Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 off season #7

Let’s analyze the trade:

The Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn (L) and 19 year old minor league pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino (and $500k) for Javier Vazques and Boone Logan (L).

I have received a lot of questions about why we would bring a retread back, such as Vazquez, who was part of the biggest collapse we have seen and someone who had an ERA over 4.65 in 2 of his last 3 years in the AL (with the White Sox)? In his one year with us he had an ERA of 4.91. “He is a classic NL pitcher” are the comments I received.

The above is hard to argue with as the numbers do speak for themselves.

I must say that back in 2004, (I didn’t have an official blog back then) I was a fan of getting Javier. He was young and coming off some impressive seasons for the Expos, I thought he would be a nice piece of our puzzle. He had a very good 1st half of the year going 10-5 with an ERA of 3.56! Unfortunately, the wheels came off the bus as he was so bad in the 2nd half that the Yankees didn’t start him in the playoffs. His ERA in the 2nd half was 6.92 as he allowed a ton homers. You may have the bad memory of him making sure the Yankees wouldn’t come back n game 7 against the Red Sox when he allowed a grand slam to Damon in the early innings (I think 2nd?).

Some people said that he was pitching through an arm injury that year as his total innings was below 200 innings for the only time in his career since 2000. This is one of the reasons the Yankees like him…he is an absolute innings eater. Of course, quality innings are important, but as a number 4 starter he is a really good one (or at least we should think he is a really good one).

So what do I think? I have to admit I didn’t see too much of him this last year and I know with the White Sox that we hit him very well. In fact, when I looked it up it was very surprising to see that the Yankees have hit Vazquez MUCH better than any other team. The Yankees OPS against him is a whopping .996 (that is sick) with an ERA of 7.09. Surprisingly, every other team had an OPS below .800. Against Boston his ERA is 4.23.

Back to what I see… I always liked the way he pitched in that he does not give free passes and throws a lot of different pitches. For the most part he was a fastball and 12-6 curveball type pitcher and he worked in his change as well. He always let up a lot of homers and that most likely will not change. However, he obviously made some great changes to his game in Atlanta as he had the best ERA of his career, an impressive 2.87 ERA, was 4th in the CY young award voting and once again threw a lot of innings (219). The other good indicator was that he struck out a career high 238 batters against only 44 walks. Last year he was awesome. Supposedly he threw his slider a lot more last year and worked in more changeups as well and had excellent results.

One could say that Atlanta sold high on Vazquez, although their first choice was to trade away Derek Lowe, but they had no takers. Javier has one year left before he is a free agent and he is making 11 mil.

So what did we give up? Dunn is a decent lefty arm, but I don’t see him as being some great pitcher and was not dominant against lefties so that is something expendable. Those of you know that I think Melky is very expendable as he is a backup player who doesn’t hit well enough for a corner OF spot and doesn’t play defense well enough to be a CF’r. He is still young and could develop, but, while I am in the minority, I believe Gardner is better than he is. We also gave up a good pitching prospect in Arodys Vizcaino. He is ranked in the top 3 of Yankee prospects according to a few sources. He is 19 and has a lot of work to do, but he can throw 94 and has some good ability, although is still raw (these are from what I have read and not my own opinions).

Conclusion: Basically, we gave up some depth and a very good prospect who is years away and may never be anything, or may be very good, for an established innings eater (has started 32 games for 10 straight years) with one year left on his contract, who is coming off an excellent year. I think this was a good trade for the Yanks. The downside of Vazquez should still be decent for a 4th starter and the upside is that he could very well be the 2nd best pitcher on our staff.

I hope this sets us up for Hughes to be in the rotation and Joba to be in the pen. While a starter is worth far more than a reliever and I may be pulling the plug on Joba as a starter too soon, he seems to have the mentality of a closer to me. Maybe as he matures that would change, but I would leave him in the pen.

The Yankees will probably get some more OF depth, but I hope they let Gardner possibly develop into Jacoby Ellsbury as they are similar players. I am not in favor of signing Damon for LF and unless the Yanks decide to break their budget, they most likely won’t get Bay or Holliday either.

One last note, Rivera and Jeter are both in the last years of their contracts. Surprisingly, they both are still going strong. I wonder how this will play out? Cashman has said that winning is all that he cares about and he has let others go (as I think he should), however, certain players get the benefit for me and these two guys would be at the top of the list for paying them as a thanks. Neither should ever wear another uniform.
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2010 off season #6

This blog will focus on the DH spot and the next will be about the trade of Melky

However, because this blog is a tribute to The Genius Maker, it would be appropriate for me to congratulate our savior, who was named the Sporting News 2009 Pro Athlete of the Year! I have to admit, I have no idea what this award was for, but I am sure it had something to do with being the greatest closer this world has ever seen! Congratulations Mo, you deserve every award out there.

I still miss Matsui and I am convinced the Yankees messed up their negotiations or lack thereof with him. I said it before, he pays for himself with the Japanese income and the cheap contract was well worth it. I know he had his knee drained 3 times last year and it probably won’t get any better, but the guy can still rake.

My belief is that the Yanks focused on getting Lackey and when that fell through, by the time they switched to Matsui he had already taken care of his own business. That is a shame. Boston is a better team this year than last. Even losing Bay, they should pick up a few wins which makes them a mid to high 90 win ball club. That is pretty darn good, although we should be approaching 100 ourselves.

The Yanks signed Nick Johnson and the messages from fellow blog readers I received were clearly not positive. That being said, I do think this was an excellent signing (that was only needed because of the Matsui debacle). Johnson will replace the Damon spot and I would put Granderson in the Matsui spot (5th). Johnson is an on base machine and in front of Texiera and ARod this should be very valuable.

Johnson will give you an OBP over .400 and I think will show more power in the Yankees lineup with more threats behind him. Over his last 2 years (he missed all of 2007) his OBP was .424 and his slug was .410 for a total of .834. I think his OBP will probably drop some to perhaps around .400 but his slug will move up to make up the difference, let’s say .434, although if he can stay healthy I see his slug and OPS moving higher. My feeling is based on Nick playing on weak offenses in the past made walking him more appetizing and having Tex and ARod behind will make it much less attractive. Therefore, less walks and possibly better pitches to hit should increase his slug. The real question is whether or not he can stay healthy. Some of his injuries were fluky types of things, a broken leg after a bad collision and a broken cheek bone after getting hit by the pitch. But, he has also had numerous wrist injuries over the years that have sapped some of his power. The Yankees probably feel that putting him at DH will limit the opportunities for injuries and I hope they are right; because when he is at the plate he is a valuable hitter. He hits both sides identical so he never has to be replaced.

I like Nick Johnson (NJ) and think he will add another guy who works the count to get into the bullpen faster. Texiera and ARod have to love having him in front of them. His contract is only for one year and is reasonable at 5 mil so he was a good signing with the DH spot opened up.

I do want to close with the comments that were made by Girardi and even Cashman. If you remember, after Matsui left or was about to leave they made comments about how they wanted the DH spot to be a rotating one because Girardi likes that to give players a rest once ion awhile. At that time, I said it was baloney and the logic was misguided, especially when you need a deeper bench with guys like Granderson on your team (platoon). Obviously, Girardi's comments were just a "cover up" because they went out and correctly signed NJ. That being said, I dislike the false comments they make. I have no issue with misleading other teams in trying to fill your roster correctly (part of the game), but those comments hit me the wrong way. Hard to explain but I took it as, how stupid do you think we are? That is the fake part of Girardi I don't like. Just shut up rather than blatantly lie to us.
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Friday, December 25, 2009

2010 off season #5

Merry Christmas everyone!

Once again it is good to see the responses I am getting from some of you. It seems we are all pretty excited after last year and more important, we are situated for a very good run if we play this right.

Before I get into the King of Clutch vs. the Kin of Crutches (or Matsui vs. Nick Johnson), I wanted to follow-up my comment I left you with in my last blog about Gardner.

I think Gardner is much better than many of us think…

Gardner had an OPS of .724 last year and was stronger the first half of the year when he had an opportunity to play more regularly. But even if he was able to maintain this .724 OPS, I say he should be our 3dr starting OF’r. Then again I thought he should have started over Melky and after reviewing this in further detail, there is no question he should have been.

Gardner will make 2 plays a week over Melky in CF, I am pretty confident that this number is conservative. While most of those plays would be extra base hits (doubles and triples, of course some would be singles. To be conservative, I will eliminate all triples and say that he would save one double and one single a week over Melky. That is 3 bases a week. Saving 3 bases a week is about 75 bases over the course of a year. In 600 AB’s this would add about 125 points to your OPS. When you add in the SB threat he is, he stole 26 last year getting caught only 5 times in 248 AB’s, this was the equivalent of 16 extra bases (26-10). You count each CS twice to “remove” each SB from a value standpoint. I think it would be very fair to assume that if Gardner played every day he would steal 50 bases and let’s say he would get caught more and use 13 times caught. This would lead to a (50-26) 24 extra bases or based on 600 AB’s or 40 OPS points. So comparing Gardner to Melky:

Melky’s adjusted OPS for his SB’s was .752 + .012 = .764
Gardner’s adjusted OPS is .724 + .040 (SB’s) + .125 (fielding) = .916.

Interestingly, based on last years numbers they were pretty equal offensively and Gardner is worth a ton more defensively per the above. Of course we are not even taking into account any advantage a SB threat gives for the batters on deck by taking some of the pitchers attention away and possibly causing more fastballs to be thrown. But, we are also not taking into account Melky’s stronger arm, although I would argue he takes so long to get rid of the ball that the difference is not worth a lot. Melky had 4 assists last year and his arm should be worth something in the equation, but in less time you may be surprised that Gardner had 3 assists as well. I think me using only 3 bases a week from the fielding standpoint makes up for any arm discrepancy as it is probably more.

OK, so I “proved” Gardner was better than Melky…that doesn’t mean much; we now have Granderson in CF.

Well, I think that Granderson should be platooned, I have said this before and I strongly believe it. Based on how poorly Granderson hits lefties, Gardner hit better against lefties than Granderson did. Whether the Yanks do the right thing or not from a platoon standpoint, I say Gardner deserved to play if his offense is roughly the same as Melky’s and his defense is excellent.

