Monday, August 31, 2009
We got a look at the new "Joba Rules" yesterday and I personally don't like them. Let me preface the following by saying I totally agree with protecting a guy's arm. There is solid evidence that a significant innings increase can cause damage to a young arm. On a side note, pitchers wouldn't have to be babied in the minors and majors if they weren't abused in little league, youth baseball, high school, and college.
That all being said, I do not like the current variation of the "Joba Rules". Joba left Sunday's victory over the White Sox after throwing just 3 innings and 35 pitches. It appears to be a true innings limit and not a pitch count. What is the point of having Joba start and throw 3 innings? Come October how do you expect him to make a playoff start and give you any length? As it stands now, Joba would likely only make one start in the ALCS and World Series, should the Yankees get there.
You might as well put Joba in the pen right now. Use him twice a week or once a week and let him throw in the pen in between. I say this, because it's a waste right now. You're in the middle of a pennant race, why burn your bullpen by automatically pulling your starter after 3 innings? (If he throws only 24 pitches, you're still going to pull him after 3 innings?) It doesn't matter if the rosters are expanded, you want guys you can trust to come into the game and not have to empty the bullpen if the starters have back to back bad outings.
Joba's appearances have been shaky enough and removing him after 3 mediocre innings is no way to boost his confidence or help the team.
And one more thing, Michael Kay mentioned on Sunday's broadcast that Joba must be relieved that the shackles will come off next season. Who says they will? If Joba throw 150 or 160 innings this season, who is to say he won't be limited to 170 or 180 next season. Then again the Yankees could change the rules again in September- that's how poorly they've handled Joba the last two seasons.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Baseball Digest Recap
Prior to the 2003 season, the Yankees were involved in a big bidding war with the Boston Red Sox for the services of Cuban defector Jose Contreras. The Yankees ultimately won that battle, but in the long run Contreras was a bad signing. The Yankees got a little revenge yesterday, pounding the now Chicago White Sox pitcher en route to a 10-0 Yankees victory.
The game also marked the finest performance this season by Sergio Mitre since his recall by the big club back on July 21. He retired the first 13 White Sox to start the game and allowed just one hit over 6 1/3 innings, before being forced to depart when a line drive off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski struck his right forearm. For now, Mitre will be considered day-to-day after the imprint of the baseball was clearly visible on his arm.
The Yankees offense gave Mitre plenty of support early and often. Consecutive base hits by Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, and Jerry Hairston Jr. (2 RBI), starting in place of Melky Cabrera, put the Bombers up 2-0 in the 2nd inning. A walk to Jose Molina and a sac bunt by Derek Jeter set things up for Johnny Damon, who delivered both runners with a double for a 4-0 Yankees advantage.
The Yankees continued the onslaught in the 4th with another four-run outburst. Jeter singled to start the frame and Damon reached on an error by Jayson Nix that allowed both runners to move into scoring position. An Alex Rodriguez single and a Hideki Matsui double extended the lead to 6-0 and sent Contreras to the showers. Swisher greeted D.J. Carrasco with an RBI single and Cano brought the final run home with a productive ground out.
Mitre cruised through the first four innings, his slider working as effectively as it ever had, and recording five ground ball outs plus a pair of strikeouts. Rodriguez temporarily kept the perfect game going when he dove to his right to snare Paul Konerko's grounder and threw out the White Sox 1st baseman to start the 5th inning. But DH Jim Thome ripped a line drive past Mark Teixeira to break up the no-no and perfect game in one swing of the bat.
Mitre walked Brent Lillibridge to open the 7th before Pierzynski's ball ricocheted off Mitre's arm and went behind the mound. Before feeling the pain, the Yankees starter tracked the ball down and threw out the White Sox catcher at 1st base for the inning's first out. Trainer Gene Monahan and manager Joe Girardi quickly came to the mound and immediately got Mitre out of there once they saw the swelling that had begun. The White Sox wouldn't benefit from Mitre's removal though, as Chad Gaudin came on and allowed just one walk in 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.
Alex Rodriguez belted his 23rd home run of the season in the 8th inning for the game's final tally. It was home run #576 for his career, putting him 7 behind Mark McGwire for 8th place on the all-time list.
Derek Jeter had his 7th 3-hit game of the month and his 14th multi-hit game. He's now 13 hits shy of tying Lou Gehrig's franchise record.
Joba Chamberlain goes in the series finale this afternoon (1 P.M. ET) as the Yankees go for the series sweep. Girardi would not reveal if Chamberlain was on a pitch count as has been rumored. Freddy Garcia makes his third start of the season for the White Sox.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Home runs, strong pitching, walk off wins, and whipped cream facials have been the mark of ball games played at the new Yankee Stadium this season. Last night’s game with the Chicago White Sox was right out of the 2009 playbook. Robinson Cano crushed a 3-run home run in the bottom of 10th inning to give the Yankees a 5-2 victory and made Cano the recipient of pie ala Burnett.
Left-hander Randy Williams struck out Mark Teixeira and then got some help from the wind as Alex Rodriguez‘ deep fly to center died short of the warning track. But Williams walked Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher, setting up a showdown with Cano, who had been hitless in four at-bats on the night. After working a 2-2 count, Cano launched a Williams fastball into the Yankees bullpen for the team’s 11th walk-off win of the season. The strong winds had no chance to play a factor since the ball more of a line drive than fly ball. Brian Bruney worked a scoreless top of the 10th to improve to 4-0.
CC Sabathia had given the Yankees a dominant outing, striking out 10 batters through six innings. But the big man, protecting a 2-0 lead built on home runs by Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, ran into trouble in the 7th. If not for some key defensive plays, Sabathia may very well have left the game with the Yankees trailing.
