• April 30th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 30th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    The Yankees are now 13-10 on the season – and in first place!

    It’s incredible that they are also 10-0 in day games this year. Watch out Willy Clark and Al Lewis – there’s a new version of The Sunshine Boys forming in front of our eyes. (By the way, did I call the 13-10 record, or what? Now, let’s hope that I’m right about the hot May and June as well.)

    Mussina continues to leave runners stranded – he got out of a 1st and 3rd spot in the 2nd, a runner on 3rd in the 3rd, and the bases loaded in the 5th today. Amazing.

    Let’s hope that Wang and Chacon can be as magical in Fenway.

    And, was there no way to do something with Sturtze (to get Small on the roster) instead of sending down Smith? That extra LHP out of the pen could be useful against Ortiz and Nixon this week.

    April 29th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 29th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    There are many things that one could focus on from today’s game – Damon’s power and hustle, Unit’s issues, Sheffield’s injuries – but, to me, here’s the most important thing:

    With a win tomorrow, and if the Devil Rays can beat a tired Curt Schilling, then the New York Yankees will head into the month of May, and a two game series in Fenway Park, tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. Sure, there’s a few moving parts to this plan – but, it’s not impossible.

    Yankees-Sox on Monday. Damon’s return to Boston. And, first place at stake. Wow, what’s a fan of Prison Break to do? Actually, it’s a no brainer. Really. I did say it was Yankees-Sox, right? There will be a whole week following the Fenway games to watch Prison Break on tape.

    And, for those worried about the ol’ “I hate it when they score a ton because that means they’re going to hardly score at all tomorrow” thing, check out (going back a bit) each time that the Yankees scored at least 13 runs in a win. What happened each time on the next day? (Note: We’re only using dates where there was a game the very next day.) The results:

    4/3/06 – Won 15-2. Next day, lost 4-3.
    9/13/05 – Won 17-3. Next day, won 6-5.
    7/4/05 – Won 13-8. Next day, won 12-3.
    5/14/05 – Won 15-6. Next day, won 6-4.
    4/18/05 – Won 19-8. Next day, lost 6-2.
    9/18/04 – Won 14-1. Next day, won 11-1.
    8/28/04 – Won 18-6. Next day, lost 6-4.
    8/19/04 – Won 13-10. Next day, lost 5-0.
    5/27/04 – Won 18-5. Next day, won 7-5.

    Just three times (out of 9 times) did they struggle to post some runs. Thus, there’s little reason to sweat about Mussina not getting any run support tomorrow. (And, don’t forget, the Jays’ Gustavo Chacín has an ERA of 5.11 heading into the game. That will help some as well.)

    April 28th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 28th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    When the Yankees won last Tuesday, I wrote:

    …tonight was a page from the recent Yankees-great-teams text book. Get an early lead, have your starting pitcher maintain that margin, and then tack on runs until the game is far in your favor.

    Well, tonight, the Yankees were beat with a page from their own book. Luckily, no one has runaway with the A.L. East, and, despite a record of 11-10, New York is only one game out of first place.

    In a way, you can say that it’s now a 141 game season (instead of 162). And, if the Yankees win the remaining games in this series, and then go out and have a big May and June, then no one will care about the 11-10 start.

    Really, the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s butt everyday. I truly feel that tonight was just one of those nights. You’re going to win at least 60 games each baseball season and you’re going to lose around 60 games each baseball season – and it’s those remaining 40 games that make or break you. This evening was probably just one of those 60 games that you’re going to lose, no matter what.

    I expect the Yankees to rub some dirt on it, walk it off, and get ready to keep playing. It also helps to have Johnson and Mussina on the hill for the next two games.

    April 27th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 27th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    One month ago, the question came up: Will Jeter be the 2006 AL Batting Champ?

    Well, he’s sure off to some start, huh?

