• April 30th vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on April 30th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    From top to bottom, inside and out, backwards and forwards, this team needs some energy. Somehow, they need to get a spark.

    Right now, they’re just blah.

    Go ahead, blame the schedule. Or, blame the weather. Or, blame injuries. Heck, blame whatever. But, at the end of the day, all of those things are excuses.

    This is now the 5th year in a row where the Yankees April has not been impressive. Granted, in the four years before this one, New York has rebounded to post a very good win total on the season. Can they do it again?

    Well, let’s put it this way: If the Yankees month of May turns out just as poor as their month of April, I wouldn’t want to bet on them making the post-season this year. Heck, they barely made it last year.

    April 29th vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on April 29th, 2008 · Comments (23)

    Just another one of those games where the Yankees were trailing at the start of the 5th inning and they went on to lose the contest.

    Actually, what was most interesting about this game was listening to John Flaherty and Al Leiter, on the YES coverage, go to town about how Phil Hughes’ 89-92 MPH fastball was straight with little movement, and, that, along with just a curve was not enough to retire big league batters on a consistent basis. I believe Leiter referred to Hughes’ fastball as being a ‘hittable speed.’ (The two also went on to talk about how Hughes needs to feature – or even just show – a slider or change-up on a more regular basis to be more effective.)

    Actually, what Flaherty and Leiter were saying today ties right into David Cone’s point on Hughes the other day – that after the line-up sees him once, they pretty much have him sized up.

    I know that many Yankees fans will want to blame Hughes’ game today on Chris Stewart – noting all the cross-ups, etc. But, for what it’s worth, Hughes crossed up Molina too during his third start of this season. Being that it’s two different catchers here and the same pitcher, it’s more likely that it’s the pitcher at fault. Either Hughes can’t keep up with the signs, he’s not concentrating out there, or he needs glasses.

    In any event, back to the Flaherty and Leiter commentary, they’ve really set Hughes up for a fun week. (Probably for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi too.) Expect to hear lots of talk and read lots of features over the next few days – debating if it makes sense or not to send Hughes down to Triple-A to refine and learn to use a third (and maybe fourth) pitch.

    And, if Hank Stein was tuned into YES this evening, he may pick up on this as well.

    April 28th @ The Indians

    Posted by on April 28th, 2008 · Comments (18)

    Is it just me, or, is there something cool about a night like tonight? Nothing directly related to the details of this game – just the fact that there was a game. This is what I mean: There’s something within me that feels like I’m getting away with something when it’s pouring rain “here” and yet I get to watch Yankees baseball at the same time because they’re on the road. It’s a hard feeling to describe – but, it’s somewhat like when you were in school, had a test or an assignment due for the next day, and you were not ready at all. And, then, when you woke up that morning, you discovered that there was two feet of snow on the ground and there was no school that day. It’s a first-rate freebie bonus – and, it just feels so good.

    To the game…

    Mussina got lucky this evening – hanging in there for five innings while throwing 92 pitches. Lots of runners left on base for the Indians while Moose was out there and some batted balls were luckily directed at Yankees fielders in those situations.

    By the way, is Jeter now looking less-rangy again at short? His plays on that Peralta grounder in the 2nd and the Blake ball in the 3rd did not help Mussina today.

    Gold star for the bullpen tonight – covering four innings and allowing just two baserunners. That was the game, right there.

    The Yankees offense? Just as lucky as Mussina. New York had only 10 runners reach base in this contest – but, five of them scored. Further, three of the five runs scored on non-hits and another scored on an infield-single. Death by small ball for the Tribe tonight.

    In any event, it’s a win – and, that always makes for a lot less teeth grinding when the head hits the pillow…and for a better night’s sleep.

    Last thought: Listening to David Cone, on the YES coverage, in the 9th, having an on-the-air big “O” over the mechanics of Mo Rivera and his combination of speed and movement on his pitches, got me thinking: When was the last time that Mariano Rivera pitched from the full wind-up in a game? Would that have been on October 8, 1995 when he faced Vince Coleman leading off the 9th? That’s just a guess on my part.

    That’s a great trivia question, if someone knows the answer. “Who was the last batter to face Mariano Rivera from the full wind-up?” I wonder if even Mo knows?

    April 27th @ The Indians

    Posted by on April 27th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    How special was Chien-Ming Wang in this game?

    Let’s put it this way: The last time a Yankees right-handed starter pitched on the road and went 7+ innings allowing no earned runs was on May 31, 2006. Yeah, that’s just about two years ago. (The last time a Yankees RH-starter went 7+ on the road allowing no actual runs was September 17, 2005.)

