• Seems Like 2004-2007 All Over Again?

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Via Tyler Kepner

    The biggest reason the Yankees faltered in the playoffs in the middle of the last decade was poor starting pitching. The same problem now threatens to keep them from repeating as World Series champions.

    This was not an issue late last season. The Yankees knew who they wanted on the mound, and in which order, with reasonable hope that those starters would deliver.

    The Yankees did try to make things easier. They added Javier Vazquez to their postseason threesome of C. C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and chose Phil Hughes to replace Joba Chamberlain as the young starter on an innings limit. Then, in July, they nearly traded their best hitting prospect, Jesus Montero, for Cliff Lee.

    Privately, the Yankees believed Vazquez could pitch well enough to be a No. 2, not a No. 4. Instead, he is an afterthought, doubtful to even have a place on the postseason roster. Hughes, despite a solid effort on short notice Sunday night, has a 5.61 earned run average in his last six starts and has not reached seven innings since before the All-Star break.

    Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte went 8-2 with a 3.42 E.R.A. last postseason, essentially with 13 strong starts and 2 Burnett clunkers. But Burnett also won the pivotal postseason game, beating Philadelphia in Game 2 of the World Series after the Yankees had lost the opener to [Cliff] Lee. It was the only time the Yankees had trailed in any series, and they did not trail again.

    Can Burnett dazzle next month? He has been quite good against the Twins and the Rangers this season, with a 2.12 E.R.A. in five starts. But he is inconsistent — he allowed seven hits and seven runs in the Yankees’ 7-5 loss to Toronto on Monday. He is the kind of high risk/high reward pitcher the Yankees did not need to depend on during their run of four championships from 1996 through 2000.

    Pettitte was there then, of course, and he was as steely as ever last postseason. But he entered the 2009 playoffs at full strength. This summer, he missed two months with a strained groin muscle and has not thrown 80 pitches in a major league game since July 8.

    So much for the magic of giving Brian Cashman total autonomy on Yankees decisions back in October 2005…’cause it’s the same poop, different year, in Yankeeland this season when it comes to starting pitching. And, 2009 is starting to just look like a fluke.

    Nah, It Couldn’t Happen, Could It?

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    The Yankees just lost to the Blue Jays. And, in Chicago, the Red Sox lead the White Sox, 6-1, in the top of the 9th inning. Say, that Boston hangs on for the win…

    There’s no chance that the Yankees lose their next two game in Toronto and that Boston sweeps Chicago in their series, is there?

    There’s No Denial, This Is Ugly

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    I’ve been sitting on this one for a week now. But, given the sad state of play in Yankeeland these days, I thought it was time to break it out and maybe help lighten the mood a tad…

    Last Monday, I was watching (no pun intended) the unveiling of the Big Stein monument on YES with my six-year old son. And, at one point, Jorge Posada was shown in the camera shot. At that moment, my son turned to me and asked “That’s Jorge Posada, isn’t it?” When I confirmed this for him, he said to me “I knew that because there isn’t anyone else who looks like him.”

    And, now, to help cleanse your retinal ganglion palate, I offer another sight to focus your attention on…

    Granted, this is from 1945. But, man, Viv was bringing it back in the day, eh?

    Jose Bautista, Yankee Killer

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Via Mark Simon today -

    The player the Yankees will have to be careful with is the most prolific home run hitter in the majors this season, Jose Bautista, who has six home runs in 15 games against the Yankees this season, including four in six games at Rogers Centre.

    Bautista is enjoying an impressive Yankees-killer type of season, with a .507 on-base percentage and those six home runs. In the last 55 years, eight other players have put up a .500 on-base percentage AND hit six home runs against the Yankees in a season, and the names are impressive –- Ted Wiliams (1957 Red Sox), Jim Rice (1983 Red Sox) Albert Belle (1994 Indians), and Manny Ramirez (2006 Red Sox) among them.

    Bautista’s on-base percentage is aided by 18 walks, the most by a player against the Yankees since Tony Phillips had 18 for the 1993 Tigers. Bautista’s next walk will give him the most by anyone versus the Yankees since Eddie “The Walking Man” Yost had 24 for the 1960 Tigers.

