• Madden: Scout Says Swisher, Hughes, Joba & Burnett Melting Against Pressure

    Posted by on October 25th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Via Bill Madden

    If nothing else, the Yankees’ inability to close out the ALCS in five games exposed some of their vulnerability that didn’t show up during the regular season when they led the majors with 103 wins.

    Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher, who combined for 53 homers in the regular season, have been quieted in the postseason – especially Swisher, who will lug a .103 (3-for-29), one RBI, 10-strikeout postseason into Yankee Stadium for the rescheduled Game 6 tonight. And for whatever reason, the young power arms in the bullpen, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, have not fared well under playoff pressure.

    A National League scout following the ALCS admitted Saturday he’s had to alter his report on the Yankees. “Before the series, I felt they were about the best overall team I’d seen in 30 years, with almost no weaknesses,” he said. “But in Swisher’s case, in hitting those 29 homers over the course of the 162-game season, he saw a lot of a mediocre or worse pitching and now he’s hit the wall in the postseason against much better pitching. You can see his mechanics and confidence are all messed up now.

    “As for Hughes and Chamberlain, I didn’t like either of their body language in Game 5. It was the same with (A.J.) Burnett. That’s the Burnett I’ve seen over the last 5-6 years, a guy with great stuff who doesn’t pitch well in big-game pressure situations.”

    I don’t agree with including Johnny Damon in this one. He’s had two homers in this series already. And, Hughes’ overall numbers this ALCS have been O.K. – but, agreed he has allowed some baserunners in bad spots. Joba & A.J.? Burnett choked in Game Five. Of that, I am pretty sure. And, Chamberlain has just been terrible this post-season. His WHIP is 5.00 pitching in 3 games and only recording 3 outs.

    Now, Swishalicious has just been flat out exposed this October. He has 10 whiffs in 29 BA, overall. At this rate, he may be posting one of the worst post-season showings ever by a Yankees full-time position player. But, if the Yankees need to count on Nick Swisher to win a post-season series, then they have much bigger problems than Nick Swisher.

    Comments on Madden: Scout Says Swisher, Hughes, Joba & Burnett Melting Against Pressure

    1. MJ
      October 25th, 2009 | 10:34 am

      I don’t know where exactly in this article the NL scout’s observations get blurred by Bill Madden’s tabloid instincts but it’s probably around the spot where the article claims that Damon is choking. I definitely agree that he’s not. He’s played in a ton of October games before and he’s been OK so far.

      Burnett absolutely choked, there’s just nothing else to say. He came out and got lit up before he was even 20 pitches deep into the game and then he came back out with a lead and crapped his pants all over again.

      #62’s not choking, he’s just not very good. Why would someone that had a horrible season suddenly be good against better competition in October? Simply put, #62 has been putrid in 2009 so why would October be any different. That’s not choking, that’s playing to your (limited) capabilities.

      The jury’s out on if Hughes is choking or if there’s another issue. I have no idea on that one.

      Finally, I assume it’s the Phillies’ scout? What other NL team would bother scouting this game in person?

    2. MJ
      October 25th, 2009 | 10:38 am

      I forgot Swish…I don’t think he’s choking, I just think he’s slumping at the wrong time. As Buster Olney pointed out in his column the other day, Swish is leading the team with 4.57 pitches per plate appearance. To be able to hang in there for nearly a full count in every at-bat takes discipline that a choking hitter wouldn’t likely exhibit. Swisher has demonstrated streakiness all season long (great April, cruddy June, hot August…you get the drill) so I just think he’s gone cold at the wrong time. Also, in at least two instances he’s made some timely catch-and-throws to save runs (at least once vs. the Twins (Game 3?) and in Game 5 vs. the Angels) so if he were choking, his defense would be suffering too.

      Anyway, I’ll buy that AJ choked and I’ll even possibly buy that Hughes is choking (it’s at least possible) but Damon’s been OK, Swish is in a slump and #62 sucks balls the same way Paris Hilton does.