    The last time that a Yankees starting pitcher, regardless of his throwing hand, pitched a game in Cleveland going 7+ innings and allowing no earned runs was on July 11, 2002. Yeah, that’s almost six years ago.

    When was the last time the Yankees won a 1-0 regular season game in Cleveland? It was May 30, 1981.

    That’s a long, long, time ago. What Wang did today, well, you don’t see that everyday in Yankeeland. Special, indeed.

    April 26th @ The Indians

    Posted by on April 26th, 2008 · Comments (10)

    Go Ahead, Give It A Whack!

    Go ahead. Help yourself. Get it out of your system. I know that’s what I feel like doing after watching this game.

    April 25th @ The Indians

    Posted by on April 25th, 2008 · Comments (6)

    There’s a part of me that sees that Victor Martinez grounder that went for a hit in the bottom of the 5th tonight and wonders if someone with the range of, say, Alberto Gonzalez makes that play, gets the out, and then Pettitte is out of the inning before allowing the two bombs (and blowing the game)? Still, as a leader on the staff, gassed or not, it’s up to Andy to pick up the team and get the final out in that frame before allowing all those two-out runs. And, he didn’t – so, this one is on Pettitte.

    Oh, and, before anyone starts jumping on that “Giambi’s found his stroke” bandwagon, please, let me remind you that Paul Byrd is Mr. Finesse out there on the mound.

    So, now, we have a small losing streak mounting. The next game is on national T.V. (on FOX). New York’s bullpen is somewhat smarting. No pressure for Ian Kennedy tomorrow, right?

    Well, let’s put it this way, if Kennedy doesn’t make it through at least five innings tomorrow, the next time his turn in the rotation comes up, it may be Darrell Rasner out there on the mound instead of him.

    April 24th @ The White Sox

    Posted by on April 25th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    What a big, fat, waste of a game.

    April 23rd @ The White Sox

    Posted by on April 24th, 2008 · Comments (18)

    Now, that’s the Javy Vazquez that I remember and didn’t love so much.

    You know, coming into this game, Johnny Damon’s BA/OBP/SLG line in games that the Yankees have won this season was .342/.390/.711 (in 41 PA); and, in losses it was .125/.326/.188 (in 44 PA). Last season, in wins it was .307/.397/.463 (in 374 PA); and, in losses it was .213/.277/.294 (in 231 PA). It’s starting to look like…as Johnny Damon goes, so do the Yankees.

    So, what’s up with Mussina? Should we book him for an Eddie Harris moment once every two weeks? It was Harris again in this one, right? Or, was this his Jamie Moyer moment? Either way, I’ll take it – as will Moose and the Yankees.

    This was an interesting game for Joe Girardi. When he came to the mound in the 7th, and began to motion in order to remove Mussina, only to check-arm his signal to the pen upon Posada’s protest, I didn’t know what to make of it. (And, I still don’t.) Is it a good thing that he’s listening to his players? Or, should it be taken as a sign that he’s not fully in charge?

    In any event, as this season unfolds, Girardi has shown one thing: When there’s a win on the table, and it’s starting to look like it may slip, he’s not afraid to lock it down – even if that means bringing in Joba in the 7th or Rivera in the 8th. If he keeps this up, and New York does well this season, Joe may go down in history as the one who broke the relief pitchers role-mold that Tony LaRussa started back-in-the-day with the A’s (and is now the norm in baseball).

    April 22nd @ The White Sox

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Time of the Game: 3:44. Maybe I was just really tired; but, this game seemed longer than that. Not much longer, but, I would have bet (without looking) that it was at least a four hour (nine inning) game. Nice milestone for Wang who hung in there, well, in this one. Via the AP:

    In his 85th career start, Wang became the quickest major leaguer to record 50 wins as a starter since Dwight Gooden got No. 50 in his 82nd start for the Mets on June 29, 1986, against the Cubs. Wang is also the fastest Yankees starter to 50 wins since Ron Guidry got there in his 82nd start in 1979 against Texas.

    Impressive, huh? By the way, Wang is on pace to win 25 games this season. Yeah, I know it’s early – but, wouldn’t that be something?

    Actually, this is a huge win for the Yankees, in my mind. Basically, because of the questions around Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy, New York almost has to win when Pettitte and Wang get the start. So, job well done – and, of course, thank you Octavio Dotel for putting the ball on a tee for Bobby Abreu in the 7th (as that pretty much was the ballgame, right there).

