Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-28

A lot to write about in this game, but the two main issues I had were with Stewart’s pitch selection and Girardi’s extremely odd bullpen decisions seemed like there was no plan.  This is a classic example of why Rivera was the Genius Maker; managers can look like fools without the greatest closer of all time bailing them out!

First, Stewart was throwing far too many fastballs to specific hitters, specifically, De Aza who was 3-3 with a moonshot HR all on fastballs, except the bunt single he had (which I believe was a slider), then leading off the 8th inning, Stewart calls for 4 straight fastballs before he singles again!  WAKE UP and adjust to a guy please.

OK, on to Girardi’s very weird use of the pen.  I am sure he will have some BS excuse, but he made a different move than I would have every step of the way.  Here is the scenario as I see it.  Soriano is clearly getting a days rest and everyone else not named Wade should be ready.  Yanks are up 2-1 and I am assuming Robertson is closing.  Starting off the 8th Nova only had about 90 pitches.  He was throwing pretty well, not grooving too many balls, but he did allow a lot of long fly balls and did walk 3 guys in 7 innings.  He was having more success with his slider against the righty and his fastball and he was struggling throwing the curve for strikes most of the day, although he did throw a few later in the game.  Anyway, I had  DeAza leading off the 8th and after being 3-3 with a long HR I would brought in Rapada to face the lefty and then Youkilis and then Dunn, but I would have been fine with bringing in Logan for those 3 guys as well.  I didn’t like the Nova matchup against DeAza and I felt a mistake was around the corner.  Girardi stuck with Nova who allowed a single to DeAza but was able to strike out Youkilis on a slider that hung over the inside of the plate; we caught a break.  OK, now Girardi should make a move and he does.  I would have gone to Rapada because this is clearly a LOOGY situation and for one batter that is Rapada.  Girardi goes to Logan, who does the job getting done out on terrible 0-2 pitch that Dunn just missed and hit a fly ball to move the runner to 3rd (who was on 2nd after a wild pitch by Nova).  Now with 2 outs and the runner on 3rd Konerko is up.  I would go directly to Robertson here as he can get 4 outs and I may need other guys in a 2-1 ball game.  I bring him in and let him close out the game.  Girardi decides to go to Eppley.  I don’t hate the move, but I would have done something different.  Eppley does a great job striking out Konerko and looking good doing so. 

The Yanks tack on a run with a Tex HR (BTW, they scored their runs on back to back doubles with 2 outs by ARod and Cano, both good shots)

Now a 3-1 lead in the 9th Girardi decides to get greedy and not start Robertson (I am sure he will have some dumb reason which I won’t even watch because there is NO reason for it.  Eppley wasn’t able to bail out Girardi and allowed a single to Rios.  Now with AJ Pierzynski coming up Girardi goes to Rapada to get the lefty out.  Not necessarily the wrong move agai8nst the lefty, but Robertson should have either been in the game in the 8th or at least starting the 9th.  Rapada looks to bail Girardi out as AJ grounds one right back to him and he turns to start the DP and fires the ball into LCF.  Now it is 1st and 3rd and 1 out and now Robertson is in the game (he only got loose during the AJ AB????)  Here was my other issue with Stewart calling too many fastballs.  They brought in a young pinch hitter looking dead red and on the second one he hit a 3 run HR to put us down.  I really wanted a curve ball on both the first pitches…I was ticked!  It was obvious he was sitting dead heat.  Crappy job by Robertson, but Girardi messed that up and clearly had no plan…or at least he kept changing it.

Wise did a great job leading off with a single, but Chavez flew out and then Andrew Jones was blown away on 3 pitches before Jeter stepped to the plate.  Jeter connected on a really well struck ball and I was out of my seat, but he hit more of a line drive and had no back spin on it and the liner was caught back at the wall.  He really hit it well and I thought it was gone when he hit it.  They were playing him deep (as they should) and it made the difference.
Other notes:
·        Tex made a real nice back hand on a bullet
·        Cano doubled up a guy at first on a line drive where he got rid of the ball like lightning and threw a strike to get him
·        ARod had two doubles both hit to LC and deep (good adjustment after swinging at ball 4 away in his first AB)
·        Chavez was up in a key spot in the game with bases loaded and 2 outs after their pitcher walked the last two guys.  Chavez decided it was smart to swing at the first pitch and was way out in front of a slider and dribbled it to the base.  He hit it off the end of his bat.  This was very disappointing and a poor job of plate discipline.
·        Stewart made an outstanding throw to nab a base stealer getting rid of the ball lightning quick and making a perfect throw (which Cano let travel to the tag point as one should…Jeter take notice)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-26

