needs to add that to his repertoire…if nothing other than to get the thought in opposing teams’ minds.  There have been dozens of times where it would have made sense.
  • ·      It was great to see Nova pitch well.  I have always been a fan and with him, Tanaka, Warren, Pineda and Eovaldi, that is an excellent starting staff.  Note, I do not have CC in the mix if I had my way.  I would use CC out of the pen as a lefty specialist.  CC has been very tough on lefties (.458 OPS in 82 Ab’s), but righties torch him with an OPS against of .954 (274 AB’s).  These numbers are similar for last year as well where lefties had an OPS of .570 and righties .921.  This is enough for me to pull the plug and make him a lefty specialist.  CC could also fill the role as a long reliever as well (you could drop Capuano), but his value would be as a LOOGY.
  • ·       It is a shame Mason Williams hurt his shoulder as he is clearly an outstanding defender and his offense looks at least acceptable and possibly good.  In his very limited numbers, he was successful (.890 OPS).  Heathcott looked like he could belong as well.  Florez defense was solid, but he was light at the stick, but he could develop.  Either way, I was glad to see some minor league guys come up who weren’t pitchers.
  • ·       We still need help at 2nd base.  I am OK sticking with Didi as he has been a little better of late and he clearly has upside.  Pirela is a platoon guy and should start against lefties.  Drew has hit with some power and has played good defense but his overall offense is not good enough and it is hard to think he will turn it around.
  • ·       ARod is leading our team in OPS .923, with Tex behind him at .902, then Gardner at an impressive .850 (.885 if you count his SB’s) and then McCann at .810.  Those are all very good numbers!  Getting .810 out of a catcher is very helpful…I always felt that Posada was a big differentiator for us and while he was giving us a consistent .880 OPS in his prime years.  McCann is not nearly that high, but when you take the 30 starting catchers in the big leagues his OPS puts him at about 6th best.  That is good!
  • ·       Beltran is up to a .742 OPS after his terrible start.  He had an OPS of .816 in May and it is .893 in June.
  • ·       Headley has been a head scratcher this year.  He has 3 more errors so far this year than he has ever had in an entire season!  He also has been 50 OPS points below offensively where we would hope he would be.  We may have to use Brendan Ryan at 3rd base sometimes for defense if this continues as he has killed us this year.  I think it is a fluke, but he just has been bad defensively.
  • ·       4 teams within a game of 1st place…only Boston is “out of it.”  I have said since the beginning, I still think Toronto is our biggest threat, but it seems Baltimore and Tampa don’t agree with me.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keep The Brooms Out!

After blowing up in the first inning and then cruising to a victory on Saturday, it looked like the Angels would turn the table on us in the first inning.  After a terrible pitch selection where Murphy and CC somehow thought it would make sense to throw a 3-2 fastball on the inside part of the plate to Trout (right after throwing a fastball further inside for a ball on the previous pitch), CC followed up with a hanging breaking ball to Pujols for back to back jacks.  To clarify my statement on terrible pitch/location selection, I will offer the following.  On 2-2 they decided to try and throw a fastball inside to Trout.  I have no issue with this; in fact, it was a good pitch that was just off the plate inside.  The issue I had was now on 3-2 they called the same pitch, just easier to hit, for a strike and CC would have hit Murphy’s glove if that pesky bat didn’t crush the ball first.  I do not like having to make the same pitch better, the best way to work is making the pitches just a little worse.  In this case, the pitch should have been the slider that looked like it was over the middle of the plate, but dropped down and in.  All the Yankees did was get Trout aware of the pitch inside and then gave him an easier one.  When I saw them lining up inside I made a comment to my brother (we watched the game together) as I assumed it would be a slider…bad decision that cost us a run.

CC made a lot of bad pitches in the 1st inning, but got away with only 2 runs.

The Yankees went to work after playing small ball for a run (double by Pirela, and 2 productive outs), but getting a HR by Young (about time) and a huge 3 run HR by Gardner right after I proclaimed to my brother, this is a huge pitch in the game.  It was a 2-0 pitch that Wilson wanted outside, but he got it inside and Gardner just jumped on it getting the barrel out and lined a huge 3 run HR. 

