Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Genius Maker #110

The Yankees found themselves down 3-0 before stepping to the plate against the hottest pitcher in baseball. Cahill was 14-5 with a stellar 2.43 ERA for a bad Oakland team. His last 6 starts he allowed only 4 ER in 47 innings (0.77 ERA). But, the Yanks did a very good job of not swinging at balls and drilling strikes. They crushed some balls with Cano and Tex ripping line drive homers, Thames hitting a 100 MPH fastball into the 2nd deck (not off of Cahill) and Cano hitting line drive so hard he ripped the webbing on the 2nd baseman's glove...That is the way to hit.

Vazquez came on in relief of a terrible outing by Moseley and threw 4.2 innings one 1 run ball to pick up the victory. Interestingly, after the game, Moseley and Vazquez have the same 4.86 ERA. Now what do we do? Well, the odd thing is that Moseley probably doesn't need to be on the roster, but Mitre and Vazquez are both pitching much better out of the pen and with Burnett being so bad, he should probably move to the pen for a little while. I think I would put Vazquez back in or Mitre and if I chose it would be Vazquez (although I am not strong in my opinion). I guess we leave Burnett in the rotation and have maybe Girardi will use my quick hook plan that is needed with Burnett.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Genius Maker #109

The Yankees 2-1 victory last night was excellent for one main reason (and a few lesser ones)…Ivan Nova was very impressive again. I came away excited after his first outing and this continued on a very hot day where he cooled down the WS hitters. He threw a fastball that was from 93-97 with decent movement. He then takes a little off the fastball and gets more sink on it while also throwing a very good curve at about 83-4 or so. If he can pitch to the corners he will be very good; we should all be excited about this kid.

Lesser reasons – but still exciting:

Joba – Hit 100MPH! He also hit 98 and 99 and threw his slider at 88-90! He seemed to have a little less movement on his slider, but at 90 that could be expected. It was a close game and he came through very well! Back to the excitement, it was a little more like the Joba of old as his mechanics were very smooth and consistent. Eiland must be doing something right and it also shows you the difference in velocity when your mechanics are on compared to when they are off. We are talking about adding 5 MPH to a fastball…that is huge! The key now is to see whether he can continue doing it.

Granderson was only 1-4 but ripped the ball all day

Cervelli was 4-4 and even though he erased himself on a CS, he contributed at the plate for the first time in a very long time (I am still not thrilled with his defense though)

Thames came through with another dinger on a hanging breaking ball he jumped all over…even while getting the rare start against righties (ride the hot hand)

And of course the Genius Maker came on to close out the 1 run save. The walk bothered me as I could not believe they didn’t throw the tailing fastball inside in that AB (the same one that got the 1st out on one pitch), but Mariano came through saving Nova’s 1st of many victories he will have.

White Sox Note:
Floyd pitched a very good game for the WS, he has a very good arm with a lot of movement on his pitches.

Injury update:

ARod should be back next week and Berkman will start a rehab assignment (I believe tomorrow). Pettitte threw more aggressively in his bullpen session and reported no problems. He is probably at least 2 weeks away as he has not been able to run or do anything for his endurance, but that is a great sign. Tex was still very sore (thumb) and could not play. They keep saying he is day to day, but they need to rest the thumb and get it right. I don’t understand this day to day thing as it sounds like he needs at least 3 days to treat it and then take a look at it…GET IT RIGHT!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Genius Maker #108

Good to see the offense show up and hold on to a win, but it was disappointing seeing the pitching, particularly the bullpen struggle so much. Even Rivera walking a batter setting up the tying run at the plate was "off."

CC simply had a very poor changeup and that made it rough on him, but he grinded away getting into the 8th inning, CC is great!

Nunez had a big game and gave us some productivity out of the backup position that we have not had all year. He even dropped the head of the bat on a down and in pitch for a hard line drive homer - his first of his career! I don't know if he will be a good hitter at the major league level, as he seems like he would really struggle with the up and in fastball, but yesterday was a game we needed. He is only 23 so having the natural ability to hit the other way will be a benefit, but outside of last night he hasn't looked too good. The good thing is that he does have some natural ability. His minor league numbers do not show great hitting ability (about a .750 OPS between AA and AAA) with his main issue being a lack of walks and never hitting 10 HR's in a year (mostly double power). Last year Pena did a great job against righties for us having an OPS of .818 against righties in 90 AB's last year, but even though they are the same age, Nunez is a better hitting prospect. Girardi has said he will be platooning the two of them and perhaps that is still the right thing to do, but moving forward, you don;t need 2 utility infielders on the same team.
This leads us to why both guys are on the roster...the injuries. Pettitte will have another session today and this is very important as we need him back. Cross you fingers and hope he can go 100% and feel no pain. Berkman is supposed to try and run today and could start a rehab assignment on Monday if it goes well. ARod may start to take some swings on Monday as well. We need to get ARod and Pettitte back, but I also think Berkman will be helpful as well. Unfortunately, Teixeira hurt his thumb the other day and had to come out yesterday...these are HUGE blows and the Yanks should shut down Tex too ensure he gets healthy as we can't afford a setback.