The Yankees were pretty fortunate in this game as they got a lot of cheap hits off of Masterson and even got something I am not sure I have seen; an out called on a fly ball that the player didn't have the ball at the end of the play.  The Yanks were winning 5 or 6 nothing at the time and Wise made a nice effort on a fly ball down the LF line and Wise went into the crowd.  The ball went off his glove as he was flipping into the stands and the ball rolled to a guy about 10 feet away.  When Wise came out the ump just called him out without even looking for the ball.  This same ump made a big call on a ball hit by Stewart that I thought was foul when touched, but there was no good angle to tell (so he might have been right).  Either way, every break went our way until Cory Wade came on and allowed 4 runs in the 9th getting only 2 outs (Damon did get a bloop hit himself).  Wade has been bad of late and I think he needs to throw his change a lot more, but he is not getting the job done. Wade works backward and that is how he is successful.  Ever since he hung that one change for the losing HR they have not used it enough.  Wade threw 14 fastballs (one for the HR and one for the double), 5 curves and only TWO changeups last night. 

Hughes pitched really well and shut out the weak Cleveland lineup for 8 innings.  His biggest issue was fielding as he is in a terrible fielding position when he is complete and he missed two very catchable balls.

ARod hit a bomb on fastball down and in.

Tex turned a nice 3-6-3 DP

We are now 4 games up!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-25

I was watching the beginning of the game with my son and after Kuroda looked sharp in the top of the 1st and John Tomlin (The Cleveland pitcher) got an out, then a walk and then after 5 pitches to Tex (2-2) count I said to my son, “the Yanks will win this game!”  I continued, “They will score at least 5 runs and Kuroda won’t allow more than 3; I am extremely confident the Yanks will win this game.”  

There was more discussion about how early the game was but you could see right away Kuroda had sharp movement on his forkball and Tomlin was not going to make it through 5 innings as he threw so many pitches to the first 3 batters and he wasn’t missing bats (even if fouled off).

The Yanks cruised to a 7-1 victory mostly with Kuroda having an outstanding forkball that the Indians could not differentiate from his fastball.  They swung at a ton of balls in the dirt. 

The other hero was D. Wise who homered and tripled each for the first time this year!  The triple was really a double as he should have been called out which leads me to my next point.  This has happened a bunch of times this year where we score a run on a hit only to see a guy get thrown out (usually the batter) behind the runner.  Now, there are times where you want to ensure a run scores, but too many times we are out by a mile when the runner would have scored by a mile.  Robby Thompson needs to give the signal to the runner on 3rd and then quickly switch to holding the runner at 2nd and he does not do that.  Cano got thrown out at 3rd on a play in this game after knocking in a run.

Switching gears, I wanted to show this trend on ARod

ARod the last 6 years:
2007 – 1.067 OPS
2008 – .965
2009 – .934
2010 – .847
2011 – .823
2012 – .778
This is one of those progressions an older player has…He can reverse it, but maybe he is really slowing down? Bernie had a similar reduction in OPS with an uptick his last year at the age of 37.  ARod will be 37 next month.  Just something to chew on as I believe in general people will trend like this more so than huge drops offs or similar to a roller coaster going down hill with some ups and downs but the trend is down.  This trend is linear.
The standings on the right have us 3 games in front now!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-24

I wrote the below blog two days ago but never sent out an email and wanted to get these few words about last night’s win:
  • Can we put an end to Stewart as CC’s personal catcher?  CC has not looked like CC all year long and it is time switch it up.
  • So much for the pitchers dual.
  • The defense was still very poor and Cano had a rare off day.  Tex could have made a play and Stewart struggled all game.  Two awful fielding games in a row…even the throw home by Ibanez died.
  • So our players do the swipe slide into home where they touch home plate with their hand…and RA Dickey goes straight in and blocks the catcher from the ball…OK, I get it
  • If Robby Thompson wants to be aggressive at the right times; most likely sending Tex home with Stewart and CC coming up would have been a good idea.  With one out I was fine with him holding him up, but he simply doesn’t get it.
  • Logan did great again!
  • Robertson and Soriano got the job done as well
  • Some people were critical of Girardi for leaving CC in too long; I thought he handled it fine.  Wade didn’t do his job again.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-23

Our defense was really atrocious in this game.  Jeter and ARod missed easy plays and Ibanez misplayed a double that should have been caught (of course Girardi made the blunder of not taking Ibanez out after we batted in the 7th inning for a defensive replacement and it almost cost us).  Jeter’s play would have been an inning ending DP and while Nova got out of it he had to work very hard to do so.  ARod caused him to work hard as well.  3 walks were too many for Nova, but overall he pitched pretty well. 