Wilson bridged the gap for us in the 7th and Betances and Miller K’d 5 of the last 6 batters for victory.  (BMW – Betances Miller Win)


Back to back sweeps, 1.5 game lead over Tampa and 4.5 over Toronto (who I felt would be the biggest hurdle at the start of the year)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday 6-5-15

Friday night was an odd game.  We faced the slop throwing righty or “crafty righty” Jeff Weaver.  Drew and Tex were able to sneak a few homers over the short porch to give us a 4 run lead and we tacked on a few runs to get us to an 8-1 lead entering the 9th.  The one run Anaheim scored was when Eovaldi, who was pitching very well, ran out of gas in the 6th inning, uncharacteristically walking the bases loaded.  Girardi correctly pulled him and Shreve did another nice job allowing one run on a weak grounder and then after a 3-2 walk, he struck out Aybar to end the threat.  After Shreve got through the 7th and Lindgren got through the 8th, Girardi correctly went to Rogers IMO, but incorrectly moved Pirela to 2nd while giving Tex rest for the final inning…moving Drew to 3rd and Headley to 1B.  Now in an 8-1 game it probably doesn’t matter, but one inning to get Pirela lose and moving Headley to 1B seemed like a waste to me…and truth be told, it made no difference defensively as Pirela had one play and he made it, but the inning unraveled and it could have mattered.  Rogers was horrific.  He allowed a single, double, infield single, wild pitch, walk and a single before Girardi went to Betances.  I can’t blame Joe for leaving in Rogers that long with such a lead.  Now the score was still only 8-3, but the tying run is on deck (making this a save situation and a very easy one at that).  Betances could not find the strike zone, allowing a single, and 2 walks which made our lead 8-6 with bases loaded and nobody out!

I did not track all the pitches, but I did not like the pitch selection as I thought we threw far too many breaking balls.  My take was he controlled the fastball better (not well, but better) and the batters seeing him have less control would lay off any breaking ball and only swing at the fastball.  This appeared to be the Angels strategy as well.  However, what makes pitch selection so interesting; is that the other side of the coin is that if Betances could throw a breaking ball for a strike he would get an easy “taken” strike.   While the McCann Betances strategy hurt us to get us to 8-6, it started to pay off as we struck out Niewenhuis on a 2-2 pitch.  Then Betances fell behind 3-1 before getting a grounder to SS that Didi made a diving stop and got the force out at 2nd (huge play/pitch on a 3-1 count in that spot considering Betances had thrown a lot of pitches and control was shabby).  Carlos Perez was sent up to pinch hit with the score 8-7 (1st and 3rd).   Betances threw a breaking ball for a strike, then two breaking balls for balls, then another breaking ball for a swinging strike before throwing his 5th breaking ball in a row to strike out Perez swinging on Dellins' 33rd pitch…Whew!!!

1st inning, Didi made an outstanding dive going up the middle showing range that way we have not seen in a decade to get an out.  While Didi did boot his 8th error later, it was not horrible as the runner went right in front of him and his footwork was off as he might have been thinking of getting the runner at 3rd.  It was not a good play, but I think Didi is starting to play the game like most thought he would.

Drew hit 2 homers in the game and as awful as he has been at the plate, had been very solid in the field.  Maybe this is his turning point?  Doubtful, but he did raise his OPS 46 points to a still anemic .583.    With Ellsbury out and Flores really giving us another out at the plate (so far) we need someone to step up.


Gardner was on 1st against Weaver who throws slow and allows a lot of SB’s and it took Gardner 4 or 5 pitches to go and easily get the SB.  He is blazing fast, but he clearly does not have base stealing skill.  The AB could have been over waiting so many pitches.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sweeping in Seattle

Tanaka looked excellent tonight!  He had command of all of his pitches and he used the entire strike zone.  I felt like you could randomly choose a pitch at any time to any batter and he would deliver the pitch pretty close to wear he wanted it.  The impressive thing about Tanaka is that he seems to make adjustments with his pitches and the speeds he throws them.  He will run his fastball at 91 and then throw a 95 MPH fastball but he can still get movement on it.  He also will mix up his splitters speed much like a knuckleballer can change speeds.  On an 80 pitch limit he got us through 7 innings without a walk while striking out 9!  VERY encouraging.

The Yankees offense was Tex hitting his 16th and Jones giving us back to back homers as he hit a 2 run HR on a fastball that was supposed to be outside but their pitcher missed badly and got it more inside.  Good job by Jones supplying most of our offense the last two nights.