Therefore, Gardner should be our CF’r!

Yes, I would play Granderson is LF. Why wouldn’t we? Don’t we all think that Gardner can cover more ground than Granderson? While Granderson is better than Melky out there, how many guys can cover the ground Gardner can? If he is playing, why would you play Gardner is LF? Especially when Granderson is getting platooned why move Gardner to CF each time?

I am fine with Gardner in CF. We just won a World Series with a weaker CF’r. Granderson will hit righties and field much better than Damon is LF so even with a platoon it is an upgrade (Right handed pitchers represent roughly 2/3 of the starters). Overall while we need to juggle more, our overall production out of LF should be better.

Sure Holliday is a really good player, but I would rather hold my money back for the possible chance at C JoeMauer or the pitcher Cliff Lee and also give us one more year to see what we really have in Gardner. Maybe he is only a great defensive replacement or a great pinch runner, but it makes sense to find out.

Next blog I will move to the DH and then Vazquez.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 off season #4

Bonus Blog!...Sometimes I just want to throw down what I think. Thank you for all the emails from you folks who sometimes help me crystallize my thoughts better...talking it through sometimes allows me to better understand how I really goes.
I understand we can’t get so many big players every year and what you don’t want to do is spend money on the best that is available. The Yankees did it right last year with CC and Texiera. Burnett was OK, but you can’t have too many like him as they are huge investments for good, not great players. I kind of feel that Jason Bay and Holliday are very good players, but they are not studs. You don’t necessarily want to settle if you are the Yanks because you are paying that player a lot of money for a lot of years.

My point is that I would have been OK with signing just Matsui and make the Granderson trade and hope the Rule 5 kid Jamie Hoffman would handle some of the platoon duties (as he has to stay on our roster or be offered back). I like Lackey and feel is a very solid pitcher, but I am fine with the Yanks giving another year to Melky and Gardner to see what they have. Gardner has struggled at each step of his career but after adapting to each level he has performed well. He is doing the same in the major leagues:
2008 his OPS was .582 and in 2009 it was a not so horrible .724. Surprisingly Gardner had an OPS of .781 against lefties and a .708 against righties. When he was playing more in the first half (when Melky struggled) Gardner had an OPS of .756 before the All Star break. This may fly in the face of what I just said about adapting because his 2nd half numbers were not as good, but he only received 60 AB’s in the 2nd half and 188 in the first half. I also think his defense is worth a lot more than people think. I am actually good with Gardner starting in CF for us. ((I will explain soon))

Supposedly the Yanks are talking to Mark Derosa and Nick Johnson:

Mark Derosa over last 3 years has an OPS of .800 which is .853 against lefties and .780 against righties. Last year he was much better against lefties and struggled against righties. He is much better than Hairston and is mostly a 2nd baseman and 3rd baseman but has played a lot in the corner OF spots as well. The fit might be an inexpensive option, but I surely wouldn’t spend a lot on him.

Nick Johnson – Is an on base machine. All of his wrist injuries have sapped him of most of his 20 HR power and he is more of a line drive hitter who you can count on for .420 OBP and about the same Slug. He would be an excellent number 2 hitter getting on before Tex and ARod, but he is slow. He hits both sides equally so there is no need to platoon, but he is always hurt. I think he is worth kicking the tires on because when healthy he has pretty good value. The Yanks are probably expecting Miranda to DH for them, but if nick would sign a deal that has incentives it may be worth it…

Going back to Matsui, we will be saying over and over again why didn’t we just spend 7 mil on Matsui…$&#T!
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

2010 off season #3

Hi folks, I wanted to chime in on some of the latest deals.

I was pleased to see the Yankees rule 5 pick (the player they received for Bruney) was a solid defender who hits lefties very well. From what I gather, he is a big guy who runs well, has a good arm and hits lefties very well. Most likely he doesn’t hit righties well and thus a lower batting average and OPS against 2/3 of the pitchers out there lowered his stock. It looks like Cashman realizes late in the game Granderson is a matchup problem against a lefty specialist…I hope this guy does enough?

I was also pleased with Halladay going out of the AL. I understand the Phillies have a budget, but I don’t get why they wouldn’t go for the win this year and keep lee for one more year to have an amazing 1-2 punch to go along with their offense? It just didn’t make sense to me, but I guess they figure they have enough. Halladay wanted to play there and they signed him for a very reasonable amount of money over the next 4 years (Including this year about 17.5 mil a year as they only signed a 3 year extension)

I was not pleased to see the Red Sox grab the two guys I thought fit the Yankees well. Some people had concerns with lackey’s shoulder as he only logged about 170 innings the last 2 years and if that was a major concern of the Yanks I understand. However, the guy is a very solid pitcher and gives the Red Sox and excellent rotation. Cameron helps their defense and crushes lefties and is not below average against righties. I thought he was a great fit for the Yanks with Granderson.

I am extremely upset that the Yankees let Matsui sign a one year deal for 6.5 mil a year! I don’t get this at all. Supposedly Girardi likes to have the DH spot open to juggle his players around and give them a day off by DH’ng. That is all fine, but I would rather give a guy a full day off so that he can truly rest. If you are the DH you don’t really fully rest. Most important is that Matsui was very solid and a guy you could plug into the lineup and not worry about any platooning etc…With Granderson we will take advantage of what he does extremely well, but you need the flexibility for his shortcoming which means more roster spots. We have now done the same with our DH spot! 6.5 mil for a one year deal is a steal and as I said before Matsui more than pays for himself. This was a very bad decision by the Yanks; it just has no logic to it as far as I can see. I consider Damon a DH and they will end up paying more for Damon and probably for 2 years and the productivity will not be any better, most likely it will be worse. I still don’t want them to sign Damon and this move may make them feel they need him more which makes it even worse. I would be happier if they just decided they didn’t want to sign any 35 year old player, but for one year keeping Matsui (even at 8 mil a year) is a no brainer to me). I am VERY VERY unhappy with this move; I get the feeling barring injury that we will be saying, "wouldn't it be nice if we had Matsui manning the DH spot all year." Anaheim got a steal!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2010 off season #2

Good to see all the responses from people!

I thought I would answer some of the thoughts/questions:

Yes, I will do my end of year in review to see how my predictions went.

Yes, I still like the Granderson trade after sleeping on it J He is only making 5.5 mil next year. It should be noted, even if it is absurd, but Joba and Hughes were who the Tigers asked for at the start…

No, I doubt the Yankees will correctly start Granderson only against righties. What I do hope though is that they use Granderson in all OF spots so that we can have our best defensive team in there, but Gardner should be in CF if he is playing. I get the feeling Melky will be traded.

Some people are concerned about Granderson’s low OBP and how it will work if he is at the top of the order. Yes, it was low last year, but that was mostly because of 180 AB’s against lefties. He has walked over 70 times each of the last 2 seasons with an average of about 60 walks against righties. The 72 walks last year were the same as Damon and Jeter so he does walk; his BA was just very low last year. The 2 previous years his OBP was .363. In fact, if you took his last 3 years, his numbers are basically what Damon’s were last year. I think those numbers would improve with less playing time against lefties and while not playing against lefties decreases his value, having an OPS over the last 3 years of .940 with a .378 OBP against righties is extremely valuable, especially out of CF.

I mentioned I get the feeling Melky gets traded and that is because he is an ok 4th OF, but he really doesn’t stand out anywhere. His defense on the corners is solid, but as a CF’r he lacks range. As a hitter he is OK for CF, but is too weak to be a corner OF’r. So he is a little bit of a tweener and I would trade him if there is a market.

I would let Damon go and be more likely to keep Matsui if the dollars worked, because he will pay for himself in marketing to Japan. Yeah, I know people are always quick to spend the Yankee money, but they do work within a budget and the money saved can always be used for the stretch run or a free agent next year.

Based on trading Melky, I would not be surprised if the Yanks went after Bay or Holliday. The only part is what do they get paid? They are just a notch below Texiera in value so will they get a 4 year deal worth $17-18 mil a year or so? That is probably about right. Not sure I want to invest them at this point in time. However, if the Yanks said they were dropping both Matsui and Damon and then they picked up one of those guys they would still have reduced they payroll slightly when you take into account Pettitte and Granderson…almost a wash. I think I would rather get Matsui for another year and then have the money freed up to grab Halladay as a free agent or whoever else is there. I don’t want to trade for Halladay based on his money and the people to give up.

I also would not shut the door on Lackey. I would definitely test the waters for him as he is a very good pitcher and throwing CC, Burnett, Lackey, Pettitte and Hughes would be a great rotation. If the money was the same, I would rather Lackey than the LF’rs and I would make due with less in other areas. We were able to free up 5 mil for Wang, I would drop Hairston (2mil), drop Molina (2+ mil) Hinske (1+ mil) and you will pickup almost 10 mil (taking away about a mil for Cervelli and Pena.

I don’t know what the Yankees are thinking, but I would keep Joba in the pen and move Hughes to the rotation. As you know, I think there is a lot more value in a starter than a setup guy, but Joba seems much more comfortable in the bullpen and Hughes has stuff that is better suited for the rotation.

Other notes: Pettitte signed for 11.75 mil for a year. I think they paid too much for Pettitte, but maybe it is a 1 year thank you. Not sure why they had to guarantee the money and they would have been much better off doing what they did last year, even if they started the base at 7 mil instead of 5 mil like last year…either way though a thanks you is OK.

Bruney – the player to be named later is the first pick in Thursday’s rule 5 draft that the Nationals had, so that it is actually pretty good.

Keep enjoying the fact we are Champions!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2010 off season #1

It has been awhile since the last blog and I hope everyone has enjoyed the bragging rights and the excitement of the World Series Champion New York Yankees!

Time to move to the off-season which is under way.

