Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Genius Maker #18

Games like last night are the ones where my philosophy of getting the better players to the top of the lineup would have made a difference. I also said that the sooner the Yankees drop Jeter from the top, the better the team will do. While Jeter and Swisher failed yesterday so did ARod and Tex in big spots as well. Early in the game, the Yankees had bases loaded and nobody out with Tex and ARod up and the two of them made 3 outs and we didn’t score. In the 8th inning the Yankees got a gift with Dotel walking 2 straight guys and loading the bases for Jeter. Jeter missed a very hittable pitch and then expanded the strike zone and swung at a pitch that was high to strike out. Then Swisher feebly grounded out on the first pitch he saw.

When you lose 5-3 it hurts a lot, but what do you expect when you have two players with such poor numbers batting 1 and 2?

Other quick notes:

Cano had a phenomenal day at the plate working 2 walks and hitting 2 laser beam homer runs

Gardner looked a lot better at the plate as well and deserves to be at the top against righties (he and Jeter should swap spots in a leadoff/9th place platoon as the first step in removing Jeter.

I would like to see Nunez get some shots against righties for Jeter.

Andrew Jones looked bad last night

Chavez has cooled off and now has a .776 OPS

OPS from the bottom
Jeter .604
Posada .622
Swisher .631
Gardner .645
A. Jones .759
Chavez .776
Tex .932
Granderson ..955
Martin .958
Cano .982
ARod 1.016

BTW, Garcia really struggled all day with his control but he battled and kept us in the game; it was a good sign. If the offense were playing up to potential we would have a few more wins.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Genius Maker #17

CC now has an ERA of 2.25! This game started poorly with a bullet hit to SS that Nunez couldn’t handle. It was a harder play than it looked because it was an in between hop but because it was hit so hard the quick decision to try and charge was a tough one to make. Many times when a ball is crushed taking a step back is a better option if you can’t get it on the short hop by charging. Either way you have to make that decision in a split second and he didn’t make the play.

The situation got worse when the next batter drilled one down the left field line that Gardner cut off and threw to 3rd base to try and get the leadoff guy. He was safe at 3rd and the batter went to 2nd base on the throw. The announcers missed the important part of the play. They commented how you need to make sure you can get the guy because you allowed the batter to get to 2nd. While the statement isn’t wrong, what they missed was that if ARod would have done his part at 3rd base, the runner would have been out. I watched this a few times and there is no question in my mind. ARod, who is as heads up as they come, is not good at tagging runners; I have documented this numerous times. This was an example of the fielder taking the throw behind the bag (ARod was on the home plate side of the bag) instead of on or in front to make the quick tag and get the ball quicker. Let me ask you this, if the ball goes in front of the runner (as if the player is sliding and the ball is in between the base and the runner) doesn’t that mean the ball beat him? If ARod is either straddling the bag but a little more in fair territory or closer to LF he makes a quick tag and the guy is easily out; I am 100% positive about this. I am not sure if ARod thought he had no play on the guy or he expected Gardner to throw to 2nd base, but it was a very poor play. I know I am harping on this, but it could have been very costly and it is the same an infielder taking a throw from the catcher on the CF’r side of 2nd base; you don’t do it.

CC actually got out of it as the next ball was hit to ARod who made a good decision and threw home to nail the runner.

BTW, Nunez showed the one good part of Jeter’s defense that I brought up the other day and that is how steady his glove is…and that does have value.

Swisher ended up with a good day, but twice he swung at 2-0 pitches that were not even close. The pitcher walked 3 guys and Swisher was still hacking. I wrote this about him last year that he is a guy who is a mistake hitter and loves the fastball, but he struggles against the better pitchers who don’t give in. I believe this is why he isn’t as good in the postseason (not because he is a choker as some people would think). He is a mistake hitter and in the postseason you don’t get as many poor pitchers.

So the Yankees found themselves in an odd spot where after 4 innings they had more errors than hits but were leading 2-0. Obviously the Yanks broke open the game as Gardner hit his 3rd homer of the year and others got involved. Unfortunately, Posada is really struggling. He did hit a bullet to the CF'r, but he is struggling adjusting to his new role. As an ex catcher I do think it is the tougher adjustment because no defender is more involved with the game, but you get the added benefit of not having so many nicks and bruises which I had hoped would offset the rest.

Boston and won and TB blew out Minnesota twice. I have the standings on the web page updated most of the time.

Toronto tonight!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Genius Maker #16

Wow, Bartolo continues to impress. Not only is he throwing strikes, he has very good movement (run) on his fastball especially on the 1st base side of home plate and he throws the fastball up to 96 at times; in fact he reached 96 in the 8th inning! He pitched really well and he didn’t have good use of his slider and even didn’t use his change too much.

After the Cano 3 run homer the Yankee offense went to sleep again though. The lack of run scoring is a concern, but this team has too much firepower for it to continue. I just think they don’t like slop pitchers.