Girardi almost messed up this game in the 8th.  For some reason he brought in Capuano.  Capuano only allowed a single and struck out a guy, but I didn’t understand the thought process at all.  It was as if the plan was to go to Capuano when Tanaka came out in the 6th inning (or so) and then Girardi just stuck with the plan.   My take is Capuano has no business being in a 3-1 game in the 8th inning, unless you are desperate to get a lefty out.     Joe then went to Miller to get 5 outs after a shaky outing last night.  Now, I am OK with this, but it makes me think back to what I wrote two nights ago and why in the world was Betances in the 8th inning of a 7-2 game???  Because of that stupidity, Miller was called on to extend himself.  He really struggled finding the strike zone, especially with his breaking ball or his 97 MPH fastball.  In fact, Miller had to throw 94 MPH just to throw strikes.  First, Miller hit Weeks on his slider, and then he walked Zunino on 4 pitches to load the bases with 1 out.  He then fell behind Morrison 3-0 before just getting a 94 MPH fastball for a strike.  On 3-1 he gave Morrison a very hittable fastball and we were fortunate he swung through it to make the count full.  Miller then threw his slider and Morrison swung at ball 4 for the 2nd out.  Miller then pitched ahead of Austin Jackson and got him to ground to 3rd and escape the bases loaded one out jam.  He looked good in the 9th allowing a 2 strike hit through the shift but ended the inning on his 35th pitch.   

JR Murphy is 1-9 on this west coast trip and has looked awful.  He has swung at some awful pitches.  If McCann is out for any time we need JR to get his strike zone fixed quickly.  McCann will have an MRI tomorrow I believe?

I was a little surprised they designated Carpenter for assignment.  I know he has not pitched well, but only having two righties doesn’t make sense and is Lindgren that much better.  Carpenter throws 96 so you have something to work with and while he is 29, he was extremely good 2 years ago with Atlanta and was respectable last year.  I didn’t like his command and I am sure that is what the Yankees saw as well, but I would have more confidence in him then some of the guys we have? 

Didi made an outstanding dive to his right (up the middle because he was shifted to the right side of 2nd base) and made a good throw to first.  Headley also made an excellent diving stop to his left.

Nice sweep!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tuesday Night's Game

There is a lot to write about in last night’s game...buckle up...

The ump behind home plate did not have a good game; probably a little more against us than for us, but just not consistent.  The Seattle coach (Lloyd McClendon who went to Valpo and was there as a catcher before me) got thrown out after two check swing calls.  The first was when Gardner tried to check his swing but went a little too far, but the 3rd base umpire didn’t think so.  What made it look bad was Gardner took a step toward the bench thinking he would get called out.  It was a dumb move by Gardner and I have no idea why he would have “given up” when it was not without question.  Anyway, the Seattle bench was pissed and later when ARod clearly held up on a check swing and walked McClendon flipped out and he and the catcher got tossed. 

Gardner later in the game thought there were three outs on a fly to CF and runners on 1st and 2nd.  It didn’t hurt us as the runner would have tagged anyway and the runner from first did not advance to 2nd, but get your head in the game Gardner.  I don’t know Brett, but he doesn’t have great baseball smarts…probably why he can’t read pitchers well when stealing.  A guy with his speed should steal 40 bases in his sleep and probably 50+.

CC still needs more than 6 MPH drop on his changeup.  I can’t believe this adjustment has not been made yet?  The opposing rookie had 10 MPH and their closer has closer to 12.  I think that is a little too much but it is an outstanding change Rodney has.  8-10 is ideal for me in most cases.  A good example of not enough off the change occurred when CC spotted his change well on the outside corner to a righty and he was a little out in front but hit it solid enough to get through the hole.  The way the batter turned over on an outside pitch it should have been a slow grounder and an easy play.  A few MPH less and that is off the end of the bat.

The Yanks left 2nd and 3rd two outs as Headley got out and then in the bottom of the inning Seattle did the same thing.  In the Seattle inning, I have no idea why the Yanks would throw Cano back to back fastballs on the inner half of the plate when he was waving at breaking balls?  More on this later…but this led to a run as Cruz singled in a run.

CC got ticked off when Seager tried to bunt against him with 1st and 3rd and 2 outs.  CC made the easy play but was all fired up.  I have no idea why he is pissed off.  CC is a horrible and lazy fielder so they should try and take advantage of it.  The only surprise was he bunted down 3rd and CC falls that way so he did CC a favor. 