BTW, I need to say great job by Thames who is still hot (we need to ride him) and has an OPS of .927 now! His last 45 AB's he is hitting .378 and an OPS 1.038.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Genius Maker #107

I just want to point out the same two things I have said before. Once AJ starts bad, you might as well get him out of there because he rarely, if ever, straightens himself out. Allowing him to give up so many runs is just silly. 2) I think his stuff could work well out of the bullpen as a 2 pitch pitcher. It is time for him to be there. In his last 15 starts his ERA is an atrocious 6.86 (3-10). Let Nova start and hope Pettitte gets better soon. Andy threw a bullpen session and felt good, but he has not gone 100% and that is the big test.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Genius Maker #106

The last time Phil Hughes pitched my main comment was that it was great to see him not walk any batters. Last night was the opposite. He did get ahead of some hitters and make some good pitches, but he walked far too many guys as he just was inconsistent with his release point. Bad outing!

A few other points…

Bases loaded situation and Toronto was up with 2 outs. A ball is ripped up the middle and Cano makes a phenomenal stop and flips to Jeter who was late getting to the bag and he looked slow as well, Jeter's foot and the runner arrived at the bag almost simultaneously and the ump called the runner safe. Bad play by Jeter and while if you asked me who got there first, I would say Jeter did, it was so close that you can't blame the ump; Jeter was late and caused the outcome to be a flip of the coin...that put the game in a much harder spot to come back on. Fortunately, Vazquez came in and got out of further trouble and outside of letting up a HR he pitched really well for 4.1 innings. While I am piling on Jeter, he is killing us in the leadoff spot against righties. His OPS against lefties is an excellent .900, but he is .651 against righties and anyone with a clue can see, he looks bad. Will it continue? Hard to say, but if this were anyone else there is ZERO chance he would still be in the leadoff spot, especially against righties. Jeter has a .320 OBP against righties and a poor .338 overall OBP. Some managers like to throw a very fast guy in the leadoff spot regardless of their poor OBP as there is some unwritten rule that the leadoff guy must be fast. OK, there are some advantages to having a fast guy set the stage for the beginning of an inning, but what is more important is getting on base for your big boppers to drive them in. I never understood how this simple yet critical common sense is lost? Wade Boggs was a terrific hitter, who was slow, but he would get on base for the big guys and he was a great leadoff hitter because of his ability to not make outs and be on base for your best power guys to drive him in. Obviously if you have Ricky Henderson, that is perfect, but there are not many Ricky's around. The thing about Jeter is that he is probably one of the slowest leadoff hitters around. Only Marco Scutaro, on Boston, has less SB's than Jeter for AL players over 300 AB's in the leadoff spot. Actually, I wouldn’t have Scutaro leadoff either, but maybe their injuries are the reason? Either way, I like my better hitters getting more AB's than my weaker hitters and Jeter should lose his leadoff spot against righties. I said this awhile ago, but I would swap Jeter and Gardner against righties. Jeter needs to be at the bottom of the lineup against righties.

Tex made 6 outs in 4 AB’s…bad game for him as he was up with guys on all game. He also short armed a popup that should not be his fault as other 1st baseman probably wouldn’t have gotten it either, but when the ball tips off the edge of your glove and then you slide feet first, you obviously were not leaning forward and extending as far as you could. It would have been a really good play, but I think he would tell you he misplayed it.

The other thing that stood out to me was how hard Thames hit a few balls. He ripped a HR and then hit a moon shot foul and this was after ripping a double. Thames has been a great pickup! I said I liked him as he gave us the bat against lefties we needed, but he has been better than I expected, even being decent against righties On the year, Thames has an impressive OPS of .894 with a .950 OPS against lefties and a solid .814 against righties.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Genius Maker #105

I was impressed with Nova because he has some fire (telling Bautista “I will F…n’ hurt you”) and some poise to go along with a fastball he can reach 98 with even though he is usually around 94. He had some inconsistencies with his pitches, but hard to not feel he has a bright future. (I wouldn't be shocked to see him in our bullpen for the postseason).

Losing the game 3-2 where we had a horrible lineup at the bottom (Nunez, Pena and Cervelli is worse than an NL team WITH the pitcher) might not seem so bad, but I hated losing on giving up the HR to Bautista (his 2nd of the game). There is no reason to give him anything to hit there! 8th inning and he had 39 HR’s at the time??? Cervelli was lined up off the plate and Robertson made a terrible pitch grooving a fastball, but I would have thrown a curve to start the AB off and then taken it form there. Bautista is in some crazy, must have sold his soul to the devil, year because he had a career OPS of about .740 before this year and now he has a .970 ops. He has never hit more than 16 HR’s in a year and this year he has 40? Either way, bad job by Robertson and the Yanks as walking him would not have been an absurd choice in that spot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Genius Maker #104

Glad to see the Yanks were able to win a game they should with Cc on the mound and the Yanks dominated the weak Seattle team 10-0. I would have liked a sweep but 2-3 isn’t bad.

Odd play at the plate where Posada made a very nice play on an in between hop at the plate, but must have not caught the ball clean so he decided to tag the runner without the ball; the ump called him out anyway! What I thought was funny was Kay and Singleton didn’t notice until later in the inning when someone must have told Kay about it because he then brought it up. Kind of amazing they didn’t catch that on their own. Of course, the obligatory praising of Swisher’s arm came up next even though he was shallow and still through a little up the 1st base line and didn’t reach Posada on a fly…and also if Gutierrez wouldn’t have done the stupid slide (slide past the base and then tag with the hand) the Yankees do he would have been safe at the plate if he would have slid straight in hard. He also hesitated briefly because his 3rd base coach held him up.

