Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Genius Maker - Off Season

Next year is supposed to be a very strong year for free agent year compared to this year.  I do not want the Yankees to spend big money on above average pitchers and that is all I see this year.  The Yankees need to wait and get the studs as I have said over and over.  Yu Darvish will be posted today, and again, while I have never seen him pitch, the word is that he is better than above average and is still young (25).  The Yankees should make a strong play if their scouts feel he is as good as advertised - people think he is.   The Red Sox posted 51.1 million for Matsuzaka and while that seemed outrageous to me at the time, they then signed him for only 8.5 mil a year which made it more reasonable, but, still the total was about 16 mil a year (in the AJ range).  I would expect Darvish to be in the same area.  What I like about Darvish is that he is a mature 25 in that he has a lot of experience in tough spots and also he is 6'5" and the height is a positive in my eyes.  

The Yankees did win negotiating rights to shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima from Japan (Lions) on Wednesday. The posting fee for the 29-year-old was $2.5 million.  His batting numbers should translate into a 800 OPS type of middle infielder (hard to gauge though) but what iI didn't like was Girardi seemed to indicate he wasn't a great defensive SS.  Overall, this is a small signing that gives some more depth.  It also shows that Pena is probably done in the Yanks eyes.

I would not be spenders for this MLB free agent group though and I am glad the Yanks are letting the "Mark Buhrle's" go to other teams... Wait until next year and get the better players.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Genius Maker!

Happy Birthday Mariano Rivera!  Number 42 turns 42 today!  Rivera is the last player to wear this number, which is fitting.  I also think it is fitting that when Jackie Robinson is honored and everyone wears #42, I (and hopefully you) will think of Rivera as well.

I never thought he would still be pitching, let alone be so effective at this age.  This is the last year of this contract, but if I am the Yankees I let him know that as long as he wants to pitch (Mo won’t stay if he is not effective) we will pay him.  I get the feeling that going out at the age of 42, his and JR’s number, might be the way he wants to go out?

As for how effective Mo was this year, he was still one of the best closers in the game.  His OPS against was 2nd best in baseball behind a NL pitcher Craig Kimbrel from Atlanta.  First, while Kimbrel had a great year (46 saves and a 14.84 K/9 ahead of Robertson) he did have 8 blown saves (but only 3 losses).  Mo had 5 blown saves but only 2 losses so both these guys did blow some games, but gave their teams chances of winning after the blown save.  While Valverde had a great 49 saves without a blown save, he did have 4 losses along with getting pummeled in the playoffs even if not losing to the Yanks.

Bottom line is Rivera is still at the top of the position and just like other years, there may be a person or 2 who has better/similar years, they come and go while Rivera is always at the top…pretty amazing.  Mo had his worst year from an OPS standpoint in 2007; his worst could have been many guys best.  30 saves with 4 blown and an OPS of .644.  For perspective CC’s OPS against for the 3 years with the Yankees is about .660.

To give you an idea of how dominant Mo has been I was trying to find some stats about OPS against for pitchers for their career; I would bet he is #1 (I should be able to get this but for some reason I am having trouble – if anyone has it please send it)

The best I could do was Adjusted ERA+ per the below…Almost comical how great he is and has been…and we are not even discussing the amazing post season numbers.

From Wikipedia (which is great BTW)  Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+ or ERA plus, is a pitching statistic in baseball. It adjusts a pitcher's earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher's ballpark (in case the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher's league. Average ERA+ is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.
For instance, if the average ERA in the league is 4.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark that favors hitters, and his ERA is 4.00, then his ERA+ will be over 100. Likewise, if the average ERA in the league is 3.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark favoring pitchers, and the pitcher's ERA is 3.00, then the pitcher's ERA+ will be below 100.
As a result, ERA+ can be used to compare pitchers across different run environments. In the above example, the first pitcher may have performed better than the second pitcher, even though his ERA is higher. ERA+ can be used to account for this misleading impression.

Minimum of 1000 IP, 3000 PA, 500 games (fielding), 200 stolen base attempts (catchers) or 100 decisions for career and active leaderboards for rate statistics.
Player (yrs, age)
Adjusted ERA+
Mariano Rivera (17, 41)




 BTW, Bobby Valentine appears to be the Red Sox manager; I am good with that as I am not that impressed with him.  I don't think he studies the statistical side of the game enough.  The Red Sox will be a force for the same reasons the Yankees are (payroll) though.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Genius Maker - Playoff System and More

I am glad the Yanks worked out the deal with CC - it is in line and we are better with him than without.

People have asked me who I want the Yanks to go after and without copping out, I can't give an answer without knowing the range/cost of the players.  While many people say the Yanks have no budget, this is simply incorrect because if they didn't they would sign Pujols for 30 mil a year to be a DH and PT 1st baseman.  BTW, if I could trade Texiera or even have someone take his contract, I would and sign Pujols. 

As for one area I would put a lot of interest in; I would make a very hard run at Yu Darvish based on what I have read (not seen).  He is 25 years old and one of the best pitchers in Japan.  He is 6'5" and 220 with a 93 MPH fastball that he can increase in key spots up to 97.  He also has a cutter to go along with a very sharp breaking ball.  I also think he has a splitter...again from what I have read.  25 year old pitchers would be very much worthy of a large contract and he would fit in perfectly to our team.

The title of this post has to do with playoffs and I will get to that, but as I was going through my old posts, I came across my ARod contract posts.  In a nut shell I wanted the Yanks to sign ARod, but under no circumstance would I have gone beyond 8 years and I also would have stuck to 25 mil a year.  Here is what I wrote (the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed and in a later post I was more critical):

“I would have stuck with an 8 year deal at 25 mil a year and then gone up to 26 maybe 27 a year.   What if ARod breaks down at 38 or sooner? They should make him really show he wants to come back….I mean doesn't giving a guy a 10 year contract when he is 31 or 32 seem nuts to you?
I am glad he probably will be back, but I would have stuck it to him and risked losing him if I were running the show.  I would have stuck to 8 years and not moved above 27 mil a year.”

In retrospect, I might have been too generous; 38 still is a long way away.  I like to go back and see what I was wrong and right about.  I will find my Cano posts at some point as I was adamant they don’t trade him, but I was willing to trade Soriano.
Back to the Playoffs.  Some of you veterans remember my yearly post about the playoffs.  I stopped writing it a few years ago, but have been talking about this for 15 years.  I am bringing it back because I read that Selig said it looked like they would add one WC team and have a one game playoff…just as I had been asking for over the past 15 years.  The funny part is that I remember Mike and the Mad Dog criticizing this idea (yes, when they were together) as crazy.  Then again, I waited to get on a call with Mad Dog so he could tell me that the “Sabermetrics stuff is silly.” 
Anyway, this is what I wrote a little over two years ago (10/7/09) and I had written for 12 years before that:
 “I have written this many few times over the years but after the great game yesterday it lends itself to bring it up again as it has been awhile.  The idea started back around 1995 when the wild card was brought into baseball and I don't think (I really don't remember) I can take all of the credit for this idea, in fact it probably was mostly from my brother or maybe us just talking  it through?...Either way, we didn't like the idea of putting in another wild card team.  Our feeling was after 162 games, if you don't finish in 1st place then what does it matter if you are better than a team in another division?  You aren't the best so you shouldn't be in the playoffs to prove it.  This thought is even more true with the unbalanced schedule where you play the teams in your division 19 times; you can't say you didn't have enough opportunity to prove your superiority and any short series won’t prove anything. 

In coming up a playoff scenario that works there a lot of factors to take into consideration.  Some of these would be:
1) Having more teams keeps the interest of more fans/teams because of the greater chance for the post season
2) More playoff games means more revenue
3) More teams in the playoffs means a longer season and you don't want it going too long
4) Not turning the regular season into games that don't mean anything as "everyone" makes the playoffs (See hockey and basketball).
5) Reward a team that wins the division with more than just home field.

Cut to the chase already...what is your playoff idea! 

It is really simple...

Keep everything as is, but add another wild card team.  Yeah, I know that contradicts my opposition to the wild card to begin with but here is why.  You don't add the 2nd wild card to extend the series' in baseball, you add the extra wild card so that they could play the other wild card in a one game "series."  The winner of that one game moves on to the 3-5 series (I would also make each series 4 out of 7). 

So why is this a good idea?

1) Having the extra team makes the playoffs keeps more fans/teams interested
2) More playoff games means more revenue
3) You get a ton of excitement in a one game is great
4) Most important: You would never have a situation of indifference of whether you win the wild card or win the division; it makes a huge difference as you reward the 3 division winners by not having to play/travel/risk that one game playoff.  I think this is a critical component that is missing now.

