Monday, July 29, 2013

Welcome Back Mr. Jeter

Welcome back Derek!  First pitch homer helped get the team going but Hughes could not hit any consistent spots and was bad.  Great win though and it was really good to see smiles from the team at the end of the game.

Soriano and Ichiro had great offensive days getting 8 combined hits.  I wonder why teams throw Ichiro so many fastballs?  I don’t have the numbers, but he seems much better at hitting fastballs than breaking balls.

Getting Jeter back and Soriano gives us more depth now.  Stewart still batted for himself in the 8th inning with the go ahead run on 2nd base, but it is good we have at least some option.  The other night with the game on the line in the 9th inning (1 run game) it is absolutely absurd and embarrassing that Stewart was our best option at the plate.  Seriously, that is just pathetic.

Other notes:

I hope Mark Texiera watched the game last night as the Yanks put the shift on for matt Joyce, winning 3-0 with a guy on 1st base and one out…so what did his manager make him do?  Just bunt the ball anywhere down the 3rd base line for an easy single.  He even tried it on the pitch before showing the Yanks what he would do…that led to a run.  When Tex said that isn’t my game, I was pretty mad; if the defense gives you that you should take it or at least attempt it a reasonable amount of time.  Anyone’s game should be to get on base without making an out.

Was good to see the Yanks getting some fundamentals done in the 1st 1inning with Wells getting the sac fly, Soriano went to 2nd on a wild pitch and then on a single by Ichiro Soriano scored and Ichiro went to 2nd on the throw.  He didn’t score, but he played it right.

Tampa’s defense didn’t help them as Jeter got a little of a gift as the 2nd baseman misjudged his blooper and on Soriano’s HR, the RF Myers, should have gotten closer to the wall and I think he would have caught the HR that just cleared the wall (hit on top of the wall on the cement)

Adams seems like he has a quick bat on the lower pitches but struggles on the up and in pitches (fastballs).

Lillibridge made a bad play in the field the other night but has been steady since including a real nice diving stop to his left.  He has not been able to hit though.

Cano had a terrible jump on a ball to his left where he took a step to his right first and then dived late at the ball.  I think that should have been a play where you make that moving toward 1st base.  Not good.  He did make a nice diving play where he had an average jump.  Cano also had a terrible AB in the 9th with 2 men on and nobody out.  Took a strike that was hittable, then swing through a pitch right down the middle and then took strike 3 which caught a lot of the plate…sometimes this enormously talented guy is just asleep mentally.

Great AB by Gardner in the 9th to work the walk; that setup the win for us.  Gardner has also been playing such excellent defense.  Veterans of the blog know that I have always defended Gardner and I am a fan of what he brings to the team.  While not an elite superstar, he is an excellent player to have on the team.  He has always been far more valuable than people realize (I used to get a lot of notes from people saying he isn’t good enough and the Yanks need to upgrade).

Very nice win for Rivera and the Yanks!

Friday, July 26, 2013


Very nice shutout.  A few quick points:

1)      While this game the rookies helped us win, it is amazing the horrible offensive numbers they have put up; it is almost impossibly bad when you look at them.  Lillibridge is hitting .167 with an OPS of .477 (yes that is normally a reasonable slugging pct number).  Adams is back up and we shall see if he gets better (I would expect so) but he is hitting .192 with an OPS of .535.  Mesa is now hitting .200 with a .573 OPS and the red hot Romine (well he did get 3 hits last night and has been showing some signs of life is hitting .193 with an OPS of .489 (yes that is amazingly AFTER a 3-4 night).  Even Nunez only has an OPS of .605.  Also, none of this counts other cups of coffee players we had that were less than awful producers
2)      Outside of the above, the part that really makes this team tough to watch offensively is the free swinging that goes on.  Cano has always been a free swinger, but Wells has a .288 OBP, Ichiro swings at everything (.313 OBP) and Overbay (who has done as well as we could hope against righties) has a .298 OBP.  The main issue with Overbay is that he should rarely bat against lefties and he has batter against them about 30% of the time.  Against righties while his OBP is only .322 his .473 slug is respectable (OPS .795).  his lefty OPS is .544
3)      Kuroda pitched a very smart game yesterday and the one AB that really summed it up for me was the Kinsler AB in the 3rd inning with 1st and 2nd and one out.  The count was 3-2 and Kuroda threw a slider (fouled) a fork ball (fouled) and then another slider to strike him out.  The confidence to throw quality strikes with “off speed’ stuff was important based on Kinsler’s ability to hit a fastball and Kuroda did a great job.
4)      Fast forward to the 9th for the Genius Maker…After tying up Nelson Cruz, Rivera got what should have been a slightly harder than routine grounder to SS that Nunez turned into an infield single.  I thought that was an error even if a tough error as I think that play should be made most of the time by a major league SS.  It was a routine backhand in the hole and Beltre doesn’t run that well.  Anyway, after the gift single, Pierzynski got behind 2 quick strikes on inside cutters and then Rivera came in again and almost hit him as it went off the bat.  AJ stands on top of the plate and I was really worried he might him.  The next pitch was low and inside and I was saying out loud to go outside.  Rivera stayed inside and AJ fouled off the pitch.  He finally went outside and AJ grounded out routinely to SS.  Then Mo closed it out.  Amazing.

