Friday, August 05, 2011

Battle at Fenway

Yankees complete the 4 game sweep in Chicago. Yankee pitching was very good, or maybe the Chicago hitters were really that bad, as the Yankees did not issue a single walk in the series sweep. That's only happened twice before in MLB history 2005, and 1968, both times by Boston (that nugget courtesy of Buster Olney via Elias Sports). The Yankees sweep plus a couple of Boston losses and suddenly the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for first place in the AL East with a big 3 game set to begin tonight. Pitching matchups are scheduled to be: Colon/Lester, Sabathia/Lackey, and Garcia/Beckett. Lester has owned the Yankees (8-1 career record), I think Sabathia should have the edge in the second game, so the lead could be determined Sunday night. Red Sox have dominated the Yankees so far this season, 8-1. And that's even when the Red Sox were struggling in the beginning of the year. Hopefully the Yankee bats can stay hot and score some runs against a pretty good Boston rotation, and Yankee pitching can shut down a red hot Red Sox lineup being lead by Pedroia and Gonzalez.

AJ Burnett hasn't pitched well since June and should be skipped for a turn or two. The Yankees are spinning the positive outings by Hughes and Nova as "a good situation to be in, too much good starting pitching, we have 6 quality starters". Truth be told, this is a complete PR spin. AJ should be out of the rotation. The rotation should be the best 5 pitchers, and that is not AJ Burnett. Maybe we're banking too much on Hughes' last performance to say that "he's back", but at this point I will take Hughes over Burnett regardless. Or even call up someone from AAA S/WB, like Phelps or Warren.


Crash said...

Old Prof saw your post on the other thread...something tells me that the bullpen will get plenty of innings this series in Boston. I wouldn't be surprised if Mo, Soriano, and Robertson are used in all 3 games if they're close late.

Crash said...

One day after signing his deal the Giants first round pick injures himself and needs surgery to insert a screw in his foot. G'men also lose Kevin Boss as he signs with Oakland. And they have contract/$$ problems with Osi. I thunk the Osi deal gets done because Giants won't get the 1st round pick they're asking for.

Crash said...

Old Prof...I'm thinking bus trip to new Meadowlands for some G'men football this year...10/16 Bills v. Giants ($199) or 10/30 Dolphins v. Giants ($210)?

Mid I'll extend the invite to you as well but I doubt you'll step up.

old professor said...

Crash, first either of the dates are good for me. Have never seen the Dolphins, but Bills game would bring back the memory of being the only Giants fan living in Buffalo for five years.

Soriano and Robertson pitch well in two of the three games in Boston. Mo blows another save versus Boston. To make matters worse CC is now 0-4 against Boston this season. Not sure why he can't beat them. Does not bode well for the playoffs.

Hughes gets skipped for Tuesday - makes no sense. He threw 13 pitches should be treated as his throw day. Instead the Yankees intend to go with AJ. Need some message sent here. Posada has not been productive so he goes to the bench. AJ can't win a game where the team scores 13 runs for him yet Girardi runs him out again.

Yankees have the opportunity to put a fork in the Angels post season dreams by winning the series or sweeping. Sending AJ out is like inviting more indians to a dinner sponsored by General Custer.

While Montero may be the individual they call up. They should seriously look at Jorge Vasquez. He is hitting very well at Triple A and should have had the roster spot of Chavez coming out of Spring Training - but Girardi goes with the veteran, just like he has this thing about Mitre who by the way has been ineffective and is on the DL.

old professor said...

I don't understand the decision to skip Hughes and put A.J. into the first game against the Angels. Hughes threw 13 pitches and has what amounts to two full days rest (Monday and most of Tuesday) before having to pitch. That should not create a problem for him. it would appear that Girardi has more faith in AJ than Hughes. Burnett has not come close to pitching a game like Hughes did his last time out. I would not be surprised to se Hughes optioned to SWB this week or next.

If the end is truly here for Posada, then the team should release him or he should announce his retirement. He is taking up a roster spot that could be used in other ways. Right now he is a left handed bat off of the bench cannot catch can play some first base and that is it. He can't run so he clogs the bases. He has been an important part of PAST teams, but in sports age waits for no one (maybe except Mo).

His spot could be taken by Dickerson or Vasquez. If baseball is truly a team sport then he should put the interest of the team first and realize the ride is over. I understand pride and ego, but he has to look at the video and realize his bat has slowed and he cannot hit anything with a bend in it.