    OK, when The Farns threw that 0-1 pitch to Ty Wigginton in the 8th, and the YES gun said “100 MPH,” I have to confess that I yelled out “Whoa!” – even though I was watching the game by myself. (And, by the way, did the ump miss that pitch, or what?)

    I was happy to see Matsui get the big hit tonight. Of all the Yankees, when they’re not going well, I worry about him the most. Think of who he was (and/or is) in his country and how important it is for his people for him to do well here (at this level). Then, factor in the cultural implications for him with respect to not losing face. It’s got to kill him more so than most Yankees not to do well. That’s why I feel for Matsui the most when he’s struggling.

    Speaking of happy, how cool was it to see the Red Sox’ Josh Beckett get batted around this evening like a piñata on Cinco de Mayo?

    Lastly, I have to comment on Tanyon Sturtze starting the 9th inning tonight. Clearly, Torre was looking to get lucky there – and it blew up in his face in a hurry.

    It was like the guy who needs a hammer to drive in a nail, but, he’s too lazy to go get the hammer. So, instead, he picks up a rock and tries to bang in the nail by whacking it with the stone. And, after one smack, he realizes he’s going to screw up the whole thing if he doesn’t go get the proper tool – the hammer. Thus, in trying to be creative, in the end, he was just wasting time and assuming risk.

    That’s not smart.

    April 26th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 26th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Oh, those El-oh-bees! (Sixteen LOBs, in fact, if you lost count.)

    It’s a shame that Wang’s effort gets wasted today.

    Yankees now have lost 9 games this month. And, the sad part is that 5 of those 9 should have been wins:

    1. April 4th @ Oakland
    2. April 8th @ Los Angeles
    3. April 15th @ Minnesota
    4. April 21st vs. Baltimore
    5. And, now tonight vs. Tampa Bay

    Further, now, three of the last four losses for the Yankees are games that they should have won.

    So, suppose that they won 3 of these 5 “lost games.” That would make their record 13-6 instead of 10-9.

    That’s a fair difference.

    Shifting gears, yes, he does look like a young Timothy Busfield, but, boy, that Chad Orvella sure makes big pitches (at least it seems like) every time he pitches against the Yankees, no?

    April 25th vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on April 25th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    On one side, tonight was a page from the recent Yankees-great-teams text book. Get an early lead, have your starting pitcher maintain that margin, and then tack on runs until the game is far in your favor.

    On the other side, Tampa Bay was clearly playing their “B” tonight.

    Regardless of the side that you may choose to run with, the Yankees are now two games over .500 for the first time this season. And, since you need to get to two over before you can do three, and then four, and then five, etc., the win tonight has meaning.

    Actually, something came to me tonight – watching Scott Proctor close out the game.

    You’re a baseball player. You spend your entire life just trying to get to the major leagues. You have some talent and that allows you to get there. But, once at that level, there’s tremendous stress to do well – along with having doubts in your ability – and that hurts your performance (because you’re playing tight, as if every outing is “major league” life or death).

    Then, you have a huge life event. Your one-month old daughter has to have surgery to fix a serious heart ailment. Any parent can tell you how such a matter can slap you in the face faster and harder than anything else known to man. It also gives you a very quick lesson in what really matters in life – and what’s not so important in reality (despite what you may have thought in the past).

    All of a sudden, that past situation where you would have been stressed is not as dire because you now know, without question, that it’s not the end of your world if it doesn’t work out – because of that slap wake-up call that brought your attention to what really is important.

    Ironically, once that stress is removed from the situation, you’re no longer tight and your talent flows instead of being choked off at the source. And, because you actually have talent, you start to succeed. As this is repeated, you build confidence and become more successful.

    Now, I’m not saying that I know for sure that this has happened with Proctor. But, it’s possible. All the pieces are there on the timeline. Again, it’s just a thought that passed through my mind tonight as I watched what looked like a new Scott Proctor on the mound (to me). Your mileage may vary.

