• A-Rod’s Remarkable 2009 Post-Season

    Posted by on December 18th, 2010 · Comments (24)

    I’ve written in the past about the singular greatness of Alex Rodriguez’ 2009 post-season.

    And, if my narrative on that was not enough. How about some stats that support just how great it was? Click here to see how A-Rod was a machine during that run. And, click here to see how clutch he was during that post-season.

    Bottom line, there is an extremely strong case to be made that A-Rod’s 2009 post-season was one of the best overall offensive performances by a single player on a team who won a World Championship in the last 30 years of baseball history – if not the best “such season” ever.

    Sure, we all know about Barry Bonds’ 2002 post-season - but, the Giants didn’t win it all that year.  And, David Ortiz was super for the Red Sox post-season of 2004.  But, he didn’t do it day-in and day-out, consistently, for Boston in that run like Rodriquez did for the Yankees in ’09.  Another player to consider would be Troy Glaus in 2002.   He was a monster who carried the Angels that post-season to their ring - but,  he was not quite at the level of A-Rod in ’09.  (It is interesting that Bonds, Ortiz, Glaus and A-Rod are in the team picture here – since they all have been linked to PED-usage in the past.)

    Seeing all this, what would you say?  Was Alex Rodriguez’ 2009 the best overall post-season by a player on a World Series winner ever?  If not, how about over the last 30 years?  And, if not, why?

    October 25th Vs. The Angels

    Posted by on October 26th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    Many times this season I acknowledged that this current Yankees squad, in some ways, had cast a huge shadow (over the rest of their league). But, I also questioned their ability to stand up to the light…wondering if this unit was great enough to survive the difficult gauntlet that a team must traverse to be called a champion.

    The time has come to rest those doubts. The 2009 New York Yankees are the champions of the American League.

    Additional commentary on this game will follow once I’ve had a chance to enjoy the coverage of the post-game celebration going down in the Bronx right now. In the interim, please feel free to leave your thoughts, etc., on this one and the Yankees victory in the comments section.

    Update, 10/26/09, 12:55 am ET: As promised, my thoughts on this one…

    In the end, this game boils down to four half-innings: The bottom of the 4th inning, the top of the 6th inning, and both halves of the 8th inning. Johnny Damon’s single in the 4th, Andy Pettitte retiring Kendry Morales in the 6th, Robbie Cano’s play on Torii Hunter’s batted ball in the 8th, and those errors by Howie Kendrick and Scott Kazmir in the 8th were all huge plays in this game.

    On the whole, you cannot say enough about the job from Andy Pettitte in this one – as well as the defensive play from Robinson Cano. In fact, in terms of collective play and the impact on the game, this might have been Cano’s greatest defensive game ever. Back to Pettitte, it was awesome to see the hand he got from the Yankee Stadium crowd when he left the game.

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    General Joe has the guts of a burglar bringing in Joba Chamberlain when he did…considering the score, etc. For sure, I thought Joba was going to allow the Angels to make some noise there. Glad I was wrong.

    Chamberlain in the 7th inning – and Mo Rivera for the six out save. Hmmmm, has Phil Hughes fallen out of favor?

    All things said, the Angels helped the Yankees out in this game. As Mike Scioscia said after the game, the Yankees out-played the Angels, but, L.A. shot themselves in the foot in two of these games. There was only one game in this ALCS where the Yankees pounded the ball. And, in the post-season, overall, in 6 out of 9 games, the Yankees have not scored like they did during the regular season. We’re going to want to see more offense from New York in the World Series.

    On the positive side, as Joe Buck said in the post-game, the Yankees have now faced the Twins and Angels in this post-season, two teams known for being fundamentally sound, and the Yankees didn’t make any mistakes and took advantage of the opponent’s mistakes – and often. Credit Joe Girardi and his staff for that. I noticed Tony Pena, in the clubhouse celebration, getting a good soaking from the players. Perhaps the men on the field really appreciate the job from the coaching staff this year? Well, they should…

    Bring on the Phillies! It’s wonderful that CC Sabathia gets to start the first game – and maybe throw three times in the series. With that in place, you have to like the Yankees chances in this one.

