Friday, May 29, 2015

Oakland Game 1

I know we lost last night, but I thought it was one of the best games all year.  There were a ton of great and important AB’s with interesting pitch selection opportunities, and with good pitching and hitting going on…

I like Flaherty as an announcer (he and Cone are my favorites) and while I don’t usually listen because I am fast forwarding a lot, I disagreed with Flaherty after Tex made a really nice scoop on a throw by Didi.  It was one of the tougher picks because it was an in between hop and Tex saved an error.  Flaherty commented on that is why he is the best at scooping in the big leagues.  That may be some homer talk, but while Tex is good at it, if he is the best in baseball (keep in mind he has missed at least 5 scoops already) then baseball might be having a shortage of excellent defenders.   

Flaherty later in the game did make two spot on comments:

In one of the key spots in the game, Carpenter was pitching against Semien with 1st and 2nd and 1 out.  This after a failed bunt attempt allowed Carpenter to throw to 3rd getting the lead runner.  After throwing a ball, Carpenter threw two excellent sliders, the 2nd one was way out of the strike zone and Semien waived at it.  Another slider was the correct call but then Carpenter threw a slider that had little bite and it hung over the plate and Semien singled in a run and also moved a runner over to 3rd who scored on a sac fly.  I was pissed at how poor the pitch was and Flaherty jumped all over it as well and correctly pointed out the difference in quality of the pitches.

In the 9th, after Drew got out leading off, on a 3-1 pitch, Garrett Jones swung at a high pitch that would have been ball 4 and Flaherty pointed out how undisciplined that was down by 2 runs needing to get the tying run to the plate.  Jones ended up walking anyway, but the point was correct.  Gardner doubled on a great AB lining a 3-2 fastball away to LC, closing the lead to one, but Headley flew deep to LC to end the game (caught on the warning track)

Other comments:
·      There was a key play in the top of the 4th where ARod was sent home with nobody out (this was the first bad call I have seen the 3rd base coach make as he should not have sent him) and he did a good job of avoiding the tag and then reaching down and most likely touching home plate with his fingers.  The ruling was out in the field and I was not sure they would overturn it as nothing was crystal clear; although I am pretty sure his fingers touched the back/side of the plate.  I watched it a few times and I do think he was safe, but was worried about them not overturning it.  They did call him safe and this gave us a 2-0 lead that was extended to 3-0 before Oakland came back.
·      Speaking of ARod, you can say what you want, but I am enjoying his AB’s as much as anyone’s.  He is having professional AB’s and they are fun to watch.
·      I thought CC mixed his pitches well (I really liked McCann’s pitch selection) and his stuff was good.  His command at times was very good and he was successful.  For example, a key moment in the game was the bottom of the 3rd.  Oakland loaded the bases with one out on some soft hits.  CC struck out Semien on a high fastball away and then struck out Zobrist looking on a low and in fastball (freezing him).  The command of the zone was excellent in that sequence and most of the game.  Unfortunately, a first pitch curve ball was right over the middle of the plate and Burns cleared the LF fence for Oakland’s first run and Oakland tied the score on a very bad changeup that was supposed to be away but left it over the middle of the plate and up where Lawrie hit a 2 run HR.
·      After allowing the 2 runs in the 6th inning I was surprised CC started the 7th inning because the bottom of the lineup was coming up and they were both righties (CC has been very tough on lefties this year and getting crushed by righties).  After a single and then a walk Girardi came out to get CC.  I think this was a poor job by Girardi as a lot of damage was done.  The above Carpenter sequence is what happened for both of those runs to score.  I would have let Carpenter start the inning.  See above when Carpenter hung the 3rd slider for the outcome.  It was not a horrible move by Girardi but I was surprised.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work.  My take was also different in that I don’t have great faith in Carpenter coming into that situation and getting out unscathed.  We caught a break on the failed bunt, but IF Betances was available (I do not know as he pitched 26 pitches the night before and I would imagine Joe might have wanted to rest him) I would have gone to Betances right there as I am big on having my best guys in the important spots…and this was a big one.   
·      After the ARod play at the plate, the Yanks had a great opportunity still with 1st and 2nd nobody out.  First pitch Beltran grounded out moving the runners up and then first pitch with 2nd and 3rd 1 out, Drew misses a very hittable pitch and pops up to fail to get the runner(s) in.  Drew ticks me off at the plate (his defense has been pretty good).  This was another key spot in the game and why you can see this game was a good one.
·      BTW, CC’s last batter (that he walked), was a 3-1 pitch that should have been called a strike; the ump blew it.  That was a key call in the game as it turned out.

 One note on the previous game, I was very glad to see Pineda get back to his game pitching.  One walk and 8 k’s was good to see.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Weekend

We have now lost 10 of our last 11 games.  I will discuss the first inning of last night’s game first.