Jermaine Dye started the 7th with a double and Sabathia issued his first walk of the game, putting Carlos Quentin aboard. Alex Rios‘ double to right cut the Yankees lead in half and put the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position. One out later, Sabathia induced a ground ball by Ramon Castro. Quentin, running on contact, was easily gunned down at the plate by Rodriguez. The Yankees third baseman then made a huge play, diving into foul territory to snare Jayson Nix‘ fair ball that barely went over the third base bag. Though he had no play to make, A-Rod’s stop prevented not only a run from scoring, but a bigger inning from occurring.
Gordon Beckham lined a game tying single to right, but Nick Swisher came up with, arguably, his best throw of the season- a one-hopper to Jose Molina, who thrust his right leg out to block the plate and tagged out his White Sox counterpart Castro for the inning’s final out.
Derek Jeter hit his 22nd lead off home run, putting in him sole possession of second place on the career franchise list. He’s just two home runs behind Rickey Henderson for the #1 spot. The home run was also the 223rd of his career, pushing him past Don Mattingly for 10th place on the team’s career list. The home run was his lone hit, and number 2,705, 16 behind Lou Gehrig.
CC Sabathia finished August 5-0, 2.64 and is 7-1, 2.95 since the All-Star break.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Outside of Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes, there isn't one reliever that Joe Girardi can totally depend on to come out of the bullpen and give a solid effort. Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Al Aceves, and others have all had good stretches followed by equally poor ones. This afternoon's game was a perfect case in point. Coke and David Robertson turned a 3-2 deficit into a 7-2 game enabling the Rangers to takethe rubber game of the three game series.
The Yankees lack of hitting and poor relief also overshadowed a good outing by A.J. Burnett. It might have been an overpowering or dominant performance if not for Burnett's 4th inning. After retiring the first 11 men to start the game, Burnett issued back to back walks to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, and then left a BP fastball over the middle plate to Ian Kinsler. The Rangers' 2nd baseman hammered it into the left field seats for a 3-1 Rangers' lead. Burnett got back on track after that and finished the game with a season high 12 strikeouts. Nonetheless he was saddled with his 4th straight loss, dropping to 10-8 overall.
Mark Teixeira drove in both Yankees' runs, including an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th against starter Dustin Nippert. But unlike their counterparts, the Rangers' bullpen tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win. That included the 4th inning when, with two on and two out, Jason Grilli retired Alex Rodriguez on a weak comebacker to end the Yankees threat.
Girardi went to Coke to start the 7th after Burnett tossed 105 pitches. He gave up back to back hits to David Murphy and Taylor Teagarden to start the inning and then a back breaking a 3-run shot to Chris Davis for a 6-2 Rangers' lead. Kinsler added his 2nd home run of the game off Robertson in the 8th to account for the game's final run.
Jake Peavy will not pitch in the Chicago White Sox series at the Stadium this weekend. It was originally thought that he might face Joba Chamberlain on Sunday, but he's not ready to be activated after all.
The Yankees were limited to six hits, two each by Teixeira and Johnny Damon.
Andy Roddick threw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.
And there are people who have incredible luck. No, I don't mean the rich kids with the nets behind home plate or those who line up in the outfield during BP. I mean kids like this one:
And maybe more remarkably, I got this link from Alyssa Milano on Twitter.
Andy Pettitte reached another milestone in his illustrious Yankees career last night and more importantly, the Yankees bounced back from Tuesday night's debacle to beat the Texas Rangers 9-2.
Pettitte tied Lefty Gomez for third place on the all time franchise win list with 189. Only Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231) have more wins than Pettitte, who is quietly having a very good second half. In fact, the Yankees have won 6 of Pettitte's last 8 starts. During that period, he's 3-1, 2.79.
Pettitte's battery mate, Jorge Posada, gave his pitcher an early boost with a long 3-run home run to center field off of Derek Holland to give the Yankees the lead in the 2nd inning.
Leading 4-2 in the 7th, the Yankees broke it open with a five run outburst. Derek Jeter didn't have a multi-hit game, but he delivered a bases loaded 2-run single to put the Yankees up 6-2. Nick Swisher added an RBI double and Mark Teixeira put the game out of a reach with a line drive 2-run single that short hopped the right field wall.
Pettitte ran into trouble in the first, but got former teammate Pudge Rodriguez to bounce into an inning ending 5-4-3 double play with the bases loaded. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing for Pettitte. He gave up a solo home run and an RBI double to David Murphy, but left after 7 innings to a big ovation.
Posada had to leave the game after taking a foul tip off the ring finger of his glove hand. It's been a recurring injury this season and he's listed as day-to-day.
Alex Rodriguez fouled a ball off his foot, but was not going to go for X-Rays as Joe Girardi had originally mentioned in his post-game press conference.
Jerry Hairston Jr. continues to produce for the Yankees since his acquisition at the trade deadline. Flling in for Johnny Damon in left field last night, Hairston hit his career high 10th home run.
A.J. Burnett tries to win the rubber game of the series this afternoon (1:05 P.M. ET) when he goes up against Dustin Nippert.
To Burnett's credit, he defused the rumored riff with Posada last night.
"I had a bad start because my mind wasn't right," Burnett said. "I didn't make good decisions. I think every pitcher has a good idea of what he wants to throw and when he wants to throw it and I didn't the last start. That's what it was. I wasn't prepared."Whether any of it is true or not, the media definitely was the one fueling the rumored hostilities between Burnett and Posada.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Real estate is all about "location, location, location", and Joba Chamberlain didn't have any tonight against the Texas Rangers. Chamberlain, pitching for the first time in eight days, couldn't hold a 4-0 lead and the Yankees lost to the Rangers 10-9 when a 9th inning rally fell just short.
The long rest between starts was an effort to abide by the "Joba Rules" so that Chamberlain wouldn't exceed the innings limit the Yankees have set for him. It would also enable him to be used as a starter in the playoffs, should the Yankees make it there (hey, nothing is a given). But tonight Chamberlain continued hisstruggles in front of his home crowd (3-3, 5.13 as opposed to 2-1, 3.15 on the road) and couldn't locate his fastball, or for that matter, any of his other pitches. The result was adisastrous 5th inning that turned a 4-2 Yankees' lead into a 7-4 deficit.