    Here’s the skinny on Bautista via Jeff Blair -

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Bautista in the 20th round of the 2000 draft out of Chipola junior college in Florida, signing him to a reported $600,000 bonus. Bautista was taken in the December, 2003 Rule-5 draft by the Baltimore Orioles and he broke camp with them before the Tampa Bay Rays claimed him on waivers on June 3, 2004 – then traded him to the Kansas City Royals on June 28, who in turn traded him two days later to the New York Mets. The Mets promptly shipped him, Matt Peterson and Ty Wigginton (now with the Orioles) back to the Pirates for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. During that span, he gathered fewer than 100 at-bats.

    “He had a lot of tools – which is generally why you get a Rule 5 guy in the first place,” said Terry Crowley, then and now the Orioles hitting coach. “He was a good fastball hitter back then, but as good a fastball hitter as you want to be, you still have to learn to at least be respectable on the breaking ball, or at least learn how to take it for a walk.

    “Maturity has been kind to Jose in that way,” he said.

    The Blue Jays picked him up in a late-August trade two years ago and in Toronto, he’s found stability for the first time in his career. What’s more, in Cito Gaston he has a manager who gives power hitters his blessing to swing for the fences without fear of striking out.

    Last year, then-hitting coach Gene Tenace, Gaston and first base coach/current hitting instructor Dwayne Murphy suggested Bautista change his approach at the plate. Repositioning his hands to initiate his swing earlier has, Bautista said, shaved 1.0 to 1.5 seconds off the time he starts and finishes his swing. The results came immediately, as he began hitting for more power last September.

    “It’s not like I’ve changed my swing,” Bautista said in Baltimore, before tying Bell’s mark on Wednesday. “But I get started now when the pitcher takes the ball out of his glove. Before, I was waiting until he started his arm motion. That time difference allows me to pick up the ball better, and from there it’s just kind of avalanched.”

    He’s doing some crazy things this year -

    Jose Bautista hit another one out of the Rogers Centre Saturday. This one won’t count in the statistics but it still left teammates and fans in awe. In the sixth, Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie tried to come inside and Bautista turned on the ball so quickly that he hit it foul high over the Jays’ dugout, up over the fifth deck and, it was believed, up over the concrete track the roof rolls on, and out of the ball park.

    Nobody could recall anyone ever having hit a ball out of the Rogers Centre. “I couldn’t do that even if I tried … with my nine-iron,” Lyle Overbay said.

    So, what are you thoughts on what Jose Bautista has done this season?

    Me? Any time I see someone start to play like it’s man against boys, and it’s a new thing for them, it raises questions for me. Yeah, I know about testing…but, there’s ways around that and they don’t test for everything.

    Potential Yankees Post-Season Achilles’ Heels

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    Posada/Cervelli’s throwing…and…Mo?

    Joel Sherman makes a great case on these.

    For the record, I was all over the catcher’s throwing concerns seven weeks ago.

    The numbers, as Sherman shares, on Rivera, are scary, no?

    In his last six outings, Rivera has a 9.53 ERA, a .375 batting average against, a 1.032 OPS against, and three blown saves in six tries. He has faced 29 batters in this period and given up nine hits, walked two and hit two batters while striking out just one.

    September 26th Vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (17)

    This was a sad game for me…just knowing that this was the last home game and that the season is about to be over. Yes, I know that there’s the playoffs. I just have a love/hate relationship with the playoffs. I love ‘em cause it’s exciting baseball.  I hate them cause after that, there’s a long offseason.

    This might have been the most impressive start by Hughes all year. They needed someone to shut down the opponents for 6 innings (we get to forget about the 7th, since Robertson came in and did a fantastic job), and he did just that. My problem with it is, now what? Do you skip his last start and let him pitch in the playoffs with all that rest? Do you start him and pull him after 3-4 innings ala Joba 2009? Or do you just say F it and let him go out there again? At this point, I’d say screw it let him take a regular turn. I don’t think 1 start is going to make or break him health wise. I have to admit though, as good as Hughes was pitching the Yankees offense was making it seem like it was a 10 run deficit rather than a 1 run deficit. Up until A-Rod’s homer (which barely went over the wall), I was on the verge of throwing the remote at the TV.

    Is Swisher high off of whatever pain meds he’s been taking for his knee? He’s at least playing like it in right field. He’s been a butcher out there the last week or so, time to sit him for a day or two.