The Genius Maker did his job. I do get the feeling he will not be as sharp as the past 2 years, but then again, could you predict that same performance for anyone? The way I see it, a little less movement and a little less control should be the items we see as he continues to age (then again do Cyborg’s age?) He already has seen his velocity drop 2 MPH so maybe he can keep it around 91? I still have a lot of faith in him…I know, not exactly stepping out on a ledge there.

Swisher had another bad game swinging at balls, especially one that was way out of the strike zone on 3-2 in the 1st inning.

Cano was our offense today, but he is swinging at everything. He also just missed another good play in the field; he was making more of them in the past.

Jeter fielded a play to his left and threw wild to 1st on a play I would expect my SS to make 80% of the time, especially with a slow runner.

I thought Martin and the pitchers called a very good game. I was in agreement far more than I normally am. I also agreed with almost every Rivera pitch of when to go in and out. BTW, when I say this, it does not always mean I think I am right or they are wrong; there are times in the count, in fact many, where multiple pitches can be the correct call, but the pitcher needs to execute. For example, I might say I would go up and in with a fastball, but there is nothing wrong with throwing the slider low and away either. Usually, the next pitch ends up being one I am more forceful on.

Boston scored 4 in the 8th to tie the game against Baltimore, but the O’s scored one in the bottom of the frame to win 5-4!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Genius Maker #15

One item I should have mentioned yesterday was how poor the umpire was (both ways).

Last night, the umpire was good, but the guy changed against us when Soriano came in. Soriano’s and the games biggest pitch was the one where he hit Quentin in the 8th inning. Not only did it bring up the go ahead run and put the tying run on base, but down by a run Ozzie Guillen pinch ran for Quintin to get more speed and unfortunately much better defense into RF (more on this in a moment). Back to Konerko who is up with a man on first. After strike 1 Soriano delivered what I thought was strike 2. It was a little low, but the ump had been calling it and I thought it was a strike; so did the Yanks. The next pitch was grooved and Konerko hit a 2 run homer and gave Chicago the lead. After that, the ump would not give anything close to Soriano and honestly it was total BS, especially when the same pitches were called strikes for the opposing pitcher. It didn’t cost us more runs, but either way it was wrong.

After the Yanks didn’t hit well again (this time I felt the pitcher deserved more credit than the previous night) the Yanks tried to make a run in the 9th inning. Jeter got one of his Jeteresque hits…no I am not talking about the line drive to RC, I am talking about the swinging dribbler down the 3rd base line. With Jeter on 1st Granderson bunted him over. Normally I don’t like that move, but I had no issue with it last night. Tex got the count in his favor at 2-0 and proceeded to swing at a pitch that was way inside. This has been the issue of the Yanks the last 2 nights; swinging at a ton of balls. Chicago has been smart as they have resisted throwing the fastball unless they really felt it was the right pitch…and the Yanks have not adjusted. A perfect example of this is Swisher; they simply throw him curves 80% of the time and then the fastball is on top of him when they throw it. Until he learns to hit the curve, he will struggle.

Anyway, Tex walked anyway and up came ARod. On a 2-1 count, ARod lined a pitch to the wall in RF and the RF’r Lillibridge, who only came in because he pinch ran for Quintin, made a fully outstretched arm catch right against the wall saving the tie and possible win right there. It was a heck of a play. The only problem was the next play was a hard hitting sinking liner down the line by Cano and Lillibridge made an even better full out dive to save the game. The guy made 2 great plays off the bench to seal the victory.

The issue was too little too late for the Yanks. Once again, their defense was a little shoddy when Granderson failed to make a catch on a sinking liner that he should have made. Cano also has seen his glove fall off so far this year failing to turn 2 a bunch of times and not being smooth with the glove on a few more. Last night he missed a throw on a SB and got eaten up on a wicked over spin shot, but even so you expect Cano to get some of those. He did make a heck of a play later on when he tagged out a runner after getting a short hop throw at least. One other play was a popup where Jeter was the only one who could get to it and he wasn’t able to make the play, by the opposing dugout. Jeter had a long way to go, but he really looked slow. In fact, I said to myself Chavez is really slow…and then I realized it was Jeter because they moved Chavez to the right side of the field in a shift and left Jeter at SS (which make sense by the way).

At least Girardi managed well and Nova pitched well. Robertson did his job and if I am correct didn’t throw a single curveball.

Soriano now has an ERA of 7.84…that is awful. Think about this; last year Soriano only allowed 12 ER all year; he has already allowed 9! I think the main issue is that his control has stunk. He is missing spots on most every pitch. He has 8 walks; last year he had only 14 all year (in 62 innings). He better get his head on straight!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Genius Maker #14

This was simply an awful hitting performance and plan last night. The Yankees were incredibly impatient all night. I think the team swung at every 2-0 pitch all night and did nothing with it. They would swing at a good pitchers pitches (and many times balls) on 2-0. Two AB’s highlighted the lack of patience…one was in the 7th and Cano getting up with 2 guys on base and he proceeded to swing at 4 straight pitches (3 were balls). He had that mind set I mentioned yesterday where he was going to swing no matter what. The other was in the 9th inning, Granderson leads off the 9th with a single and then we had Tex, ARod and Cano up. Tex gets a 2-0 count on him and then swings at the 2-0 pitch and hits in to a DP. Now I recognize that you can’t let a lot of hittable pitches go, but the guy was a little wild and even at 2-1 Tex would still be in the driver’s seat. I also know that Tex can tie up the game very easily, but I also know that the pitcher was brought into the game in the 8th inning and with ARod and Cano coming up I want this guy to work and take advantage of his mistakes. VERY frustrating.