    This will be the first season where the Yankees have reached the World Series since Drew Henson played for New York. How about that?

    2009 ALCS Game Six Cancelled

    Posted by on October 24th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    Just heard Mike Francesa announce it. They’ll try again tomorrow – and, now, Game 7, if needed, will be Monday at 8 pm ET (not 5 pm as reported earlier).

    It will be interesting to see if this move costs the Yankees in some way…as it may have in the past.

    MLB To Make Call On Weather For ALCS Game 6 @ 7 pm ET

    Posted by on October 24th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via the Daily News -

    Major League Baseball has issued a revised forecast and says they will now wait until 7 p.m. Saturday to decide whether or not to wait out the soggy weather in the Bronx or postpone Game 6 of the ALCS to Sunday night.

    The Yankees opened the gates at 5 p.m. as scheduled.

    MLB is apparently waiting on a storm front that is expected to arrive in the area around 7 p.m. If the front slides past the Stadium there is hope of getting the game in Saturday night.

    “We believe there’s a chance we’re going to play,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at his pre-game press conference around 4 p.m. “There’s a chance it will push through and we’ll see what happens. As we all know weather can change really quickly around here.”

    If the game is postponed until Sunday, it is expected to begin at 8:20 p.m. If there is a Game 7, officials say it will be played on Monday, with an expected first pitch at 5 p.m.

    Wow, a 5 o’clock start on Monday, if it comes to that? Shame they didn’t move today’s game to 1 pm…because, then, they would have gotten it in, for sure.

    Daily News Yankees Playoff Posters

    Posted by on October 24th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Oh, these are great. The ones for A-Rod and Joba are spot-on. And, the one for Swisher…well

    The Andy Pettitte Game Six Curse?

    Posted by on October 24th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Every post-season “Game 6″ that Andy Pettitte has ever started, to date:

      Cnt Date      Series G Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit
    +----+-------------+------+-+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--
       1 2003-10-25 WS     6 NYY  FLA L  0-2  GS-7  ,L   7    6  2  1  3  7  0 106
       2 2003-10-15 ALCS   6 NYY  BOS L  6-9  GS-5       5    8  4  4  2  5  1  92
       3 2001-11-03 WS     6 NYY @ARI L  2-15 GS-3  ,L   2    7  6  6  2  1  0  62
          

     

    O.K., sure, it’s an extremely small sample size – no questions there. But, Pettitte has never won a “Game 6″ in his long post-season career. Will Game 6 of the 2009 ALCS break that streak?

    What The Rain Means…

    Posted by on October 24th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    The Yankees have said that they’re starting Andy Pettitte in Game 6 of the 2009 ALCS – whether, no pun intended, the game is played on Saturday or Sunday. And, you can bet that the same goes for CC Sabathia in Game 7, if necessary. Should Game 6 be pushed back due to rain, the only way it helps the Yankees, in reality, is that, if needed, A.J. Burnett could come out of the pen in a Game 7 situation – as that game being played on a Monday (instead of Sunday) would give Burnett three days rest since his last start. And, that’s it – since the Yankees really only have a three-man rotation.

    And, what about the Angels? You have to figure that Joe Saunders is starting Game 6 – no matter when it’s played. And, if the game happens on Saturday, and the Angels should win, then L.A. would probably come back with Jered Weaver to start Game 7 on Sunday. But, if Game 6 is pushed to Sunday, then the Angels have the option to start Jered Weaver (as probably planned) or John Lackey in Game 7 (albeit on three-days rest). Also, for a Game 7 situation, regardless of when it’s played, Scott Kazmir is available for the Halos too.

    So, a rainout of Saturday’s game just means that the Angels could use John Lackey in Game 7, if scheduled. Is that a big break for them? Well, it doesn’t hurt, right?

    Did Burnett Choke It Up In Game 5?