    April 20th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on April 20th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    When you factor in the three-game losing streak entering this game, the off-day tomorrow, and the close score (2-0) while he was throwing in this contest, Andy Pettitte deserves a huge gold star for his outstanding effort today. If this was a World Series game, people would talk about like they do Pettitte’s start in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series.

    The Yankees now have ten wins on the season – and Pettitte and Wang have 6 of those 10 wins. If only they had one more Pettitte or Wang in the rotation.

    What about A-Rod? Just a hunch, but, I don’t think we see him again until next Saturday…judging by the way Jeter’s quad was handled.

    Lastly, sign me up for being on board with most of the press lately in regard to noticing that Joe Girardi has seemed a bit testy during his post-game media appearances. Hang in there Joe, it’s only April. If you think this is a test, you haven’t seen anything yet.

    April 19th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on April 20th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Joe Girardi, on Ian Kennedy, after this game, via the AP:

    Ian Kennedy struggled to find the strike zone, and it cost the New York Yankees.

    “It’s as simple as throwing strikes,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.

    “You can’t win the way he is pitching. He got a lot of walks, and is behind a lot of hitters. He had a lot of three-ball counts,” Girardi said.

    Remember June 21, 1978? That’s when 23-year old Jim Beattie got beat-up on the mound at Fenway Park – and, after the game, Big Stein said that Beattie looked “scared stiff” and sent him down to (Triple-A) Tacoma on the spot.

    Basically, General Joe, now, is saying the same thing that George said back in 1978 – just more politely.  If Kennedy doesn’t turn this around, and soon, he may be back in Triple-A too.

    Then again, the Yankees offense was a joke in this game too.  “Flat” with a capital “F.”

    Man, the last three games have been rough, huh?

    April 18th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on April 18th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    Through the first five innings, Phil Hughes looked pretty good tonight. He wasn’t lights-out. But, it was a solid outing (to that point): 5 innings, 80 pitches, 4 hits, 2 walks, and just one run allowed.

    Early in the game, Hughes was getting ahead of batters most of the time – but, he did, still, allow himself to work-up some deep counts at times too.

    What happened in the sixth? I don’t think he was gassed – as the TV gun still had his fastball at 91 MPH in that frame. Maybe he lost a little command of the curve? I’m not sure. In any event, when Hughes was lifted, he was still in a spot, with a little luck, to have a decent statistical outing. But, La Troy Hawkins made sure that didn’t happen.

    I just hope this doesn’t turn into one of those things where it’s May 12th and Hughes is still waiting for his first “W” of the season. That’s not going to help him or the team.

    At the end of the day, whatever happened for the Yankees pitchers in this one didn’t matter much. Outside of Chad Moeller, the Yankees offense was not impressive.

    I swear, someday, Daniel Cabrera is going to pitch for the Yankees. Just a gut feeling. Yes, his career numbers are terrible. But, he’s had some games against the Yankees that standout – albeit due to his talent or the Yankees being flat. I just fear someone in the Yankees front office is taking notes off those good games and putting a star next to his name for future reference. Hopefully I’m wrong on this one.

    April 17th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 17th, 2008 · Comments (17)

    This game, for me, touches five Yankees pitchers. I’ll explain…

    I missed the first few innings of this one. (More on that later). And, I didn’t pick up the contest until the bottom of the fourth – when the Yanks were already down, 5-zip. At that time, I was listening to the radio broadcast (in my car).

    Props to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman for getting on Kyle Farnsworth (Pitcher #1) in seventh inning for throwing behind Manny. As they stated, yes, please, move him off the plate. But, you never throw behind a batter’s head just because he’s using your team as a batting tee.

    While on Waldman, she and John (at one point) were talking about the Brewers signing Jeff Weaver. Suzyn said something like “I cannot believe that someone didn’t sign him until now” or “I was surprised to see him not get signed until now.” Man, if I were in charge of the Yankees broadcasts, I would fire her for making a comment that dumb. Jeff Weaver? Has she seen his stats over the last two years? He’s been the worst pitcher in baseball since 2006.

    Speaking of bad pitchers, some job by Mussina (Pitcher #2) today, huh? Seventeen batters, 77 pitches, and 5 earned runs. Thanks to that terrible effort, the Yankees had to use Jonathan Albaladejo (Pitcher #3) and he didn’t exactly help either.

    I was able to catch the last couple of innings on YES. It was exciting when the Yanks got the tying run to the plate in the ninth. Looking at all those empty seats at the Stadium, I was thinking “How cool would it be if they came back and won this game? All those who left would be kicking themselves.” But, again, thanks to Moose and Albaladejo, that hill was too tough to climb tonight.

