Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finally a post! 12-15-12

Longest drought of not writing for me in years.   The playoffs were so disappointing in that we played very poorly against a team (Detroit) that didn’t play that well against us.  When Detroit played a "real” team they got crushed.  Our pitchers did well mostly because Detroit didn’t swing the bats well and Detroit’s pitching while not terrible, looked like All Stars with us swinging the bat as poorly as I have ever seen.  I just didn’t feel like writing…

That being said I had a bunch of ideas that I just never got down on this site.  Maybe I need to use twitter to get my thoughts out?  Let me know if you have an interest in that?

Anyway, so here goes…

Why do I feel that I am the only person who does not (didn't) want to re-sign Ichiro?  I know he did really well down the stretch for us, but I have said for many years that signing players in the middle range (roughly 6-13 mil is usually a bad idea for teh yanks unless you know what you are getting.  I am in favor of the Superstar and then filling in with role players and rookies/young players.  Some people have talked about trading Cano; I would not do that, I lock him up.  I know he was horrible in the post season this year, but do you really think that is an indication how he will do in the future playoffs?

Back to Ichiro...His overall numbers were by far the best we could have hoped for with us, but at 39 I think he is shot and I would rather play Dickerson out there every day rather than Ichiro. My thought was if they could get him for a year at 4-5 mil then maybe worth it, but 13 mil for 2 years???  No thanks.  I do not believe that is money well spent...what do you really think is a realistic expectation of his OPS this year and next?  While with us he was decent/good, but I don’t think the 230 AB’s with us is an indicative of his playing ability as the prior 1800 AB’s where is OPS was about .670, especially when you consider he will be 39 next year and his game was mostly predicated on speed. Ichiro walked only 5 times in all those AB’s with us…I don’t like that part of his game…in fact I hate it. the Yanks go well when they wear down pitchers and I don't want guys who take away from that ability as a team to do it. First pitch outs kill a team.
Ichiro had 2 straight years as the worst every day player in the majors.  My guess is if he can get to .750 that would be at the top end of the specturm and the bottom end is 150 points less.  There are people that do no nothing but make these projections, but if I had to guess, .710 is probably about right...with pretty solid defense (but not great).  That is no where near worth that money and could be filled probably better with Dickerson.

Youk is hard to figure. He dropped off pretty darn quick and that usually doesn’t happen; the real question is was he hurt last year?  I do not know this, but that is the only area (and an important one to know) where this signing makes sense.  His numbers were mediocre overall (.745 - now look at Ichiro), but he played better with the White Sox; if he continued to play well for them I would have said that he just had a bad start, but his final 100 AB’s were not good either (under .700 OPS) and that is the one reason I would not sign him for $12 mil, even if it is only one year.  Youk is a pretty good defender and a hard nose guy and I do like the guys who work the count (one of the reasons Ichiro drives me nuts), but $12 mil is a lot of coin and if you take the two of them (Ichiro) that is 18.5 mil you could have signed a heck of a player, or wait until after the All Star break and pull two significant salary dumps into your roster of $20 mil type of players.  That would be a great shot in the arm.  This would also give you time to develop some players (my main issue last year signing all these old guys who don't project to be better than the young guys.

I would made a bold move and move Jeter to 3rd base as his range is shot at SS anyway and throw Nunez out there every day. I hate his Nunez' glove and honestly have doubts he will ever be average, but he does have the tools, if not the smooth glove.  Jeter should be fine at 3rd base and I would put Dickerson in RF and sign a platoon partner for the OF for a low level signing or a minor leaguer who could be tried.

Kuroda was a good signing for us and so was Pettitte.  $15 mil for Kuroda was probably at market value or below and getting him for one year was good for our $185 mil imposed cap.  I don;t necessarily have a big issue with this cap, but I think the team is not being managed consistently, if you are going to charge such exorbitant prices for seats you need to field a really good team.  the Yanks have been successful because they have spent money on the field which has led to significant money through gate receipts, memorabilia and concessions...if the product suffers so does the revenue brought in.  George understood that; not sure the sons do unfortunately.

Other points:

Excited to see Rivera come back; I hope he can be good...I don;t expect great.  Not resigning Swisher and Soriano but tendering them were very good moves so that we get draft picks for them leaving (and free up their salary).  Just for the record, Swisher is much more valuable than Ichiro as a RF, regardless if I wanted him gone (and I liked his energy)

Pineda should be ready for the latter part of this year; I still have very high hopes for him and even Campos, the other guy who got injured but was part of the Montero deal.  Hard to predict injuries and if you remember I was in favor of the move to trade Montero for them.  At this point what we got has been useless, but Montero proved he really is not a major league catcher and is probably just a DH (as I predicted).  Oddly, he had an OBP below .300 and a slug below .400 so he hit poorly also.  I would expect him to hit well, but if we get the pitchers like they were, we will be ahead in that deal.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Post game 3

Girardi’s lineup was fine, but I would have played ARod over Chavez.  Mostly because Chavez was 0-11 and ARod had hit 2 dingers off of Verlander this year.  I was very much in favor of playing Gardner because he gives you better defense if he didn’t hit.  I would not have led him off, I would have batted him 9th.  As it turned out Chavez made a nice pick for a DP with Cabrera up and he also misplayed a ball into an error that scored a run, so he didn’t do the job.  Gardner, didn’t hit (but should have walked instead of swinging at 2-3 balls-it was obvious he didn’t have his eye down yet).  Gardner did save a hit though as none of the fielders would have made the catch on the ball he came in for.

Hughes did OK, but made a terrible pitch to Young and hung a slider after the ump blew a call right down the middle on a pitch he was trying to get inside.  If the ump called that a strike the homer might never have happened.  The ump also gave verlander far too many outside pitches (even though that stupid box is too far to the left – meaning you need to move the box to the right so all those outside pitches to the lefty would be juts a little outside).  Actually, that box just simply isn’t that accurate and someone needs to fix it because it is annoying.  Anyway, I felt we were getting the short side of almost all the calls behind home plate.

I have no idea why Joe didn’t walk Cabrera with first base open, but Cabrera made us pay knocking in the 2nd run.