    Posted by on October 23rd, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Via John “No relation to Charlie or Alan, or Valerie, as far as I know” Harper -

    A.J. Burnett was at his dazzling best Thursday night as long as he was losing by four runs. When it really mattered, however, he didn’t look at all like the guy the Yankees saw as a big-game pitcher when they gambled $82.5 million on him last winter.

    Basically he looked unnerved in the first road postseason start of his career.

    Burnett fell behind, 4-0, before he got an out in the first, as his troubling tendency of blow-up innings reared its head at a crucial time. And then after dominating the Angels through the sixth inning, he couldn’t get an out after the Yankees stunned John Lackey with a six-run rally in the top of the seventh.

    Suddenly dealing with the pressure of trying to hold a lead, Burnett immediately gave the Angels, and a silenced crowd, new hope by giving up a single and a walk to the Halos’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters.

    I thought about this 8 hours ago. So, I do think that A.J. sharted himself in the seventh inning last night. How about you?

    Nooooo…I don’t want to know if you also fashioned some undevised skid marks after the Yankees tied the game in the seventh…the question is…do you think that Burnett choked last night once it became a “ballgame”?

    October 22nd @ The Angels

    Posted by on October 22nd, 2009 · Comments (18)

    But there is no joy in Yankeeland — mighty Swishalicious has popped up.

    Two days ago, I mentioned that Game Four of this ALCS “feels like Game Three of the 2004 ALCS all over again.” Well, for sure, this game, Game Five of the 2009 ALCS, sure feels like Game Four of the 2004 ALCS all over again.

    Wow. In the end, it was Joe Girardi who had a Grady Little moment in this game – leaving his starting pitcher in too long. Perhaps Girardi just saw the mistake that Mike Scioscia made in this game, taking his starting pitcher out too soon and that was the seed planted in his head which led to this call? Then again, maybe, just maybe, Phil Hughes could have pitched more like “regular season Phil Hughes” and less like “post-season Joba Chamberlain” and helped out, a tad, and taken General Joe somewhat off the hook with that call on A.J. Burnett?

    So, what do we have here? Looks like the Angels have made Mike Scioscia into an honest man – and there will be a Game Six of this ACLS to be played in New York.

    Between the mess that could come with the weather forecast for that day and the fact that Andy Pettitte, who will be starting for the Yankees in Game Six, has an ERA of 4.59 at the new Yankee Stadium this season – compared to an ERA of 3.71 on the road – this could be a very dangerous situation for the Bronx Bombers.

    Should New York lose Game Six, it leads up to a winner-take-all Game Seven. Now, granted…sure…if it comes down to a Game Seven the Yankees will have their ace, CC Sabathia, on the mound in that contest. But, this would be the third time that Sabathia has faced the Angels over the course of seven games. And, you would have to think that’s somewhat helpful to Los Angeles in terms of figuring out a plan of attack that may be more successful than the two previous times they squared off against CC…

    Plus, hey, in a Game Seven situation, anything can happen. If the Halos don’t need Jered Weaver in Game Six, then maybe he stars for them in Game Seven against Sabathia?

    Man, again, this one really stings. It’s not as bad as Game Five of the 1995 ALDS or Game Seven of the 2001 World Series. It’s more like Game Four of the 1997 ALDS…or…like Game Four of the 2004 ALCS…but…wait…I already said that, right?

    I’m going to need some serious soporifics now – thanks a lot Yanks.

    Itching Like I Have Ants In My Pants…

    Posted by on October 22nd, 2009 · Comments (9)

    I think that I’m more excited about tonight’s Yankees game than I have been about any other game this season. In fact, this may be the most excited I’ve been over a Yankees game in the last four years. Funny what being on the doorstep of a World Series berth will do to you, huh?

    What about you? Is this the most excited that you’ve been, anticipating a Yankees game, in years?

    Note To Yanks: Get It Done Tonight & Stay Out Of The Rain On Saturday

    Posted by on October 22nd, 2009 · Comments (8)

    The NYC weather forecast for Saturday, October 24th, calls for temperatures around 62° F – but with rain, most of the day, including when Game 6 of the 2009 ALCS (if necessary) is scheduled.

