Wednesday, April 30, 2008

General Joe Rant #3

I know it's a long season. I also know that we have some players on the Yanks who are not exactly 'spring chickens.' Joe HAS to do a better job, however, of picking the spots to rest players.

Last night Melky and Jose Molina sat in favor of Damon in center and Stewart behind the plate.

In theory, sitting Melky once in a while is not a bad idea. Last night was terrible timing for it though. Not only is Melky one of our hottest hitters, but degrading the defense in center field on a night when a struggling youngster is pitching is just plain dumb.

The defensive part of the equation played out in the first inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd a flair was hit to center; a ball I believe Melky catches, but Damon could not. The runner from 3rd scored. Then, to compound the problem, the runner at 2nd scored because of the 9 year-old-girl-like strength of Damon's arm. Melky would definitely saved 1 if not both of the runs that scored in the 1st inning last night.

Also, we are less than 30 games into the season and Melky is 23 years you really think he's tired? We had far too many left handed hitters in the lineup last night as it is...sitting the switch hitting Melky only made that worse. Sitting Giambi against the lefty would have been a far smarter move if Joe simply HAD to rest someone.

Phil Hughes is one of the more important long-term pieces of the Yankee puzzle and has been struggling mightily. How can you justify pairing Hughes with the Yankee debut of Chris Stewart? A veteran major league catcher, Jose Molina may have been able to help take charge of the situation with Phil last night and maybe help him with his confidence. Having Stewart catch Pettitte is not a problem; making a 21 year old trying to find his way pitch to what is essentially our 5th string catcher is plain stupid.

I'm a big Girardi fan - there is little excuse for last night's bad decisions, though.

Don't Lose the Faith

I agree with my blog-mate that Phil needs to be sent to SWB. He cannot be allowed to continue to be knocked around and thus lose confidence in his abilities.

Everyone needs to remember, though, that Phil is 21 years old. We need to remember the level of domination that he exhibited throughout his minor league career. We need to remember that this is the same guy who was essentially our best starter from September 1 through the (short) postseason. More importantly though, Phil needs to remember that.

When you are as talented as Hughes is you don't simply lose that talent between October and April. When the talent is there, there are 3 things that can get in the way of being successful - 1. mechanics, 2. approach and 3. injury. As we have heard nothing of an injury I believe we are talking about the first two in Hughes' case. If either (or both, in Phil's case) of these things are off it will get in the way of the talent providing success.

Both approach and mechanics are far easier to repair at AAA than with the big league team. We need to send Phil down and let him work these issues out without the pressure of being in front of 55,000 fans at the stadium, without the pressure of facing an amazing lineup like the Tigers, and without the pressure of trying to carry his load to help the Yankees win.

I have no doubt that Phil will be able to work out his issues. I am still supremely confident that choosing to keep Phil over trading for Johan was the right move. I am still quite certain that Hughes will be an ace in the Yankee rotation for many, many years to come. Everyone has warned that there will be growing pains and that it will take patience...this is exactly what they meant.

Phil Hughes Needs to be Sent Down

This goes against what I usually think about young pitchers but Phil needs to be sent down to work out his problems. He is starting to get that deer in the headlights look ala Jose Contreras, Jeff Weaver, Javier Vasquez and he needs to be saved before he is ruined. Some numbers to make the morning coffee go down;
  • 9.00 Era
  • 2.14 Whip
  • .362 BAA
  • 1/1 Strikeout to Walk Ratio
  • Lefties are hitting .410 against him

Those numbers are worse then Tyler Clippards 6 game stretch last year. What's even more concerning is the lack of competitiveness. Right now, Phil isn't competing and while I strongly believed that you had to give these kids 10 starts before doing anything I fear he could be lost if the carnage isn't stopped now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where are the Walks?

Team OBP - .327
Only 1 regular has OBP above .400 (Matsui)
A-Rod - .343
Abreu - .327
Giambi - .325
Jeter - .300
Cano - .217
The Yankees as a team have been out-walked on the season 90-85.

In addressing what is going on with the Yankee O so far this season no one has really talked about how poorly the Yanks are doing at working the count and taking walks. A staple of the Yankee offense for years, the Yanks have excelled in the past at getting the starter's count up and feasting on a team's middle relief.

While our average with runners in scoring position needs to improve, if we get back to working the count I think we'll see a vast improvement in our offence.

New Bullpen Add

4 wins, 0 losses in 5 starts.
0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
31 IP, 18 hits allowed
6 walks, 27 strikeouts
.170 average against, 0 hr allowed

Who is this, you ask? Why it's the Yankees' new long man out of the 'pen.

As we previously discussed Ross Ohlendorf is not a long man (though he has been used as such). Neither are J. Albaledejo, Hawkins or Farnsworth. When we get the inevitable 2 inning clunker from Moose we will need to have someone in the 'pen who can go 4 or 5 innings at a clip. Based on the above numbers, Darrell Rasner absolutely deserves the chance to show he can do it.

Darrell has had fair success in the bigs in parts of 3 different season. He posted an ERA+ last year of 111 in 24.2 innings and is absolutely tearing up AAA. As the Yanks need a long man/spot starter I think it's time to cut our losses with the failed Hawkins experiment and give Rasner a chance to succeed.

Impressive Start For Kennedy

If you watched Ian Kennedy in his start the other day vs the Indians you were probably not very comfortable watching; I know I wasn't. I couldn't quite figure out why I was so squirmy, so I went to and looked through his pitch-by-pitch - what I found was quite amazing and additional reason for optimism.