    April 23rd vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Randy Johnson was just about perfect today. Then again, he went 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts against Baltimore last year. Maybe he just can’t pitch well in Toronto and just can’t pitch bad against the O’s?

    I thought Giambi’s quote after the game was interesting:

    “This is the best I’ve felt in a while, putting on the Yankee uniform. My swing has felt good this year.”

    This is the fifth year that Jason’s had that Yankees uniform. Could we be looking at a 120 RBI season from Giambi? That would be nice.

    April 22nd vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Robert Louis Stevenson would love this Yankees team. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled over the win today (and by the fine outing from Chacon). It’s just that it’s hard to believe how bad they look sometimes – when they can play so well at other times.

    What’s most amazing about all of this is that New York, despite their inconsistent play so far this season, is only 2 games off the lead of the A.L. East at this moment.

    Just luck? I’m not so sure. It seems like every team in the A.L. East can hit – but, it seems like they all also have questions about the back end of their starting rotations.

    This leads me to believe that, while most years it takes about 95 wins to take the A.L. East, this season the team that manages 90 wins might just take the flag.

    And, therefore, winning just 90 games in the east this season might just be a big accomplishment.

    April 21st vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 21st, 2006 · Comments (13)

    When I was in grammar school, they used to have “Book Fairs” each year. It was like a “Bake Sale” or “Plant Sale” – something they, or the PTA, did to raise some cash. At the Book Fair, the students could buy books – and they were new (although I have no idea where the school got them).

    Anyway, back when I was in the 5th grade (in 1972), I bought a book at the school Book Fair that was very important to me (at the time). I probably read the thing (at least) 50 times after I bought it. And, I still have it – I guess that I’ve kept it, all these years, just for old-times sake. Here it is:

    HowToPlayBetter.jpg

    Maybe I should make a copy of the book and sent it to Joe Torre?

    In any event, here’s one takeaway from tonight’s game: When your pitcher has the bases loaded, and there are 2 outs, and there’s a full count on the batter, don’t let your pitcher throw from a full wind-up.

    April 19th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 19th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Fourth beauty in a row for Mussina. He should be 4-0 now instead of 2-1. Gee, is it his walk year this season? (Yes, I know the team has an option, but, they’re not going to pick it up.)

    Considering that Schilling goes for the Sox tonight, and how he’s been pitching this year, this is a good win – it prevents the Yankees from falling four back in the loss column.

    Do you know that Cano now has 54 PA this season (so far) and has not walked once? Yes, you don’t walk off the Island. But, dude, you’re here now. Take some pitches.

    Do you also know that Andy Phillips now has whiffed in 19 of his 57 career big league At Bats (so far)? I think this is why Carlos Pena was signed.

    Last concern from today: The Giambi HBP in the 7th. It was enough to drive him out of a 3-1 game with another AB coming. The way he’s been driving the ball, you hate to see something like this happen.

    Now it’s nine games in a row at home to close out the month. This is the time to make a move. Keep your fingers crossed.

    April 18th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    Just imagine how bad the score would have been tonight if not for all those catches that Johnny Damon made in CF. Then again, it’s a shame that he almost got himself killed (banging into the wall) in a losing effort.

    So, Game 1 of the 38 Special ones was not so special for the Yankees.

    Personally, this one is painful for me because I’ve disliked Troy Glaus since 1998. I never enjoy to see him do well – and it’s worse when he does it against the Yankees.

    Yes, it stinks to be below .500 again. And, yes, it’s painful to see the defensive play of Bernie in LF (running into Damon), Giambi at 1B (throwing away a ball), and Sheffield in RF (hot dogging an out into an error) today. And, yes, it’s upsetting to fall another game behind the Red Sox. And, yes, it looks like Chacon’s clock has struck midnight. But, all that takes a back seat to the “big” problem from today’s game – Randy Johnson’s lack of command.

    As a standalone game, you can write off Unit’s performance tonight. However, given his situation in his last start, you have to now wonder about Johnson. And, without an effective Johnson, the Yankees are in Lo Mein City.