    3. OldYanksFan
      October 25th, 2009 | 10:52 am

      @ MJ:
      I believe Swish has also suffered a very unlucky BABIP while his LD% is better then the regular season. Is he nervous? I’m sure, but every non-Jeterian player is. And at least the ONE RBI Swisher has was a VERY big one.

      Writers love to cherry pick.
      Damon:.211 .231 .395 .626
      Teix::: .171 .256 .286 .542

      Now I’m not complaining about Tex. He’s had a couple of very big hits, and his glove has saved our ass. But to complain about JD and not mention Tex seems stupid.

      The truth is only ARod, Jeter and Posada have put up numbers you can Win with. Matsui has been decent. The Angels may be hard competition, but my guess is we hit much better against them in the regular season.

      We just don’t have players who ‘choke up’ or ‘cut down their swings a bit’. Our guys (even Melky) are almost always looking to drive the ball. When successful, it’s great, but it’s sorta an all-or-nothing approach, and I think this is why we often leave runners on 2nd or 3rd, with no outs or 1 out.

      It’s nice to see fly balls bounce off the walls, but most balls hit 180′ are hits.
      How many times do we have 1st and 2nd with no outs and don’t score?
      Maybe playing for 1 run SOMETIMES might not be a bad idea.

    4. GDH
      October 25th, 2009 | 11:51 am

      OldYanksFan wrote:

      Writers love to cherry pick.

      And even more than cherry picking, the promised land of baseball journalism is to dissect the Yankees and point out their imperfections, making the most news humanly possible about each one of them, no matter how insignificant. One of the things that I really respect about Pete Abe was that he never lowered himself to write that way.

      More to OldYanksFan’s point, what about if A-Rod and Tex’s roles were reversed and the outcome the same? It’s conceivable, and many would have thought more probable than A-Rod hitting well and Tex slumping. Imagine the media bonanza if that were the case?

    5. ken
      October 25th, 2009 | 12:10 pm

      This article is BS. Would that scout, most certainly from the Phillies, trade his bullpen for the Yankees’?

    6. Evan3457
      October 25th, 2009 | 12:23 pm

      It’s true that a lot of Swisher’s home runs came off bad pitchers, guys like Horacio Ramirez, Alfredo Simon, Tim Redding, and so forth.

      But he also had HRs against Rick Porcello, Matt Thornton (in the game where Thornton was striking out guys like A-Rod and Tex), Jamie Shields, Daniel Bard, Jeremy Guthrie, David Price, Jered Weaver.

      The only pitcher he hit 2 home runs off of this season? Matt Garza.
      Actually, this story is just more bullspit from Madden, trying to knock the team, because his inside source to team gossip, probably George, has been taken away from him, and no one inside the organization feeds him stories anymore

    7. 77yankees
      October 25th, 2009 | 1:36 pm

      Once again – Bill Madden – babbling baboon. I’m glad he picked against the Yankees in this series because he hasn’t gotten a prediction right since Chuck Cary was at the top of the Yankees rotation.

    8. cr1
      October 25th, 2009 | 2:39 pm

      Very hard to believe that an actual scout would conflate the two categories (players not presently performing well, and players who are choking). Sounds more Madden-like than scout-like.

      True that most of the guys mentioned by name are underperforming at the moment. But Swish is invariably streaky, Joba has hardly had two good performances to rub together in recent times, everybody faces better pitching in the post-season and only a few can elevate their game enough to compensate for that, and averages are exactly that — averages of the ups and downs, both of which can occur at any time.

      That said, I’ll give him Burnett — but it’s hardly headline news that this guy melts like Fourth-of-July icecream at the drop of a hint of pressure. But bundling the rest of the guys into that package is just ignorance.

    9. KPOcala
      October 25th, 2009 | 4:39 pm

      Are sports fans so stupid as to put any credence in the media? I mean these guys (the media) must be exhausted from bandwagon jumping. Small sample size, Bill Madden.

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