Some other items for discussion:  
1) Shorten the season back to 154 games or some number that works based on the amount of teams.  I don't like playing playoff games in the cold as most of the year is not played that way.  
2) Keep very little rest between the end of the season and the wild card single game; keep things moving.  Division winners should start their post-season 2 or at most 3 days after the end of the season.
3) Stop with so much rest between post-season games.  It is absurd that in a 5 game series a team can throw their top 2 guys for 4 (80%) of the games and in a 7 game start 5 of them.  While I would have nothing but 7 game series' with one day of rest only, if the 5 game series stayed, there would be no rest.

So there you have it…they take a long time to come around, but at least they eventually do.  In recent years people had talked about 3 game series’ but I am MUCH more in favor of the one game playoff game…

Hope everyone is doing well.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Genius Maker 10-29-11

Let’s have a little fun with CC opt out.  He has a 4 year deal worth $92 million ($23/year) that he can stay and accept.  I believe the question is what does as an excellent 31 year old pitcher who is very overweight, has logged 2364 innings and struggled the 2nd half of last year and in the postseason -Career 4.81 ERA) worth if he went on the open market? 

Let’s compare some pitchers.  Beckett, who is 31 has logged only 1721 inning, 643 less (about 3 years).  He is getting $15.75 mil a year for the next 3 years.

Cliff Lee got 5 years at the age of 31 and had only 1409 innings before signing a 5 year 120 mil deal. ($24/year).  He also received a $27.5 mil option if he pitches 200 in 2015 or 400 in 2014/15 combined.  There is a $12.5 buy out also. 

The Lee is the most recent deal and gives perspective, but what CC has is not far off and while CC is a horse and hasn’t had the down turns Lee (or even Beckett) has had, CC hasn’t had the dominance either.  Postseason CC has an ERA about 2 runs higher also…and while he is not a choker, his stuff is not as dominant.  He throws harder than Lee obviously, but Lee has better control and movement.

The Yankee will be a much worse team without CC.  This is without question, but the Yanks need to be careful with all the other bad contracts they have.  ARod’s is looking like it may be bad for 5 years right now, Tex’s isn’t looking too good either.  Jeter’s contract is also a bad value one as well.  Adding another one that ends up bad will tie the Yankees hands.  CC has thrown a ton of innings and with his weight (which will be harder to control) could start getting knee issues let alone mileage issues on the arm.  In terms of mileage some guys can throw a lot and perhaps CC won’t have any problems?  Hard to predict the exact issues but the Yanks have to think about who would give CC a lot of money?

CC loves NY and the Yankees and when he originally put in the opt out it was setup only to give CC an out if he didn’t like NY.  I think he should stay for the money which is in line with what he gets and the Yanks could “help him” with 2 one year options based on whether he pitches 200 innings the previous year.  The salary should be the same.  This way if CC is still effective he gets a 5th and possibly 6th year.  The dollar amounts should be remain in my opinion, but I hope the Yankees don’t bid against themselves again as there is risk here.

I know people say CC needs to take advantage of the situation, but it would be nice if people also had some loyalty in the process.  Jeter took some hits in my eyes the way he handled his negotiations and tried to make the Yankee look like the bad guys.  Jeter is an icon, but he surely is not worth what he is getting on the field (perhaps off the field maybe – but my feeling is that a winning team gets the fans to spend more)

I usually don’t ask for people to respond, but feel free to post a comment or email me.

Next up is Swisher...This is interesting because Beltran is available.   I think Beltran would play better than Swisher and has less holes in his swing to perform against the better pitching (in the postseason), but re signing Swish is not a bad move as he could be traded as he has some value at the price range (even if we chipped in a little money.  I don;t think it is bad to let him go either, but you need to have Beltran signed.  We really don't have any minor leaguers who we have seen who could take over.  Dickerson is mediocre and is more of a reserve. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Off Season #1

I am not sure why I feel I need to write this, but ARod is taking more abuse about this loss than I feel is justified. I am not an ARod apologist as I think he stunk this post season and last. But, the choke comments and all that BS are coming about and the comments like ARod just can't deliver when you really need him to are just off base. I made the comments about the people who say Jeter comes through when you really need him, yet Jeter was bad this postseason also and surely didn't come through when we really needed him. My point is that people have a bias about players they like and dislike and it clearly impacts their judgment. ARod has a postseason OPS of .884! This includes the terrible series this year and the poor ones last year. The year before he carried the entire team on his back to win the World Series, knocking in around 16 runs and walking around 12 times with 6 homers! He also did great against Minnesota and Boston until Boston won the 4 in a row. Overall, he has been good in the postseason...much better than most people who have any track record in the postseason. Jeter has been good also with an .839 OPS in the postseason.

The point is that ARod did stink, but a lot of other players did a poor job as well (Tex, Swisher and even Jeter). CC also didn't get it done for us and that might have been the biggest blow.

ARod has been good in the postseason for us, the real issue is this contract for the next 6 years will be an albatross; just as predicted when he signed it.  As I mentioned before, I would look into getting his contract voided or have a candid conversation with ARod so he can take the graceful way out of this because I think the steroids he did are making his body break down.  Man, I wish he could have that pitch he had with the bases loaded that he fouled straight to the fence behine him back as the inch he was too low would have changed the series and everyone's perception...until next year.


Just got back from the game and I am very disappointed in the offense. I felt that we had some very hittable pitches this series that we just didn’t get after. It is one thing when Verlander is throwing 101 and then dropping a good curve in there, but many 3-2 pitches that were very hittable.

Falling behind 2-0 set us back, but I would have bet a lot we would have scored more than 2 runs.

We ran into some tough breaks with Tex and Jeter hitting balls to the fence, but we didn’t get any big hits with the bases loaded and one out.

We left 11 men on base. We had 9 hits and 3 walks and scored only one run (the 10th hit was the HR).

Overall, I thought Girardi handled the pitching pretty well, but I would have let Hughes pitch a little more and was surprised he went to CC in the spot he did as it seemed like we should either let Hughes pitch or let Logan go another batter or so or bring in Wade against the righties. CC should have been used only if needed, not as just another guy. Not a terrible idea but CC didn’t look good again and he allowed the game winning run and didn’t do the job.

Using Soriano was good, but going to Rivera in the 8th would have probably been the smart move as Rivera would pitch the 8th and 9th and if we took the lead in the 8th he would close it out for the win. When Robertson came in, he definitely should have pitched the 9th also, but Girardi went to Rivera (which was very dumb). What if the Yanks tied it, you would want another inning out of Robertson…poor job there.

The big issue I had with Girardi was his lack of using Montero. In the 4th inning Martin was up with the bases loaded and 1 out and we are down by 2. I could see not pinch hitting there because it was so early, but in the 8th inning with 1 out, you MUST pinch hit Montero for Martin; this is a no brainer. As it turned out Martin got out and then Gardner got on. I will say the same thing I said previously, you have to use your best pinch hitter when you are in a tight game; you must shoot that bullet. Girardi failed to do it on all 3 losses.

I know Gardner didn’t go in Jeter’s previous AB, but he went on the first pitch with Benoit on the mound and Jeter needed to let him steal in that spot. Jeter did get that double but he struggled in the series with a .572 OPS.

ARod was terrible and while Tex had a good game today, he and Swisher were poor also. Martin had some walks, but only hit .176.

Jorge, Gardner, Granderson and Cano did well, but it was tough to overcome the very poor series from so many.

We outscored Detroit in the series 28-17!

The Genius Maker pitched to 4 batters and got all 4 out throwing 8 pitches that were all strikes!

I will make some updates and some more thoughts.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Don’t fall off your chairs, but Girardi managed the game extremely well! He did a great job having an incredibly short leash on Burnett, having Wade up in the first inning and then later with just a hint of trouble Hughes and then possibly even one batter earlier than I would have (although I also said I was fine with it) he took AJ out! Very good job Girardi.

Not as much to write about from a strategy standpoint in a game like this, but Joe also had Jeter bunt at the right time, although Jeter bunted terribly. Jeter did have the huge double that Austin Jackson just missed. Jackson has just missed about 4 balls and then we had Granderson make one good leap after a bad jump that was critical in the 1st inning…and then made a simply phenomenal catch after an even worse jump. I don’t know if he didn’t see the ball off the bat, but it was pulled and he reacted like it was almost at him. Regardless he closed and made as good a dive as you can make.

ARod was very solid in the field as well and Tex made a great scoop on a terrible throw by Jeter on the DP.

I didn’t like the home plate ump and felt we got the short end of calls, but we kept tacking on runs.