Just as the Rangers had scored both runs with two outs in the 2nd inning, they did all their damage with two outs in the 4th. Chamberlain retired Ian Kinsler on a pop up and struck out slugger Nelson Cruz, but then walked Ivan Rodriguez. A barrage of singles (five) followed, as the Rangers blooped, lined, and grounded their way to lead (we can already hear Joe Girardi saying the ball wasn't hit that hard - it won't work Joe). After Chris Davis' single put two aboard, rookies Elvus Andrus (3 RBI) and Julio Borbon brought home the tying and go ahead runs with base hits. Michael Young and Josh Hamilton then chipped in with RBI hits before Chamberlain finally got Marlon Byrd looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the misery. Chamberlain's last pitch was his 96th, and 44th in the inning.
It still appeared the Yankees might win the game or at least send it to extra innings when they rallied for four runs against Jason Grilli and Frank Francisco in the 9th inning. But with runners on 1st and 2nd and no one out, and Nick Swisher at the plate, Girardi called for the bunt. After fouling a pitch off, Swisher, who has three sac bunts this season, bunted into the air for an easy out. Another fundamental mistake, this time with base running, then ended the game. Pinch-runner Jerry Hairston Jr. strayed too far off of 2nd base and was doubled off when Melky Cabrera lined out to shortstop Elvus Andrus.
Things certainly started out well on the night as the Yankees began their six game homestand. Mark Teixeira drew a 2-out walk from starter Kevin Millwood and Alex Rodriguez blooped a single to right. Hideki Matsui ripped a double down the right field that took a funny hop, allowing A-Rod to follow Teixeira home for a 2-0 Yankees lead. Jorge Posada then deposited his 16th home run of the season into the right field seats and the Yankees were rolling. Unfortunately, the Yankees pitching never got on a roll.
Derek Jeter had another multi-hit game (2 hits), putting him within 18 hits of tying Lou Gehrig's franchise record of 2,721 hits.
Brett Gardner's recovery from a fractured thumb is going well and he hopes to be activated sometime within the next week.
Joe Girardi has already announced that Joba Chamberlain will pitch next on his normal five days rest- Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The Yankees finished off their very successful road trip (7-3) last night, bashing a career best (or worst depending on how you look at it) 5 home runs against Boston starter and loser (we mean that in more than one sense of the word) Josh Beckett. The 8-4 victory gave the Yankees their second straight series win against the Sox, and after having lost their first 8 games against Boston, they have won 6 of 7 contests with their division rivals.
Derek Jeter set the tone by hitting the first pitch of the ball game into the Boston bullpen in right-center. It was Jeter's 21st career lead off home run, tying him with Alfonso Soriano for 2nd best mark in franchise history (Rickey Henderson has the all-time record with 24 lead off HR's).
Hideki Matsui hit a pair of home runs for the 2nd time in 3 games, and the 3rd time in the last 7 games he has played. Strangely, Matsui has alternated the last 9 games between a hit or hits, and an Oh-fer. Matsui has also flown under the radar for the last 2 months. Since July 1, he's hitting .292 with 13 HR and 40 RBI in 41 games played. (His splits are .292/.374/.620)
Alex Rodriguez also went deep, just the 3rd time he has done so in the month of August. All 3 home runs have come against the Red Sox.
And Robinson Cano tied his career high with his 19th home run of the season. It somewhat made up for the 2 errors he made in the field. And..remarkably..Cano was complimented by EPSN's Joe Morgan for the way he pivots and turns the double play. But that didn't make up for a horrendous night of broadcasting by Morgan and his partners Jon Miller and Steve Phillips. (If you still don't believe there is an anti-Yankees bias on ESPN- did you notice they showed highlights of Boston's win on Saturday, but none of the Yankees' 20 run output on Friday?)
The game wasn't all about home runs though. Another great job by CC Sabathia, who ran his record in August to 5-0 (2.65 ERA) and now leads the majors with 15 wins. The big guy allowed 3 earned runs in 6.2 innings, didn't walk a batter, and struck out 8 (In August - 39 K, 5 BB). He threw 118 pitches, which would have been lower if not for Cano's misplays and a bad jump on a ball in left fielf by Johnny Damon.
Speaking of Damon and bad jumps, he leapt for a ball that hit nearly half way up the Monster. All righty then.
Phil Hughes worked for the first time in the series, throwing 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball.
Mariano Rivera pitched the 9th, also his first time in the series, in a non-save situation. He walked the lead off man on 4 pitches, but then retired the next 3 hitters with ease.
Jeter had another multi-hit game and passed 2,700 career hits (2,701). He's not just 20 hits behind all-time franchise leader Lou Gehrig. Remarkable.
The moron called Jonathan Papelbon is feeling a little insecure these days (well maybe more insecure). Papelbon is upset at the prospect of the Red Sox possibly acquiring Billy Wagner from the Mets.
"I like the way our bullpen sets up right now," Papelbon said Sunday. "We have a good dynamic in the bullpen. We have guys who know how to work well together. It's not that simple."Actually it is that simple (as is Papelbon). Getting Wagner would be a great addition to the Sox pen, and would ease some of the burden on Hideki Okajima. But clearly, this is about Papelbon concerns over possibly losing his closing job one day. Papelbon could have been a member of the 2004 Red Sox- he is most definitely an idiot.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
WP – Tazawa (2-2) LP – Burnett (10-7)
All that was missing was a Tarzan yell and Harvey Korman. Otherwise I would have been convinced that Carol Burnett, not A.J. Burnett, was on the hill for the Yankees this afternoon. Fenway Park has been the bane of Burnett’s 2009 existence. He was ripped to shreds for the 3rd time in the not-so friendly confines in a 14-1 Red Sox blow out. Burnett has now allowed 20 earned runs in 12.2 innings in Beantown this year.