    Hopefully it’s just a matter of Johnson and the old SkyDome not getting along.

    April 16th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 16th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    I was nervous for Wang at the start of this game. Something about his sharp ground-ball ratio and the Twins’ turf was concerning me. But, Chien-Ming figured out a way around that – with a career high 8 whiffs. Great timing too – the Yankees are now just two games behind from having the best record in the AL (wink, wink).

    Still, if you were to listen to the last seven Mets fans that I’ve run into this season, it doesn’t matter what the Yankees do – since they’ve all told me that the Mets are going to win it all this year.

    And, I would guess that Boston fans probably feel the same way about the Sox so far this year.

    The more that I think about the Mets and the Red Sox, the more that I have to consider that the Yankees have faced some tough pitchers in 9 of their first 12 games. And, all of those tough games have been on the road. Yes, they have not faired well against those tough pitchers. But, when you look at some teams that are doing very well at this point in the season, you have to consider the teams that they’ve faced, and where, as well.

    If the Yankees win two in Toronto, and sit at 8-6, heading into a nice long homestand, I like their chances (now) to be sitting pretty on May 1st.

    On the flip side, if the Yankees are not, say, 14-9 on May 1st, then I suppose the Mets and Red Sox fans might be right.

    April 15th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    You have a meeting in Montclair, N.J., at 9:00 am. You live 45 miles south of Montclair. With zero traffic, you can get there in 55 minutes. But, you know, on average, it takes you around 80 minutes (with traffic) – so, you leave at 7:30 am.

    You get on the Garden State Parkway at Exit 114 and it’s just about stopped dead. Nothing but bright red tail-lights. It takes you 35 minutes just to go 10 miles – and, as far as you can see, there’s nothing by traffic in front of you.

    Screw it. You throw in the towel and realize that you’re going to lose this one. There’s no way that you can go 35 more miles, in this traffic, in 55 minutes. At the pace so far, you’ll be just lucky to get to Montclair some time today.

    But, then, when you least expect it, around Exit 135, the Parkway opens up. For some reason, there’s no traffic. And, you start flying up the northbound side, doing 85 MPH. Before you know it, you’re at Exit 153 and it’s 8:45 am. You start to think “I just need to jump on Route 3 for around a mile, and then Route 46 for a second, and I’m there. I’m going to win this thing after it looked like I had no hope at all when I started out!

    Then you get off the Parkway to enter Route 3 – and, it’s a parking lot. You’re so close to Montclair that you could probably hit it with a rock, but, you’re sitting on Route 3 with your car in park. You’re stopped, dead, and there’s no way off or out. It’s 8:50 am, then it’s 8:55 am, then it’s 8:58 am, then it’s 8:59 am……..and you still haven’t moved since you got on to Route 3.

    It’s over, you’re totally screwed, you miss the meeting, and the middle miles from 135 to 153 was just a great big f’ing tease.

    You know, this has happened to me countless times over the last six years or so. It used to make me want to rip the steering wheel right off of my dashboard when it would happen. But, through the years, I’ve learned to deal with it. It’s traffic. What can you do? It happens.

    You would think this would help me with a game like tonight. It’s the same No Hope/Great Hope/Turns Out It Was A Tease scenario. Yet, I still want to rip my cable connection out of the wall now. Why is that?

    When will I learn that….It’s the Yankees. What can you do? It happens…….?

    April 14th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 14th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Just two days ago, I wrote:

    Of course, against good pitching, the Yankees need to find another way to win – because you’re not going to get the chance to try and wear down the other team. But, that’s a topic for another day.

    Boy, I was hoping to have a few more days than two before that ‘nother day came around.

    I really have no issues with the Yankees pitching today. If you watched the game, you may have noticed that there were a few plays where the Yankees could have helped out their pitchers tonight. Giambi on that foul pop. Bernie in RF on a ball that dropped in front of him. A-Rod on the bouncer down the line. And, there were a couple of key balls that were just out of Jeter’s reach too.