    Say what you will about Mariano getting hit, I put the blame on Posada. I hope the other playoff teams decided to call it an early night and didn’t see how the Red Sox got to Mo last night. 4 stolen bases is unacceptable. When Hall stole third, Posada’s throw hit the ground half way up the base line and A-Rod made a decent play making sure it didn’t go into left. That’s how you beat the Yanks in the playoffs folks.

    Edit

    Just wanted to add one last thing that bothered me. Why are the Yankees celebrating like crazy after a walk off walk? I was hoping they’d just do their handshakes like a regular win, not run and chase Juan Miranda for not taking the bat off his shoulders. Does anyone else think the 1996-2000 version of this team wouldn’t have celebrated like the 2010 Yankees?

    Chicken & Smart…And Later Shocked?

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    I have to confess, I turned off the game last night after 8 innings.  

    My logic?  I needed to sleep.  And, I figured, if the Yankees somehow blew this one in the ninth, I would never sleep, at all, out of anger.  So, I went to bed thinking “I’m happy now.  In my mind, the Yankees are winning this one 2-1.  And, in the morning, I’ll wake up and either see that 2-1 score hold up, or, if I need to be pissed about them losing this game, at least I’ll be doing it on a full-night’s sleep.”

    And, then this morning, when I woke up, I turned on ESPN and saw what happened in the game after I turned it off.

    Boy, that was smart, close, or what?  Well, at least they won it in the end…or, did Hideki Okajima and Victor Martinez just blow it for the Red Sox? Heck, maybe Papelbon blew it? You tell me…

    Phil Hughes Over Dustin Moseley

    Posted by on September 26th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    The Yankees announced that Phil Hughes was starting this evening’s game, over Dustin Moseley, the scheduled starter, at 3:30 pm ET today. Now, reportedly, the Yankees made this call last night, and, during yesterday’s late afternoon game, they had Dustin Moseley out in the bullpen in case he was needed in that role during the game.

    So, really, the Yankees were thinking about this move at least 24 hours before it was announced. Interesting…in so many levels.

    PHOTO ESSAY: Cooperstown, N.Y. – 2010 [Part 4]

    Posted by on September 26th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    This is the next installment of the photograph collection from my recent trip to Cooperstown, New York.

    For “Part 3″ of this series, click here.

    As promised, here’s the remainder of the photographs that I took of artifacts (and other things to see inside the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum) that caught my eye during my last visit.

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    It’s Girardi Season

    Posted by on September 26th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    First via Joel Sherman -

    Joe Girardi must make a decision — and we are not talking Cubs vs. Yankees.

    Girardi must decide to go all-out to win games until a playoff spot is secured. Because the hybrid he is deploying between saying the games matter — but often not managing that way — has left his team confused. Actually that decision might have been made for Girardi now since the Red Sox, with a 7-3 triumph yesterday, closed within five games in the loss column for the wild card.

    That should be huge with eight games to play. But this weekend has the feel of a reverse Boston Massacre, or as if the ghosts of the 2004 ALCS Yankee choke job are being revived. That four games remain between the teams means the Red Sox have re-opened a door that seemed closed.

    And Girardi’s schizophrenic managing style has helped open that door. He has alternately pushed hard and pulled back so often over the last few weeks that his team has been left as tight as its high-strung skipper.

    Girardi said he is managing the same now as always. But that is just disingenuous. He has been more cautious with injured guys, older guys and tired guys than ever, acting as if his team has a playoff spot locked up, but no real fervor for the AL East title or the best record in the league. Yet by prioritizing that caution, Girardi has shut off his team’s switch. The Yanks currently feel like an NBA team that pulled its starters up 23 in the third quarter, and now can’t get going again with the lead down to seven in the fourth.

    And, next, via Andrew Marchand

    It is nearly impossible for the New York Yankees to miss the playoffs, but they are trying their hardest to make it is as interesting as possible.

    They have a manager who continues to say bewildering things that, if true, makes him seem delusional at best and incompetent at worst. They have a very famous third baseman who squarely pointed the finger at the team’s starting pitching as the problem of late. And they are tumbling toward the finish line, losing 13 of their last 19 and suffering their first four-game home losing streak of the season.

    On Saturday, the Boston Red Sox again shellacked the Yankees in a 7-3 beating as rookie Ivan Nova could only pitch 4 2/3 innings, which left Alex Rodriguez to draw a line between the hitters and the pitchers.

    “It’s hard to play with an edge when you are down five or six runs,” said Rodriguez, refreshingly honest, if impolitic.

