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.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I have had items to write over all the past games, but will try and briefly go through some thoughts.

Phelps has done a nice job; he will be in the pen, but I feel good with him coming in and his future as a solid #3 guy seems bright.

Toronto lineup toothless without Batista

We got thrown out at home with less than 2 outs in the Toronto series, but I was mad our awful 3rd base coach, I was mad because we got thrown because we did that slide I hate.  Nix’s legs were fully across the plate, but his hand had not touched the plate and was tagged out.  GO IN STRAIGHT AND HARD ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE PLATE WHEN THEY GIVE IT TO YOU AND YOU BEAT THE THROW.  He would have easily been safe…the Yanks must teach that and they are wrong to do so.

Obviously, Ichiro has been torrid, but he needs to be careful stealing 3rd; he was out on one of them.  It would be great if he could give us an OPS of .750.  Also, even though he is hot, does he really need to swing at a 3-0 pitch that was a ball?

Gardner – I want him on the roster for defense and base running and I would bunt him and probably let him swing if needed. 

Dickerson should be playing every minute over Ibanez and should have been all year so that we at least see if there is upside.  I was adamant about it during the signing of Ibanez and Dickerson did real well in the minors and has done well in his minimal AB’s in the bigs. 

Soriano has done a great job, even if he blew the save Friday; not sure how he has done it as his stuff isn’t great, but I would love him to great for us and then opt out of his deal as I don’t want to pay him 13 mil

McGehee and Pearce have been putrid for us

Nunez had another play today where he waited slightly for the ball to get to him and the guy beat the throw.  he has bad mechanics and feel for defense, but if he can use his athleticism and decent stick, he could be good.  (a lot of fluff in that comment by let me say that I don't think he will ever be a solid defensive SS)

Both Martin and Stewart have made excellent throws in the past few games; they both throw great.  Nice walk off by Martin as well, who has been swinging well!

Cano better get his head straightened out as he is not swinging well. 

Hughes was awful on Thursday.  I am not sure if I have ever seen a pitcher miss his spots by as much as he did and as consistently.   

One game up on Baltimore and 2 back from Texas for best record and then getting to play the WC winner (which I would very much like to do)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Genius Maker 9-15-12

I try to not be too negative and call things as I see them, but perhaps that leads me to talk about the negatives due to the fact the good moves seem to me to be the ones that are no brainers a lot.  Honestly that is very simplistic, but I do make my comments without the knowledge of what happened.  I hope over the years people see the credibility in this and not that it is second guessing…now that I have gotten that out of the way…

I do not understand starting Ichiro in the leadoff spot?  Why would you ever want a guy with a sub .300 OBP to be at the top of your order?  Just because he is fast?  That is an awful reason.  I say you just bat him 9th at that point.  However, Ichiro did get a single steal a base and then come around to score with 2 outs…so it worked.  That being said, I want to go on record saying it is not a good plan.

I also have no idea why Girardi would start the weak fielding Ibanez over the slick fielding Dickerson when Dickerson can probably hit at least as well as Ibanez and probably better if he got some playing time.

Onto the game.  It was fantastic to see the great stuff Nova had and this is why I have said I like the guy.  He does seem to struggle a little from the stretch, but that may be because he takes a long time and loses his rhythm.  He was very sharp though and pitched 5 great innings and then in the 6th he allowed a HR to Longoria, which is acceptable as he is a good player.  Nova had a good breaking ball and a moving 94-96 MPH fastball and I liked the calls Stewart made, even on the ones where he allowed hits.  4-1 and all was good.

Until the 7th…What I don’t understand is Girardi’s decision to start Nova in the 7th inning.  First, the thought was the pitch count limit would probably be around 75-80 depending on the game situation.  At the end of the 6th inning, Nova was at 84.  That was perfect…but Girardi, inexplicably send Nova out to throw his warm up pitches and then to face another batter.  Sitting around and then throwing warm up pitches (which are thrown hard) takes a toll and there was no reason for it because at most Nova would face only one more batter.  With so many guys in the bullpen you go to the pen and don’t even think of messing around.  But Girardi, screwed up…not because the first guy got a hit off of Nova, it was because he sent him out there for no reason at all and more importantly, put the team in a lesser position to win the game.