The Yanks have paid Damon and Matsui a decent amount of money the last few years (about $13 mil a year) and everyone thinks they must bring them back. I don’t feel that way unless they will sign a Bobby Abreu type of deal where he received only 6 mil or so. I am not questioning whether these guys can be productive, but it is clear that they each were breaking down last year. Damon had a ton of ailments and Matsui’s knees were giving him a lot of trouble. No way am I signing them to a 3 year deal even at a reduced rate. A one year deal is probably all I would give or 2 at $12. I think they have pretty equal value overall, because while Damon could play the field, he doesn’t play it very well.

Moving on, there are rumors that the Yanks have traded for Curtis Granderson. Supposedly they have given up their prized minor leaguer OF Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy. Jackson seems like a guy who is developing but slower than the Yanks have hoped and doesn’t seem like a guy who will have great power. The Yanks supposedly love Granderson and I have to say they really didn’t give up too much to get him. Granderson is 28 and while I heard he is a free agent after 2011, ESPN had his contract at 5.5 next year 8.25 in 2011, $10 mil in 2012 and a club option of $13 mil or a $2 mil buy out. These salaries are pretty reasonable. The Yanks took this deal after the Tigers removed one player from the trade.

My take: Granderson is a guy who should platoon. He struggles against lefties but hits righties very well. His best year was 2 years ago and has steadily gone down the last 2 years. Overall, he fits the ball park well and can play CF better than anyone except Gardner. Granderson has an ok OPS of .780 last year but was a very solid .897 against righties and a horrible .484 against lefties. Over the last 3 years his OPS is an excellent .940 against righties and bad .570 against lefties. Truthfully, you normally would not pay this much for a platoon player, but if the Yankees treat him as such, he can be very valuable. I would not start him against lefties and if he is in the lineup and a lefty comes up he should bunt. He runs well, but is not a great base stealer and a solid OF’r. He did hit 30 HR’s last year for the first time but his batting average suffered. Overall, I like the move and this based on the stats I have seen about Austin Jackson and if the yanks platoon Granderson.

Last year I wanted the Yanks to go after Cameron for a 1 or 2 year deal. He had another solid year of being great against lefties and mediocre against righties. He can help us out again this year for the same reasons. He can still play a solid CF and he crushes lefties. Last year after a mediocre 2nd half where his OPS was only .743 (.838 1st half) he finished the year with an OPS of .954 against lefties. (.748 against righties) – his numbers over the previous 2 years were similar as well. I think it is safe to say one of Damon or Matsui will go and maybe both, Cameron would give the team some good punch from the right side and it would be good to offset the lefties teams like to throw at us and would be a fantastic platoon in CF with Granderson. What is interesting is when you look at the cost for the 2 players, it would be about $13 mil this year and probably about 17 mil next year and while next year may seem high to patrol CF you are getting a platoon that should give you a combined OPS of at the minimum of .860 which would be a fantastic CF’r. There is also depth and good defense which can be used at the corner spots as well. If Melky and Gardner are still around they would fill out our OF. The problem I see with this is if the Yanks decide that Granderson should not platoon. Maybe they see some adjustment he can make but if we are lucky his OPS goes up to .700 against lefties and while that would be a great improvement it is still not good.

Other news: The Yanks have sent Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. Hard for me to say whether this was a good move or not without knowing the player, but I think Bruney when healthy was pretty good. The Yankees felt they had enough righties and probably wanted to clear a spot on their 40 man roster, but overall, I would have hoped he could have done more for us or at least garnered more than the player to be named later.

As for Pettitte I would hope they work out a deal similar to last year where the Yanks don’t overpay unless Pettitte has a very good year (and at that point it is worth it).

More to follow, but wanted to get my take on Granderson out there.

Keep enjoying the fact we are Champions.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Thursday, November 5, 2009


The Yankees are the Champions!!!!!!

We did it!!!!!

I don’t want to get into too much analysis right now, as we should all feel great about our team and we should enjoy every minute of this. It is a very long year and it is very hard to win. Congratulations to the Yankee organization and congratulations to all of us!

I will make a few comments though:

Pettitte showed that 3 days rest didn’t make a difference. He allowed 1 run in 5 innings and was allowed to continue because of the lead. He was taken out at the right time. The homer by Howard just made it to the 1st row so overall while 3 runs in 5.1 innings is not good, he did his job.

Marte was huge in the postseason! I loved the trade when Cashman made it, but it surely looked bad after Nady and Marte were injured, but having that lefty specialist was enormous. I would have left him in to face Werth and Ibanez only because he was sharp, we had a 4 run lead, I only wanted 2 more batters for him to face and in the slight chance that Rivera didn’t have it, we could be extending him and it was possible he would not be available Thursday, in the slight chance he struggled. That being said, my comment was that I would leave Marte in, but I surely can’t argue with going to Rivera here.

Matsui was fantastic. 8-13 with a walk 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s! I know he didn’t play that much, but if he had 7 more AB’s and didn’t get a hit, he would have still hit .400.

ARod’s postseason OPS is now better than his regular season OPS. Roll your eyes next time people talk about being clutch…I am sure some people would be talking about Texiera if the Yankees lost.

And last but certainly not least…how about the Genius Maker? He is a difference maker as the Phillies have nobody like him (or anyone else). I can’t believe he is still so much better than any other closer; it really is amazing. He pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in the World Series and closed out (2 saves) all 4 of the wins. For the Postseason he pitched 16 innings and allowed only 1 run! He is the GENIUS MAKER!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

World Series Post Game 5

Well all that thinking and a flip of a coin decision went the wrong way. AJ didn’t have his release point at all. He simply couldn’t throw anything where he wanted it.

I think the ump blew the HBP call on Victorino. He never took the bat back and that should have been a strike. That play really hurt.

I know I said I wouldn’t retaliate other than winning, but after we fell behind I wanted AJ to throw inside on Utley and plunk him after the 3 run homer. We need to make him move his feet and fear the inside pitch a little. It would have been a great time and who knows how it would have impacted his next homer. Oh, and we may want to stop throwing pitches down the middle of the plate to Utley. All of the homers were fastballs except the hanging curveball by CC. If you think about it, Philly has hit mostly fastballs the entire series. The breaking ball hits have been bleeders.

I thought the ump was really squeezing us and calling strikes for Philly every time the game was close (early and late). The ump also messed up on Posada when he allowed Cliff Lee to quick pitch after Lee took forever to get the sign before they regrouped. The ump should never have allowed that…I was really ticked about that situation. After many bad calls early on, the ump really blew the first pitch to Texiera in the 9th, that pitch was 8 “ outside…and really changed the AB as 3 more changeups ended the game.

Jeter failed miserably in the 9th inning after being ahead on a 2-0 count. Really poor job to not get the barrel out on a hittable 2-1 pitch That DP was a killer. Not sure why Girardi didn’t pinch run for Matsui? It might not have mattered but perhaps Pena could have broken up the DP?

Coke failed miserably as well, even if he allowed only one homer we could have played Jeter’s AB differently or at least the complexion would have been very different.

Great job by this team to never give up. I love our fight and really believe we will find a way to win this series. Cano swung the bat well tonight and that is huge for us. Tex didn’t get the job done, but he did get one hit. We lost, but I feel good about the way we came back. Pedro will not be as sharp IMO and we will get to him. Then again, we may need to with Pettitte going.

Molina needs to make a good throw down to 2nd as Utley should have been out. We just saw the last of Molina in a Yankee uniform I believe.

Gardner made a terrific catch that there is zero chance Melky would have come close to. Melky has about 50 points of OPS on Gardner, but the defensive doubles/singles that Gardner will save will make up more than 100 points. He is more valuable to play in CF than Melky.

Coke and Jeter were the goats, but two guys that match up well against Philly did their job. Robertson and Aceves pitched 4 scoreless innings.

Time to kick Pedro’s butt!

One more to go for the big prize!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Monday, November 2, 2009

World Series Post Game 4

I wrote most of this last night but wanted to sleep on the decision of who to start tonight. Answer near the bottom.

In a previous blog I mentioned that I wanted at least 4 runs in 6 innings off of Blanton. We achieved that, but I was not happy as we continued our pattern of taking strikes and swinging at balls. When the score was 4-3 in the 8th inning I was concerned we didn’t take enough advantage of our pitching edge of CC against Blanton. Partly because the ump was very inconsistent and I felt gave Blanton a lot more calls than CC, especially with CC’s changeup. Usually a staple of what makes CC very tough as he throws it on any count; CC had a lot of trouble getting called strikes on the changeup. Regardless, the offense should have done more against Blanton.

Because this was the best match up in terms of advantage from a pitchers standpoint, I felt this was a game we should win. Both teams showing a never quit attitude, but once again the Genius Maker is the difference as their closer allows 3 runs and Rivera just keeps plowing along. It really is amazing when you see what other closers due in the postseason and how great Rivera has been. When closers fail games are usually lost and Rivera has been the difference maker.

You have to give credit to Philly as they took advantage of our bad pitches. The hanging curve to Utley was deposited and then in the 8th inning after Joba blew away Werth and Ibanez, he missed with 2 sliders and then came in with a fastball that was supposed to be outside and ended up catching most of the inside part of the plate and Feliz deposited it. They really took advantage of our mistakes and this last one could have been a huge blow especially when I felt that if either slider was close to being a strike the inning would have been over. This is a learning experience for Joba and it shows you simply can’t miss your spots and get away with it very often…even at 95. Of course, if he was throwing 97-98 you can get away with a little more. Joba did get a little lucky against Werth in that he was looking to go away with a fastball and it ended up in a perfect spot up and in and Werth missed it. That reminded me of Lee and how when he missed he was fortunate that many of his pitches ended up in great spots. Against Feliz he was not as fortunate.

