Friday, September 13, 2013


We won and that is all that matters but this win didn’t gain too much for us as everyone who played won except of course Baltimore.  Texas and KC were idle.  It was huge to come back and win the last 3 games against Baltimore but Gardner being hurt is an issue as he is probably our 3rd most important position player (Behind Cano and ARod).  He had a twinge in his oblique and that can be an issue in baseball (has sidelined Joba and Nunez for over a month).  Hopefully they can shoot him up and keep him in the game…even if just a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Some notes:

  • I was extremely pleased that Girardi recognized the righty lefty advantage that was discussed here and had the short leash on Hughes and I thought he took him out at the perfect time.  I also thought he did a good job with Huff as well.  Good job to change your “way” Girardi!
  • Both Huff and Hughes did their jobs allowing 2 runs in 6 innings of work (no walks).  Hughes was missing his spots like crazy, but he did have a little pop in his fastball.  Huff had a good changeup, which he used well
  • Unfortunately, Robertson was awful.  He was grooving fastballs with little movement and for some reason Stewart was not calling for breaking balls?  If you remember I mentioned Valencia being a first pitch swinger and a good fastball hitter.  Of course, Stewart called for a fastball and Robertson grooved it for a 3 run tying HR.  It was a brutal blow and it could have possibly been avoided if Stewart and Roberston used his good curve ball.  Later on they used the curve and got out of the inning. 
  • It was good to see our new SS (Ryan) contribute with the leadoff hit in the 9th.  After Baltimore messed up the sac attempt, Granderson bunted and they threw a wild pitch Baltimore walked Arod setting up 1st and 3rd with one out and Soriano grounded into what could have been a huge DP with a 2-0 count on him.  I thought he would beat it out but he didn't get down the line well.  Speaking of running, ARod is playing with a bad leg as you saw him literally jog to 3rd on a double. 
  • Stewart throws great but he had a bad game calling pitches and receiving/blocking last night.
  • The Genius Maker spotted his pitches pretty well and retired 3 straight batters (in his 3rd straight game of work) and picked up the win!  I was actually disappointed he picked up the win as I wanted him to get the save but the official scorer felt Robertson didn’t deserve the win pitching so poorly.  C’mon, throw Rivera another save please???  After the DP by Soriano I was concerned but Mo came through.
  • Now 3 in Boston before we get a day off and go to Toronto

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Somehow, only one out

Wow, one out!  The last 2 games against Baltimore were huge and tonight is no different.  Many of the teams are playing each other and control their own destiny down the stretch so any good wining streak can put any team in great shape.  Tonight’s game is very big and of course the Tampa games are as well…that being said, every game is big as the standings flip flop quickly as bunched up as they are.  Tampa has won only 4 of their last 20 or so and Texas is 2-8 in their last 10 so they are opening the door for us...and others.

The Yanks have shown very good comeback ability of late and it has been fueled mostly by the HR.  Last night was no different as Granderson closed a 3-1 gap to 3-2, then ARod tied up with a nice opposite field HR in the 6th and then in the top of the 9th Cano gave the Yankees the lead.  While the HR’s were key the Yanks did play some small ball.  Gardner got the Yanks started by walking, stealing 2nd, and then he moved to 3rd on an ARod ground ball and scored on a Cano GB.  Then the huge insurance run in the 9th occurred after Granderson tripled on a ball that was somewhat misplayed by Adam Jones.  Reynolds struck out and against the lefty, Girardi had to leave Overbay in their because you wanted to have your best defensive player in the field with a lead  and Lyle delivered with a ground ball infield single with 2 outs.  Obviously with Overbay running the ball had to be placed well and he definitely beat the throw but it was a long play…and a crucial one, especially in such a small park.

Rivera let up another run with 2 outs (seems to be struggling closing some of these out), but some credit needed to go to the Baltimore hitters, specifically Roberts, but also McClouth (who drove an outside pitch to deep center that would have been caught but Gardner was correctly positioned very shallow to give maximum chance for an out).  The Roberts AB was interesting as Rivera worked both sides of the plate but Roberts seemed to protect both sides well.  Rivera could get strikes on Roberts buy coming inside and having him pull them foul, but finishing him off was the hard part.  After a discussion, Stewart and Mo decided to come up and in on Roberts and Rivera nailed the glove perfectly, but Roberts got on top of the pitch and hit a single to RF to cut the lead to one.  Rivera did close it out by striking out Machado on a high inside cutter.  The Genius Maker also got a possible break on a call to Machado but it was close…might have been low but it crossed the plate.