    Now, when you combine this game with the one from Wang (Pitcher #4) last night, it really puts some pressure on Phil Hughes (Pitcher #5) to give the team some innings on Friday. If not, the bullpen is going to be working on fumes this weekend.

    Why I missed the start of the game: Tonight, I had dinner with some of the good folks from SNY.tv at Ben Benson’s in NYC. (It took me two and a half hours to drive from Peapack-Gladstone, NJ, to 52nd Street in Manhattan. Thank you, Lincoln Tunnel.) Good eats at Benson’s – much better than the usual Hungry Heifer steakhouses that I usually frequent. It was great to meet some of the creative forces behind SNY.tv. They’re doing some cool things at the site. And, they’re continuing to add more to it. If you haven’t checked it out, or been there recently, give it a try.

    April 16th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 17th, 2008 · Comments (10)

    Man, if you would have told me this past off-season that the Yankees would face the Red Sox in April, and win a wild one, where the heroes for the Yankees in the contest would be Chad Moeller, La Troy Hawkins and Brian Bruney, well, that would have been a good laugh. Baseball is a funny game, huh?

    I just hate it when two starting pitchers have to face each other in back-to-back starts, five days apart. It’s no wonder that both starters in this game had issues.

    The final score in this one is a lie. Until the bottom of the 8th, this game was way too close for comfort, for me.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction of Red Sox Nation today regarding the performance of Clay Buchholz. Will they ignore his stat line and rave about how impressive his stuff was? Will they blame his numbers on the fact that it’s early in the season and claim that he just needs to warm up this year? Will they try and pass this on the umpire and say he was being squeezed all night? Will they somehow try and blame the weather? Will they say things like “Let’s not forget about that night where he had the no-hitter! That’s the true Clay!” Or, will they just say that he stunk?

    What would Yankees fans do in this situation, say, if it were Phil Hughes who had a game like Buchholz had in this one? I think we know the answer, no?

    April 15th @ The Rays

    Posted by on April 15th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    The Six Sigma police probably would have locked up the Yankees offense today and thrown away the key. Clearly, the ratio of the output to the input of the Yankees bats this evening left something to be desired.

    The Yankees sent 42 men to the plate in this one, in nine innings, looking at 189 pitches, scoring only 5 runs, and yet won the game.

    Since 1988, there’s only been one other game in Yankees history where it’s been a nine inning game, New York sent at least 42 men to the plate, saw at least 185 pitches, scored five runs or less, and won. That one was also a road game under a dome: August 27, 1995.

    Obviously, Andy Pettitte earned his pay today.

    Want one more fun stat? This evening was only the 3rd time in his Yankees career (and the first time since 2006) that Kyle Farnsworth pitched in the 8th inning or later of a road game, that the Yankees won, where he threw one inning and it was a two-run lead or less when he threw, while not allowing any baserunners and using 10 pitches or less. The other times were August 21, 2006 and July 7, 2006.

    There must be a blue moon tonight.

    April 14th @ The Rays

    Posted by on April 14th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    The first six and a half innings of this contest, for a Yankees fan, were a dream. Ian Kennedy was cruising along. The Yankees bats were looking good. Tampa trailed New York by a score of 7-2. It looked like a cakewalk Yankees victory.

    Me and my T.V. were just chilling out, and enjoying it all – or, so, I thought. Then came the bottom of the seventh….

    Jason Bartlett smacks one off Kennedy, literally. “Noooooooo!” I scream at the T.V.

    Billy Traber comes in and allows some hits and runs. But, it’s still 7-4 in favor of New York. Then, Brian Bruney comes in and allows a two-run homer to B.J. Upton. It’s now a one-run game. “Oh, please, no!” I plead to the T.V.

    Next, Bruney allows another homer to Evan Longoria. Again, I scream out to the T.V. “Nooooooooooo!” It’s a tie game, at seven.

    We need a hero – and here comes Robinson Cano. Boom! A pinch-hit homer in the Yankees’ eighth to give New York the lead again, 8-7. “Sweeeeeeeet! I say out-loud, wondering if the T.V. wants me to shut-up at this point.

    But, we’re still not done. Joe Girardi allows Brian Bruney to come out for the eighth. My T.V. should have expected it by now…and I let out another “Nooooooooo!

    Jason Bartlett just misses one off Bruney. “Ugh!” is all I can muster – not even caring if my T.V. cares or not at this point.

    Here comes Mo to nail it down…done. It’s a “W.” There’s just one missing piece….