Great job by AJ, he really came through when we needed him! He had a good fastball and a good curve, but his change was worthless. Overall, a huge game giving us a chance to take the series at home. Girardi needs to keep a short leash on Nova as well as Robertson and Rivera could probably go at least the final 3 and Soriano who was very effective tonight could pitch at least an inning. All we need is 5 innings out of everyone else. Seriously, that should be the mindset.

A couple of other notes.

Detroit seemed like they left some plays in the field tonight.

Since when did Phil Coke throw 98 mph?

The TBS broadcast is simply awful…and their strike zone box is not even close to being correct. They should stick to drama. The announcers stink too.

Montero has never made an out in the postseason. Makes you think he might have helped one of the two losses 

Great job again AJ!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


While there were offensive players who did little, this game was lost by CC, Soriano and Girardi.

CC simply did not have good command of his pitches and he struggled all night. This was a night of our best against theirs and one would expect a close game and possibly one that would decide the series; Verlander was better.

Soriano did a good job in the 6th inning, but made the fatal mistake of throwing a first pitch fastball to a notorious first ball fastball hitter. Young poked it over the RF wall for the game winning HR.

Girardi had a lot of decisions and once again most were not correct. It might even be that none were correct if you don’t count bringing in Soriano (which worked as a good move) considering he was late at bringing Soriano in as CC probably should not have started the 6th, but Girardi sent him out anyway. After allowing a bunt single Girardi could have taken hi out, but he left CC out there to allow a double to Peralta to make it a 4-2 game. CC was left in to face Avila (which was probably why the Girardi made the wrong decision) and Avila sacrificed the runner over. After the damage, was done Girardi made the move to the well rested bullpen. Soriano did get out of the inning.

In the top of the 7th, Girardi was smart enough to realize what an idiotic move he made going to Chavez was and Gardner came through with an amazing 2 out 2 strike 2 run double! The inning was started with 2 outs on another good AB by Posada who worked a walk (he has been playing great). Jeter K’d with Gardner on 2nd to end the inning.

Adding on to the 3rd paragraph, it was a decision to let Soriano pitch after getting 2/3 of an inning out of him already. Honestly, I didn’t have any issue with it and I think the main issue was the pitch selection in giving Young the fastball, but Girardi could have gone right to Robertson there and it could not have been a bad move either.

I had a huge inning with how the Yankees handled the top of the 3rd inning when Gardner led off with a bunt single. You must steal, run and hit, hit and run or bunt, but under no circumstance should Jeter be swinging and Gardner not be moving. Of course, Girardi does not force anything and Jeter hits into a DP. I think this was a huge moment in the game. Verlander seemed to be struggling more from the stretch and we had an opportunity to either tack on runs or wear him down some more and neither was accomplished.

Also, one again Girardi does not go to Montero in the 9th with Martin up. I know Montero is there for the lefties but they are not about to allow the situation to happen where he will be used (maybe at all) against a lefty. Martin is not a real good hitter and you must pinch hit for him in the 9th. Ironically, Girardi allowed Jones to hit in the “Montero spot” last night and he hit the ball fairly well to RF and Martin did the same thing…either way, it was yet another move that didn’t work out. Why is Montero up if he won’t be used in those situations…when would you use him?

I will say that Girardi pinch ran for Posada in the 9th correctly and did get Nunez running, but I would think my 7 year old son would realize Posada is slow and should be run for.

The Yanks missed a lot of hittable pitches today; some were because they were 100 MPH, but they also just missed a few, especially on Valverde. Granderson had a good cut on a few. Swisher missed some very hittable pitches as did Tex who seems like he only wants to go to LF. He should be looking to drive and pull pitches when he is ahead in the count. Right now he is trying to do something he has not worked on and the results are horrific.

The ump expanded his strike zone late and Cano got called out on a fastball at the bottom of the letters. Overall the ump did not favor them though as Jeter really struck out twice to end the game. I was hoping I could make the joke that he always comes through when you REALLY need him.

If anyone cares here are our OPS numbers right now
Posada 1.417
Granderson 1.156 (2 RBI)
Cano 1.049 (6 RBI)
Gardner .844 (4 RBI)
Swisher .705 (he had a lot of pitches to hit tonight)
Martin .556
Jeter .533
Tex .348
ARod .231
Chavez 0-1
Montero (getting splinters)

Should make a line below Gardner and then again under Swisher.

At the end of the day I think 4 runs should have been enough to win this game…and while the outcome stunk (watching Valverde and his arrogant $%# cheering ticked me off) it was a great playoff game.

Time for a Burnett gem…If Girardi doesn’t have a quick hook he should be fired before the end of the day. If AJ is allowed to allow more than 3 runs he should be terminated. I would have Hughes ready to warm up in the first inning.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Our offense did not get the job done, but our skipper messed up and clearly limited our chances of winning this game. Before I go through the game and some of the issues I had with Girardi, it should be noted that Scherzer was a little lucky in his wildness (“effectively wild’). He missed his target an awful lot, but instead of being low and outside he hit the inside corner, instead of a fastball inside he painted the top of the strike zone with his fastball and on and on. The ones that are probably the easiest to remember are the two changeup strike outs he got on Swisher and Granderson, but this happened on at least 20 pitches. That was just unfortunate for us. That being said we didn’t swing the bats well at hittable pitches.

Garcia did OK, but the HR by Cabrera was just a great hitter doing enough to hit out at the small section of the field…it happens…but Girardi let Garcia stay in a little too long…more on this as I discuss Girardi doing a terrible job in the postseason again.

First to the 2 glaring mistakes Girardi made:

Pinch hitting for Gardner was just flat out stupid. There was no rhyme or reason to do it in that spot. The Yankees are down 4-0 with 1st and 2nd and one out. If the Yankees had the bases loaded and you wanted to take a chance on hitting a HR to tie the game, I could see that maybe you roll the dice, but Chavez is NOT a big HR guy for one, that should be reserved for Montero, but this was not the spot as you need base runners and to chip away at the lead. Gardner got the huge 2 out hit in game 1. This move was so bad because we didn’t gain anything with Chavez, Chavez could have been used later for either Martin or Jones who had to play LF (thankfully no balls got hit his way) and then came up in a crucial spot late in the game. It was really inexplicable to me as it didn’t help short term and hurt us all long terms a lot because this spot was going to come up again if we were going to win. The fact it didn’t work is not justification of anything except Joe making a terrible move and showing him he pushed the wrong button.

The 2nd glaring mistake was Girardi giving up on the game in the top of the 9th inning. He started Ayala which was questionable as Soriano and Robertson are almost too fresh, but once the guy is in scoring position (after Ayala hit the batter and then they sacrificed him over, you have to try and stop another run from scoring and keep the game at a 3 run deficit (it was 4-1 after Granderson homered). Girardi gave up on the game and Ayala allowed a single to put the game even farther out of reach.

Other Girardi issues…After Jeter made another lousy throw that tex couldn’t handle, but probably should have (this was one of those plays where he makes the dramatic scoop play and I just want the play made, it was pretty much a short hop that should be made most of the time), Garcia allowed a single to Ordonez (who was all over Garcia) and it was 1st and 3rd with nobody out. With the score 2-0, Garcia got Young to strike out. Now up came Cabrera, walking him is a possibility, but honestly as good as he his, that is a tough one because he is a DP candidate. The matchup is bad though and going to someone in the pen like Wade was a possibility as well. Joe had options and just decided to pitch to Cabrera (who had homered off of him). He got a single and made the score 3-0. I think it was now time to make move with Garcia as they had seen him enough times and it was time to use the huge bullpen we have in this series. Joe decided to stick with Garcia and once again pushed the wrong button, as he singled to make it 4-0. With the damage done and the lefty Avila coming up Girardi went to Logan, who got the job done with no further damage.

In the 9th, After a HR by Swisher and an amazing triple by Posada and a walk to Martin, up steps Andrew Jones. Here is where I could have seen pinch hitting for Gardner in trying to tie the game, but letting Gardner hit wouldn’t have been a terrible move either (the options are not great). However, because the move was made already you had Jones up and Chavez out of the game…I would have gone to Montero in this spot. Jones has been awful all year against righties and while he did end up hitting a nice drive to RF, it was on the type of pitch that Montero could have homered to right. If you are looking to hit a HR, how is Montero not stepping to the plate in that spot? Fastballs are what he hits best and Valverde was grooving them. Girardi once again pushes the wrong button and Jones gets out.

No more mistakes at this point by Girardi, but if it wasn’t Jeter stepping to the plate and it was someone else with Jeter’s numbers stepping to the plate, Montero could have pinch hit in this spot as well. In fact, Jeter’s swings were so feeble (not sure why as he hasn’t been swinging so badly) that we all said, I just hope when he makes an out he doesn’t hit into a DP (this is true). So the guy who “always comes through when you REALLY need him” strikes out. BTW, I hate when people say comments like that because they are simply not true…for anyone – Jeter has been great, but he isn’t better in clutch spots. Anyway, after a Granderson walk (and a lucky dropped popup) we had our best guy at the plate. Shockingly, Valverde gave him a lot of good pitches to hit, but Robbie couldn’t center them and then grounded out on a splitter to end the game.