    I bet, if you took the best fielders at 1B, RF, 3B, and SS in the league, and gave them those same chances, you’re looking at three (or maybe four) big outs being made as opposed to balls falling in.

    Still, at the end of the day, even if the Yankees held the Twins to just one run tonight, at best they’re still playing, and, for sure, it’s not a win (as I write this). You’re not going to win many games when you only score one run.

    There’s a problem when you live and die by walks and the three-run HR. When you face great pitching, you’re not going to get the walks and then you’ll have less chances for that three-run HR.

    It’s the reason why the 1969-74 Orioles did not win more rings. Ditto the 2000-04 A’s. Once they faced great pitching teams in the post-season, they were unable to find ways to score (outside of the 3-run HR).

    To be a champion, you need to be able to find a way to win against great pitchers. It’s either throw an ace against their ace, or find a way to get some runs on their ace. Since the Yankees don’t have many aces, and even when they do, the defense usually hurts them, New York needs to be able to find a way to score runs outside of waiting for the walk and the homer.

    It’s either that, or, two things: Pray that you can play the Kansas City Royals everyday, or, get used to losing games against teams with very good pitching.

    April 13th vs. The Royals

    Posted by on April 13th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    In the 1996 World Series, Bernie Williams hit a HR off Greg McMichael (on a high change-up). After the game, Braves manager Bobby Cox was asked about the homer and he said something like “Bernie got a hanging change-up and did what he was supposed to do with that pitch – he hit the crap out of it.”

    That’s how I see these games against the Royals. The Yankees are supposed to beat the crap out of Kansas City. So, these are good wins in my mind – as the Yankees did what they’re supposed to do.

    But, the big story today is Randy Johnson. As this is being penned, I don’t know all the details on why he came out – just a rumor that it might be a strained oblique muscle. If this is true, and it’s bad, we could be looking at 6 weeks without the Big Unit.

    Rich Harden (of the A’s) spent May 14 to June 20 on the disabled list last year with a strained left oblique muscle. The Indians’ C.C. Sabathia strained an oblique muscle on Opening Day this season and he’s pegged to miss 3-5 weeks.

    If you apply these time tables to Johnson, it means you see him again on June 1st. And, if that’s true, folks, then that’s real bad news.

    April 12th vs. The Royals

    Posted by on April 12th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    What I found most interesting about today is that the Yankees worked the Royals pitchers for 193 pitches (in 8 innings). On average, a team usually throws around 140 pitches per game.

    So, the Yankees looked at 24 pitches per inning, on average, today. The usual average for a game, in general, is around 16 pitches per half inning. I know that 8 pitches more an inning doesn’t seem like a lot – but it’s a big difference (when the innings start to pile up).

    Of course, against good pitching, the Yankees need to find another way to win – because you’re not going to get the chance to try and wear down the other team. But, that’s a topic for another day.

    This is a nice win today because it sets up the team well. New York is now back at .500 and has its ace on the hill tomorrow. Randy Johnson needs to get the team a win tomorrow – to keep the forward progress.

    A loss tomorrow just puts the team back in the below .500 hole. And, the next 5 games that follow are against teams with talent – all on the road.

    A loss tomorrow could spring board into a 6-8 start to the season. A win tomorrow could spring board into a .570 winning percentage after 14 games.

    That’s as big as the difference between seeing 16 and 24 pitches per inning.

    April 11th vs. The Royals

    Posted by on April 11th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    This morning, I was trying to figure out how many times I went to Opening Day up in the Bronx. My guess is around 15 times. And, there are so many good memories from these games that it seems like they all meld together in a way now.

    I had a nice streak going for a while once the (then) new Stadium opened – where I went every year without fail – that ran into the mid-1980′s. Even during 1981, when they had the strike and were calling the first game back “Opening Day II,” I went to that “second” Opening Day – to keep the streak alive. And, once I got season tickets in 2001, I usually made sure I was there for Opening Day.