Status quo is not going to propel this team into the playoffs.  We need a MUCH better bench.  We are lucky to be above .500 right now and if the Yanks choose to stay the course I can’t blame them, but we are basically giving up on the playoffs.  Again, it is OK to not give up the future so that we can regroup for next year (the injuries have been absurd this year), but we have a great value in Kuroda this year and next year we still have some bad contracts in Wells, Ichiro (who is at least mediocre) and of course some of the big ones.  I am OK letting the young kids get some work, but because it is Rivera’s last year I would have liked to see them try and make a run for him.  This entire ARod thing is getting out of hand.  It is clear he will be suspended as will a bunch of other people (if what we hear is accurate).  That being said, my take is baseball and particular the players union screwed up the PED situation.  The players union should have cared more about keeping the playing field equal for their members and they did nothing (as did baseball).  Therefore, I don’t have any problem with the guys using the PED’s when baseball didn’t care (I don’t blame McGwire, Bonds or even ARod), but taking the PED’s over the last few years, I do blame the players…The arrogance that Braun showed in his righteous speech was pathetic and they should strip his MVP from him. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Last night’s game was worth writing about because of the excellent defense both teams played.  Texas’ RF made a diving play saving a run and their CF’r made two really good plays as well keeping the Yanks lead to only 3 runs.  Texas’ young 3rd baseman also made an outstanding play at 3rd base saving at least one run (robbing our rookie Melky Mesa).

Gardner, on our side, did all the defensive wizardry himself single handedly saving a handful of runs (at least) making some outstanding plays and getting great jumps on balls.  He went in, out, left and right and saved us big time.  He was a star!

The one huge mistake we made was when our other rookie Lillibridge got out of the way of a grounder and waved at it as it went by.  Very poor play that led to 3 unearned runs but all 4 runs Texas scored (Logan came into that inning in relief and allowed a 2 run HR).   I am not a big fan of Hughes, but he was pitching OK and some poor umpiring and the error is what made that inning tough on him.  I was surprised Girardi took him out when he did, but I can’t blame Girardi for it considering a lefty was coming up (even if his splits are not much worse against lefties) and Logan is not better against lefties.  I can see Girardi saying I can’t risk a Hughes dinger, but unfortunately, that is what Logan did.  THIS IS THE EXACT SPOT WHERE A LEFTY SPECIALIST IS SO BADLY NEEDED.

In the 9th inning, facing Joe Nathan, Overbay K’d and Wells walked.  A key play happened when Nathan slipped and threw a wild pitch allowing Wells to go to 2nd and then “force” Texas to move their OF in a little to give them a chance to cut the runner.  Regardless of whether it is a smart move, they did move their guys in and Nunez his a long fly ball to the base of the wall that their CF’r (Gentry) just missed catching up to allowing us to tie the game.  Lillibridge was able to have a little redemption for his bad play in the field lining a single giving us the go ahead run and allowing us to witness another Rivera save.  The part of watching the Genius Maker this year is how many one run saves he has had.  I don’t know the percentages, but is sure feels like he has had more one run saves than in the past (if anyone has those numbers, let’s share them?).