Sunday’s game:
1.   The first play of the game saw a grounder to 2nd base where Pirela had to move to his left to make the play and didn’t rush but didn’t hesitate either and then threw to first base and the ump incorrectly called the runner safe.  The review correctly overturned the play.  However, the announcers and nobody else said anything about what a terrible job Tex did on that play at 1B.  Tex didn’t even slightly stretch for the throw.  In fact, his left foot was pointing toward the pitcher (if you drew a straight line from his right foot on the bag to his left foot).  This is similar to the issue I have when there is no stretch from a ball thrown form in between the catcher and pitcher.  Now, the play was overturned so people may say it didn’t matter, but as I have said before, you have to play the game in a way that while it may not matter this time, but at some point it will matter.  I would also argue that the fact the runner was originally called safe, played into the mental psyche of Pirela as the next ball that went to him he probably felt the need to rush a little and he booted a simple grounder.  It is impossible for me to know whether one played into the other, but he booted it regardless and the lack of a stretch on the previous play was poor. 
2.   The Pirela show continued later in the 1st when Fielder crushed a line bullet into the gap and the runner who was on 1st (Choo) was sent home.  Pirela got the ball a little low and hesitated slightly and then made a horrible throw home.  An average throw would have had him and a good throw gets Choo easily.  I hate seeing poorly executed relays like that.
3.   In the bottom of the 1st Gardner was on 1st with nobody out and Headley hit a line drive to CF and Gardner tried to stretch it to 3rd and was thrown out on a close play and a good throw.  When guys get thrown out on plays like that it is easy to criticize, but I was surprised when I saw him running and was pissed when he was thrown out.   As you know, I also like to take advantage of pitchers in the 1st inning and the poor play was exacerbated when the Yankees ended up scoring 2 runs in the first and possibly could have broken the game open.
4.   The 1st inning set the stage for us to go asleep at the bats the rest of the game and lose 5-2.
5.   One other note, Texas tried a squeeze play and two things of note happened.  It reminded me that Girardi has yet to attempt a squeeze play since he has taken over as Manager; not even a safety squeeze.  The 2nd item was that the squeeze failed and the Yankees executed the run down perfectly with Headley moving toward McCann as soon as McCann threw the ball making it impossible for the runner to change directions fast enough.  I bring this up also because I have been teaching that style of rundown to my LL teams…

Previous games
·      Our defense should be much better than it has been.  We can’t keep giving teams 4+ outs an inning.
·      I was asked about whether I felt Didi would improve and I say yes.  You can see he has the talent (quickness and arm are excellent), but he needs to be steadier with the glove.  That being said, this is not a Nunez situation with the glove and Didi will be a plus defender.  His offense and his offensive approach need work though.  He may end up needing to be platooned, but at least he has shown signs of breaking out with a couple of HR’s.
·      CC was awful on Saturday; the only thing good was his curve ball.  This game also underscores what I was saying about getting to a team’s middle relief can open up games.
·      While on the subject, our middle relief has been awful of late.  They were not as good as early on, but not as bad as recently.
·      I am pretty much done with Drew.  We need to start looking at who is available.  Sure he could turn it back around and if I thought he would be better than he has been, even if not great, but it is now all of last year and we are a ¼ of the way through this season and his OPS is below .600.  Statistically, I would have expected last year to be a low point and he would rebounded to a wide range of .650 -.750 but he is not showing it, in fact over the last month he has an OPS of .441…that is not a misprint.  .225 OBP and a .216 Slug.   Give me a word that is worse than horrible.
·      As I stated about Pirela, I think he has a weak spot on the breaking ball away and he will need to adjust to be able to play in the bigs (his defense needs to be sharpened as well)

·      I am not a fan of Capuano…he is mediocre at best and I hope we can get Nova and Tanaka back soon.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

KC Sunday

Not much to say about last night’s game.  The offense was not good, but I will say Volquez has some sharp stuff and shut them down.  The biggest item was Capuano pitching for the 1st time this season.  The numbers were not good, but he pitched better than his numbers ended up as Rogers didn’t help him.  Further, KC didn’t hit Capuano hard.  2 walks in 3 innings is bad and of course only going 3 innings is bad, but the hook was a bit early unless he was on a very low pitch count (63)?  His stuff is mediocre and is a very soft throwing lefty that needs to control all his pitches to be effective.  He is a ok #4 or #5 starter and we shouldn’t expect more than a 4 – 4.4 ERA from him.

Two other comments:  On a DP ball that Headley was turning because of the shift, he threw a little wide right of 1st base.  The announcers just blamed Headley because he isn’t used to turning 2 and while the throw was a little wide it was very catchable.  Tex stretched too soon or didn’t stretch toward the throw and all he did was fall to his right as he didn’t reach the ball (might have ticked off his glove).  This is something I teach the little leaguers.  To illustrate the range difference the 1st baseman has if he does it correctly you need to stand up.  If you are righty, your right foot is on the bag and you step forward with your left foot toward the ball.  Go ahead and stretch straight ahead and now reach to your right or left.  You have your arms length of movement/range and that is it.  Now see/say the ball is thrown to your right (like Headley’s) and stretch toward your right and see how much more area you can cover.  It is at least 2 extra feet of coverage.  While the throw was not accurate, Tex messed that up if you ask me.