The rest of the game we were sleep walking at the plate again, until the 9th.  Verlander made a lot of bad pitches to Nunez and finally he got on fair and hit a HR.  Not sure why they didn’t throw him more fastballs?  Then after Gardner got out (he had one very hittable pitch but hit it foul), they brought in Phil Coke.  Coke has an OPS of .685 against lefties and 1.050 against righties and Ichiro is up.  I would have pinch hit ARod for Ichiro for a few reasons, although Ichiro has been our best average hitter and it is a risk, but here was my reasoning.  1) Ichiro is a little better against righties, 2) Coke is very tough on lefties and righties crush him, 3) if they make a move to their closer then if Tex gets on, Cano and Ibanez face a righty, 4) better chance for a HR, and 5) ARod has been hitting lefties even in the postseason.    Therefore, it is a move to help the lefties as well even if ARod gets out.  Joe stuck with Ichiro, which I do understand, and then you do have Tex facing Coke (which is another reason to leave in Ichiro), but I would have made the move.  Ichiro got out, but Tex and Cano both singled.  Now the other tough decision, do you leave the lefty Ibanez who really can’t hit lefties, but did get the one hit and has had some huge AB’s?  I answered I would pinch hit, and the people around me were split.  ARod does hit lefties well and I would have liked them to make a move; if they did, I would have brought in Swisher to face their closer if they made a move.  Ibanez really does not hit lefties and Coke is tough on them and that was my thinking.  I will admit though that Joe doesn’t have no doubt decisions here and he decided to go with the hot hand and eschew the statistical splits…one can’t scream about that; but I would have made a move with Ibanez being so awful against lefties for the year.  Fortunately Ibanez got some very hittable pitches and in good counts, but unfortunately he couldn’t square them up.  I called the slider and said if he can put it anywhere close to the outside corner this game will be over…unfortunately Coke delivered on the pitch and Ibanez swung to end the threat and make the season hang by a thread.
Lost in this offensive drought was a very nice job by Logan who looked very sharp.  Time for us to do what the Red Sox did to us…at least Cano got a hit!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Game 3 tonight against Detroit

First, I was away on business and couldn’t post and in fact missed the entire 2nd game (I know crazy – did watch on video after the fact)

I know I predicted a win against Baltimore and that we would lose to Detroit; so why am I so down?  Why are all of us feeling like this series is over?  The obvious hits us in the face; Hughes is going against Verlander in the next game; this is a mismatch on paper.  The other obvious part is this offense has gone into a terrible slump at a bad time and to make it worse; it is not because we have faced some great pitching.  The Yankees have had a lot of VERY hittable pitches that they have either taken for strikes or missed; it has been bad hitting not good pitching. 

Why have any optimism?  Think about it, we hit about as poor as possible; it simply can’t be worse as almost everyone outside of Ichiro and Ibanez (and Tex) are underperforming at epic levels.  With that in mind, we went into extra inning in game 1 and were really only down 1-0 in game 2.  If a couple calls and or breaks go our way we could have won both games.  Some hard hit balls find a hole and we are in business.  If Swisher plays 2 or 3 balls better we may win too.

Detroit has not played that well.  Maybe that is worse for us, but I think it is more of a silver lining.  I have some odd feeling we will hit Verlander…there is no logic behind this though as our offense is horrible and Verlander has been lights out.  In his last 6 games, he has pitched 44 innings and allowed only 31 hits and 3 earned runs.

Hard to understand how Robinson Cano can break a post season record for hitless AB’s…crazy.  Granderson, Swisher and ARod have been bad and Chavez has been 0-11 in trying to replace ARod.  Grandy and Swish have not been replaced and I think Gardner has to be looked at as a spark.  Verlander is a fastball pitcher and normally both are good fastball hitters so waiting until game 4 may be the answer though? 

What about our starters?  Does it make sense to skip Hughes altogether so that we finish with CC, Pettitte, Kuroda, CC and Pettitte all on 3 days rest?  It clearly is an option, but it is hard to know what Kuroda and Pettitte could do…Kuroda already pitched well on short rest, but could he do it again?   Hughes scares me, even if he pitched well against Baltimore, I think Baltimore didn’t swing the bats well.  I would skip him and have a sense of urgency.

Switching gears to something Girardi said.  First, his arrogance in press conference still pisses me off, but I have to say that he can’t be blamed for what has happened to the offense.  He has pushed the buttons as best as possible.  Of course, he should be blamed for having Robby Thompson on 3rd and other situations, but not this Detroit series (he better be correct about Hughes).  Anyway, he was talking about using instant replay for close calls on the bases.  I am not a fan of IR in football and I think the balance of flow in the game has been jeopardized and football is a timed game very different than baseball.  Girardi said something that I have said in the past but had forgotten.  He said in the time it took him to argue a call they could have replayed the play.  I think in baseball where time is not an issue and flow really isn’t either IR makes more sense.  Further, it is more easily reviewed compared to football where you can’t review every single player who is holding or whatever.  The idea that coaches can go out and argue a call is kind of silly when you think about it.  They could make calls just like balls and strikes where you can’t argue them, but you can request a review (x times a game).  I think it would actually speed up the game as the arguing takes longer than a review and getting rid of the arguing would probably be good as kids must watch that and scratch their heads. 

Swisher being booed.  I don’t understand why people boo other than for lack of effort or not running all out.  The Yankees all have had situations where they were not running hard all the way and while it doesn’t matter usually, there were a few times where it might have mattered (Tex and Cano come to mind).  What does booing accomplish; don’t you want your player to do better? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Game 4 Baltimore

Just a quick update on last night’s (or was it this morning’s game?)

The Yankee offense should be embarrassed.  When our best hitter goes 0-6 we are in trouble, however, Baltimore was equally bad.  The pitching was not nearly as good as the hitting was poor and the hitting is what led to such a low scoring game.