In a huge spot Headley committed another error on what could have been a DP, he stepped back and caught an in between hop and he should have charged it.  He is known as a good fielder, but he has struggled a lot for us this year. 

Tex was called out on what should have been ball 4…the pitch was low and probably inside too…bad call.

CC was pulled for Carpenter in the bottom of the 6th inning with 2 outs and 1st and 3rd.  I don’t have any faith in CC so I was Ok with the move.  Carpenter isn’t trust worthy either though and allowed a single to break the tie and give Seattle a 2-1 lead.  He got the next guy out to end the inning though.  Carpenter throws hard but he needs his breaking pitches to be better.  He threw 4-5 sliders and none were close enough to even be offered at and when he came back with the fastball he allowed the single.

The top of the 7th saw a huge opportunity literally slip away as Gregorius lined a single leading off and then we got a break when JR Murphy blooped a single to RC, however coming around 2nd base, Didi lost his footing and got tagged out.  Instead of 1st and 3rd nobody out in a key spot in the game we had man on 1st with 1 out and we didn’t score.  It looked to me as Didi spent too much time looking at the fielder and got too close to 2nd base and then took the turn very wide (instead of cutting the base) and then tried to cut it sharp on the dirt and lost his footing.  Next time he should pick up the 3rd base coach.    Didi has been better of late with a .727 OPS over his last 14 days which is much better than his .560 OPS prior.

Shreve did a good job in the bottom of the 7th feeding Cano breaking balls and striking him out.  He did get away with a fastball that Cruz just missed as he left it out over the plate but then followed up with a changeup that worked perfectly to strike him out.  Just so you don’t think I am second guessing all the time, I hated the fastball call as I felt that the change could get Cruz, but it worked out.

Lindgren pitched in 8th.  His fastball has some sink too it but I was not impressed.  He threw so many balls and he was fortunate they swing at a lot of balls.  His command will need to get much better to effective.  That being said, even after not fielding a throw he should have from Tex that only a tiny bit behind him, he didn’t allow a run against the weak bottom of the Seattle batting order.

We entered the 9th down by one and Headley was smart against Rodney taking a pitch and ended up not swinging at all and walking on 6 pitches.  Now Beltran came up against Rodney (who has had control issues this year) and swung at a first pitch changeup and flew out.  This ticked me off.  I could see swinging at a first pitch fastball in a zone, but an outside changeup was very undisciplined and as you know I like to work the counts and occasionally jump on a first pitch.  After Didi struck out on 3 changeups we were down to our final out.  Girardi correctly went to McCann who kept us alive with a single the other way (McCann seems to be the only player who tries to beta the shift).  Now we had Drew up with the game on the line.  The only guy on the bench is the rookie Flores so I understood leaving in the terribly disappointing Drew.  After getting an outside pitch that should have been called a strike and then taking another strike we were down to our final strike.  They wanted a fastball outside (and for a ball), but Rodney missed terribly and came inside with a fastball that drew ripped down the line for a game tying double!  Gardner could now give us the lead, but he grounded out to SS

Betances walked the leadoff hitter on a pitch that was better than the 3-0 strike and it was a strike.  But he was able to K the pinch hitter and then after a bunch of breaking balls threw a 99 and 98 MPH fastball above the letters to Cano who swung through them for another K.  He then got the dangerous Cruz to send us into extra innings. 

Jones led off with a single and after ARod popped out to LF (he didn’t swing well last night) and a walk to Tex, Headley came up.  Headley hit a bullet to the first baseman who was going to try and go to 2nd but couldn’t get a handle on the ball and when he turned back to first their pitcher had started to back up 3rd or home and Headley (who ran hard out of the box from the start) beat the 1st baseman to load the bases with one out.   Beltran was up with a chance to redeem himself (to me) after swinging at the first pitch last time.  This time the first two pitches were balls and then after taking a strike and fouling off a few he grounded into a DP to end the inning.  Ugh.

Wilson came in to pitch the 10th with 2 lefties out of 3 coming up and he allowed a single to LF on a good pitch (good hitting).  Weeks then popped up a bunt that Wilson did a full out dive for and then got up and threw to first on a hop to double off the runner.  Huge play and also a good play by Drew who smoothly picked up the one hop throw that was also off line.