The last comment is how important it is to get into the middle relief of teams.  Taking pitches and working counts is a critical component to winning these days and the reason why the OBP guys and the guys who can work counts are very important.  The players who jump on the first pitch are less valuable all things being equal.  Just something to keep in mind…and also why I don’t have an issue with strike outs…at least we made the pitcher throw 3 + pitches.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

KC game on Saturday

After getting beat 18-2 over the last 2 games when the prior two games were also losses; I was concerned with CC on the mound against a good hitting team.  CC turned in his best outing of the year.  He would have pitched well against any team the way he was throwing.  He had very good command of all of his pitches.  He was 89-91 with his fastball but he was pitching inside to both lefties and righties and even climbed the ladder a few times and getting swings and misses on the high strikes.  His breaking ball has been good all year and he had it again last night and he threw good changeups as well for the first time all year.  I would still like to see a little more discrepancy in his change compared to his fastball, but as long as his command was as good as last night he can pitch well.  Not walking anyone was huge as well.  He went 7 but only had 88 pitches and could have probably completed the game, but I agreed getting Betances and Miller some work.  If there was a negative for CC, it was that KC tried to take advantage of him by bunting and he showed he still is a liability defensively.  On one play, KC sacrificed and CC fielded and turned, hesitated because Pirela wasn’t at the bag yet (he had a long run) and they beat it out.  On the play, Kay immediately said, “that was surely not CC’s fault and Pirela was late.”  Cone gently suggested that CC should just throw to the bag and eventually Kay agreed.  Kay really does not have a good feel for the game while it is happening…but at least he has the ability to see after the fact.  Cone is my favorite announcer because he looks at things from a player perspective but also has become a SABR student (a little like me). 

Other points:
·      The key AB was the Chase Headley AB with the score tied in the 5th inning with 2 outs and 2 men on.  Their pitcher, Duffy, who has really good stuff that he needs to control, had Headley 2-2 and had just missed with a hard slider when he threw another just inside for a correctly called ball (KC was chirping), so the call was 3-2.  This was an interesting pitch and Duffy threw a slider that was right over the middle of the plate and Headley was right on it but fouled it straight back.  At this point the chess game got interesting.  There was no way he would throw another slider so the expectation was he throws his fastball and his change is clearly his 3rd pitch and he hadn’t been effective with it so far.  So KC thinking Headley would expect the fastball (which is 94 MPH) decided to out think the situation and throw the changeup…and Headley crushed it for a 3 run HR and was really the game winning play.  Sometimes you have to take the obvious call and trust your stuff.  I would have been annoyed if I were blogging as a KC fan…
·      ARod hit a HR to deep RC on a pitch low and over the middle of the plate.  You can say what you want about ARod, but he has worked his tail off and you can see him generating power we haven’t seen from his in many years.
·      Pirela made a bad error during some heavy rain; I am sure the rain impacted him, but it still was a bad play
·      Drew had 2 hits with one being a well struck double, but the other was a bloop hit (in case some of you were excited to see Drew actually help the offense)
·      The other night they flashed up a stat showing ARod up with a man on 3rd base and less than 2 out.  ARod showed that he got the runner in 58% of the time (not sure of time frame) and the league average was 57%.  I would interpret this as ARod does this about the same as the league average.  Kay said, “ARod has been very good in these spots.”  After he popped out I assume his average dropped 56% and now he is poor in these situations???
·      CC has now won 2 in a row

·      Betances and Miller each threw 12 pitches to retire their six hitters in a row.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tampa game from Wednesday the 13th

Two games in a row we score two runs in the first inning and then zippo the rest of the way.  We either have to take advantage of the first inning better or put together a sustained attack throughout the game or we will have an offense as many expected of us.

Comments from the game:

·      The excitement that we felt with Beltran coming out of his slump was diminished a little bit even though he was 1-4.   His swing is OK, but his plate discipline was awful.  I counted him swinging at 6 balls in 4 AB’s.
·      ARod seemed to be pulling off the ball today but he did keep enough of his hands back to rip an inside changeup for a single.
·      Where is Ellsbury’s power?  He has a slug % of .396 now.  I love the .417 OBP, but that slug% is very low.  He swung at ball 4 today by checking his swing on a ball that hit the ground and then deflected foul off his bat.  He then struck out on a pitch right down the middle.
·      We need a lot more from Drew and Gregorius offensively.  Last year Didi had an OPS of .653; I would be very happy with that (the year before was .705).  He is at a horrible .517.  Drew is at .624 mostly because of 10 extra base hits.  For perspective, out of all 196 major league hitters with 100 or more plate appearances, Didi Gregorius is 191st…Drew is 163rd.  Beltran is 159th at .634.   One notable is Melky Cabrera is 173rd with an OPS of .593.
·      Tex was thrown out the plate on a fairly close play with 2 outs.  I had no issue sending him as the throw was accurate and the catcher made a very good tag to get Tex.  That was the play of the game and shows you how crucial getting that good secondary and jump off the bat is to possibly winning or losing a game.  My issue on that play was Girardi reviewing the play and I assume asking for them to see if home plate was being blocked by the catcher.  I say I was assuming because I watch on DVR and don’t listen to the announcers much and Tex was clearly tagged out. The catcher gave Tex a sliding lane and did it all perfectly from what I saw and I have no idea why Girardi would waste a challenge in that?  He didn’t need one later but in a tight game you never know and that could have been an issue.
·      Pirella has a quick bat but he will need to learn to drive the outside pitch the other way and control the outside part of the plate to be successful long term
·      Tampa has only one lefty in their pen.  Veterans of the blog know I don’t understand that at all.   This is such a disadvantage because it gives the opposing manager nothing to worry about in making moves late in the game.  You can leave your lefty who is a righty killer in the game without concern. 
·      Back to Drew, It is like he forgot how to hit.  He was up against Jepsen who could only throw his fastball and in his one breaking ball missed badly.  Drew knew the fastball was coming and he got one right down the middle and swung through it…very frustrating.
·      As for the pitching, Warren was Ok.  The results were solid 3 runs in 7 innings, but he has to get better command of his changeup.  He throws it a lot and it needs to be closer to the strike zone more often.  He threw many that were easy balls.  A better hitting team would have hurt him more tonight.
·      Miller came in and threw 10 pitches…9 for strikes and struck out the side.  Nice!