    Further, I must confess, there were many, many, times where (if I didn’t go to the game in person) a certain creativity would be called upon so that I could (at least) watch the home-opener on TV.

    Sometimes it was a flat hooky, call-in sick to work, thing. Later, when working remote became fashionable, I would “work from home” with the TV on in the background.

    But, today is a very rare item for me – being at work the day of the Yankees home opener (and not even being able to see the game on TV). Thank the heavens for the internet and gamecasts. I’ll try and make the best of it by providing some close to real-time commentary here – as work allows. Stay tuned.

    Update 11:38 am ET: Joe Mays is pitching for the Royals today. This makes think of Opening Day 2003. The game was snowed out and played the next day. It was so cold that day that I lost the feeling in both my feet around the 7th inning. But, seeing Matsui’s grand slam that day – off Joe Mays – made it all worthwhile.

    Then again, when I went to O.D. in 2004, I was excited over the game that Javy Vazquez had turned in – and look what happened with him.

    Update 12:57 pm ET: Sweet. A few minutes ago, I found out that the cafeteria in my building has the YES network. I went down and asked the cashier if we could put on the Yankees game at one. She was not sure if they had YES. So, I asked if there was a way to find out – and she handed me the remote.

    I started to scroll through the channels to find YES and someone yelled “Just pick a channel!” at me. I said I was looking for YES and some guy said to try channel 70. It worked! (Funny, YES is 55 by me and 40 by my folk’s house.) When I put on “70,” and the pre-game appeared, I think I heard someone in the cafeteria say “Great!”

    Ah, Yankees baseball. Me and some others are going down to watch the game for a bit while on a “lunch” break.

    Update 1:55 pm ET: I did get to see most of the bottom of the 1st, all of the 2nd, and the first batter in the top of the 3rd, on TV. I’ll take it – considering that I thought I would see none of the game live today. That Giambi HR was a golf shot. It looked like the pitch was 6 inches off the ground.

    It was amazing to me how many people passed through the cafeteria oblivious to the fact that the Yankees were on TV. I really feel like the Yankees-version of the lead character from the movie “Fever Pitch” at times like that. What’s wrong with those people? Don’t they know what day it is? How can you walk by the TV without even looking up at it?

    People – it’s Opening Day at Yankees Stadium! Oh, what’s the use…..

    Update 2:16 pm ET: This is now twice in the game where Wang has allowed K.C. to score after the Yankees scored. That’s such a no-no to the flow of the game. It ruins the whole Feng Shui of the scoreboard.

    Update 2:39 pm ET: Bernie is a friggin’ space cadet. Getting doubled off in a spot like that is inexcusable. Based loaded, one out, in the 4th inning of a tie game. How do you get doubled on a pop-up?

    Update 3:05 pm ET: Great, we’re 12 outs away from another Yankees loss – in a game where they once had a 3-0 lead.

    Update 3:11 pm ET: Bottom of the 6th. One pitch to Cano. One out. Three pitches to Bernie. Two outs. Four pitches to Damon. Three outs. An 8-pitch inning for the Royals bullpen. I’m speechless.

    Update 3:31 pm ET: You can’t spell “Tanyon Sturtze” without the letters “rout.”

    Update 3:37 pm ET: Bottom of the 7th. Two pitches to Jeter. One out. Three pitches to Sheff. Two outs. Six pitches to A-Rod. Three outs. An 11-pitch inning for Elmer “Cy Young” Dessens. He must think the Yankees are like “butta” they way he’s going through them.

    Update 4:00 pm ET: OK, that was a pretty big 1-2 pitch hit for Bernie. Now down by one with the top of the order coming up. We have ourselves a ballgame!

    Update 4:03 pm ET: Big Papi Jeter! OK, Joe, get Mariano up!