CC was dominant and Cano continues to be great with a 6 RBI day (grand slam).

Kearns has done a good job for us. I didn’t think he addressed our hitting a lefty need and long term he probably won’t (anyone can get hot or cold), but he has helped us with Gardner struggling of late and Granderson’s inability to hit lefties. Kearns is a good 4th OF who can play against both sides evenly so he can give anyone a rest, but I prefer matchup guys on the Yanks. Again, sometimes we get guys who do nothing and Kearns so far has an OPS above .900 so he has been very good and I hope he keeps it up.

Nunez was brought up and has been playing with ARod on the DL. I haven’t seen much of him yet, but at the plate he seems to have a slight hesitation in his swing and then insides out the ball a little like Jeter. I think Long will work on getting rid of that little hitch otherwise plus fastballs will eat him up or make him cheat and then be susceptible to the breaking ball. As it is now, he won’t have very much power. The Yanks are pretty high on him…I assume he is a good fielder, but have not seen enough to make any judgments. His peripheral numbers look decent, but that can be misleading. He is 23.

Nova (our minor leaguer) is pitching for us tomorrow. He is also 23 and appeared for 3 innings earlier in the year. He has the standard 4 pitches, fastball, curve, slider and change and each one is decent. I am interested to see how he looks.

Crazy stat – the Yanks are 12-0 with ARod out of the lineup. The opposite was true in years past where the Yanks were below .500. It surely isn’t because the guys replacing him are doing anything because Pena has not played well and neither did Russo…just an odd stat.

The Genius Maker #103

I can start to give a more detailed breakdown now that I have been able to watch the games...Being on the road limits my insight.

It was pretty easy to see that the first 3 innings had pitchers making very bad pitches and a lot of them. Hanging change ups, fastballs down the middle and even when the pitcher got ahead of the hitter with 2 strikes they grooved the pitches. Both teams put up a deserved 4 runs against the other bad pitching and then the game settled into a more normal game. Before I get to that, I want to comment that I am disappointed with Vazquez. Seattle has a weak offense and while it is OK for pitchers to have very bad games, Vazquez is still having too many of them after the terrible start. I was not looking for the sub 3 ERA from him with how great he did last year in the NL, but I was hopeful for a mid to low 4 ERA and eating up innings. Branyan crushed a Javy grooved pitch for the 1st hit into the upper deck in the stadium.

Cano made the worst defensive play he has made in a long time on a ball off the end of the bat that blooped in front of him that he booted. He thought it was deeper and then at the last minute backed up rather than charge it and it ate him up...

Seattle has a lot of lefties in their lineup and having a good long reliever from the left side should shut them down.

Granderson had a great AB against the lefty Vargas in the 7th inning as he just missed a double down the line, but then took some close pitches and waited for a 3-2 pitch he could handle and ripped a single. this led to 1st and 3rd and our rookie Nunez up. I liked that Girardi stuck with him and he delivered driving a hanging change the other way to give the Yanks a 5-4 lead. Jeter followed on a hit and run single that should have been a double play but Figgins (and Seattle) had Figgins covering on a 1st and 2nd double steal and he took a false step toward 2nd base and Jeter hit it right where Figgins was originally. Not sure why he would cover 2nd with Jeter up, plus why open the hole when guy is stealing 2nd? Bad play on their part and it opened up the inning.

Girardi went to Rivera for what was surprisingly the 1st time this year to get 4 outs. I didn't look it up but I thought Rivera came in before in the 8th, but the Yanks opened up enough of a lead to let him rest in the 9th? I could be wrong...anyone have the stats?

I didn't have a problem letting Mo go 4 outs, but I wonder why do it in such a meaningless Seattle game? I mean it would make more sense in a closer game against TB or the Red Sox?

Mo, did the job but did allow a run in the 9th. He wasn't crisp, but Seattle actually did a decent job and the ump squeezed him a little.

The Yanks better win today (if the it is not washed out)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Genius Maker #102

It would appear the sweep will not happen! Burnett kept consistent with his inconistency and King Felix showed why he is a great pitcher on a bad team. Unfortunately, the very bad Seattle team (especially on the road) only needed Felix to pitch well to beat the yanks. Anything less than taking the last 2 games is a failure. To make it worse, the Yanks allowed ARod to play on a strained calf and ARod couldn't get through more than one AB...sometimes you have to wonder what the Yanks are thinking as the last thing you wanted was Alex to re injure it. I would be very surprised if ARod played in the next 4 days and they should shut him down...get him well!

On a good note, TB lost its 2nd game to Oakland by one run...good to see them struggle as well. Boston also had to put Pedrioa on the DL as his foot is not better yet...Boston's injuries are really hurting them; along with Lester getting shelled yesterday :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Genius Maker #101

I have not been able to post much as I have been away for the past week.

While the Yankee offense did a great job over the past few days, I am concerned with the injuries mounting again. ARod seems to be breaking down a little bit (the end of teh contract will be ugly just as I predicted), Pettitte needs to shake the groin injury and Berkman is on the DL. I am still hopeful about Marte and Aceves and have not heard anything.

Cano is definitely either the best or 2nd best in the league this year.

I liked to see Hughes pitch a game with no walks!

Granderson hitting better is helping the lineup a lot. I hope it continues.