When Mantle retired, he was asked if it was the fact he couldn't hit the curve- his honest answer was - No the kids are throwing the fastball by me and I can't catch up it is time!!

One last piece - Anyone tired of the thugs of baseball?? If I wanted to watch fights break out, I would watch hockey. It seems that everytime someone gets hit, there is a bench clearing brawl. Victorino got hit in the back - so what take it like a man and go to first base.

Crash said...

The real quick way to end fights in baseball is impose 10 game suspension if you take steps toward the mound and not to 1B. I would also impose an immediate suspension of 5 games for anyone that comes onto the field when they are not currently "in play". Kind of like basketball, if a bench player takes one step onto the court during an altercation they are suspended. This would end the dugouts clearing and the bullpens running in from the OF. The Giants had players that ran out from the clubhouse to hop in the fight. Knowing that his team can't be there to back him up, how many hitters are going to charge the mound when essentially it will be 9 on 1.

I agree that Posada is just taking up space at this point and it becomes more of a problem when A-Rod comes back. The Yankees need to reach out to him, ask him to retire, but keep him on as "special adviser" to the manager and pay him his remaining $$ owed on his current contract. They need to call up Montero and probably give Phelps and Warren a look in the rotation too. AJ needs to be skipped, but they won't because of his contract. Hughes will be on stand by for when AJ blows up and can't make it out of the 4th inning.

old professor said...

Not a bad concept regarding the suspensions and Posada. You mention they won't take AJ out of the rotation because of his contract - Posada is out with almost as much money on the table for the remainder of this year. The problem going forward is what do you do with Burnett over the next three years. He is a five hundred pitcher at best and no one is going to trade for him with the money owed. Maybe the Yankees trade him to Houston and pick up the an equal amount of salary still owed Wandy Rodrieqez. The Yankees might be able to do something with WR -like teach him how to pitch versus a stubborn mess that is AJ.

The series with the Angels is shaping up to be important. They can either put the Angels out of the wildcard race or let them back in it. This is a tough stretch for the Yankees: Boston, Angels and the Tampa Bay.

Here is a prediction Boston, Detroit, and Texas win their divisions. Yankees win the wildcard. Yankees advance to the championship game and get swept by Boston. Boston plays Philly in the series and gets swept.

Crash said...

Not bad on the predictions but I think the Yankees beat Boston in the ALCS...and then lose in 6 to the Phillies.

Crash said...

A-Rod continues to make progress. He ran bases and hit soft-toss and off a tee. He should be ready for rehab games shortly and they estimate 8/15 as a possible return date.

Marte threw 32 pitches from a mound, Feliciano threw 42 pitches off a mound in a BP session. And Mark Prior pitched in a Gulf-Coast league game trying to return from numerous injuries.

Crash said...

These last 2 losses have been real tough to take. I know it's only 2 bad games for Mo, and he has had similar occurrences the last couple of seasons. His ERA is great his WHIP is great, but I started to think we are seeing the decline of Rivera. It may not be as pronounced as Posada's fall to a bench player or as statistically obvious as Jeter's batting average over the last 2 seasons being roughly 40 points lower than his career mark, but make no mistake about it, Mo has begun to slip with his location and his cutter does not have that same sharp bite it has had in years past.

I went to FanGraphs and pulled up Mo's "HeatMaps", these essentially show graphically where his pitches are ending up. They confirm that he is getting way more of the strike zone and leaving things more in the middle of the plate, especially vs. lefties (think Abreu last night) even compared to last year. It's not a huge difference, but in baseball there's a big difference when something is down the middle and 3 inches in. Here's a link to the graphs. Pretty cool stuff:

Now maybe Mo isn't in his decline...maybe he's nursing an injury that he's isn't talking about. He had an elbow problem earlier this year right. That could be the difference in his location. I guess we won't know until it's too late and obvious.

AJ pitched well for 5 or 6 until he decided to walk a couple of batters. I thought he looked really good in the first 2 or 3 innings.

old professor said...

Burnett had a shutout for five innings. In the sixth he gave up a homerun on a 3-2 count and the rough fell in - three more runs came in. He gave up a double that bounced over the centerfield wall to a guy batting .189. Hughes gets the nod on Saturday. Yankees need to get straightened out. Maybe it is time to let Soriano close a game or two and give Mo a rest.