This game showed why it is critical to have 2 lefties in the pen.  Rapada came on and got his guy and then we went to Eppley and who had the Ibanez play get the leadoff guy at 2nd base.  After getting Wright to ground out, moving the runner t0 3rd with 1 out) Girardi correctly went to Logan to face the two lefties coming up.  Logan was very sharp striking out both guys in a huge spot in the game.

The 8th inning was interesting as Robertson came on and was fairly typical in that he didn’t allow any players to touch the ball…walking 2 and striking out 3.  With 1st and 2nd and 2 outs, Nieuwenhuis was up and Robertson threw a fastball inside that he struggled with.  I wanted another one and he struggled with it again.  At this point he could do anything, but why go away form something working so well?  Martin called for the fastball up and in and Robertson hit a spot for the strike out.  It was great to see Robertson look more like himself.  His velocity and breaking ball were good, but the command isn’t quite there and the cut was not consistent on his fastball yet.  But he is getting there as his later fastballs had more movement.

Soriano did his job to close out the one run save; he surely has been getting the job done as closer.

I was critical of Ibanez for his defense, but his offense was huge hitting a line drive 3 run HR.  

Chavez pinch hit for a HR hit the other way on a pitch that was a ball up and away.

The Yanks bats could not hit the slow pitching of C. Young; not really sure why they struggled with an 85 MPH fastball, because some were pretty straight and over the plate, but he did spot some as well and he had a good breaking ball.   

Swisher had an AB leading off the 9th that is indicative of why his walks are down this year.  3-2 count he swung at a slider in the dirt.  It sounds simple, but he has not been taking those bad pitches nearly often enough.  I understand a close ball, but when the ball is in the dirt you have to take your base.  At least he has been swinging the bat well of late!

Baltimore lost as did TB; so a good day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-22

 The Mets have a very weak lineup and in the first inning the Yanks helped them a lot.  Pettitte walked 2 guys and then threw fastballs where breaking balls should have been thrown allowing a 2 out 2 run single.  Finally Swisher made a pretty weak play getting a late jump and then cruising toward the fence in order to time his jump which he still jumped too soon and then saw the ball go off his glove over the fence for a 3 run shot and a 5-0 deficit in the first.  I am in favor of going fast to the spot, but there are some times where timing your jump make sense, but if you are going to cruise you need to time your jump well and Swisher did nothing right and the result was 5-0 instead of 2-0.  Swisher later took the wrong angle on a ball that turned into a double.

After that, the Yankee bullpen shut down the weak lineup, but the Yankees missed a ton of very hittable pitches.  Granderson and Jeter were the main culprits as they got great pitches they just didn’t do anything with (Tex also in the final AB of the game against Francisco who was grooving fastballs).  In the 2nd inning, Jeter had 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs and a 3-1 count to work with and Jeter got a fastball middle of the plate and down a little and he just beat it into the ground.  It was a big moment to try and cut the lead to 3 early on.  Later Jeter got jammed on a 91 MPH fastball that had a lot of the plate on a 2-0 count.  Granderson missed a fastball in the 9th with 1st and 2nd and then took a fastball for strike 3.  Kay said basically, how can he be looking for a splitter with 2 strikes???  I don’t think he realizes that you should be much more wary of a splitter with 2 strikes as you surely don’t look for a fastball with a guy like Francisco; just an example of Kay not understanding the subtleties of the game.  That being said, as a batter you can’t watch strike 3 go by you and you could make sure you don’t get beat by the fastball and then adjust; either way bad hitting…and announcing.  Tex had a very hittable pitch and he just popped it up also in the 9th.  6-4 after a big hole, but the Yanks were given chances that they didn’t take advantage of and they gave the Mets some runs; pretty poor game for the Yanks.

Tex made an excellent diving play toward the first base line; it was one of the times being a righty is an advantage because his glove side is on the line.

ARod took a fastball that was a little high in the middle of the game and he was looking at the pitcher talking to the ump and you could see him speak loudly, “high, that ball was high.”  He then shook his head and was not able to catch up to more fastballs on the higher side.  He screamed “f..k” when he struck out and the ump gave him a long look.  Alex was not happy, but while the ump didn’t cost the Yankees the game, I thought that AB and one earlier to Granderson were very tough calls.  ARod did hit one of his “old” types of homer, a straight away 420 foot blast; that was good to see.  He also lifted up his leg a little more; not sure if the mentioned that but they showed a replay (I watch on tape and don’t usually here the announcers).  I think that will help his power and also increase his misses; probably a good thing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-20

Two more games under our belt; unfortunately the last two were losses!