After 2 outs and the announcers talking about how good Lidge has been since he straightened himself out, Damon had a fantastic AB. Damon had the count 1-2 and then worked the count full and then fouled off 2 more before hitting a solid single the other way on the 9th pitch he saw. After a ball, Damon showed some real heads up play in stealing 2nd (subtle point was that Texiera was heads up enough to take a strike and allow Damon to steal the base) and then knowing that 3rd base was his for the taking as long as he could be Feliz who caught the ball leaning toward the 1st base side of 2nd. Now, I have to admit when I saw him going my first thought was crap, he thought the ball went into 2nd base as they had not shown the shift was on. But, when Feliz never threw I was thrilled. Kind of makes you wonder who screwed up on their side. If Feliz is taking the throws, the pitcher should be covering 3rd base and Lidge fell asleep. Great sequence for Johnny. After they hit Texiera, and no you don’t intentionally hit a guy hitting under .100 to face ARod, hit was up to Captain Clutch in yet again another classic spot for Alex. I expected sliders as I don’t buy this crap about having Damon on 3rd limited him to only throwing his fastball. You have to get the batter out and your catcher better stop the ball form getting by him if it is in the dirt. The Phillies stuck with the fastball and ARod with a very compact swing turned on the inside pitch and lined a double to left. A group of us were out of our chairs as ARod came through again. While we were in good shape, getting another hit could ice the game. Posada came through with another big hit and this was the final nail in the coffin for this game. Not sure why Posada went for 2nd, but the damage was done and those 2 extra runs were enormous. Posada is a great hitting catcher, calls a good game and has always thrown out runners at a very high rate, but he has to have some of the worst base running instincts of anyone. Add that to his lack of speed and he is one of the worst base runner you can have. Great job though Jorge!

A couple of other notes:

I believe we have been hit 5 times (I may be off here), and 2 of the ones to ARod were intentional in my opinion. I hate the rule that after you get hit, both sides get warned. It pays to “strike first.” I do like that ARod said something and the Girardi went out to make sure that CC came inside and happened to hit someone that he was not going to be tossed. I think the Umps knew that they would only toss someone if it were in an obvious spot. Tex was not hit on purpose. I don’t like that we have been plunked so much and the ARod 2 were BS, but I don’t want to see us retaliate in any way. Let’s just win. Burnett is wild enough where he will probably hit someone anyway.
I feel that Damon should have caught the very high pop up by Victorino in the 1st inning. I think he got a terrible jump and that cost him. A ball that high needs to be caught. I also think that on the 2nd run not only should have he caught that ball, but he also should have kept charging the ball to help his VERY weak throw. He misjudged that the ball carried farther than he thought. If he charges that ball he makes a fairly routine shoe string catch, but even if he couldn’t, at worst it would have been a very short hop where he could then keep his momentum going on the throw home. As the ball reached home plate Posada should have come forward before that last (I think 3rd hop) so that he could just tag Howard out. It was a tough play to stand there and wait for the ball and Jorge should have gone to get it as slow as it was coming. As for Howard not touching home plate, it is what it is, but CC threw to 2nd anyway instead of tagging him so it doesn’t matter. Also, he barely missed it so I could see if the ump thought he touched it.
Cano is absolutely lost at the plate. He is following the taking strikes and swinging at balls routine to an art form. It is a shame because he is a difference maker for us. I get the feeling Girardi may start Hairston at 2nd base against Lee.
With Gardner in CF (I imagine Melky is out), Molina catching, and Burnett hitting, we will have trouble generating any offense so having a punchers chance in Cano hitting a homer may be worth keeping him out there? Tough call, but it may be time to rest Cano for one game just like Swisher.
McCarver has starting to show his age. He has made many wrong comments and just seems to swing and miss often. Just a few of many examples: McCarver made the comment about “not one pitch inside to a lefty” and that was wrong as Utley was pitched inside with 3 pitches. He made the comment about Joba coming out to pitch even though he was already pinch hit for and many items such as this.
While on the announcing, I am very tired of the stating the obvious announcing such as a guy likes good when he is performing well (looks relaxed) and looks indifferent, depressed or distant when performing poorly…even though it is the same look. Even ARod looks different to everyone…the only difference is he is playing much better now. “He looks to be in great control and is locked in” followed by “and the Yankees score their 2nd run of the inning.” J
Girardi managed well and getting CC out after 107 pitches should make him be strong for game 7 if needed
Many people did not want Marte on the post season roster, but he has now pitched in 7 games and been able to get 10 outs against good lefty hitters while allowing only 2 hits and no walks! I have been saying how important it is to have specialists and in the post season it is even more important.
I liked that Posada had his arm around Joba after the Yanks bailed him out. I am sure that was very valuable and should be a great learning experience for Joba. Most likely he will be our closer of the future.
Who should we start tonight?

I have been going back and forth on starting Burnett. I stated that I wanted Burnett on 3 days rest as well as Andy from the start. But, in looking at stats, Andy (from what I have been told) is not good on 3 days rest, but AJ has been. Not sure of the relevance of either stat, but what has some relevance is the situation and the way AJ has pitched at home compared to on the road. AJ has a 3.51 ERA at home and 4.59 ERA on the road. In his 4 postseason games so far he has pitched very well at home with a 1.86 ERA allowing 4 ER in 19.1 innings at home. On his one road start he allowed 6 runs in 6 innings. This gives me great pause in sending AJ on short rest rather than holding him back to be on 5 days rest on Wednesday at home. It also makes them beat us twice at home with our 2 best on the mound. Of course we could still win with Gaudin, Acevas or whoever, but let’s assume we are almost giving that game up. Stat wise, the answer is to probably hold AJ back, but the other factors say to stay with AJ. These other factors are led by the fact that he has prepared to start tonight and holding him back 2 days could throw off his preparation (this is important). You don’t want to take anything for granted and when you have your foot on their throat you want to keep up the pressure and act like you need this game as bad as they do. If we would have lost yesterday, there is no question AJ would be on the mound tonight. No reason to offer any momentum to Philly and “concede” game 5. Again, we might be able to win with Gaudin, but Gaudin does not match up well against this team and has not pitched in a very long time. As poor as he has pitched lately I would actually have more faith in Acevas than Gaudin. Of course, Andy does not match up well either and did not pitch well his last outing.

As you can see, this is a very hard decision and I don’t think it is fair to criticize either one as they both have merits and pitfalls. My final decision would be to pitch AJ as that is what I planned from the start and try to close it out tonight. Also, AJ should be available to pitch out of the pen if needed in game 7 and with the shaky pitching of anyone not named Marte or Rivera, that may be needed. Act like you need every game, because with Lee going and a what could be a shaky Andy, there is a possibility we will need CC in game 7.

AJ, go out tonight and earn yourself the MVP of the World Series; it is yours for the taking!

10 wins under our belt with one more for the big prize!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

World Series Post Game 3

Maybe someone sent Joe a copy of the blog as he got it right for the most part. Swisher started and I think Joe handled the bullpen according the matchups. HUGE win for us, I really feel good right now, but it will all go away if Blanton can upset CC tomorrow. Our offense better get us at least 4 runs in 6 innings and I want more.

If I am a Philly fan, I am upset at the way my team played. They had Andy on the ropes and Pettitte was not throwing strikes and was limited to 2 pitches as he didn't throw a single changeup for a strike the entire night. Also his fastball was 89 at best. The key AB to me was right after Andy walked in a run he threw 2 balls that were way out of the strike zone and Victorino swing and missed at both. Andy then grooved a 0-2 pitch and Victorino flied out for a sac fly and a 3-0 lead. Really bad AB for Victorino. Utley then didn't do any more damage and Andy pitched out of any other damage mostly because of poor offense as opposed to Andy pitching well. Then, immediately following Swisher turning on a fastball for a foul ball I turned to the people I was watching the game with and said, "that should be the last fastball Swisher sees," they throw him another one and Swish goes yard. Victorino should have caught the blooper by Jeter. His feet were farther ahead of the ball and if he either dived at it or stayed on his feet and reached forward he could have caught it; he misjudged it. Philly also could have turned a DP early in the game but it didn't hurt them. Either way, Philly did a bad job and allowed the Yankees to then play well.

ARod with the 2 run bomb was huge again as it gave us life.

Then in an AB where I would have pinch hit for Andy early (5th inning), Pettitte got a huge bloop hit. I was done with Andy as it was clear he had nothing, but as it turned out Pettitte was able to get through two more innings allowing one more run. Getting the hit was huge and even though he allowed another run, it probably was the right move and a different one than I would have made.

They are giving Posada a healthy dose of changeups. He must have seen 8 today.

I guess we can see why Werth crushes lefties.

In the 7th inning we were facing the top of the order and as I said last time this is a spot for Robertson or Joba. Joe went to Joba who was throwing very well and after mowing down the first 2 guys Girardi correctly stuck with Joba who got Utley out. Then with Howard (remember every time a lefty must face him), Werth and Ibanez up, Girardi correctly pinch hit for Joba with Matsui, who did a great job as those tack on runs were huge.

After the extra run scored I only saw Hughes throwing in the pen and I texted about 4 people and the folks I was watching with and said if Marte is not in the 8th I will really be disappointed in Girardi because he obviously doesn't get it. My faith in Joe is still there though as Marte came out and struck out Howard. In this spot if Marte didn't get Howard out I could see making a move away from him unless he looked great in failing (maybe a dropped 3rd strike or an error), but once he got Howard facing Werth was clear move with Ibanez on deck. Marte did a great job striking out Werth and getting Ibanez reach on a soft liner to 3rd. Marte is coming through in a big way (as did Joba tonight).

Now, we enter the 9th up 8-4 and we are at the spot for Hughes (two righties who hit lefties better and the pitcher). I really wanted Rivera to rest, I really did, but after getting one out and throwing 2 fastballs right down the middle with the 2nd taken deep, I was in 100% agreement with bringing in Rivera. He only needed 2 outs, the top of the lineup was up and there were 4 lefties coming up. I am not screwing around there when Utley would represent the tying run. It is time to call on the genius maker who thankfully got the job done in 4 pitches! This was a critical game and you simply can't screw around in that spot. If Robertson were ready I could see trying to get an out with him, but he had sat down and Rivera was ready and I would have done the same thing. I wouldn't have been critical if he went to Robertson though.

Swisher, ARod, Joba and Marte were the heroes today, but we had good contributions from many (Matsui and Damon had big hits).

Melky and Cano have really been struggling; against Blanton Gardner should see some time. I think Gardner should have been getting more work just for his defense. Cano you just have to hope he gets it going as he seems lost. Swinging at balls and taking strikes.