It was shame that every big AB it seemed the rains were pouring down and outside of if the pitcher slips when he throws, it is a big advantage to the pitcher.

Last point was to reiterate I would have pinch hit Montero…the guy has a .996 OPS and all 4 of his homers have been against righties; I can’t believe that weapon was not attempted to be used. Jones OPS against righties was .709 this year and Montero’s .878. FWIW, Chavez’ OPS against righties is only .687…yes, Chavez is worse than Gardner (.738) yet Joe made the inexplicable move.

This team is so talented that we can overcome Girardi, but I would be on the phone talking to the X Boston manager to be at least a bench coach and maybe a manager…I like Francona…and Girardi rubs me the wrong way. Just to be clear, Girardi is not a horrible manager, but mediocrity is not what we want as a Yankee skipper.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I feel great this morning; first playoff win of the year and only 10 more until we reach our goal! The rain and cooler weather really makes it a shame that the most important games of the year are played in some of the worst weather. The year should be over before November in my opinion…but on to all the good…

First, while I would have rather the game be played after Verlander through 27 pitches in the first inning and CC looking sharp, (the HR was a cheapie) we caught a break that the lineup of Detroit had at least 2 platoon guys in the lineup who now had to face a righty. With only one lefty in the pen I would have made immediate changes to the lineup if I were Leyland and told the folks I was watching with this. Leyland should have listened as he ended up pinch hitting of Inge anyway after he got out after his first AB. This also underscores something I have said that is valid, especially in a 5 game series where you have more pitching than you need. If you had a pitcher who was better against one side but you really didn’t want him in the rotation (take Hughes as an example who is much better against righties); you start him and have the other team set their lineup with their platoon guy (of course you must be playing a team that has at least 2 guys they platoon with) and then you let him pitch until he allows 1 or maybe 2 guys on and that is it, you yank him and then put in the (in this case) lefty starter you wanted to put in. The idea is only that the other team has wasted moves or they have bad matchups with little or no hard to you. If I were managing that is what I would do at the right times.

Fister was impressive with an arsenal of good pitches, but we did an excellent job of hitting and we took advantage of less control than Fister usually shows. Cano’s almost HR gave us the 2-1 lead. Classic Cano driving a pitch the other way and in a warmer environment would have been gone. As it were, if the fan would have put his hands on to of the fence he would have caught a HR.

We fast forward to the 6th where Nova was still “pitching a shutout” even though he had a lot of balls where his release point was WAY off. Tex goes the other way for a double and Posada works a very tough walk. With one out, the Yanks had 1st and 2nd but after Martin weakly grounded out to SS it looked like we might squander another opportunity as we did with 2nd and 3rd and nobody out. In the 2nd and 3rd situation, Jeter had a horrible AB followed by Granderson who had 2 very hittable pitches, but he swung through them and then Cano grounded out. Back to now 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs. Gardner took 2 very good pitches and was in trouble at 0-2. But then took advantage of a curve ball that hung up and hit a hard grounder up the middle (2nd base side) for a huge 2 out 2 run hit! Now at 4-1 we looked to be in good shape. Gardner was on 1st and it was a clear time to steal and this time Jeter did something that I usually have to criticize him for and that is he took not only one pitch but two pitches to give Gardner time to steal…he did not though. This was an unselfish move by Jeter that did put him in an 0-2 hole. Gardner should have had a must steal on the next pitch but he didn’t and Jeter took ball 1. The next pitch Gardner did go and for some inexplicable reason Detroit had the 2nd baseman cover (they almost always have the SS cover on Jeter) and Jeter hit a very weak grounder through the vacated 2nd base hole – Gardner went on to 3rd. Granderson also fell behind 0-2, but Fister could not put him away and with Jeter stealing 2nd (this was a good move), as it helped Granderson work a walk (it appeared they pitched a little more carefully to him). Now up came Cano; I assumed a lefty would be brought in, but instead Detroit went to their unhittable stud Al Alburquerque to close the door on any more runs. First, I must say that in my previous blog I called him Detroit’s closer, and while his numbers would make one think that, it was not correct, he is just the best guy in their pen. Valverde is their closer and they also have Benoit. Anyway, if you didn’t read my long pre playoff post (which I did fix), Al has incredible numbers. To repeat what I wrote, “batters only hit .142 and had only ONE extra base hit all year off of him (a double). His slug against is (what might be a major league record) .149! That is not a misprint; .149 slug against is unheard of. He does walk guys though, walking 29 batters in 43 innings. Obviously, he has electric stuff and did not allow a single earned run after the all star break.” Welcome to the Bronx in playoff time Mr. Querque! Robbie Cano took a strike and then delivered the death blow to Detroit in game 1 with a towering Grand Slam! So much for that fantastic stretch by Al.

The rest of the game went in to cruise control until the 9th. I had a disagreement with the folks I was watching with that I would have taken Nova out for the 9th because I wanted him well rested for game 5 if needed. I know he had only thrown 80 pitches so clearly he could finish out with less than 100, but he was having some trouble with his release point and while his stuff was pretty good, honestly, Detroit didn’t swing the bats very well as they swung at a lot of balls. Take him out and let’s see if Cory Wade could be used in the postseason because they had 3 righties coming up. That is what I would have done, but I do understand the other side on this so I do not think it was a dumb move to start him in the 9th, but I would have done it differently. After getting Ordonez to ground out, maybe my concerns were wrong in this case. Then he took one off his butt and this was a good time to take him out and use the “injury” to bring in Wade. I like to give my young guys some experience and see how they handle things when less important; it gives you info for the future. Anyway, Girardi stuck with Nova and also got Mariano up to throw with Ayala. After walking Cabrera, Girardi still stuck with Nova and then after a walk to Martinez Ayala was brought in. Ayala got on out before allowing 2 singles and Girardi said let’s end this with the Genius Maker…Rivera did not disappoint as he threw 3 straight strikes for a K and game 1 on our quest to 11 is under our belt!

A couple of other notes, Posada swung the bat well but again showed why when you combine the slowest speed in the league with the worst instincts possible (a phrase I used to the folks I was watching with BEFORE his base running mistake) you get the worst base runner in the game. Posada did score on Gardner’s single, but I would have been tempted to pinch run for him (although in a 2-1 game the correct decision was made) but only tempted.

ARod was 0-5 but hit the ball on the nose a few times; the one he hit to deep center would have been gone with the ARod of old, but he did not look lost even though the results were not good. ARod will be key to us with teams being careful to pitch to Robbie; so I hope he gets it going.

The big question is whether the Yanks start CC tonight. My feeling is that he could without an issue, but I don’t think it means that much because we will still need someone to pitch game 4 and you might as well give him another days rest. The only reason I consider it is if the weather appears to look bad and if another game could get rained out it gives you CC for that extra game. I think I would speak with him and say “when would we expect you to be at your best” and start him then.

Let’s get number 2 tonight!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Genius Maker #95 Pre game 1 UPDATE

The Yanks chose to leave Colon off the roster. Also, I should note and this was shabby of me but I didn't discuss Noesi as an option. Because he had just pitched I didn't expect him to be on it. That being said, while I probably agree, I do want to point out that I think Noesi has a bright future. he has similar stuff to what I saw in Nova last year and again when I was annoyed the Yanks sent down Nova the first time. Noesi isn't as sharp on his breaking stuff, but he will make a jump for us from what he was this year to next year.

I kind of feel bad for Colon who was always smiling and part of the team in a positive way. No complaints, attitude or anything...he also pitched well overall and was a great signing.

The Genius Maker #94 Pre game 1

Ahh, the beautiful parts of a loss. Girardi did a good job bringing in Proctor and guaranteeing we would lose the game! I am sure you are like me where there was such a sense of “hidden” enthusiasm for the Red Sox having one of the biggest collapses in history and failing to make the playoffs. Entering the 8th inning of each of the games TB was down 7-0 and Boston was up 3-2 so it appeared that a playoff game would not be needed and the Red Sox would advance to the playoffs. Then TB put up 6 runs in the 8th inning. This event was the only event that I was unhappy with and that was because Logan and Ayala didn’t get the job done. Logan in particular as he is our only somewhat reliable lefty. Ayala has been pretty good as well as has Wade, but Wade faded a little down the stretch and my original thought was might have pitched himself off the postseason roster. Logan is definitely on it more on this later.