BTW, Burnett pitched well, but Chicago didn’t hit well either. I think letting up the extra run in the 8th hurt the team as well. Soriano and Jeter deserve blame on a pop up that fell behind the pitchers mound. Soriano just gave up and expected Jeter to catch the ball and being lazy he deserves blame, but Jeter also took a step back first and then ran in hard and couldn’t make the play. Bad read by Jeter and lazy play on Soriano and it cost us. So far Soriano has not been good.

Granderson misplayed a ball for the other run. Chicago scored when he didn’t get a good jump and then made the play worse by diving for it and not knocking it down. He had no chance to catch it and he should have made sure the ball did not get beyond him; if he did Chicago would have not scored that run.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Genius Maker #13

Yesterday’s game was disturbing for a lot of reasons…mostly because I don’t like the way Girardi is handling the pitchers and his double talk when he explains the head scratching moves he makes. There were some good moments too.

When Girardi took out Garcia, I said to my family, this is a stupid move. Now I said this before I found out Soriano was unavailable (they say he had a sore back but should be ok) which made it even more absurd. Now, Garcia had thrown 90 pitches and while he said he could have gone out for the 7th and Girardi admitted the same, Girardi said that he didn’t want to push Garcia??? So, he didn’t want to push Garcia, but instead was ok letting Rivera go over 1 inning of work? I just don’t get it? Garcia had retired something like 14 of the last 15 batters; knowing Soriano was not available you get 1 or 2 or maybe even 3 more outs of Garcia.

BTW, it should not be lost how great Garcia has been so far allowing only 4 hits and no runs in his 12 innings he has started. I don’t expect that to continue (way to go out on limb), but great job so far.

Rivera didn’t have the late movement on his cutter, but did have movement. The main issue has been his control so far.

Other notes:

Gardner made a tremendous game saving catch in the 8th against Luke Scott (when Rivera was brought in). Gardner was playing shallow and went back and had to leap up to make the catch in full speed; it was fantastic and I am not sure who else could have made that catch from where he was playing.

Jeter got 4 hits, although 2 of them were swinging bunts

Great relay by Swisher and Cano to save the game and get the final out of the 9th inning.

The next inning Jeter got thrown out at home when he got a late jump form 3rd base (I watched this 5 times in slow motion) and Jeter slid too early and was easily blocked at home. The Yankees really need to look at how they slide at home and how they tag guys out on the bases. At home, Jeter needed to go in at the catchers’ legs if he is going to stand in front of the plate like that or knock him on his rear. Sliding early was a little weak, but at least he went straight at the catcher who made a really good play (as was the throw home)

Joba didn’t do his job, but he didn’t pitch poorly; the homer was a good piece of hitting

Cano is doing well, but he can be better if he can get his plate discipline back; he is swinging at too many balls right now (and still has an .887 OPS).

Gardner had a bad offensive day after the good day prior so unfortunately he was not able to build upon it. He is not recognizing strikes and balls well.

The umpire was awful all game; in general hurt us a little more than them, but he was just inconsistent.

Granderson had a really good game, but also missed some hittable pitches…His OPS is now at 1.051

Jorge had a bad game as well.

I think we will say more consistency from everyone once we get some decent weather (which doesn’t look likely over the next week). Overall, 12-6 is good

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Genius Maker #12

The Yankees came out early and swung at first pitches leading to an early 3 run lead. Bloop single by Jeter followed by doubles by Tex and ARod and then a single by Cano.

The Yanks added to their lead when Martin hit his 5th HR with 2 guys on base. CC gave back 3 allowing a 3 run homer to make it 6-3 before the yanks blew the game open with homers by Martin (his 6th), ARod (who hit his 22nd grand slam of his career which is one behind the all time leader Lou Gehrig), and Gardner (who homered after Martin was HBP after his 2nd homer). Was he intentionally hit? It sure seemed so and the part I didn’t like was that he threw at Martin’s head. After the game Rupe (the pitcher) said he didn’t mean to do it and if he were going to send a message he would never throw at someone’s head. Well, he said all the right things, but what is a pitcher supposed to say, “Yeah, I meant to hit him?” I think he meant to hit him. Earlier in the game Texiera on a double slid wide of the bag (kind of like the dumb slide into home) and his feet went into the 2nd baseman’s feet and they had some words. Who knows, but at the end of the day the Yanks crushed Baltimore. Funny, how 2 weeks ago, Buck was a genius and announcers were saying how it was impossible that nobody gave him a job prior to this. Going 2-10 changes people’s opinions fast doesn’t it? I actually think Buck is a good manager to turn things around, but he is wound a little too tight for a 162 game schedule and he is best to set the direction and discipline and then allow another manager to take the team home. He is still better than most.