The key point in the game was in the 8th inning.  Ichiro and tex lead off with a single so we have 1st and 2nd with nobody out.  Cano is up in this perfect bunting situation.  However, I would have eschewed the bunt and let Cano hit away.  As it turned out it didn’t matter as he grounded out and moved the runners over.  Now the real managing comes into play.  ARod has hit lefties in the postseason but has been atrocious against righties. When O’Day entered the game, Girardi should have pinch hit Chavez as he doesn’t waste a move.  I would bet that Buck would have walked Chavez and then we would have had bases loaded with Swisher up and the infield at least half way, if not in.  At this point you could be real aggressive and pinch hit Ibanez for Swisher, this made the most sense to me because you would force Buck to stay with O’Day or go to someone he doesn’t want to.  Regardless, Girardi decided to let ARod bat (not sure why) and I was hoping ARod would come through.  I looked at the people and I said, I would do something very surprising here and I would squeeze with ARod and Ichiro on 3rd.  ARod may be sucking against righties but he has good bat control and I bet he could get a bunt down…it wouldn’t even have to be good, just get it down and we win the series.  I know the chances were 1%, but I think it would have been an incredible call.   When ARod swung and missed the first pitch right done the middle, I knew we/he was in trouble.  In fact, I would have been OK pinch hitting AFTER the first pitch as well and I said that to the people I was watching with.  If he couldn’t get a piece of that one; he was in trouble.  Of course he got out and Swish weakly flew out…that was the game in my opinion.


It did go on and Phelps was hitting spots really well, but made a terrible pitch and they took advantage of it; it is a shame as he was really good.  It was similar to the terrible pitch Jeter swung at (that had to be a one of the worst pitches I have ever see a batter swing at – the other one was the 3-2 pitch Granderson swung at) and then the pitcher followed up with a grooved pitch to Jeter.  Sometimes you have to scratch your head.

Lineup today…I doubt ARod plays against the righty, but isn’t Granderson worse?…even if he could hit a HR?  I think I would play Gardner to try and spark the team.  The offense is stagnant.

Swisher  2-15  with 2 walks

ARod 2-16 with 2 walks

Cano – 2-18 (2 doubles) with 1 walk

Granderson 1-16 with 1 walk

This is PUTRID.  I play Gardner and give Granderson a blow and he becomes the Ibanez that you use when you need a HR.  So if we do find a way to win, we come back and play Saturday with no rest and we have used CC and two extra inning games the 2 before that.  MLB should be as embarrassed as the Yankee hitters with how they screwed up the schedule.  They don’t make the WC play on no rest but they would make the Yanks or O’s do it here??? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Game 3 against Baltimore

So Much for being undefeated after 7 innings!    WOW!!!  A guy hits a pinch hit solo homer to tie the game and then gets up again and homers to win it!  Amazing.  Regardless of how mediocre he was during the season, Ibanez was amazingly clutch (again) and almost single handedly won the game (have to give credit to the pitchers too)

Finally, outside of batting ARod 3rd (he shouldn’t have), you have to give Girardi credit for making the move benching ARod and putting Ibanez in.  Also, a very big play was the positioning of Nix on the line drive off Soriano that would have given Baltimore the lead…and instead turned into a DP to end the inning. 

Robertson was very sharp and I agreed with all the pitching decisions.  Robertson should have gotten out of the way of the popup but Tex should not have looked at the others and should have just called them off from the beginning.

Ichiro was 0-5 and Granderson has been awful and is far more lost than anyone.  The issue is that Granderson could homer at any time.  However, Saunders is pitching for Baltimore and lefties are usually shut down by him and righties hit him well.  Gardner would be an interesting play, but I doubt Joe makes that move.  ARod should play tomorrow, he should not be benched.

I would try something odd with the lineup tomorrow.  I am not sure if Jeter can play, but assuming he could play, I would drop Ichiro to 9th and I might consider batting ARod 2nd (just a hunch).  If that is too much to ask I would bat Swisher 2nd and Tex 3rd, then Cano and ARod.  ARod hits more like a #2 guy anyway and normally has good bat control.   One other odd choice could be to play Nunez or Nix in the OF against the tough lefty and bench Grandy.  I doubt that would happen.  I gave you some scenarios but if I were making the lineup I would bat Swisher 2nd and ARod 5th.   I would DH Nunez and Nix plays if Jeter can’t.  WE haven’t been hitting so throwing righties at Saunders may be the ticket.  BTW, Gardner is 6-7 against lefties this year…yeah that was surprising.

 Great job by Ibanez!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Game 2 at Baltimore

Very sloppy game for a 3-2 game.  Each team made 2 errors but really had 3 or 4.   Tex let one through his legs, Jeter made one official error and another that should have been real costly but JJ Hardy assumed Jeter would make a play that almost any SS would make and stopped at 3rd assuming there would be a play at 3rd.  I know Jeter has little range, but that was a play that has to be made by a major league ball player and to make it worse he failed to keep the ball in the infield; but we caught a break.  Cano had the same issue, although it was a really hard play, but I would have liked to see him dive to keep the ball in the infield, just knock it down; it cost us a run (even though a much tougher play).  That being said, the play that got me very mad at a time I was supposed to be happy was watching our 3rd base coach make yet another terrible decision getting Ichiro thrown out by 15 feet.  Somehow the catcher didn’t move his feet and Ichiro got around the first tag and then did a little of the swim move and avoided the 2nd tag to get in for one of our 2 runs!  Robby Thompson should have been fired 2 years ago, but if he doesn’t get fired this year then we are not holding our coaches accountable for bad play; the guy is simply the worst 3rd base coach I have ever seen.  Jeter made another error on a bad throw that he stayed back on the ball and honestly looked very shaky on a few other plays.  I don’t know why he is sitting back and waiting for the ball to play him, but he has not looked good defensively.

Pettitte had excellent movement and location on his pitches most of the night.  I felt he got squeezed a little more than Chen, but he pitched well and that is encouraging.  He made two big mistakes; one where he walked JJ Hardy on 4 pitches with 1st and 2nd and 2 outs (after a broken bat hit and another off the end hit) and the 2nd right after that when he hung his slider out over the plate to Chris Davis who lined a single scoring 2.  Chris Davis is perhaps the only guy who has hit the ball sharply for Baltimore.  We really should have taken 2 the way they hit, but our own offense didn’t do well and when we did we hit it at people.  ARod’s numbers look bad, but in the first inning he hit a line drive shot that Jeter took off on and got doubled up.  That is a tough play for Jeter to read, but you are taught to freeze on line drives and Jeter didn’t while Ichiro did otherwise we would have had a triple play.  That was a tough break for us.  ARod did line another ball through the left side which was good to see, but didn’t do anything the rest of the game.  I think against righties, ARod needs to drop to the 5 spot.  I also don’t love Ichiro batting 2nd against a lefty as he didn’t hit the ball out of the infield.