    So, rather than being in a spot where they have to mess with whatever bad weather can bring for Game 6 – albeit rain-delays impacting starting pitchers or a cancelation causing the game to be moved to Sunday and allowing the Angels to have more pitchers available, etc. – the Yankees should wrap up the ALCS with a win tonight…and make the weather forecast for Saturday a moot item.

    I wonder if General Joe and crew are thinking about this…and will play the game tonight more like a must-win situation than a “we have two games after this one, if needed” situation? If you were the Yankees, knowing the forecast for Saturday, how would you play it tonight?

    Four Angels For A.J. To Be Careful With…

    Posted by on October 21st, 2009 · Comments (6)

    How some Angels batters have done against A.J. Burnett, in their career, to date:

                          PA    AB  H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG
    +-----------------+-------+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+-----+-----+-----+
     Bobby Abreu          77    64  20  6  0  1  11  12  18  .313  .416  .453
     Vladimir Guerrero    46    42   9  4  0  2   3   4  11  .214  .283  .452
     Torii Hunter         24    23   2  0  0  2   2   1   7  .087  .125  .348
     Maicer Izturis       18    16   4  1  0  0   3   2   4  .250  .333  .313
     Gary Matthews        15    13   2  2  0  0   2   2   2  .154  .267  .308
     Chone Figgins        13    12   5  1  1  0   1   0   2  .417  .417  .667
     Howie Kendrick       12    11   4  1  0  0   3   1   5  .364  .417  .455
     Mike Napoli          12    11   4  0  0  2   2   1   3  .364  .417  .909
     Juan Rivera          10     8   2  0  0  0   0   2   2  .250  .400  .250
     Erick Aybar           6     5   1  1  0  0   1   0   2  .200  .167  .400
     Jeff Mathis           6     5   2  0  0  0   1   0   1  .400  .500  .400
     Kendry Morales        6     6   1  0  0  0   0   0   4  .167  .167  .167
     Reggie Willits        1     1   0  0  0  0   0   0   1  .000  .000  .000
    +-----------------+-------+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+-----+-----+-----+
     Total               246   217  56 16  1  7  29  25  62  .258  .335  .438
    

     

    Hey, A.J., beware Abreu, Figgins, Kendrick and Napoli tomorrow night…and, if you can get by them, you’ll probably get to have some champagne with your cream pies after the game.

    October 20th @ The Angels

    Posted by on October 21st, 2009 · Comments (18)

    Wow, feels like Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS all over again! Hey, just kidding – kinda/sorta.

    You know, Melky, A-Rod and Damon all had their bats going in this game…but, obviously, the story of this one, in Yankeeland, was CC Sabathia.

    To be honest, I thought, while watching the game, that Sabathia had some hard hit balls go for outs in the first two innings. And, then, in the 5th inning, the Angels really made him work. But, after that double-play grounder in the bottom of the 6th inning – which was key moment of this game, in my mind – CC was rolling. All told, it was an amazing effort from the big lefty on 3-days rest. And, with all due respect to A-Rod, Sabathia has been the Yankees MVP in this ALCS – to date.

    Three wins down, one to go – and three chances to get it. It’s looking real good for New York, no?

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    I should have mentioned this many moons ago, picking any time the Yankees played the Angels in SoCal lately…in any event…man, it’s soooo annoying to watch the center field camera shot in these games and see Scott Boras’ head, dead-center, in the picture, every time. Sit down Scott, huh?

    Before anyone wants to fry Tim McClelland for calling Nick Swisher out, for leaving the third base too soon, in the top of the 4th inning, on Johnny Damon’s fly out, remember that Swisher was out on the pick-off play at second base, earlier in the inning, and Dale Scott blew the call. So, basically, McClelland was cleaning up Scott’s mistake when he called Swisher out. But, then McClelland screwed the pooch, as far as I can tell, on that play in the top of the 5th inning involving Posada and Cano at third base. In fact, overall, this may have been the worst umpired game in recent baseball post-season history. (By the way, if I recall correctly, Swisher, during the regular season, had that “leave too early” call tagged on him, incorrectly, as well. Must be something funky he’s doing to make the umps call that all the time…when it’s the wrong call.)