Speaking of streaks, the Red Sox have righted themselves and have won 4 in a row. Dice K pitched great yesterday and if he can get his act in gear Boston will be extremely tough.

Other notes:

Gardner doubled and homered in last nights game; his double was a single but his amazing speed was nuts getting a double on a line drive slightly into RC.

Posada is the poster child of why batting average really doesn’t tell you anything and why you need OBP and slugging (or in my favorite case both in OPS) to gauge how well the player is doing. Posada has only 9 hits and is hitting a pathetic .164; however, he has 6 homers and 7 walks for a reasonable OPS of .761. Now compare this to Vlad Guerrero who is batting .266 with no walks and 5 extra base hits giving him an OPS of a poor .671 (which BTW is about the OPS of Swisher unfortunately).

Jeter should not leadoff against righties and the sooner we drop him the better; this is why I suggested dropping both he and Gardner. Jeter’s OPS is no one of the lowest in the AL for qualified hitters. He is 83rd out of 91 and interestingly the 91st guy is Carl Crawford. While I said Gardner is not far off from what Crawford brings (and I got a lot of criticism about that), Gardner, as poorly as he is doing, is doing better than Crawford right now. I know we are only a 1/10 of the season, but while I expect all 3 players in this paragraph to do better the rest of the way, wouldn’t you think Jeter, would be the least likely to do a lot better?

ARod is leading the league in OPS with a 1.309 and incredibly, Russell Martin is 3rd with a 1.132. Tex and Granderson round out the top 10 at 6th and 8th. Cano is 14th with a .906.

Happy Easter to everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Genius Maker #11

There is nothing worse than losing when Rivera blows a save…none. Just one of those nights that thankfully happens only happens a few times a year.

Gardner continues to be awful at the plate and even failed to get a bunt down and then he was thrown out stealing. Why did they mess with his swing?

Girardi really screwed up leaving AJ in two batters too long, but he only allowed one extra run because of Robertson doing a great job. As I have said before, when a guy looks good you let him pitch, I would have let Robertson pitch the 7th. As it turned out both Joba and Soriano did their job and Rivera didn’t, but if I were managing Joba would have been available in the 10th. Also, where is Logan?

BTW, when a suicide squeeze is executed perfectly, shouldn't you get the out at 1st base?

I am hoping ARod is ok.

The Genius Maker #10

Here is what I would do with the lineup. I know it is very early (can’t get too crazy) and the weather has been really poor, but Jeter simply doesn’t look any different right now. All the issues I had with his balance are still there and as I said, I didn’t think the issue was his stride as much as his bat being in a different location too often and not having the bat speed of old. While I would be OK waiting until after the SkyDome series where the weather should be nice, my thoughts are as follows:

Jeter was still good against lefties last year and this year he has a .796 OPS against southpaws (.493 against righties). Have him leadoff against lefties and bat last against righties. I would flip flop him and Gardner as a 9th man platoon. This is also the same thing I thought made sense last year. The main issue doing this now is that Gardner isn’t hitting either. Therefore, why not use them at the bottom of the order and once we go through the first 7 guys, we then have out “leadoff guys” in front Tex, ARod and Cano (assuming ARod is ok – which of course is critical regardless of how much better our bench is this year with Chavez). This would mean we go very unconventional and have Tex leadoff and ARod 2nd and Cano 3rd. Yeah, I know this is impossible; nobody does that, what an asinine idea. Well, the truth is that the only difference in a lot of the leadoff guys and the some of the middle of the order guys is speed. Wade Boggs was a great leadoff hitter because he was a great hitter who got on base and forced the pitcher to work. You want your OBP guys up before your sluggers in general, but you also want your better hitters getting the extra AB a game; it is as simple as that (on top of trying to mix your lineup as to not make it easy to bring a specialist to counteract your strengths or take advantage of your weaknesses)

Will Girardi do it, no, but that doesn’t mean he is putting his players in the best position to win games.

Hughes: It was pointed out to me that awhile back when there was talk of trading Hughes in the Santana deal, I stated that “If Hughes can throw 94-95 like the Yankees say he can, then I would not deal him, but if he throws 91-92, I would trade him for the right pitcher.” Forget that Santana is injured now, the concept was that 2 years ago, I saw how important the velocity for Hughes is and he is FAR more effective with the 3-4 extra MPH on his fastball. Now most pitchers would be that way also, but some guys have more complementary type of pitches. For example, Garcia threw nothing but slop all game, but he had movement, control and changed planes and angles all game. He is now the rare craft righty! BTW, wasn’t it very comforting to see him pitch well? Give Cashman credit, while Garcia may get beat up once in a while and he only has only started once; Cashman found Colon and Garcia for nothing and both guys are part of our pitching staff right now. I hope Hughes gets back a few MPH as it is a huge setback if he is a mediocre 5th starter because we could have gotten a lot for him. The talk prior was Seattle wanting Montero, Hughes and Betances for King Felix. During the summer, the Yankees would have said no, that is far too much; right now, I would jump at that.