    On Sunday night, the Yankees send out the pedestrian Dustin Moseley, trying to avoid a sweep. Even as the Yankees slowly fade — they are now 36-31 since the All-Star Break — their manager, Joe Girardi, says that if the Yankees were in a tighter playoff race he would be handling his pitchers the same way.

    That means, even if the Yankees weren’t at the postseason one-yard line, Girardi claims he would have turned to Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in a first place showdown with the Rays on Sept. 13. It means that Girardi would be handing the ball to Moseley instead of the innings limited Phil Hughes on Sunday.

    “I would manage the same way,” Girardi said before the Yankees’ latest no-show.

    Girardi said that he values the players’ health first and that they are more productive rested. Of course, if the Red Sox were a game back and the Rays were up a game — which is the exact scenario a reporter put forth to Girardi — it is unfathomable he would turn to Moseley to avoid a sweep. But those were the manager’s words. That is the message he sent out.

    Girardi is very careful not to say that he is managing like the Yankees are already in, but his actions belie his nonsensical words. The Yankees’ magic number to clinch the wild card is still just three, meaning they would guarantee at least a tie if they win Sunday night.

    “We’re still in a good spot,” Girardi said.

    With that in the back of his mind, Girardi continues to use his pitchers as if it were spring training. Girardi is valuing health over home-field, which is not an unreasonable way to go. However, the jogging to finish line approach may play better in theory than in reality. As programmed as many of the Yankees act, they are still people.

    But similar to when the tumble began gaining steam with Girardi in the middle of it all on Sept. 13 — the Gaudin-Mitre game — this season is becoming all about Girardi, not his players.

    I have to confess, when I look at the way the Yankees have been going about their business lately, I get that feeling of…well, like Game Four of the 2003 World Series and Game Six of the 2001 World Series, and, of course, Game Four of the 2004 ALCS…

    By this I mean, they had this season down on the ground with their foot clamped down on its throat, but, rather than go for the kill and finish it off, they got soft and have allowed it get its air back and climb back to its feet. And, sometimes, that’s a fatal mistake.

    The next seven games will tell us what it means to this season – and the ALDS. And, if it’s not a nice story for Yankeeland, I suspect that Girardi will get, and probably deserves, a fair chunk of the blame for the way he’s handled the close of this season.

    The Yankees Since August 1st

    Posted by on September 25th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Since August 1st of this year, the Yankees have gone 26-26.

    Yes, that’s 52 games worth of .500 baseball. And, breaking even is not exactly championship level play – is it?

    During this time, they went from being first in the A.L. East by two games (in the standings) to being second in the A.L. East by two games in the loss column. Man, are they lucky it hasn’t been more of a swing than that change.

    Also, during this time, they went from being eight games better than the Red Sox in the loss column to being five games better than Boston in the loss column. Again, they were very lucky that it wasn’t more than that three game change.

    From April through July this year, the Yankees did go an amazing 66-37 in their first 103 games. But, much of that was from beating up on teams like the Orioles, Indians, Mets, Astros, A’s, Royals, Astros and D-Backs when things were going rough for those teams. So, that record was an illusion. And, what you see from the Yankees over the last two months is what the Yankees really are…an average club.

    And, if they’re going to end this season on a positive note, they’re going to need some more luck like that which has kept them close in the standings so far. Will they get it? I’m not counting on it.

    2010 Yankees & 2006 Tigers

    Posted by on September 25th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    At the close of business on September 1, 2006, the Detroit Tigers had a 5 1/2 game lead in the A.L. Central. Over their next 27 games, they would go 11-16 and ended up in second place in the Central. But, at least, they won the A.L. Wildcard berth for the post-season that year. Well, maybe “backed-in” would be a better way to put it – rather than “won.”

    At the close of business on September 1, 2010, the New York Yankees had a one game lead in the A.L. East. Since that time, they’ve gone 9-13 and now sit in second place in the East. But, at least, it appears they should win the A.L. Wildcard berth for the post-season this year. Well, maybe “back-in” would be a better way to put it – rather than “win.”

    Now, the good news is that the 2006 Tigers went on to win the A.L. pennant in 2006. But, will the 2010 Yankees do the same?

    Think about the teams that the Tigers played in October of 2006 – to make it to the World Series – the Yankees and the A’s. The teams the ’06 Tigers played in the ALDS and ALCS rolled over for them.