What made the start feel uncomfortable was the fact that Ian could not throw any of his secondary pitches for a called strike. When he did throw a curve or change the pitch was either a ball, or the batter made contact with it.

Of his 105 pitches, Kennedy threw 80 fastballs and 25 off speed pitches. Among the 25 off speed pitches there were 3 foul balls, 1 base hit and 3 ground outs. Of the remaining eighteen, sixteen (or 65%) were called balls...only 2 were either a called or swinging strike. TWO!

As a very good hitting team, the Indians had only to ignore everything but the fastball and they were a safe bet not to be burned.

There are 2 things we can take away from this data: 1. Kennedy needs to do a better job with his curve and change up, but more importantly 2. Even at 89-91, Kennedy's fastball is an exceptional pitch that can get big league hitters out even when they know it's coming.

I'm very confident that we will see Ikky able to get much more production from his curve and change than he did vs the Indians. Once he does the stud we all know he is will emerge.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Melk Man Delivering

It's early, I know. But as we said in the off season, branding Melky Cabrera a 4th outfielder was extremely premature.

Leading the Yanks with 5 HR and behind only HMat with a .506 slugging percentage, Melky is showing exactly the kind of growth one would hope from a 23 year old in his 3rd major league season.

My feeling is that Melky could very well grow into a Bernie Williams. Comparing Melky and Bernie's 1st 3 years -

Bernie Year 1 - .238/268/.350, Year 2 - .280/.354/.406 and year 3 - .268/.333/.400 (AVG/OBP/SLG).

Melky has put up 1. .280/.360/.391, year 2 - .273/.327/.391 and .291/.356/.506 so far in year 3.

It's not a huge stretch to project Melky with career numbers very similar to Bernie's .297/.381/.477.

Bernie is in my top 3 Yankees of all time if not #1. On the field he was a high average, good power switch hitter with a very good OBP and an ability to hit in pressure situations. Off the field he was a classy, smart extremely high quality person. I hope to see his #51 in monument park sometime this year.

While it is very early, it's a very good sign that Melky is developing in much the same way Bernie did.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


With 1 out, Damon on 3rd, Melky on 1st in the top of the 9th of a tie game, up stepped The Captain to win the game.

Jeet hit a bullet up the middle which very easily could have been a game winning hit. Unfortunately the ball bounced off the side of the mound and ended up an inning ending double play.

As Jeet was walking up to the plate I was wishing for a squeeze. We had our best bunter at the plate, 2 very good runners on base, and needed only 1 of those runs to get the ball to Mo. Maybe not a suicide squeeze (though with Jeet you could), but a safety squeeze in that spot seemed the perfect way to score the run and stay out of the DP that we were unlucky enough to hit into.

With all the talk about JG being a 'National League Style' manager, I was thinking that was a perfect time to show it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Phil Mushnick is a Total Idiot

Phil Mushnick has been writing for the NY Post for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember Phil Mushnick has killed John Sterling in his articles. At least once a month Mushnick makes a point of berating John in his worthless column

In yesterday's Post (NY Post, not blog post) Mushnick is at it again spewing his usual ignorant, hateful crap in the direction of the Voice of the Yankees. The only points Mushnick brings up in his article are based on John making an "it is high..." call when the ball is not a home run. Travesty!

I am certainly not alone in my loathing of Phil Mushnick.

While neither am I a fan of the broadcast work of Joe Morgan, he said the following about Mushy -

If I were someone that let my anger get control, I would fly into New York, find out where you live, run my rental car into your front door, punch you with my fists until you lost all your teeth, shave your head and legs, and make you apologize for being so rude and bald.

This country was founded on the right to Free Speech, but it’s a right that you should only use when you know what you’re saying, and you can say what you’re saying with some authority. Otherwise, you should just be quiet and let smart people talk.

Wow - nice job from Joe on this one! While he makes absolutely no salient points (I should be surprised?), Joe M does a nice job in pointing out 2 things - 1. Mushnick needs his ass kicked, and, 2. He's an absolute idiot who has no clue what he is talking about.

The outrage against Mushnick isn't limited to baseball and its announcers, though. For years Mushy has actively campaigned against pro wrestling and its fans. He...well, watch this and you'll get the point -

This guy is obviously a little 'over-the-top', but his point is valid. I'm not a wrestling fan, but to call the millions and millions of people who are, stupid rednecks who do a bad job of raising their children passes the point of arrogant elitism by a wide margin.

In one article Mushnick wrote of Steven A. Smith -

Could it be that Smith's urban street-hip brotha yak which he seems able to turn on and off with the drop of a Kangol is supposed to appeal/pander to young, urban, street-talkin' sports fans?

Deadspin felt forced to react to this column with -

We usually try here to avoid the rantings of fundamentalist Christian stick-in-mud New York Post media columnist Phil Mushnick. He seems to be living in a world that's different than ours, one where all television executives are apparently closet kiddie porn enthusiasts. But we couldn't help but notice his newest column, in which he hammers ESPN "personality" Stephen A. Smith so relentlessly that it kind of weirded us out...

Regarding the same column, Can't Stop the Bleeding said -

The Mushminded One would have you believe that that Smith's spiel requires a Jive Translator a la "Airplane." Which isn't just an exaggeration, it's a full-fledged slur.

There is an old saying - Those who can't do, teach. I'm gonna take that saying one step further - Those who can't do, teach; those too stupid to teach, critique. Mushnick has no appreciable skill other than to negatively critique other people's work. And because he is too stupid and never done any of them himself, is unable to teach others the skills he is critiquing.

Mushnick is the worst kind of bigoted, racist, ignorant, arrogant creep - one with a stage and an obvious grudge against people who do the things he wishes he was talented and smart enough to do.