A few other notes: In the last game, there was a squibber hit in front of the plate that Martin jumped on and threw to first base and the play was very close (Texas argued he was safe but replays showed he was barely out). This was the same play I have spoken about in the past years where the 1st baseman fields the throws from the catcher or possibly the pitcher with his left leg on the bag and the right leg in the 2nd base line (facing home plate). The issue I have with this is that the 1st baseman not only doesn’t stretch toward the throw, but doesn’t step toward the throw and pickup that extra 3 feet or so. If Tex would have just stepped toward the ball, the play would not have been that close. I know the ball is coming fast and there is less risk in fielding it this way, but on a close play you need to extend toward the ball; I don’t understand this basic step is missed by most? Just to act out what I am saying. Stand with your legs wide and face straight ahead with your glove hand extended out in front of you as far as possible without tipping over (my legal team had me right don’t tip over ) and see how far you can reach without moving your feet. Now take your right foot (the left was on the bag) and step toward the ball and see how much farther you can extend. You could extend even farther by stretching and righties may even do this with their right foot on the bag, but again that does have more risk. Anyway, you see the point and while it didn’t hurt us, it will happen again and at some point it will.

Martin picked off a guy the other day, but Cano supposedly missed the tag. My opinion was that while Cano made the mistake of not putting the ball by the bag and then moving toward the runner, I still think he tagged him on the leg before his hand touched. But, c’mon, guys tagging 101, you don’t reach for them until after you have placed the tag down when they must eventually go and then while on the ground you slide the glove toward the runner if you have enough time.

I hope Joba doesn’t get “Proctored” as he is on pace for over 100 games. Most should get that reference.

We are 3 games in 1st and 4.5 ahead of Boston! Not bad with our offense scoring the 9th most runs!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Genius Maker #9

What went wrong?

Hughes continued to have nothing but pretty good control. His fastball did get up to 92 on a few pitches, but he was mostly throwing 89-90 and his velocity was down after the first 2 innings where it probably more around 88-89. This is extremely concerning and I would not have an issue pulling him from the rotation until he can work through this. He is getting pummeled.

Gardner and Jeter have both been awful to start the year. Interestingly, these are the two guys who changed their stances in the off season. Jeter needed to change, but as I said I would have calmed his bat down in the same way ARod, Swisher and Granderson did rather than focus on his stride and Gardner I was surprised only because he was doing well before his injury. That being said, Gardner may need to step back before he goes forward? Jeter, while doing poorly with a .562 OPS, is doing better than Gardner (.452), but they are both doing nothing. The main issue is that Swisher (.535) and Granderson (.719) would be the guys who would make sense to switch spots. So what do you do, just keep plugging away? Or do you shake things up. For example, I have felt that Jeter should not be at the top of the order (although I did think Gardner should and that has been wrong for now), so maybe you shake things up by moving both Jeter and Gardner down and this way there isn’t as much attention just on Jeter, it can be a move to shake up the lineup. I like The Tex, ARod and Cano combo, so maybe just bat Granderson leadoff and move Tex up to the 2 hole? I know this isn’t conventional, but if someone has to get an extra AB, why not let it be our better hitters?

What went right?

Obviously, down 5-0 when you have an exciting come back to win there has to be some good things that happened.

Colon did a great job going 3 scoreless innings. He did allow one of Hughes’ runs to score on a seeing eye grounder, but he pitched great and did the job. Girardi had his best managed game of the year and not because it was a walk, but because he pulled Hughes when it was obvious he had nothing and gave the potent Yankee offense a chance to come back. I would have said this even if they didn’t win.

ARod continues to hit well. He is really locked in and has a BA of .414 and an OPS of 1.394. That is video game level

Cano hit the ball hard and was out on a line drive grounder right between the pitchers legs where Baltimore had him played perfectly as well as a bullet in the bottom of the 10th right at the SS, but he still got 2 hits.

Joba took over with 1st and 3rd and 1 out in the top of the 8th with the Yanks trailing 5-4. He did throw a wild pitch but blocked the plate with his leg and the Baltimore runner (Pie) didn’t touch the plate until well after the tag (and a good throw by Martin). This was a huge play in the game. Joba looked great as he threw 95 and even got up to 98 on one pitch (that was a ball). His control of the breaking ball wasn’t great, but he looked sharp and gave us 5 big outs as his fastball was controlled well with good velocity.

A couple of other notes:

The Yanks were 2-13 with RISP

Baltimore played an excellent game defensively keeping us from doing more damage.

Jeter made a nice play going to his left (that is said and seen so rarely I had to mention it) where he ranged a long way and the spun and threw accurately to first.

The Genius Maker closed out the game looking sharp. He did allow Markaikis to lead off with a single as he did not get the cutter in enough. Queue enter sandman!