Tuesday night:

Heyward made a blunder by getting thrown out at 3rd base with 2 outs disallowing a run, but we got thrown out at home twice.  Sending Granderson was the right thing to do, but he should have run on the fair portion of the 3rd base line to make the throw a lot harder from Chipper at 3rd.  Tex probably should have been held up as Heyward has a good arm and he was very shallow.  However, while I am not fan of Robbie Thompson, if you must get thrown out those are the types of plays that at least make sense because they could make an awful throw.  My issue is the same thing I have spoken about over the past years and that is the Yanks all take that feet first but use their hand slide on EVERY play at home.  There are a few times where it makes sense to do that, but it takes the runner a lot longer to touch the base and a straight hard slide is the fastest route.  Tex’s only hope was to run the catcher over.

Kuroda did not have good control of his off-speed stuff and got hit a little; it happens.  The ump was also very poor/inconsistent (both ways).

I would have pinch hit for Ibanez, but Joe stuck with him and he failed.

I wanted to make a comment about Martin.  He has backed off the plate and been swinging a little better, however, he is not reaching the outside corner well enough and he needs to take the ball the other way or we will see him swing at a strike that is on the outer half and break his bat (just as he did).  His hits have been mistakes inside usually.  I think he should move slightly closer

Just a quick note about Tex.  I have said before that he is a really good defender, with a great throwing arm for a 1st baseman.  But I have also said that scooping he is only decent and he seems to make the dramatic lifting of the glove to make the plays seem better than they are.  Many times it is necessary because the ball takes a hop and you need to move the glove fast, but the shot hit Tuesday at him he threw his glove up in the air in dramatic fashion while the ball stayed down and hit his ankle/foot.  I am not trying to be critical of his defense, but I am saying that he makes plays sometimes look harder than they are and this was an example because there was no reason for his glove hand to end up over his head.

Kimbrel, the Atlanta closer, was extremely impressive; he blew us away.

Wednesday night:

I got a lot of flack from some of you when I said Phil has been a little lucky of late…well tonight he got hit hard and often.  I know his numbers have been good of late and this is just one game, but he needs a 3rd pitch to be decent to solid; he also needs to command his pitches better.  He misses his spots too often.

The Yanks were coming back and I think the huge AB that took the wind out of their sales was when ARod was up with 1st and 3rd one out, down 6-5 and he hit into a DP.  The Yanks bullpen had done an excellent job with Eppley and Rapada getting 7 straight outs (Rapada actually struck out all 4 batters and some righties), but after ARod hit into the DP, Wade, Logan and Garcia allowed 5 runs over the final 2.1 innings to seal our fate.

Cano got called out on a check swing where he didn’t even come close to swinging.  My main issue with that was the home plate umpire called the swing and he should not be calling it unless it is absolutely clear.  It wasn’t even remotely close to a swing and there is NO chance the 3rd base ump would have said he swung. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-18

The last two games were fairly non-descript for me.  Usually I have a ton of comments to make, but not too much the last two games.

Sunday, Nova only walked one batter and for the most part kept his good stuff off the middle of the plate.  He didn’t have his best fastball, but he had good command.  Tex had two doubles while Cano and Grandy went yard.

On Monday, the Yanks bottom of the lineup looked like a weak hitting national league club with Martin, Nix and Stewart in the 7-9 spots.  However, with a 3-0 count, 1st and 2nd nobody out, the Yanks gave Russell Martin, who was 1 for his last 18 the green light…and it worked as he doubled down the left field line to knock in a run.  That was a call Girardi made that worked out (there have not been many of those).  It was even better when Jeter grounded a 3-2 pitch threw the middle for 2 more runs.  Jeter later added another RBI ground ball single up the middle later on. Tex and Cano went yard with good shots.

However,  CC was the story going the distance against a team that didn’t really swing the bats well, but CC only walked one batter and struck out 10.  CC still only had his 92-93 fastball (but it had good sink), but his curve was very effective and his change was better.

Ibanez is starting to slump with a .464 OPS so far in June and his overall OPS is down to a still respectable and better than I thought .767.

Switching gears, and I know I usually don't even post about no hitters and stuff, but one really has to take a look at how well RA Dickey is pitching for the Mets this year.  He pitched another 1 hitter today against Baltimore (giving us a 2.5 game lead) and now has a 2.00 ERA and is 11-1. He’s now allowed just one earned run while striking out 63 over his last 48 2/3 frames

 Finishing on the Yankees, The Yanks have now won 10 in a row which is the first time in over 7 years they have done that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-16

Friday’s game:
 Hughes against Gio Gonzalez (8-2) is a tough matchup and Gonzalez looked the part showing an excellent curve ball and a 95+ fastball.  The Yanks really worked the count even when they were getting out by going full almost every guy.  This was huge in the game as Gonzalez allowed only 3 runs, but could only go 6 innings and the Yanks scored 4 in the remaining 3 innings against the bullpen.