Didi led off the 11th with a single and McCann came up against a righty.  They didn’t have the heavy shift on so the bunt was not an automatic play (it would be for me if they had the shift on), and McCann hit into a DP.  Drew singled to keep the inning going and then Gardner hit a double to LC that gave us 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Man that DP loomed large as Garrett Jones stepped to the plate as Seattle went to the lefty Beimel.  After two off speed balls, Jones was sitting on a fastball and he got one over the middle of the plate and at the knees and he deposited it over the RC fence for a 3 run dinger!!!

In came Miller who struck out Ruggiano before losing the touch on his slider and throwing a fastball to Castillo who singled to LF.  Still struggling with his slider Miller hit Jackson on what would have been ball 4 anyway.  Now with a lefty up Miller got his slider going for a 1st pitch strike and then stuck with it getting Miller to pop out for the 2nd out.  Cano was now up and I said I would get back to this earlier.  I know that the slider left Miller for one or 2 batters but he had it back in the last AB and Cano loves swinging at the first pitch.  The slider was the call.  Unfortunately they gave Cano a fastball and he singled scoring a run and cutting the lead to 2 and the 18 HR Cruz stepped to the plate as the winning run.  Two sliders had him at 1-1 before throwing 97 on the inside corner and Cruz watched it.  You could see the look was wow that was a tough pitch…especially after the sliders.  After another ball, he struck out Cruz to end the game.  WHEW


Great production from Drew and Jones giving us unlikely stars of the game!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monday Night's Game

A battle between Pineda and King Felix turned into the Mark Teixeira show.  Tex set the stage for the game with an outstanding diving play down the line to save a double on the first batter of the game.  Tex later hit a Grand Slam helping Pineda beat Hernandez.  Pineda pitched very well before losing it in the 7th inning.  Wilson came in and threw 96/97 every pitch and got out of the jam.  For some reason Betances came into the game in the 8th with a 7-2 lead and even in the 9th after one batter got on Miller got up?  Girardi seemed to panic for some reason?

I also want to comment on a phenomenal play Didi Gregorius made at SS going to his left and snagging a ball on a full out dive which he then got up fast and threw on the fly a decent throw to Tex, who didn't stride toward the the throw and it went off his glove.  They gave the error to Didi which is absurd as Tex just missed it.  Even Flaherty made a comment that Tex should catch that in his sleep.  Outside of Tex just missing it, a large contributing factor to him missing it was because he didn't stretch toward the throw (the same issue I have been writing about).  I really don't get why his footwork is so poor over there as everything is else is really good.  BTW, one of the things Tex does great is how well he throws for a first basemen...obviously, he doesn't have to do that much.

Nice win.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Saturday and Sunday in Oakland

I want to start off with Saturday night’s game.  I know Tex hasn’t made any errors in 100 games (that is excellent) and he didn’t make any on Saturday, but did anyone notice how he once again fell while catching a ball to his right without stepping that way.  He made the catch, which was not hard, but he didn’t stretch toward the ball or even step toward it.  It was like he stretched too soon yet still made the play.  It is very odd. 

It was nice to see us get a lead and then ride the BMW (Betances, Miller, Win).  The Twin Towers ™ have been great.


Sunday was one of those times where we had a lot of hits early on and couldn’t cash in and then did nothing.  The key AB was with 2 guys on base and one out, Tex had a 3-0 count on him.  I am not sure if he had the green light but the pitcher (Chavez) made a nice pitch up and in for a strike.  He then painted the outside corner with a fastball and Tex did a good job of not swinging at it as I am sure he was zoning a pitch to do some damage with.  Chavez then threw another perfect pitch on the outside edge and Tex swung through it.  He had a good swing but just missed it.  Beltran then got out and that ended the inning and a huge opportunity.

The game was scoreless until Vogt took a pretty good inside pitch from Warren and muscled it up and over the RF fence.  He didn’t crush it but he had underspin on it (which gave it carry) and the wind was blowing out to RF and it kept going.  With the game still only a 2 run game Girardi went to Rodgers somewhat inexplicably with 2 lefties, a switch and a lefty coming up (which is 4 lefties).  Rodgers OPS against lefties is .985 and against righties it is .679.  Rodgers has not been pitching well, but he has been awful against lefties.  He did get the first batter out and I thought maybe he will get through it, but then allowed 2 hits before coming out of the game to bring in a lefty (a little late Joe?) who allowed a sac fly to make the score 3-0.