Great win against a good team. Baltimore has a pretty solid lineup and if they can get some starting pitching they will be in the hunt. I didn’t realize all the new faces. I knew they picked up Guerrero but didn’t know they picked up the 36 year old Derek Lee. He did fade a little last year with a .775 OPS, but before that he was always a solid player both offensively and defensively. In fact, he made some nice scoops in the 2 games we played the O’s.

We are one game in first and 5 ahead of the Sox!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Genius Maker #8

We are in first place…and 4.5 games ahead of the Red Sox!

It is always good to jump out to an early lead and ARod’s 3 run homer did just that. I would like to see us keep tacking on runs all game, but that is a bit picky. I thought Burnett pitched well all night. He struggled with a ton of pitches in the first 2 innings (I think the total was 50), but I think it was more a good job of hitting by laying off close pitches and fouling off good ones by Baltimore.

Once again, Girardi seems to be inconsistent in his use of pitchers/players. As you know I had an issue with him taking out CC after CC had retired 17 straight batters and then we ended up letting Soriano who was off give the game away. The “excuse” was that CC had thrown too many pitches…well yesterday, Burnett entered the 7th inning having thrown somewhere about 95 pitches. I was in favor of sending Burnett out there; I was also ok with him staying in the game after he allowed a double. I was still ok with leaving him in the game after he threw a wild pitch. After the homer I was a little torn, but didn’t have an issue with Girardi leaving Burnett in as he still only had thrown 103 pitches. 6 pitches later he walked the Baltimore batter (Andino) and it was clear he was coming out. Not only had he thrown 110 pitches, but he had lost it. However, shockingly (or maybe with Girardi this should be expected?) Girardi let Burnett continue to pitch. After a 2 run homer that put the game into only a 3 run lead Girardi took Burnett out. Again, I have no idea what is going through Girardi’s head sometimes and his excuses he gives to the media are just insulting. He leaves Burnett, who had clearly lost it, in the game after 110 pitches, but he takes CC out when he had retired 17 straight batters and thrown 104? Very inconsistent and illogical as most sane people would take a struggling guy out who threw more pitches than another guy who was cruising.

Other notes:

Gardner was thrown out by a lot yesterday, it was a great throw, but Jeter should have protected him as he did not get a good jump.

Burnett threw about 15 changeups yesterday and they were very effective. I think this is a great 3rd pitch for him as it makes everything else work well. He struggled with his command of his curve, although he did throw some good ones and in the past when that happened he would really get into trouble. Now with the change, he has a lot more to work with and setup pitches.

Good job by Robertson, Soriano and the Rivera…

We got some bad news at it appears the MRI on Feliciano’s shoulder came back with trouble. Not confirmed as of yet, but he may be out for awhile. With Logan not being as sharp this is a big concern. I was counting on Feliciano to be our lefty specialist guy in key spots. It seems like we are snake bitten on the lefties. Maybe we get lucky with Marte later in the year or maybe Feliciano will only be out for a month?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Genius Maker #7

So CC struggling every inning (bit getting through it) gets sent back out for the 6th inning with only 5 less pitches than when he was taken out after getting 17 out in a row? So when you are pitching great you will come out but when you are struggling Girardi lets you work it out? Good logic Joe. I guess throwing 118 pitches wasn’t that big a deal after all. Girardi is so inconsistent.

Fortunately, Joba was able to get Youklis out with the bases juiced; whew.

Then Joba screwed up by walking two guys and with the bases loaded and 1 out I really hated that on a 1-0 pitch they threw Scutaro a fastball. I was fine with throwing a breaking ball (curve would have been my call), but he gave in and threw a fastball that Scutaro was 100% sitting on. The Yankees should have known better as that is Scutaro’s MO. At least the Yanks were smart enough to walk Pedrioa to set a force at every base and pitch Logan to Gonzalez to give the team a little chance for a comeback.

This was the worst umpiring I have seen in some time. This ump made an enormous difference with very poor calls with 90% all going against the Yanks. It continued to the 9th inning where Gardner struck out on a pitch that was well outside and Tex struck out on a pitch that was very low and very outside; it was one of the worst strike out calls you will see; the ump just wanted to go home.

That being said Beckett really threw well. That really sucks because I was hoping Beckett was just starting his decline :^) Unfortunately, this was a big win for Boston.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Genius Maker #6

It was very good to see the Yankees jump right back after the loss to the Red Sox. The offense did the job as Martin has really looked great so far hitting 2 dingers. Cano got his offense going but struggled defensively missing a soft liner in the 2nd inning and failing to turn a double play that led to the Sox scoring 2-3 more runs that inning.

Interestingly Pedroia, who had an outstanding game, made a subtle nice tag out on Jeter on an attempted steal by letting the ball go all the way to Jeter's helmet as he tagged him out. I say this because I always get on Jeter for fielding throws in front of the bag and then having to bring the tag back. Pedroia also made a phenomenal play on a grounder in between 1st and 2nd where he ranged far to his left and dove into RF and caught the ball behind him, then jumped up and threw out Tex.

Speaking of defense, Jeter missed a throw to 2nd the other day and he has looked weaker on popups having Gardner and Jones come a long way from LF to get ones Jeter used to call off and make.