Then after this terrible decision, Girardi compounded it by leaving Logan in to face the righty.  Why not go to Joba right there?  First, I would have started Joba in the 7th to begin with, but then he let’s Logan face the righty who doubles off of him.  Then, Joba got his first guy to ground back to him and that left 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs and lefty Luke Scott pinch hitting.  Scott is a platoon player so I would have gone right to Rapada in this spot because if they pinch hit you could put him on base with 2 outs.  Then you have Wade and others.  Meanwhile if they did pinch hit they would have used up everyone.  Joba did allow the single scoring two and Girardi let TB back in the game with stupid managing.  Of course, he wasn’t bailed out by the pen either, but if he would have done the right thing from the beginning or after screwing that up did one of the other better moves, we probably would have been OK.  Every move Girardi made that was wrong backfired…

Robertson and Soriano did their jobs in the 8th and 9th even if Soriano was VERY shaky.  At least Girardi doesn’t have to think about the 8th and 9th…they just need to do their jobs.

It was nice to see Nunez hit a HR after the bad error.  He did make an unwise throw to barely get the force at 2nd in the 5th inning, but he did get his guy.

We got some help by Madden pitching to ARod with a base open and Swisher on deck and already down 1 run and ARod delivered with a big insurance run.  I would be critical of their manager for that move.

Baltimore lost!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The GM 9-14

It is disappointing to see your ace give back leads but it is hard for me to criticize CC when he has been such a horse.  He is not pitching well and for us to get in, he must improve…I think he will be ok. 

We have too many holes and we need Tex back.  We are not good enough to overcome the loss of Rivera, Pineda and Gardner with anyone else out.  The Yanks really botched the Tex injury and let him come back too early and now it has cost us a lot of games.

The other nugget form this game that really dropped my mood was watching Nunez totally misplay a grounder for the insurance run.  It was simply a horrendous play that everything was done poorly.  Nunez didn’t move, which means he didn’t charge to get on an easy hop and also played it off to his side and looked so uneasy letting it go by him.  It was not even close to professional.  It was disheartening because if you remember, the day before they actually sent Nunez down, I was calling for sending him down to do nothing but play SS as he simply could not be used in the field.  He went down and played fairly well and then up here made a bunch of nice backhand plays.  Then this…We may have to roll the dice with him one more time and the next error shut it down.  I don’t have faith Jeter could be much better.

Ibanez has been putrid and today I was hoping we would finally come through, but nope, he is doing exactly what I was afraid of when I wanted Dickerson over him.  Ibanez is in a slump that I am pretty sure is now 3- 38 with only 4 walks.   

Friday night, the yanks and in particular Swisher missed some very hittable pitches.  However, the one pitch that I felt really hurt was after the 2 run ARod homer to close to within one.  Cano worked a walk and the Rays brought in their closer in the 8th when they were talking about him rarely pitching more than one inning.  One of our goals had to be to make him throw pitches, not only for this game, but the series.  He struck out Martin, but he worked a little.  Then he walked Ibanez on 4 pitches.  The yanks had a chance to make him work and if you didn’t give the take sign (which is probably the smart move), Granderson better be very choosy to swing.  He swung at the first pitch and got out to end the threat and stopped Rodney form having to throw any more pitches.  It was a huge play to swing at the first pitch and unfortunately it was a low pitch and not one he should have gone after. 