The 7th inning was a big chance for us after we got two cheap hits in a row (Nunez bloop and Jeter’s hit) using Nunez’ speed.  After a FC to Ichiro, O’Day was brought in to face ARod (a good move by Buck).  It was a good battle, but on a 3-2 pitch and Ichiro running, O’Day made a great sweeping curve that was right on the black and ARod missed it.  We needed ARod to foul that off, but you do have to tip your hat when the other team pitches well and that was a perfect pitch.  In fact, I thought Chen made a lot of quality pitches on the black.  After ARod got Buck had the lefty Matusz walk Cano to face the switch hitting Swisher.  Matusz gets hit by righties to the tune of a .932 OPS against righties, but Swisher has bad numbers off of him.  In Game 1, Swisher took two pitches down the middle (one a breaking ball) so I expected him to be a little more aggressive this time.  The first pitch was in the dirt so that was easy to lay off (in fact both runners moved up) and the next pitch was huge as Matusz once again caught the middle of the plate but Swisher watched it; a big chance lost.  After another ball Swisher watched another strike before making the count full.  He then missed fastball off the end of the bat and flew out fairly weakly.  This was our last chance big chance as it turned out.  Tex did lead of the 8th with a single and you could have pinch run for him with Gardner, but in a one run game I understand NOT doing that.  You have to tie it before you win it so perhaps it should have been done.  If it were the 9th I think you have to but I can see not doing it in the 8th so I am not being critical, but perhaps we needed to be more aggressive there?

In the 9th, while we needed to do whatever we could to come back, I said to my brother Jeter will ground out on the 1st pitch and that is what he did.  My feeling was that Johnson would have his better sinker and I was afraid Jeter would try to swing at it after not seeing such a good sinker all game.  I wish he would have taken it.  Johnson looked overpowering unfortunately.

The offense (and defense) needs to be better as there is little excuse for scoring only 2 runs in that small ball park…and it would have been only one if Ichiro didn’t pull a Houdini at home.

I still believe we will win this series and struggle next series, but nothing would surprise me.  They have Gonzalez going (righty) and he has a 2.74 ERA on the road this year.  He is a little tougher on righties but righties have him more HR’s off of him so his overall is pretty equal (he is slightly better against righties (.685-.701).

Cano ( I like splitting up my lefties, but Cano could bat 3rd)
Ibanez (Gardner)

I think he will start Ibanez, but I like Ibanez being the pinch hitter for Martin and I love Gardner’s defense, but I understand this as Gardner has not seen a lot of time. 

With Kuroda on the mound this is the game we should win.  Hughes is up next and he scares me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Game 1 at Baltimore

Before I get to the game, I had written the first two paragraphs below and wanted to send along.

My prediction is the Yanks will win the series against Baltimore.  I do think we probably won't advance beyond this round as I expect Detroit to win and unless our hitters get really hot, I don't think we will beat Detroit...but in a short series anything can happen.People are making a big deal of this playoff format.  The 2-3 format is still an advantage for the team with 3 home games!  If you lost both games on the road then you have to win all 3 at home; it is simple.  Either way that will be the formula and if you win on the road then you can afford to lose one at home?  I think people are making a much bigger deal than it is, although my feeling is that the WC teams should be penalized more and I would go 2-2-1 and if the extra day is something baseball doesn’t want to waste then have the WC team fly immediately to the division winners home and play the day after the wild card game and then do a 2-2-1.  Further, nothing says you need more than one day of travel for the 2-2-1 format?  Just go ahead and give one day in between the 2nd and 3rd game and then if a 5th game is needed there is no travel day.

The Yankee 25 man roster was the same one I would have used.  To me, the only question was Nova or Lowe and I can see taking Lowe.  Nix had to be on the roster just so we had someone who could play defense at 2nd base and SS if we happen to get an injury and Nunez will be in the DH spot with Jones off the roster.

CC Sabathia
Andy Pettitte
Hiroki Kuroda
Phil Hughes

Rafael Soriano
Dave Robertson
Boone Logan
Joba Chamberlain
Clay Rapada
David Phelps
Derek Lowe

Russell Martin
Chris Stewart

Mark Teixeira
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Eric Chavez
Eduardo Nunez
Jayson Nix

Curtis Granderson
Nick Swisher
Ichiro Suzuki
Raul Ibanez
Brett Gardner

This game was ours from the first inning.  We were hitting the ball hard and CC was hitting spots while they were throwing far more hittable pitches.  The game was only close because of some HORRIBLE base running and some bad luck.

In the first inning after a single and a double the Yanks had an early one nothing lead and Ichiro on 2nd and nobody out.  Ichiro was guilty of stealing 3rd at some non meaningful times during the stretch run and actually was thrown out once but didn’t get called out.  However, you do not try and steal 3rd with nobody out with your best hitters coming up IN THE FIRST INNING.  The first inning is the one where pitchers are trying to find their rhythm, trying to find their feel of their pitches and their location.  You don’t do them extra favors, especially when you are already in scoring position with your speed.  Of course, if they give you the base, you can take it, but this was not the case and this terrible decision ran us out of an inning and it had little upside.  It seemed like it was a planned play because ARod faked a bunt?  I am not sure whether it was planned/called or not, but when Girardi was asked about this and when Tex got thrown out trying to stretch an almost homer into a double after not running hard out of the box, Girardi gave one of his idiotic, useless comments that drive me crazy.  I understand you don’t want to call out Tex for not hustling out of the box and then making it worse by trying to get to 2nd, but instead of discussing the bad timing of the Ichiro play, Girardi just chalked it up to “good aggressive play that we encourage.”  Really, Joe, well if you encouraged and perhaps called for the Ichiro play, then you really are a dunce.

Also, how is it possible Girardi didn't pinch run for Ibanez in the 9th inning?  I was going nuts.  Then, after he does a hit and run with Ibanez, and he is on 3rd base he brings in Nunez?  Are you kidding me?  Girardi was asleep.  What would have happened if Jeter missed the pitch?  Luckily Buck was asleep because he had the 2nd baseman cover instead of the SS with Jeter up (a bad move).

These two plays were the reason why the game was close.  The Tex play also had some bad luck involved as that ball was hit hard enough to go out in most parks and hit right at the top of the wall. 