Hughes had a lively fastball and a solid curve, but he was a bit frustrating when he didn’t field his position well again and then walked a guy with 1st and 2nd 2 outs; only to be followed by an 0-2 hanging curve.  Fortunately that sequence of bad pitching was pretty much it for Hughes as he also struck out 9 guys.

The bullpen pitched the final 3 innings with Robertson allowing 1 run, but getting his feet wet.  It was a very satisfying win beating such a hot pitcher on a hot team that had won 6 in a row.

Nix made a very nice turn at 2nd base and also made a Cano like play (OK maybe not, but pretty good) that Tex made a nice scoop

Granderson did a nice job going to left on the hit that opened up the game.  I know people get on his strikeouts, but the guy has been excellent!

Saturday’s game:

Washington got on the board with 2 runs, but I felt Ibanez should have caught the ball.  He gave up on it while at the warning track and the ball hit the base of the wall; he should have it or at least a faster guy would have easily had it.  People dismiss defense, but a decent LF’r makes that play.

Pettitte once again had his sharp breaking ball, but had a little more control problems walking 3 in 7 innings.  He was sharp though and with 95 pitches I expected him to stay in the game to start the 8th with the Yanks holding onto a 3-2 lead.    Cory Wade came in though and got the first 2 guys out and then had an 0-2 count going so he looked good.  Martin called for a breaking ball that missed and then correctly came back again but he missed again.  I was thinking that the change was the pitch to throw here or you could go with another curve.  Martin and Wade went with the fastball away and Wade left it out over the plate and the game was tied.  While the pitch was in the wrong spot and a change hung could have been a disaster also, the fastball was the pitch being expected and I think it was poor pitch selection.  After wade walked the next batter, Logan came on.  After a stolen base, LaRoche singled to RF where Wise charged and got rid of the ball quickly to home to get the called 3rd out of the inning.  The replay showed the runner was clearly safe and the yanks got a huge break; most likely a game saving one.

The game then went into extra innings mode until the top of the 14th when Tex got a huge double knocking in 2 runs.  This happened after the same ump who helped us called a really low strike on Tex that made it 1-1 instead of 2-0.  Fortunately, Brad Lidge hung his slider for the double after making it 2-1.

Soriano got the 1st out and then allowed 2 singles before getting a fly out and getting Bryce Harper to ground out to end the game.  Harper was 0-7 with 5 strikeouts!  I was worried because you felt like he was due up to that point…lucky for us his horrible day continued (he did make a nice catch though)

A couple other notes:
·        Jeter booted a ball in the 13th and was smiling more than I was comfortable with.  He did redeem himself after failing to lay down a bunt (and looking bad in the process), he was able to get a single before the Tex double.
·        Chavez had good AB’s during the game and would have had a 3rd hit if Harper didn’t make the nice play
·        Swisher left the game with a left quad bruise as the catcher kneed him on a play at the plate were he was out.  The announcers didn’t see it and kept saying he hit the bat, but he clearly was hit with the shin guard.
·        After homering late in the win yesterday, today the Yanks won without homering; that is the first time this year.
·        Rapada got his guy and Eppley got 5 outs and Freddie Garcia pitched 2 perfect innings to hold Washington scoreless.  Yes, Garcia pitched well and picked up the win!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-13-12

 The game was played in a fairly heavy rain and because of this; many of the breaking balls were not as sharp as normal.  Both pitchers did a good job of hitting spots pretty well though (considering).   

Jeter led off the game with a double as Hudson was not sharp early on and grooved a sinker (his fastball is basically an 89 MPH sinker) to RC for a Jeteresque double.  ARod knocked in Jeter with a line drive up the middle when Hudson got another sinker up in the zone; it was nice to see us drive in a run that way.