The Yankees need to cream Seattle at home...3 game sweep, but 2 wins at a minimum...I want a sweep!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Genius Maker #100

While this is my 100th post (or so as I have had some 1/2 posts) this year, it will be without fan fare because the Yankees are having the worst slump of the year. It is embarrassing that the Yanks went into the 9th getting shut out for almost 2 games in a row. They were able to walk their way to a run and had a chance to pull it out as the Yanks had bases loaded with 1 run across in the 9th inning and Jeter was up. Unfortunately, Jeter continued his poor hitting against righties as he hit into his second DP of the game to end any chance.

While most of us would say Kevin Long deserves a raise for his work with some of the folks on the team (particularly Swisher), why is such a stacked team struggling so much? Yes, we have scored the most runs, so the big picture is good, but this team should score the most runs in baseball with the talent on the roster. I am not advocating anything against Long, as that is clearly not the case, but if he gets the credit when things go well he deserves some blame now.

Our 3-1 loss combined with TB winning has us deadlocked in 1st place.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Genius Maker #99

I was not able to see the game last night so I can't say whether the Yankees hit horribly or there was an extremely well pitched game (Please feel free to comment on your own opinions). However, I think it is embarrassing that this offense could get shut down by journeyman pitcher! It seems whenever the Yanks face someone that is making one of his first starts or is just brought up they get shut down. I don't have stats to back that up (like usual), but it surely seems that way. This guy was a 29 year old journeyman who had a 4.85 ERA going into our game for crying out loud. When you have more errors than hits, that is simply atrocious.

Meanwhile, Burnett did a great job even with Cervelli making 2 more throwing errors (he now has 9 errors and for a defensive catcher, that is awful) and Cano making his 3rd error of the year (that is excellent).

I am annoyed because this was a game against a weak opponent we should be winning and off of a very rough stretch of playing mediocre ball, this team should start to go on a roll against matchups such as this.

Berkman tweaked his ankle (replaced by Thames) and I hope it is a minor issue.

Time to come home and get back to .600+ baseball

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Genius Maker #98

Tough night on Friday night as the Yanks lost a real close one with 2 rain delays. That was just one of those games. I was happy to see them get 1st and 3rd with 2 outs and have Cano up with a chance to win or tie the game in the 9th off of Soria, but it was a loss.

Last nights game was a very close one as well. Hughes was not sharp allowing 9 hits in 6 innings, but kept the game close by only allowing 1 walk. Overall, gave us a chance of winning, but the performance was mediocre. Fortunately, ARod blew a close game open hitting 3 homers from the 6th to the 9th innings. In the 6th, ARod homered to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead and the Posada hit a long one followed by Granderson; 3 homers in one inning gave the Yanks a 4-1 lead. Hughes gave 2 right back though and it was 4-3 until ARod connected on #2. The 3rd was icing on the cake and allowed the Genius Maker to rest.

Good relief performance again as the Yankees bullpen. Logan and Robertson have been very good but not sure everyone is aware that Joba seems to be getting his act together. He is still inconsistent on his fastball, but they adjusted his arm slot and his speed has been better. In Joba’s last 8 2/3 innings, he has allowed no runs, only 2 hits, 3 walks and striking out 6. Maybe he is realizing that he doesn’t need to strike everyone out? I would still like to see less sliders with 3 balls on the batter, but he has been MUCH better of late! Logan had not allowed a hit in his last 7 2/3 innings until he allowed one last night. That is great for a lefty specialist as many times he is facing a very good hitter and having good stats is really excellent (If you are facing guys with an OPS of 900+ and you can limit them to an OPS of .650 that is pretty good…he is doing much better though). The key to Logan has been him not walking guys. In his last 8 innings he has allowed 1 walk (and 2 hits with no runs).

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Genius Maker #97

Had a quick chance to post and wanted to say that I feel very good about where our team is now.

I am worried about Jeter against a righty in a key spot and we have some vulnerability with lefty matchups against our guys late in the game, but we have Pettitte coming back as are Aceves and Marte (supposedly). Berkman will be good against righties and he and Kearns give us some depth to rest our guys as needed and help some matchups.

ARod is not his normal self, but he can hit better than he has been and I am hopeful he will be able to turn it up a notch as the pressure mounts...as he obviously a clutch player ;)

We still have the best record in baseball and we have rarely seen our best team out on the field for a week straight.

As for who we play in the postseason; I would rather not face Texas in a short series, but I feel we will prevail over anyone in the first round. The playoffs are always a crap shoot but we are a better team. TB is a dangerous team as can any team in a short series. As for the World Series, I am rooting against the Phillies to make the playoffs because they can be very dangerous. Nobody else really scares me.

So root against the Phillies and root for us to win the division.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Genius Maker #96

I said I was not going to post until Friday, but that was one heck of a gritty comeback by the Yanks. Even after falling behind 6-1 (I did think the matchup was not favorbale for Vazquez) and part of that was a terrible rundown by Posada which allowed 2 more runs to score. The Yankees scored enough runs to come back but left a lot of guys on base in key spots. Jeter hurt them with a K and Swisher struck out once again in a spot with a uy on 3rd and less than 2 outs (he has done that a ton this season). It seemed like they would just fall short with all the failed opportunities, but Thames had a fantastic game and Berkman also had a couple big AB's (a long double and a great AB in the 9th swinging at every strike and taking every ball working a very hard fought walk. Granderson correctly pinch ran or Berkman and Gardner came through with a lucky single. After a wild pitch we caught another break as Jeter dribbled one up the middle that somehow got through before Thames knocked in the go ahead an winning run.

