Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Genius Maker 4-28-12

I was only able to watch bits and pieces of the last two games, but the Yanks got a little lucky in the Verlander game in that Detroit had a lot of chances and the wild pitches (passed balls) helped.  On the winning play, ARod made it happen as he waived Jeter in when Jeter's first reaction was back to 3rd.  ARod is not hitting like we need him to, but the guy has always had excellent baseball instincts.

In yesterday's loss, Nunez played SS and in the first inning he messed up an excellent throw by Martin by being a little late to the bag and not fielding the ball that arrived about the same time as the runner.  He should have made that play and the first inning would not have had a threat.  Instead after intentionally walking Fielder (after falling behind and the correct move), Garcia made a HORRIBLE 0-2 pitch with 2 outs where he placed a hanging splitter on a tee and let up a 3 run HR to Dirks.  Martin had just gone out to talk to Garcia and I don’t know what was exchanged, but it clearly wasn't followed.  On an 0-2 count you simply can't make those mistakes.  The Yanks fell behind 6-1 as Garcia showed why I always liked Colon better and the Yanks chose the wrong guy to stay with the team as his ERA is now 12.51 and he should not pitch again for the team (at least in the rotation and maybe not at all).  Phelps and Rapada kept us in the game and the Yanks made a desperate comeback at the end with a high fly ball to RF that was just short of the warning track that would have tied the game, but it was not to be.  Phelps should probably replace Garcia or if they feel Andy is ready, bring him up.  I am not thrilled with Hughes, but I would like to give a legitimate long leash to him before I remove him from the rotation because once I do, that is probably I would like to let him go longer.

While Martin has not been good overall hitting, Cano and Tex are killing us.  Both guys are barely above a .700 OPS.  I still see Cano swinging at too many bad pitches similar to his I am going to swing no matter what mentality, but mostly, he seems like he is just not getting the barrel out fast enough.  When he is going well he is ripping inside pitches foul and then of course, sometimes keeping them fair, but he is just not doing that so far.  Yesterday he had another one that normally he would scorch, but instead it was just a fly to CF.  Tex has an AB that ticked me off as well in the 9th inning.  ARod had just walked taking 3 straight balls and after 2 more balls to Tex (remember we are down 7-3 as Swisher led off the 9th with a HR) Tex swings at the 2-0 pitch was inside and it ate him up and he popped up to 1st base.  I understand if you want to pick out a zone and try to drive a pitch that you expect to be grooved, but the guy has thrown 5 straight balls and has allowed a HR and the one out (Cano) was not a great pitch...some common sense or at least some patience is in order.  After a single and double Chavez had a chance to tie the game, but didn't get a good swing on the pitch and the game was over 7-5. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Genius Maker 4-25

 Last night’s game first.  Hughes made too many mistake pitches and Texas took advantage of them.  Then they also got two breaks on guys hitting the opposite way when they were beaten, but one went for a HR by Napoli and the other a double that dropped in down the line.  I disagreed with Kay and a little bit Singleton about Hughes’ stuff.  They were talking like 91-94 usually around 92-93 was plenty good.  I am not saying that you can’t be effective at that speed, in fact, it is enough, but when you “only” throw that, you better have very good control of it unless your other pitches are excellent.  I think Hughes’ stuff is actually major league average to slightly above average when you take the pitches and movement and speeds into account.  However, his command of the pitches is poor and inconsistent (he hits a good spot and the misses by a lot).

I have not been happy with Martin’s pitch selection as well.  Sometimes it is just style and while I obviously have confidence in my pitch selection abilities, I am sure martin does as well, but there were too many times where he threw fastballs that ended up getting hit when I thought he should have thrown a curve or a slider.  This happened with Phelps as well.  We saw Texas hit too many 0-2 or 2 strike pitches and I felt it was mostly because of the pitch selection even though the location was not where Martin wanted it (to his defense).  Phelps had an 0-2 count in one spot after 2 fastballs and he called for another one outside and Phelps ball has a tail on it and it came back over the plate.  Maybe Martin didn’t account for the tail, but in that spot, IF you were going to throw the fastball, he should have tried to jam the hitter.  In general we haven’t been pitching inside enough in my opinion.