Jonathan Sanchez, Part II

Over the winter the Yanks were rumored to be interested in Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants. While the cost was high (HMat), our scouting department seems to have gotten it right.

In 5 games (and starts) Sanchez is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA. More impressively he has struck out 36 batters in 28IP. Granted this is taking place in the NL west where games take place in parks like Chavez Ravine, Petco and PacBell, but his obvious swing-and-miss stuff is making him look like a nice young pitcher.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yanks Using Ohley All Wrong

By default so far this season, the Yanks have been using Russ Ohlendorf as the long man out of the 'pen. This is a big mistake - Ohley is being misused by Girardi and Co. and would be far more effective being used as a short man.

When the Yanks got Ohley from the Diamondbacks for the Tiny Unit he was a AA starter. His K rate had declined dramatically from the year before, but the Yanks started him at AAA anyway. He proceeded to get bombed.

In order to get his head straight the Yanks moved him into the AAA bullpen where he almost immediately gained 4-6 MPH on his fastball and was seemingly a different pitcher.

Ohley's brief Major League career has been a tale of 2 pitchers - when pitching less than 2 innings Ohley has logged 9.1 innings allowing only 3 ER and striking out 14. When asked to go to 2 innings or beyond he has allowed 10 ER in 13 IP.

What we need to do is begin grooming Ohley to take over for Joba once he moves to the rotation. Move him into the slot just behind Joba for now and let him start to gain confidence in the role he is best at. In order to allow Ross to be limited to 1 inning, the Yanks need to call up Darrell Rasner who has been lights out in AAA this year to be the long man/spot starter.

Hopefully General Joe recognizes that Ohlendorf is being used the wrong way and corrects this quickly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reality Check

From the Rumor Mill on ESPN -

According to the East Valley Tribune, Orlando Hudson, a free agent at the end of the 2008 season, will be looking for a contract that would pay him close to $15 million per year. The Diamondbacks have been trying to work out a possible extension with Hudson's camp since late in 2007, but the sides remain too far apart to suggest that a deal between the two can be reached.

(emphasis added)

That's Orlando Hudson - he of the 60 home runs and 331 RBI in his 6 year CAREER before 2008. The same Orlando Hudson who has never hit .300, has an OBP of .342 and slugging percentage of .430 over 6 seasons.

I really hope this is a typo and Hudson is looking for $15mm over 3-5 years. If not that guy is in for a rude awakening!

A CC Sighting!

Having drafted CC Sabathia as my Ace in our Blogger FLB league, I have been getting my butt kicked early. Add to CC that I also drafted Lackey (hurt), Oswalt (poor first 5 starts) and Harden (ugh), my pitching has been very much like the Yanks' early last year - awful.

Finally a good start from CC last night - 6ip, 2bb, 11k, 0er. Hopefully this is the start of him leading my team to victory!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Beckett Scratched

Red Sox 'Ace' and media darling Josh 'Blisters' Beckett has been scratched from his start tonight against the Angels with a stiff neck. Note to Peter Gammons, Bob Ryan and all living human beings at ESPN - this is yet another reason to wait until he shows he can perform in back-to-back years before annointing him Ace of the World.

The Pope Likes Jesus & Some Divine Intervention

From It Is High...

Who'd a thunk it? The Big Man flies all the way from Rome...and yet he takes time to talk about rising Yankee catcher/DH Jesus Montero, currently batting .359 at Charleston.

"I find it moving to recall that Jesus, as a young boy, heard the words of Scripture and prayed in a place such as this," the Pope said.

Didn't catch the context. I think he was referring to Stan's Sports Bar, across from the House that the Book of Ruth Built. His Highness also mentioned the Yankees.

"Since its beginning, New York has stood as a beacon of religious tolerance and celebration."
Damn straight. We had Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, and nobody said a thing. That's tolerance. Way to go, Pope!

From PeteAbe-

My understanding is the Pope left a note on Joe Girardi’s desk telling him not to pitch to Manny Ramirez with first base open. He also thinks Joba should be a starter.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Same OLD Yankees?

A lot was made in the offseason about the Yankees new found commitment to youth. So far this year there has been, predictably, mixed results. Ohlendorff, Alabedejo, Joba and Gonzalez have shown promise while two of the big three - Kennedy and Hughes have struggled.

Along with the commitment to youth I hoped for more of a merit-based system of managing the players and the opportunities they receive. We have seen that with Bruney as he has clearly jumped Kyle and Hawkins in the depth chart, but will the other spots on the roster follow merit-based assessments or will the New Joe act more like the Old Joe and give spots and opportunity to "proven" guys?

The following roster moves would show us that times have changed;

Gonzalaez over Betemit
Gonzalez is clearly a better backup player at this point then Betemit. He simply fits our needs better. He provides outstanding defense in the middle of the diamond and some speed for late inning pinch running spots. Betemit provides mediocre defense and power. He is a better fit on a team that needs some offense and his best positions might be first base and third base where we are loaded with candidates (Ensberg, Giambi, Duncan when he returns, Posada).

Duncan over Giambi
Giambi might still come around at the plate but his days as a first baseman are over. So how long will he keep getting regular at bats while Duncan either sits on the bench or destroys AAA pitching? Duncan deserves a shot to show whether he can sustain the power he flashed last year.