Kuroda was in trouble most of the game, but the Atlanta lineup can be worked around and while Uggla can hit homers, you can get him with breaking stuff away and pick up strikes with off-speed stuff inside as he pulls them foul a lot.  McCann was hitting the cover off the ball against us in the 3 games and was the guy I feared most.  Kuroda had a great pattern against McCann in his 2nd AB – he singled in his first AB.  With a runner on 2nd and nobody out, Kuroda threw a fastball followed by 3 straight splitters.  They tried to throw a fastball inside on the next pitch but it ended up on the outside corner for a foul ball.  They decided to come right back inside with the fastball which I thought was a great idea as I think he was expecting going back to something that was not a fastball and Kuroda hit his spot and got McCann to pop up.  This was of note because the first time through the lineup Kuroda was throwing a lot of breaking balls and the 2nd time through he was throwing a lot of fastballs and a lot inside (he broke at least 3 bats in the game).  It was obvious this was planned.  The next time up for McCann was the 5th inning and another guy was on (there were always runners on as Atlanta left 13 men on base).  This time, after a splitter and two sliders the count was 1-2 and they tried the fastball and Kuroda missed for a ball.  Similar to the previous AB they decided to come inside again with the fastball.  This held a higher risk as players don’t like to get jammed twice and Kuroda did not get the ball in enough and it tailed over the plate and the yanks were down 2-1.

Granderson countered with his own 2 run HR (19), after a Jeter single, when he got what was either a change or a cutter that was about 84 MPH and didn’t have any movement; Granderson hit a high fly ball that had under spin which enabled it to keep carrying over the fence.  This is obviously the opposite of top spin which pulls the ball down. 

Kuroda went to some four seam fastballs in the 6th inning and was hitting 94 a few times and then hit 95 on a strike out of Prado.  I was very surprised to see him dial it up to 95.  I think of him more a crafty guy who can throw any pitch on any count and moves the pitches all over the place (in, out, up and down), but he reached back and hit 95 for the first time this year.

The Yankee bullpen shut down Atlanta for the final 3 but Logan and Apply each allowed 2 base runners before Soriano only allowed one in clinging to our win.  The big play was with 1st and 3rd and one out, Apply got Prado to hit into a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning.

I was not impressed with the managerial moves by Atlanta’s manager as in a key spot when Logan was on the mound (2 guys on and down by one run), he let Heyward and Hinske stay in the game.  Heyward is young so I could see that as he wants to play the 22 year old with some great tools, but he is awful against lefties with a .568 OPS (.192 BA).  However, after Heyward grounded out leaving 1st and 3rd and 2 outs, how could he let Hinske, who isn’t even very good to begin with, bat against a lefty when he was 1-11 against them this year with only 1 walk (OPS .321)?  With the count 0-2 Hinske popped out to shallow CF to end the threat.  I would have been killing Girardi for that move and after the move yesterday to take out their starter, I am not impressed with their manager Gonzalez.

Soriano closed it out throwing 7 sliders and only 3 fastballs to the first 3 batters (one on) before throwing 4 straight fastballs to Heyward which he dialed up to 93 and 94 and got Heyward to pop up.

We were fortunate Atlanta never got the big hit, but we are winning the close ones!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-12-12

 I thought the lefty Braves pitcher, Minor, had very good movement on his pitches. Obviously he hadn’t pitched that well before this game, but he has some ability, specifically with the ability to throw a change that had a screwball movement and then throwing a breaking ball that was at the same speed that went the opposite way, which means the batter must pick up the spin or release to know which way it is going.   His fastball is around 91 so it isn’t overpowering, but if he can spot that he could be effective.  The Yanks were off balance against him but I think this game was won because Atlanta refused to allow the guy to stay in the game after 100 pitches.  He was cruising and after getting one out he allowed a cheap grounder single to Jeter.  I would have at least let him stay in against Granderson as the score was 4-0 and Grandy is still better against righties and the Yanks had done nothing so far.  An extra 4-5 pitches so finishing around 105 would not have been a big deal.

Thankfully the Atlanta coaching staff made a call to the pen…a single and walk later ARod was up with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count.  ARod then lined a pitch just over the wall to tie the game and Lou Gehrig for the most grand slams in major league history!!!  A single and walk later and Swish gave us a two run lead on a very poorly placed pitch right in Swish’s wheelhouse. ARod has had some very good AB's, even if he hasn't won all of them

A few other notes:

·        I am still not happy with the lack of velocity on CC’s fastball, I don’t think he hit 94 all game and he was usually 92.  His change is such a big part of his game, but because the batters are not geared up for the 94-95 heat, the change is not as effective.  CC keeps grinding and keeps us close, but I am concerned because he simply won’t be as dominant without the velocity coming back.  BTW, he failed to cover 1st again, but this time it didn’t cost us
·        Rapada came on in the 8th inning to get a lefty and struck him and did his job.  With Simmons (hitting from the right side) I would have taken him out, but Girardi stuck with him with a lefty on deck…and he walked the righty.  Then after Atlanta pinch hit a righty Girardi had the same decision except the tying run is not at the plate and Girardi let Rapada face the righty with a lefty on deck.  It is a risky move, but with a lefty on deck at least there is some logic.  Rapada got Ross and then the lefty to get through the 8th.  I bring this up for a few reasons.  1) I think Rapada should be used almost daily to get the one lefty or a 2 lefties in 3 batter situation.  This was actually his 4 straight game and I wouldn't have let him face so many righties.  2) He is better when used frequently but for short bursts.  I think we see that as he hasn’t been good when he doesn’t pitch for long periods of time…However, when he gets consistent short bursts he is really effective against lefties.  3) I think it underscores the reason why it is critical to have at least two lefties in the pen; it gives the manager so much more flexibility on making moves and simultaneously, makes it harder for the opposing manager because he still has to worry about another lefty coming in.  4) Finally, it also shows why it is best to setup your lineup without so many hitter from the same side in a row…for the same reasons listed in part 3.
·        Martin pinch hit for Stewart in the 8th inning and while I was glad Girardi was not giving up on the 4-0 game and also confused as to why Girardi would make Martin get fully loose again and then go catch?  The idea to have Stewart catch is to give Martin a break and as I have said numerous times, I would like our guys to get a full day of rest without warming up unless an emergency situation arises.  In my view, down 4-0 leading off an inning is not an emergency and Martin should have gotten a full day of rest.
·        I was glad Soriano got out there and got the save; his stuff was still not really good again with the exception of the breaking pitch to Freeman, but his location was very good and location is the most important/effective part of his game.
·        Three weeks ago this team had a .500 record and was tied for last place in the WE ARE IN FIRST PLACE!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-11-12

I haven’t written in about a week so I will just get down some of my impressions over the past 5-6 games.

  • We are tied for 1st place after (hopefully in the beginning) a nice stretch of going 14-4 over the last 18.
  • Pettitte became a much better pitcher when he went to the NL.  His movement has been excellent and his curve has been sharp and he uses both sides of the plate far more than he did before he went to the NL.  Age or not, with movement like he has now, changing speeds and being able to command his fastball to run or cut he will be very effective for us. 
  • Good to see Martin providing some offense!  He is actually doing a pretty well and his .781 OPS is actually better than Swisher’s .772.
  • While on Swisher, his issue is that he is simply swinging at far too many balls.  He has walked only 17 times which are 2 less than Cano.  Swisher is leading the team in RBI’s, but this is why I disagree with the people who talk about knocking runs is all that matters.  Runs will get knocked in when more people are on base, something he is not doing for the people behind him.
  • Tex is getting respectable with an OPS the same as ARod at .796 and is one RBI behind Swisher.  Of course, both ARod and Tex need to be in the mid .800’s in their OPS.
  • Jeter has not been hitting well since his torrid start in April.  His may OPS was .696 and June has been .586 so far.  He also has been hitting a lot of grounders and this has led to 10 DP’s in his last (roughly) 150 AB’s.  He hit into only 1 DP in his first 100 AB’s or so.  Finally, and I said this last year, Jeter’s platoon splits are so great, that against a righty he should not be leading off.  Jeter’s OPS is .696 for the year against righties.  When Gardner was healthy he should be leading off against righties and Jeter should bat last and they should swap against lefties (Jeter leading off).  Of course Gardner is still out and I am starting to get concerned about him…if Gardner has an issue that is worse than originally thought we will need to find a replacement from another team because playing Ibanez and Jones is not a long term solution in my view; even if both have been fine at a .798 and .795 OPS.
  • Jayson Nix drew some raves for his play in eighth inning a few nights ago, getting the lead runner at third base on a fairly routine grounder to shortstop.  It was a very heads up play with some risk to it but even though he hasn’t played a lot of SS this year he made the play.  I say this because if Jeter made the play, it would have been one of those where people talk about all the intangibles he brings to the table.  But, here was a pretty weak major league player getting it done…either way, nice job Nix and good job so far this year as he has filled in pretty well.
  • Kay was killing Swisher for bunting with 1st and 2nd nobody out in the Mets game down by 3 runs.  I think Kay was wrong.  Sure, it didn’t work and I don’t think Swisher was trying to sacrifice as much as trying to bunt for hit, but I think it was a smart move.  It was still early in the game and Swisher has not been swinging well.  The idea there is to get the lead down and moving two runners over is NOT a bad play there.  While the bunt didn’t work, what if he hit into a DP?  I actually think trying to bunt for a hit was a good idea.  The odds of getting one run across would have been very good and 2 runners would have been in scoring position.  If the score gets cut to 3-1 or 3-2 it is a new ball game.  Like I said, if he doesn’t beat it out but moves the runners along I would have been fine with that.  The hindsight managing is silly and from what I heard Girardi had a “talk” with him and that scares me because I don’t think Girardi understands it either.  Would he have that talk with him if he beat it out or maybe just got the sac and the next hitter singled in 2?  Doubtful, Girardi’s comment would have been, “it’s a heads up play because even if it didn’t beat it out, he would have moved two runners over” or “getting two runners over got us back in the game.”  But because he bunted poorly, he had to get spoken too?  I am not buying that.
  • While on Girardi, I liked that he pulled Soriano in the Mets game.  He had nothing and his curve was not sharp.  Honestly, I said this before, Soriano’s stuff has not been sharp, but he has been getting the job done since taking over the closing role.  He can throw any pitch on any count which is good, but when his fastball is 91 and his curve is not sharp, he won’t be good.  I know Logan got a little lucky, but Girardi showed me something pulling Soriano there.  Girardi also showed he was concerned about Soriano last night using Wade to get the1st out in the 9th and Logan for the final two to save the 3-0 game.
  • Oh, Cano made a very nice play to finish the Mets game Sunday…he did boot one earlier, but the game was saved by Cano there…and Cano is now leading our team in OPS.
  • The starting pitching had a very good run through the last two times and that is encouraging.  Hughes and Nova have been better and obviously Kuroda.  CC hasn’t been as sharp, but the guy is a horse.  BTW, even though he gets the run support and it is the reason, Nova leads our team in wins at 8-2…and he did have a nice line drive hit to RC.
  • Boston is now 6.5 games back and in last