On a good note, I thought Girardi managed the pitchers perfectly last night.  When the game could have gotten out of control (down 4-0 with the bases juiced), he used our LOOGY (lefty one out guy) Rapada, to come in and get a lefty out.  This is EXACTLY why you have a guy like this on the team and Rapada did his job getting Murphy out and keeping us in the game.  We obviously lost, but that was an excellent (although I think obvious) move.

The one area that I thought Girardi made a mistake was pitching to John Hamilton in the 8th inning with a man on 2nd and 1 out and the score 7-3.  Two other times he correctly walked Hamilton and the last one didn’t work, but that didn’t mean it was the wrong move.  In that 8th inning, what possible reason would you pitch to him there?  Very dumb move, but it did work (just to let you know I am not a Monday morning QB); no way I pitch to him there as you should not be worried about a big inning, you have to stop a run from scoring.  % wise it is also a good move as Hamilton is a great hitter.  It is as if Girardi was burned before by it (and BTW, the next guy getting a single is not necessarily getting burned) so then he stopped doing the right thing.  His inconsistency bothers me.

It is great to see Jeter hitting so well.  It is a great surprise, but we need to get ARod, Cano, Tex and martin hitting more in line with the back of their baseball card. 

Time to lick the wounds of this loss and the loss of the series as Verlander is next on the agenda.  BTW, Texas is a very solid team.

Some quick points on the previous nights.

If you look back on the blogs in the off season I talked about getting Yu Darvish as the one piece I would go after.  Now, truth be told, he got almost $19 mil a year for 6 years so it was a tremendous investment/risk, but I wonder if the Yanks would have gone after him whether they would have traded Montero for Pineda?  That string of moves has hurt us this year as Pineda is now out for the year with a tear in his Labrum.  This is a big blow as everyone was expecting big things out of him.  I get the feeling he might have been damaged goods, but I also want to be honest, I thought it was a good move (I assume he was healthy).  Overall, the very good starter is worth more than a very good hitter.  The early returns from our side are very bad, but hopefully he will be fine in next year.  The early returns from Seattle have not been that great either as Montero has an .685 OPS, but I expect him to hit better, but still not be a good defensively.  I was really looking forward to watching Pineda…but will have to wait.

Finally, I will end with one of those comments Girardi makes that makes me say, “What did he just say?”  Perhaps I should make that a section in this blog?  Anyway, when Girardi DH’d Nunez the other night, he was correctly asked, would you consider playing Nunez in the OF?  This was a polite way of saying why don’t you play Nunez in the OF…but Girardi’s response was a head scratcher.  His answer was, “If I was going to do that I would put him in CF because I am comfortable with what we have in LF.”   I could write for another 1000 words on this, but I would just ask you to re-read what Girardi wrote and then lower your expectations for Girardi. 

What did he just say?

Yes he actually said that…I feel dummer just reading it…yes the spelling was intentional.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Wow, that was a lot of fun!  9-0 at the end of 5, watching the game (DVR) with my brother, we were fast forwarding just looking for anything positive as we felt the game was over.  In the 6th we saw Tex’s homer but then Fox switched to the “perfect” game which we still fast forwarded through.  The last batter checked his swing and it was a poor job by the ump behind home plate to make that call as that is one that needs to be appealed.  It still might have been a no hitter, but I think the perfect game was tarnished.  Anyway, we come back to the Yanks game and we were still fast forwarding at 2x speed and we think we see 9-5 and then 9-8, but we say, whoa let’s back it up and we saw the fireworks.  It would have been much more exciting if they didn’t switch off the game, but watching the Yanks tack on more and more runs was a lot of fun.

BTW, when did Aceves start throwing 95-96 MPH???  He always was a control guy with 92-93 and a good curve (I liked Aceves and didn’t want to see him go).  The pitcher on the mound didn’t seem like the same guy; maybe guys gain MPH when they leave us and lose it when they get here?

I will say the ball is flying out of Fenway and the park is what I call an unfair park because pops ups go off the green monster for doubles and maybe even homers and then you have the Pesky Pole and then RC where if you hit a ball 2 feet to the left you have to hit the ball 40 feet farther for a homer…it just is a crappy layout if you ask me.