Gardner over Damon
I don't believe Johnny Damon is completely finished, but I think his days as an elite player are over. I think he is going to be a sub .350 OBP guy with about 10 home runs. Also, his defense in LF is average and his arm is extremely weak. So how much value does that have? Matsui makes more sense as the everyday LF. That would free the DH role up for Giambi and Ensberg. You could also play Posada at DH once a week to lessen the load and keep him fresh. If you are looking at a fourth outfielder, a player with game changing speed and superior defense adds a lot more value then Damon would. You could sub late for Matsui and have a weapon late when you need a steal in a big spot.

Alabadejo, Edwar, or Patterson over Hawkins
Latroy has been terrible and if he continues this for another couple of weeks the Yankees might want to seriously consider cutting their loses. I think his Yankee career was doomed the moment he trotted out opening day wearing number 21. I don't agree with the booing, but sometimes there are bad omens early in a players Yankee career that you must recognize (ala the Randy Johnson camera incident). So while Latroy has shown bad karma and even worse pitching, Jonathan, Edwar and Patterson have done enough to warrant a longer look.

If the Yankees made the above moves I think they would be a younger, deeper, faster and more versatile team. Also, the players moving in have more upside and would offer more roster flexibility when a Jeter quad or a Posada dead shoulder happens. So will the new Yankee thinking move a step further and make some of these moves? Or will we continue to go with the proven and potentially less talented team? I hope the New Joe is different and we see some of these moves made for the better of the team.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Losing is NOT OK

General Joe did something in his 19th game as manager that Gentle Joe didn't do in 12 years - show obvious frustration with one of his players. In the 3rd Joe went to the mound and essentially read Ikky the riot act. It had nothing to do with the score, or the count, or Ikky's stuff - it had to do with his approach.

The Yanks have been preaching to both Kennedy and Hughes that their stuff is more than good enough to get major league hitters out. They have been telling them constantly that nibbling is only going to get them in unneeded trouble and that they need to attack hitters.

Kennedy walked 5 batters and threw 85 (!) pitches in 2.2 innings; he also stuck out 4. As Ikky struck out half the outs he recorded, obviously his stuff was very good. In comparison it took Ohley 48 pitches to complete 3.1 innings.

While patience with young pitchers is going to be necessary, watching them throw ball after ball in an effort to avoid contact certainly is not. We have wished for more fire from our manager and our team, and last night we got it from Gen. Joe. It will be interesting to see how Kennedy responds his next time out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thoughts on Phil - Mechanical Issues

Before I start I would like to say that I am NOT panicking. I am still willing to show the patience that I have preached since the offseason and allow Phil the room to grow.

That being said, I believe that there were some worrisome signs in last night's game.

First, for the first time, I believe Phil's stuff was not very good. In prior starts he had trouble finding the zone and hitting spots; last night, however, I think his fastball was unusually hittable. Not only did it seem that he did not break 91 on the gun, but it seemed the pitched lacked the typical late movement that makes Phil's fastball such a great pitch.

Second, in addition to not being able to throw it for strikes for much of the outing, Phil's curveball was 2-4 instead of the usual 12-6. As the curve had essentially the same movement as his slider, Phil basically lost a pitch last night.

There has been a lot of talk coming both from the coaching staff and from Phil himself about his mechanics being 'off.' The focus going into this start was not rushing and allowing his body to slow down and let his arm catch up.

There have been more than one analysis of Phil's mechanics over the past year (one good one here) that show Phil has been employing a much lower arm angle through delivery which would not only costs him velocity, but also add right-to-left drift on his curveball.

The above picture shows Phil in '07 on the left, and in '06 on the right. The arm angle is noticeably lower.

The lower arm angle creates more rotation around the release point. Instead of getting on top of the ball and driving it down toward the zone using the pitcher's legs, a lower arm angle causes the pitcher to rely more on arm speed and the whip action of the arm for power. Instead of driving the body forward there is more pulling the arm through the release point. The result of this is a loss of control and velocity.
Another obvious sign of what I am talking about is here:

Notice the difference - in the earlier picture (left) Phil's left leg is straight, he is completely on top of it and throwing on a downward plane. In the more recent picture (right) Phil's left leg is slightly bent - a result of the lower release point which causes more rotation around the release point and a lower head/shoulder finish. The lower head/shoulder finish is due to Phil pulling his arm through release and having to rely on arm speed rather than leg drive for power.

While I have not done any video analysis of last night's start, I am willing to bet that in concentrating on slowing his body down he allowed his arm angle to drop even further. The result was a lack of control on the curve, and a change in tilt from 12-6 to 2-4.

As the issue seems to be mechanical, I think it might do Phil some good to go to SWB and take 2 turns through the ro there to work on getting his mechanics straight without the pressure of being in the bigs. Again, I am not 'on the ledge' with respect to Phil...I simply believe that at 21 it will be hard for him to get multiple mechanical issues straightened out under the weight of pressure to win.

Go Ahead, Manny...Charge the Mound!

The last Guy that charged the mound on Krazy Kyle ended up looking like this!

Friday, April 18, 2008

This is NOT a big Start for Hughes

Before every Phil Hughes start the various blogs and newspapers want to take note of Phil's progress. Specifically, does he look like an Ace? There is no shortage of these type of stores today;

The Post - Phil is Falling Fast

From Peter Abe - Big Game for Phil

The Daily News - Phil looks to Mow down O's(Actually pretty calm and not overly dramatic)

The truth of the matter is this is not a big start for Phil. He could pitch to a 6 era the rest of the year and still blossom into an ace. We might all be disappointed in the outcome this year but it really is not a death sentence to his future ability to grow into an Ace. It might take two years before we really know what we have in Phil. The question is if it takes that long will he stick around?