Some other notes:

  • I said this last year and again this year (not sure if I said it in the blog this year), but I like ARod in the 2 hole.  He can hit to all fields, can take pitches to allow Gardner to steal and ARod gets on base (.383 OBP tied for team lead with Cano).  In fact ARod’s OPS is .896 and Cano’s is .899 to easily lead the team (Soriano 3rd with an .827…low because of his bad .298 OBP).
  • Gardner does not seem to be running as well as usual.  In his SB in the 1st, he got a decent jump and the pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt and while the throw was very quick, strong and accurate, usually on a breaking ball Gardner is easily safe and he was barely safe.  He used to get weak jumps and beat throws.
  • Stewart has not been calling great games lately IMO (the pitchers sometimes shake him off and have something to do with it as well) and we know he is not a good hitter, but he can throw with the best of them.  His last 3-4 throws have been excellent.  Great release, good strength on the throws as well and pretty good accuracy.  Yesterday he made another great throw.  That is clearly his strength.
  • I think shutting Jeter down will help the team.  His defense has been below average before the injury and with the injury he was as much a liability defensively as Nunez.  Further, Jeter was swinging awful and Girardi kept putting him up in the 2 hole and it was killing us.  His .190 BA and .542 OPS speak volumes.  I said this before and I still think it is true, Jeter should be playing 3rd base next year as he simply is not good enough to play SS and the Yanks are going to need to have that conversation with him. ARod could DH and play some 3rd base and or 1st.  Jeter is 39 and in June next year he will be 40…no shame in getting off of SS.
  • I like the pickup up of Brendan Ryan.  The Yanks needed a good fielding SS and you can see the range and the quicker hands and crisp arm he has.  He did miss a play he could have gotten in the hole, but the ball was hit very hard and you can see a guy who can play some very good SS and the Yanks need that desperately.  He can’t hit well, but I think you will see him start and get pinch hit for if needed, or we play Nunez and bring him in with a lead.  I
  • It is a shame, but the same things written here about Nunez still hold true, he simply is not good defensively and while he has been swinging better of late, his overall stick does not come close to making up for his defensive shortcomings.  For the year Nunez has an OPS of .666…but for the month of September (27 AB’s he is has an OPS of .935.  He should be used as a pinch runner and a pinch hitter.
  • Switching to the Girardi/Showalter spat…Girardi was foolish…stealing signs is not something to get mad at unless the batter is trying to look into the catchers signs when he is up.  Girardi should have shut up and not made an issue of it and instead change his signs.  Barking at the 3rd base coach was not his place IMO.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

9-5 and 9-6 game

Thursday night.  

It was a great comeback and heartbreaking to see Mo blow the save with 2 outs and 2 strikes on the batter, but a few things went wrong.  1) After the single, Boston pinch runs with their blazing guy.  We do nothing but throw our pitch???  No throw over, no pitch out, we just let him run and while I think Romine gives us the best chance to win IMO, he does not throw as well as Stewart (who made an outstanding throw the other day that Cano whiffed on).   Romine threw the ball into the dirt and Jeter couldn’t handle it and the runner went to 3rd.  Then Rivera allowed the tying single.  It really let the win out of our sails, but the game was still tied. 

We still had a chance in the bottom of the 9th as Soriano walked, but got picked off however he beat the throw to 2nd when the first baseman dropped the ball.  After that break Soriano got picked off trying to steal 3rd to erase himself.  At the time, Michael Kay said that it was inexcusable to get picked off there because he was already in scoring position.  He was not fully correct as stealing 3rd with one out is a good idea if you can catch the other team napping.  However, we were running all game (very aggressively) and after just getting picked off of first, they were not sleeping at this point, in fact they were more aware than normal.  THIS is why it was the wrong time to go. 

