Umpires, defense, sliding and the injury report...
1) The umpires have been awful of late; missing calls and terribly inconsistent behind home plate. The guy behind home plate in the Tuesday game against the Red Sox was terrible and it impacted the game greatly. Yesterday, the ump at 2nd called the TB guy safe on a SB that was not close; he was easily out. In general the guys on the bases do a pretty good job, but lately the umpiring has been poor.
2) Shabby defense has been the norm of late watching both the Yankees and other teams really play poorly. While Thames dropped pop was awful, the competition has played much worse than us defensively. However, I want to comment about something that I wrote in the blog last year and that is the way ARod takes throws at 3rd from the catcher. In last nights game, a TB guy was stealing 3rd (I think Upton) and ARod was in front of the bag and took the throw in front of the bag and then had to reach back to make the tag. If he is straddling the bag he just catches and drops the tag and he would have been out. There is little doubt about this and at the big league level I don't understand how this is not fixed as I mentioned it last year. ARod is not the only one who does this as Jeter many times does the same things on throws to 2nd. Cano, like many take the throw a little in front, but they are moving the glove back toward the runner as they catch so it is more of a catch while swiping and it quickly gets the tag there without the risk of the ball hitting the runner. On Tuesday, when Cervelli was bunting in the 9th inning (BTW, that was the wrong call knowing Posada could not pinch hit) and Cervelli took a strike and Cano was getting a good secondary and the catcher threw to 2nd where Scutaro took the throw in front of the runner too far and couldn't get the tag back in time. That was an awful play as Cano should have been out.
The other defensive situation I have brought up many times is when the 1st baseman fields a throw from a catcher/pitcher on a bunt or swinging bunt and his feet are in line with 1st and 2nd base and they don't stretch on a close play. Most 1st baseman do this, but on a close play they lose the advantage of the stretch and lose outs that way (many times I have shown this in the past)
BTW, I do want to add that Gardner made a heck of a catch yesterday and against Boston made a nice throw to nail Ortiz at 2nd base on a deep fly ball that Ortiz thought was gone. Gardner has really been great and while his non adjusted OPS (not including his SB's) may not stay above .800, it doesn't need to for him to be a valuable player.
Sliding - When we slide into home plate our guys are consistently sliding past home plate and tagging with our hands or going around the catcher. I would like to see more straight in hard slides more toward the front or middle of the plate. This makes it almost impossible for the catcher to block the plate when you go in hard and straight. There is always a soft spot or "5 hole" and if not that means the catcher has the ball and you better just lower your shoulder. But outside of Robby Thompson getting us thrown out a lot, we could do a better job of sliding.
Posada is out 3-4 weeks with a hairline fracture in the bottom of his foot.
Others still out are Granderson, NJ, and Aceves. These are big cogs.
Finally, we have injuries to Swisher (he is day to day, but unknown), and Marcus Thames who sprained his ankle stepping on his bat and he is considered day to day as well.
Everyone knows I have a lot of respect for what Aceves brings to our bullpen and I think he would be an effective starter too. Combine his loss to the losing of 33% of your lineup (44% if you count Swisher) we will struggle. We especially get hurt against righties. We have to try and split with TB tonight and just hang in there until we get some help. Long term we should be fine, but the injury bug needs to clear up...and our manager/GM need to be a little smarter in the decisions we do make and control.