I thought the ump was very bad and inconsistent today. He had 15+ calls I didn’t agree with; it didn’t favor either side, he just was poor.

Nova had very little sink on his fastball and he tried to gut threw it. If Cano could have turned 2 his numbers would have looked a lot better, but he had trouble with his key pitch and couldn’t make it out of the 5th. Robertson did a real nice job before handing it to Joba. I was really pleased with Joba throwing 94-97 as it made a difference in his slider as the batters had to commit much earlier and even excellent hitter like Youklis were waving at the slider. This is the part about speed people don’t realize. It is not just the fastball that is better when he is throwing 95 consistently; it is how it impacts the other pitches because of how the batter must react. The same is about the 4 or so MPH Hughes has lost. BTW, Joba threw a change today and that is good to see. He didn’t control it but I am in favor of giving it a shot. BTW, Bucholz has a great change and has really good stuff if he can harness it.

Let’s take the series tomorrow with CC against Beckett

The Genius Maker #5

Thursday: Burnett pitched well. I like when he is using the changeup as it works well to complement his curve and fastball. It was good to see Soriano get back on the horse in a close game (understand your player Girardi). AND The Genius maker just keeps plugging away as he pitches another perfect inning with only one run to spare (7 pitches). Oh, I do want to point something that I hope Girardi doesn’t just stick to his mindset of “Soriano is my 8th inning guy” no matter what mentality. With Logan not looking as sharp I understood what was going through Joe’s mind, but in the 8th inning Mauer, Morneau and Thome were coming up. This is a classic 3 lefties situation where the first 2 would not be pinch hit for and then the 3rd lefty if they make a move you bring in Soriano…But with Logan still trying to get going I understood staying with Soriano. If and when Feliciano comes back I hope Girardi doesn’t mindlessly throw out his 8th inning guy every time because in a one run game there is always a chance of extra innings and you want as many favorable matchups as possible. Soriano is better against rigthties if you were wondering. Just so I am on record I was ok either way with the move, but I wouldn’t have had an issue if Girardi went with Logan in that spot. As it turned out having the confidence in Soriano was paid off and Joe deserves credit for that because if you knew it would turn out well getting Soriano back in a tough spot was a good thing.


I reiterate what I said after Hughes’ first outing. I am very concerned about Hughes because with a 88-90 MPH fastball he will simply not be effective. I also think his cutter before was more effective than this slutter because the thing about the traditional cutter that works well is late movement that is hard to detect and it makes the bat not get a square hit on the ball. This is why the great cutters like Rivera and Halladay use it so effectively. Hughes didn’t have that type of cutter, but it still worked for him last year. This slutter actually moves a lot more but the movement starts early and thus can be detected. Think about when people say late life on a fastball; this is the same thing. In previous years, even without the cutter, Hughes had that life on his fastball and got people out with it. Throwing 93 and hitting spots worked, throwing 89 and not having the late life is a recipe for disaster and it has been. I am not ready to pull him from the rotation or anything like that though.

Other notes:

• Colon did a nice job yesterday and gave us a chance, but…
• Logan did another poor job and put the game out of reach.
• Need to get Jeter, Granderson and Swisher hitting better. Posada has 3 homers which is great, but nothing else
• Martin does not stay down on balls in the dirt well, but he does have a great quick tag at home plate. He hasn’t used it for an out yet, but on a close play it will make the difference at some point.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Genius Maker #4

My quote when Girardi took out CC was "WTF is he doing?" CC had retired about 17 guys in a row for crying out loud. The one thing you don't want to do is give the other team some life with a new pitcher, no matter who he was. When Girardi put Soriano out there, my thought was why waste Soriano after he pitched yesterday? Wait until you need him. The fact Soriano had no control is not the issue, one would still expect him to do better than he did, but a guy who was a closer is not used to getting into a 4 run game and probably wasn;t even prepared. in fact, he was throwing 88-89 for the first few hitters before getting up to 92 for the last 2. I hated the way Girardi managed this and it cost them this game.

I would have let CC stay in there until at least 110 and I would have let him throw 115 if he didn't allow a baserunner. You have 6 outs to go, you get as many of those as you can; there was absolutely NO reason to take him out. I am sure Girardi will say with Soriano and Mo he wasn't concerned, but you don't remove the hot hand to hope someone else is on. Joe was really bad last postseason; he better getting his act in gear because this loss was on him (Soriano, Robertson and Logan deserve some blame too).

At least the Genius Maker looked sharp and Tex did it again.

BTW, I thought the ump behind home plate and the check swing calls were really good tonight; very consistent. In Fact, we get the benefit of only 3 calls to their 2 in my opinion; that is an awesome job.

The Genius Maker #3

Sunday’s game was a slugfest that we could never get on top of. The offense did their job, but nobody from the pitching staff did their job. The most disappointing part was watching Hughes have no fastball. Guys don’t usually lose 3 MPH off their fastball for no reason so I am hopeful it is just an aberration as he builds his arm strength (there is a dead period and maybe this is it?). Hughes will not be successful throwing 88-91 MPH which is where he was most of the short night. He is now throwing a “slutter” as he changed the grip on the cutter and now it acts a little more like a slider. I am not sure whether the pitch is effective or not as it moves well, but I don’t think it makes the batter think it is a fastball at first. The bottom line is Hughes threw fastballs and got guys out and at 89MPH that won’t happen. I want to see him at 92 consistently with a dial up of at least 2 MPH.