Baltimore lost at least

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Genius Maker 9-13

The post below this was added yesterday so please read it as this only is small piece on last nights game.  I thought both offenses did not swing the bats well, but credit Hughes for only walking one batter and hitting spots pretty well.  His stuff wasn’t his best, but he did work in the change a lot more and threw 72% strikes.  Shockingly Hughes ERA is 3.96!  It is hard to trust him, but he threw 7.1 shutout innings and we needed him.  Logan Robertson and Soriano cleaned up the final 5 outs for the shutout.  ARod had 2 hits and a SB, but I am worried about his defense.  He had two balls that he basically fell over and didn’t make the play on.  That is very concerning as his range is gone.  I guess it is not unexpected, but it is a problem for us.  Nunez did a good job all around and he didn’t hurt us defensively.  I am glad the Yankees did what I said I would do (the next day) and have kept him only at SS.  I hope he can become at least average with the glove because he appears to have some offensive game and he is fast.  O’s kept beating up on TB unfortunately…Hopefully TB will continue to lose against us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Genius Maker 9-12

I wrote almost all of this last night late and forgot to send it

Quickly back to Sunday...It was great to see what happens when you get to the middle relief quickly in Baltimore.  For those of you who don’t like the patient guys, it is one of the things that can get pitch counts up and then blow games out against weaker middle relievers...

Tuesday against Boston was a close game because the Yanks could not take advantage of SEVEN walks in 5.1 innings by Lester.  The Yanks also got hits, but Granderson got with the bases loaded in the first, Jeter killed the rally in the 2nd with a DP, in the 3rd we had two men on with nobody out and then 2 K's and a Granderson ground out ended that threat.  The Yanks did get two on a bloop double by Jeter (which I believe was their only hit with RISP).

The Yanks had the lead but Kuroda missed badly and Pedroia lined a homer that just cleared the wall.
In the 7th, they got a check swing hit that Jeter simply didn’t move for until it was too late.  The other day I wrote about the slow motion showing how slow Jeter is to react to balls hit and this is why his range is a lot more limited than people think.  This one I watched in slow motion as well and Cano got 3 steps to Jeter’s first step.  If Cano were at SS he would have made the play.  After an error by Martin they had two guys on and nobody out.  Kuroda struck out Aviles and then Girardi messed up IMO by going to Logan.  Not because Logan is a bad matchup against Ellsbury, actually he is a good matchup, but because Kuroda was fine and could have thrown another 20 pitches if needed.  Logan did his job (getting a grounder to 2nd base, but Logan forgot to cover first base at the same time Swisher messed up by going too far to field the play.  Michael Kay, who doesn’t know better, blamed Swisher, but if Logan did his job it wouldn’t have mattered.  Now Girardi had to go to Joba…who did a great job getting out of the mess that was created on not a single well struck ball that all stayed in the infield.

Sarcasm alert…

Because Joba looked so strong and threw only 6 pitches, Girardi felt the need to bring in Robertson for some crazy reason, with the score tied at 3?  I would have left Joba in there and let him go until he showed some signs of tiring, but Robertson did the job in the 8th and on 13 pitches struck out the side.  He was not awesome with his stuff, but he mixed his curve in and that made the 91 MPH fastball look better…With the score still tied, Girardi must have felt he had to stay with Robertson because in that ONE inning the score didn’t change and that must have caught Girardi off guard.  At this point, I would have tried to get another one or 2 outs of Robertson too as he was looking good and at 13 pitches, he could go to 20-22 and I would be OK.  Robertson got the first guy, but threw a fastball at 89 and didn’t look as sharp, although his curve looked good in this AB.  The 2nd AB he got unlucky as Ciriaco reached out and pulled a low and outside pitch and grounded it threw the hole on the left side, because we were guarding the line.  He had now thrown 6 more pitches so he was at 19, but I was OK leaving him in to face Aviles at this point but I would have been OK going to Soriano as well.  The lefty Ellsbury was on deck so using Robertson for one more batter and then using Rapada before turning to Soriano was the way I would go.  Robertson looked tired as he threw two balls but rebounded to throw 4 straight strikes before Aviles reached on an infield hit to SS on the 5th strike.  Now with 26 pitches, he was shot so Rapada (or a lefty) needed to come in against Ellsbury as obviously Girardi saw how important it was to use Logan before against him?  This time he sticks with a very tired Robertson inexplicably.  I was beside myself…As you know, I feel a guy like Rapada should pitch almost every game for one batter because that is how he stays sharp and when he was used that way he was great.  Girardi had used for only two batters for the 11 days of September so far…Simply idiotic.  The job of the manager is to put your players in the best position for success and Girardi left a fatigued Robertson in against a lefty (who is worse against lefties but not by much) rather than use Rapada and his .187 BA off of him with an OPS of .536???  Predictably, Ellsbury gets the walk off hit…C’MON JOE, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!