Odd how things suddenly change. Yankees sign Romero to possibly be the second lefthanded relief pitcher out of the pen. And all of a sudden Feliciano and Marte, both of whom were to be out the entire season suddently are throwing off a mound and will through batting practice - just enough time to get a few rehab games in before September 1 and joining the team. Mitre headed for surgery and will probably be moved to the 60 day DL.

Crash said...

Buster Olney lending support to my "Mo Declining" position...his avg against lefties: '08: .147, '09: .182, '10: .214, '11: .267.

And I'm not saying Mo is over the hill just yet. He's still the best in the game, any of the other 29 teams would take him in a second over anyone they may currently have. It's just that he's a little less Mo-like and I can see why the Yankees were interested in an insurance policy like Soriano.

Crash said...

Holy Crap!!! Chweck out this story from ESPN NY writer Mark Simon...keep in mind this was published 4 hours after my post here...

Crash said...

I can not believe the Giants let Steve Smith walk away, let alone walk to Philly. Is it me or are the Giants just sitting around doing nothing and Philly is just cleaning up. They are easily the most improved team in the NFC and have to be the favorite for the Super Bowl. While the Giants seem to be unofficially in rebuilding mode.

Eli loses Boss and Smith both were huge 3rd down safety nets for him. Key losses for the G'men for sure.

Oh yeah...good game tonight from Nova, Soriano, Cano, and Granderson.

old professor said...

Regarding Smith, there was something odd about this signing. Smith went to ny and word was he met with the doctors to ascertain if he were okay. He left with everyone thinking he was coming back. However he signed with Philadelphia - which put him on the physically unable to perform list.

The Giants will finish close to the bottom of the division this year. They had too many cuts to make inorder to clear cap space.

Evidence the way Cam Newton shredded the defense in the first preseason game.

Hughes was impressive for the six innings he pithced. Posada had a good day for the first time since the month of April. Garcia cuts his finger cooking at home - isn't that what a wife is for??

Crash said...

Well AJ gets the start tonight, if the rain holds out. If he can't hold down the hapless Royals then he should go. Buster Olney is stating that essentially there is no competition for the #5 spot. Due to AJ's contract and the fact that Hughes has "bullpen experience", they will keep AJ in and move Hughes out.

I'm torn on this decision. While I don't think AJ belongs in the rotation, it may be what Hughes needs to regain more arm strength and more confidence. His fastball was only getting up to 92 for most of that last start. I didn't see him hit 95 once. Maybe he can heat it up for an inning or 2. Then in the offseason work on building that strength back up and get back in the rotation next season.

old professor said...

Crash, I have to disagree with you on Hughes. In his last three starts, he is 2-1 (losing a rainshortened game to the White Sox) and has pitched exceptionally well. He has also had one relief appearance (versus Boston) and took the loss as he looked unprepared for the duty and everything was flat. The guy has earned his way back into the rotation while AJ has earned his way to AAA.

Betances is now on his way to AAA. That will put Banuelos and Betances at SWB for the final month of the season and prep them for their move to the show on September 1.

Crash said...

Yankees have also just signed Scott Proctor. He was released from some where...Atlanta I think.

Old Prof you aren't actually disagreeing with anything I said, you actually strengthen my position. I agree Hughes has pitched pretty decently since returning from the DL and in fact has earned a spot in the rotation above AJ. HOWEVER, Hughes' velocity is still inconsistent. That would be an indicator that his arm strength is not back 100%. If that's the case, and if the Yankees are thinking the same way, then he needs more time and the bullpen might be the answer.

That's all I'm saying.

Another interesting note...Wang has cleared waivers. He got a win in his last start, going 6 IP, 0 ER, and 1 hit. I think the outing before that he went 5IP, with 2 ER. That's better than AJ too...wonder if the Yankees will try to make a deal for him.

old professor said...

Interesting item about Wang - Nationals will probably hang on to him because of the uncertainty with some of their staff.

Interesting article in the most recent Sports Illustrated on the Diamondbacks number one pick. Kid is from a different school of thought regarding conditioning. Refuses to lift weights (messes the flexibility), long tosses up to 400ft per day, stretches his arm using bands and when he throws his first warmup it is at full velocity. He has worked out at a baseball farm in Texas since he was six years old - works on the physics of baseball - when is the latest a hitter has to commit to a pitch, why is it that an inside fastball seems five miles per hour faster than the same pitch on the outside of the plate, etc...