Anyway, I can’t get into so many of the specifics I normally, would, but a few comments:
  1. Freddie Garcia had nothing again and was not able to hit spots with 2 strikes on the batters and they took advantage of it.
  2. Bobby V must be kicking himself for not leaving in his starter for a few more outs (he had 99 pitches) even though it was the right move.
  3. It was sad that after the Yanks had the huge lead their defensive team was Ibanez in LF.  I still don’t get why they will not bring up a defensive specialist when that would be useful?
  4. I don’t get why teams throw Swisher fastballs?  I don’t have the numbers, but almost every homer is a fastball off his bat.
  5. ARod has an excellent understanding of the strike zone.  He is more of a line drive hitter now, but his eye is still good.  He also ripped an absolute bullet that just went foul (1-2 feet) so that was encouraging
  6. I thought Girardi managed the bullpen almost exactly the correct way this game.  I would have gone right to Phelps and I would have done it a little earlier, but outside of that, Soriano, Logan (and letting Logan start the 9th against Ortiz) and Eppley with a 6 run lead was the correct way to handle that.
  7. Phelps pitched poorly, but he did get us some innings.  I think he has some ability because he hits spots (usually) and has enough of repertoire to pitch effectively.  He needs to be locked into his spots though as his stuff is not great, but it is good enough.
  8. Ortiz found the perfect spot to hit his 3 grounders through the right side
  9. How is it a hit and not an error when a SS fields a ball and his feet slide out because he was off balance?  I could see a wet field where it was reasonable to assume you could stop but you couldn’t because of the field, but Aviles committed an error and they gave Jeter a hit…not a big deal, but I would change the way scoring is done; including giving a team error on miscommunications and the like.  I also would get rid of the “you can’t assume a DP” when it is very clear a mediocre throw would create a DP. 
  10. And finally, I want to go back to June 26th, 1987.  My brother and I took my dad to a Yankee Red Sox game for his birthday.  Tommy John was pitching against Roger Clemens.  After The Red Sox beat up TJ for 9 runs going into the bottom of the 3rd, and with the prospect of having to try and come back against a great pitcher like Roger Clemens, my dad gave us a jab saying, thanks for taking me to such a good game guys…Well, that bottom of the 3rd was one for the ages.  The Yanks started with a 3 run homer by Dave Winfield and by the end scored 11 runs in that inning!  The game ended up being 11-11 and went into extra innings before the Yanks scratched a run across to win the game!  After that game, Marty Barrett (Sox 2nd baseman) said, "This is a tough loss, a really tough loss. You expect to take one like this to the bank. It's just one game. How many times is this going to happen? Maybe once every 100 years?"  Sorry Marty, we just did it to you again!

I am enjoying watching Bobby Valentine squirm and as I said before I was happy he went to the Red Sox because #1 I don’t think he is a very good manager and #2 I don’t really care for him and his arrogance.  I always liked Terry Francona (good guy and understands the game) so I was glad to see him get booted out of Boston.  I wish Ortiz was not playing well or they didn’t re-sign him because he is a good guy even if we don’t root for him.

We are back in first place…the world is back in order!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Genius Maker 4-20-12

Nova was excellent.  I still don’t know why he doesn’t get the respect of other pitchers.  I have been on his band wagon from the beginning and was ticked when he was sent down last year (makes me wonder if Girardi has a clue).  Nova has good stuff.  93-95 MPH fastball, a good curve and he threw his slider a lot too.  When he was struggling in Spring Training people talked about him being a possible send down…I don’t get it.  With the wind blowing out, getting Ibanez fail to catch a ball for a double and Swisher lose a ball in the sun for a double; Nova didn’t walk anyone and pitched great.

Back on Girardi.  He said that he felt they needed another arm instead of another fielder.  I think he is foolish if he really feels that way.  We have plenty of arms but when Ibanez or Andrew Jones are playing in the 9th inning of a game you are winning, then you could use a defensive replacement.  Ibanez was up in the 8th inning against a lefty that was brought in.  I would have brought in Nunez to pinch hit and then let him play LF (of course I would not have had Ibanez on my team, I would have let a young guy try and develop, but with Ibanez on the team I would have reached down in the minors anyway).  Truth to be told, Ibanez actually got a single (on a changeup) so he did come through and has been respectable, but then made a terrible base running play getting caught in a run down trying to get an extra base on a wild pitch with 1st and 3rd and one out.

Then Girardi continued his idiocy by going to Cody Eppley in the 9th inning of a 6-2 game with the wind blowing out???  Are you kidding me?  Just go to Rivera and end the game, don’t mess around.  I called my brother (I was on delay) and said what the heck is Girardi doing with Cody Eppley?  Well at least after Eppley allowed the first guy on he took him right out, but that is just stupid.