Wednesday, Joe used Rapada and he got the job done!  We barely hung on in this game as the bullpen gave up 3 runs in 3.1 innings, but we got out of it.  We better hope our starters can get us 6 and I think we see how important the matchups are with the lefties.  It would appear Joe will go with Robertson and Soriano for the 8th and 9th so we need Joba to hold down the 7th with the help of the other guys. 
OK, now please stick with me on this last piece that has been driving me crazy.  On the radio I heard talks about MVP.  Last night, I guess Kay was talking about Jeter being the “undisputed MVP of this Yankee team.”  Let me be the first to stand up and say…


I am going to try and use something that appears to be missing and that is …logic…
On what planet is Jeter more valuable than Cano?

Before we get into the offense, Cano is a stellar defender, perhaps the best in baseball at 2nd base. Jeter, at best is average and in my own estimation has poor range and his hands are not quick, but he doesn’t make a lot of errors on the balls hit close to him.  While defensive statistics are not that great, they have Jeter as a negative defender.  This mean he is below average and I would agree with that.  He has nine errors and a .980 FP.  Cano is considered a plus fielder and has made 6 errors for a .991 FP. 
Jeter .324 .368 .449 (.817)  30 doubles, 0 triple, 15 HR’s     646 PA’s                                                 Cano .300 .368 540 (.908)  38 doubles, 1 triple,  30 HR’s    603 PA’s

The main difference is that Cano has a lot more power as their OBP is the same and this is why Cano has 25 more RBI’s than Jeter.  Cano hits in the middle of the lineup which does give him more RBI chances, but he also has only 3 less runs scored than Jeter and Jeter has more PA’s.  So Cano is the undisputed better offensive player and the undisputed better defensive player according to facts, stats and logic.  But Jeter is the undisputed team MVP if you listen to Kay?  You may want to go to find the real truth…although they don’t do baseball stats, they just show us all the “undisputed facts” we all here from both sides.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


That was one of the worst calls you will see a first base ump make and it definitely gave us a loss (not sure what the outcome would have been).  We had 1st and 3rd with 2 outs the prior inning and Granderson popped out but we came back in the 9th to load the bases with nobody out and down by 2.  Swisher, who has been awful, almost grounded into a DP, but beat the throw to get us within one run.  With 1st and 3rd and 1 out Tex hit a grounder to the right side and hustled the best he could on his sore calf and dove into first base.  He touched first base with the ball more than a foot away from the 1st baseman’s glove.  A terrible call at a very important time.  Tex probably did the right thing to dive into first because if he had to lunge if his strides were off that pressure might not have been good for his calf.

The umps caught more complaints as Tex was called out on a strike that looked to touching the righty batter box line and Cano actually didn’t swing at a pitch they called a strike…that is hard to imagine when he swung at I believe 7 balls today.

CC was not sharp as his curve did not have good bite and his fastball was usually only 92.  His change was working for him, but I think he needs more than 7 MPH difference, but it still was his best pitch.  The pitch selection was terrible again as Martin’s glove was hit and they pounded the ball…this tells you they are throwing the wrong pitch and to the wrong location.  I don’t why it took Reynolds to hit yet another homer off of us to say that they won’t throw him another fastball unless it is way inside…shouldn’t they have known that BEFORE the game?

They threw a curve to Jones that he ripped foul and then they threw him the same pitch and then he kept it fair this time…???  Mind boggling.