When the Yankees put two aboard with one out in the first against Boston starter and winner Junichi Tazawa, it appeared the Yankees bats were going to pick up where they left off Friday night. But Tazawa retired Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui to end the threat, and it was all Boston after that. The Red Sox immediately jumped on Burnett for 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, 2 of them on a David Ortiz double. And there was no letting up after that. Alex Gonzalez opened the 2nd inning scoring by hitting his first Red Sox home run since 2006. Kevin Youkilis went deep with two aboard later in the inning and just like that Boston had opened a 7-0 lead.
More of the same would follow as Burnett, Al Aceves, and David Robertson gave up 15 hits, including another home run by Youkilis as well as Ortiz’ 20th home run of the year.
Tazawa won his second game of the year with 6 scoreless innings, the Yankees finally breaking through on Nick Swisher’s solo home run off Daniel Bard in the 7th inning. Even though they were down by a wide margin early, the Yankees had 12 hits and a number of opportunities. They just couldn’t cash in any of them. Tazawa kept the potent Yankees lineup off balance with a mix of breaking pitches and low 90’s fastballs and the Yankees didn’t help themselves out either. Robinson Cano was thrown out trying for a double in the 2nd when he didn’t break hard out of the box. Instead of 1st or 2nd and 3rd with no one out, the Yankees settled for a man on 3rd with one out. But Erick Hinske hit into bad luck by lining out to Victor Martinez at 1st base and Melky Cabrera flew out.
Speaking of Hinske, I have to wonder what Joe Girardi was thinking in playing in him left field after his disastrous display on Friday night. After watching him misplay one ball after another, one has to wonder how he played nearly 30 games in front of the Monster when he was a member of the RedSox. Girardi should have used the more versatile Jerry Hairston Jr. to replace Johnny Damon in the lineup. Girardi already had plenty of pop in the order to make up for Damon’s absence. Of course, when you give up 14 runs, your own lineup generally doesn’t matter much.
As expected, Johnny Damon sat out with a bruised knee after fouling a pitch off himself Friday night. But he told reporters he will return to the starting lineup for the series finale in prime time on Sunday. CC Sabathia faces Josh Beckett in a highly anticipated match up.
Jacoby Ellsbury tied Tommy Harper’s team record for steals Friday night when he swiped his 54th base of the season. Kevin Youkilis tied a career high with 6 RBI on Saturday.
Derek Jeter was 0-3, snapping an 8-game hitting streak in which he collected 19 hits.
Recap for Baseball Digest
WP - Pettitte (10-6) LP - Penny (7-8)
No matter how well the Yankees played during stretches of first half of the season, there was the constant reminder that they were 0-8 against the Boston Red Sox. Part of playing the best baseball in the majors since the All-Star break has been exorcising those demons. The Yankees, back in Fenway Park for the first time since June 11, were determined to show the Red Sox and their “nation” that the recent 4-game sweep at Yankee Stadium was no fluke. The Yankees were successful in making a statement and then some, pounding out 23 hits in a 20-11 thrashing of Boston.
While Joe Girardi most definitely will not point to this game as a good example of good pitching, defense, or base running, he can proudly look back at the way his lineup dismantled starter Brad Penny and the Boston bullpen. Chief among the batterers was Hideki Matsui, who hit a pair of 3-run home runs and drove in 7 runs.
Andy Pettitte settled into the game after allowing a first inning run, but lost his command after the long 6-run 5th inning that put the Yankees on top 12-1. Thanks in part to a poor job by Brian Bruney of keeping inherited runners on base, Pettitte was charged with 7 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings. It was still good enough to give him 10 wins, tying him with A.J. Burnett for second best on the ball club.
But this game was all about hitting. Already up 4-1, the Yankees blew it open against Penny and rookie Michael Bowden in the 5th. Terry Francona pulled Penny after he gave up back to back singles to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, but things only got worse. Matsui drilled a long 3-run home run off Bowden into the Boston bullpen in right-center for a 9-1 lead.
Jorge Posada followed with a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on Robinson Cano’s double. After moving to 3rd on a ground out, Cano came home on Melky Cabrera’s RBI single to push the Yankees advantage to 11-1. Teixeira’s second single of the inning provided the inning’s final run.
Boston jumped on Pettitte to cut the margin to 12-4, but the Yankees answered right back with three of their own runs to go back up 15-4. That’s when some life returned toFenway. The Sox cut the margin to 15-6 in the bottom of the 6th and had the bases loaded with no one out against Bruney. But newly re-acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez bounced into a run producing 6-4-3 double play that let the air back out of the balloon.
Derek Jeter added yet another 3-hit game to his hot streak. He’s now batting .333 overall and a gaudy (no relation to Chad) .434 against left-handers.
After 31 runs and four hours of baseball, WABC radio’s John Sterling must have been exhausted. He sounded like a runner that just completed the New York City marathon when he said his patented “The Yankees Win” phrase to end the ball game.
From the Elias Sports Bureau - the 31 runs were the most combined in a Yankees-Red Sox game. The 20 runs was the 3rd most the Yankees have scored against Boston.
Johnny Damon will be out of the starting lineup on Saturday and possibly Sunday after fouling a ball off his knee last night.
The series continues this afternoon with A.J. Burnett facing Junichi Tazawa, who gave up the 15 inning game winner to Alex Rodriguez on August 7.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Remember when we all loved Baseball Tonight? But like everything else on ESPN, it has become as tired as John Kruk's belt.
The nightly discussion of games is done by a panel of experts made up of studio hosts and former major leaguer players and front office personnel.
For the most part everyone is good, though there are exceptions. There are three studio hosts- Victor Rojas (has a great rapport with us fans on Twitter), Greg Amsinger, and Matt Vasgersian that moderate/control the discussions with ex-pros. Rojas and Vasgersian are excellent. Good pipes, very knowledgeable, enjoyable to listen to. Amsinger on the other hand should be hosting a game show. He's awful in his delivery, the quality of his voice his grating, and he doesn't seem to be much of a subect expert.