As for the Soriano possibilities of joining the team, my feeling is that Soriano will help us against lefty pitchers; but that is mostly because we are so incompetent with our options.  He also could be a viable option off the bench as a pinch hitter; something we sorely need.  He has an .806 OPS against lefties and .728 against righties.  Not a killer, but a lot more productive than we have.  The real question is what do we do as an organization, this is a band aid and we may need more than that.  If our guys would come back healthy, it would be a big boost, but so far everyone who has come back has reinjured themselves…(Tex, Grandy, Jeter, Youkilis) and even Arod sort of and Nunez.  Getting Cervelli back could be very important as well.  If we don’t give up much, getting Soriano is a little bit of help and I would hate to throw in the towel on Rivera’s last year.  While I don’t think Nunez will be a good defensive SS, I think moving Jeter to 3rd base would be a smart move.  It appears ARod may be suspended anyway and that is what I would do.  Less issue for his ankle and let Nunez have an extended look.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14

For the last game of the year CC was going against a rookie who has not done well and we were playing a weak team.  This should be a win.  Instead it turned into a clinic of bad play.  Outside of a popup that should have been an out, a terrible throw by Nunez (I still don’t think he can play SS) and some terrible hitting discipline this became a blow out the wrong way.

I won’t go into the shoddy fielding that led to a 3 run HR that put the game out of reach, but it was some of the lack of discipline at the plate that got us in trouble.  Their rookie pitcher was struggling throwing strikes, but we helped him a lot.  Ichiro leading off has a 3-1 count on him when he swings at a low ball 4 and then hit a fly to CF.  The lack of OBP is extremely troubling.  Then in that first inning Almont gets a single.  After going 3-1 to Cano and missing pretty badly, Cano swings at a 3-1 breaking ball that almost hit him!  So instead of an easy walk, the next pitch on 3-2 they send Almonte and Cano lines to RF for an easy DP to end inning.  Shoot, we should have had bases loaded nobody out and instead Minnesota is getting up.

The 2nd inning was equally as painful.  After Hafner hit a single on a 2-0 pitch, Vernon Wells swung at 3 straight pitches and struck out.  The last one was a breaking ball well out of the strike zone (the others were strikes I believe).  Overbay works a walk…notice a trend that the pitcher is struggling with strikes?  Nunez took two pitches and had a 1-1 count on him before swinging at a ball and then protecting on an 0-2 count flew out to CF.  He takes the 1-1 pitch and he would have been in the driver’s seat at 2-1.  But with all that, the pitcher still struggling walks Cruz to load the bases.  Stewart didn’t do anything wrong in terms of discipline but he weakly grounded out.

The next inning is when we gave them 3 unearned runs and the game was over.

The real question is what do we do?  Do we trade away players and pack it in or do we just hope the returning players give us a spark, or do we double down on the returning players and then go get a bat?

One thing is for sure, I don’t understand why we have so many right handed relievers in the pen and we have NOBODY pinch hitting for awful hitters late in the game?  That is absurd.  Why do we need so many righties in the pen?   Not having Brennen Boesch or someone else on the roster instead of another righty in the pen is ridiculous.  Makes you wonder why we didn’t keep Eric Chavez?

The other day our lineup had an average OPS of .633…that is the average!  For perspective, Chris Stewart had an OPS of .611 last year and .622 this year.  Or Jayson Nix has a career OPS of .645.  THAT IS A LINEUP OF NOTHING BUT Stewarts and Nix’s!  It is bad enough at the bottom of the lineup but that would be everywhere.  This was it the other day.  2/3 of the lineup with a sub .700 OPS.  YIKES!

Gardner, ..760
Ichiro, ..696
Cano, .915
Wells, .656
Overbay .732
Almonte .676
Cruz: .475
Gonzales .394
Romine .395

Average OPS:  .633

Enjoy the All Star Break and the most worst sporting time of the year (nothing going on)

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 11

I think it is pretty clear that while many people will say the Yanks were sparked by Jeter’s return; the truth is evident that my blog sparked the Yanks.  My blog was written before Wednesday’s win!

As for Wednesday’s win; I was thrilled to see Nova follow-up his game with another good one.  He is very important to us moving forward.  What I liked was he threw his fastball hard (95) and also took a few limes off of it for a little more movement (92).  That is how you start to become a good pitcher and not just a thrower.  His breaking ball is very good, although it was a little inconsistent at times; it still had break when it wasn’t as sharp.