In the 10th we had a chance to throw the runner out at home, but Ichiro did his extra hop and then didn’t reach home.  It was not a good throw, especially after taking an extra hop to get it home.  Even after the hop if he made the throw home he would have been out, but he didn’t.  That throw should have been made and it cost us.  He didn’t take as long as he does sometimes, but he still took the extra hop which made it a tough play for Romine who might have been able to come up and catch it on the fly and then dive to the play or taken the chance on the in between hop and stayed back…it was tough play on a catcher.   

Friday Night

8-3 lead going to the top of the 6th on some good hitting.  However, I am so tired of us making outs on the base paths.  Wells easily scored on a single to RF as the OF’r backed up to field the ball and Nunez who was on first gets easily thrown out at 3rd (to the point Nunez stopped and said I give up) when the ball was cut off.  We do this all the time (I know e have done this at least 10 times this year) and it is not necessary.  Believe me; if the other team thinks they can throw the guy out at home, they won’t cut the ball off.  You think, it is ok because we are up (I think it was 6-3 at the time), but instead of 2 guys on and 2 outs the inning is over.  You can’t give up opportunities like that

Moving to the possible season ending 7th/8th inning where we allowed 9 runs (lucky Tampa has been awful).  I am not a fan of Hughes (as you all know) but he was a little unlucky (even though he had nothing on his pitches).  The first batter hit a mildly hard line drive to Nunez that he allowed the ball to eat him up.  If he charges that, he gets it on a nice short hop fro an easy play.  Nunez simply is bad at SS and while he has improved, he has improved to bad…from atrocious.  The Hughes allowed a single up the middle.  With one out and carp coming in as a pinch hitter here is where Girardi screwed up the game.  I have no idea why he would let Hughes stay in the game here?  The guy who has been bad all year or the lefty (Logan) who has been pretty good all year?  Joe leaves Hughes in and Hughes who has no put away pitch walks the lefty Carp.  That being said, Hughes should have struck out Carp as he got a strike call earlier in the AB against Carp that was farther outside than the one he called for a ball.  Hughes did catch a break on that call, but the ump can’t keep going back and forth on calls.  Of course, Joe West was also the same guy who blew the Joba check swing call the previous night that was a huge killer for us.  Either way, this was a terrible decision by Joe to leave Hughes in there against the lefty.  Hughes than allowed an infield hit to Pedroia that should have been an out…Arod threw low to Reynolds and Reynolds, who has played very well couldn’t scoop a fairly easy scoop…even if it was ARod’s low throw to be blamed.  Now with bases loaded and 1 out Logan is summoned against big Papi.  In a great AB, Logan froze Ortiz on a curve ball on 3-2.  Now Napoli was up.  On 3-2 Napoli hit a fly ball to RF that Ichiro cruised after instead of running to the fence and tried to time his leap for a ball that was over the fence and Ichiro never really reached the fence.  He really misplayed this.  Interestingly, Girardi put Ichiro in for his defense over Wells (honestly not such a big difference there and I was surprised when I saw it) and perhaps the 2 inch taller Wells might have caught the ball?  Ironically, I heard many people say that the ball Granderson could not catch the other day would have been caught by Ichiro.  The grandy play was a lot harder than this one as the ball was hit much harder and required a lot of speed to get to the spot.    Either way, we made neither play and we are on life support.

The game was still tied after the grand slam, but the Yanks were done.  Claiborne didn’t pitch well and Joba continued that poor pitching to lose 12-8.

BTW, the Boston players all look horrendous with those beards…I actually am glad we can’t grow beards because that is embarrassing (even if they are a better team than us). 

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Tuesday’s Game

Wells made a series of good base running plays That allowed him to score a run on a great double steal.  The first was by running hard out of the box on a bloop hit he allowed himself to be in a position to get to 2nd on the bobbled ball.  He ran hard around first, then paused momentarily before he saw the kicked ball and then took off toward 2nd and made it safely.  If he jogs out of the box he can’t do that or would try and be thrown out (the way Soriano did a few weeks ago).  Then on a ball his to 3rd, he slightly shielded the fielder from getting a clean play on the ball resulting in an error.  He finally scored a run by timing his leave on the double steal perfectly! 