    There it is: Ian Kennedy, in the YES post-game saying that he’s fine, that he’ll probably be somewhat sore, but, the ball from Bartlett’s bat did not cause serious injury. “Whew! That’s a relief!,” I think to myself…knowing by now that the T.V. really doesn’t care about this like I do.

    Fine, T.V. – be that way. The blog cares. The blog gets it. Don’tcha blog?

    April 13th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 13th, 2008 · Comments (9)

    This is now two really bad starts in a row for Phil Hughes.

    Whether Hughes was too amped up in the first, or, if it was just a meltdown thing (see the bad pitch-out and the cross-ups), the result was the same: 39 pitches for that one frame is just flat out ugly.

    Actually, truth be told, I was very impressed when Hughes returned the next inning and only needed 11 pitches in the second. When that happened, I thought “Hey, there’s a chance that he might rebound here and actually give the team four or maybe five innings tonight.” But, then came the third inning – where Hughes was done for good…just 15 pitches into it.

    Next Friday night will now be a big start now for Hughes. He needs to show a better effort in that one, against the O’s.

    If Hughes is unable to give the Yankees a decent start more than half the time he pitches, New York will have to begin to consider a point where it’s time to ponder other options – just as they will for Ian Kennedy if he continues to struggle as well.

    Presently, the next great Yankees pitching prospect, Alan Horne, is injured. This means the pool of potential replacement starters at Triple-A is down to Darrell Rasner, Steven White, Jeffrey Marquez, and Kei Igawa.

    Marquez and White, to date, have been pitching poorly at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Rasner and Igawa have both done well in their first two starts there – but we’ve seen what major league hitters can do to them.

    Brass tacks, there’s no net here. If Hughes and Kennedy cannot consistently do the job, the Yankees, and their season, could be toast.

    Sure, it’s been bad weather and the Yankees have been facing good teams and hot teams in their first 13 games this year. Personally, I see these things as just being excuses. You’re going to face bad weather and good/hot teams in October. So, what’s the difference about facing them in April?

    And, yes, I know that this “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ game result tonight from Hughes and the “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ game result from Kennedy on April 4th have come just as we’re barely into the season. Additionally, I know that Andy Pettitte, in his Yankees career, has posted 5 games where he’s pulled the “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ trick – including this turkey as a 23-year old in his 18th career start – and Andy’s career has lived to tell.

    So, yes, the last two games for Hughes – and Kennedy as well – should not be taken as a lock that they will continue to fail more often than not and will need to be replaced in the rotation.

    But, you cannot ignore the last two games for Hughes and Kennedy and just write them off…especially if they continue to struggle.

    It’s a big night for Kennedy tomorrow and a big night for Hughes on April 18th. Hopefully, they’ll both start to pitch better than we’ve seen lately.

    April 12th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 12th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Soooooo close, yet, soooooo far. One stinking run. This one hurts.

    Some observations:

    Mike Mussina got lucky, somewhat, in the second inning when his defense helped him out. With that, he was able to weave together a decent start through five. But, it all caved in for him in the sixth. Tough spot in that frame, for sure. You’re up, 2-1, with two out. And, your choice is to pitch to Ramirez with runners on second and third…or…walk Manny and pitch to Youkilis with the bases loaded. Either way, it’s a dangerous spot. Maybe it would have made more sense to have Bruney pitch to Ramirez – rather than have Mussina pitch to him? Then again, Bruney gave up the hit to Youkilis, after Moose allowed the one to Manny…so, who knows?

    It was nice to hear the FOX guys talk about Alberto Gonzalez, and see the kid have a moment in the sun there, during the top of the sixth.

    I wish I was as happy about the top of the seventh as I was the top of the sixth…

    Yanks down by two and A-Rod walks on four pitches to start the inning. Giambi’s up next. New York needs baserunners and the Sox are giving Jason the entire left side of the infield – but Giambi pulls the ball into the shift for a double-play. Considering that the next two batters singled and doubled, that could have been a huge inning if Giambi took the free hit. I think I’m going to have to start a count-down clock on his contract expiring.

    I was shocked to see Jonathan Papelbon comeback after a rain-delay of 2 hours and 11 minutes. But, he did it. Hopefully, this will turn into a case of winning a battle that will cost you the war. Let’s see how Private Pyle’s arm feels later this week.