The Orioles found the holes with their ground balls and we were hitting some line drives at the first baseman and we found ourselves 2-2 after Ichiro hit a grounder right at the 2nd baseman and they threw out Martin at the plate (who got on after a very good AB where he worked a walk.)

Buck made some odd decisions that didn’t hurt him (the 2nd baseman covering did hurt them) and ironically the one decision that made sense to me (bringing in their closer Johnson) backfired in a huge way.  I was surprised Buck allowed Matusz, who is similar to Rapada to face Swisher and Tex in a tie game in the 8th inning.  Swisher took 2 pitches right down the middle (I don’t know what he was thinking) before watching strike 3 (questionable call) and Tex walked.  Grandy struck out taking two good pitches himself before swinging at ball 4 (very bad AB by Granderson).

Martin’s homer in the 9th was great and we got lucky Johnson fell behind and really gave martin another hittable pitch (we had a lot last night) and he came through!  Getting all those extra runs was big because in this park you get a guy or two on and one gapper can be a HR as the power alleys are as short as anywhere.  Martin also made the excellent play in the 5th inning on the dribbler down the first base line.  Martin got rid of the ball quickly and accurately but he bounced the throw and Tex not only made a good play to not let it by him, but he caught it and got a huge out.  This one play could have turned the game around as it could have been 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.

CC did a good job with his location, but his stuff was not very good.  CC was throwing about 91 -92 MPH with his fastball and his change didn’t have great movement along with an average slider that wasn’t too sharp.  He did have good movement on his fastball, sometimes sinking it and along with the good location of his fastball he got by as Baltimore did not swing the bats well.  The location of his change was not too good, but it was effective.

CC was a wily veteran out there and based on how many hard throwers are out there, CC is almost a craft lefty as he only hit 93 a few times.

Every Yankee got on at least once.

Jeter’s error almost cost us big time, but we got out of it.  We were a little too sloppy with 3 “errors” as they were all mental errors (Jeter should have charged his ball and compounded it with a physical error)

Overall, the announcers did a pretty good job…they called pitches and got into the strategy; it is rare that I can say that. 

Getting at least one in Baltimore puts us in the drivers seat in this format!  Great win and an exciting one where their closer gets beat and maybe their late inning confidence is a little shaken. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Last game of the year!

Not only did we win the division but we ended up with the best record in the AL!!!  That is a nice accomplishment.  Of course, it means very little unless we leverage it into at the minimum a 1st round victory.

I want to go back to last night’s game (Tuesday).  It is very easy to get on Girardi for all the inconsistent and sometimes head scratching decisions, but I thought he made the right move in starting Phelps over Nova and I liked the lineup with Nunez in there.  I would have batted Tex after the hot Cano, but I agree with batting Ichiro down against the lefty.  Further, I thought Girardi timed his move to take out Phelps at the right time and I thought he used all his pitchers well with one exception and that is I would have let Robertson go another batter or 2 in the 9th knowing that the game was probably in extra innings.  This in turn made him stick with Soriano for more pitches than I was comfortable with.  But, I would let him throw a lot in the postseason and in many ways it was a postseason game.  I also said to my son in the 9th that this was the perfect spot for Ibanez to come in as we needed a HR.  Bailey obliged by grooving a pitch and Ibanez did the rest with a clutch line drive 2 run HR.  That was an enormous hit.  I wanted us to end the game in that 9th but it was not to be.  I also thought ARod ended when he crushed the ball to LC but the heavy air and rain kept the ball in the park and Ellsbury made a terrific catch covering a ton of ground.

Going back to 1st inning, Jeter was very heads up on a fly ball to RF where he tagged up and went to 2nd, but unfortunately got left there after Tex started his horrific game by hitting into his 1st of two double play grounders with 1st and 3rd and 1 out.  Later on with bases loaded and one out he popped up to shallow center on a broken bat where he actually got jammed on a pitch over the plate (Cone and Singleton called that wrong)

Say what you want, but Girardi had a good game Tuesday.

Wednesday had Granderson hit a towering fly ball that had underspin and carried for a 3 run HR to give us an early lead and Cano and the yanks never looked back.  Cano had a monster game adding to a great finish that saw him end the year with a .929 OPS! 

Kuroda also did a nice job against a fairly weak lineup.

OK, we now wait until Texas and the O’s play and then we travel to one of their places for 2 games and then come home for 3.  A lot of people are making a big deal out of this but I would always want the extra home game and I am fine going on the road twice too come home for 3.  It isn’t as much an advantage as 2-2-1, but they have to play another game and I am fine with it.  I would rather play Baltimore as the travel is easier and I feel we can beat them.  I was worried about Detroit and they still scare me and I think they are the favorite to win the AL pennant so I will be rooting against them.  We finished up in a good spot!

I will post on our rosters next, but the key questions are who is our 4th starter, Phelps or Hughes and who do we keep on the PS roster out of Lowe, Garcia, Nova or Eppley?  It may depend on the team we play and I want to look at this.  I actually think the answer is Eppley or Lowe.    I would absolutely keep Gardner as our best lineup may be Gardner in LF and Ichiro in RF with Swish DHing and ARod playing 3rd (Maybe Chavez with a very tough righty?)  I love the OF of Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro defensively.  Again, who we play matters and I will look up what I would go with.

Enjoy the moment folks!  I am not that confident in our team, but I feel much better after Texas lost all those games and even Baltimore lost their last two…at least in the first round.  The playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot so we have a shot!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Please read the post I made Monday below (9-30) about the playoff tie breakers.

The good part Monday was that the Yankees won and Baltimore lost.  Further, with Texas losing, the Yanks are in position to win the best record.  However, Oakland winning eliminated Tampa from the playoffs and they no longer have anything to play for.  We now control our own destiny and that is always good!

Boston played a AAA lineup, CC threw strikes and the results were very good…as should be expected.  His breaking ball had good downward movement and he threw a lot of changes in big spots.  Fastball was still not good, but he threw strikes with it. 