General Joe Rant #2

It's really unfortunate that rant #2 has to be essentially the same topic as rant #1, but for god's sake can we please acknowledge that the only true threat right now in the Red Sox lineup is Manny and not give him anything to hit??

The guy is hitting like .800 vs us, higher against Moose, and had already cost us a game over the weekend. How flipping hard is it to make the decision that we are not going to let him beat us?

Every lineup has one person that should not be allowed to hurt you - with Fat Papi hitting half his weight, Manny is obviously that guy. Unless it's Mo, The Beast, or bases loaded late in a tie game, Manny has been so hot that we either plunk him in the arse (NOT behind his head, Farnsy!) with the first pitch or put 4 in the dirt without hesitation.

Might not have made a difference last night, but certainly we would have had a much better chance at winning if Manny had simply been handed 1st base.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yanks Bury Bernie Under New Stadium For Luck

From one of my favorite sites on the web, The Onion. Read the story here.

Bullpen Thoughts

After watching the newly sculpted Brian Bruney blow away the Red Sox with a 97 mph heater last night, and LaTroy Hawkins start to show some reliability, it's becoming obvious that a real strength of this Yankees team will be the bullpen.

Assuming 6 innings from our starters, General Joe has an enviable wealth of arms from which to choose for the last 3 innings of a game.

In the 7th, Hawkins, Bruney, Traber and Ohley have all shown to be very reliable in the early going. Additionally, provided he is used correctly (one inning only, no back-to-back appearances, etc...), even Farnsworth has shown flashes of effectiveness.

The depth of the Yankee relief corps is damn near embarrassing. At SWB are the following relievers -

Jose Veras - 7ip, 10k, 2er
Chris Britton - 7ip, 7k, 0er
Edwar Ramirez - 7ip, 11k, 0er
Jonathan Albaladejo - 7.2ip, 7k, 0er (includes 2.2 ip, 4k, 0er with Yanks)
Scott Patterson - 5.2ip, 4k, 2er
Heath Phillips - 9ip, 7k, 2er

At least 4 of these pitchers could/would be on the majority of other team's major league rosters and be extremely effective.

With the game essentially over once getting the ball to The Beast in the 8th, the depth and quality of 7th inning candidates should make most games 6 inning affairs.

Your First Place NY Yankees

For the 1st time this season the Yanks are 2 games over .500 at 9-7, and sit tied with everyone's favorite pretenders in 1st place. The bats have seemingly come to life, and for the most part the pitching is coming together.

Even with the shelling CMW took last night, there were good pitching signs in the game. The Hawk calmed things down with 2 impressive scoreless innings. In his last 5 appearances, Hawk has 7 ip, 4h, 0er, 5Ks - 5 of those shutout innings have come against the Red Sox allowing only 2 hits.

Brian Bruney looked awesome in the 8th last night hitting 97 on the gun and generally looking dominant.

Hopefully Moose can continue his rebirth and keep the Sox in check long enough for us to put a whoopin' on Joshy Blister tonight.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How Hard Can it Be?

I realize Jason Giambi has been considered a 'run producer' in his time in MLB. I realize chicks dig the long ball. But when you're 2 for 96 or whatever anemic numbers Jason has put up so far this year would it be so out of the question to lay one down against the shift?

The guy with a hedgehog attached to his face playing 3rd base for Boston was 2 feet from 2nd base. All he has to do is get the ball past the pitcher and he has a guaranteed hit. Who knows - maybe if he does lay down a few successful bunts against the shift teams will be forced to stop using it against him!

Maybe I'm wrong, but if your true goal is to help the team and the opposition is giving you a base hit, LAY IT DOWN!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Piazza Measured for Pinstripes?

With the current state of Yankee catching, one intriguing option has surfaced - Mike Piazza.

While his throwing ability is somewhere between Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, Piazza is a very adept game-caller and has shown an ability to work well with young pitchers.

Many reports have Piazza close to signing a deal with the Cincinnati Reds, though others are stating the Reds want more of a 'catch and throw' guy for the position.

What it comes down to is how long Jorge and Molina will be out. Chad Moeller is obviously not a long-term option, but if either backstop will be back within a couple of weeks there is really no room for Piazza on the roster.

With the play of Alberto Gonzalez up the middle and Morgan Ensberg able to play either corner infield spot I believe Wilson Betemit's days in Pinstripes are close to over (Pink Eye? Couldn't they come up with anything better than that?). Should Jorge and Molina return the question then becomes who gets the last roster spot - Piazza or Shelley Duncan? While Shelley is no Ozzie Smith at any position in the field, any Mets fan will tell you that Piazza at 1B or the outfield is truly not an option. Shelley's versatility and energy make him my choice.

(Hat tip to Sliding Into Home)

"It was nice to be able to work up a sweat"

The above quote by A-Rod says it all. For just about the first time this season the Yanks didn't need long sleeves under their uniforms. For the first time this season there weren't bumble bees buzzing inside every bat. For the first time all season the pitchers could feel their pitching hands and didn't have permission to blow into them on the mound.

The result? 6+ solid innings by Ikky, 15 hits, 4 home runs and 8 runs scored.

Look for more of the same tonight.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boston Still Owns April

The Yankees simply can't beat the Sox in April;
2007 1-5
2006 0-0
2005 3-3
2004 1-5
2003 0-0
2002 1-3
2001 3-4
2000 0-0
Total Record 9-20 in April.
Simply put, when the Sox and Yankees meet in April the Red Sox win.

How about when the games really count(Aug/Sept)?

2007 5-1
2006 1-3

2005 3-3
2004 3-3
2003 3-3
2002 4-1

2001 6-0
2000 3-1
Record in Aug/Sept, 28-15.