Anyway, TB down to their final strike and Baltimore down to their final strike with 2 outs and nobody on…set up a dramatic HR from TB and back to back doubles followed by a single sending Boston to an excruciatingly devastating loss (not sure I have ever used those two words back to back). Proctor sealed the deal on our side and TB enters the playoffs.

Some people said the Yanks should have used Rivera and gave some BS about that, but anyone who said that is a moron. The plan was to give Rivera, Robertson and Soriano work Tuesday and then rest for two day before tonight…NOTHING should change that. The classy Francona even said as much when he said the Yanks earned the right to play all their backups if they want; we have to do our job.

Let’s talk about Detroit. I haven’t seen that much of them, but we know they have Verlander and Cabrera. CC has a neutral matchup against them as they have righties but they are not lefty killers – some hit righties slightly better and some are a little better against lefties…pretty even overall. CC has pitched twice against them this year and had an ERA of 4.15; we will need better than that; the changeup better be working. They don’t have a lot of lefties that aren’t switch hitters so we will see a ton of righties; CC has been great against lefties this year (.554 OPS against compared to .709 for righties). Avila is the main lefty – catcher – who a lefty to face makes sense as his splits are pronounced with a .939 against righties and a still respectable .779 against lefties. The others are

Detroit is a solid team, but they are not as powerful as the Yankees or Texas in the lineup, they do have Verlander though and he is a stud. Just like CC he pitched twice against us and had an ERA of 4.5; I would be happy if he pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 run again.

They will then throw Fister who has pitched great since going to Detroit (8-1) with a microscopic 1.79 ERA. In a short series like this (and I hate the 3 out of 5 with so many days off; you really only need a 2 man rotation and it doesn’t tell you who the best team is) those 2 are tough to beat. Fister is a control pitcher and we need to hit his mistakes. He walked only 5 batters in 70 innings with Detroit this year…very Mariano like.

Their should be closer, Al Albuquerque is extremely tough to hit; batters only hit .142 and had only ONE extra base hit all year off of him (a double). His slug against is (what might be a major league record) .149! That is not a misprint; .149 slug against is unheard of. He does walk guys though, walking 29 batters in 43 innings. Obviously, he has electric stuff and did not allow a single earned run after the all star break. Having a reliable relief group is always critical in the postseason and he has been great. It is surprising he is not their closer. Against us he has been typical, pitching 2 innings, not allowing a hit and walking one and striking out 2. 2 starters and a good pen are tough in a short series.

As I have said many times, once you get to the playoffs it is a crap shoot as anything can happen. One hot pitcher or cold pitcher can win or lose a series…one hot batter or cold batter could sway things as well. The Yankees offense should be our big advantage and they need to get the job done against these pitchers. Our defense is also an advantage over other teams, but that helps our pitching. Again, the offense needs to do their job. As much as Soriano has been up and down, I like that we can shut down the game in the 7th, 8th and 9th.

I might post more about our roster later, but many people said that Colon has pitched his last game in pinstripes and while he has not pitched well of late, I would consider him out of the pen. I would also definitely keep Golson or Dickerson on the roster (probably not both). Against Detroit, I also would not keep Romine on the roster as Montero could be the backup and I would also have Posada on the lineup (which surprises me, but he did have a .269/.348/.466 against righties for a decent .814 OPS).

The Yankees will release their roster later today, but I would go with all the guarantees of Rivera
Chavez (19)
I would have Posada and one of Golson/Dickerson as well which puts us at 21.

We then have Hughes, Colon and Burnett, Wade and Ayala (and Valdez, but against Detroit I would not roster him…and this is form someone that finds it absurd that we have only one lefty in the pen) One of these 5 will be left off. For the year Ayala and Wade deserve to be on, but Wade has struggled of late with HR’s. For the year he has been very good against righties with an OPS against of .541 (and I like specialty guys in the postseason). Ayala has been more consistent, but also gets hit a higher clip and has been pretty even against each. They both had ERA’s below 2.20 so they have been good, but we saw them not get the job done against TB in the last game. Ayala in only 2 innings did allow 2 runs against Detroit and had a 2.79 ERA after the All Star break. When looking at the numbers, Wade was not as bad as I felt. The two homers he allowed were big, but those were his only 2 runs allowed in the month of September, but 2 HR’s in 11 innings is not that good. Overall, I would keep Wade over Ayala (this surprises me as if you would have asked me before reviewing the stats my answer would have been different) and I would use Wade against righties as a specialist or depending on the situation extend a little.

Hughes – for some reason I feel like he would be OK out of the pen. His walks have been killing me and I am not in love with his stuff, but I could see him coming in and helping. For the year he is .841/.729 (so lefties have crushed him).

Burnett – Last year I said he should not be on the postseason roster and Girardi mishandled him and allowed him to lose a game (Girardi was awful last year and can’t be trusted to be smart with someone). AJ, looked better with his adjustment in his mechanics and as I said last year and earlier this year I would have liked to see him out of the pen more as his stuff (2 pitches) is more conducive for that. I could see him coming in and doing well. Of course, he could come in and be wild as heck as well. He is a little better against lefties .777/.831. It is a bad time to experiment, but he is suited to come in with nobody on or come in with a runner on 2nd where a walk won’t kill you. He also could matchup with the switch hitters who hit better against lefties.

Colon – people have been quick to throw him out, but I am not in agreement. The main concern I have is that his velocity is down. This is key for him. If he is throwing 92 you have too be careful (much like Hughes even though they are very different). For the year he was very good against righties as well with a .621 OPS but lefties got him at .880.

So what you have is a steady but unspectacular Ayala, you have a righty specialist in Wade, you have 2 longer relief guys in Hughes and Colon who are good against righties and then Burnett who is the longer relief guy slightly better against lefties. One could argue that Wade is not needed if Colon or Hughes are kept even though Wade has been better. One could easily argue that Burnett doesn’t deserve any postseason…period.

I honestly don’t believe a clear wrong or right decision can be made here. You could go with any variety of guys (4 out of 5 and it is not wrong or right. My 1st take is Wade should get on it because he is the best at one thing and I want that righty specialist. Not to cop out but the rest is superfluous as it is all about who do you think will pitch better. For some odd reason I feel Burnett would do well as a reliever. I think I would leave Ayala off the roster, but I could understand other views. I also think we probably don’t need more than 10 pitchers, but I would rather be able to matchup pitchers than the possible choice of needing Romine in case we pinch hit for Martin. The issue is that we don’t have a pinch hitter most likely that would make sense, unless a lefty was brought in and Montero was on the bench. At that point I would let him catch.

I could see carrying Romine instead of an 11th pitcher as well because of all the days off. The one thing that is critical from Girardi is that if a pitcher is off, you don’t stick with them as we have plenty of pitchers and plenty of days off. This short series is something I hate, but the truth is that Soriano, Robertson and Rivera could pitch EVERY game in the 7-9 innings so all we need is 5 innings and a matchup game. This underscores the silliness of a 5 game series with 2 off days. I think the postseason should be played every day, just like the regular season.

CC against Verlander should be fun to watch.

Last funny item I read…

The other day Martin got thrown out of the game…he said to the ump, “did you stretch before the game?”…the ump looked funny and asked, what?... and Martin asked the same question, “did you stretch before the game?” The ump gave a quizzical look and Martin said, “You seem a little tight today” that ended Martin’s day and was tossed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Yankees Clinch the playoffs and then the Division

2 Goals are complete! Only the best record in the AL is still out there, but we are looking good for that. Some people have talked about losing to TB so that Boston does not make it. My feeling is that you keep the pedal down while you can and until you have clinched home field throughout, but I do admit that tonight I wouldn’t waste my best relievers.

I have had a lot of issues with Girardi and honestly I think he should have left Robertson to pitch the 9th after throwing only 1 pitch in the 8th, but he pushed all the right buttons in the 8th inning countering every move made by Maddon and our guys all came through. Obviously, Posada getting the big hit was really cool for him. After taking a changeup on the first pitch he got a tailing fastball that came back over the plate and ripped it into RC for the game winning runs!

CC pitched well and was throwing hard, but I did question letting him throw 127 pitches. His change was a little better than it has been and that helped. I would still like to see the change at about 86-87 instead of 88 though.