This game was a classic example of how important it is to work the count all game long and why I am always bringing up the guys who swing so early in the count consistently and help the pitcher as well swinging at balls.  ARod has been a classic example since he came back into the lineup as someone seeing a lot of pitches and making the pitcher work.  On Tuesday ARod saw 22 pitches by himself and as a comp Jeter and Cano each saw 11.  mark Reynolds who had a bad day at the plate at least saw 20 pitches.  This was critical because we were able to get Sale out of the game just in time to do damage on the bullpen.  I don’t think people realize the importance of this as getting to the weaker middle relief or just getting a really good starter out is a huge part of the game.  It is not a coincidence we put up 4 hits against only 2 outs when Sale was taken out of the 8th inning (and scored 5 runs).  Rivera had good movement and control in closing the game out for his league record tying 9th 40th save season (tied with Hoffman who is the only player even in a discussion about the top closer ever).

Wednesday’s Game

I thought CC looked bad all game.  After 7 innings, we were up 6-1, I said to my brother CC is lucky he is facing a team not swinging the bats well because he couldn’t hit any spots, had very little command and his stuff was weak.  He was very lucky to only have allowed one run in 7 innings and Girardi made the mistake of even letting him start the 8th.  Two righties were leading off the inning and he should have either let a righty out of the pen start against them or turned it right to Robertson at that point.  A manager needs to see what is really going on and CC’s over results were good, but he was anything but sharp as he had walked 4 batters, he was throwing 91 almost all night, his curve was loopy and none of his pitches were controlled well.  If Chicago didn’t swing at a ton of balls, CC would have been knocked out.  CC was at 100 pitches and should have been out of the game!  As it turned out, it was almost disastrous, because Robertson was bad allowing 4 straight batters to get on…but all was saved because of the Genius Maker…who not only saved the game but saved Girardi from a lot of 2nd guessing…and thus earned his name The Genius Maker tonight with his first 4 out save since 2011.   This was a very tough save as well.  The batter he struck out to end the 8th inning was one of the best pitches you will ever see.  3-2 count after throwing mostly inside and he paints the outer lower corner for a perfect strike.  It was so good that his cutter caught the back corner of the plate just barely skimming it from the OHD view.  Usually slightly off the plate they give that call so this was without question a strike as it was at the knee caps.  Vintage Mo!

BTW, I don’t give much hope Mo will return next year.  I think he wants to go out pitching well and the season was already a success for him so I think he goes out the best ever and doesn’t tarnish anything.

Tampa won and Oakland won so we didn’t pick up any ground, although because Oakland won, Texas is now tied with them and they are only a half game up on Tampa so it is possible one of them could be caught as well.  Boston scored 20 runs last night so hopefully they used up their runs…although it usually doesn’t work that way.

I have the wild card standing on the right side of this sheet.  I view our schedule like this:
Take 4 of 7 from Boston
Take 3 of 4 from Baltimore
Take 7 of 9 from Toronto (3- Batista is out), Houston (3) and SF (3)
Take 2 of 3 from Tampa (critical)
This gives us 16 wins and 7 losses in the remaining games and gives us 91 wins.  I think this gets us in.  of course it depends on what the others do, but if we do the above the only way we won't win is if Tampa plays really well outside of our games and both Texas and Oakland both need to play pretty well.  Again, if we do the above we have an excellent chance.  Then again, doing the above is clearly less likely than likely, but at least we have something to root for.  Based on how our pitching is going lately I am not confident we can do the above, however, other teams are not that strong either...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Chicago’s defense is awful. Yes, you read this blog for such type of great analysis...

Cano’s play on the popup over his shoulder was sick, but the immediate turn and throw made it Willie Mays like.  With his lack of hustle running out balls can be frustrating, he is such a good player.