    And, I don’t think that the 2010 Minnesota Twins are the 2006 Yankees. And, even if New York makes it past the ALDS this year, I don’t think the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays and/or 2010 Texas Rangers are the 2006 Oakland A’s. So, if asked, I would say the odds of the Yankees reaching the World Series this year are very slim. Really, really, slim.

    Frankly, at this point, especially given the looks on the faces of the Yankees as they dropped today’s game to the Red Sox, I fully expect New York to drop four of their last seven games scheduled this year. That would give them 96 wins on the season – which, on paper, is very impressive…much like the 95 wins that the Tigers finished with in 2006.

    And, if the Yankees win only three of seven from here out, that’s still more than enough to lock up the Wildcard in the A.L. this season. So, there will be a post-season in Yankeeland this year. But, it’s going to be a short one…mark my words on it. And, that’s where the 2010 Yankees will be nothing like the 2006 Tigers.

    September 24th Vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on September 25th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    With one or two different decisions by Girardi, this game could have been won.

    Girardi left Pettitte in way too long (which was done on purpose so that he could get somewhat close to 90 pitches). I wonder if Andy had a fever, because he was sweating a lot. I don’t recall ever seeing him dripping like that. Then when Girardi couldn’t let Pettitte get hit anymore, he went to the very back of the bullpen (Albaladejo is just terrible, and they’re lucky that Mitre didn’t give up any runs).

    At 10-1 with Mitre coming in, I thought the Yankees would just roll over. This just wasn’t the case as they homered their way to make it really close at the end. That’s pretty encouraging. I can’t lie, party of me thought they’d do it…especially after the Tex message to  Papelbon. But, 9 runs ended up being too big of a lead and I found myself cursing Girardi for putting Albaladejo in and leaving Andy in way too long. Just gotta remind yourself that these games don’t matter and that they’re being managed as such.

    Weeks ago, it looked like A-Rod had a very slim chance at finishing the year with 30 homers. Now with a week left and 3 homers to go, he has a very legitimate shot at doing it. Especially with the way he’s swinging the bat lately: .333/.405/.651 in September with 6 homers in 74 plate appearances.

    Hey, Yankees, You’re Really Ticking Me Off Now

    Posted by on September 25th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    So, the Yankees have now lost 12 of their last 18 games. And, a case could be made that they’re very lucky that it’s not 14 of their last 18.

    Yeah, I know, they almost came back in the loss last night. Big whoops. It was a bunch of garbage time homers. And, in the end, it was all a date late and a dollar short.

    Man, these are different times in Yankeeland. Do you think if this was happening before that church service for Otto Graham back in December 2003 that all this would be tolerated as much as it is today?

    Me? To be candid, at first I was upset about how the Yankees are playing lately. But, now, I’m just flat out angry. Yeah, my state towards all this has gone from being troubled to being enraged now.

    This team has eight games left to get their act together before the post-season. And, it would be beyond nice if they could start working towards that right now.

    If angry comes after upset, what comes after angry? I’m really not looking forward to finding out.

    Yankees Among Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospects In GCL

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Courtesy of Baseball America -

    The Gulf Coast League Yankees have three players represented in Baseball America’s Top-20 GCL Prospects list, including the #1 overall prospect.  The honored Yankees — along with BA’s remarks — are after the jump.
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    Javy Vazquez’ Place In Bad Cashman Starter History

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Here’s a list of Yankees pitchers since 1998 who made at least 25 starts in a season where their ERA+ was less than 107:

    Rk Player ERA+ GS Year Age G W L W-L% IP ERA HR OPS+
    1 David Cone 70 29 2000 37 30 4 14 .222 155.0 6.91 25 125
    2 Javier Vazquez 85 25 2010 34 32 10 9 .526 152.2 5.07 29 109
    3 A.J. Burnett 85 31 2010 33 31 10 14 .417 178.1 5.05 22 113
    4 Mike Mussina 88 27 2007 38 28 11 10 .524 152.0 5.15 14 111
    5 Randy Johnson 90 33 2006 42 33 17 11 .607 205.0 5.00 28 85
    6 Joba Chamberlain 90 31 2009 23 32 9 6 .600 157.1 4.75 21 113
    7 Javier Vazquez 92 32 2004 28 32 14 10 .583 198.0 4.91 33 96
    8 Mike Mussina 96 30 2005 36 30 13 8 .619 179.2 4.41 23 105
    9 Hideki Irabu 98 27 1999 30 32 11 7 .611 169.1 4.84 26 91
    10 Andy Pettitte 98 33 2008 36 33 14 14 .500 204.0 4.54 19 98
    11 Mike Mussina 98 27 2004 35 27 12 9 .571 164.2 4.59 22 97
    12 Phil Hughes 100 28 2010 24 29 17 8 .680 169.1 4.31 25 88
    13 Andy Pettitte 101 31 1999 27 31 14 11 .560 191.2 4.70 20 107
    14 Jaret Wright 101 27 2006 30 30 11 7 .611 140.1 4.49 10 98
    15 Roger Clemens 102 29 2002 39 29 13 6 .684 180.0 4.35 18 89
    16 Roger Clemens 103 30 1999 36 30 14 10 .583 187.2 4.60 20 91
    17 Andy Pettitte 103 32 2009 37 32 14 8 .636 194.2 4.16 20 92
    18 Jon Lieber 104 27 2004 34 27 14 8 .636 176.2 4.33 20 97
    19 Andy Pettitte 104 32 1998 26 33 16 11 .593 216.1 4.24 20 95
    20 A.J. Burnett 106 33 2009 32 33 13 9 .591 207.0 4.04 25 94
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 9/24/2010.

    .

    Actually, as bad as Vazquez “this season” is here, at number two, what does it say that A.J. Burnett “this season” is right there with him? Heck, Phil Hughes “this season” is just league average here too – with an ERA+ of 100 (on the nose). Forget the Cy Young Award…maybe CC Sabathia should get the A.L. MVP for carrying the Yankees starting staff this season?

    October 6th, Target Field, Sabathia Vs. Liriano

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    The way things are going lately in Yankeeland, you can pretty much book this date, match-up, and location now, can’t ya?

    PHOTO ESSAY: Cooperstown, N.Y. – 2010 [Part 3]

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    This is the next installment of the photograph collection from my recent trip to Cooperstown, New York.

    For “Part 2″ of this series, click here.

    Perhaps my favorite part of visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is looking at the exhibits to be found there. I could probably spend two hours alone perusing just the second floor.

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    Would Kerri Green Play The Love Interest?

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    There’s a chance they may make a movie on one of the Scooter’s fav’s: Eddie Lucas.

    Cool beans.

    September 23rd Vs. The Rays

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (22)

    Usually after my Thursday night Hold ‘em game I’ll come back home and watch the game that was DVRed. I always check the score and will watch the game even if it’s a loss as I like to see what got them there. But, now that the games don’t matter, I just couldn’t get myself to watch this one.

    All you can do is remind yourself that these games don’t matter, and look forward to next month.

    Relax, Boston Can’t Catch New York

    Posted by on September 24th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Right now, the Yankees have an 8-game lead over the Red Sox, in the all-important loss column – with New York having 9 games left to play this season. Seems like a lock that they will finish ahead of Boston this season, no? Unless…

    Say that the Red Sox sweep their next three games against the Yankees. This would make it a 5-game lead with six to play. And, then suppose that Boston wins three of four from the White Sox while the Yankees drop two of three to the Blue Jays (in their respective series after this match-up in the Bronx).

    That would leave the Yankees with a 3-game lead over Boston with three games to play. And, this means the Red Sox would have to win all of their last three games against the Yankees (at Fenway Park) to close the season.

    Yeah, all said, Boston needs to go 9-1 to close out this season while the Yankees go 1-8 in order for the Red Sox to just tie the Yankees in the standings. Now, there’s almost no chance of both those things happening between today and the end of the season. The Yankees will be in the post-season this year and the Red Sox will not. There’s just too many games between the teams and not much time left on the clock. Rest easy, Yankeeland.

    Thank You Koji Uehara!

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (3)

    If not for this man, the Yankees would have lost 13 of their last 17 games!

    In any event, as it is, with their loss tonight, New York has now lost 11 of their last 17 games. So, how ugly is that?

    It’s about as ugly as a leotard clad quinquagenarian with 1980′s big hair
    acting like she’s getting her butt mud pushed in.

    For a team with the most wins in their league, right now, the Yankees sure do stink.

    D-Back Envy

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Reading everything that Kevin Towers is saying here makes me wish that he was the current G.M. of the Yankees.