Tex made a nice play on a line drive that he immediately turned and tagged the runner out before he could get back to the bag.  The catch was not so hard, but his awareness to quickly tag the runner was a heads up play.  BTW, the runner (Butler) did everything correctly to get back to the bag, it was just unlucky.  I say that because Didi got doubled off on a very bad baserunning play on a line drive to 2nd that he took a few steps before stopping and couldn’t get back in time.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Oakland Game 1

I know we lost last night, but I thought it was one of the best games all year.  There were a ton of great and important AB’s with interesting pitch selection opportunities, and with good pitching and hitting going on…

I like Flaherty as an announcer (he and Cone are my favorites) and while I don’t usually listen because I am fast forwarding a lot, I disagreed with Flaherty after Tex made a really nice scoop on a throw by Didi.  It was one of the tougher picks because it was an in between hop and Tex saved an error.  Flaherty commented on that is why he is the best at scooping in the big leagues.  That may be some homer talk, but while Tex is good at it, if he is the best in baseball (keep in mind he has missed at least 5 scoops already) then baseball might be having a shortage of excellent defenders.   

Flaherty later in the game did make two spot on comments:

In one of the key spots in the game, Carpenter was pitching against Semien with 1st and 2nd and 1 out.  This after a failed bunt attempt allowed Carpenter to throw to 3rd getting the lead runner.  After throwing a ball, Carpenter threw two excellent sliders, the 2nd one was way out of the strike zone and Semien waived at it.  Another slider was the correct call but then Carpenter threw a slider that had little bite and it hung over the plate and Semien singled in a run and also moved a runner over to 3rd who scored on a sac fly.  I was pissed at how poor the pitch was and Flaherty jumped all over it as well and correctly pointed out the difference in quality of the pitches.

In the 9th, after Drew got out leading off, on a 3-1 pitch, Garrett Jones swung at a high pitch that would have been ball 4 and Flaherty pointed out how undisciplined that was down by 2 runs needing to get the tying run to the plate.  Jones ended up walking anyway, but the point was correct.  Gardner doubled on a great AB lining a 3-2 fastball away to LC, closing the lead to one, but Headley flew deep to LC to end the game (caught on the warning track)

Other comments:
·      There was a key play in the top of the 4th where ARod was sent home with nobody out (this was the first bad call I have seen the 3rd base coach make as he should not have sent him) and he did a good job of avoiding the tag and then reaching down and most likely touching home plate with his fingers.  The ruling was out in the field and I was not sure they would overturn it as nothing was crystal clear; although I am pretty sure his fingers touched the back/side of the plate.  I watched it a few times and I do think he was safe, but was worried about them not overturning it.  They did call him safe and this gave us a 2-0 lead that was extended to 3-0 before Oakland came back.
·      Speaking of ARod, you can say what you want, but I am enjoying his AB’s as much as anyone’s.  He is having professional AB’s and they are fun to watch.
·      I thought CC mixed his pitches well (I really liked McCann’s pitch selection) and his stuff was good.  His command at times was very good and he was successful.  For example, a key moment in the game was the bottom of the 3rd.  Oakland loaded the bases with one out on some soft hits.  CC struck out Semien on a high fastball away and then struck out Zobrist looking on a low and in fastball (freezing him).  The command of the zone was excellent in that sequence and most of the game.  Unfortunately, a first pitch curve ball was right over the middle of the plate and Burns cleared the LF fence for Oakland’s first run and Oakland tied the score on a very bad changeup that was supposed to be away but left it over the middle of the plate and up where Lawrie hit a 2 run HR.
·      After allowing the 2 runs in the 6th inning I was surprised CC started the 7th inning because the bottom of the lineup was coming up and they were both righties (CC has been very tough on lefties this year and getting crushed by righties).  After a single and then a walk Girardi came out to get CC.  I think this was a poor job by Girardi as a lot of damage was done.  The above Carpenter sequence is what happened for both of those runs to score.  I would have let Carpenter start the inning.  See above when Carpenter hung the 3rd slider for the outcome.  It was not a horrible move by Girardi but I was surprised.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work.  My take was also different in that I don’t have great faith in Carpenter coming into that situation and getting out unscathed.  We caught a break on the failed bunt, but IF Betances was available (I do not know as he pitched 26 pitches the night before and I would imagine Joe might have wanted to rest him) I would have gone to Betances right there as I am big on having my best guys in the important spots…and this was a big one.   
·      After the ARod play at the plate, the Yanks had a great opportunity still with 1st and 2nd nobody out.  First pitch Beltran grounded out moving the runners up and then first pitch with 2nd and 3rd 1 out, Drew misses a very hittable pitch and pops up to fail to get the runner(s) in.  Drew ticks me off at the plate (his defense has been pretty good).  This was another key spot in the game and why you can see this game was a good one.
·      BTW, CC’s last batter (that he walked), was a 3-1 pitch that should have been called a strike; the ump blew it.  That was a key call in the game as it turned out.