ARod has really helped and having Tex back will also.  The Yanks should have scored a lot more against Saunders, regardless of what Michael Kay said about him mixing speeds etc.  He put a lot of fat pitches over the heart of the plate that we just didn’t hit and we should have.  Too many guys slumping at once.

Ichiro kind of misplayed a double, but none of our other LF’rs would not have made the play (except maybe Dickerson) and I believe the tailing of the hit is not one Ichiro was used to as RF would slice to the right, and in LF the slice goes to the left. That being said, he made a fantastic effort on a HR that he just missed by an inch or 2 that he timed his leap into the wall and then sprung himself up to where just about his entire torso was over the wall and then with his arm extended he was way over the wall.  This also goes to show that if we had Ichiro in LF when Ibanez was he would have caught that 3 run HR from Wieters.  Like I have said, you don’t think about defense on plays like that, the play would just be made.

Very frustrating…

Friday, September 7, 2012


Good to see the bats staying alive after the 8th inning last game.  ARod was taking a lot of very aggressive swings and missing a lot but he connected on a big shot.  Pearce even got into the action.  Cano did a good job with the glove.  In fact, he made a nice running catch over the shoulder style that the announcer said he was the only one who had a chance on it even though it was hit into short CF toward the SS side.  The reason was a great way of gauging guys range.  I slowed up the point of contact with the bat and watch Jeter and Cano move toward the ball, they each “cross-overed” their feet and Cano put down his 3rd step before Jeter got his 2nd step down.  This is why Cano was there.  People don’t see when a guy has bad range very often because he just doesn’t get there…queue OF’rs compared to Gardner.  Today, McClouth robbed Swisher of a HR on a similar play that we could have made on Wieters in the 1st inning but Ibanez was out there instead of someone better.  While on Ibanez (nice segue eh?) why did Girardi make a defensive substitution by putting Ibanez in LF and moving Swisher to 1st base?  Is Swisher really a better defensive 1st baseman than Pearce or Chavez?  And I know without question Dickerson is a better OF than Ibanez, so why not make the move when the score is 7-0?  Ibanez didn’t have any plays luckily but Swisher booted a grounder.  Speaking of booting a grounder (yes, this is a run on paragraph), Jeter hit a grounder that was hit hard, but it was terribly played by Baltimore and they GAVE Jeter a hit.  First, it should have been an error, but 2nd with a guy on 2nd and one out you must knock the ball down and make sure the run doesn’t score…really weak play.

The ump was not calling some strikes that I thought were definitely strikes.  One was right before a HR so it did impact the play and one of the others gave them a 3-0 count with 1st and 2nd.  Fortunately, on the -30 green light they popped it up (much like Jones did on his 3-0 swing).

Hughes just throws too many fat pitches.  Yanks up 7-0, he just allowed a double with a guy on and I was wondering what type of pitch he would make…he grooved a long HR pitch.

So Robertson comes in and gets his two guys.  Of course, he must have read this blog as he faced Adam Jones and threw him 3 straight curve balls and struck him out…Man, why did it take them losing a game to figure out the obvious?