Time to get back to our winning ways or maybe we shave the moustaches soon?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Game 1 and 2 in Tampa

Monday’s win was a HR fest.  5 dingers gave CC enough to go a respectable 7 innings allowing 3 ER and 4 R.  CC had a very good breaking ball and his fastball was about 90-91.  If he can get his changeup down to 82 and get the downward movement he can be effective again, but he is not there yet (and not really effective yet).  CC did win for the first time in his last 10 starts so hopefully that is something he can feed off of.

Tex crushed two balls the other way (one for a HR) and that was very good to see.  He is getting that power the other way again.

Tuesday night:

First game of the year I really hated the way Girardi managed.  Eovaldi was pitching really well.  He was working in his breaking ball as well as his splitter/change (it is really more of a change right now) to offset that 95-98 MPH fastball.  He was in total command for 6 innings before he ran into some trouble in the 7th.  His pitch count was still good at this point, but he wasn’t throwing high 90’s, it was more 94 or 95 and Longoria singled and after an out moving Longoria to 2nd, Eovaldi messed up by walking Forsythe on 4 pitches.  It was almost like they intentionally walked him to setup the DP.  Forsythe has been swinging well, but up by 2 runs that is a bad move IMO.  Then a huge play happened where the ball got by McCann for a wild pitch.  Could have been a passed ball but it was a tough catch that he reached for and couldn’t get to.  Regardless it moved both runners up and Dejesus singled them in to tie the score.  Eovaldi did get the next two guys out but his pitch count was somewhere about 94 (about where he came out last game).   I thought he was done, but Girardi brought him out to start the 8th because a righty started and he had Wilson ready for the lefty up second in the inning and I was OK with that, but I would have just taken him out to start the inning and get Betances in there, especially after struggling last inning and reaching his pitch count.  Girardi was right in that Eovaldi got Rivera to strike out, but then Girardi messed up royally.  He decided to get very greedy and allow Eovaldi to pitch to the lefty…who he walked.  Very bad job by Girardi to let him pitch to the lefty.  But it got crazy stupid when Girardi let Eovaldi stay in to face Souza JR who singled to right on a play that Drew took a weird angle on and he might have been able to get it if he went back a little instead of in a little.  Either way, Girardi then went to Betances, way too late IMO.  Betances allowed a sac fly and then an intentional walk, making it 1st and 2nd 2 outs.  On a bad pitch in the dirt McCann did a horrible job of blocking it, literally raising his glove up to cover his groin while exposing the five hole, which allowed both runner to move up again.  Then after another wild pitch (not McCann’s fault at all) another run scored and we lose 4-2.

Now as bad a Girardi was in the 8th inning and I don’t listen to press conferences because he is always condescending when he gives his reasoning, I would be interested in his explanation.  I am sure it was “I have faith in Eovaldi and he still looked good…:  The manager needs to be smarter than though…anyway, as bad as Girardi was, the Yanks blew this game in the 1st inning.  After 2 runs had scored, we had bases loaded nobody out and we didn’t score that inning or the rest of the game.  As I mentioned in my blog the other day, the first inning is a golden chance to get the pitcher before he gets into any rhythm and we blew our chance to not only score a few more runs, but we could have knocked him out by the 6th inning and then you can get into the middle relief of teams and do some damage.

Tough loss! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Taking 3 of 4 from Baltimore

Saturday night’s game was not a good one.  I felt like our bats missed a lot of hittable pitches and our pitching was not very good either.  Whitley struggled leaving too many meatballs but overall was not horrible.  His mistakes were taken advantage of though with 3 dingers against.  His stuff is not sharp enough to leave that many fat pitches.

Sunday saw us reverse the 6-2 win in our favor and this was on the strength of an extremely impressive box score by Pineda.  In 7 innings, Pineda struck out 16 batters and didn’t walk anyone.  He allowed a solo HR but came out after throwing 111 pitches in those 7 innings.  Veteran readers of this blog know I have always been a big fan of Pineda; I was one of the few people who liked the controversial trade that sent Montero to Seattle for him.  He is now 5-0 with a 2.72 ERA for us this year.  That being said, he was not as dominant as his stat line showed today.  Being able to mix in a 93-95 MPH fastball with solid breaking stuff and a sinking changeup about 9-10 MPH less than his fastball keeps teams off balance.  Add the fact he doesn’t give away bases by walking batters and he will be effective.  But 16 K’s was slightly more because Baltimore swung the bats terribly tonight.  Again, I don’t want to downplay the effectiveness of his stuff, but there were a lot of mistakes, specifically on his breaking ball tonight that they just missed very hittable pitches..  Even in his last inning (the 7th) when his velocity had dropped to 91 MPH he hung two breaking balls and both were missed.