Rivera allowed a leadoff triple, but then got the job done by getting a short bloop to right that Kearns caught (barely) and then sawed off one of the best hitters in the game to induce a grounder back to the Genius Maker before getting Vlad to ground out for the victory!!!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Genius Maker #95

I have not been able to post as my schedule has been real crazy, but I wanted to make a few comments:

1) As we enter tonight's games against Texas, I get the feeling the Yankees don't want to put their best foot forward. Starting berkman against a lefty, benching Posada (I know they say he had a sore shoulder, but one day is not enough to rest a sore shoulder and I think Girardi wanted Cervelli to catch Burnett). BTW, Posada should DH against the lefty then and put Thames in the field. Tex makes $125k a game yet will miss two games (I know it is a birth of his son and in most every day life that should get precedence - and probably here too - but at that much money there are some sacrifices you must make). Kearns is a better option offensively than Granderson, but I think it is pretty clear from facing some lefties in key spots we need one more Thames on the team to avoid the matchup issues we have...although Kearns isn't bad.

2) Gardner is REALLY struggling. He is just frozen with the bat on his shoulder far too much. I think he is very valuable and his defense has been great, but he could use a blow here and there...I still like him long term and feel he is valuable.

3) Granderson is just not getting it done early and the Yanks now realize he is not the answer against lefties. Time to quite his swing (ala Swish) and let his natural talent crush righties

4) I haven't liked a ton of Girardi's decisions, and I will leave it at that, with the exception of how about trying a squeeze once? Cervelli up against a righty or Granderson against a lefty screams squeeze. How about trying just once?

5) Robby Thompson really is a bad 3rd base coach and should be fired after the season, he just doesn't get it.

6) Jeter was slow on a few plays and that cost them one game. While he should have bunted, I am not sure any leadoff hitter in the league would have been doubled off on the Cano stealing play. Jeter also went into the hole to get the soft grounder in extra innings the other night and needed to charge the ball rather than playing it back...it cost Rivera and the Yanks

7) Speaking of Rivera, I would not say he wasn;t sharp as he allowed a grounder that most SS's would have made and a 45 hopper that somehow got through the right side and barely made the OF. Walking Cruz to load the bases was a dumb idea and it looked worse when Rivera fell behind 3-0 and had to groove a few. That is the only area that Rivera was not sharp...those 3 pitches. It happens and I was actually surprised he was in the game and I would not have brought him in until after Kerry Wood pitched.

8) The umpiring has been AWFUL. Some of the curve strikes to Gardner were the worst calls I have seen by an ump in a long time. One crossed Gardner's chin. In the 2-1 loss to Boston the umpiring really favored us, but the other night it was against us; either way it was awful.

9) Overall, we will pull out of this funk, we are too good.

10) These two lefties against Texas are what concerns me in a 5 game series. With out lineup in flux, I am not optimistic for tonights game...Vazquez is OK but this Texas lineup looks like they are better against slop...I hope I am wrong.

I will blog again Friday

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Genius Maker #94

The outcome of the day was very good as the Yanks won 5-2 and TB allowed 17 runs in a loss!

At the start of the game though we got some disturbing news that ARod was hit on the shin in batting practice from Berkman. While ARod will be OK and is day to day, you have to take advantage of this and say that Berkman now has half as many hit Yankees as hits (what a rough start for Berkman).

In the 1st inning McCarver said something that really bothered me. He was talking about the reason why they are saying Lackey has been pitching better is that he is throwing more fastballs and after 11 pitches, he has thrown nothing but 11 fastballs...Really Tim, do you really think nobody is watching the game? He made this absurd comment and I can't believe how off base he could be. Lackey threw 8 fastballs and 3 breaking balls in his first 11 pitches. It is possible one of the breaking balls was a change (it was tough to tell), but man Tim, talk about not respecting anyone and just saying BS???

Pena is very smooth in the field, but he gets eaten up too many times at 3rd base; he made a terrible play on a grounder that would have been easy if he charged it. Unless he can hit like he did last year, he is not doing his job. That being said, he did a good job today, twice getting the runner in from 3rd base with 1 out (once grounding out and the other time ripping a single).

Jeter's 3rd AB was a little concerning as he swung at a curve that almost landed on the plate, and then took 3 straight fastball strikes...yes it was 3 as one of them that was a strike was called a ball. Sometimes I have no idea what is going through a batters mind, but whatever it was Jeter needs to get rid of it.

Gardner has really been struggling at the plate. He is out of sync and I think he needs to bunt to try and get something going.

Speaking of getting something going, I mentioned in the last blog that the Yankees have to run against Martinez and they finally realized this stealing 2 bases and taking an extra base on a bad throw. his release is really slow.

CC battled tonight after a rough start and he was throwing a little slow early on, about 93, and the change at 88 didn't have as much of a differential as one would like, but he fought his way through 8 innings and got stronger as the game went on and I was surprised he didn't stay out for the 9th inning. I know it was a save situation, but it was only 101 pitches and the last 4 innings he was cruising. I guess I don't like the competition to see Rivera any more than they have to. However, the Genius Maker didn't disappoint getting all 3 batters out in order.

Now let's take the last 2 and bury the Sox!