I am very happy and feeling very good right now. CC should put us up 3-1 and if the offense can do what it should we are in the drivers seat. This is a very good offensive team though so we need to score ourselves.

2 more wins for the big prize!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Series Pre Game 3

Just thought I would throw in a bonus blog…

The crew chief umpire said and I quote. “The objective is to get it right, we asked each other what we had seen and the replay confirmed we were right.” WHAT? How is it possible that no reporter asked a follow-up question, say something like, “what replay were you watching?” This quote actually scares me. Even Howard knew, Howard said, “did I catch it?” “Well he called him out.” Now, my point is not to criticize the poor umpiring, but how could the crew chief say that?

My only hope is that Rivera, who was “forced” to throw 22% more pitches than he has thrown during any game this year (32 was his high before this 39) because we didn’t have a lead big enough for Girardi to feel comfortable enough to mix and match for a few more outs, will not have any loss of effectiveness moving forward. It is very possible he will struggle giving us an inning tonight. My hope is that our offense, which has really struggled most of the playoffs, gets on track and gives us a large enough lead where Rivera can rest one more day.

The offense needs to put up a big day and earn their paychecks over the next two days. Blanton is scheduled to pitch on Sunday and he is a guy we should be able to knock around if we were swinging well. Philly made an interesting decision holding Lee back and it is one that I am glad they did. He has never pitched on 3 days rest, but I don’t think it is as big a deal as some people are making it out to be. I know many pitchers are creatures of habit. Lee (and most pitchers) normally rests for 2 days then has a bullpen session on the 3rd day followed by one more day of rest before the start, but why not just rest for one during the WS? One mistake I feel that Manual made was allowing lee to pitch the 9th inning with a 6-0 lead. Instead of throwing 104 pitches and leaving the game, he ended up with 122 pitches. That might have weighed into the decision and if so, was a poor one in my opinion.

I hope Girardi uses our pen correctly.

Hughes should be used against the righties from Werth down through Francisco, Feliz and Ruiz. The worst matchup is Hughes against Howard (no righty should be brought in to face him but Hughes being worse against lefties exacerbates this problem). In general, Hughes should not pitch to the top of the order (Rollins, Victorino and Utley) which is where Girardi used him last time.

Joba is more balanced so if you had to go to Hughes or Joba against the top of the order, I would go with Joba. However, if Robertson was available he is your best choice to face the top of the order as he is better against lefties. Remember Utley is better against lefties so if Robertson is looking very sharp you may want to leave him in rather than using Marte or Coke. But, when Howard comes up you always go to the lefty (unless Rivera is on the mound). One last point is that Aceves is also a little better against lefties so he is a good choice as well. I know he has struggled as well, but I would have more confidence against the top than I would for Hughes. Remember, one of the reasons I liked the Burnett matchup against this team was because of the entire team hitting lefties better except Howard and Burnett is better against lefties himself.

Hypothetical situation: and I know this will never happen, but if Rivera is in another situation where he is struggling and has thrown a lot of pitches (let’s say 35) and the last few guys have worked the bases juiced and Howard is coming up with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, I would bring in Marte to try and close it out. I only bring this up because I had just made the absolute statement in the previous paragraph "unless Rivera is on the mound."

I hope the offense shows up because for the above reasons Andy does not have a great matchup. Every game is huge, but if we look at this objectively, we SHOULD win game 4 and game 7 with CC on the mound against Blanton and whoever they start game 7. Therefore, if we win tonight we should win the series. Of course, what should happen and what does can be very different and can swing on one pitch, but I believe this game and game 6 are the swing games of the series and we will need to win one of them.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Series Post Game 2

Pre game thoughts:

I made the statement that because the Yankees screwed up down the stretch and allowed Molina to start with Burnett, I would continue to start Molina over Posada (even though I would not have let it get to that point). While I still agree with my concept, I would start Posada this game 2 because the Yankee offense is simply struggling and having Molina in the lineup won’t help (also he is a righty and Pedro is better against righties).

While the above point can be debated, I believe that the move to start Hairston is simply bad. Hairston may very well get a hit or if we roll the dice and extremely lucky maybe even a double or more, but that does jot excuse starting him. Think about this, a righty pitcher who is better against righties, pitching against a right batter (a weaker one at that) who hits lefties better. Yes he has had some success off of Pedro and yes it is a decent sample (30+ AB’s can give you some basis of knowledge), but I would like to see whether the .370 BA has any extra base hits or walks so without OPS I still say this is stupid. I would play Gardner, but I could understand wanting to get more offense because Molina will start.

Onto the game:

I will first address my pre game comments: Hairston really didn’t play too much into the game as he had no challenging plays in the field and he went 1-3 with a cheap hit and finished doing as well as I could hope. 1-3 is .333, but with no walks or extra base hits that is an OPS of .666 which is in line with what you would expect. I still say bad move, but it didn’t seem to matter…this time.

As for the Molina Posada debate, I would have to say that Molina earned his keep today. He didn’t get a hit, but he did get a walk and Burnett was very sharp all day (Huge game AJ!). Not sure Molina can take credit for that, but he can take credit for the GREAT pick off throw on a ball in the dirt. He threw right over the batter helmet so Werth didn’t even know what happened. The play sparked the Yanks and we outscored Philly 3-0 the rest of the way.

Texiera’s homer was important as he has done very little.

ARod had a bad game failing to at least knock down the hard hit ball by Stairs that put us down 1-0 after the cheap hit by Ibanez and then struggling at the plate. I did pop out of my seat after the Texiera homer as I thought ARod had hit back to back shots, but he got it off the end of the bat.

Matsui gave us the 2-1 lead (he had a very productive game at the plate)

Up 3-1 with 1st and 2nd (after Jeter messed up bunting) the umpires reared the ugly head again. That was simply a bad call and instead of bases loaded and one out the inning was over. Howard knew he didn’t catch it and the ump behind the play should not have made that call. I am glad the Yankees won, because that call could have cost us the game.

The ump behind home plate was not consistent and by the end of the game the strike zone had expanded about 6 inches on each side of plate.

So here we are up 3-1 and we enter the 8th inning and Rivera comes in for another 6 out save. There is a part of me that understands this, but I worry about what impact this has on him the rest of the series. Yes, you must win this game, but perhaps a 6 out save does not give us the best chance? I would have let Joba face Ruiz to lead off the 8th and first guy on I would have made the move. Depending on how Joba looked after getting the first out, if he looked sharp I would let him face Rollins, if he got the out but was not sharp I would have gone to Robertson until he let a runner one and then gone to Rivera. But, like I said, I understand wanting to hear Enter Sandman and of more importance, I knew we would be hearing it.

Rivera was not sharp with his control, but was able to work his way out of trouble with a DP ball that was amazingly close at 1st base. Live I thought he was out and I made the comment that I am glad he was out because Jeter was slow on his exchange. Other guys are quicker to get rid of the ball than Jeter; but it didn’t cost them. When we came back form commercial they showed a bad angle but it looked like he was safe (that was close enough though where I wouldn’t be too ticked off either way). It should make you understand the importance of the quickness around 2nd base because if he were called safe, who knows what could have happened. Either way, the genius maker came through again! Simply amazing! Unfortunately, he threw 39 pitches! That is a lot of pitches for 2 innings and 2 innings is a lot for Rivera. Think about it, if you threw 20 pitches an inning you would be at 100 after 5 innings.

If you are going to use Rivera like this then why keep Bruney? I would much rather have Guzman on the team as you won't need all those pitchers as much as you would use Guzman.

I worry about our hitting, but they better get going on Halloween because Hamels has not pitched well in his two postseason starts. The Yankee offense needs to play better. Hamels had an OPS against lefties of .708 and .765 against righties, so he is a little better against lefties. So who would you start in RF? In weighing all the options, I would turn back to Swisher and if he looks bad again and a big spot is up, I let Matsui, Hinske or Hairston pinch hit and then bring in Gardner for defense (and hopefully the pinch runner). One of the serious options I would think about also is Matsui. However, because he has not played RF and he isn’t at top speed and his arm is a left fielders arm, I think those are too many strikes against him.

Boy is Girardi lucky he has the Genius Maker!

3 more wins to the big prize!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

World Series Post Game 1

Our two best went at it and they came out ahead. Why?

The Yankees took strikes and swung at balls
Lee had good movement on his pitches and pitched well, but he was aided by a poor Yankee performance. Lee missed his spots a lot yesterday but was fortunately wild at times. What I mean is that sometimes he missed his spot by a lot but the ball ended up in a very good alternative spot. Compare that to when CC missed his spot to Utley on the 0-2 pitch and threw a meatball down the middle. Utley hit it a long way (not the first one). The Yankees swung through or just didn’t swing at many very hittable pitches. Of course you could say that they kept the Yankee hitters off balance and they did, but the Yankees did not swing the bats well on very hittable pitches. I bet the Yankees approach will be very different next time.
Girardi didn’t read this blog. If he did, he would have known that the 8th inning should have started with Robertson instead of Hughes. Why would you bring in Hughes who is a lot better against righties when 4 straight lefties are coming up? Why am I stating this immediately with the people I am watching the game with and Girardi is not aware of this? Rollins and Victorino are both switch hitters and Victorino hits lefties better (Rollins about equal). Then Utley who is better against lefties is up followed by Howard. So Girardi goes with Hughes to maximize the DISadvantage in matchups. Hughes walks both hitters as he continues to struggle. Then Girardi goes to Marte who does another good job against Utley and Howard. Unfortunately, Girardi was backward in his use of the pen as he then goes to Robertson even though Robertson is much better against lefties to face the righty Werth. Now Werth is much better against lefties, but wouldn’t have made perfect sense to start Robertson and then go to Hughes for the Werth and below part of the lineup? Absurd that the Yankees didn’t go that way. Robertson ended up walking Werth and then with a decent matchup against Ibanez (Robertson, Rivera, and Marte would be our best choices against him) he induced a weak grounder that got through the right side that pretty much ended the game. It looked like Texiera could have made a play on the ball, but he broke back to first base and it just found the perfect spot. That was a tough break.
Less relevant than the above points, but one that ticked me off was the Check swing to Cano; it was an awful call that took his bat away from him and then he hits into a DP where Matsui was kind of in no mans land because the ump at 2nd base was a little late with the call. Either way he should have run back to 1st base instead of guaranteeing he had no chance by standing in the middle of base paths.
Swisher needs to sit down. He missed very hittable pitches and then took strike 3 down the middle. Sure he could come out if it at any time and maybe he will, but on the same note maybe Hinske or Gardner hit well too? Gardner will get you better defense and that is probably worth it. I get the sense Girardi will go to Hinske though.