Regardless, not walking anyone and getting that many strikeouts is amazing; not sure I have ever seen 16 K’s with 0 walks?

As for the game, Didi and Beltran showed some signs of coming out their season long slumps with a few hits each.  Though Didi was part of one of the two bad base running plays the Yankees had.  On a double Didi tried to stretch it to 3rd with 2 outs (not a good idea) and Drew was on first.  When Didi got thrown out he was barely tagged before Drew touched home plate.  4 mistakes in this situation.  1) the on deck batters had their hands up for Drew to stand up (which was correct but they should have been pushing him to run hard) 2) Drew needed to run hard the entire time 3) They should have held Didi at 2nd base with 2 outs 4) Didi should have either held up on his own or at least be aware enough to force a run down to guarantee the run scored (which would have been ok at 7-1 going into the 8th inning).

The other base running blunder was Gardner in the 1st inning.  Because we won, nobody will say boo about it, but this was idiotic.  1st and 2nd with 2 outs, and McCann is up with a 2-0 count on him.  Gardner gets a decent jump and tries to steal 3rd.  The pitch is outside which made the throw easier for the catcher (and ball 3 to McCann) and Gardner was just tagged in time for the final out.  Instead of a 3-0 count with 1st and 2nd we end up being out of the inning.  Horrible, boneheaded judgment…especially in the first inning where pitchers can have trouble getting into any rhythm.

I know I had some negativity in a 6-2 win, but those base running mistakes can cost us in a game where the other team plays better.

Still it was fun watching Pineda today and if you would have told me we would have tallied our 20th win after 32 games I would have signed on the dotted line and been very happy!  I also like that Toronto is in 3rd because I still think they are the team to worry about as our main competition in the division.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Twin Towers Do It Again!

Another one run game with Betances and Miller closing out the game with 0 runs against their ledger.  The Twin Towers ™ have now pitched 33.1 innings and allowed 11 hits and struck out 54 batters while having a 0.00 ERA (they have allowed others runners to score).  Their combined OPS against is about .345.  For perspective, the MVP and CY Young award winner last year, Kershaw, had an OPS against of .521).  In what I believe was Rivera’s best year OPS against wise (2008) the Genius Maker held his batters to an OPS against of a phenomenal .423.  The Twin Towers ™ are almost half the innings there and while it is extraordinarily unlikely they keep this pace up, it underscores how awesome what they are doing is.  They are the main reason why we are 19-11.

The game itself was a good one.  In the top of the first Gardner showed off his great defense by charging fast on a single and throwing a 2 hop strike to McCann to nail Machado at the plate.  What I loved about the throw was Gardner didn’t take 3 or 4 steps after he touched the ball before he threw it; I hate when OF’s do that as every step is another for the runner. 

I was relieved when I saw Ellsbury being held at 3rd base with nobody out after a double by Gardner (who is still peppering the ball line to line).  If Thompson were still our 3rd base coach we would have had a man on 2nd with one out and ARod would not get the sac fly in his AB.  Of course we would have heard that “if I am not getting guys thrown out, I am not doing my job.”   That was a good off season move.

Still up in the bottom of the first with 2 outs, there was a 3-0 count on McCann and he got the green light and just had enough to reach the stands for a 2 run HR and a 3 run lead.

Yanks added 2 on a rare Beltran hit where he got a fastball on 3-2 and drove it to the RC wall.  In that AB he had a 2-0 count and swung at an outside and low slider to make it 2-1.  That is a classic pressing swing.  However, he did battle back and I think we were fortunate they threw him a fastball because I don’t think he could have held up on another similar slider.  Either way, good job by Beltran.

We then sat on the lead and relied on our pitching (actually, I thought their lefty McFarland, who was just called up, pitched an excellent game.  He hot spots and moved the ball over the place).

Warren got me aggravated as well as Girardi because with a 5-0 lead he walked a guy ion the 4th but got out of it and then walked two guys to lead off the 5th.  I was tempted to pull him there just because it showed how poor his command was as he walked the 8th and 9th hitters.  After Machado singled, I would have pulled him, but Girardi stuck with him and it paid off as he struck out Paredes.  Jones then singled knocking in a run and then a 2nd run scored on a FC before Girardi pulled Warren (who getting some outs but missing a lot of spots).  Good job by Girardi to not worry about whether Warren gets the win and focus on the Yankees getting the win (I was getting worried he was managing with getting warren the win until he correctly pulled him for Wilson – which was the no doubt move at that point).  Wilson struck out Davis to end the inning

Martin didn’t pitch well for the 2nd time in a row he is not hitting his spots like he was early on, but he has a good cutter, breaking ball and plus fastball.  Hopefully he can get his command back.