Among some of those ex-pros rotating in and out are- Harold Reynolds (who I never liked on BBTN, but do on MLB Network), Mitch Williams (my personal favorite), Joe Magrane, John Hart (my Dad's favorite), Dan Plesac (who is a real loon), Billy Ripken Jr., Sean Casey, Dave Valle, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter (very rarely) and "newly acquired" Tony Clark.
Ther are baseball writers who appear occassionally as well - Tom Verducci, Jon Heyman, and Ken Rosenthal chief among them.
Quick Pitch is another good feature, showing game highlights in rapid, or quick pitch, fashion. Hazel Mae and Matt Yallof do a good job pulling it all together.
You can see the rest of on-air personalities right here.
But who do you like? Take the new polls and let me know.
The Yankees will have a direct impact on the American League Wild Card race as they face the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers in the next week. The outcome of those games may not only help to determine the Wild Card winner, but the AL MVP winner as well.
The two biggest names being bandied about for AL MVP are Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and Yankees 1st baseman Mark Teixeira. But a long time Yankee, Derek Jeter, may be the true AL MVP. The Yankees are 25-8 since the All-Star break and much of that can be contributed to the play of their captain. Jeter has played in all 33 games, putting up a .357/.392/.497 split with 5 home runs and 17 RBI. He’s also scored 25 runs and played Gold Glove caliber shortstop.
Jeter has been even hotter of late. On the just completed 7 game roat trip (5-2), Jeter was 16-29 (.552) with 6 multi-hit games (he’s also had 5 3-hit games in his last 10 games played). Overall Jeter is batting .331-15-54 with 81 runs scored and 21 steals.
The Mauer-Teixeira debate has brought fiery response from fans of the two teams and created a lot of fodder for the beat and baseball writers that cover the two squads. Mauer has been phenomenal after missing the start of the season due to injury. He never had more than 13 home runs in a season prior to 2009, but has already hit 25 dingers. In addition to 77 RBI,Mauer is hitting a torrid .378. He and 1st baseman Justin Morneau have carried the otherwise limp Minnesota lineup. And of course, Mauer plays the most physically, and possibly mentally, demanding position in baseball.
The knock against Mauer is, of course, the lackluster season the Twins are having. Minnesota is 58-63, well out of the AL Central and Wild Card races. Though Minny has struggled since the break, going just 13-19, Mauer has been even hotter, hitting .388-10-28 with an 1.126 OPS in 32 games. In addition, Mauer’s defense and game calling skills are among the best in baseball.
But where is the delineation between “Player of the Year” and “Most Valuable Player”. The latter refers to the most valuable to the team. While the Twins would not be as good withoutMauer, they’ve fallen out of both the division and Wild Card races. To me, that is a major knock against the player in question when it comes to MVP voting.
The absurd knock on Jeter, is that he is surrounded by so many good players, that it doesn’t really matter who the Yankees shortstop is/was. But would the Yankees be anywhere this year withoutJeter’s consistent play and table setting skills at the top of the order (and at 35 yrs of age to boot).
Teixeira will also suffer a lack of recognition because of the all the All-Star caliber ability of his teammates. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, who started getting hot just when Alex Rodriguez returned and was able to protect him in the lineup. But Teixeira would have been putting up those numbers with or without A-Rod. Teixeira has averaged 34 home runs and 113 RBI over his first six big league seasons. It’s been made even more impressive by the fact the last two seasons were split between the two leagues.
But enough about the past (kudos to Mark McGwire). Teixeira is putting up his usual numbers this season. He’s hit 31 home runs and driven in 89 runs in 117 games. He’s posted a .937 OPS and played a Gold Glove 1st base that has helped improved the entire Yankees infield defense.
So who will win the MVP? Probably Mauer. Based on the love/hate/anti-NY biased that affects all of the voting, Mauer probably will win. Most Yankees fans won’t have a with that. Especially if Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are hoisting the World Series trophy.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
With a 3-2 win over the Oakland A's last night, the Yankees completed their very successful west coast swing with a 5-2 record. They flew to Boston last night to start a series of games that will directly impact the AL Wildcard race.
After a 3-game series in Beantown the Yankees will return home to face the Texas Rangers for 3 games. With a victory over Toronto last night, combined with the Rangers loss to Minnesota, Boston moved back to a 1 game lead over Texas in the WC standings. The two teams conclude those respective series tonight with Texas heading to Tampa Bay for a big 3-game series with the Rays.
Pitching match up for Boston series.
Friday - Andy Pettitte vs. Brad Penny
Saturday - A.J. Burnett vs. Junichi Tazawa
Sunday - CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett
On paper, the match ups clearly favor the Yankees, but games aren't played on paper and anything can happen in Fenway.
The Rangers series starts Tuesday night and we believe the pitching should look something like this:
Tuesday - Joba Chamberlain vs. Kevin Millwood
Wednesday - Andy Pettitte vs. Derek Holland
Thursday - Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin vs. Dustin Nippert
The Yankees could switch things up too to give Pettitte and extra day's rest and have him go on Thursday rather than Wednesday.
The Joba Rules
Joba Chamberlain sat down with Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland, and now has a clear picture of what the rest of the season holds for him. Chamberlain will get 6 more starts during the regular season, though Eiland said Chamberlain could get additional starts at the end of the season if 1st place and/or Wildcard are still on the line.
The Mets have placed their former closer, Billy Wagner, on waivers as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery. Considering he's owed about $3.6 million for the remainder of this season plus a buyout for next year, he's not likely to be claimed. But once he goes through waivers, he could very well be dealt and you have to wonder if the Yankees would be interested.