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-3

Saturday’s game was similar frustration with the lack of hitting in key spots.  Detroit handed us opportunities and we even with 4 walks in one inning we could only get one run.  I don’t want to say the walks are not earned as being patient has advantages, but the main piece of information I took from this game was that I didn’t remember a game where we had so many hittable pitches and we simply could not square up a ball.  People talk about “if it wasn’t for that one pitch to …” but reality is that there are usually at least a handful of bad pitches but people only remember the ones that get hit.  Well, the Yanks got a at least 15 very hittable mistakes and we simply missed them.

Jeter got Sunday going in the first pitch of the game with a dinger.  The Yanks actually swung the bat well and did not chase Verlander's breaking ball and took advantage of Verlander being off his spots.  ARod turned a fastball around and crushed a long homer to LC (this was very good to see).  Hughes pitched an excellent game.  He still misses a lot of spots and Detroit did not swing the bats well, but what I saw out of Hughes was more movement on his fastball than he has had his last terrible outing.  It also appeared that he had movement both ways (running and tailing).  His change is still too straight and he gets it up too often, but I don’t want to criticize after an excellent performance. 

Detroit's defense is not very good and that looks like something that hasn't gotten much attention.  On Cano's triple the CF'r got a terrible jump and then they ended up throwing the ball away allowing Cano to score...Detroit packed it in after that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Genius Maker 6-1

So much for us always being dominated by some rookies who have never pitched.  We are now 3-0 in those games this year.

CC has not looked sharp all year and is fastball at 92 bothers me because his change at 85-87 isn’t enough of a difference for me.  I know he dials it up once in awhile but he used to be 94 more consistently and then dialing it up to 97 not 94-95.  His command is also an issue but he is a grinder…he just has not been the same this year. 

CC has the highest WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) since 2005 (Before he become a stud) and it has gone up this being the 4th year in a row.  His OPS at .718 is the highest since 2004.  The previous 3 years with us it was consistent at .653, .656 and .666 respectively.  The good part is he hasn’t pitched up to his expected level and like most of the Yanks they are underperforming…yet we are only 1.5 games back.

One player, who has been over performing, in limited duty, has been Jason Nix who is now sporting an OPS of .851!  He also made nice running catch that Ibanez would not have been able to make.  Ibanez, though, is another who has over performed so far.  Unfortunately, I don’t expect either of them to keep this up, but maybe we can catch a break and they can continue to contribute! 

Outside of Granderson hitting a grand slam after 4 straight walks by their rookie pitcher (and he grooved it), the only other thing that stood out to me was the odd decisions by Girardi at the end of the game.  I have said this before, but Rapada should not be used against righties unless you want to hope he gets one righty out in between 2 or 3 lefties.  He also needs to pitch frequently to stay sharp.  A LOOGY (and many guys) can’t pitch effectively throwing once every 10 or 11 days.  Girardi needs to be more heads up about that.  Rapada is very tough on lefties and very hittable against righties.