Betances came in and couldn’t throw his breaking ball for a strike, but was able to get a big K on Snider by getting him to chase a breaking ball in the dirt after a few fastballs.

Only other thought on the game was Pirella will need to make an adjustment on outside breaking pitches; he doesn’t seem to have the plate coverage for them and in the majors the teams will feed him there until he makes an adjustment!

Friday, May 8, 2015

ARod moves into 4th place all time for HR's

Congrats to ARod and also to Yankee fans.  yesterday was very encouraging to me because ARod has the power he used top have back.  While he has hit some shots this year which of course is encouraging, yesterday he hit what could have been 2 HR's on pitches that were on the outside corner of the plate.  When he is going well he has an effortless swing that generates huge power.  Yesterday I saw that.  One time he went the other way and just extended his arms and the ball would have bounced on the wide wall and been a HR but it was taken away by a nice timed leap by Delmon Young.  The tie breaking HR was again on the outside corner and ARod extended fully and pulled the ball to LC for a long HR.  This is really good for our team!

I also saw an interesting stat; while I don't know the statistical correlation, I would think that the faster you hit the ball the more positive the results would be.  ARod is 7th in baseball with a velocity off the bat averaging 94.4 MPH (his HR was 108.2 MPH one of the "fastest" off the bat this year).  Obviously, you can hit a solid popup as well and when you swing and miss (ARod has done a lot) this does not impact this stat, but I thought interesting regardless.

As for the win Eovaldi struggled with his command again, specifically with his breaking ball.  When that happens they need to throw more changes, which they didn't do.  He kept us in the game, but a guy who is at 97 consistently (hit 99 once) should be better.

Girardi went to Wilson at the exact time I would have and Wilson came through.  I also like that Girardi stuck with Wilson against the righties because he can be good if he can throw strikes.  He did get some tough counts but came through when he had to and was able to hand off to Betances and Miller who did their job with a one run lead.   Betances stuff is nasty but Miller can also bring it and his slider comes out of his hand the same as they fastball and the pitch must break 3 feet.  The Twin Towers (TM) are phenomenal.  yes, I would like to trade mark that :-)   Who can make some shirts?

Ellsbury is staying hot and finding the holes

Gardner has done a great job of hitting fastballs but waiting while keeping his hands back on breaking pitches and then unloading; he has been excellent!

I know people are annoyed at Tex and his .223 batting average, but who cares as long as he has an OBP of .345 and a slug of .606 for an OPS of .951!  Ellsbury is batting .363 but his OPS is 854, Headley is batting .238 but his OPS is .673 and McCann is hitting .227 with an OPS of 661 to give you some perspective.  If Tex is above a .900 OPS I would be ecstatic; I would be fine above .850.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Toronto Series

Disappointing coming out of Toronto only winning one game, especially when the first one had us with a one run lead into the 8th inning.  I don’t fault Girardi for trying to get a few outs with martin before turning it over to Betances, but I am confident we would have won if we went to Betances for a 2 inning save.  The fact the Twin Towers (TM) each were starters before makes it so they can go two innings without much of an issue.  But Martin has been good.  Betances was very unlucky that a bloop double put us in a hole, but Headley made an amazing diving stop with 2 outs and threw to first where Jones could not scoop the throw and two runs scored and we lost.  This was not a real hard scoop and I would want a 1st baseman to get it 8 out of 10 times, Jones didn’t get it done.  It was the difference between losing and possibly winning and it also was off a tremendous play by Headley, who actually moved to his left as the pitch was delivered before going to his right, diving with the ball slightly behind him. 

It should be noted that Whitley threw a great game.  No walks or runs in 7 innings.  He had only thrown 90 pitches, but he was starting to miss his spots even though he only allowed one base running in the 7th.  I agreed with Girardi to take him out.

Game 2 saw Pineda looking real sharp.   I really like the movement on his pitches.  He was in complete control of this game walking only one and mixing up his pitches great.  His velocity is ticking back up again as he was consistently at 93-94. 

Game 3

CC looked a little better if you ask me.  His slider was tight, his fastball was consistently 91, but his change was at around 84 (still a little fast for me) and he wasn’t controlling well.  Overall, he needs to hit his spots better and that is the key for him to be successful.  He is making too many mistakes.  CC has lost his last 7 decisions and his ERA has been over 5 in his last 14 starts.  While I was actually a little more encouraged than in the past with this performance from a “stuff” standpoint, he is getting to the point where you have to wonder about trotting him out to the mound if you want to win.  I would NOT pull the plug on him yet though.

The offense was very poor in this game and they allowed Buehrle to control the flow of the game.  The key point was 1st and 2nd one out in the 5th inning and Chris Young was up with a 3-0 count.  This is where we should be looking at a big inning, especially with Buehrle who has been lit up all year with an ERA of 6.75 coming into the game.  But Young swung and missed at a 3-0 pitch and then missed strike 2 before being frozen on an 84 MPH pitch on the inner half of the plate (not the corner).  Poor job there by Young.  Then ARod walks on 4 pitches and with the bases loaded. Tex then swings at the first pitch he sees, a high and away pitch, and tries to pull it and grounds out to end the inning.  I am OPK with Tex swinging at the first pitch in most circumstances, but Buehrle, is such a junk ball pitcher that you better zone it and if it isn’t there you leave it alone.  Poor discipline and that was our best chance.