The Genius Maker #93

Now we need to win the next 3! This was a game where we must tip our hat to a pitcher that has really good stuff. Buchholz really has a lot going. He can pump a 95 MPH fastball when he wants to, while running (goes toward a righty) a fastball at about 91-92 and then cutting one at about the same speed (and it is a good one). he also throws a good hook to go along with a changeup. He moves pitches all over the place and even though his command isn't great (I know he didn't walk a Yankee, but normally he walks a little more than one would like(3.5 per 9 innings) he has such great movement and it is very tough to sit on a pitch because of all the different speeds and movement. I am very impressed with Buchholz...unfortunately.

The key play in the game was a popup in between Vazquez and Cervelli that Cervelli just dropped. Either player should make the play and if Cervelli called it he screwed up. In general, the pitcher usually doesn't take popups, but one like that Vazquez should just demonstrably call everyone off and make the play...it was easy and he is a good fielding pitcher. That is a tougher play on a catcher, although if Cervelli was calling it he needs to make the play. They are both to blame, but more is on Cervelli because it was assumed he was going to make it. This led to 3 runs and a lot of extra pitches by Javier...it was a game changer.

The Yanks did a decent job of hitting and did hit a couple hard shots right at people (think Berkman and even Granderson's DP ball to go along with some hard hit grounders). Cano ripped a double that was such a great swing that I had to slow mo it a few times to watch poetry in motion. The mentioned Granderson DP was the first one this year he has hit into. It was also a time where I was OK with bunting, but then I would have pinch hit Posada for Cervelli. It is making a move early, but it was the 4th inning and we were already down 4-2...Make the move and let Posada bat with 2nd and 3rd and nobody out (in most cases). With Granderson's speed you never know he could beat it out.

Also, Martinez is really poor at throwing and the Yanks need to run more. Gardner needs to be more aggressive stealing and learn pitchers better. Jeter was also on first and we need to take advantage of Martinez back there.

Berkman needs to get a few hits under his belt. He has hit a lot of balls very hard but has not been good at all so far. Some bad luck yes, but, he is 2-19 with no power and only one walk; that is terrible...even if 3 of the hard hit balls fell in, it would not be good. He is better than this and better get it going...he should.

At least TB lost, but the Yanks better take at least 2 of the next 3!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Genius Maker #92

I just wanted to post that TB lost and Boston won, but Boston just got hit with some really tough news (at least for them) that Youkilis is done for the year with a thumb injury. This is a huge blow to them as Youk is by far their best hitter. He has a .975 OPS this year and that is where it will stay.

I wanted to post this because I said don't count the Red Sox out and we still shouldn't as they have some very good pitchers, but this will be a very hard blow for them to take and still catch the Yanks or TB. They are only 5.5 games behind TB but the odds of a comeback are much tougher now.

Time to take 3-4!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Genius Maker #91

ARod has done it! 600 HR's for Captain Clutch (as I started to call him this when everyone thought he was a choker in the playoffs). All I know is that I hope he can stay healthy and play better than he has thus far this year because we have him for a lot of years on his deal. I said the last 2-3 years would be an albatross and I have no idea why we gave him those extra dollars/years as we were negotiating against ourselves, but I was all for signing him and I expect him to perform better than this year!

Congratulations ARod, only the greatest player of all time, Babe Ruth had reached 600 HR's in less games (I believe ARod was the youngest to get to 600 though)

Tuesday night, Moseley pitched pretty well. If Jeter didn't double clutch and make a bad throw on a relay going home Moseley would have been spared 3 runs. It didn't matter though as the Yanks offense did nothing against a good lefty. This is also why it scares me playing Texas in a 5 game series and why I wanted a guy who hits lefties (NOT Kearns who doesn't hit lefties). It looks like the Yanks realize (finally) that they should have been platooning Granderson since day 1. They should have read this blog from the beginning and we would have saved a lot of time (including the wasted signing of Randy Winn)...but at least they are coming around.

Berkman his some shots today, but right at guys. The story was ARod who wasn't able to give a fan a lucky souvenir, but at least the hoopla is over. Hughes struggled but got through the game and Joba actually hit 98 on one pitch. That is great to see. As usual Rivera did his job including the last guy who was sawed off so bad he hit a weak little blooper back to Rivera to end the game...it is a pleasure (and a treat) watching the greatest ever!

Now we have 4 against Boston. I want 3 out of 4 because anyone who thinks Boston is done isn't paying attention to how injured they were/are. With the injuries there is only one team who has a better record them outside of TB and the Yankees and that is SD by 1 game. We need to bury them if we can.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Genius Maker #90

I started out my last post stating that I didn't like the lineup. Last night I really liked the lineup, although I would have swapped Gardner and Jeter as I showed in my lineups.