The two left-handers in the Yankees arsenal are Phil Coke, who has been up and down, and Damaso Marte, who will probably be activated tomorrow despite the fact that his stuff isn't really up to snuff.
It wouldn't be a bad for the Yankees as long as they don't have to give much up, especially if they have to absorb most of the salary. If someone does claim Wagner, it would be hard to imagine the Mets, still smarting from the Madoff scam (whether they want to admit it or not), pulling him back off of waivers.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Do reading/viewing, whatever, and not just biased media such as Fox or MSBNC. Check out independent sites such as Factcheck.org.
In the meantime, enjoy Barney Frank ripping apart one of said stupid fellow Americans.
CC and the Captain sounds like a lame ’70’s singing duo, but when you are talking about the Yankees roster, it’s more like Batman & Robin, the Dynamic Duo. CC Sabathia pitched a strong 8 innings and Yankees captain Derek Jeter had his third straight 3-hit game in the Yankees 7-2 win over the Oakland A’s last night. The victory snapped a 2-game losing streak.
One night after being blanked by former teammate Brett Tomko and the A’s pen, the Yankees took advantage of a sloppy Oakland team, which committed four errors. The game was tied 2-2 in the 6th when lefty sidewinder Scott Marshall replaced the A’s starter, NJ native Vin Mazzaro. Nick Swisher reached on a 1-out double and advanced to 3rd on catcher Kurt Suzuki’s passed ball. Marshall then hit Melky Cabrera, who lost his balance and tumbled over Suzuki. The play epitomized the evening’s sloppy performance.
Jeter singled through the left side to put the Yankees on top 3-2 and Johnny Damon blooped an RBI double to left for another run. Santiago Casilla replaced Marshall and after intentionally walking Mark Teixeira, walked Alex Rodriguez to force in the inning’s 3rd run. The Yankees added another pair of runs on a Hideki Matsui single and a sac fly by Jorge Posada.
Sabathia gave up early solo home runs to Suzuki and rookie Tommy Everidge, but got stronger as the game went on. He entered the evening just 1-4, 7.12 at the Oakland Coliseum, but other than a jam in the 4th, breezed through the rest of the evening. He allowed just 5 hits, walked 1 and struck out 8 in picking up his 14th win. Sabathia has won all four of his starts in August and posted a 2.35 ERA.
Jeter has been red hot at the hot plate. Last night’s performance gave him five 3-hit games in the last 9 games played and he is hitting .556 (20-36) during that stretch. The hot streak has jumped his overall batting average 15 points to .330.
There were some bad feelings in the 1st inning of the game, but no bench clearing. Mazzaro hit A-Rod in the left arm above the elbow, basically the same spot he was hit by the Blue Jays‘ Shawnm Camp. Sabathia then threw behind Suzuki’s back in retaliation. Both teams were warned, and unfortunately for Sabathia, Suzuki got the last laugh by hitting his 10th home run of the season.
Hideki Matsui was back in the lineup sooner than expected after getting fluid drained from his knee. He doesn’t expect any more problems the rest of the season.
Chad Gaudin makes his first start as a Yankees and faces one of his former teams, in Oakland, in tonight’s rubber game of the series. He’ll be opposed by rookie left-hander Brett Anderson, whom the Yankees beat 8-3 on July 24 at the Stadium.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Texas Rangers increased their lead in the AL Wildcard last night and today acquired their former All-Star catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez from the Houston Astros.
The Rangers had the need for a catcher when starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on the DL with an injured arm. Rodriguez played for Texas from 1991-2002. His time there included an AL MVP (1999), 1o Gold Gloves, and 10 All-Star appearances. He was hitting just .251/.280/.382 with 8 HR and 34 RBI in 93 games.
The Astros will received Single-A pitching prospect Matt Nevarez and 2 players to be named later.
The Rangers beat the Twins last night 8-5 to pick up a half game on idle Boston and now lead the Red Sox by 1 game in the Wildcard standings.
John Smoltz is looking for a team and sources have said that the St. Louis Cardinals and Rangers are among the teams that are the leading contenders. Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki, via his Twitter account, said the Cards are in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe says the Rangers are the AL front-runner to land Smoltz.
The White Sox have brought up Freddy Garcia to face the Detroit Tigers in a big AL Central battle. Chicago moved to within 2 games of idle Detroit with a walk win, on a Scott Podsednik single, against KC last night.
Division leaders St. Louis and LA met last night and the Cards came out on top behind the pitching of Chris Carpenter. The right-hander allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 8 innings and struck out 8. Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel took knuckleballer Charlie Hager deep in the 3-2 win.
Joe Martinez continued his comeback from an early season comebacker by picking up his 2nd win of the month last night at Citi Field. The Giants pounded Livan Hernandez and the Mets, 10-1.
The Cubs and Kevin Gregg's woes continued last night. Chicago led San Diego 1-0 in the 9th, but Gregg gave up a game tying double to Chase Headley and a walk-off 3-run home run to Kyle Blanks.
The Braves picked up a half game on idle Philadelphia with a 9-4 win over Arizona. Tommy Hanson won his 8th game and Ryan Church and Adam LaRoche drove in 3 runs each.
WP - Tomko (2-2) SV - Bailey (18) LP - Burnett (10-6)
Let’s not beat around the bush, Brett Tomko was, is, and will always be a mediocre pitcher. The Yankees finally came to that realization on July 21 and designated Tomko for assignment. He wasn’t happy. Last night, Tomko got a measure of revenge, tossing 5 scoreless innings in a 3-0 Oakland A’s win over the Yankees. It was Tomko’s first win since July 4…when he was a Yankee.
Don’t be mistaken, the Yankees had their opportunities against their former teammate, but couldn’t cash in. Mark Teixeira laced a 2-out double in the 1st, but was stranded when Alex Rodriguez flew out. Birthday boy (38) Jorge Posada led off the 2nd inning with a single, but got no further than 1st base. Derek Jeter and Ramiro Pena started the 3rd with consecutive singles and moved up a base on Johnny Damon’s fly out. But after a walk to Teixeira, A-Rod bounced into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play.