Notes since last blog…

Nunez can’t play SS if he is going to tap his glove before every throw.  There was a play in the hole that he did that and it made him take an extra step and no chance of throwing a guy out.  Then later he tapped his glove on a routine play and knocked it out of his hand for an error.  I still don’t think he has the chops to play SS defensively, but as we have seen with a lot of players, they can make big improvements year over year.  I just don’t think he is fluid enough with the glove and throw.  He has great speed which is nice to see, but his hitting has not been good enough to cover up the defensive shortcomings.  Al Leiter mentioned (a little while back) that “we know Nunez can hit, but if he can make plays like that, he will be a weapon.”   I am paraphrasing a little but that was close…I am not so sure I know he can hit well?  He had 2 hits yesterday, but we are talking about a guy who has a career OPS of .678 and in 100 AB’s this year it is a pathetic .572.  I do think he is better than .572, but how much above .700 is the question (it is an odd swing).  That being said, if I knew that ARod was not coming back, I would keep Nunez at SS and find out what we have both offensively and defensively and I would play Jeter at 3rd.  Jeter’s range at SS has always been an issue for me anyway.  Long term, when ARod comes back, what do you do with Nunez?  He either goes down and plays nothing but SS or you make him the Jason Nix and get rid of Nix. 

Pettitte was very inconsistent with his same pitches.  One time his curve was sharp and the next one was a spinner.  One time the cutter had some movement and other times it just sat there.  Since he came back from Houston I thought Pettitte had so much better movement than before, but the last few outings have been very unimpressive and he needs to find that consistent release point because he won’t be very successful with the stuff he has been bringing out there over his last 5 or so starts.  This could be the sign of father time catching up.  Hopefully he can regain it for a last run, because he does show it at times…but that is classic age catching up.

Nova lost his shutout because he threw a fastball away rather than jamming Hosmer.  Bad pitch location was the reason.

Ichiro had the weakest slide of home I have ever seen.  It is amazing that someone with so many SB’s slides the way he does dragging his front foot.

Clearly it was cool to see Yankee stadium rock when Jeter stepped to the plate; that is what the stadium should be like…all the time.

In the 5th inning yesterday, with the Yanks losing 4-3, 2 outs and Suzuki was on 3rd  the Royals intentionally walked Cano.  It was an interesting choice in a 1 run game in the 5th inning.  Wells then walked setting up a key pitch in the game for me.  Overbay stepped up with bases loaded and the Royals tried to throw a fastball on the outside corner.  The pitch missed the spot, but was still a strike on the inside corner, but the ump called it a ball.  This put us in the driver’s seat and Overbay took advantage of the next grooved fastball and ripped a 2 run single.  Two more hits later we had a 7-4 lead and the game was ours.

Excellent catch by Ichiro going deep into CF to make a “Mays type catch.”  Clearly not as important or as good, but it was still a tough play. 

Nobody has really talked about Shawn Kelley.  He is throwing a hard 95 MPH fastball and a great slider and his location has been pretty good.  His numbers are outstanding, but his big issue has been 5 HR’s in 33.2 innings.  Outside of that (I know you can’t dismiss them) he has allowed on 24 hits (.194 batting average against) while walking an average amount of people (13) but striking out 50!  He is the reason Joba is being dangled.  BTW, Joba hit 97.

Finally, why the push for Robertson?  The Yankees are talking about resting guys yet instead of taking days rest we want to push to send them to an All Star game?  In my opinion, I don’t want any of my players going to the AS game.  Let Cano rest!  I surely don’t want Cano doing HR derby and risk messing up his swing.  As for Robertson, that was a horrible/embarrassing  “commercial” they created for pushing him into the All Star Game!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 9

I wrote this last night...I had been averaging 100-130 posts a year and this year only about 20.  I can't make any more excuses, I will only try and write as much as I possibly can.  The problem is when I write less frequently I tend to be more general in opinion and I don’t down to specific situations, such as analyzing the pitch selection in Rivera’s blow save the other day (he should have thrown the running fastball on the 3rd base side of the plate to both Markakis and on the HR instead of throwing the traditional cutter that came back over the plate.  Sure, the spot was not good, but after Markakis hit the deep fly ball that just went foul on a good location, it showed the movement was not that sharp and also he was on it.  CC allowed two homers yesterday and those were both inside fastballs (91) that would have hit the glove…that would lead one to believe it was the wrong pitch or the wrong location. 