I know I would rather it this way...let them own the games early but late in the season, close to playoff time when we can get inside their heads, I want to win.

So calm down Yankee fans this is the way its supposed to be and really, would you have it any other way?


Yes, it sucks the Yanks are 6-7 after 13 games.

Yes, Phil Phranchise has looked like the second coming of Sr Nervous (Jose Contreras).

and Yes, the team has looked old and lifeless.

I'm here to tell you, though, it's no time to panic.

Thus far the Yanks have played series in NY, KC and Boston; places where the average 7pm local temperature has yet to exceed 45 degrees. I firmly believe that this is a major contributor to the terrible start of both TM and the offense. Hughes grew up in SoCal and started every season prior to this one either in the Gulf Coast League, the South Atlantic League or the Florida State League. The game-time temps of his starts have been 42, 46 and 46 degrees. Not only are there no viable options to replace him, but even discussing removing Hughes from the rotation is totally premature. Every game is a learning experience for Phil, and I expect he will learn these lessons and start pitching very well shortly

I really think that starting tonight in Tampa, under the dome, we will see a much more explosive Yankee offense, and some much better pitching to go along with it.

In terms of panic, 2 things to keep in mind -

1. Detroit. I picked the Tigers to win 101 games this year. When I did this I was well aware that their pitching was a big question mark, but figured they would have a team ERA somewhere around 5. Assuming 950 runs scored (5.86 per game), I thought they'd steamroll lesser teams but make a fairly early exit in the playoffs. Seeing as how they'd have to go 99-51 to win 101, I'm gonna be pretty far off in my prediction. This is a team, like the Yanks, with far too much talent, however, to continue playing this badly. Remember, 2-10 is a lot worse than 6-7!

2. A ho-hum start is nothing new for our Bombers. Since 2002 our record after 13 games has been -

2002 8-5
2003 11-2
2004 6-7
2005 5-8
2006 6-7
2007 7-6
2008 6-7

In only 2 of the past 7 yeas have the Yanks been over .500 after 13 games, and we have obviously made the playoffs each year. A game and a half out of first on April 14th is not a problem.

The 2 pitchers we count on the most have been very good - Wang has been unreal, and Andy was great in his last start. Moose has pitched far better than we could have expected, and once he settles in and the weather warms, The Messiah will again live up to his nickname.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Offensive Slumber Continues

The one thing we knew coming into this season was this team was going to score a lot of runs. After 12 games that is pretty much all that hasn't happened. The bullpen has been good outside of Hawkins and Farnsworth but we knew that, Wang has looked great, Moose has a pulse, and we have manufactured runs in tight spots. However, the bats are still asleep. The main culprits have been Damon, Giambi and Cano. Last year a lot was made of all the Yankee lefties not hitting to start the season and except for Abreu the same has happened this year. Maybe these guys are just not that good. I believe that Cano will bounce back but really Giambi and Damon are two guys that look done. I am sure Damon will have a hot streak and get his numbers near respectability and Giambi will hit some HRs but really these two guys need to be far away from crutial spots in the lineup. When Jeter Returns I want a lineup like this;
I am not crazy about Matsui directly behind ARod because he runs so hot and cold but right now Cano doesn't look ready for it. Let Giambi play against soft throwing righties and keep Damon away from the top of the lineup. He is no longer a good hitter and combine that with the fact that he can no longer field and you have a player who is no longer any good , the end.

General Joe Second Guess #1

I don't care what Moose said when Girardi went out to the GOTTA walk Manny in that spot!

He's one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time, you have first base open with 2 out, and you let him hit a double up the gap?

Hopefully this is a learning experience for Joe G. and he won't make the mistake of asking Moose again.

Evolution of an Ace

Wang has had some serious struggles versus the Red Sox in the past - for some reason they have an approach that works against him and he knows it. Those games combined with the way he performed in the postseason left about as many question marks as is possible for a back to back 19 game winner. The question was how would Wang respond? Would he evolve and adjust or would he continue to be a one pitch pitcher? Wang went in the offseason focused on expanding his game and he spent most of spring training fine tuning his secondary pitches and figuring out how to work them into his repertoire.

Last night we got a first hand look at the results of all his work. Wang threw a lot of four seam fastballs which resulted in a lot of flyballs. Also, he featured some sliders and changes. He can get away with a four seamer because of his outstanding velocity. Most sinkerballers can't maintain his type of velocity and this is what separates him from your typical sinker baller. According to the pitch data he has actually increased the percentage of fastballs this year from 76.4% last year to 82.1% this year. The difference is the type of fastballs. We are seeing his traditional turbo sinker and the good hard four seamer. He has also learned how to run it over the inside corner to lefties (the strikeout pitch to Ortiz was a thing of beauty). Simply put he has expanded his repertoire and can get people out more ways then he used to. That is a sign of a great player and a good sign that he might be able to maintain a very high level for years to come.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yanks - Sox

As the first Yankee Red Sox war is upon us, it's time to compare the teams.