Great game by Chavez with 2 dingers and Swisher added a good game himself along with ARod.  Martin hit a bomb and got robbed of a double on an outstanding catch by Jason Repko, the Red Sox CF’r.  The ball was behind him and it was simply great.

Swisher has 14 RBI, I think that leads the AL

Rivera looked good again and Robertson did his job along with Cory Wade.

Baltimore is losing as I right this which would put us in a tie with them.

Yanks win 6-2!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Genius Maker 4-19-12

I know there were some great things to see in this game and clearly the 3 HR’s by Granderson (along with 5 hits) was a highlight of many.  However, I was very pleased to see the Genius Maker come into a 1 run game and face the 2-4 hitters and mow them down with the best cutter I have seen from him in a long time. The first pitch to Carroll was pretty straight, but then he threw a good one to get him out.  The one to Mauer moved like a sweeping slider and then he threw excellent ones to Willingham to close it out.

Back to the game…Hughes was very frustrating!  Yes, he got a bad break where Nunez continued his awful fielding as he threw a routine play away, but throw first pitch strikes for crying out loud!  Through the first 4 innings he faced 19 batters and 14 of them he threw a 1st pitch ball.   He was settling down a little going into the 6th inning and with a 7-4 lead I understood leaving him in there, but when he walked Morneau I was concerned.  After falling behind 1-0 he came in Doumit powered one out to close the game to 7-6.

Overall, Hughes did not pitch well falling behind, but he did use all of his pitches and showed that his slider and curve can both be used effectively.  He allowed some big hits on his changeup which needs to drop more rather than hang though.  His fastball has enough life, but his control of it is simply poor.  He rarely hit his targets.

Logan, Soriano, Robertson and Rivera shut it down though for the victory!

A few other points:
  1. Jeter had a game tying hit in the 2nd inning after getting a real bad call on a pitch that was on the other batters box; great job overcoming it!
  2. Tex getting his 1st homer was good to see; we need him to be the player he has been (or at least close)
  3. Cano had a very rough game at the plate, but I still don’t understand not playing him in the field.  I understand resting guys, but IMO I let the guys play or take the full day off; all the way off!  No warming up…full rest.  Plus, when you have a terrible LF’r in Ibanez, having Nunez playing for Cano is a big drop off in defense
  4. Speaking of this, I have no idea why the Yankees don’t bring up a good fielding OF’r rather than a pitcher you simply don’t need?  Having Ibanez in LF with a one run lead is just stupid; in fact, I would have brought Cano in to play 2nd base and lost the DH while moving Nunez to LF.  This is a good reason why I wanted the young player on the team
  5. Granderson was phenomenal, but up by 1 and a 2-2 count on ARod in the 8th inning you don’t run until the count is full.  If the count was 0-2, I could see it, but you don’t take the bat out of ARod’s hand there.
  6. The Yankees employed a rare "Tex" shift and Doumit beat them with it (It was a nice piece of "Jeter type" hitting an inside pitch to SS - for a lefty)

The Genius Maker 4-19

I want to say that I didn’t like Girardi’s lineup from the beginning.  The bad news is Gardner had to be put on the DL; his sliding catch appears to have also hurt his throwing arm slightly (although another source said his right arm).  This is hurts the team even more because Ibanez is a poor OF’r and now not keeping a Maxwell type of player hurts.  Ibanez had very little action (we were lucky) and a ball that hit on the warning track could have been caught by a better RF’r.  Not sure if Swisher would have made the play or not, it would have been close.  But Jones (who played left) was not able to get to a few plays that I think Gardner would have.  Knowing Gardner was not in the lineup giving ARod the day off was silly, especially when the announcers said he felt great in batting practice and was hitting bombs.

Now this is what I felt at the start of the game and in hindsight, Chavez was 1-2 so maybe not a huge deal, but Girardi did choose to pinch hit ARod in the 9th inning but he grounded out.