A.J. Burnett breezed through the first three innings, but after getting the lead off man in the 4th, ran into trouble. Rajai Davis doubled, stole 3rd base, and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s single. Scott Hairston followed with a single and the runners moved up on a ground out. That’s when Burnett decided to hold on to the baseball. The only problem was that he was already in his delivery. The balk made it a 2-0 game.
Mark Ellis‘ RBI double finished off the scoring for the inning and for the evening. Burnett went the distance, his 100th pitch being his last. But the Yankees offense was flat and quickly went in order in the 9th against closer Andrew Bailey.
The Yankees 14-game homer streak came to an end. It was the longest streak since a 16-game streak in 1994. It was the 4th time this season the Yankees have been blanked.
Nick Swisher has reached base safely in 26 straight games.
The series continues tonight with CC Sabathia facing Vin Mazzaro.
Monday, August 17, 2009
It's Monday night, August 17. About 1 1/2 months from the end of the Major League Baseball season. And while the NFL pre-season is underway, my eyes are still on the prize.
The Yankees play since the All-Star break has been phenomenal and has allowed them to build a 7 1/2 game division lead over Boston. The Red Sox are 6-9 in August and 11-17 in their last 28 games. They've not only seen their division lead go by the wayside, but their Wildcard lead as well. The teams meet up in a big series this weekend in Boston, with the Yankees having a chance to bury their rivals even more in the divisional race.
Also this week - Yankees at A's, Red Sox at Blue Jays
Detroit has struggled at times, but so have the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, enabling the Tigers to remain atop the central division. The Tigers strengthened their offense earlier today, acquiring Aubrey Huff from the Orioles for a minor leaguer.
Entering Monday night's play, the White Sox trailed Detroit by 2 1/2 games. They're 7-7 in August and just 2 games over .500. It remains to be seen whether the acquisitions of Jake Peavy, who has yet to appear in a Chisox uniform, or Alex Rios will be enough to put the White Sox over the top.
Minnesota, meanwhile is fading quickly from the picture. They're lack of hitting and a major injury to Kevin Slowey have really hurt the ball club. They're 5 games under .500 and 6 1/2 behind the Tigers.
Schedule - Tigers at Mariners, A's; White Sox host Royals, Orioles; Twins at Rangers, Royals
Mike Scioscia and the front office continue to get it done year in and year out. This year is no different despite a rash of major injuries, the tragic death of Nick Adenhardt, and a less than stellar bullpen. But the veterans have been steady, Brian Fuentes has stepped up in the closer's role, and an, at times, patchwork starting rotation has managed to get things done. Jered Weaver and Bobby Abreu, in particular, have really stepped up their games.
People have expected the Texas Rangers to fade from sight, but it hasn't happened yet. In fact, the Rangers entered Monday's play in the AL Wildcard lead after taking 2 of 3 from Boston. They're still within spitting distance of the Angels as well at 4 1/2 games back. Texas finally jettisoned Vincente Padilla today as rookie Tommy Hunter has stood out.
This week - Angels at Orioles (1), Indians, Blue Jays; Rangers host Twins, at Rays
The Phillies have had problems with consistency, but there's no NL East team strong enough to make a real run at them. The Marlins and Braves may be staying close, but it's not happening, take my word for it. Not with the way Cliff Lee is pitching. The Phillies should feast this week with games against the Diamondbacks and Mets.
The Marlins and Braves are very much in the Wildcard race, 2 and 3 games back of Colorado, respectively. The Fish have two of the biggest emerging stars in pitcher Josh Johnson and shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
On paper, the Braves don't look so special, but their starting rotation and a solid bullpen have kept them afloat. The Braves hopes could take a blow though if closer Rafael Soriano continues to be bothered my muscle discomfort in his right shoulder.
The Cardinals were a good team that got immeasurably better with the acquisitions of Matt Holliday (.459-5-22 in 21 games) and Julio Lugo (.354 14 runs in 19 games). And of course there is Albert Pujols, who leads the team in just about every offensive category. You really can't see the Cards blowing their 5 game lead over the struggling Cubs. The Cards have a huge series beginning tonight with the Dodgers before facing the lowly Padres.
The Cubs are 5 games behind St. Louis, but it might as well be 20. They've had no consistency in any part of their game. Ryan Theriot (.301) is the only regular hitting above .300 and closer Kevin Gregg has not been very good. On the up side, the Cubs are just 2 games in back of the Rockies in the Wildcard loss column. The Cubs' schedule flip flops with the Cards, playing the Pads and then Dodgers.
Despite the horrific injury to Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers division lead is completely safe. They just need to get to the finish line in one piece. Just like the Cards, the Dodgers lead is "just" 5 games over the Rockies, but that lead is going nowhere.
The Rockies turned things around once Jim Tracy took the helm and past the Giants for the NL Wildcard lead. The Rockies can feast on the Nats for 3 games before a huge series with the Giants.
The Giants have played well all season, led by the outstanding pitching of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and the surprise season of Pablo Sandoval, who leads the team in batting average, HR, and RBI. After wrapping up a series with the Mets tonight, the Giants prepare for the Rockies series with a 3-game set against the Reds.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tiger, 0-3 in the prior majors this year, led for the first three rounds, but Y.E. Yang closed in and took a 1 stroke lead on Sunday. Both golfers bogeyed 17 and then Yang hit an amazing shot on 18 to set up a close out birdie. Tiger's approach to 18 landed in the rough and ruined his chances.
As for the Yankees, feh. That one word sums it up. Joba Chamberlain had another one of those outings that gives you fits (5 IP, 4 ER) and the bullpen, so good of late, was awful. Al Aceves, coming off a combined 7 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays and Red Sox, gave up 4 runs in just over an inning. Since developing some shoulder soreness in July, he's been scored upon in 4 of 6 outings. Newcomer Chad Gaudin was charged with a pair of runs and allowed 3 of 4 inherited runners to score.