1B - Youkilis vs Giambi -Both are likely to put up OBP over .400, but Giambi should do it with power. If he could stay healthy the edge would go to the Yanks; Edge Sox

2B - Cano vs Pedroia - Despite the rantings of certain on-air personalities about how much of a 'winner' and 'gamer' Pedroia is, Cano is in the upper echelon of second baseman behind only Chase Utley. Edge Yanks

3B - Lowell vs A-Rod - Lowell had a career year last year which he is unlikely to repeat. A-Rod had a monster year last year which he has a chance to repeat. It's really no contest. Edge Yanks

SS - Lugo vs Jeter - Even hurt Jeets takes this one easily. Edge Yanks

C - Varitek vs Posada - Varitek's last 2 years: 2006 - .238 12 HR 55 RBI, 2007 - .255 17 HR 68 RBI. Jorge's past 2 years: 2006 - .277 19 HR 71 RBI, 2007 - .338 20 HR 90 RBI. Duh - Edge Yanks

LF - Manny vs Damon - Manny is in his walk year and has a lot to prove after a somewhat (by his standards, anyway) lackluster 2007. Damon has vowed to prove he's still one of the top players in the game, but Manny is one. Edge Sox

CF - Ellsbury vs Cabrera - At this point in their careers, Melky is more of a known quantity than is Ellsbury...keep in mind, however, that Melky is a FULL YEAR YOUNGER. Melky is hitting .320 with a .400 OBP. Ellsbury is on the interstate at .176 with a .300 OBP. For now - Edge Yanks

RF - Drew vs Abreu - It being his walk year, Bobby A is on the precipice of a monster season. JD Drew is...well, disinterested. Drew was miserable last year and I don't see anything to suggest that will change. Edge Yanks

Game 1 Starter - Buchholz vs Wang - CMW has been lights out so far this year sporting a 2-0 record and 1.38 ERA, while Clay "Lap-Top" Buchholz gave up 4 runs in 6 innings in his only start thus far. Given that this is The Cat Burgler's first taste of Yankee/Sox rivalry, and that CMW rocks - Edge Yanks

Game 2 Starters - Beckett vs Mussina - Moose looked great in his last start, and Beckett has been slowed by a bad back since late in spring training. Every person in Bristol has anointed Beckett the MLB standard against which every 'Ace' should be measured; I don't buy it. Until 'Joshy Blister' can do it in back-to-back seasons I consider him very much like his ex Marlin teammate AJ Burnett - tons of potential, but still a question mark. Edge Sox

Game 3 Starters - Maszuzaka vs TM - Dice-K has been worth every penny of the $7 trillion Theo (The Boy Wonder) spent on him last year. 3 starts, 18ip, 22Ks, 1.47 era. His problem, though is that he is going up against The Messiah. Phil's last start was one to forget about, but as he proved in the postseason, he shines under pressure. While many would disagree, Edge Even

Closers - Papplepuss vs Mariano - First, calling Papplepuss better than Mariano right now is like saying Joba is better than Goose may become true (doubtful), but we're a long way from knowing for sure. A-Rod has got to be in Papplepusses head a little, and no one gets in Mo's head. Edge Yanks

Set-Up - Okajima/Delcarmen/Lopez/Corey vs Joba/Ohley/Farns/Hawkins - While none of us are happy having Farns on our list, the fact is that Joba makes our 'pen so good that it is hard for anyone to match up. Add to it that Ohley's been throwing 94 mph bowling balls and - Edge Yanks

The Yanks take 6 of 8 positions and the bullpen, and the starting pitching is a wash (eh... maybe slightly toward the Sox' favor). If only to make a statement I hope we go up their and kick their tails.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good

Wang looks awesome. In winning half of the Yankee's games so far The Wang has shown no ill affects from his post season meltdown against Cleveland. A heavy sinker, good velocity and has even shown a better than usual k/9 ratio of 5.54.

Matsui is off to a nice start hitting .357 with 2HR and 6 RBI.

Bobby A - .379BA, .438 OBP

Bruney - 3 games no ER and NO WALKS! Maybe there IS something to this 'in-shape' stuff!

The Beast - 1 hit and 4 Ks in 4 IP, future staff Ace, but current bullpen dominator!

Mo - 3 games, 3 saves 1 hit and 4Ks...just Mo being Mo!

A-Rod - Before the dreaded 'Golden Sombrero' yesterday, Alex was at .320 with a .930 OPS; not blistering, but definitely contributing

Melky - His .294 average is overshadowed by his .400 OBP.

Molina - Seems to hit the ball hard every time up.

Ohley - A 3.86 ERA is ok, but he sustained a bunch of that 'taking one for the team' in yesterday's 3 inning stint in the loss

Moose - 2 starts, a 3.09 ERA; I'll take it

Farnsworth - 2.70 ERA, 3.1 IP, 5 Ks

Traber - 2.1IP, 4 Ks 0ER. Looks unhittable vs lefties so far

The Bad

Cano - .188, 1 RBI 0 walks
Damon - .200 avg, .294 OBP, 0 SB
Hawkins - 7er in 14ip

The Ugly

Betemit - 2 for 13 with 7 Ks, he looks lost at the plate right now
Giambi - 1 for 14...ouch!
Jeter and Posada - Each are out with injuries that we have no idea how long will take to heal.

No Grade

Hughes - 1 good start, 1 bad...I have a feeling that the weather has something to do with his poor outing yesterday vs KC, but we can expect more of the same (inconsistency) at least in the early going from the majors' youngest starting pitcher

Kennedy - It was a bad one, but I'm not gonna grade a kid on 1 start

Overall the pitching has been fair and the offense terrible. Sounds like 4-4 to me.

A-Rod to Short Would be a Mistake

With DJ out for a while with a strained quad, some people are clamoring to get A-Rod moved to short until Jeet comes back. Dumb move.

At 4-4 due to an anemic offense, the Yanks are not exactly tearing the cover off the ball. The last thing we need is A-Rod worried about trying to make the temporary transition back to shortstop. We have seen what can happen when a player is too worried about his position in the field and the effect it can have on their offensive performance, and taking anything away from A-Rod's O would add to an already big problem.