He sent information to all of the teams that may have been interested in signing him that he would not change his workout routiine or subscribe to the notion that limiting the number of pitches he can throw is a good thing. (Apparently he has taken the Nolan Ryan concept to a higher level).

Diamondbacks drafted him and indicated they will not toy with his workout - instead they are looking at whether or not he may be on to something because of all of the arm injuries that have been occurring to young pitchers. The other oddity is he refuses to bring the elbow up above the shoulder in his delivery - he believes it leads to elbow problems. He is already pitching in double a this season and may be a call up in September.

Yankees played a good game - took the lead, gave it up and came back to take the lead and tack on. Still not sold on AJ.

Crash said...

There is a big myth out there about lifting weights. Especially with athletes it's part of the whole steroid era. While I think lifting weights plays a role, it certainly isn't necessary for some athletes. Stretching, plyo activities, body weight exercises, sprinting, etc. can all be used in lieu of weights and have profoundly positive results on the body. There is plenty of science out there to back up this kids thinking and workouts, including his mechanics. Any time you raise your elbow above your shoulder, especially when the arm is behind you (like in a pitching motion) you are putting a huge strain on the elbow and shoulder. I haven't seen this kid pitch yet, but hopefully he finds success in the majors and he'll become the next hot trend in baseball.

AJ got lucky the Yankees were playing the Royals and were able to bail him out last night. After the Yankees go ahead, he gives the lead right back. He couldn't even make it through 6. I believe Burnett cleared waivers, if so Cashman should be trading him for a box of baseballs right about now.

Crash said...

Yankees signed their first round (supplemental pick) Dante Bichette Jr early and he has been doing pretty well in the Gulf Coast League. Here are their other signings according to

Greg Bird for $1.1MM

3rd round pick Jordan Cote signed for $725K. A big (6'5") HS RHP, FB in the 90's.

Signed sixth rounder Jake Cave for $825K

20th round pick and high school lefty Daniel Camarena signed for $335K

Crash said...

One last thing...the Yankees are tied with the Red Sox now a top the AL East. They're on pace for 99 wins. It's going to really bug me if they get 100 wins and only get the Wild Card. 43 games left, going 27-16 isn't out of the question here. Man that's tough. more last thing...Granderson needs more MVP talk. Everyone is saying Bautista or A-Gon, or even Ellsbury. Granderson is #1 in RBI, #1 in Runs, #2 in HR (only 1 behind Bautista), #1 in triples, and has 22 steals. He's currently hitting .275-ish...if he gets hot down the stretch, finishes up above .280 and the Yankees win the AL East. He should get the AL MVP.

old professor said...

If you go to MLB Team Information click on the Yankees and look at the draft link, they didn't sign a lot of their picks. Of surprise was the number of pitchers they drafted that went unsigned. They drafted a total of 50 players. Of that number 14 signed. However their #2,3,5,6,and 10 were all unsigned. That will hurt this team in the long run (picks 25-50 all remained unsigned as well).

I am not impressed with the draft history of the Yankees or literally what happens to the picks. I believe the last first pick to stick with this team was Jeter. Garrett Cole the #1 pick this year was drafted by the Yankees out of high school and did not sign going to UCLA instead.

Crash said...

Not sure how you're not impressed with the Yankees draft history. They have one of the top rated farm systems in the league (at the start of the 2011 season) I believe the Royals and one other team were rated ahead of them.

Yankees claim Raul Valdes on waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. He's a lefty pitcher and is sent to S/WB. Jeff Marquez has been moved to the 60 day DL to clear the roster spot. Yankees are stock piling lefties in S/WB, they also still have JC Romero who should be getting a call up prior to September 1.

Crash said...

Marlins place Randy Choat on waivers. Can't imagine he would fall to the Yankees but that's the lefty they would really want.

old professor said...

It is hard to imagine a pitcher who can't help St. Louis will help the Yankees. Too bad the Yankees couldn't sign their #2 pick Stafford would have helped them. Odd their number one pick signs for $750,000 while their number 3 pick signs for 1.1 million.

Yankees back in first even though Nova struggled.

Crash said...

Yeah I know Nova got the win, but I think he was charged with all 7ER after 5IP...definitively bad, not one of his best performances.

A-Rod due back in the Minnesota series. Probably as DH then the field. Girardi will have to find places for Nunez, Chavez, and A-Rod. No way you can take the other 2 out of the lineup right now.

Crash said...