 One note on the previous game, I was very glad to see Pineda get back to his game pitching.  One walk and 8 k’s was good to see.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Weekend

We have now lost 10 of our last 11 games.  I will discuss the first inning of last night’s game first.

Sunday’s game:
1.   The first play of the game saw a grounder to 2nd base where Pirela had to move to his left to make the play and didn’t rush but didn’t hesitate either and then threw to first base and the ump incorrectly called the runner safe.  The review correctly overturned the play.  However, the announcers and nobody else said anything about what a terrible job Tex did on that play at 1B.  Tex didn’t even slightly stretch for the throw.  In fact, his left foot was pointing toward the pitcher (if you drew a straight line from his right foot on the bag to his left foot).  This is similar to the issue I have when there is no stretch from a ball thrown form in between the catcher and pitcher.  Now, the play was overturned so people may say it didn’t matter, but as I have said before, you have to play the game in a way that while it may not matter this time, but at some point it will matter.  I would also argue that the fact the runner was originally called safe, played into the mental psyche of Pirela as the next ball that went to him he probably felt the need to rush a little and he booted a simple grounder.  It is impossible for me to know whether one played into the other, but he booted it regardless and the lack of a stretch on the previous play was poor. 
2.   The Pirela show continued later in the 1st when Fielder crushed a line bullet into the gap and the runner who was on 1st (Choo) was sent home.  Pirela got the ball a little low and hesitated slightly and then made a horrible throw home.  An average throw would have had him and a good throw gets Choo easily.  I hate seeing poorly executed relays like that.
3.   In the bottom of the 1st Gardner was on 1st with nobody out and Headley hit a line drive to CF and Gardner tried to stretch it to 3rd and was thrown out on a close play and a good throw.  When guys get thrown out on plays like that it is easy to criticize, but I was surprised when I saw him running and was pissed when he was thrown out.   As you know, I also like to take advantage of pitchers in the 1st inning and the poor play was exacerbated when the Yankees ended up scoring 2 runs in the first and possibly could have broken the game open.
4.   The 1st inning set the stage for us to go asleep at the bats the rest of the game and lose 5-2.
5.   One other note, Texas tried a squeeze play and two things of note happened.  It reminded me that Girardi has yet to attempt a squeeze play since he has taken over as Manager; not even a safety squeeze.  The 2nd item was that the squeeze failed and the Yankees executed the run down perfectly with Headley moving toward McCann as soon as McCann threw the ball making it impossible for the runner to change directions fast enough.  I bring this up also because I have been teaching that style of rundown to my LL teams…

Previous games
·      Our defense should be much better than it has been.  We can’t keep giving teams 4+ outs an inning.
·      I was asked about whether I felt Didi would improve and I say yes.  You can see he has the talent (quickness and arm are excellent), but he needs to be steadier with the glove.  That being said, this is not a Nunez situation with the glove and Didi will be a plus defender.  His offense and his offensive approach need work though.  He may end up needing to be platooned, but at least he has shown signs of breaking out with a couple of HR’s.
·      CC was awful on Saturday; the only thing good was his curve ball.  This game also underscores what I was saying about getting to a team’s middle relief can open up games.
·      While on the subject, our middle relief has been awful of late.  They were not as good as early on, but not as bad as recently.
·      I am pretty much done with Drew.  We need to start looking at who is available.  Sure he could turn it back around and if I thought he would be better than he has been, even if not great, but it is now all of last year and we are a ¼ of the way through this season and his OPS is below .600.  Statistically, I would have expected last year to be a low point and he would rebounded to a wide range of .650 -.750 but he is not showing it, in fact over the last month he has an OPS of .441…that is not a misprint.  .225 OBP and a .216 Slug.   Give me a word that is worse than horrible.
·      As I stated about Pirela, I think he has a weak spot on the breaking ball away and he will need to adjust to be able to play in the bigs (his defense needs to be sharpened as well)

·      I am not a fan of Capuano…he is mediocre at best and I hope we can get Nova and Tanaka back soon.