    Update 4:23 pm ET: Little shaky there in the 9th, but, the win is the thing! Still, they need to play better if they’re going to beat good teams. This means better defense, better base running, better relief pitching, and better at bats. You can’t count on hitting two 3-run homers in a game when you face the really good pitching teams.

    April 9th @ The Angels

    Posted by on April 9th, 2006 · Comments (18)

    This was a good win – to me. Not an overly impressive win – considering that Colon is off his game. But, since this is a game that the Yankees should have won, and they won it, that’s a good thing (these days).

    I had to leave the house after the top of the 2nd – with the Yankees winning 5-0. And, even then, with that score, I was not sure what I would hear when I tuned in again – really. I’ve seen Mussina meltdown before – especially against the Angels. And, we’ve seen the Yankees throw away games already this season. So, it was a pleasant surprise to hear the final score (when I did).

    What’s going on with Joe Torre and Andy Phillips? Yesterday, Torre had Posada DH on his “day off.” And, today, Torre had Giambi at DH and used Miggy Cairo at 1B. If I’m Phillips, I’m texting my agent during the game, asking him to tell the Yankees “Play me or trade me.” Maybe, just maybe, I can “understand” (if I put on a Torre-mask) the Posada call. But, Cairo? That has to do wonders for Phillips’ confidence.

    Now, it’s home – with K.C. for a short three game homestand. Why are all of these games 1 p.m. ET starts? OK, the first one and the last one I can understand – Opening Day and getaway day. But, Wednesday too? Well, at the least, it will make up for all the late nights over the last week.

    Coming into this season, I thought the Yankees would need to average 16 wins a month to win the A.L. East. Given the off days in April, I would be willing to say that number should be 13 this month. They’ve now got two wins in April. Therefore, to get to 13, they need to go 11-6 over the next three weeks. Since the have a few tough teams to play this month, this means they better take at least 2 of 3 from the Royals.

    And, it would be nice to see the Blue Jays give the Red Sox a hard time in Fenway this week.

    I know it’s early, but, I think on Friday morning we should have a nice idea of who’s a contender and who’s a pretender in the A.L. East this season.

    April 8th @ The Angels

    Posted by on April 9th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    I’m going to try and stay on the bright side of things today.

    Yes, the Yankees have lost 4 in a row now – but, on the bright side, they could have (should have?) won each of these games – so, it’s not like they’re getting blown away.

    Yes, the Yankees are now 1-4 to start the season – but, on the bright side, they did this in 1998 as well and went on to win 114 games. (Time again for a team meeting Joe?)

    Yes, the Yankees could easily be a full 4 games behind the Red Sox by the time they get on a plane tonight – but, on the bright side, they still have 19 games to play with Boston.

    Yes, this has been a terrible season opening road trip for the Yankees – but, on the bright side, there’s just one game left and then they come home.

    Yes, the Yankees have to still prove that they’re a team that can beat a very good team (as opposed to being a team who gets most of their wins beating up on the weaker teams) – but, on the bright side, um, ah, errrrr……damn, I got nothing.

    April 7th @ The Angels

    Posted by on April 8th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Strange night for me. I was able to catch part of the 4th inning, all of the 5th, and some of the 6th, on YES. But, I gave up on the game after Posada’s ground out to end the top of the 6th and I went to bed. Still, I couldn’t sleep, and, at 1 am ET, I decided to put the game back on.

    Then I saw the final score – as the game had just ended.

    Is it just me, or, has anyone else noticed that the start of the 2006 season is following the pattern of the 2004 ALCS starting with Game 3:

    Game 3 2004 ALCS & Game 1 2006 Season: Yankees win in a rout.
    Game 4 2004 ALCS & Game 2 2006 Season: Yankees blow the win in the 9th inning.
    Game 5 2004 ALCS & Game 3 2006 Season: Yankees blow the game in the 8th inning.
    Game 6 2004 ALCS & Game 4 2006 Season: Yankees only allow 4 runs – but cannot mount a rally at the bat and lose the game.