In the first game, also a 4-2 win, (which I was at with my son for his first Yankee game – it was a blast) the Yankees came back with 3 in the 8th. The Yanks used 8 pitchers which I would imagine is the most for the year? Nunez hit the ball very hard all day and had a big HR to tie the game and then Cano came through with a big double that he lined over the head of Upton (who seems like a lazy player to me).
Other notes: Montero has hit all 3 of his HR’s against righties, but he is really struggling badly against them as the off speed stuff is really confusing him. The change in particular seems like a pitch he is not picking up. Pinch hitting against the righty with Posada was the correct move by Joe, but if Montero had good AB’s previously, I would have let him hit. These next games will really decide on who makes the post season roster. The 2nd lefty in the pen may be a big choice and it would be great if Laffey or Valdez was good enough, but I am not so sure. I also would like a roster spot for some speed, whether that is Golson or Dickerson who might actually help against a tough lefty one must make the lineup. I will review the lineup I would bring a little later…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Best Ever Makes it Official - Congratulations The Genius Maker

I have more to say, but just want to say that while Mariano talks about how blessed he is, we as fans have been blessed to watch the greatest closer in the history of the game. It has been a privilege to watch him over these years and we should not take it for granted; we have been able to watch history. I was honored to be able to be at the stadium yesterday to watch Rivera break the record. The final pitch he threw was not the cutter boring in on a lefty, but a perfectly painted cutter that started outside and caught the outside lower corner for a correctly called strike. Rivera also was able to break a bat in his record breaking inning!

The Genius Maker appears to have a few more years left in him and as I have said before, when he leaves, the closer we have will probably not be a liked individual as he will have the largest shoes imaginable to fill!

In most cases when you talk about the best ever, there are tons of questions and debate points…With Mariano Rivera, there is no question or debate.

Congratulations Mariano Rivera; you are without question the best ever!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Genius Maker ties the Major League Record for Saves at 601!

Congratulations for tying a Major League Record Mariano Rivera! The Genius Maker has now tied the Major League record for saves and is clearly the best closer in the history of the game and perhaps the greatest post season performer in the history of the game (I recognize the two may not be linked by a milestone) and it seems to be very ho hum. Why? When Jeter was going for 3000 hits people were talking about a month in advance. The days leading up to it were a countdown on every local and ESPN channels. Yet Rivera tied the record and it was really less exciting than a comeback victory save. Interestingly, the tying save was a win where the Yankees came back from a 6-1 deficit and it was kind of ho hum. Maybe it was the crickets of the Toronto fans, but for some reason 300 hits, which a lot of guys have done, seems to be much more popular. Maybe it is because the save rule only became aware around in early 1960 and became an official stat in 1969 so maybe because it hasn’t been around so long people don’t think of a plateau of 600 saves as historic? OK, I get it. Maybe it is because some saves are fairly bogus; I mean coming in and pitching one inning with a 3 run lead doesn’t take a great pitcher to get the job done. In fact, having an ERA of 18.00 in those situations will get you a save. But, one could argue that many hits are bloop hits and broken bat hits and may occur in blow outs; at least a save is always considered a fairly close game at the time of getting it.

I bring all of this up now, because I won’t have anything negative to say when Rivera is the All Time Leader and hold the record by himself. I say it only as a surprise that it has not received much fan fare.

(Editors note…I just read ESPN and they actually said Ho Hum save – just for the record I came up with this without reading their comment…not that it matters)

To the game…In reverse Clint Eastwood format…

The Ugly

Down 4-1, I was pretty annoyed because of the way it happened. Mostly that after it appeared Robbie Thompson was getting his act together, he got Andrew Jones thrown out the other day in a terrible spot that probably cost us the game, and Robbie Cano made his 2nd boneheaded base running play in a few games. I believe the coaches are at fault a little as well as you must constantly remind the players of the situation. In yesterday’s situation, it was 2nd and 3rd and 1 out when Swisher hit a ball deep to RC that was tracked down; at least we would get a sac fly and the score would be 4-2 with a runner on 2nd or 3rd and 2 outs. But then inexplicably Cano ran as if there were two outs (not full speed but knowing he would score on this hit no matter what and then he passed Tex at 3rd which ended the inning immediately at that point. Now two other items I saw that got me annoyed. I didn’t re play this to see exactly, but it appeared to me that Tex went off the bag and wasn’t just waiting for the ball to be caught or not caught and then waltzed home either way; he seemed to go back and tag after the ball was caught and then this is when Cano passed him. If so, all Tex would have had to do was tag as he should and he would have scored even if Robbie was doubled off of 2nd. But the other thing I clearly saw was Robbie Thompson not paying any attention to Robbie Cano (The Clueless Robbie’s – maybe the sequel to The Ballad of Rickie Bobby…ok I will stick to the game. His attention was 100% on Tex and didn’t even realize Cano was blundering and it was right in front of him. If he could be this clueless with a play right in front of him, it is very probable that he was not reminding Cano how many outs there were before the pitch. This is unacceptable! While Cano deserves a lot of blame 9especially two times in a week; the coach deserves a lot of blame. As you know I thought Robbie Thompson was horrible and this year he has been better, but I don’t think he understand how bad it is to get thrown out at the plate as he has said he isn’t doing his job if he isn’t getting guys thrown out at the plate…well I disagree with that philosophy! That type of remark should be reserved for 6-12’ softball pitching where if you don’t get called for an illegal pitch higher than 12’ a few times a game, you are not pitching as effectively as you could.

The Bad

After Colon allowed 2 more runs on a big 2 out hit the game looked in great trouble. Colon didn’t have good velocity; in fact he was at 91-92 all day and only threw a few pitches at 93. He did have very good sinking movement when he threw 90 though. The odd part was I didn’t see a breaking ball thrown all game; not a single one. I kept asking for it but it never came. I am hoping that Romine didn’t call for it and not that the Yankees didn’t want him to throw it for some reason. Either way, unless you are Rivera, you aren’t living off of a one speed pitch.

Jeter keeps making very bad throws to first; tex has scooped 4 over the past few days from Jeter on routine plays and also couldn’t get the high throw the other day…I hope Jeter straightens it out. Jeter has also cooled off a lot not collecting an extra base hit or a walk in his last 28 AB’s with only 6 singles (OPS of .428). Only 28 AB’s, but I would like him to at least keep pace on an OPS of 750 +

CB Buckner was called out by me last year as the ump I dislike the most behind home plate and he lived up to it yesterday; he is very inconsistent and I don’t like his the job he does.

The Good

A lot here and I will start with the bullpen that held Toronto 5 hitless and scoreless innings with only 1 walk. Soriano struck out the side and if memory serves struck out the side the other night also. Good job holding Toronto scoreless.

ARod, hitting a line drive 3 run HR on an inside 93 MPH fastball. It was good to see him not only get around on it but drive it. He also turned on another one later in the game that he pulled foul. BTW, I am glad Girardi dropped him in the lineup. I don’t like Cano and Granderson being so close, but I think Cano is a better hitter until ARod shows he is back (even if Cano had a hacking game).
Granderson had an absolutely terrific AB and a terrific day. The AB I am talking about was around (not exactly sure) a 13 pitch AB that culminated in a CF HR off a changeup. It was simply a great AB that gave us the 7-6 lead the bullpen and Rivera saved.

Last comment: I would like to see Tex lay a bunt down when they shift him; it is absurd that he can’t just get a ball down in fair territory past the pitcher down the 3rd base line. It would be an easy play and as long as his OPS is below 1.000 or even .900 I think he should be trying this often, even if only to keep them honest. He is not doing so well that it doesn’t matter. His OPS is .826 which is 11th in baseball for 1st baseman. Above avg is not where Tex needs to be, he needs to be in the top 5 in OPS for 1st baseman otherwise he needs to look at taking what the defense gives him. After watching Toronto easily pull off a squeeze, I can only hope Girardi has been practicing with the guys on those bunts and squeezes and he is just waiting for the right opportunity in the playoffs to unveil them…I am also pretty sure I am wrong about this and Girardi is not doing anything of the sort.

Boston Lost to TB…it is getting interesting.

Tell everyone to watch history and enjoy the Genius Maker!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Genius Maker #90

Had a lot of issues with the game Wednesday night that we lost 2-1. So many questionable moves once again by Girardi, but the worst decision was made by someone who I really felt was a huge liability but surprisingly has been doing a very good job for a good stretch of time…up until blowing the game Wednesday night. I am talking about Robby Thompson. With the score 0-0 Andrew Jones led off with a walk and after Martin struck out looking, Nunez ripped a ball to LF and for some reason Thompson tried to score the fairly slow Jones all the way from 1st and he was thrown out by a lot. In fact, the usually clueless Kay even stated that he would be held up at 3rd before saying they sent him home, that is how obvious it was. Instead of 2nd and 3rd and 1 out with Jeter against a lefty coming up, we had a man on 3rd and 2 outs and Jeter grounded out to end the inning. This was an enormous play in the game.

The only run Nova allowed was self inflicted as he had multiple walks and a wild pitch, although I have to say Martin should have caught the ball as it was a curve ball that he over reached for and it bounced off the heel of his glove. He will be the first to tell you that he should get that most every time.