    Will Burnett Or Hughes Throw A Clunker To Remember This October?

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (8)

    I was just looking at what many would consider to be the 25 worst post-season “starts” by a Yankees pitcher in the Wildcard Era – meaning since 1996. (See the list below.) And, I noticed that two of A.J. Burnett’s starts for the Yankees last season ranked among the 20th worst for the Yankees (since ’96).

    What are the odds that Burnett or Phil Hughes have a start this October which also cracks the Top 20 (or 25) here?

    Me? I’m thinking the odds are pretty good. How about you? Have a lot of faith in Burnett and/or Hughes this post-season? Yes? No? Why?

    Rk Player Date Series Gm# Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
    1 Chien-Ming Wang 2007-10-04 ALDS 1 CLE L 3-12 4.2 9 8 8 4 2 2 12
    2 David Wells 2002-10-05 ALDS 4 ANA L 5-9 4.2 10 8 8 0 0 1 12
    3 Andy Pettitte 2001-11-03 WS 6 ARI L 2-15 2.0 7 6 6 2 1 0 17
    4 Andy Pettitte 1996-10-20 WS 1 ATL L 1-12 2.1 6 7 7 1 1 1 17
    5 Andy Pettitte 1999-10-26 WS 3 ATL W 6-5 3.2 10 5 5 1 1 0 21
    6 A.J. Burnett 2009-11-02 WS 5 PHI L 6-8 2.0 4 6 6 4 2 1 22
    7 Andy Pettitte 1998-10-09 ALCS 3 CLE L 1-6 4.2 8 6 6 3 1 4 22
    8 David Cone 1997-09-30 ALDS 1 CLE W 8-6 3.1 7 6 6 2 2 1 22
    9 Randy Johnson 2005-10-07 ALDS 3 LAA L 7-11 3.0 9 5 5 0 2 2 23
    10 Andy Pettitte 2000-10-08 ALDS 5 OAK W 7-5 3.2 10 5 5 2 4 0 23
    11 Andy Pettitte 1997-10-02 ALDS 2 CLE L 5-7 5.0 9 7 7 1 3 1 23
    12 Roger Clemens 1999-10-16 ALCS 3 BOS L 1-13 2.0 6 5 5 2 2 1 24
    13 Kenny Rogers 1996-10-23 WS 4 ATL W 8-6 2.0 5 5 5 2 0 1 24
    14 Kevin Brown 2004-10-20 ALCS 7 BOS L 3-10 1.1 4 5 5 2 1 1 25
    15 Chien-Ming Wang 2007-10-08 ALDS 4 CLE L 4-6 1.0 5 4 4 0 0 1 27
    16 Mike Mussina 2005-10-10 ALDS 5 LAA L 3-5 2.2 6 5 5 1 3 1 28
    17 Andy Pettitte 2002-10-02 ALDS 2 ANA L 6-8 3.0 8 4 4 0 1 2 28
    18 Kevin Brown 2004-10-16 ALCS 3 BOS W 19-8 2.0 5 4 3 2 1 1 31
    19 A.J. Burnett 2009-10-22 ALCS 5 LAA L 6-7 6.0 8 6 6 3 3 0 32
    20 Roger Clemens 2000-10-07 ALDS 4 OAK L 1-11 5.0 6 6 6 4 5 1 32
    21 Roger Clemens 2003-10-16 ALCS 7 BOS W 6-5 3.0 6 4 3 1 1 2 33
    22 Jaret Wright 2006-10-07 ALDS 4 DET L 3-8 2.2 5 4 3 1 1 2 34
    23 Mike Mussina 2001-10-27 WS 1 ARI L 1-9 3.0 6 5 3 1 4 2 34
    24 Jimmy Key 1996-10-21 WS 2 ATL L 0-4 6.0 10 4 4 2 0 0 34
    25 Kenny Rogers 1996-10-12 ALCS 4 BAL W 8-4 3.0 5 4 4 2 3 1 34
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 9/23/2010.

    .

    September 2010 Survey Question #3

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:110}

    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section.

    When Cy Young Contenders Collide

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Mark Simon reminds us of why match-ups like the one in the Bronx tonight are special.

    Of course, that’s not to say that a Chuck Cary/Jeff Ballard pairing is without charm too…

    (Look at who pitched the last inning for the O’s in that one.)