Time for AJ to come through for us; I hope Posada catches.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WORLD SERIES pre game 1

Well we made it to the big show! I know if we don’t win we will all be very disappointed, but it has been a very good year and the moves made to get here were good ones. The Phillies made some great moves as well getting Ibanez and their ace Cliff Lee.

I thought I would take a look at the matchups a little bit so that everyone could have a feel for why moves are made and what to expect based on the yearly totals as well looking at past years to make sure trends are real and not just a one year aberration.

The most important piece of information to know is that Ryan Howard is MUCH better against righties than lefties. In fact, he has one of the larger discrepancies you will find in a star player. His OPS against righties is a superb 1.088 and his OPS against lefties is a weak .654! The Yankees should have Marte and Coke face him every single time.

Cliff Lee is better against lefties in a similar way that Saunders was better against lefties, but Lee is a better pitcher.

Cole Hamels had an average year with a .708 OPS against lefties and a .765 against righties.

Brad Lidge is their closer and he was awful this year, including blowing saves against us in 3 games. But he has picked it up in the postseason and has been tough on righties in his career with an excellent slider.

The other relievers are Madsen and Park. Madsen is the better guy with a .634 OPS against righties and a .710 against lefties, but he is not great. Park is similar with a .678 against righties and a .752 against lefties.

Utley (Lefty) is better against lefties over the last 3 years, but not very significant. A guy like Coke who isn’t as lopsided as Marte in terms of platooning is probably not the best matchup. However, a guy like Rivera and Robertson, who are both better against lefties are good matchups. Utley is a very good player.

Rollins (s) Rollins got off to a terrible start but then hit his usual career .800 OPS from that point on. Pretty equal overall over the years. He is their best base stealer

Ibanez (lefty) has a .900 OPS and is pretty equal

Catcher Carlos Ruiz. (Righty) .780 OPS – His OPS against lefties is very good at .894 and is mediocre against righties at .742.

Shane Victorino (Switch) hits lefties better .844 compared to .787.

Werth – Crushes lefties and 1.08 and still is fairly solid against righties at .805

Dobbs and Stairs are the lefties off the bench and they both hit righties better, but neither is a particularly good hitter and would not scare me with any matchup. Being lefties Robertson and Rivera matchup the best.

Ben Francisco LF – is a righty who is better against lefties.

As you can tell, the Phillies are a better hitting team against lefties almost down the line with the one huge exception of Howard.

As for the Yankees there are a couple of surprises you may not be aware of.

CC is very tough on lefties at .560 against and a still very good .679 against righties.

Burnett is surprisingly much better against lefties with an OPS against of .655 against lefties and .815 against righties. I know he got hit for 5 HR’s during the regular season (although we were not rolling yet) against the Phillies, but on paper he should matchup well against them. Now the righty lefty trends are very real, but sometimes one player just sees the ball well off of a pitcher. After one bad start I don’t think that means anything and if Burnett is on he should be able to pitch well to this very good lineup.

I mentioned this before but Robertson is .601 against lefties and .751 against righties. He is a guy we should be using more in this series.

Joba is fairly equal against both

Hughes is much better against righties and should be used against Ruiz and Werth. Hughes is .546 against righties and .740 against lefties.

Rivera is .511 against lefties and .586 against righties

Aceves has been good against lefties and decent against righties. His matchup is better than Gaudin's

Gaudin is .667 against righties and .823 against lefties. I don’t really like his matchup as a starter, but he could be used like Hughes or if we really need him to start.

As for our hitters, the guys who are worth noting as having any significant differences against lefties and righties are Damon who is .776 against lefties and .889 against righties (Not the best matchup against Lee) and Jeter, 1.01 against lefties and .816 against righties. The rest of the team is pretty much the same although Posada is a little better against righties and Matsui has hit lefties better this year.

There has been some talk about what rotation the Yankees should go with. I think there is no question what we do the first 4 games. CC, Burnett, Pettitte and CC again. At that point, I would see how things have gone and who has pitched well etc…Depending on the situation I might start Aceves. I know he has not pitches well, but I like his matchup better than Gaudin’s. Most likely I would pitch Burnett on 3 days rest and Pettitte on 3 days rest. This is the World Series and it is not that big a deal for one start. The way I see it none of our pitchers will have to pitch more than once on 3 days rest J

The Phillies are a very good hitting team and they are the defending World Champs so there is no intimidation. However, I think our pitching is better than theirs. After Cliff Lee there is nobody who scares me (including their pen) and it is up to our offense to put up solid production 5+ runs should happen if they are doing their job.

The Philly offense is really good, but I like our team a lot and I would hope we handle them just as we did Anaheim . There should be some more great games.

Either way, let’s enjoy the ride...
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playoff Edition Post ALCS

Bring on the Phillies!

4 more wins for the big prize.

I try to avoid listening to much of the hoopla and “experts” because I get sick of all the cliché’s and reviews of what happened and the explanations behind it. All the talk was about how the Angels were a team of destiny because of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and if the Angels did win people would say it was because it pulled them together and they were playing for Nick. Now that they have lost it is forgotten (not the tragic death of course).

The Yankees took care of business again and took 4 of 6 from a very solid Angel team that didn’t play their best. I don’t think we have either as the majority of our team is not swinging the bats well. Both pitchers were not sharp today, but the Angels didn’t swing the bats today. Andy did OK, but they missed some hittable pitchers and the stat line doesn’t show it, but Andy was not incredibly sharp today.

I am not going to go into the game too much as I would like to get out a pre series blog analyzing the Phillies team. But a few points:

I had mentioned bunting with 1st and 2nd with nobody out and in the 4 times we had that situation we did not bunt and scored no runs. Tonight we bunted twice in those situations (These were obvious with Melky up) and we scored all our runs in those innings (the 1st 3 after the big hit by Damon).

In the 5th inning the Yankees are winning 3-1 and swisher had just K’d…I would have taken him out for Gardner and got my best defensive team in there. As it turned out swisher was up again in the 8th and for some reason he let Swisher sacrifice instead of letting Gardner bunt? I have no idea what he was thinking but after the Angels made an error somebody might have tapped Joe on the shoulder and mentioned pinch running Gardner may make sense…Joe woke up and put Gardner in.

Girardi pulled Andy at the right time.

I was good with Joba being the guy, but I thought it was interesting he didn’t go to Robertson.

In the 8th, I would have brought Marte in to face Chone Figgins and Abreu, but I understand turning it over to the Genius Maker. I don’t thin it was needed and I stated at the time what I would have done.

So, CC was the MVP of the series? He was great and deserving, but ARod really has been great. For the postseason ARod has an OPS of 1.516! He has only been up 41 times including walks, but if you took those numbers over 600 AB’s he would hit 73 HR’s with 175 HR’s and 131 walks and 146 runs scored. That is pretty darn good. Hey, I would sign up for an OPS of 1.000 or above for Alex in the World Series!

What else can you say about Rivera? You see all these other closers fail so often and it is amazing how few times he has failed. To be able to continue at his age is even more head scratching. THE GENIUS MAKER!

Bring on the defending Champs!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Playoff Edition Post ALCS

Bring on the Phillies!

4 more wins for the big prize.

I try to avoid listening to much of the hoopla and “experts” because I get sick of all the cliché’s and reviews of what happened and the explanations behind it. All the talk was about how the Angels were a team of destiny because of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and if the Angels did win people would say it was because it pulled them together and they were playing for Nick. Now that they have lost it is forgotten (not the tragic death of course).

The Yankees took care of business again and took 4 of 6 from a very solid Angel team that didn’t play their best. I don’t think we have either as the majority of our team is not swinging the bats well. Both pitchers were not sharp today, but the Angels didn’t swing the bats today. Andy did OK, but they missed some hittable pitchers and the stat line doesn’t show it, but Andy was not incredibly sharp today.

I am not going to go into the game too much as I would like to get out a pre series blog analyzing the Phillies team. But a few points:

I had mentioned bunting with 1st and 2nd with nobody out and in the 4 times we had that situation we did not bunt and scored no runs. Tonight we bunted twice in those situations (These were obvious with Melky up) and we scored all our runs in those innings (the 1st 3 after the big hit by Damon).

In the 5th inning the Yankees are winning 3-1 and swisher had just K’d…I would have taken him out for Gardner and got my best defensive team in there. As it turned out swisher was up again in the 8th and for some reason he let Swisher sacrifice instead of letting Gardner bunt? I have no idea what he was thinking but after the Angels made an error somebody might have tapped Joe on the shoulder and mentioned pinch running Gardner may make sense…Joe woke up and put Gardner in.

Girardi pulled Andy at the right time.

I was good with Joba being the guy, but I thought it was interesting he didn’t go to Robertson.

In the 8th, I would have brought Marte in to face Chone Figgins and Abreu, but I understand turning it over to the Genius Maker. I don’t thin it was needed and I stated at the time what I would have done.

So, CC was the MVP of the series? He was great and deserving, but ARod really has been great. For the postseason ARod has an OPS of 1.516! He has only been up 41 times including walks, but if you took those numbers over 600 AB’s he would hit 73 HR’s with 175 HR’s and 131 walks and 146 runs scored. That is pretty darn good. Hey, I would sign up for an OPS of 1.000 or above for Alex in the World Series!

What else can you say about Rivera? You see all these other closers fail so often and it is amazing how few times he has failed. To be able to continue at his age is even more head scratching. THE GENIUS MAKER!