If someone looked at the box score they would conclude Kuroda pitched like garbage.  I think he was very unlucky in the first inning (where he allowed 4 runs).  He actually made a lot of good pitches and they blooped and broken batted themselves to 4 hits.  He did make one mistake on a first pitch strike to Morneau that he homered on.  But he was throwing fine; his sinker wasn't sharp, but he wasn't as bad as the box score.  In contrast, the Yankees offense should have been embarrassed that they didn’t score more off of Marquis.  He was throwing mistake after mistake and we took advantage of some in the 1st inning as we scored 3, but got unlucky as Chavez ripped a one hop line drive DP with the bases loaded and one out.  With the score 4-3 I felt we would win this game as Marquis had nothing and wasn’t hitting spots and I felt Kuroda would not be as unfortunate.

Neither team scored in the 2nd (Marquis made more bad pitches) but in the 3rd Morneau singled and moved to 3rd after the double to RF I felt a better RF might have caught.  After a soft single to left on a good pitch scored another run it was 5-3.  Kuroda did not pitch as well in this inning, but it wasn’t very bad either.

The Yanks countered when Cano homered off another bad pitch by Marquis (there was at least one an AB).

Granderson had some good chances but was not able to come through; he was kind of the goat on offense, but many guys missed hittable pitches.  He also didn’t get to a ball I think he could have earlier in the game.

The Minnesota lineup had a ton of lefties so this was a prime situation to use our two lefties correctly.  After Kuroda struck out Willingham to start the 5th, I said to myself this is where Girardi decides to let Kuroda throw to 100 pitches because he felt he was throwing well enough or just say it was one of those tough break games and bring in the lefty with Morneau up.  When he stuck with Kuroda I understood he was going to let him pitch, unless he allowed 3 hits in a row or something.  Anyway, after falling behind 2-0, he tried to back door a slider (2nd failed time Martin called for this pitch) and he leaked it out over the plate and unlike the Yankees Morneau crushed it for a 6-4 lead.  This was a bad pitch and to Morneau’s credit he crushed it, but Girardi then pulled Kuroda.  I think he should have pulled him prior to Morneau who had his number.  Rapada and Logan kept us in the game as the lefties got us through 3 and 2/3 innings with no runs.

Unfortunately, the Yanks offense did not hit well as they did not take advantage of the opportunities given them.  We did get a tough break when Cano was called out on a DP that he was clearly safe on, but what bothered me was Cano did not run right away and if he did the ump couldn’t have blown the call; it was still a bad call though.

For some reason, Girardi brought in Nunez to bat and play 3rd for Chavez when a lefty came in for Marquis.  With a man on and 1 out I would have brought in ARod to try and tie the game.  Nunez popped out

The Yanks got another run in the 9th when Jeter homered (he has been swinging great), but lost the game 6-5.  The offense should have had at least 8 runs this game, but don’t get too down on Kuroda, with some average luck, he would have allowed 3 runs instead of 6.

One last comment, Cano made a terrible tag on a SB attempt by doing what I usually say Jeter does poorly and that is take the throw in front of 2nd base.  Basically, Cano was falling a little toward home and couldn’t snap the tag and reach the back of the bag and the runner avoided the tag when the throw beat the runner by a lot.  This was a bad play by Cano and combined with him not running right away on the DP wins Cano the Lazy Award for the game (no this is not some official award program I will be starting up).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Genius Maker 4-17

I have been watching the games, but have not been able to post much, but should be able to get back in a groove like last year.

First, I will discuss last nights win and then give some general comments about past games

CC was not sharp all game and while he ended up shutting down Minnesota after a bad start, he was a little lucky more than good.  He did make an adjustment getting a little more on top of fastball and this enabled him to spot his fastball better, but when CC is averaging 91-92 MPH it changes a lot of his game.  His change was not very good location wise and when you add the differential not being as great because of the fastball it didn’t work well.  I have no idea why all the Yankees can’t throw as hard as expected?

Gardner hit a ground rule double that left 2nd and 3rd with nobody out (and one run in).  After Chris Stewart dribbled out on a play Nunez should have run home, Jeter was thrown 6 straight balls, but struck out on the 6th pitch.  This was a frustrating AB too watch as he should have just kept the bat on his shoulder.  After Swisher walked, Cano, failed to get around on a very hittable pitch and grounded out.  He is not snapping the barrel out like he normally does, but I have no doubt he will get it together.

Gardner made a great catch where he bent his wrist back.  He seemed OK as he ripped a double later in the game, but something to watch for.  Gardner’s defense is so outstanding I think people underrate him because of his slap type of hitting.  Speaking of defense, Granderson made a bunch of nice running catches in CF over the beginning of this year.  I think if Granderson hits like last year he is great, but in general he is an average defensive CF’r.