    April 11th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 11th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    This evening, Chien-Ming Wang destroyed the notion that he cannot pitch well at Fenway Park. Heck, he more than destroyed it. Wang vaporized it. If Bobby Abreu wasn’t such a stiff with the leather, we might be talking about something even more special with this one. As it is, Wang’s effort tonight was the best pitched game by a Yankees starter in Fenway Park in the last six years. Just an awesome, awesome, game for the Wanger.

    Hey, don’t look now, but…Alberto Gonzalez has an OPS of 1.069 after this game. Jeter who?

    Lastly, is it just me, or, does Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz look like he could be the love-child of Rosalie “Hotsy” Totzie and Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell? See below:

    ClayBuchloz.jpg

    Yeah, I know…I probably watch too much T.V.

    April 10th @ The Royals

    Posted by on April 10th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    In the YES post-game for this one, Bob Lorenz talked about “the resurgence of the Yankees offense.”

    Really?

    The Yankees first run came on Melky Cabrera’s homer – which looked like it was helped a tad by the wind. Their second run came on a DP grounder from Jose Molina with runners on the corners. Their fourth run came on a fielder’s choice. And, their fifth and sixth runs came via homers off Hideo Nomo – who has just as much a right to be pitching in the majors now as Leif Garrett had singing “I Was Made For Dancin’” in 1978.

    In any event, gutty effort from Pettitte this evening. Nice to win this one. Now, the funs starts tomorrow…

    April 9th @ The Royals

    Posted by on April 9th, 2008 · Comments (6)

    Where do you start on an evening like this one?

    O.K., first, I was 100% down with General Joe’s call to open up with the pen and to save Ian Kennedy for later in the game (for when it looked like it would not be a rainout). In fact, I suggested using this plan for yesterday’s game with Phil Hughes. So, either the Yankees are following current events in baseball, or, they’re reading this blog. Either way, two thumbs up to them for paying attention in some manner.

    Next, on the Morgan Ensberg and Shelley Duncan bait and switch move to open up a spot for Alberto Gonzalez…well, it sounds like the Yankees tried to pull a fast one there. I’m not sure if Ensberg or the league called them on it. But, if it was the former, Morgan didn’t win himself any fans with the Yankees “brain trust” – more than likely. Personally, the whole Morgan Ensberg scene is starting to get a “Todd Zeile 2003″ vibe to it for me. Maybe it’s time to rethink that roster spot?

    Now, to the result of today’s rain-soaked contest.

    Yes, I know the Yankees have run into a hot K.C. team and an equally hot Zach Greinke. Also, I realize that Jeter and Posada are out of the line-up. And, I know that the Yankees are probably tired from having to play a day game yesterday, on the road in a new time-zone, after a night game, at home, the day before…but…still

    …the “Bombers” have scored only 25 runs in 9 games this season – and some of those 25 runs were handed to them. Where, oh, where, have the Yankees bats gone? Oh, where, oh, where, can they be?

    According to Tyler Kepner:

    It is [the Yanks'] slowest start on offense since 1989, when they scored 24 runs in their first nine games for Dallas Green en route to an 87-loss season. They are hitting only .167 (11 for 66) with runners in scoring position.

    When you see that, it’s amazing that they’ve won 4 of their 9 games played this season. How’s that for ending on a positive note?

    April 8th @ The Royals

    Posted by on April 8th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Some might want to talk about the Yankees lack of sleep for this game. Others might want to cite the weather conditions. Or, perhaps some might want to talk about the homeplate umpire’s strike zone. But, the fact of the matter is, bottom line, it was just not the Yankees day today – and it was a much better day to be a Kansas City Royal.

    File this one under: Sometimes You Get the Bear, Sometimes the Bear Gets You.

    You just hope the Yankees can shake it off and have a better showing tomorrow.

    I had a chance to listen to some of this game on X-M Radio during the drive home this evening. (Thank you I-287 traffic.) Since it was a Royals’ home game, X-M was carrying the Kansas City broadcast with Denny Matthews and Bob Davis.

    Man, I could just picture those two sitting on a front porch, somewhere, in rocking chairs, wearing short-sleeve dress shirts and slacks, with suspenders – along with a pitcher of lemonade at their side – doing the broadcast of the game. It was as if Harry Doyle and Archie Long got a gig to broadcast a game. It’s sooooooo much different than listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

    I’m not sure if it’s better or worse – but, for sure, it’s different.

    April 7th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on April 7th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Ah, some runs! (Thank you El Comedulce & Godzilla.) Still, it’s a borderline sin that Mo Rivera had to start warming in the 9th during this game. Shame on Hawkins.

    Great effort from Mike Mussina in this one. He reminded me of Eddie Harris. Although the semi-hissy fit on the field after the Cano error was not exactly “old pro” material.