In addition to the offensive issue, moving A-Rod back to short might significantly hurt the Yankee defense as well. By his own admission A-Rod has not even taken a grounder in practice at SS for 5 years. While he was one of the best in the league 5 years ago, and while he probably wouldn't have an issue moving back there, it is, again, not a chance worth taking.

Call up defensive whiz Alberto Gonzalez and allow him to hit at the bottom of the order until DJ returns.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Game 7 Notes

An excellent start for Moose last night giving up 1 run and 2 hits through 6 innings. He did a very good job of keeping Rays hitters off-balance by varying the speed and break on his curve and using his change more than in his last start.

Even though the offense scored 6 runs last night, there is a developing trend worth worrying about. The Yanks saw an average of just 3.25 pitches per at bat last night allowing Hammel to throw just 88 pitches through 6 innings. The typical patient approach at the plate has been mysteriously absent so far this year. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Robbie Cano took a 1 for 4, but hit the ball much better than the box score indicates. Based on his at bats lately I expect he will break out very soon.

Matsui is hot to start the season. Could this be the year he puts it all together from start to finish? Stay tuned...

Jeets' quad should only keep him out of a few games according to Gen. Joe. If it is going to be more than that I hope the Yanks disable him so it can fully heal before he gets on the field again. I think it's important to get any nagging injuries totally out of the way so that they do not linger throughout the season. Also, Wilson Betemit looks lost at the plate right now, so I would consider bringing Gonzalez up to play SS while DJ is out.

The Messiah vs KC's Bannister tonight...should be a good game.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Offensive Slumber

The Yankees are now 2-3, so much for avoiding the slow start this year. Last year was started with an exact mirror 2-3 record but the Yankees scored 6, 9 and 10 runs in three of those games. In all 5 games this year they have scored 4 runs or less - that matches the longest streak of scoring 4 or less runs from last year (April 24-29). Also, they only had three streaks of scoring four or less in at least 4 straight games all of last year. Immortals Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson basically shut down the Yankee attack making the argument used while facing the Jays about facing good pitching no longer hold true. Offensive slumps always look worse in the beginning of the year so lets just hope the pitching continues to be serviceable and the offense will come around.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ikky was...well, Ikky

No need to panick...yes, Ikky got lit up last night.

The one thing you can take away from his terrible performance is that it was completely due to a lack of command that he did so poorly. If Ian had his control and got smacked around it would concern me a bit. The fact the he couldn't put any of his pitches where he wanted allows me to chalk it up as a night where he just didn't have it.

I think we'll see Ian perform much better Wednesday at KC.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Beast

A-Rod Saga is Over

Based on the introductions last night and the general level of drama surrounding A-Rod this spring I really feel that the A-Rod soap opera is over. He has become simply the best player on our team and is no longer going to judged at-bat to at-bat. He isn't even the main story line this year, that is the performance of the kids. Jack Curry over at the times disagrees, but this is just another case of how the mainstream media misses the point. Curry titled his article "Rodriguez’s Opt-Out: A Mess That Sticks" but actually makes no concrete argument that the mess has indeed stuck. As a Yankee fan, and a former A-Rod hater, I can say that this is a non-story to me. A-Rod is here for 10 years and is the best player in baseball. The opt-out and drama of the offseason is no longer a story and I feel that most fans agree.

I wonder how much longer the media will try and make a story out of this? It is no longer one. A-Rod is officially a Yankee.

Melky Love Returns

All through the offseason the conversation centered on keeping The Big Three. The question was is Santana worth Hughes and Kennedy? Should we trade our pitching future for the here and now? The forgotten man in all of this was Melky Cabrera. Melky is one of those players who is worth a lot more to our team then his stats might say. He has the ability in infuse enthusiasm and energy into the corporate Yankee atmosphere and has a clear flare for the dramatic. I was reminded of how special a player Melky is last night watching a crisp, clean Yankee win and I just can't help but be grateful that the Santana trade fell through.

I understand why some say this season might have to be sacrificed while our young pitchers get settled (especially in the postseason), but the energy of Melky, combined with the promise of The Big Three, should be a lot more fun to watch over the next 10 years then another high priced mercenary.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2008 Predictions - Baseball Version

We previously made our predictions for Yankee-land, but it is time for my (Bombers GM may disagree) 2008 standings predictions.

AL East
Yankees 97-65
Red Sox 91-71
Blue Jays 89-73
Rays 82-80
Orioles 52-110

AL Central
Tigers 101-61
Indians 95-67 (WC)
Twins 84-68
Royals 81-81
White Sox 75-87

AL West
Mariners 92-70
Angels 90-72
Rangers 81-81
A's 75-87

East - Phillies
Central - Cubs
West - D'Backs
WC - Mets

AL Playoffs
Mariners over Tigers
Yankees over Indians

Yanks over Mariners in 5

NL Playoffs
Phillies over D'Backs
Cubs over Mets

Cubs over Phillies in 7

WS - Yankees over Cubs

Cy Young-
AL - Rich Harden
NL - Johan Santana

AL - A-Rod
NL - Derrick Lee

Trade 1 Bloggers FLB

As you may know, I am in a fantasy league with some other Yankee bloggers (check out the league here). The first trade of the season was accepted yesterday and I'd like to know what you think.

I send Bill Hall and Huston Street to Bronx Blockers for Curtis Granderson and Ted Lilly.

As I had Street, J. Soria and B. Wagner, I could afford to trade a closer, and with John Lackey on the DL I needed another starter. With K's/9 and XBH as stats I like Lilly and Granderson a lot.

What do you think?

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