Games are exciting and important…glad we got this one

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sometimes I forget what I write in the blog and what I say to people I speak to.  The other night while watching the Giants game (I have been down all day about that), I was talking to my brother about Robertson.  I have always been a big fan of his, but my comment was that he doesn’t use his curve enough.  I also said that since he has come back, he has not had near the same velocity.  He used to throw 93-94 with that long stride and movement.  Now, he is throwing 91-92 and not been as sharp.  Queue today where I was very unhappy with the pitch selection most of the night.  Outside of Phelps throwing mostly 90 MPH fastballs because he couldn’t get his breaking ball over; I was really ticked in the bottom of the 8th.  I should have been happy after the Yanks worked very hard to put up 5 runs in the 8th to tie the game.  Further, they had hit into another bunch of DP’s and also hot a lot of hard balls at guys.  The 3 run HR that was hit in the first with Wieters at the plate juts barely made it over the wall as well…so a lot was going against us and we still fought back.  Girardi went to Robertson there and that was not a bad move.  Unfortunately the Yanks made a terrible pitch selection.  The count was 0-2 on Adam Jones and Robertson tried a curve (correct call).  Unfortunately it slipped form his hand and ended above at and at Jones for a very high ball.  Instead of going right back with it he decided to throw the fastball.  I said out loud throw the curve again and they threw the fastball and Jones hit a HR and basically just took all the good away from what we had just done.  That was an awful job by Martin…Robertson then threw 3 fastballs (one might have been a change or something as it was only 88 but that would be a very fast change?) and allowed a single to Wieters.  Then with Reynolds coming up – who is hotter than you can be – They threw him 6 straight fastballs until he deposited it over the fence for a HR.  I was screaming for the curve ball…I have NO idea what they were thinking; make the guy move his feet inside or throw a curve, but you can’t give him the same pitch 6 times in a row?  I think they said he has 4 multiple HR games against us in his last 5…Very disappointing because if Robertson can’t get it done for us, and he has not pitched well since coming back; we are in trouble.  Robertson was lights out before his injury, having about 30 scoreless innings with half this year before he hurt himself and allowed 4 runs a few days he went on the disabled list.  Since coming back, he has been effective, but not nearly as dominant.  Tonight, he was awful…but he didn’t use a very good pitch of his and that is his curve.  Also, since coming back he is 1-5.

Head scratcher - Girardi brought in Rapada to face a lefty and got him out wit nobody on and nobody out to start the 5th inning with the Yanks down 5-1.  He then took him out?  Now, I like mixing and matching, but what is Rapada doing in the game there for ONE batter and nobody on?  He should have just let Thomas come in and go for a little bit if he got the first guy out?   Just very odd for a guy who explained the other day in a key spot how he didn’t want to use a guy for one batter (when he should have)…just shows you how FOS he was in his answer.

I am not in a good mood right now, but it was good to see the offense show some life and make the comeback.


 We found a way to win a ball game that was badly needed.  Kuroda wasn’t sharp with his control but his stuff was solid.  Overall, he didn’t pitch that well, but was the recipient of some run support and did just enough to hold down TB to 4 runs.  The bullpen did a good job going the final 3 innings shutting down TB.
It was good to see ARod and Martin help us offensively (and Jeter collected 3 hits).  We also were fairly timely only leaving 4 guys on base.   Both ARod and Jeter made nice over the shoulder type of catches (Jeter’s a little harder) and compare that to Tampa where they coughed one up.  TB’s defense hurt them on the play at the plate where their 2nd baseman (Johnson) threw up the line trying to get Ichiro at the plate.  The catcher gave up on that ball, I guess shying away from contact?
We struck out 15 times, but scored 6 runs even if 2 were unearned.  That is better, but not good enough.  I don’t care as much about the K’s, but we are taking an awful a lot of called 3rd strikes.  Granderson is just swinging through a lot of pitches and Cano has expanded his strike zone too much.  Swisher struck out 7 times this 3 game series…and had no hits.  BTW, Martin is at .202 now.
We need to beat Baltimore now!  Taking 3 of 4 would be great…a split in minimum.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I have a post from the Monday game below that I did not send out via email, so please read that first.

Last night’s game, which now puts us in a tie for first place as well as a very slim lead for the WC, was simply a team that had a fairly weak pitcher on the mound and an offense with too many holes.  The Yankees have only had six hits or less for 5 straight games...this their longest such streak since 1990 when they had six straight games of six hits or less.  The key to the game was on a 3-2 pitch, Garcia threw a breaking ball (might have been his fork ball) that could have been called a strike but just fell below the strike zone and Zobrist did a great job of laying off of it for ball 4 and was on with 2 outs.  Could have been harmless but when Garcia tried to slip a fastball by Longoria away and got it inside, Longoria was able to hit a 2 run 2 out HR making it the key point in the game.