Bring on the defending Champs!

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bonus Blog Before Game 6

Just thought I would get in a bonus blog as I had received many emails from you folks and I wanted to address them as well as a couple of points I forgot to mention in my blog.

I don’t think it is fair to be critical of Girardi for failing to take Burnett out after 5 straight scoreless innings and 80 pitches, however a quicker hook was probably in order, meaning one batter and done. I think his lack of confidence in Hughes and Joba was also a reason to try and squeeze a few more outs of AJ. The downside was the long inning before makes you lean toward starting Joba or Hughes. While in hindsight my choice might not have been correct as Joba didn’t pitch well, he would have been my choice to start the 7th.
Some people mentioned pinch hitting for Swisher in the 9th inning. I can hardly disagree with that thought as I was the one who said I didn’t have confidence Thursday night in Swisher. However, it underscores exactly what I have been saying the Yankees need; specialists. If you have a righty and lefty killer to go along with a speedy pinch runner and a defensive replacement you are set. What we needed was a lefty killer in the 9th inning and that makes the move a no brainer. I mean pinch hitting with Hairston, while maybe preferable to a lost Swisher is a better option; it still is not a good option. One interesting point here is that Girardi made a mistake by not bringing in Gardner as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the 7th. Swisher had just made his bookend second out to end the inning and I have no idea why the defensive substitution was not made with a 2 run lead and 9 outs to go? At the time I thought it was a must move that Girardi fell asleep on. The interesting part is that if he did make that move, it would have been Gardner up in the 9th inning against Fuentes. Which means that most likely Hairston would have pinch hit and maybe the outcome would have been different?
I wrote that I wanted Gardner to start against Lackey to begin with and the way Swisher played, it would have been much better. Gardner probably won't play against a left in Saunders who is tougher on lefties. Yes Gardner hit better against lefties in 50 AB's this year, but usually that is not the case with him. That being said, one of the main reasons you play Gardy is because he makes the team MUCH better defensively. He can save a double compared to Melky and then Melky is better than Swisher in RF. The important part here is that with Swisher struggling you probably won’t lose offense and you gain a lot defensively. Sadly Swisher only has one more hit than Gardner in these playoffs as Gardy is 2-3 and Swisher is 3-29.
Most likely the two pitchers we have the most confidence in are Robertson and Marte. It appears Marte is the choice form the left side now and I wonder if Girardi will give more time to Robertson if Pettitte goes a solid 6 or so.
Speaking of how to use the bullpen, a few of you brought up something I had mentioned last year and that is to use your best pitcher in what appears to be (it may not be) the key moment in the game. While it is rarely done in the 7th inning, with 1st and 2nd and nobody out it is not totally absurd to use Rivera right at that spot with the meat of the Angels lineup coming up. In general I am more in favor of that when the traditional “setup guy pitches the 8th and closer pitches the 9th” situation happens and the 8th inning has the 2-5 hitters coming up and the setup guy has a tough inning and your best pitcher gets to pickup the save against the 6-9 hitters. Either way, I am not opposed to Rivera getting in when it is needed and then figuring out a way to close out the game…
Hopefully the Yankees have learned to throw more breaking stuff.
Many people felt it was not smart to pinch run for ARod and part of the reason was that Guzman never tried to steal. I believe it was the correct move even if he didn’t try and steal. First priority is giving your team the best chance to tie the game in that spot and having a faster runner does that. You need to make sure that on a double you can score. You also have a guy who can steal a base and that puts pressure on the pitcher and catcher to throw less breaking stuff and to alter their concentration and delivery. In this case it might have worked as Matsui walked and then he hit Cano? It wasn’t as obvious as the defensive replacement for Swisher, but it is the right move IMO.
The weather entering the NY area is bad for the Yankees. It really looks like the game will be cancelled tomorrow judging from the forecast. This hurts us a lot because it means that Lackey will be available to pitch game 7. It also means that if the series does go 7, that CC would pitch Monday instead of Sunday and it also means that game 7 will be another day closer to the WS. First and foremost you have to win THIS series. 2nd, you would like to do it in 6 games so that CC can pitch 3 times in the WS (twice on 3 days rest). If we win in 6, CC will have a lot of time off before the series so he should be OK. If the series goes 7 (Monday) CC can’t get 3 games in barring a few rain outs. If CC pitches Monday he would pitch his first game in game 3 on Saturday because Thursday (game 2) would only be 2 days of rest. CC would then pitch game 7 if necessary. It also means that we need to get to game 7 ties with CC only pitching once out of the 6 games.
In thinking this through I think it is better to pitch Pettitte in game 6 and hope we win and then if he doesn’t you still have CC to pitch game 7. The way I see it, it does not lessen the chances of us beating the Angels (I don’t believe in the momentum factor) but it does increase our chances of winning the WS IF we get there. The only negative factor in CC going Monday instead of Sunday is that it is possible that if there is one day of rainout CC could pitch game 7 if it were timed well. Further, even if no game was called, If CC pitched on 3 days rest he could be available out of the pen for game 7. Weighing all that, I pitch Pettitte on Sunday assuming Saturday is rained out

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Playoff Edition post game 5 Anaheim

Wow, that was a game that can’t be any closer. Here we are down by a run with bases loaded and a 3-2 count against a pitcher who is really struggling. Runners will be going so a single easily scores two and any long single could score 3. Unfortunately, we had our own guy who is looking horrible at the plate. I am on a conference call with 2 other people analyzing every pitch and I said, “I don’t usually say this, but I am not confident at all with Swish up in this spot, but I hope he can find a way to get the game tied…hit him!” On that 3-2 pitch Swish was still out in front of the fastball down the middle as he dropped his shoulder. A pitch that was very hittable and he still missed it. I have been saying I would rather have Gardner playing right now instead of Swish (and put Melky in RF), but I can only hope that a flight back home gets him back in the groove because with Saunders on the mound, Swish will be in right for game 6; gulp, unless Hairston plays…gulp.

The recap:

I was beside myself in the first inning when Texiera got called out on a 3-2 breaking ball that was outside and probably high. With 1st and 2nd we would have had bases juiced with nobody out and ARod coming up. It also would have put a ton of pressure on Lackey and as we saw with Burnett, the first inning is a great time to get to a pitcher. That call by the ump made a huge difference in the game; this is without question in my mind.

The bottom of the 1st saw the Yanks make the mistake they have made too often and that is throwing too many fastballs to this team.

So we are down 4-0 and all I am thinking about is that bad 3-2 call…

Oh that and the fact that Molina is the laziest blocker of balls in the dirt I have ever seen. The ball that went to the steps of the Angels dugout went right through his legs.

Also, what was Molina thinking about on that rundown? He threw the ball back to ARod without running the guy back at all and then Burnett had to get involved because you always want to run the runner back to the earlier base (in this case 3rd).

The Yankees had some life after leaving a 2 out double on 2nd base when in the following inning Melky singled after a Swisher K. Then Molina was correctly pinch hit for with Posada. On a 1-1 count the guessing Posada couldn’t hold up on a very good but low curve by Lackey. I bring this up because not only did that good pitch have Posada looking for it again when he watched a fastball pain the outside corner, but it was the same curve that the Yankees could not lay off all game. They kept chasing it.

Meanwhile, amazingly, Burnett has two good innings with Posada catching him…how can that be, didn’t the media tell us differently?

BTW, Damon was easily safe at first, what the heck was with that call?

Then we move to the crazy 7th. Swisher got us going by flying out…After a Melky doubled. We finally got a break on what should have been strike 3 to Posada; at least this evened things out. Lackey then lost his composure and walked Jeter on 4 pitches. Now, if I am Scoscia I would consider going to Jepsen, but he stuck with Lackey and lackey regained his composure and got Damon to fly out to short LF. Then Scoscia very surprisingly went to Darren Oliver and Texiera finally came through with a big hit. After the ARod walk Matsui gets another big hit and the game is tied. Then with Cano up Scoscia takes the lefty out for Jepsen and Cano triples scoring 2 and the Yanks should be in business. Fittingly swisher flied out to end the inning, completing his bookend.

So we have a 2 run lead in the 7th inning with a chance to go to the WS and Girardi has a tough choice. Stick with Burnett who has thrown 5 straight goose eggs and has been cruising or turn it over to Joba, Hughes and some lefties to get us 4 or 5 outs. Burnett had only thrown about 80 pitches so this was not a no brainer decision. I made the comment that if he does start you have a very short leash. After the first hit I would gone to Joba, but Girardi stuck with Burnett for another walk before pulling the plug. In retrospect it was the wrong move, but I can only get on him for allowing Burnett to walk Aybar. At this point with 1st and 2nd nobody out I like the move to Marte (as you know I have faith in the guy) He does his job and gets 2 outs and the Yanks stayed back correctly and gave up one run. You don’t want to have the infield in and give up 2 runs there; you need to make them get a hit to tie the game. Then instead of going to Joba, Girardi goes to Hughes who has struggled. That is questionable, but not crazy. Unfortunately, Hughes has no control and walks Hunter after throwing a slider that just spun on 3-0 for a strike. This next AB was a scary one. Hughes didn’t look good against Hunter and missed his spots against Vlad but had him at 1-2. Hughes’ best pitch right now is clearly the curve and he had just thrown one in the dirt to get the 2nd strike on Vlad. Hughes then shook off Posada and Posada called for a high and in fastball. This is not a bad call, but Hughes misses badly and grooves a fastball to tie the score. That was a HUGE pitch. It is obvious Hughes has no command and he should have been out of the game right there for Coke against Morales. Instead Girardi stayed with Hughes who allowed the lead to get away on another fastball. Finally he struck out Izturis on a curve ball. BTW, anyone notice a trend on most of the hits the Angels get? We may want to throw more breaking balls???

I do need to acknowledge The Genius Maker coming in with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and giving us the chance in the 9th inning…man he is sick.

Obviously we want to get the WS, but winning in game 6 will really help us in the WS because we can pitch CC 3 times if we can win in game 6, otherwise he can only pitch twice.

1 game to go and 5 to reach the big prize.

