Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Genius Maker (a lot here)

I am sorry I have not been as consistent in writing as last year, and over the next few weeks I won’t be able to get much out (all is good, just busy), but I have a lot I want to blast out!

I spoke about how I think they are messing with Phelps in the way they did with Joba and Hughes and we know how that worked out (or how long it took to undo it (hopefully Joba comes back strong).   The Yanks said they put Phelps down “to stretch him out because he is a starter.”  Ok, so now they bring him up and use him in short situations?  Either the Yanks/Girardi is FOS or they are stupid; which one is it?

Kuroda has pitched at least seven innings in nine of his past 11 starts since May 27. … He’s 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA in those past 11 starts.  I stated I liked the signing when they inked him, but I was only looking at the stats; I can see why is stats were solid.  He has a nice repertoire and isn’t a slop pitcher, he can get his fastball up there.

Ichiro!  Let me get this out of the way; this was a no brainer pick up for what we gave up both minor league and money wise.  That being said, the fact we had to is a bad thing.  People can say what they want, but Ichiro is not a good hitter anymore.  Can we find lightning in the bottle?  Sure, and could he be rejuvenated coming to a winner?  Sure as well.  We might even see an uptick from him, but how big of one?  The key why this was a no brainer is this team needed some more speed and some defense in the OF.  In fact, I was in favor of not shutting down Gardner for the year and use him for those two situations and if he had to bat he could bunt, but basically he is a pinch runner and defensive replacement.  Unfortunately, Ichiro is a poor man’s Gardner now with a horrible OBP as he is a free swinger.  I also should note that I have always said Ichiro was one of the more overrated players in the game as people were enamored with how many hits and his batting average, but they didn’t take into account his lack or power and walks.  Of course, his defense has always been excellent with great range and a great throwing arm.  Pardon my own interruption here but I have to speak about this as I was extremely disappointed in the late Tuesday night game.  Ichiro’s great throwing arm needs to be changed to great arm strength because his overall time of when he touches the ball to when the ball gets to its destination is NOT great. 

In the 3rd inning twice Seattle went from 1st to 3rd on Ichiro and twice they should have been out.  Ichiro made strong velocity throws, but he took forever to get rid of the ball both times.  In fact, each time he wasn’t charging full speed (which is OK because the game wasn’t on the line and you don’t want to let the ball by you), but I am OK with that if he gets rid of it quickly, however he then fielded the ball both times then took a half step with his right foot and then “hopped” with right foot coming down again and then his left and then came down another time with his right foot and threw off his right foot stepping with his left with a normal throw.  He took those two extra steps which of course allows the runner to get extra steps as well.  I was so shocked after I saw this I went back and watched it the first time a few times and was a little annoyed.  I thought that maybe he just was off balance or didn’t have a good grip so he double clutched, but then later in the inning the same exact situation happened!  This was very alarming to me as I am big on getting rid of the ball quickly.  There is a reason why a catcher doesn’t take longer to throw the ball down to 2nd base even if he would get a more accurate and more powerful throw; it is because he can’t give the runner another step.  The same applies to an OF’r, but it isn’t as critical because it is a longer throw.  Either way, his overall throw is not that good and in fact was not good yesterday and clearly was not effective…very disappointed.  BTW, this inning was a 2 run inning for Seattle and might have cost us the game as Seattle has an awful offense.  Also contributing the loss was a key moment when the Yanks had 1st and 3rd nobody out and bases loaded 1 out in the same inning and Cano & Ibanez screwed up.  Later Cano redeemed himself but Ibanez K’d again later.

While I am in such a sour mood after hearing Gardner is out for the year (I have said he is more valuable than people gave him credit for) the news got worse when after the 3rd Yankee was hit by a pitch and it resulted in ARod getting hit on the hand and breaking it!  ARod seemed to be just starting to swing well and got his OPS above .800 (.807).  ARod is a brunt of so much criticism because of the absurd contract the Yankees game him, but he is an important part of the team and as much as he is struggling, we could only hope that many of our players had an OPS of .807.  I was listening to Michael Kay talk about the “great” year Jeter is having and I am thinking to myself what is he watching?  I am thinking he must be talking about Jeter’s .758 OPS or his team leading 15 DP’s or his great range?  Now, please don’t take this as a knock on Jeter, the guy is 38 and playing SS, only a few guys have done this, but because he is a great guy (and he is), he gets so many passes.  ARod is clearly hitting better than Jeter, but you wouldn’t think so from the way everyone talks.  BTW, ARod’s OPS with RISP is better than Jeter’s (even though they both are poor).  I guess I don’t think people realize how valuable ARod is even when he isn’t playing at his best and even if he isn’t close to justifying his contract…but that is a sunk cost.  ARod is 3rd in the AL for OPS of 3rd baseman behind Cabrera and Beltre.  That isn’t as bad as people make it out to be and he had an .860 OPS for July…he was swinging pretty well.  This is another big blow for this team.  We are lucky that the competition is as weak as ever this year.  I think we might need another bat now as Ibanez has been slowing down and hitting into a lot of DP’s (his OPS is about .600 over the last two months).  Jones is OK but that is about it.  We better hope Chavez can keep playing the way he has so far; it will be critical now as ARod is probably out until a few games before the playoffs

Oh and why does Girardi try and be too smart?  Freddie had just retired 15 straight batters after Joe sent him out for the 8th inning and he struck out the initial guy in the 8th?  Then Joe takes him out, I assume, because he was pitching too effectively?  Rapada walked his first batter on a 3-2 pitch and then retired his 2nd guy before Qualls walked Montero after allowing a SB and Logan came on to walk the bases loaded (on a 3-2 pitch).  Then Logan allowed a check swing “bunt” down the 3rd base line for the 4th run.  Eplley got them out of it, but why did we need all those relievers when Garcia was absolutely cruising and not even thrown 90 pitches?

I know I have said that I would have Phelps in the rotation instead of Freddie and I still want that, but I am talking about letting a guy who is pitching well to continue and not look for the guy who might struggle that day.  It is about being flexible with your application of statistical knowledge based on the watching what is happening with your human team.

Just closing on Ichiro, I do think he will get some life with us and we clearly need him now, but he is just an extra piece and I do not think he should be batting all the time against lefties.  I would play him and see if he responds, but you should also remember he is also 38 years old and his game was predicated on speed.  Good pickup, but we are not getting a HOF player; we are getting someone who can help us; even if it is just for defense and a pinch runner.  BTW, I was thrilled they batted him 8th.  I might want to bat him 9th so if he does get on base he could try and steal and if there are 2 outs we go to the top of the lineup.  I bring this up because he was on 1st with 2 outs and Stewart was up and I thought I am not sure if I want to risk getting him thrown out and having the “pitcher” lead off.  Either way, I am glad they didn’t even think of putting him at the top.

Just a quick note on some of our hitters:

Tex has been swinging the bat real well and had a great walk against King Felix last night to load the bases.  He also was up with the bases loaded and 1 out and scorched a bullet right at the CF’r and if that found a gap we would have won.  His OPS in July is 1.161 and his overall is now at .847 which is 3rd behind Cano’s .947 and Granderson’s .859. 

That should be it for me for a little while…

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