Girardi made some bad decisions as he needs to control what is going on with Gardner. With the score at 1-1, the leading base stealer in the AL is on first base and instead of letting Gardner steal and then bunting, he just wasted the out by bunting Jeter. I don’t like the move at all, a run and hit would have even been better.

Then with Gardner on 2nd and one out Nunez is up and Girardi does not pinch hit for him??? This is really silly and gets worse as he ends up pinch hitting for Nunez later on in the game with 2 outs and nobody on???…I guess Joe wanted his defense in there??? We end up losing 2-1 as the offense once again is weak.

Switching gears to last night. CC had issues with his command walking 4 batters. He was high with his fastball most of the night as his arm was dragging a little. Usually that is from over striding although I couldn’t see that from the angle we had. He also struggled with his change again and this is a critical pitch for him. He only threw one or 2 effective changes all game; he must get the feel for that back. It was a shame because his breaking ball was VERY sharp. Too many pitches though as he is not pumping strikes on the corners.

Once again the offense did a poor job; too many guys struggling at once. All of our hits came from Cano, Swisher and Chavez and the team is swinging at so many balls. The other day I complained about the Yankees not running hard down to first…Posada decided to take care of that as he decided to not even take a step down to first on a grounder down the line…While I actually think Posada can still swing the bat better than he has; he deserves to be benched for that. I would however, give him a few more games to see if he can turn it on and otherwise he is done and should not make the postseason roster. My opinion is that ARod should DH against righties and Chavez should start against righties with Montero DHing against lefties…but let me get back to the game…
Cano was thrown out trying to stretch a ball down the line to a double. While it was an excellent tag, it was an atrocious slide that almost stopped Cano before he got to the bag…one can’t dig their lead foot into the ground as it slows you up a lot. An average slide and Cano is easily safe, but he slid too early and slowed himself up a lot.

We lost this game 5-4, but there were a lot of small things that could have changed the outcome. Jeter had an interesting AB that I wish could have turned out better. Gardner was on 1st and one thing I hate is when the batter swings at the first pitch when Gardner is on base, especially with 2 outs. Unless you are a power hitter and you zone out a spot, you must give Gardner a chance to take an extra base. What made it worse was Jeter waved at a high pitch and didn’t even swing hard. That is the type of action one would expect from a rookie, not a team player. Then as Gardner attempted to steal 3rd (had already taken 2nd) Jeter watched a fastball right down the middle…you couldn’t ask for a better pitch. I was really annoyed, but felt better when Jeter held off on swinging at a slider just off the plate. I was hopeful I could talk about how this excellent “take” was important to the win…unfortunately, Jeter swung at a slider that was much more of a ball and struck out.

Another little thing that has happened many times is CC not covering first base on a ball to the right side. I think this is the 4th time it has happened and it cost us…

Also, in the game both Cano and Jeter failed to turn two on easy DP balls. Jeter threw high and Cano had trouble getting it out of his glove.

Back to CC, I am not concerned about CC, but he does need to get the feel of his curve back. Maybe it is the 6 man rotation? Hard to say, but I know I would not let Burnett back in and Hughes is my 5th guy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Genius Maker 600 saves

600 saves for the Genius Maker! He recorded the final out (after striking out the other 2) when Martin made a great throw and Jeter actually made a quick tag to barely get Ichiro attempting to steal 2nd base(who singled). It is a great milestone that only Trevor Hoffman has done and he only had one more save after. Therefore 2 saves from now, Rivera will hold the record! We already know he is the best, but having him on top will solidify it.

A reader of this blog, Marc Ivry, wrote me the following which sums up things pretty well:

"I've been a Mo fan since the beginning. I never thought Wetteland was good and he was shaky at best, so in 96 when they won, I was happy but you can see that the Yanks had bigger plans for Mo. I still think he is the greatest Yankee. I know that he comes in and gets 3 or 4 outs, but just look at the numbers and you can see. 42 post-season saves, I think his ERA is 0.76 in post-season. And if it weren't for an errant throw in 2001, he would have 6 rings. Anyone who can come in at a LIPS and perform the way he does is the best."

"He could have 2 more seasons left, he's still going strong! But once he is gone, people will realize his true value. And every time I hear Metallica's "Enter Sandman", images of him jogging from the pen come to mind and I think, GAME OVER!"

As you know, I don't believe too much in clutch ability, but Mo has been at his best in the postseason and while that probably does not predict future performance (like clutch ability would), the fact is that Rivera DID perform amazingly in the postseason and that makes his legacy that much greater.

Oh and there is a very good reason why my phones ring tone is...Enter Sandman!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Genius Maker #88

Seattle is a bad team (especially offense), but at home and with King Felix on the mound against one of our weaker pitchers, the game looked like a loss for us on paper. However, the bats were solid throughout the game getting 14 hits in route to an easy victory. Hughes pitched ok, but Seattle's weak offense couldn't get anything done. Hughes walked 3 batters in 6 innings and he simply won't get away with that against good hitting teams. He did work his cutter a little smarter (by setting it up with a fastball a little farther to the left) but will still need to throw more changeups or get confidence in a slider to be effective.

Romine caught the entire game and is smoother defensively than Montero, but I did not see him throw. His stick isn't as strong, but he did get his 1st major league hit!

I meant to write this yesterday, but I was annoyed that Andrew Jones started against a righty with Dickerson on the team. Jones (I believe) did OK yesterday walking twice and in 4 AB's, but the point was why not play Dickerson who has an OPS of .856, only 35 plate appearances(PA's) or so, who will hit righties better than Jones and also play better defense? I think Dickerson is a good 4th OF'r and should be playing against righties if Swisher is not in RF. Dickerson doesn't get much ink, but he is pretty solid in that role.

Cano had a great AB to clear the bases fouling off numerous pitches before lining a bullet double over the LF'rs head. Interestingly, later on, Gardner made a catch on a similar ball getting a good jump, taking the correct angle and running it down.

Proctor was used correctly as he was brought in when the score was 9-1.

TB won again so we have a 4 game lead on the idle Sawx and TB is 3 back of them.

BTW, Detroit has won 10 in a row.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Genius Maker #87

The main thing to take out of this game was that Garcia was not sharp; he simply can’t be walking guys and it was great to see Montero and then Romine get some time behind the plate (this is excellent for them). What I saw form limited action was that Montero has a very strong arm and threw a strike, however, his receiving skills are not smooth and his footwork and blocking ability was weak. His release on the throw was a little on the slow side, but overall throw was fine. His blocking ability was poor and he simply let too many balls go by him; especially letting one go through his legs which is a sin for a catcher.

The game itself was very tight and we caught a break with some poor defense by their CF’r who is usually excellent. Soriano, Robertson and Rivera closed out the game holding onto a 1 run lead. Soriano struggled again and has been very disappointing, but Robertson was sharp and Rivera only allowed a Baltimore chop single off the plate.

Two Michael Kay comments that made me shake my head (you wonder why I don’t listen too often). First was Kay stating that the pop up that was caught by Nunez was not an assumed play and wasn’t easy so the infield fly rule should not have been called. Without getting into too much detail, Kay has no clue what he is talking about…it was a popup and was routine; just because Nunez and Tex communicated horribly doesn’t change the fact it was a pop up. Second issue was when Romine was calling for a fastball outside and then inside with Rivera on the mound by putting down a “1” and hitting his thigh on both sides before wiggling the "1" for the Rivera 2 seamer inside…Kay said he was calling for the throw to 1st base. No he wasn’t! He called for the fastball in and out before Rivera asked for the 2 seamer running inside. The throw to first base is usually the thumb out like a hitch hiker and usually it is side ways. Sorry, but I had to get that off my chest because items like that should not be said if you don’t know what you are talking about (and I don’t really have an issue with Kay in general)

Boston lost so the Yankee lead is the largest all year and TB has given themselves a shot by sweeping the Red Sox who have lost 5 in a row.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Genius Maker #86

I don’t believe that I have seen the Yankees swing at more bad pitches in a very long time. They swung at more bad pitches than good in the game in a horrible hitting performance. Maybe the ball from Haren was moving like crazy, but the Yanks would have been better suited standing with the bats on their shoulders as they looked like the bad hacking teams consistently swinging at pitchers pitches or balls. Granderson should do as I mentioned and back off the plate slightly (Tex too) because they are pulling the inside pitches foul because that is the only way they can get the meat of the bat on the ball and then waving at everything else; especially balls.

Jorge…hmmm, I said it a few times in spring training, I didn’t understand why Jorge didn’t get a few games in spring training and then a few starts during the season…why not make him the emergency catcher?…lo and behold look what happened…Martin is hurt and Cervelli is getting a concussion symptoms. The short sighted thinking of Girardi is almost mind boggling…why not give Jorge some work in that role just in case and maybe even help jump start him? I didn’t understand the philosophy of the starting catcher to not ever catching no matter what stance the Yankees took…silly.