It was good to see the offense erupt with 9 runs and obviously that is enough to win most games.  However, I would have liked to see some more scoring in other innings (only 1 additional run).  Cano is locked in right now and that is exciting as our best hitter (player) needs to be very good for us to win.  Seeing Tex in the lineup makes a big difference and I was thrilled to see Gardner in the lineup and swinging the bat.  I would imagine they will be careful with him, but he will have a lot of time in the off season to take care of anything he needs to.   I love the defense he brings us and if he can get into a little groove should start IMO over Ibanez or Ichiro.  Right now Ichiro plays and Swisher DH’s if Gardner plays.  Ibanez is a PH as needed.  I get the feeling Gardner won’t show enough the next 2 games though and Ibanez will be the DH and Gardner used as a PH and defensive replacement.  Granderson is probably safe because of his HR, but it would be nice if he could get going a little…he is a wild card that could be big.

The other interesting side of this is Swisher over ARod at DH against a righty who is tough on righties.  Chavez has been swinging a good bat and it is not absurd to start Chavez and even Swish while sitting ARod.  We have some flexibility and that is a good thing.  The matchups (splits) and who is swinging well are very important.

Depending on who we are playing I will give you what I would do.  On that note, a questions was posed as to whether I start Nova again and my answer is no, I go with Phelps.  I think Nova has great stuff, but he can’t pitch as a starter right now as he is getting hammered.  I would not have an issue with him being moved to the pen, but he might not make the PS roster

This is a fun time of year…enjoy these playoff like games

Monday, October 1, 2012


Great comeback Sunday!  I was starting to feel like we would be 1 game back after being down 5-1 and Hughes looking awful.  However, we fought back well and stayed tied.  Hughes had nothing and I thought Girardi should have pulled him one batter sooner.  When Hughes is throwing 90-91 and he doesn’t have a good breaking ball, he is in trouble.

Cano swung the bat well and that was good to see.  Jeter got a bunch of cheap hits, but they were important.  I am also psyched to have Gardner back.  I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let him bat and bunt, but I would rather leave him in the game for defense and let him stand there and take 3-4 pitches and strike out.

Tex is supposed to be back tonight!

Important note about tie breaking for the playoffs.  This link is crazy with all the permutations, but if we end up with the same record as Baltimore, we play them in a playoff game to find out who wins the division.  I think this is handled very poorly as H2H record should be used and if that is a tie, use divisional record.  Imagine playing this game and losing and then having to play in the WC playoffs which could be a few games if more than 2 teams are tied?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

9-28-12 (and some post season thoughts)

There are a few items I want to go over and I am glad we won so that some of it doesn’t seem like I am in a bad mood after a loss. 

First to last night’s game.  We were facing a pitcher who was not productive at AA and we were able to hit him.  The two big blows in the game were a first inning 3 run, 2 out double by Swisher and an excellent AB by Martin, who saw a huge repertoire of pitches and on a 3-2 count with two outs lined a 3 run HR over the LF wall (on a breaking ball).

Toronto had two base running blunders that make you scratch your head.  While Leiter had such an issue on the first one, normally when a guy is on 2nd base on the ball is hit to the ride side you get to 3rd, but the issue wasn’t that “he needs to make sure it goes through before he goes” as Leiter said, the issue was decisiveness.  If he took off immediately, Swisher does not make a throw, but he hesitated then hesitated again.  When the ball is hit on a line (even a line grounder), you are supposed to freeze or go back; he didn’t and got caught.  The other was a guy on 3rd who Martin just caught taking too deep a run toward home on the pitch.  It was a called play and the batter happened to swing at the 3rd strike for a DP.  This helped a lot.

OK, on to my thinking…

I have been most disappointed in the Yanks not developing players this year.  I recognize that when you must win (and should win) it is harder to work in rookies or younger players, but this is something an organization must do and also at the major league level not just the minors.  Who have we developed this year?  Maybe you could argue Phelps, but that happened more because of need and one could argue that he has been a yo yo instead of a plan in developing him.  I didn’t go back and read my first few posts (pre season) about the Ibanez signing, but I was pretty clear that I didn’t think it was necessary because I felt we could have gotten at least as much from Dickerson (and he was an example) but also at the same time maybe finding something even better and with upside.   Ibanez had no upside (dead end), in fact, I think we got more than any of us could have expected from Ibanez and overall he still was pretty mediocre with a .749 OPS and weak overall defense (and a very weak arm).   Dickerson has an OPS in the majors of .761 and his defense is very solid.  His OPS in only 14 plate appearances this year is 1.262.  How is it possible that Girardi has not played him more than this?  He seems like a guy who has developed a little late as he was hitting at a .932 OPS in the minors this year in a much more statistically valid 321 plate appearances.  Why would we keep throwing out other guys when this guy may be what we need?  Also, even if you want to work him in, when we are up by 5 runs why is he not in the game for defense?  The logic is just not there with me as you should get at least the same offensive production and you clearly will get better defense/speed.  The guy has produced so why not use him and see if you can ride a hot streak?  Instead we have let him sit on the bench behind a much older guy with no upside?  BTW, I do want to say that Ibanez has been a professional and I have no issues with him, I just think at the start of the year he would clog up a position that we could have used to try and develop someone and that is exactly what happened.  The fact I feel this way and he played better than his .708 OPS last year shows this didn’t make sense.  He could pop a few big hits for us and we will need him to, but you get the point.

On to the big picture of this year.  I am usually pretty comfortable where we are at going into the playoffs and while they are usually a crap shoot, I am not nearly as confident this year as previous years.  There are just too many issues on this team for them all not to haunt us…here are my concerns:

We are deep at pitching, but not great.  Our ace, CC, just came off of a great start statistically, but he is still throwing 92 and his change is not as effective and also his slurve because there is not as much a difference.  CC will give his all, but those 2-3 MPH matter and I am not as confident.  He has been on the DL twice this year…We need him to be our horse again.

Kuroda, who has been excellent all year and has a really nice repertoire of pitches, has not been sharp lately.  Last night, his pitches were extremely inconsistent.  His slider was breaking right to left and didn’t have downward movement, but then all of a sudden it did for a few pitches and then didn’t.  While one could say he makes his pitches do different things (which he does), the situations didn’t dictate them and the fact his command was so off, I think it was just that he couldn’t get comfortable in his release and release point all night.  One game wouldn’t concern me, but he has struggled of late and Toronto without their best hitter is not a great lineup.

Pettitte – I have a comfort level with Pettitte, but counting on Pettitte is risky.  He has not allowed a run since coming back (11 innings), but he faced two weaker lineups.  We will need him, but it is a lot to ask.