The offense didn't do much against David Fister, who picked up his first major league win. Derek Jeter had given the Yankees a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the 2nd, and after falling behind 2-1, Nick Swisher homered (for the 2nd straight game) with a man aboard for a 3-2 Yankees lead. But Chamberlain coughed it up in the 5th, giving up a pair of 2-out hits to put the Yankees in the hole for good.
Another record now belongs to Derek Jeter. The Captain passed Luis Apiricio for most hits in a career by a shortstop when he picked up his 2,674 hit while playing the position. Overall, Jeter has 2,688 hits and is just 33 hits behind another captain, Lou Gehrig, for most career hits as a Yankee.
Mark Messier is back with the NY Rangers as the assistant to GM Glen Sather. It's possible it could be a position in training to take Sather's job one day. Sather is happy about it.
"...looking forward to him joining the organization and learning a whole new part of the hockey business."
The Yankees pitching has been outstanding last since the All-Star break and it continued last night as the Yankees won their 5th straight, 5-2, over the Seattle Mariners. Sergio Mitre pitched an effective 5 1/3 innings, allowing 1 earned run and the Yankees bullpen threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings with 8 of the 11 outs recorded via strikeout.
Nick Swisher’s 2-run home run highlighted a 4-run 3rd inning after the Yankees fell behind 1-0 in the 1st. With Robinson Cano aboard on a single and 1 out, Franklin Gutierrez couldn’t handle Melky Cabrera’s fly ball for what would prove to be a costly error. Jose Molina tied the game with a single and Derek Jeter put the Yankees ahead 2-1 with a sacrifice fly. Jeter would add an insurance run in the 9th with his 15th home run of the season. Swisher, batting from the right side against left-hander Luke French, ripped a hook shot down the left field line that stayed inside the foul pole for a 4-1 Yankees lead.
Mitre was tagged for single runs in the 1st and 4th innings, but retired Josh Wilson with a man on 2nd and 2 outs in the 4th. He left after loading the bases with one out in the 6th, but David Robertson struck out Wilson swinging and got Ryan Langerhans looking on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be out of the zone.
The Yankees caught a big break in the 7th thanks to a rare fundamental mistake by Ichiro Suzuki. The right-fielder led the inning off with a single and moved to 2nd base on Jose Lopez’s 1-out single. Phil Coke came on to strike out Ken Griffey Jr. for the 2nd out. Then with Russell Branyan at the plate, Ichiro attempted to steal 3rd, but was thrown out by Molina to end the threat.
The M’s put two aboard against Mariano Rivera in the 9th, but the Yankees closer picked up his league leading 35th save by striking out Gutierrez and retiring Lopez on a fly to Swisher in right.
After sitting out 2 games with a sore elbow, Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup and was 1-2 with 2 walks. Johnny Damon got the night off.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
WP - Hughes (5-3) SV - Rivera (34) LP - Lowe (1-5)
I was probably off the mark when I predicted Mark Teixeira would be the American League MVP this year. That being said, Teixeira has been plenty valuable to the Yankees this season. Last night Teixeira cracked his 30th home run to snap a 2-2 in the top of the 9th and the Yankees went on to a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. The win gave the Yankees the first two games of the four game set and kept them 6 1/2 games ahead of Boston in the AL East.
Starter Andy Pettitte had a rough 1st inning, but settled down and struck out a season high 10 hitters. It gave the Yankees a chance to come back from a 2-0 deficit against Mariners’ starter Ryan Rowland-Smith and set up the 9th inning scenario. Hard throwing reliever Mark Lowe left a change up in Teixeira’s wheelhouse and the 1st baseman turned on it and sent a high arcing shot about 15 rows back in the right field stands. The Yankees then gave Mariano Rivera some breathing room with an insurance run. Robinson Cano reached on a 2-out ground rule double and scored on Nick Swisher’s single to right for a 4-2 lead.
Rivera who sat out Wednesday’s game with a sore shoulder and wasn’t needed Thursday night, got three ground ball outs in the bottom of the 9th for his league leading 34th save. Phil Hughes worked out of a 2-on, 2-out jam in the 8th to pick up his 5th win of the season and first since July 17. He’s allowed just 3 earned runs in his last 28.2 innings pitched.
Pettitte went deep in the count most of the night and ran into immediate trouble in the 1st inning. He allowed consecutive singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Guitierrez to start the game and an RBI double to Jose Lopez. Ken Griffey Jr. drove in the M’s 2nd run of the inning with a ground out to Cano, but Pettitte stranded Lopez at 3rd by striking out Russell Branyan and Jack Hannahan.
The Yankees got a run back in the 2nd on Jorge Posada’s near-home run double off the yellow stripe in right-center field and an RBI ground out by Jerry Hairston Jr., and tied things up in the 5th on 2-out singles by Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon, sandwiched around a wild pitch.
Mariano Rivera became the 22nd pitcher in MLB history with 900 appearances.
Johnny Damon reached 600 hits as a Yankee, becoming just the third player to accomplish the feat with three different teams. The others were “Wee” Willie Keeler and Doc Cramer.
Damaso Marte is nearing the end of his rehab assignment, but Joe Girardi said the left-hander’s fastball is still not up to par.
Alex Rodriguez sat out again with a sore elbow and his 50/5o to play on Saturday.
Friday, August 14, 2009
The Yankees and their first round draft Slade Heathcott are working this weekend to iron out a deal. I asked Slade how things stood:
"Were trying to work things out right Now we will know for sure on monday(sic)".
Monday is, of course, the deadline for signing 2009 draftees. Buck Showalter, for one, thinks the "slotting of money" is causing teams and their picks not to find common ground. On Baseball Tonight earlier this evening, Buck feels that this year's draft and lack of signings will change the way the amateur draft is conducted.