I think we will see Swisher stay in the 2 hole after his 2 homers yesterday. The problem with last nights game was that Girardi stuck with Burnett far too long. Burnett has more starts where he has allowed no runs than anyone in the league, however, when he is off, he is way off. We knew this about him yet Girardi seems to think he will work his way out of it when he is off??? He gets in a bad rut and can't correct himself and allows huge innings. Last night his curve was not good and his fastball was only 91-93 which is pretty odd as he used to throw (last year) 95 consistently. Burnett also was doing OK until the 5th inning, but even in the 2nd inning, after allowing a HR he then allowed a walk and a single, but was able to get out of it. They usually come in bunches against Burnett...So in the 5th inning when Burnett allows a leadoff double and then a grooved fastball home run you have to get your mind thinking time to get the bullpen stirring (maybe not up as the bases are cleared). When Burnett walks Molina, I would have been out to the mound to get my guy ready for the next batter if Burnett doesn't get the next better out (Lewis). Well, Burnett allows a ripped double. That's it; Burnett has to come out right there. Nope Girardi leaves Burnett in. Maybe making me look bad, Escobar grounds out to ARod who made a heads up play throwing out Molina at the plate. I still would have had Burnett out of the game, but Joe stayed with him to allow another deep double on a bad pitch that scored 2 runs. OK, it is now 5-2 you just allowed Burnett to cough up a huge hit and he is clearly done; I am sure Joe will take him out now...right? Nope, He leaves Burnett in to face Vernon Wells (who homered off him earlier) and Wells rips a double scoring Bautista. Geez Girardi, you think it is obvious that you left him in too long...go get Burnett please. What? No, you will leave him in to face Overbay? Well, he did K Overbay so Joe still stays with Burnett...after a wild pitch (Burnett isn't close) Hill hits another double off of Burnett just about putting the game out of reach at 7-2.

Absolutely horrible job by Girardi...as a manager your job is to put the team in the best position to win a game and he allowed Burnett to put the game out of reach...I don't think I would have given CC that long of leash, but Burnett is the guy who when things go bad they steamroll so there is no excuse. I think Joe had Burnett out there allowing THREE more doubles than he should have...but there is NO way he should have had him out there to allow the last 2. As a manager you have to understand your players, and Joe simply blew it.

What made it bad was after Mitre allowed one more run to score it was 8-2 and the good Yankee offense came back to make it 8-6. By leaving Burnett in the game, Girardi ensured we would not come back. I actually felt that we would come back and beat them, but the deficit was too great...ARod is not getting the job done right now, but hopefully he hits his dinger tonight (I will be at the game).

Posada had a terrific defensive game (Haven't said that in awhile). He had a great block of one of Burnett's wild pitches with 2 guys on where he shifted his feet extremely fast and kept the ball in front of him. He also blocked in a more routine fashion a bunch in the dirt. He also made a tremendous throw off a curve in the dirt where he somehow cleanly caught the short hop and transferred the ball to his hand without pause and made a perfect throw to Cano who caught and tagged the runner at the same time...GREAT play. BTW, Cano caught that the way you should; deep toward the runner.

One last point and this is a great illustration of why Kearns was not the right guy to bring in. Girardi went to Thames to pinch hit for Granderson (thankfully) and Thames came through! Then Gardner was up in a big spot. With a lefty on the mound Girardi had a decision to make. If Gardner were swinging well, I would have left him in there, but I understand looking for a 3 run dinger there. However, this would be the perfect spot for a lefty killer (or someone similar to Thames) to step to the plate. Kearns has some power, but he is better against righties. Sure Kearns will get some hits, but your odds are less than they should be and Kearns K'd in this big spot. Now, I am not down on Kearns for striking out; even a good matchup can do that, but I am annoyed that he was our best option...

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Genius Maker #89

Now you know why I hated the lineup yesterday. That could have been the weakest hitting performance of the year. How many change-ups in the dirt did we swing at? 20? 25? It was incredible how they never sat on the change or even better refuse to swing at anything off speed as the change was only thrown for a strike a few times. While we should be able to win any game with any lineup, it has to be a little odd resting ARod, Gardner and Tex in the field. Obviously, Berkman had a terrible fielding day that cost us a few runs and who knows how a full lineup would have done? I really felt that when Granderson was up with 1st and 3rd and one out in the 2nd inning it was a very big point in the game. Granderson had 2 hittable pitches and he missed them both and then (no surprise) chased a change-up out of the strike zone. For a supposedly patient team, the Yankees hitters did an awful job. I don't want to take too much away from Shields who obviously was disguising his change-up well, but when you triple and even quadruple up on your change-up, there shouldn't be too much deception.

In Boston, Buchholz had a shutout going into the 9th with a 3 run lead, but allowed a walk and a single before coming out for Papelbon who allowed a double and then a game tying single before getting out of the inning. Unfortunately, in the bottom of the 9th after an infield hit a sac bunt was throw away so Boston had a walk off error win after their Big Poppy double win. I know people have already written off Boston, but if they can get healthy they are a very good team.

Back to the Yanks, I am still annoyed the Yanks rested their players yesterday, they should have rested them against Toronto!

One last comment to add: If you remember I had written that Gardner went from super elite speed to only elite speed as he looked a little slower. I read that he said after his hot start, his legs got a little tired when Granderson was out and as the other fast threat he didn't want to hurt the team. He also said that he needs to run more now that he feels good again. He seems to have a good handle on his abilities as he also mentioned stealing 60 bases just to get caught 20 times doesn't help the team much. Gardner has been a huge plus for the team this year...and hopefully for a long time.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Genius Maker #88

Great win last night! The Yankees basically turned the tables on TB and pulled one out. What was really encouraging was the fight we showed coming back on Garza and the vaunted TB bullpen. We have now gotten to Benoit twice and thanks to Cano we got to Soriano as well. Then it was time for the Genius Maker to come in and close out a 1 run game on the road with 1st place in the balance...and he didn't disappoint, only allowing a bloop broken bat hit.