On to some observations from the start of the year

Jeter has come out hitting really well and this is great that he continued his 2nd half hitting.  He has as many extra base hits already as he had in his first 40 games last year.

Garcia had nothing the other night.  No location and little movement. 

When Hughes pitched McCarver was praising how well the ball was coming out of his hand and how good he looked after a scoreless first inning.   I was saying to my family that McCarver is done because I have no idea what he was watching?  McCarver had one of the best calls of all time when he said bringing the infield in during the 9th inning of the WS in game 7 against Arizona with Luis Gonzalez at the plate was a risk with Rivera on the mound.  He talked about a broken bat bloop being an issue.  I can’t blame Torre for bringing the infield in though with the score tied, but you have to tip your cap to an amazingly prophetic call.  But, his time has come in my opinion.  Hughes had a little more velocity than last year, but was missing spots by a lot and he ended up getting predictably crushed.

Robertson has looked good (with a little reduced velocity as well) and has had good control.

I didn’t like the way Girardi decided to let Garcia pitch to the Twins lefties rather than using Rapada, but it will be interesting to see whether Girardi learns anything from his past mistakes…opening day was not encouraging though.

ARod has a weak .674 OPS this year, but he has hit a lot of line drives right at guys.  I expect him to get it together, but it is concerning that the balls that are line drive outs used to be homers or doubles. 

Russell Martin has not hit but he does have 9 walks and a .417 OBP. 

Chris Stewart gives us another excellent defender and while he hit well last night is not a good hitter.  I am better with him than Cervelli though.

The Ibanez watch is going better than I thought.  While his OPS is a non impressive .748, he does have an OPS of .838 against righties.  While that is decent (and better than I thought) it is not very good and I expect it to drop.  I give this update because I hope I am wrong.

Non Yankee news…Congratulations to the 49 year old Jamie Moyer who became the oldest player to record a win.  As an ex player it amazes me that these guys can still throw let alone comb their hair using the arm that much.  I am due for another shoulder surgery later this year as my arm hurts just to hold above my head.  His ERA is 2.55 right now.  I am rooting for him as I remember playing strat-o-matic baseball with his card (which probably is why I know platooning is a good strategy) back in the late 80’s. 

Lester got crushed by Texas yesterday.  Texas and Anaheim are very solid teams along with Detroit.  Boston and TB are a not below in my estimation and Baltimore while on the right path is not there yet.  We will win our division.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Genius Maker - Opening Day!

Might be hard to lose a game in the 1st inning and some may say the Yanks came back to take the lead so it didn’t matter, but Girardi allowing the big inning by an idiotic move was the play of the game.  2nd and 3rd with 2 outs Girardi decided to intentionally walk to get a favorable matchup.  At the time I was saying how dumb this was and you should not walk him…here is why:

  1. It is the 1st inning; it is a long game and you don’t intentionally walk a guy. 
  2. The only time you might consider walking a guy is the guy up is great and the guy on deck stinks and it is a good matchup…again might consider as it is the first inning
  3. The guy was Scott Rodriguez; this is a player with a .674 OPS and a .680 last year; so he actually is not a good hitter
  4. CC was not sharp with anything at this point in time and he could easily make a mistake to a guy who has a lot of power on deck. 
  5. CC now has to make sure he is throwing strikes because the bases are loaded and you can’t walk the batter (this ties into #4).  Of course, this likely scenario played out and CC grooved it for a HR.

Anytime Rivera blows a game it is hard to take, but his location wasn’t very good, and some spotty location/calls put him under.  It started on the 1-2 pitch to Jennings.  Mariano threw a high strike that Jennings took a strike and looked bad on higher fastball, but then they cam right back with another outside fastball that he extended on and hit it up the middle.  I thought the pitch should have been inside so he couldn’t extend.  Then once on, if you notice (and it was pointed out by Cone), Rivera slide stepped and made a pretty poor pitch to Zobrist who found a great spot.  Once in the jam and the game tied, I thought walking the bases was a good move.  Rivera got the big K and now was facing Pena, the pitch selection seemed odd to me.  Instead of using the cutter inside on Pena, he didn’t even come inside at all.  I was ok with the first fastball away strike.  I was also ok with the next two away pitches which made the count 1-2.  But the next pitch had to be inside and use his best pitch.  When I saw Martin outside, I said no this pitch should be inside (and I had already called the pitch to be inside before he setup).  Very frustrating as he made Pena’s job easy.