CC wasn’t sharp but he only allowed one run in 6.

Noesi allowed the game to blow up in the 7th, but I still think he will be a good pitcher. He made some bad 2 strike pitches, but he will be good for us. Either way, the game was lost by the offense which has been anemic/pathetic!

Nunez’ OPS is now .674 and combined with awful defense is not playable in a game you care about winning (granted right now I don’t think the game are critical). Oh and I made the comment about running down to first in my previous blog and Nunez showed why I can't stand the laziness in the top of the 8th. Most of you probably had tuned out at this time, but Nunez was up with 1st and 3rd and 1 out and hit a line drive to the SS, but it was a low line drive and it might have been a short hop or might have made it on the fly (close). Therefore he should have been running hard (should be doing it anyway) from the start. Instead he took a step and froze and while Aybar had trouble with the ball (I don;t think he purposely dropped it as it was very close to the ground, Aybar chased a few steps for the ball and threw to 2nd to start a DP that could never have been completed with Nunez' speed if he ran. He deserves to get benched for Pena if the Yanks are not playing their starters.

ARod will be critical for us and I would get some rest for Granderson and Tex along with Gardner (this was one of the reasons I was so critical of Girardi for bringing the starters in after all the late games. It was the perfect time to rest the starters and he failed to do it and I believe this losing streak has some remnants of all those rain/late/long games.

It is crazy that both Boston and the Yanks have 4 game losing streaks now. The Angels are only 1.5 behind Texas and TB is 4.5 behind Boston with a ton of games left against Boston (and the Yanks).

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Genius Maker #85

The Yankees get off to a 3-0 and 4-1 lead and then the offense went to sleep - no hits for the final 6 innings of the game!

Baltimore chipped away all game scoring one run every other inning and combined with some spotty defense, a tough ump and some questionable managerial decisions we blew the game.

Cervelli had a bad throw on a dribbler in front of the plate that led to a 2nd and 3rd situation with 1 out. Nova did a good job getting out of the jam though. He had trouble with the consistency of his breaking ball but did pretty well overall. Logan was brought in a little premature if you ask me as Nova had just allowed a bloop double (caused by Swishers sore hand and weak arm). Logan continued his struggling of late and allowed a double making the score 4-3. Logan appears to be throwing more over the top which has flattened his breaking ball and his velocity was not 94-95, it as 91.

Of course Laffey was brought in to face his lefty and he walked him…where are our lefties? Later this inning, Cano made one of the best relay throws you will ever see as he transferred the ball like lightning and threw a strike to Cervelli who caught the ball and then got his head taken off by Markakis, but held on.

Soriano had a one run lead in the 8th and didn’t do his job, in fact he was awful and if not for another thrown out runner at home and a stupid decision they tried to steal 3rd with 2 outs and were thrown out, it would have been much worse. Soriano got one batter out and allowed 3 singles, but the outs on the bases gave us another chance to win this tie ball game. Now instead of seeing what our youngsters have in Kontos and Brackman (who are both up), Girardi again decides to use Proctor??? I don’t know what the fascination is with Proctor, but his fastball is straight and his control isn’t good. Overall he throws hard and usually has a decent curve ball, but hasn’t Rivera taught us how important location is? Proctor allowed a single and a walk but got out of it. Surely we now see what our rookies will do…right?

Proctor starts the 10th and ends the game allowing a single, walk and single.

I think not resting the starters in Wednesday’s game impacted the win here; the team went to sleep after the early start. Girardi gets a lot of blame here. Just to be clear, it is not Girardi’s fault that Soriano didn’t do the job, but it is his fault for setting up the game with such little room for error. In fact, this is why Rivera is called the Genius Maker because he covered up all the bad moves by Torre and won/saved so many games…nobody questions much after a win. Well I do and I know some of you have said why do I get upset after a win and my answer is because you might not get lucky next time and you have to have a plan (that can be adjusted), but it should be a consistent philosophy. Girardi is all over the place and it drives me crazy…almost as crazy as handing so many important inning to a guy who just got released from the NL (Proctor)

Boston lost so we still have a 2.5 lead

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Genius Maker #84

I had a long post ready to go Tuesday night, but then lost it when my computer had an auto restart and for some reason I was not able to recover it. I will summarize what I saw for the last few games rather than get into the detail of the game (usual):

Montero: The guy has great power the other way; this much is pretty clear. However, the difference between the minor league pitchers and the major leagues is the consistency of the better quality pitches. This also means that pitchers at the major league level will be able to throw inside more often. I would imagine that I would pitch Montero like they pitch against ARod; fastballs inside and breaking stuff away. This is a great compliment, but Montero has a natural swing to RC (a little like Jeter but with much more power) and will need to show he can turn on the inside pitch even if it is where he once in awhile guesses and swings very early. He is going to have to keep the pitchers honest. Last night he was jammed with a fastball inside and if I were pitching him that is where I would target. The kid is 21 and has great ability to work with. Of course, the question will be where he will play. I think Cervelli has been hitting a little better of late, but I am not a fan of his defense (his throwing skills have been pretty bad). Cervelli may make for a good trade and then Montero could be the DH and backup catcher and we can see what he can do defensively. Obviously, his value as a catcher is much greater so if we can get that offense from the position it gives us a great advantage, but he can’t be a liability behind the plate. I believe Posada in his prime was such an advantage for us; hopefully Montero can be what Posada was (even if more power and less OBP).

Nova is clearly a better option than Hughes and Burnett and in my opinion; I would rather see Noesi start than Burnett or Hughes. Burnett doesn’t have any upside and this is why I was in favor of giving him away at the trade deadline for nothing or paying most of his deal and getting something of a prospect, but just removing him. Hughes, at least, is young and has some upside, but his lack of command drives me nuts. OK, so maybe he can’t throw 95, but at least throw 92 and hit your spots. His curve is fine, but he needs to develop at least one other pitch and he has not been able to (just as AJ hasn’t). They are actually similar in some ways in that they each miss spots on a regular basis and because of that they are hard to trust.

Nunez will only get better, but right now he is simply awful in the field; his poor play led to the loss in last night’s game.

It was a shame the Yankees had to play the game Tuesday night/morning. But I was glad to see Girardi give our guys a rest in the Wednesday game and go with most of the young guys. Unfortunately, as usual, Girardi shows his lack of consistency by getting all the regulars back in the lineup except for Jeter. After ending the previous game after 2 am, why even play the starters; give them a day off and I mean a FULL day off because if you get loose and then get in, you did not have a day of rest. A full day off is that you stretch a little, but you know you are not going to go in and that is very different than you could play if needed. While the latter is the usual, a full day rest is what is needed at times. So while Girardi plays against Boston and acts as if the games don’t really matter, he unloads 4 starters late in the last night’s game to try and win the game. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t try and win the game, but the argument supporting Girardi is that he is always looking long term…until he actually isn’t. Again, he is so inconsistent in his approach it drives me nuts.

Brandon Laird - I said this before, but the guy is not a major league player.

Dickerson/Golson – I said this before as well, I think he and even a guy like Golson have a place on a roster to help with running and defense. Dickerson actually is a fine 4th or 5th OF and Golson is a specialist. On the Yankees, I think specialists are valuable because he could be an excellent pinch runner (instead of a good one like Dickerson) and Golson can be an excellent defender (instead of a good one like Dickerson)…the trade off is that Dickerson is a reasonable hitter and Golson is not a good hitter at all. My opinion is that a guy like Golson would be valuable on the postseason roster or even regular season because he is a specialist at two areas that could be used every game at some point.

ARod looked stiff again at 3rd base and missed a hard hit ball, but one would expect to make it usually.

Granderson got a few hits in last night’s game after he was brought in so I want to say this now so it doesn’t look like a Monday morning QB. I think Granderson should slightly back off the plate. George Brett once said that when people slump they tend to get closer to the plate and you have to back off usually. I see this with Granderson as it appears to me he is a few inches closer and it has made it so that he can only pull the inside pitch foul (if he gets good wood on it). Brett’s advice seems to make sense to me with Granderson.

Last comment, I know this goes on with all teams, but I think the Yankees don’t run down to 1st base hard enough. This has been going on all year and while it usually doesn’t make a difference, why not run hard all the time for that one time it does make a difference? This is not to pick on Swisher because I could call out every Yankee, but he hit a ball that was bobbled and if he ran hard all the way he could have beaten it out. If the Mets Timo Perez World Series blunder didn’t teach a lesson, I am not sure what else can?