Other stuff:

I do not think ARod is pressing although he does seem to be trying to swing a little harder. I think the main issue with ARod is that his hip has turned him into much more of a arm swinger and he is not getting that leverage from the bottom part of his body. ARod used to hit homers that you would think would be a weak fly out because of that tremendous power. He is still a good hitter, but he is swinging too much arm and this is causing the issues in my opinion...he is not trusting his wrists. I do not think the 600 is making too much difference. BTW, Swish had the big HR on the hanging curve by Garza and this was a classic example of swinging with your arms and not your lower body. Because it was a slow pitch, Swish was out in front with his body, but he kept his hands back and struck the hanging curve very solidly but using just his arms the ball barely went out...you need your lower body!

Swisher made a terrible play on the hard hit ball down the line that Tex allowed to eat him up and just swatted at it. Swisher took SIX steps after he touched the ball as he was flat footed and not expecting the runner to take 2nd base. That was an awful play that could have cost us...Swisher also misplayed the first hit of the game...it was not an easy play, but he didn't play it well.

Cervelli did a poor job on a pitch out as he took his time to release the ball and made a little high of a throw and a little to the SS side of the bag. Jeter could have been a little quicker and the runner was JUST safe. Cervelli has not thrown well, although he did do a good job blocking balls tonight...his hitting is just awful.

Tex and Cano hit bombs!

Not sure why the Yanks are resting ARod and Gardner in today’s game with TB. We are playing for 1st place and this is a year I would really like to win the division as playing two very good lefties and facing them 4 out of 5 games in a 5 game series with Texas is concerning. This is also why I hate all the days off rest in the playoffs as it is absurd to have to face those 2 guys 80% of a playoff series; especially when we have a lot of guys who are better against righties. (Lee and Wilson are really good lefties)

Logan did another great job today getting his 2 batters and turning it over to Robertson who did his job as well. It always looks better when it works (thus the Genius Maker label), but I thought Girardi handled the pitching moves perfectly. He had Joba ready in case Vazquez got in more trouble in the 6th and then got another out in the 7th with Vazquez but then pulled him after the walk and it was setup perfectly for Logan.

I really thought the ump behind the plate was favoring TB. There were 7 close pitches and 6 of them went TB's way with some of the same pitches being called a strike for their guy and then balls for Vazquez. Our one call was Rivera's in the 9th.

As for the trades, as I said yesterday the Kearns move doesn't make sense to me as he is a guy who was awful the last 2 years (was a decent hitter prior though) and this year he is average at best (OPS .773) and worse against lefties (OPS .720)...the last 2 years though his OPS was a combined .530 against lefties. Thames is a much better option against lefties and if we are going to play someone in the OF then go get some fast righty who hits lefties better to play.

Berkman should be a big upgrade over Miranda against righties...Thames should stay as the lefty DH.

Kerry Wood is a bit of a wild card. It is really hard to have some sort of prediction or thought as I have not watched him pitch. His peripheral numbers are not good, but that could be deceiving. he is actually a little better against lefties so he seems more like a guy who would be brought in for an inning rather than matching up. He was a cheap flyer and maybe we can catch lightning in the bottle? I am fine with this move, but I do want to point out that while (as I said at the start of the year) I was not for the Chan Ho Park signing I think CHP was used wrong by Girardi. He should have been used as a righty specialist and instead he faced as many lefties as righties. Even pitching worse than anyone could have expected, his OPS against righties was still a respectable .699. I think he could be used by most teams (including ours) if he were used correctly (as a righty specialist)...he clearly was not used that way.

The final point I wanted to make was surrounding the lineup.

The truth is that one of the issues we have is that Jeter should not be at the top of the lineup, especially against righties. You want your better hitters up more often than the Cervelli's of the world. I would simply flip Gardner and Jeter. This actually accomplishes a lot as it would separate Gardner from Granderson more and puts a guy leading the league in pitches per AB at the top of the order. Further, if Jeter swings at the 1st pitch with Gardner on base one more time, my head my pop off.

I would also be OK with switching the lineup per the type of pitcher. Based on a normal lefty and righty (some lefties may be better against righties) here is what I would do:

Against a righty:
Gardner (CF)
Swisher (RF)
Tex (1b)
ARod (3b)
Cano (2b)
Posada (C)
Berkman (DH)
Granderson (LF)
Jeter (SS)

We will always have one spot where a lefty could come in to "hurt us" and in this case it is from Cano to Granderson where Posada is the guy who hits lefties better in the middle. However, you have to figure that you will be facing the righty starter for 2-3 AB's so it is OK to do it this way. You could swap Swisher and Berkman, but I like keeping Swisher in the 2 hole because he was doing well there and I want him getting on base more than focusing on HR's.

Against a lefty:
Thames (DH)
Kearns/Granderson/Berkman (LF) depending on the pitcher
Gardner (CF)

Now, I know it is heresy to speak of demoting Jeter, but here are his OPS splits .913 (lefties) and .637 (righties). Last year Jeter was .200 OPS points better against lefties. I said at the beginning of the year that the sooner the Yanks realize that Granderson should not be starting against lefties the better the yanks will be and this is also why I wanted Gardner in CF and Granderson in LF. Gardner is just a little worse against lefties and you could keep him at the top of the lineup, but just dropping Jeter against righties is too much for most people to deal with.