Other points:

When Gardner was on 1st base with two outs in the 3rd inning, I said that Jeter must take the first pitch unless it is a hit and run.  After about 3-4 throws to 1st, Shields was struggling and Jeter swings at the first pitch.  Just not smart baseball when pitcher is on the ropes and throwing a lot of pitches and even some to first base.  Make him throw more and give Gardner a chance to steal the base.  Kind of selfish baseball if you ask me.

Maddon did a masterful job of matching up his pitchers against the Yankees and didn’t allow a hit after the 5th inning.  Maddon did ask Molina to bunt with 2 strikes on him on a squeeze which was questionable, but outside of that he outcoached Girardi.

BTW, I need to point out that I was very critical of the Ibanez signing and he smacked a 3 run homer that gave us the lead; please make me wrong – I still don’t think I will be, but I hope I am.

ARod had an excellent game both in the field and at the plate; that is a good sign.

The ump really blew a 2-1 pitch to Pena that changed the AB dramatically and on a 3-1 pitch Pena drilled a single setting up 1st and 3rd with nobody out, but Robertson pitched out of it.

Girardi was bad last postseason and a lot of the season and he starts out with a rookie mistake; very disappointing, he simply isn’t very good.  He has a great team and they may bail him out, but intentionally walking a week hitter is dumb in the 1st inning (even if it did work it would have been dumb).

I won’t post for until later next week.

Enjoy the holiday!

The Genius Maker - Opening Day!

Below is our 25 man roster
CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Phil Hughes
Ivan Nova
Freddy Garcia
Mariano Rivera
Dave Robertson
Rafael Soriano
Boone Logan
Cory Wade
Clay Rapada
David Phelps
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
Andruw Jones OF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Eric Chavez 3B
Chris Stewart C

The last name of the list was a trade we made sending Kontos to SF for this backup catcher who is a bad hitter but an excellent defender with a great arm.  Cervelli was sent down for Stewart (which was more of a gain depth move) and many Yankee fans felt it was tough to do to Cervelli.  Cervelli has had two years in a row where he threw out only 14% of the base runners attempting to steal.  That is awful, even when you take the poor job the Yankee pitchers do of holding runners on. Martin is over average (30%) as perspective and he throws really well.  It isn't a big deal, but I was OK with the move.

As many of you have read over the years, I am a huge believer that you need two lefties out of the pen; having only one lefty gives the opposing manager a lot less to worry about and you lose matchups at key points.  We had two lefties that were looking good before one got injured (not including Logan) and I was a little happy Logan got a sore back because it forced the Yankees hand to carry a 2nd lefty.  Rapada seems like the LOOGY (lefty one out guy) as he has a track record.  So I am happy we have him, I hope he pitches well (gets lefties out at a good rate).

I was disappointed in the Yankees giving money to Ibanez (not too much) and I would have rathered give the opportunity to a Maxwell or even a Chris Dickerson, but the Yanks are sticking with Ibanez; I hope he earns his money, but I have my doubts and I would not have counted him in as the DH against righties.  BTW, while taking credit for a low level signing working out is not something to hang your hat on, but Hall was given his release and I had him in the same category as Ibanez.  I did want to see what Branyan could do compared to Ibanez, but he is been out with a bad back so nothing happened there.  Here's to Ibanez proving me wrong.

I am obviously disappointed that Pineda didn't throw hard and is now on the DL with a sore shoulder.  This seems VERY minor, but when you make a big trade like this, you want to at least get what you thought you had and it is disturbing he came down with a Hughes type of loss of velocity.  I am still bullish on Pineda, but coming into camp overweight and learning the change-up I believe led to the sore shoulder...we shall see.

Overall, I think our team is in very good shape and we have two good starters in extended Spring Training  (Pettitte and Pineda).

This is probably the Genius Maker's last year.  I get the feeling 42 is the right number (in many ways) and regardless of how he performs he will hang it up...but nothing would surprise me with athletes who can still perform at a high level.  It would be hard to hang it up if you are still one of the best relievers in the game (which he clearly and amazingly still has been over the last few years)

I will post after game one and then take a few days off before getting back to action.

Boston 0-1!