Jorge comes up with bases loaded in the 9th and he can't even take the bat off his shoulder. After working the count to 1-0, he watches 3 consecutive strikes. Why use Posada in that situation? Terrible!

old professor said...

The final strike to Posada was the same pitch used to get strike one. You would think he could have at least fouled the pitch off. I don't believe the Yankees had anyone else they could have put in to PH other than Cervelli or Chavez (who has really cooled off lately).

Crash said...

I would have used Chavez in that situation. I know Girardi was playing the hot bat...Jorge coming off a career day the other day at the stadium but I think he's a career .200 hitter as a PH and this year he's even worse hitting just above .100 as a PH. Makes no sense. Then Girardi doesn't protest the game after the blown replay call. How do the umpires and Girardi not know the ground rules. They go over the ground rules every game. If he didn't know the rules he should have called someone to verify. No excuse at all.

Crash said...

CC hasn't been sharp in August, but I'm not overly concerned that has been the pattern his entire career. He picks it back up in September.

Yankees still win and keep the lead in the AL East.

Some talk about Garcia going to the DL for his cut finger. That may be a good thing. It immediately relieves the rotation question about AJ vs. Hughes. And it gives an older pitcher probably some much needed rest heading into stretch run.

A-Rod should be back this weekend. I think I would move him to the 5 or 6 spot in the lineup, just because the way the top and middle of the lineup has really been playing well. I would much prefer him at DH that way Nunez and Chavez get time at 3B...and keeps Jones and Posada sitting on the bench.

We're in August and it seems the Yankees have the same questions now that they did going into spring training with the rotation. I can't help but think "what if" Andy Pettitte came back for one more season and didn't retire. Just that one guy makes a HUGE difference in that rotation. Suddenly Colon is the best #3 pitcher in the league, Garcia is solid #4 and Nova is the best #5 in the league. Yankees could afford to stuff AJ and Hughes in the pen or elsewhere.

old professor said...

Crash, Nova may turnout to be the #2 starter for the Yankees with Colon #3 Garcia 4, and Hughes #5. Burnett should be religated to mop up duty in blowouts. He is a headcase and will not turn the season around.

old professor said...

Finally, it appears Burnett's spot in the rotation is on the bubble. Yankees move a full game ahead of Boston and two in the loss column. With Burnett out of the rotation the Yankees could go on a real long streak.

Switching gears, the Giants either looked very good or the Bears are a really bad football team!!! Giants lose what is their best cornerback in Thomas for the season as he tears an ACL. (Too bad because it is his contract year and there will be a real question who is going to pay the big money for a guy coming off that kind of surgery).

Crash said...

I didn't get a chance to watch Burnett's latest fiasco. But I saw he went 5IP and gave up 9ER. Seeing that I would imagine that was the topic of AJ's previous start's rant with Girardi when he got pulled after 2IP. He probably complained he wasn't given enough time to battle back, give the offense time to bail me out, etc. All just speculation, but given Girardi's past where he didn't hesitate to pull him early I can't see a different scenario occurring when he gives up 9ER.

Amazing that west coast doesn't carry Yankee games. I was able to find a sports bar carrying the games when the A's were playing. It takes a little getting used to seeing the Yankees on at 10am (1pm EST).

I managed to take in a Giants game while in SanFran, and let me tell you AT&T Park is a great ball park and is real classy. No obstructed views, very fan friendly, all the staff, I mean everyone, ushers, ticket people, food service, souvenir stand people, etc. were really nice. AT&T Park blows the new Stadium out of the water, by far! I've been to about half a dozen ball parks and this is by far the best one I've been to.

old professor said...

The Burnett outting was as bad as it seemed. Girardi left Burnett in as to not burn out the pen. He pitched a decent first inning. The second saw six runs come across. it is obvious the guy has a head case that cannot be counted on to do squat.

Colon's great outting was wasted with a complete lack of offensive support. Nova wins to move to 14-4. He is playing himself into the number three slot in the rotation for post-season.

Crash said...

Marte and Feliciano have been shut down after suffering setbacks. A-Rod is likely out of the Boston series because of a bum thumb. AJ sucks and most likely isn't out of the rotation because Yankees have 31 games in the next 32 days or something like that.

I would like to see Neosi and Baneulis get some starts and Betances out of the pen.

old professor said...

No big thing regarding Marte or Feliciano. Both have been a non-factor for the team this year. Marte will never return to the team and Feliciano will have to have surgery which will wipe out next year all together. Sad.

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