Hughes – Overall, his year has been fairly successful with a 4.10 ERA, but his OPS against .759 and that is not good enough.  The HR’s have been an issue and I just don’t have faith in him for a playoff game.  The one good thing is he does not walk a lot of guys and this helps him.

Nova – Love his stuff, but he is not pitching well at all.  The other night, his curve was outstanding and he still got hit.  Something is wrong with his mechanics or he is tipping pitches because he allowed a HR on a pitch high and outside the strike zone and it had some movement and was 94 MPH…it doesn’t add up.  Maybe they move him to the bullpen for the postseason because he is clearly not going to start.  I could see him coming in and being good out of the pen.  I would use him in that role over the last few days.

Phelps – His stuff is fairly common, but he does have good command.  I would think he would be a safer choice than Hughes, but they will probably use him in long relief.  He has a good future as a 3-4 type of guy.

So the starters are not peaking and have question marks…this is an issue

The bullpen is also not as lights out. 

Soriano has given us an excellent outcome this year, but as I have said, he has been lucky and his stuff is not the type of dominant stuff one would expect.  His OPS against is .619 and while not bad, last year for us (when he didn’t pitch that well supposedly) it was .645.  The last year with Tampa it was .509!  This is what I mean by his conversion rate (91%) was far higher than how he pitched and how I see his stuff.  Off subject, it is important that he performs great, not just for us, but it would be the best thing for us for him to opt out of his 14 mil option to sign a 3 year deal for 30 mil or something with someone else.

That being said about Soriano, Robertson is the one piece that really makes me concerned.   This guy was dominant last year and since his injury this year he has not been the same.  First his fastball is down and seems to be closer to 91 than 92, let alone the 94 with explosive life he had before his oblique injury.  I am not sure why all of the Yankee pitchers have their velocity down, but our pitching coach must share some of the blame here?   Robertson has cut down his walks this year which has kept his OBP about equal to last year, but he is getting hit far more.  His OPS against was a fantastic .506 last year and he was dominant with a strike out % of 37 compared to 32 this year.  This year his OPS against is .655 and he has not been as sharp this year.  We used to be able to make the game a 6 inning game, but now I have concerns late in the game and in the playoffs, that scares me.

Joba has been better of late and I have confidence in him and Logan has been reasonably reliable.  This year we have a good 2nd lefty as Rapada is the guy I would want against a tough lefty over anyone on our staff.  He consistently faces the “Josh Hamilton’s” of the world and does a good job against them.  It is hard to keep things great against these big guns, but his OPS against lefties this year is an excellent .523 (.188 batting average).  This is the only plus over previous years.

Our pitching is deeper than dominant in a few areas and that is better for the season than it is for a playoff series.

As for the batting…Granderson has been awful of late.  His OPS has been about .700 for the last 2 months with a sub .200 batting average and a strike out rate of 35%.   ARod has shown no power since his most recent comeback.  Our bench is simply awful outside of Chavez.  Nix has done everything we could have asked, but he is not a great hitter.  .726 against lefties is at least passable, but I hope he doesn’t see a minute in the playoffs.  We have absolutely no people who can hit lefties.   Tex needs to come back and come back at a high level.  Cano has only had an OPS of .829 since the All Star break and he is our best hitter (and player).  He needs to give us his .900 OPS!  Ichiro has been hot, but the rest of the team is struggling and this is concerning as well…we are not peaking regardless of our solid record of late

Coaching – Girardi is not the worst coach in the game, but I hate his condescending attitude when questioned…just as an example, was when he was asked why he didn’t pinch run for ARod as he was coming out of the game and his answer was that he wanted to leave him in just in case we hit around???  Seriously, he said that.  He has been very inconsistent is his application of personnel and without a rhyme or reason.  He has also failed to try and develop anyone and they totally screwed up the Tex situation by bringing back too early and it cost us a lot more games.  He also failed to take guys out when he should have (Jeter comes to mind when he was hurt as well as Tex before he went down).  His feel and decision making has been wrong and not just because of the outcomes.  Clearly a bad move could work and vice versa, but when he has made questionable moves they have failed a lot more than succeeded.  Also, his huge failure at leaving Robby Thompson at 3rd base has cost us at least one and probably two games and hurt us in others.  In a pennant race where every game matters, our coaching staff has given away at least 5 games and that would be enormous right now.

Right now, we have the crap shoot chance of winning our first round (if we don’t play the WC), but I am not confident we will and would predict we won’t.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

9-23-12 add on

This is just a quick add on to the real post below...

Two items; I heard that Brett Gardner is taking live batting practice and he may not be used just as a pinch runner and defensive guy, he might be able to hit as well.  Just being on the roster to help with defense and running I feel is worth it so if he can hit a little, that would be big as well.  As you know, I feel we have missed him dramatically.  Just look at this hot tear Ichiro has been on and how much it helps the imagine a better defensive player as well (but not as hot as a hitter).

Also, I never pointed out the terrible job by Robby Thompson once again.  In the extra inning game on Saturday, Robby sent ARod home with one out and their OF'r made a way off line throw; the catcher caught the ball and had to scramble back to the plate to apply the tag and was just late in tagging out ARod.  The guy is simply incompetent at 3rd base and has terrible judgment.  If that throw were a little off line ARod would have been can't send people like that!  In all my years of watching I don;t believe I have ever been so critical so long about any 3rd base coach.  We used to call him Randolph, wave him home Willy, but he was not nearly as bad.  I did compliment Larry Bowa as I thought he was one of the best we ever had and I was critical of Girardi for not retaining him.  The part I don't get is nobody else seems to ever talk about it? 


This was a poorly umpired game.  We got hurt on about 5 pitches including one to ARod that was absurd.  Oakland only had a real gripe on one of the calls against them.  We also got a terrible call at first base where the guy couldn’t have been closer than 2 feet from the first base bag when Swisher caught the ball and they called him safe.

This game was lost by Kuroda (with help from the umps and Nunez) though.  Kuroda was not sharp again and had little command of all of his pitches.  Occasionally he made a good one, but the slider backed up many times, his forkball was not in the zone long enough to get swings at it and his fastball was not consistent (or as fast) as it has been.