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playoff Edition post game 4 Anaheim

by Steve Wigdor

I want to start out and bring up the ump behind home plate has been good for 3 games. Obviously the other umpires have been bad, but the ump behind home plate has been pretty solid and that makes a game much more enjoyable for me. of course a 10-1 game is very enjoyable anyway.

You knew CC was dealing when he had no issue throwing his changeup on 3-2 early in the game Also, the Yankees were all over the fastball from Kazmir even if they didn’t hit them fair at first. Once Kazmir couldn’t throw strikes with his other pitches it was just a matter of time.

Melky really got the big hit to get us going!

We may want to start thinking that bunting with 1st and 2nd and nobody out? Considering we have not scored by hitting away in the 3 or 4 times we had the situation.

How many times have we seen Cano walk and Posada get a real SB in the same game?

ARod really did it all today. Stolen base, great hitting day, great jump to score, taking the extra base and forcing a bad throw. Great game.

I would like to see more from Texiera and Swisher even though both helped a little bit.

Matsui really had a bad game.
Speaking of bad, how bad was the umpiring at 2nd base and 3rd base. The crew chief at 3rd made bad call after bad call. What was he thinking on the dumb baserunning plays by Cano and Jorge. Cano needs to be standing on the bag and Posada shouldn’t over run it, but how did the ump miss that call?

Was anyone else shocked that Scoscia left Kazmir in to start the 5th inning? After allowing 3 in the 4th no way he should have started against Texiera and ARod. After Texiera actually got a hit, Kazmir came out, but what was Mike thinking?

I think the DP induced by CC in the 6th inning when the Angels had 1st and 2nd with nobody out was huge. That ended the game as far as I was concerned.

Fantastic game by CC on 3 days rest. I still think this format is absurd, but it is to our advantage right now.

Is anyone else sick of the “ARod being in a better place” or “so and so looks relaxed?” Why does everything have to be a nice and neat explanation of how the player did so well or did poorly? I mean yeah don't you think someone will look good when they are playing well and look bad when they are not playing well? Further, the over analysis of a guy supposedly doing well or bad based on 3 games is really over the top.

Back to important things.

1 game to go and 5 to reach the big prize.

Let's wrap this up Thursday

The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Playoff Edition post game 3 Anaheim - steve wigdor

I will do my best to fulfill my promise yesterday…

Jeter started things off with a bomb. Then ARod follows with one in the 4th and then Damon in the 5th and the Yanks are up 2-0 in the series and 3-0 in the game. Pretty good considering this game and last they were something like 0-14 with RISP.

Now I will move into the strategy part of the game (or lack thereof)

I was making comments about pitch selection to my brother most of the night and one of the guys we zeroed in on was Howie Kendrick who is someone who always kills us. I think they said something like .380 against us. My comment was that I hope we learned form our mistakes and stop throwing this guy inside pitches, he loves the fast ball and we need to go outside with slow stuff or at least stay away. Let’s say that they should pitch him like other teams are pitching to Swisher, who I said shouldn’t play if Girardi insists on playing Melky. I said that I would play Gardner in CF and then Girardi can play Melky in RF if he wanted to bench Swisher (who has looked awful and never adjusted to any off speed pitches all night).

Now remember I am calling every pitch so when Kendrick comes up I am talking about pitching him away and working the off speed pitches. Pettitte and Posada decide to bring a fastball inside to Hendrick and the score is 3-1. I am ticked at the stupidity.

BTW, did anyone want Cano to bunt with 1st and 2nd and nobody out? Twice we had this opportunity and twice we chose not and didn’t score. I am not a big fan of the sacrifice, except real late and as I said before 1st and 2nd with nobody out is the best time to give up an out.

6th inning 2 outs nobody on and Abreu gets a hit with 2 outs and up steps Guerrero. Vlad can hit and also swing at anything. Once again we come inside on Vlad when off speed stuff away or high fastballs were the calls. At 2-2 Girardi came out to the mound as it appeared they didn’t know what to throw and when Girardi left it seemed Pettitte was really ticked off? Anyway, whatever Girardi said seemed to work perfectly…for Anaheim as Posada put down a 2 for the curve which made sense but Pettitte threw to first. Then the pitch was changed and Vlad, who is a terrific low ball hitter, got a fastball down and in to give him the easiest swing at a ball and he hits a 2 run bomb. I am really ticked as I would not have thrown that pitch nor is it what I said I wanted to throw. I am incredibly ticked and can’t believe they changed the pitch. I am sure we won’t get the truth but that one pitch was enormous. I have now blown my top at the terrible pitch selection.

Bottom of the 7th inning Joba comes and even though we have a ton of tape on Kendrick and even know he already turned on a fastball for a homer, Joba throws a fastball and Kendrick hits a triple! Are you kidding me? My head is exploding right now. Joba not looking very good and they get a long sac fly. Then after a double against Joba, it is clear he isn’t that sharp so correctly (or maybe lucky) Girardi takes Joba out for Marte. On one pitch Marte gets out of the jam. Good job.

Top 8th - Matsui walks and Girardi runs for Matsui with Gardner ? Gardner ? Why not Guzman? I didn’t get that. Also, if you remember last time Gardner never stole so Scoscia knows the Yanks will try to get moving. He calls for the pitchout at the obvious time and Gardner is thrown out. Out managed there; it was too obvious. Posada follows and gets a good pitch to drive and he hits a clutch solo homer. The Yanks are back in business with a tie game even though they still have yet to get a hit with RISP in 2 games.

Bottom of the 8th: Coke comes in to face Abreu. What? You have Marte in the game, who looked good again and just pitched to ONE batter and threw ONE pitch and he is better against lefties than Coke and he takes him out??? Doesn’t Joe know that the score is tied in the 8th inning; we may need another lefty at a key spot later in the game? How about letting a guy who looks good continue against a good match up? Coke allows Abreu to drive the ball to RC and Melky fails to cut it off so it looks like Abreu will get a triple, but then Abreu stops and Jeter who had to leap for the Melky throw stops and fires to Texiera and gets Abreu before he gets back to 2nd. First, horrible job by Abreu and that is pretty inexcusable. Second, good job by Texiera being where he is supposed to in trailing the play and making the tag. Third, good job by Jeter, who probably had more time to look because he had to leap for the ball, but noticing Abreu stopping and getting the ball to Texiera. Huge break for the good guys. Girardi then takes Coke out for Hughes which is the right move, but it should have been Marte he was replacing as Joe just wasted a reliever.

Hughes goes 1.2 innings and looks OK, but is not pitching great as he got away with some bad pitches but they didn’t hit them. When Hughes threw the curve he was most effective.

Bottom 10, Girardi all of a sudden decides to let Hughes pitch again in his 3rd inning of work (not sure when the last time that was) and he throws a pitch down the middle for a leadoff double. Wrong pitch, (fastball) and wrong location (down the middle) and we are in deep trouble. When in doubt, go to the Genius Maker. For some reason Scoscia does not pinch run Willits at 2nd base for their catcher? I am surprised as he should pinch run; kind of dumb. Anaheim tries to bunt and Rivera was like a cat off the mound and with a slower runner he has him dead to rights…but he wheeled and fired wildly to 3rd base. Damon saves the game with a great backup. Of course that is his job, but he did it at a crucial time. Correct decision by Rivera, just bad execution. Now we are in deep trouble with 1st and 3rd nobody out and the Yanks bring the infield in. Once again Scoscia does something different than I would have as I would have stolen 2nd base which would have gone uncontested. Then I would try the squeeze play because if it didn’t work, I would have still had a man on 3rd and 1 out. But he swings away and hits a grounder down first base to Texiera who makes a little dive and looks to throw home but there is no throw because the slower runner stands there. Now if the runner is on 2nd the guy on 3rd has to go home and if that runner is Willits the game would have been over. We were lucky again. Then after 2 groundouts the Genius Maker works his way out of the jam. Words can not do justice; simply amazing.

During this inning Girardi decides to give up the DH to put Hairston in LF to get a better arm. This is kind of questionable because while Damon has no arm, if Gardner were in CF Melky could be in LF with the better arm. It is harder to throw a guy out form CF usually as balls are usually hit farther to CF, but it isn’t a bad decision and I understand it.

However, next inning Cervelli bats instead of Hairston and he does what Hairston did and looked bad at the plate.

Next inning Girardi takes out Rivera and brings in Robertson. I am sure if this were game 6 or 7 he would have left Rivera in, but again I understand it as you have Robertson, Aceves and Gaudin left. Of course you should have another lefty as well. Anyway, Robertson has his work cut out for him with Rivera, Morales (who is very good against righties) and then Kendrick. Robertson is sharp and throws good fastballs and then the curveballs to get Rivera out. Robertson again is making good pitches against Morales and then gets him to fly out. Then, Girardi makes a terrible decision and over manages again. Roberston is throwing really well and he takes him out to bring in Aceves? I have now blown my gasket; what the %$#@ is he thinking? This is an extra inning game; you want to get as much out of the guys throwing well as you can. Now, after I clamed down (to the point where I was rational) I tried to think what possible reason could Girardi be thinking. The only thing I could come up with (and I haven’t listened to any interviews so I don’t know) is that Aceves throws a lot of off speed pitches and maybe they realized this is the best way to get Kendrick out? Either way, this is absurdly stupid. So what happens, Aceves throws a fastball and Kendrick hits for a single. Yes, I am blowing my stack. Then another fastball later and a ball is hit deep to LC and Hairston can’t get to it and the game is over. First, Hairston kind of over ran the ball and could have had it. Second, I wonder if Damon would have caught it and #rd I wonder if Melky would have caught it (or Maybe even Gardner if he were in CF – but I doubt that). Third, what is with all the fastballs?

I am Ticked off because they played badly Abreu and coaching (they did get the pitchout right) and we played ok, but the pitch selection was horrendous and the quick hook decisions were absurdly stupid. Marte coming out and Robertson coming out were just asinine.

It was another exciting and close game that had a lot of flaws…we won one and lost one. Time for our ace to get the job done tomorrow.

Still 2 to go and 6 for the big prize