In the meantime all I can do is be a little general at this time and I will try and post as often as possible. 

This team is pretty painful to watch as we are trotting guys out there that have been released from other teams or are not ready for the majors.  The latter part I am OK with.  For example, while David Adams clearly played very poorly (.536 OPS), at least they gave him a decent opportunity (over 100 AB’s) and now he can go down and work on what he needs to and may still come back and do something…or at least we know he is not the answer.  When we play guys like Ichiro and Wells, we know they are not the answer; they just may be able to help us get through some times.  Right now we are getting to see what Almonte can do and he looks good defensively, has some speed and hits pretty well from the left side of the plate.  His swing righty does not look very good to me.  Regardless, this gives us some opportunity for the future.  As I stated many times, why pay Ichiro 12 mil over the next 2 years when we could get that out of a rookie (or a guy like Chris Dickerson (who is playing in Baltimore) and possibly have upside.  Dickerson is only hitting to an OPS of .706 which is barely better than Ichiro’s .695, but my point was/is that similar production with upside is far better than similar production with no upside and 12 mil invested over 2 years.  I also mentioned that I was surprised we sent down Brennen Boesch who at least had an OPS of .831 in his 50 AB’s.  He is not much of a fielder but at least we could pinch hit for him as I can’t believe how pathetic some of the guys we are sending up down by one run in the 9th inning.  Go with one less pitcher so you can pinch hit for some of the dregs we have up there.

BTW, Wells OPS is .646 for those interested.  13 mil for this and next year was a bad move, even if he helped us through the beginning of the year.

I know we have been devastated by injuries and outside of the original injuries, it was hard to expect Grandy, Tex and Youkilis to all come back only to get reinjured and only Grandy still expected to return.  That is tough to overcome, but we are parading released guys and at almost every turn we have brought in guys who have stunk.  Luis Cruz?  Reid Brignac? Alberto Gonzalez? Chris Nelson?  I mean look at their careers, what made us think we could turn these guys around?   Yes, we are desperate, but I would rather they try the Adams, Almonte’s and even Romine’s (who needs to go back down now) than the Ben Francisco’s of the world (who as you know I hated signing…402 OPS).

Now, I was in favor of signing Youkilis because it was a one year deal and while I didn’t like he faded toward the end of the year last year, I thought a one year risk was worth it knowing ARod was out for awhile.  .648 clearly didn’t get it done though, but again one year.  I would have been far more tolerable of Ichiro if they signed him for one year and while he is doing better than I expected, a .695 OPS from a corner OF'r is not productive.  His defense is solid and he does still have decent speed.  But, it is still not productive, just not a huge weak link. 

I was in favor of signing Overbay and he has done about what is expected (OPS of .719 OPS and above average D) he is not the answer as that production from 1B is not good.  Losing Tex is a lot worse than people think…People gave Tex a lot of crap, but wouldn’t you love his .807 OPS from last year?

This team is in serious trouble and I am not sure making a desperate trade is the answer.  There are too many holes.  Our hope is that Grandy, ARod and Jeter come back and play to the back of their baseball cards otherwise the season is over. 

On the pitching side, all is pretty good.  I have said over the past years I like Nova’s stuff better than Hughes and I would have traded Hughes when he was hot.  Right now, we won’t get much for him.  This next Nova start will be important as his problem has been inconsistency more than stuff.  He is an important part for us.  Joba has looked good (numbers have not looked good though) and I would sign him cheap if I could.  If not he is another that I would think would have some trade value.  Of course being a free agent limits the value but he is an arm I could see people throwing a prospect at.

One point, Hal and Hank have done an awful with the stadium.  Prices are crazy and the place is so quite it is sad.  Nobody in the stands close to the players and there is NO intimidation at all.  The place is empty and it is sad.  Parking is $30!  I said this before but lowering the pricing would get more people in the stands and more concessions and they would make more overall.  George knew that you had to spend to get a great product and then you can charge a little more and the more crowd the more revenues generated and the better home field advantage (which is the worst in our division right now)

All this said, this team is 48-42 which is as good as we could have hoped with the injuries.  I am not disappointed in the record; in fact we are lucky to be over .500.  With our division, we are in trouble as you can’t have only 3 places where you are league average or better (catcher with Stewart has been fine, Gardner has been solid and Cano has been very good).  The rest are ranging from pathetic to below average.