Romine continues to show that he should be the starter and Stewart should be the backup.  His calling of the game has been very good of late.  Even when catching Mo, he moved back and forth at the right times.  I am curious to keep watching if that continues.  Obviously he has been swinging a pretty hot bat since the All Star Break.  In 47 AB’s his OPS is .929!  (.340/.418/.511)    Romine needs to play a lot more while he is hot and Girardi has only started him 2 of the last 6 games.  Romine had the game breaking hit yesterday and in the month of August (33 AB’s) he is hitting .400.  His defense is not as good as Stewart, but Romine is fine defensively and Stewart has not been playing his best (he may be tiring out as well because he is not used to playing this much (92 games is almost 40% more than any full year he has had).

Last year in the playoffs I mentioned a strategy that I am surprised is not used more against heavy platoon teams; it is to start a pitcher and let him go until the first sign of any trouble (that could be one guy on or maybe 2) and then switch to a pitcher of the other hand and either make the other team switch over and lose a lot of depth the rest of the game or enjoy good matchups.  In last night’s game this happened.  Girardi probably didn’t plan it but the rain delay allowed it to happen and it worked great.  Huff has been good, but his stuff is pedestrian.  The one thing he has done is throw strikes and he did a pretty good job of spotting his pitches.  He would still scare me in a big spot though.  Either way, great job today.

BTW, the other idea I floated a few years ago was to get your specialists (LOOGY and righty specialist) to learn to play the OF (they do shag flies a lot).   Then get your specialists to rotate RF and the pitching mound in key spots late in the game.  If the opposing manager made a move just swap the guys and your matchups outweigh the negative in the field.  I think it could work better if the guys are athletes as well.  Meaning you can’t CC play the OF, but you could have a guy in shape like Robertson and some lefty specialist who is in shape do it.  I am surprised this has not happened or isn’t used more?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Add on to yesterday's post...

One more note on the 7th inning that may sum up what I was trying to say better...Going into the 7th, at the time, I said to myself I would bring in Kelley to face the two righties and then go to Robertson/Rivera.  In 20/20 hindsight I think the correct move would have been just to go to Robertson right there, but I am letting you know what my thoughts were at the time.  The one other option that could have been in the mix was letting Pettitte go out there until ONE guy got on, but then the move is directly to Robertson.  Unfortunately for us, Girardi did none of these options and the results were a huge swing in the standings.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

9-1-13 OUCH

Tough loss.  I am sure Girardi will get crucified and while he deserves some criticism, he had the right idea, he just wasn’t smart enough to do the right thing.  Pettitte started to struggle in the 6th as he seemed to have lost the feel for his cutter that was really moving great all game.  It was the most he has thrown inside in some time.  3-0 going into the 7th, I was thinking he should probably come out, but with a 3-0 lead, I understand leaving him in to start the inning as his pitch count was fine.  In fact, taking him out would have probably been a surprise to most?  However, if after 2 batters you would take him out, then you already realize he was showing signs of losing it…and that is your job as a manager; to put your team in the best position to win.  With two righties (Morse and Valencia) who platoon and hit righties poorly but lefties well, this was the time to make a move.   My inning would have been Kelley to face the two righties (keep in mind Kelley has been struggling a little of late as his slider has not been as sharp but he is good against righties and if nothing else you force the Orioles to go to their bench and then you still have 3 lefties (with the rookie lefty called up).  That is what I would have done so at least my pitchers were matched up well.  Girardi hooked Pettitte 2 batters too late, but even one batter earlier could have changed the complexion.  As it turned out Girardi made the curious move of bringing in Kelley to face the switch hitting Weiters (who does hit lefties better).    My main concern was with a 3 run lead and two guys on; I would have felt better with a righty up.  That being said, it turned out to be the righty hardy who barely got the ball out bouncing off of I believe the heal of the glove from Granderson who almost made a great play. 

I can’t kill Girardi for that, but I would have made the move earlier and at the start of the inning.  Because the bullpen did so poorly it might not have mattered.  But, at this point when playing Baltimore or TB you have to find a way to win these games and if Rivera and Robertson have to go 1.2 and 1.1 innings then you do it.  I thought at the time bring in Kelley for the two righties and see what is going on and if needed Robertson pitches to Weiters, hopefully with at least one out...but if there are two outs I let Kelley go if he is looking good. 