Granderson needs to get his swing healthy quickly and so does ARod.  ARod’s hand positioning looks different to me.  I was not able to compare before and after but something is different?  He is not back yet, that is for sure, as he is 2-8 since coming back and both were very soft liners up the middle that barely made the OF. 

We need to suck it up and find a way to win this game as Baltimore is right around the corner…It was surprising, yet also not so surprising that we are below .500 since the All Star Break.  Tonight we face Moore who is a very good pitcher, but we need to have Kuroda shut them down and find a way to win. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We have really struggled in close games this year. Many people will point to not hitting with RISP and that is a factor, but I think it is because we have too many guys who make outs. Our OBP as a team is very poor, in fact I checked our OBP as a team and in the previous 10 years it was at least 12 points higher than this year’s .332. We have had OBP's in the .360's some years. Guys like Ichiro and Ibanez and Jones make too many outs. I am not as worried about the HR's, I worry we make too many outs which kills rally's. Last night Ichiro was a classic example of what frustrates me. He was up withy 1st and 3rd 2 outs early in the game and instead of taking ball 4; he swung at it and then struck out. Mid game he was up with 1st and 3rd and 1 out this time and he swung at one pitch way out of the strike zone before striking out on another one that was high. Then in the 7th, he had martin on 1st base with a full count, he swung at a breaking ball that was way outside and fouled it off. He then ended up flying out. TAKE THE DARN WALK!

After my last post Bruce had written in the comments section about Cano not hustling. The line drive in the 8th really showed that as he actually stopped running before starting again. I don’t understand why guys don’t run until they know the outcome. You would think when the Mets guy (was it Tito Perez???can't remember his name) didn't run out the double in the WS and got thrown out at home plate that a huge play that possibly changed the WS would be etched in people's minds? I would have also liked to see Cano dive and do anything possible to keep the weak grounder in the 8th from getting to the OF. He did hustle and stretch far but the ball stayed down; a dive there was the play as you must knock it down.  While on Cano, he also made a bad base running play on a soft grounder by ARod where he went back to the bag at 2nd base.  He should have advanced right away on it.  As it turned out I don’t think he would have scored anyway and he got to 3rd, but it was not heads up on his part.

BTW, I know some of you email me and that is fine, but feel free to use the comments section so everyone can read and possibly respond to your thoughts.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I have not been able to write much but I have been watching the games.  Nothing that was so critical to write on, but I did notice Cano in one of his I am going to swing at everything modes for the past games.  I am writing this before the end of the game because I am watching on tape.  It is the 6th inning and the Yanks have a 3-1 lead.  Hughes was not looking good last inning, but he was throwing a better slider (moving right to left) rather than his curve that is more down.  Looks like he is just changing the break angles because the speed is the same.  It is better though.  Anyway, Hughes started the 6th with a walk and he was throwing 88-89 and not throwing well.  Then grooving a pitch he allowed a single.  Right there Hughes should have been out of the game.   Girardi sleeping at the wheel allows Hughes to throw another batting practice pitch for another single.  Surely after allowing a HR to Reynolds earlier, now Girardi would have to take out Hughes?  Nope, he grooves a breaking ball and the Orioles take a 5-3 lead…Now Girardi felt it was a good time to take him out????  Absolutely horrible job by Girardi…unacceptable and absurd.  Hughes had almost 100 pitches at this point.  I am so ticked I had to write this before even watching the end of the game. 

UPDATE AFTER GAME:  Well, as expected, Girardi sucked the life out of the team with a mind boggling non move.  His response after the game was, I thought that was Hughsie’s guy to get out, and he didn’t do it…my other choice is to bring (Cody) Eppley in there, and then to bring in Booney for the left-hander, and then I have to bring in another right-hander. I felt better leaving Hughsie in against Reynolds than what I would have done after Booney. If it’s one out, it’s a different story. But there was nobody out.”