With the score tied at 4 in the top of the 6th (Kuroda had just allowed a run in the 5th), Nunez struck again with his 2nd error of the game.  Folks, he simply can’t play defense…maybe he can learn it, but as I said previously, I just don’t see the mechanics of even an average SS, which I would be thrilled with.  He has the athleticism, but he is a mess and you can’t have him play defense unless it is an emergency.  Anyway, Kuroda got the first two guys to ground out but they had a runner on 2nd and 1 out thanks to Nunez.  After getting a fly out, Pennington lined a 2 out 2 strike single to LF and we couldn’t come back. 

Jeter, who will have to play SS at some point because Nunez can’t, has had a few struggles in key spots the last week.  He has left a runner in scoring position and 2 outs numerous times.  The entire team is struggling, but even Jeter has an OPS of .730 and a batting average of only .273 in late and close situations.  I use the batting average in that spot only because sometimes a single is almost as important as a double.

I looked up some of the “clutch” stats on players and one that was odd was ARod’s.  With 2 outs and RISP he has been awful (.514 OPS only 42 AB’s), but his late and close numbers (defined as 7th inning or later AB’s with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run on deck) he has an OPS of .881 and a .321 batting average…he also is very good in high leverage situations (basically pivotal points in games). 

Just repeating what I have said many times that many of my readers still disagree with me on…while there is little validity to clutch ability (meaning the ability to consistently raise your level of play at critical times), there are clutch performances (getting an important hit).  ARod has been the poster child of “unclutch” hitting and Jeter is the definition of clutch for some people (on baseball-reference it says Jeter is also known as “Mr. November or Captain Clutch”)

Take a look at the below

Career OPS Numbers:  2 out RISP   Late and Close   High Leverage  Post Season
ARod =                            .860             .899                             .965               .884
Jeter =                              .834             .791                             .824               .839

Note: ARod is a better hitter than Jeter so you could expect him to be better in all of the categories, as he is.  However, most of the people on the ARod is a choker band wagon would always say they would rather Jeter up instead of ARod…and that is simply wrong.

Note 2:  I want to also point out that while I may seem more critical than most on Jeter, I think Jeter is 100% class and is and should be the poster child for every young baseball player to emulate.  I tend to take the counter point of the opinions of people, who because Jeter is a great guy, give a bias toward Jeter’s legend because they want it to grow.  I also think (I am sure about this) when people like someone, they overlook when something goes wrong and when it goes well they inflate it.  Of course, the counter to that is when they don’t like someone and something goes wrong, they get into the “there is so and so choking again mode.”

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.   

Baltimore lost and Texas won

Sunday, September 23, 2012


A game for the ages…to come back and win a very important game, against another team fighting for the playoffs was a lot of fun.  It was only the 2nd time in NY Yankee history that they have won being down for runs in extra innings.  I am not sure it equates the same as winning 16 straight extra inning games like Baltimore has done, but it was really exciting.

The game had so many managerial question marks that I won’t go into excruciating detail (as usual) because I don’t want to take away from the great win…but I need to make some comments…

First, a lot of people talk about how much this pumps up the yanks and gives them momentum, etc…I am not a huge believer in that, but clearly playing well is better than playing poorly, but if our starting pitcher goes out and gets pummeled then all that momentum is lost.  We already had momentum as we now have won 9 of our last 10.  The fact is we won and now we need to keep winning.  My goal for the final 12 games was an aggressive 10-2 record.  So far we are 1-0.

Second, Girardi did a great job going to Rapada when he did.  I was at the game (which is why I won’t get as much into the pitch selection as it is harder to see) and we all wanted Nova out at that point.  Rapada did a better than good job getting a DP at a critical moment; bases loaded and 1 out.  I would not have started him the next inning, but Girardi tried to get a little greedy by allowing him to face some righties with a lot of lefties in there.  It was a risk that was not idiotic, but it was odd for a pitcher who is usually used from anywhere from 1-3 batters to be used for so long (also that he has not had the steady work I am in favor of), and Girardi let him pitch a lot more than I would have.  It didn’t work well as all the righties got hits and one of the lefties broke his bat and it fell in for a single.  It was a risk that didn’t work out.

Other points:

I was surprised when they pitched to Granderson with first base open and Stewart on deck, but they got lucky

Ibanez finally cost us two bases in the OF with his defense, but he more than made up for it with more production in one game than he has had in a month.  He was an offensive hero!  He had two homers including the dramatic tying HR and he also got a hustle double where he dove head first into second like Super Man!  Of course, he also tried to dislodge the ball from the catcher.  It was clean, but as an ex catcher I still don’t understand that rule.

While Ibanez was the hero, I didn’t understand why Dickerson is not used more?  I surely would have liked to have the knowledge whether the guy is someone who can be our 4th OF’r…it appears like he should be.

Girardi made a bunch of odd moves PH with Nunez and then having to play him at 3rd but it was a crazy game.

Eppley had one guy to get out in a big spot and he came through!

It looked like the 1st baseman for Oakland came off the bag, but it was really close.  Live I thought it came off, but on replay it was really close.

The Melky Mesa play was an odd one, but it was good he went back and didn’t keep running.  That being said, I am not sure you could see on TV, but Mesa actually started then froze briefly as maybe he thought a line drive might have been caught.  This slowed him up a little and he would have easily scored if he read it quickly…and of course hit the bag; kind of important as a pinch runner, but he was probably nervous.

Huge hit by ARod!

A lot of talk about leaving Garcia in there too long.  The answer is he was left in there too long, but how could you not start him in the 13th inning when he had an easy 1,2,3 inning the one before and he has the stamina?  If you were going to make a move it would have been against the leading off lefty, but then you are going to the last guy in our pen and that is questionable.  I could see doing it and then if he gets him out going pushing him until one guy gets on, but Girardi stuck with Garcia.  After walking the leadoff guy he could have taken Garcia out, but against the righty, he stuck with him.  Wrong move again as he homered.  This is where Garcia should have been out without question, but he after another HR Girardi too him out.  After another HR allowed by the aforementioned lefty (Thomas), the game looked to be over.  After convincing the guy who drove us to stay just ion case we see a great comeback (no small task), we got to enjoy an amazing comeback!

Good job by Wade and Joba giving us 1 inning of scoreless ball.  Garcia did give us 3 scoreless innings as well and overall did a good job.

One playoff note, Baltimore has the tie breaker with us, so we need to be a game ahead otherwise we would become the WC team.  Interestingly, if we are tied and neither team would be a WC team, we would play a playoff game.