The bottom line to me is that with 9 outs to go and you know Mo can go 1.1, 1.2 if needed (shoot he may only have 27 games left in his career) and Robertson surely can go 1.1 and 1.2, you simply can't lose a 3-0 lead and have neither in the game!


BTW, Vernon Wells is hitting lefties well this year, but he infuriates me…I can’t believe we took on his 13 mil for 2 years.  I said I didn’t like it (and took heat when he was doing well) and when I found out it didn’t hit the cap for 2014 I felt it was a little better as we were desperate, but man, another veteran we are WAY overpaying.  At least Girardi only plays him against lefties now.

Also, Jeter looks awful at the plate.  They have to seriously look to lower him in the lineup as he is killing us.  He is hitting .167 with an OBP of .234 and a slug of .262…you can’t keep him at the top of the order!  He looks really bad.  We don’t have time for him to work through it…lower him now as his OPS is .576!

The offense should have scored a lot more against a pitcher who no control…very poor job!

Cano played poorly as well and he jogged down to first again on a ball that was bobbled…I doubt he would have been safe but who knows?  0-5 for Cano and he took strike 3 twice.

ARod had a lot of life today.  I loved the play where he turned two and Reynolds made an excellent backhanded scoop.  Reynolds made a nice play yesterday as well and has played well in the field.

Need to keep playing at least win 2 of 3 ball.  This one hurt, but you must bounce back!


Ok, things will get really interesting with a sweep today.

Both pitchers really threw the ball well yesterday.  They each had good movement and good location all day.  Feldman was able to hit the outside corner to righties much better than Nova (it was a generous corner IMO), but Nova’s stuff is better and his curve was outstanding and Nova ran his fastball in to righties and away from lefties very well all day.  Feldman mixed speeds a lot and location as well and did a good job.  It was one of the better pitched games I have seen this year from both sides.

Offensively, Gardner and Cano supplied the offense, but the Yanks could have had more if Jeter didn’t kill the rallies with 2 DP’s in big spots.

Girardi had a choice as to pitch Nova in the 9th with the score 1-0 going into the bottom of the 8th, but after Cano hit a solo bullet for an additional run, it made the decision easier to bring Nova out.  As much as I want Rivera getting saves, I would have let Nova pitch the 9th even if it were a 1-0 lead.  He was in command and I felt it was his game…and he didn’t disappoint with a gem of a game, pitching a shutout and allowing only 3 singles and a walk (he threw 104 pitches).  There were two key AB’s for Nova in this game.  The first was in the 8th inning (1-0 at the time) when Nova walked his first batter on a 9 pitch AB on 3-2.  It was interesting to see how he responded as the pitch just missed low.  After throwing a ball, he threw his two seam fastball going away from Betemit (lefty) and he grounded a hard shot to Jeter’s right and he slightly overran it but made a good play to Cano who flipped the DP.  Then in the 9th after a single/error that went off Nova’s glove and he couldn’t find it right away and then threw wide, Nova faced Chris Davis with one out.  Nova started the leading HR hitter with a fastball away for a strike, then spun a curve ball that stayed outside (thankfully), before throwing a good curve that Davis swung in the dirt (as he had done a few times previously).  After showing the fastball again for a ball, everyone knew the curve was coming and Nova threw a good one that was slightly higher than he wanted, yet still down and David hit a towering shot that you knew he didn’t get all of it yet Ichiro played it almost showboating the crowd into thinking it was deeper as he looked for the fence and then turned sideways before he made the catch.  I may be looking into that a little more but Ichiro could have just stood there and taken a few steps back and I would have felt better…sometimes a ball could have more under spin than you think off the bat and with such a high fly ball it could carry.  Anyway, that was a relief.  Then Jones hit a solid liner to Jeter to end the game and get us the big win.

One note: Grandy hit a popup to the triangle between SS, LF and CF that McLouth the LF’r should have had and it dropped and Grandy hustled pretty well out of the box to get the double.  This should be a no brainer, but it was good to see as I would bet Cano or Soriano would have been either out going to 2nd or on 1st

The good thing is we now are 3.5 games out of the WC, but there are no teams ahead of us and we could catch Tampa or Oakland.  Of course one loss can put us back behind teams.  Big game today, let’s see if Pettitte can come through.