OK, please allow me to respond to these quotes.  First, is it really necessary to address everyone on our team with some sort of a pet nick name by putting a “ey” or an “ie” at the end of everyone’s name?  I don’t think he has every called Robinson Cano…Cano, he is always uses Robbie, yet he uses the last names of Hughsie and Booney…Cody Eppley must be his favorite name as he doesn’t have to think.   

Sorry, to take you down that road, but it is kind of childish all the time…

Now let’s look at what he said…first he throws Hughes under the bus saying it was his job and he didn’t do it.  There are times for that and sometimes a lefty or right specialist or even the guy holding down the 8th inning or the closer just need to do their job.  However, and I have said this hundreds of times, the managers job is to put the players in the best position where their skills have the best chance to succeed.  They won’t always succeed, but that is your job.  For example, have Jeter face a lefty instead of a righty, have Rapada almost never face a righty (and use him frequently), etc…

So after Hughes looked terrible in his first batter walk of the 6th inning and you even noticed it enough to get the bullpen up, why in the world didn’t you slow the game down to ensure that someone could come in to face Wieters if the 2nd guy in the inning got on base and Hughes continued to look bad?  The score is 3-1 and you have a ton of pitchers in the pen because of September call ups.  You don’t need to worry about using 6 guys as you have far more than you need.  Wieters is better against lefties so I would have used a righty like Cory Wade as his changeup is good against lefties and he has done well against lefties even when he was struggling.  I was afraid to leave Hughes in there against Wieters and I would have made a move right there.  But after he grooved another pitch to Wieters and lines a single, there is NO excuse to leave Hughes in there against a guy who already homered off of him.  I would have gone to Eppley or any of the other righties.  Another game on Girardi’s hands.  Keeping Robby Thompson as 3rd base coach is enough of a reason to question Girardi, but yesterday was a joke.  Then his lame excuse of if there was one out it would be different???  WHAT?  You have 12 outs to go and you only need 6 outs to get to Robertson and Soriano and I am not sure if my math is right, but you have at least 6 pitchers to get those 6 outs. 

Back to reality as I have been watching too much fiction on TV lately.

It was great to see Chris Dickerson get called up and play well.  If you remember back to pre season, I was a big supporter of keeping him over Ibanez because I felt they could similarly, but Dickerson had a little upside to only downside for Ibanez and Dickerson is a far better defender and also could be a decent pinch runner.  Ibanez got off to a much better start than I thought (and I on numerous occasions stated such), but he has been awful lately.  Further, while his glove has not been tested much and has not been the liability I thought it would be in costing us games; his arm is one of the weakest in the league and teams routinely take extra bases on him that they wouldn’t off of 99% of the league.  Our corner OF positions of Ichiro, Jones and Ibanez all have OPS’s in the .700 - .730 range…that is very weak.  Ibanez since August 1 (just over a month) has an OPS of about .600!  Jones is even worse at around .480!!!  Ichiro has been mediocre, but he hasn’t SB’s in a helpful way and his defense has been just OK (I hate how long he takes to get rid of the ball even if he has a strong arm).  The other issue and this is why people who complain about homers don’t understand, is that these guys have a combined OBP of about .300.  This kills innings!

The other part that has me upset (do you see a theme), is when Cano has a batting average of .303.  I know his OPS is good and that is all that really matters, but we are talking about a guy who could go down as the greatest 2nd baseman of all time.  Seriously, he is that great…and while some of the reason is that his defense is phenomenal, it is also that he is the best hitter on our team.  If he could just slow down that “I am going to swing no matter what” mentality he should have an OPS over 1.000.  He also needs to get his AB’s against lefties better as he has huge splits – a terrible .620 OPS against lefties and a great 1.101 against righties. 

We need ARod to come back and hit well.  Give us a mid .800 OPS or better.  We really need him. 
All this being said, I am not panicked as we are banged up and we should be able to get ourselves straightened out when we get ARod, Tex and Pettitte back.  We are a flawed team, but the competition is at least as equally flawed.

If the season ended today, Oakland and Baltimore would be the wild card teams.