    If this follows the trend, then the Yankees should get their asses kicked in their next game.

    Is anyone on the Yankees still talking about how important it is to get off to a fast start?

    April 5th @ The A’s

    Posted by on April 6th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    I’m shocked that the Yankees lost a game that they should have won – because of poor pitching and defense. Just shocked!

    Shocked, I said.

    OK, yes, it’s just one game. And, yes, it’s just the third game of the season. But, now, the chances are strong that the Yankees will not be a .500 team heading into their home opener. And, that’s bothersome – because all we’ve heard this spring is how they know they need to get off to a fast start this year.

    I hope this is just a blip. But, if it’s not, it’s going to be a long season. Short of moving Cano to 3rd, A-Rod to SS, and Jeter to 2B, there’s nothing the Yankees can do to move any of their players around. And, that proposed infield shift will never happen. Well, at least, not as long as Torre is in charge. (Plus, I’m not convinced that A-Rod can handle SS – to the level the Yankees would need – given his size, age, years off the position, etc. And, there’s debate as to how good he was there in the last season he played SS too.)

    Maybe the answer is: Trade Cano, move Jeter to 2B, and get a true slick fielding SS?

    I dunno, I’m just thinking out loud here. But, that’s what happens after games like last night.

    April 4th @ The A’s

    Posted by on April 5th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    When I saw the start of this game, I thought, if the Yankees lose, I want to hang this “L” on Torre.

    Rich Harden is a tough RHP. So, how does Joe set up his line-up? After his table-setters, he slots Sheffield and A-Rod – in the 3rd and 4th spots. They’re both RH batters. And, when Sheff and Alex whiffed in the 1st with runners on 2nd and 3rd (with no outs), I wanted to scream.

    But, this morning, when I was looking at Harden’s stats, I saw something that shocked me.

    He’s just as tough on LHB as he is on RHB. (That’s not the shock.) But, check this out:

    In his career, meaning the three seasons prior to last night, Harden has never allowed a LHB to score a run against him. So, why would you ever play a LHB against him? Here’s a screenshot of the ESPN.com page where I saw this:

    hardenespn.jpg

    But, wait a minute! Notice that Harden has allowed homeruns to LHB. So, obviously, we have a problem here. This tells us that you cannot trust the stats at ESPN.com.

    Man, I hate that. Without trust, you have nothing. Which brings us back to this game in question.

    It’s a tie-game, in the 9th. It’s the 2nd game of the season. So, who do you bring in to pitch the 9th? The last pitcher to make the team – one who only made the team because of injuries to others – and who’s been running all of the country now for a week because his newborn daughter’s life was at risk.

    Torre had many other options here. He could have left in Farnsworth. He could have brought in Rivera for two innings. He could have went with Sturtze. But, no, Joe goes to Proctor and the Yankees lose the game.

    You just cannot trust Joe Torre to use his bullpen correctly. History shows us this. So, in the end, we can hang this “L” on Torre.

    At least I didn’t waste time staying up to watch the end.

    April 3rd @ The A’s

    Posted by on April 4th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    I was only able to hang in there (watching on YES) until the Matsui HR in the 4th, which made the score then 11-1 (in favor of New York).

    Nothing like spotting a “7″ in the second and then slowly pulling away. Jacob Ruppert would have loved this one.

    Looking at Barry Zito last night, it clicked, he’s a dead-ringer for the actor who plays Zack Addy on Bones. See below, if you don’t believe me. (Zito’s in color and the actor, Eric Millegan, is in B&W.)

    0000zitoaddy.jpg

    Speaking of looks, that film clip of Jason Giambi getting his first big league hit (on YES last night) was scary. You see Jeter from 1996 vs. now and you can say that he’s filled out. Yo see Bernie from 1991-93 vs. now and you can say that he’s filled out.

    But, when you compare Giambi from 1995 to now, wow, it really is not the same guy. Better living through chemistry, huh?