I stated I was happy with the way Colon looked in ST, but he did not get the job done. His stuff is still pretty good out of the pen and I think he will be ok.

Monday’s game saw Posada and ARod get our big hits and Nova pitching well ( I was very happy he could get out of the 6th inning) I am comfortable with Nova; especially with a 6th and 7th inning that can be matched up and used with Joba followed by two closers. It is very comforting to see Joba, Soriano and Rivera close out the last 3 innings twice already. Joba came back after 20+ pitches the night before and did his job. Back to Nova, he threw a couple of strikeout fastballs up in the zone where the ball dropped into the top of the strike zone. That was new for him. If he could throw a fastball that didn’t sink at the top of the zone the batters would really be off balance. Most of the time pitching coaches won’t mess with a guy who gets natural sink but it would really be good to go along with a good change and curve.

The offense is doing really well even with Gardner and Jeter not getting on base. These were the two guys that have undergone the largest transition in changing their stances and in this very short sample the results have been bad. I am not sure why they changes Gardner as he was doing well before he hurt his wrist, but Long knows what he is doing so I will defer to him (although I felt they should have quieted Jeter’s bat)

Quick Notes:

1.Glad to see Posada get off to a good start; WFAN had some morons calling in saying how Posada was done; he couldn’t DH last year and after game 1 when he went 0-4 they knew “he should retire.” Players don’t just fall off the face of the earth, they usually gradually breakdown and get worse. Sure there are ups and downs, but in general gradual is a very reliable and factual statement.

2.This Minnesota team is primed for having some lefties face them. Morneau, Mauer, Kubel and Thome represent some matchups for lefties

3.I was very pleased to see Martin get off to a decent start hitting as well as his throw down to 2nd. He has a very good arm. His blocking to his right was a little slow as twice he needed to turn his glove over because he wasn’t able to shift fast enough, but that may also be getting used to the pitchers.

Baltimore is 4-0 and Buck has that team playing really well (continued from last year). TB is 0-3 and so is Boston so at 3-1 I like our position. I expect Boston to be the only competition once the season gets deeper, but the O’s, Toronto and TB are all above average teams; Tough division

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Genius Maker #2

Burnett did a nice job by not hurting himself with walks, but did struggle when out of the stretch. He had a fastball with good life and spotted it pretty well. The big miss was when he allowed his first run on a homer by Austin Jackson. His curve had sharp break and he didn’t hang any. The most interesting part of watching Burnett pitch was that I didn’t see any (possibly one) changeups until the 4th or 5th inning. He was in a little trouble and threw back to back ones to get a lefty out. This is a very important pitch for him because there is a lot of speed differential between his fastball and his curve and this is a little easier on the hitter to adjust. The changeup breaks the rhythm of the hitter off balance. I also am not one of those people that think the changeup can only be used against the opposite of your arm (for righties against lefties). It can be effective against the same side, but it needs to be used at the right time (not that different than most pitches).

Tex with another 3 run bomb! Same thing I mentioned in spring training, ARod is locked in; even his out was a bullet one hopper to 2nd when he waited on a curve. Martin hit his own 3 run bomb which ended up being important.

I still think Jeter will be a little better than last year offensively (kind of silly to back off my prediction after 2 games), but as I mentioned I am shocked they didn’t calm all the movement in his bat and only focused on the stride. Maybe the thought is one thing at a time, but I think the movement on the bat is as much if not more of the issue because he can’t get it to the correct spot in time once he recognizes he wants to swing. The short stride will help, but I think he needs to look at how successful ARod, Swish and Granderson (especially Granderson as he had similar movement in his bat as Jeter) with calming their bat. ARod just rests it on his shoulder now.

Girardi pulled the starters and it made him go to Rivera for the cheapest save you can get; getting one batter out with a 4 run lead and 2 guys on base. Girardi mismanaged the ending, but the error by Nunez (in for Jeter) prolonged the game.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Day!

This was a text book win. Solid starting pitching some timely hitting and turn it over to the best 1-2 closing punch in baseball. This bullpen will help our starters tremendously! Outside of the obvious nice hits by Tex, Granderson and ARod, I was happy to see Martin show some good speed for a catcher, a nice defensive position and movement behind the plate and also that he takes pitches.

I know many people came back to me and said I was a little optimistic with my thoughts on this team. Well, not only did I put my money where my mouth was (Over 90.5), but I think if we stay healthy we will do all the things I mentioned. Of course, winning the 1st game doesn't change anything, we could have lost and my feeling still would remain; this team will make the playoffs barring more than their share of injuries.

Last point was Joba did his job, but he didn't look all that good. It is only opening day and the weather was awful, but he was fortunate more than good.