Important to note that Pirela is now back from being on the DL and started at 2nd.  I like him much better than what we have been throwing at 2nd base.  He has some speed, he has a quick bat and he is 25.  That excites me.  Not sure how he will do overall as I have not seen a lot of him, but in the long run he may be a very good utility guy as he can play the OF as well as playing some SS.  The Yankees also have Refsnyder in the minors, but his defense is suspect (good hitter though).  So we have some options.  Like I stated before, I do not see Petit staying with the team and if Drew doesn’t get going he won’t either.  Didi Gregorius has started to flash some serious defensive range and a canon arm, if he can get his glove a little smoother and his hitting a little better, I will be happy with him.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Break out the Brooms!

Ten comments on the Yankee sweep against Boston:

1.   Warren pitched pretty well, but had more trouble locating his changeup on the outside corner against lefties.  He missed way off the plate to the right too often.  His fastball had good control though.
2.   I didn’t like the overturn of the call at 1st base after a 3 or 4 minutes review.  If you have to look that long then the original call should stand.  It was amazingly close.  But, that delay really could have changed the game a lot as the Yankees and the pitchers mindset was very different after the overturn.   Warren fell behind 3-0 to Sandoval and with the score 5-0 (2 men on and 2 outs) I was kind of shocked they gave him the green light.  Fortunately, he swung and grounded out to end the inning.
3.   Just to show you that I don’t only show you my good calls…I thought it was idiotic to have Gardner swing away in the top of the 6th inning with men in 1st and 2nd with nobody out.  I think that is probably a guaranteed bunt unless you are down by a lot, then when you add the fact a lefty was on the mound it is a no brainer.  After falling behind 1-2 I was really annoyed.  Then Gardner, turned on a mistake and barely cleared the fence for a 3 run HR.  Clearly I was wrong based on the outcome, but I really thought that was a bad move and more times than not, it will be a bad move.
4.   I don’t like the ESPN box over the strike zone; it annoys me.  I also am not a fan of the ESPN announcers; maybe it is just because I dislike Schilling?
5.   Ramirez is a punk thinking that Warren purposely hit him in the leg up 8-0.  He was missing inside to righties all day when he missed and his control was shaky at that point anyway.
6.   Rogers allowed the 3 run HR to Napoli to close the score to 8-5 and his issue was his breaking ball was not sharp at all.  The pitch to Napoli spun on the inner half.  That being said, it was a Green Monster HR and would have been an out in every other stadium.
7.   The Red Sox order is designed well so that the matchups for the opposing managers get you a 2 of 3 good matchups at best because you get Pedroia, a righty who hits lefties better, followed by Ortiz a lefty who hits righties better, followed by Ramirez, a righty who hits lefties better, followed by Sandoval who is a switch hitter who is much better against righties followed by Napoli who is much better against lefties.  This is why you need multiple arms of each side in the pen.  The situation has played itself out in every one of these games against the Red Sox with Ramirez being the beneficiary of getting the favorable matchup (last night Wilson stayed in to face him and let up a single…but he did get Ortiz and Sandoval before and after.)
8.   Ellsbury has his OBP up to .432 by getting on 6 times last night and hitting about .500 over the past bunch of games. 
9.   We probably will be making a move for a 2nd baseman at some point, but an odd stat with a small sample size has Drew batting .111 with an OPS of .506 against righties and .294 with an OPS of .938 against lefties.  In his career, Drew has always been better against righties.

10.                   Miller, was OK, even though he found himself in a winning run at the plate scenario.  The first walk was bad, but then he k’d the next two guys before Betts earned a walk.  Bad job to walk Betts, but he fouled off 3 pitches and earned a 9 pitch walk.  Then when Headley committed an error, the memories of comebacks in Boston always enter the mind, but Miller was able to get Ortiz out to end the game and give us a sweep in Boston!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

First two Boston games

Really Enjoying watching our bullpen and how much we have to work with.  Not only do we have some real fire power, we have matchup ability with numerous lefties.  Some of you may remember how ticked I was when we had only one lefty in the pen as it made the opposing managers job so easy.  Now having 3 is great.

Friday’s game:

CC, needs to throw his changeup slower.  I like 8 – 10 MPH difference I think less than 7 is not enough.  CC’s fastball was at 90 a lot of the day, but he also dropped to 87 and 88 a bunch of times.  When his change is at 83 that is not enough differential, especially when the fastball is under 90.  I think he needs to get his changeup at a speed of 80 or 81 all the time.

Beltran had 2 hard hit balls and I thought maybe he was breaking out and then he made outs with 2 men on and based loaded in his next AB’s.  Still hoping…

We had a huge opportunity to get to Masterson in the first inning as his control was terrible.  Every time he tried to come inside he would leave it over the middle of the plate. Headley had 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs and Masterson grooved one but Headley missed it.  That was a huge opportunity to take a commanding early lead.