    And, yes, while it’s still very early, I’m starting to get into the slimmed down and longer haired version of Brian Bruney.

    Lastly, I have to wonder if a roster move is coming with Jeter’s injury in this one. Or, are the Yankees O.K. playing Wilson Betemit at short for a few days with no other back-up middle infielder on the bench? That could be dicey. It may make sense to have someone from Triple-A travel with the team on this road-trip, just in case – and then have them handly for when Giambi’s groin goes out and then you can D.L. him and activate the traveling middle infielder. Because, you just know that Giambi is going to play within the next few days and get hurt again…right?

    April 6th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on April 6th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Typical Yankee Stadium game for Chien-Ming Wang – meaning he was super on the mound. Considering the Yankees could only muster two runs today – and, thank you Godzilla for those two runs! – Wang was just what the doctor ordered.

    Anyone else think that General Joe really wanted to lock this one down as soon as possible? Kudos to Girardi for not being afraid to bring in Joba Chamberlain during that high leverage situation in the 7th inning of this game – rather than just follow the “script” and have Farnsworth (or someone else) come in there (and then hold Joba for the 8th inning).

    Also, considering that Mike Mussina gets the start tomorrow – and you never know how Moose will do – this is a huge win. If this game is a loss, then the Rays had an excellent chance to sweep the four game series. That would have hurt – even if it is “just” April.

    April 5th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on April 5th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Another “Awwwww [insert your favorite curse word]!” loss in the Bronx today.

    What’s really bothersome: If not for Aaron Hill botching Matsui’s potential double-play grounder during the 7th inning on Tuesday night, and, if not for Dustin McGowan’s wild pitch to A-Rod during the 6th inning on Thursday night, the Yankees would probably be an 0-5 team at this moment.

    That’s really close to being winless in your first five games to start the season. Yikes.

    April 4th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on April 4th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    The Yankees lose this game, 13-4. And, their record on the season is now 2-2. To date, including this game, the Yankees have allowed 22 runs this season and they have scored 12 runs.

    So, look at the bright side, the Yankees are out-playing Pythagorean Winning Percentage so far this year, right?

    Ian Kennedy had no command this evening. And, we got to see what can happen to him when he cannot locate his pitches. Not pretty, huh?

    You probably have to go back to Darrell Rasner’s start of September 28, 2006 to find a game where a Yankees starter pitched at Yankees Stadium as poorly as Kennedy did this evening. (I was there that night – and it was not a fun evening in the Bronx either – like this game.)

    Speaking of flashbacks, 24 years ago, almost to the day, the Yankees had another game like this one at the start of their season. It was April 5, 1984. Check out the boxscore for that game – where the Royals beat the Yanks, 15-4. Omar Moreno, Toby Harrah, Tim Foli, Shane Rawley, and Bob Shirley all played for the Yankees. If that’s not interesting enough, note that Don Mattingly came into that game, late, as a caddy for Lou Piniella. And, actually, that’s what Mattingly did in the Yankees first four games that season – meaning he was a late innings sub. In Game 5 of 1984, Mattingly became a full-time player and went on to lead the league in batting that season.

    Three years ago, I shared that, back in 1984 and 1985, I kept a game log of sorts, for every Yankee game. Just a few notes per day, etc. Just now, for the heck of it, I went back to those notebooks to see what I wrote about that Yankees-Royals game (in 1984). Here it is:

    - @ K.C., Lost 15-4
    - Shirley gave up 3 run HR to Balboni on an 0-2, 2 out pitch.
    - Rijo looked good for 5 inn.
    - Harrah dove for a ground ball when down 14-0.

    Why do I share all this? I dunno…beats talking about the rotten game in the Bronx tonight…no?

    April 3rd vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 3rd, 2008 · Comments (13)

    Whew!

    Good game to win. You know, Toronto did lose two of these three games; but, they should come away from this series with the feeling that they can go toe-to-toe with the Yankees…because they really did in these first three games.

    Earlier today, I wrote:

    If I had to make a prediction for Hughes tonight, I would offer 90 to 100 pitches thrown, five to six innings pitched, and two to three earned runs allowed. And, if that happens, that’s not bad at all. I think the Yankees, their fans, the media, and Hughes would all be fine with those results.

    So, what happened? Hughes throws 87 pitches, goes six innings, and allows two earned runs. (Man, I should have played lotto today.) That’s a sweet outing from Hughes and one the Yankees would be willing to take from him – every time out.

    O.K., still, you know I have to bring up the velocity thing. Yes, for the second year in a row.

