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.