The ump behind the plate was good, but McCann got a strike called on a check swing and then Ortiz swung more than McCann and it was called a no swing.  I thought the opposite should have happened

Didi, made another error, but he has been better.  My concern is that sometimes he seems to catch a ball and he looks shaky doing it.  That being said, he has some smooth transitions as well.

CC actually covered first on a nice diving play by Tex and beat the (slow) runner to first…but at least he got there.

While it was not funny, it was funny to watch both Tex and the Boston catcher each jumping around and waving their hands on the same HBP.   I have said it dozens of times, but I don’t get why catchers with nobody on have their hands exposed?  McCann is hiding it more often now, but he still leaves it out there a lot.  Even with a guy on base you can hide it behind your leg to start and if there is a ball in the dirt or a runner is going you expose it to make the play.  Now the Boston catcher may be out for the year…kind of like when we lost Cervelli.

I don’t like McCann batting 4th with 2 lefties at the top of the order as it makes it a lot easier for the opposing manager to bring in a lefty and we probably won’t make a move.  More the reason why Beltran really needs to get going…or make sure we have ARod and Tex starting if not.  That being said, when Boston matched up with the lefty to face 3 out of 4 hitters who were lefty, McCann came through with a big hit the other way to tie the game.

Congratulations to ARod on absolutely smoking a line drive HR to tie Willie Mays.   That ball was just leveling out when it hit the stands above the green monster…and it was the game winner!  The box score had it at 395 feet or so; I have no idea how they compile that number but there is no way that wasn't more than 400 feet.

I was on a different page than McCann on the pitch selection and that has happened a lot this year (not saying I am always right, but I would have approached it a lot differently), but in the bottom of the 8th inning Betances was pitching to Bogaerts with runners on 1st and 2nd in a one run game.  Betances was struggling throwing strikes with his breaking ball all inning, but in this AB the count was 2-2 after throwing 4 straight breaking balls.  Michael Kay basically asked do you throw another breaking or a fastball and I said loudly (I was alone in my house), “THROW THE FASTBALL!”   This time McCann agreed and high heat struck out Bogaerts and I had the same emotion as Betances did when he came off the mound… Hell Yeah!  I might have used a different word, but I was pumped up.  I don’t want to dismiss Miller as he did a great job again in a close game to finish off Boston!

Saturday’s game

First, I didn’t have any issues when Gardner was thrown out at 3rd.  I probably would have liked to see him run all out the entire way, but when Ramirez really dogged it Gardner took a chance with one out and the (short) throw was perfect to just get him.  The situation was OK to take the chance.  Then again, I just may be thrilled that we haven’t had a guy thrown out at home yet…So glad Robby Thompson is off of 3rd base.

The Boston rookie catcher (Swihart) had two great AB’s against Eovaldi fouling off a lot of pitches and in the first AB a great changeup got him after he fouled off a bunch of pitches in a 9 pitch AB.  In the second AB, he saw 6 pitches before collecting his first major league hit.  I bring this up because I didn’t like the way Girardi handled the pen in this game.  I was hoping I could say it didn’t matter, but Wilson was up throwing in the 6th inning so we had a lefty ready.  Eovaldi got through the 6th and was still throwing hard, but his pitch count had risen above 100 and it is still fairly early in the year.  I was OK letting him start the 7th and he actually threw two good fastballs that jammed the Red Sox to get the first 2 outs in the inning, but when the lefty Swihart came up, I would have pulled him for Wilson.  Swihart saw another 6 pitches and walked.  Then Girardi went to the pen and brought in Martin who didn’t do his job and allowed a double on a grooved 2-0 pitch (just missed a HR).  He then got Pedroia out.

This then had a domino effect on what Girardi did, Wilson started 8th against Ortiz.  I was fine with that and in fact I see what Girardi was thinking in that he was hoping to get some outs out of Wilson to not use both of our Twin Towers ™         

Wilson got Ortiz and I would have taken him out here as I hated the Ramirez (who crushes lefties) matchup against Wilson.  Ramirez is their best power source and here we are in a 1 run game with 5 outs to go and we leave our Twin Towers on the bench?  Ramirez ends up walking and then Wilson who was struggling with control was left in because Sandoval is weak against lefties.  I am big into matchups, but if your guy can’t find the strike zone it doesn’t matter.  After being in a 3-1 hole, Wilson got Sandoval to swing through a hittable pitch for strike 2 and then swing at ball 4 LUCKILY.  Now, Joe went to Betances to get the final 4 outs which he did by striking out all 4 guys!  It worked.

One item we may have to look at is matching up the final innings and using Betances and Miller as co closers depending on the situation.  For example, if batters like Sandoval and Ortiz are up in the 8th inning and guys like Ramirez would be up in the 9th why wouldn’t you pitch Miller in the 8th and close with Betances?  I would.

A few other notes:

·      Not sure why McCann started a day game after a night game with a lefty on the mound? 
·      Young has really been great since coming over to us at the end of last year.  I love our defense when he is in there with Gardner and Ellsbury and he has been a hitting machine!
·      Didi made a really smooth play on ball up the middle that he gloved and flipped with the glove to get a DP.  That is a play Jeter would have had to dive for and it was a smooth DP.  That is what Didi can do. 

Let’s get the brooms out tomorrow!