    In the first inning, the YES gun had Hughes at 91 MPH with his fastball. (For what it’s worth, Gameday had him at 90 MPH in the first.) And, through the fifth inning, I was still seeing 91 MPH on the heater for Phil. (Most of the time it was 91 MPH. Sometimes it was 90 MPH and other times it was 89 MPH. But, again, most of the time it was 91 MPH.)

    So, what happened to the theory that it was his leg that caused Hughes to lose four MPH on his fastball? He’s as healthy as a horse now, and, still, we’re seeing 91 MPH.

    Sure, some probably want to scream “It’s the slow YES gun!” Well, through the first five innings, the same YES gun had Toronto’s Dustin McGowan around 94 MPH with his fastball. And, the YES gun had Brian Bruney throwing around 95 MPH and Joba Chamberlain in the mid-to-high 90′s. If the YES gun is slow, then McGowan, Bruney and Chamberlain were all throwing 100 MPH – which I cannot believe is true.

    Now, at this point, Phil Hughes featuring a 91 MPH fastball is no big deal. With his curve, as long as he has command of the fastball, he’ll be fine – as he was this evening.

    Where this becomes an issue is the year 2018. If Hughes is throwing 91 MPH as a 21-year old, he’s not going to gain speed as he gets older. It doesn’t work that way. Give him about 2,000 big league innings and he will lose four MPH on his fastball (at the least). And, then, Phil Hughes will be a 31-year old pitcher who features a fastball that’s in the range of 89 to 87 MPH. And, that’s not good.

    Again, and I want to stress this, Phil Hughes throwing 91 MPH now is fine. There’s no issue with this fact. It does not suggest that he cannot be a great pitcher now and for the next 8 to 10 years. However, I’m offering, because Hughes is throwing “only” 91 MPH now, at age 21 and with complete health, that I believe it is doubtful Hughes will be an effective major league pitcher after he turns 30-years old.

    Hughes could end up with a Jon Matlack type career. Stellar in his 20′s, a major pitcher on winning teams, and then, after 30, not so much. Note, I said “could” – again, just because there’s no where for his velocity to go, but down, and it’s barely over 90 MPH and he’s at the age where his fastball should be at its peak.

    April 2nd vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 3rd, 2008 · Comments (9)

    Mike Mussina started this game for the Yankees and was dealing 86 MPH fastballs out of the chute. He was pretty much around 86 MPH most of the night – although he did touch 89 MPH a few times. And, in his last frame of work, he was down to 84 MPH. And, the Blue Jays batters handled Moose, accordingly.

    A.J. Burnett started this game for the Blue Jays and he was pumping gas. And, he handled the Yankees batters, accordingly.

    That was pretty much the story for this game.

    Oh, and, it was cold at the Stadium. I lost the feeling in my toes around the 8th inning.

    By the way, where were all the Yankees fans for this one? There were probably only about 40,000 there, in person, for this game. And, by the end of the 7th inning, there was probably only about 20,000 fans left. In the 9th inning, there was probably only about 10,000 people in the stands.

    Sure, it was cold. And, sure, Mussina was not great and the Yankees bats, outside of an A-bomb from A-Rod, were so-so. But, the Yanks had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th with less than 2 outs. It was not a blow-out. Where did everyone go?

    The Yankees can talk about drawing 4 million and selling out every game, but, when you see how the fans came out for this one, and how they left early, well, you have to wonder about who’s buying the tickets for these games…the diehards or somebody else.

    April 1st vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 1st, 2008 · Comments (6)

    If someone from outer-space landed on earth and they wanted to see an example of what baseball was…and you showed them this game as an example of what it’s all about, I wouldn’t have a problem with your selection. Somewhat of a pitcher’s duel, crisp game – just about two and a half hours, some good plays, packed house, good electricity, etc.

    Don’t get me wrong – the Yankees were far from perfect in this game. There were some key runners left on – like the Damon lead-off triple in the 8th. And, actually, Halladay out pitched Wang. If not for the short fence in right on Melky’s homer and the play where Hill missed the potential double-play grounder from Matsui, then Halladay wins this game. And, Wang was helped out by his defense more than a few times tonight. (Was it just me, or, did Jeter look more rangy this evening?)

    Still, it’s a good win for the Yanks. That’s now 11 home-openers in a row. Amazing.

    Just two small gripes to close with…It’s just not the same with Jim Hall. I really do miss Bob. And, Joba has to tone it down with his reaction on the mound. That celebration he did tonight after closing out the 8th was just too much.