    September 22nd vs. The Rays

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (5)

    As a TV viewer, I can’t think of anything worse than when the Yanks play games in the Pacific timezone…except for 130-minute rain delays.  Ugh, what a disruption to my sleep schedule!

    In any event, the game was as lousy as the weather as the Yankees fell to the Rays 7-2 thanks to the predictably sub-standard work of Chad Gaudin.

    One could safely make the argument that the Yanks implicitly forfeited this game by having Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo pitch in relief after starter AJ Burnett got shelved during the two hour pause.

    On the other hand, I can only lament that the Rays had MLB-ready starting pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson on the ready while the Yankees bullpen has no comparable arm (or prospect) standing by.  Perhaps in a few years a pitcher like Betances, Banuelos, Brackman or Warren will fill this role in September.  Until then,  however, Girardi’s only choices are to tax his critical short men or to wave white flags and pitch bums like Gaudin.

    After tonight’s series finale with the Rays (Sabathia v. Price!), the Yankees finish the season with nine more games against divisional opponents.  Given that the first two tie-breakers in the event of a Yanks/Rays tie atop the AL East are head-to-head record and divisional record, the Yanks would be wise to win tonight’s game in order to end the season with an even 9-9 record against Tampa.

    Yanks Limping Into Post-Season?

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (11)

    With their loss to the Rays on Wednesday, the Yankees have now dropped 10 of the last 16 games. And, New York is 23-19 in the last 42 games. Further, they are 27-24 in their last 51 games. Granted, those last two marks are not terrible. But, they don’t suggest that this Yankees team is peaking as it heads into the post-season, do they?

    Compare that to a team like the Phillies who have won 22 of their last 26 as they head into October baseball.

    So, what do you say Yankeeland, are you concerned about how the Yankees will show up in the post-season this year, given their recent level of play?

    The Burnett/Posada Question Lives On

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Via John Harper

    With Jose Molina gone this year, the question of whether Jorge Posada catches A.J. Burnett in the postseason wasn’t supposed to be an issue, and maybe it won’t be. But more and more it’s starting to look as if Francisco Cervelli might be the new Molina.

    Essentially Cervelli has been Burnett’s personal catcher this season, even if Joe Girardi insists it has just worked out as the best way to give Posada the days off that he needs.

    And Burnett’s ERA is dramatically higher with Posada behind the plate this season. So even though there have been no signs of them clashing as batterymates as they did last year, something still doesn’t seem to click.

    It’s a limited sample, to be sure, as Posada has caught only 38 of Burnett’s 178-1/3 innings pitched this season, but the righthander’s ERA is 7.28 with Posada behind the plate, compared to 4.35 with Cervelli.

    Girardi must have his own reservations or certainly at this point in the season he would make it a point to have Burnett and Posada work together, if indeed he plans to pair them together in the postseason.

    Yet once again Cervelli was catching Wednesday night for Burnett’s start against the Rays.

    It’s pretty obvious, for the last two seasons now, that Girardi will not catch Posada when Burnett is throwing. Then again, the Yankees did win a ring last year with this “situation.” So, it can’t be used as an excuse for anything this season, can it?

    Is This The Last Season The Yanks Need To Worry About Rays?

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2010 · Comments (13)

    Via Marc Topkin

    No matter how far the Rays go this season, it won’t alter principal owner Stuart Sternberg’s plans to reduce the payroll — potentially significantly — from the record $72 million.

    “No question. Nothing can change that,” Sternberg said Tuesday. “Unfortunately there’s nothing that can happen between now and April that can change that unless Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it or I hit the lottery.”

    Cutting the payroll — to the $50 million range or lower — will mean breaking up the team that the Rays worked to build given that top players such as Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and Carlos Peña are pending free agents.

    “We put everything in place to have it happen, to put us in a position so we’d be able to keep adding, keep signing, (doing) more long-term deals, stuff like that,” he said. “It wasn’t meant to be.”

    I’m not ready to paint Sternberg as a “blow-up the team” Wayne Huizenga type owner. If anything, I would paint him as a “give me a ballpark that draws or I’m moving” Walter O’Malley type owner. Then again, maybe this is just his way of saying “We think Desmond Jennings, Dan Johnson and Jeremy Hellickson will allow us to let Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and Carlos Peña walk and save on payroll next season”?

    What do you think? Is this the last season that the Yankees will have to worry about the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East – at least for a while?

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