    Speaking of Jorge Posada…he only gets to third on Cano’s double in the fifth, then he’s involved in that base-running situation with McClelland, and, later, in the bottom of the 6th inning he forgets how many outs there are and leaves home plate unprotected. Com’on Jorgie, get your head in the game, huh?

    Anyone else notice Derek Jeter coughing up a lung during this whole game? The FOX guys never referred to it…

    Lastly, does Fergie really want to meet me half-way right at the borderline or is she just being a tease?

    October 19th @ The Angels

    Posted by on October 19th, 2009 · Comments (36)

    I had the triathlon view of this game – tracking the first 3 1/2 innings via Gameday, watching the last 5 1/2 innings on FOX, and listening to the 2 innings in between those stops on the radio, during my commute home this evening. I wonder how many other Yankees fans were plugged into this one the same way?

    I know that many in Yankeeland want to stick pins in their General Joe Voodoo dolls after this game – for lifting David Robertson and inserting Alfredo Aceves. But, I’m guessing that the Yankees had some reports that suggested Howie Kendrick did poorly against some pitch that Aceves throws and Robertson does not…

    Funny, had this game ended differently, the goat would have been Bobby Abreu for his monster base-running mistake in the 8th inning…leading to that crazy 8-6-2 putout. Maybe Abreu should send Girardi some flowers and chocolates for this one?

    In any event, given that this was a one-run loss…and, if I saw the graphic on FOX correctly, the first ALCS game, ever, now, that the Yankees have lost where they once held a lead of 3+ runs…I can’t help but to lament these three plays:

    1. Top of the 2nd inning, Yanks have runners on first and second with no outs, and then runners on first and third with one out, and they do not score. Bad jobs there by Cano, Swisher and, to an extent, Cabrera.

    2. Top of the 4th inning, Yanks have runners on first and second with no outs, and then runners on first and third with one out, and they do not score. Bad jobs there again by Cano, Swisher and, to an extent, Cabrera.

    3. Top of the 8th inning, Matsui walks with no outs and Gardner is inserted to pinch run. Two pitches later, Gardner is nailed, attempting to steal, on a pitch-out. Two pitches after that Posada hits a huge, clutch, homerun to tie the game. But, losing Gardner as a baserunner in that spot was a big mistake.

    If the Yankees score just one run in any one of these three situations, they either win this game or it’s still just tied when Aceves gives up that double to Jeff Mathis in the 11th inning.

    On the plus-side today, besides Posada’s great homer, Johnny Damon deserves a big gold star for saving the game in the 10th inning backing up third base and stopping Rivera’s wild throw.

    So, here’s the deal. The Yankees used seven relief pitchers in this game. And, they used seven relief pitchers in the game on Saturday. Now, in their next game, CC Sabathia is pitching for them on three-days rest. If the big lefty can only go five innings tomorrow, this could be a tied-series before you know it…

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    By my unofficial count, Joba Chamberlain has faced 12 batters this post-season and has allowed 5 hits.

    Is it just me, or, does anyone else think that Erick Aybar, Clint Howard and Cha-ka from the Land of the Lost all go to the same dentist?

    Lastly, is there any chance that maybe Johnny Damon catches that drive off Mathis’ bat in the 11th inning for the third out of the inning?

    It’s Four Pee-Emm…

    Posted by on October 19th, 2009 · Comments (111)

    Do you know where your MLB.com Gameday is?

    Hey, for those stuck at work or just tracking Game 3 of the 2009 ALCS online for whatever reason, feel free to use the comments section below to discuss this game while it’s in progress. Heck, if you’re tracking, listening, or watching the game, no matter how, albeit online, on T.V or the radio, or via your own personal ability to control and bend both time and space, feel free to talk about it here while it’s happening…

    Sabathia To Start Game 4 In ALCS

    Posted by on October 18th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    I just heard at the end of MLB Tonight (on the MLB Network around 8 pm ET) that Joe Girardi announced within the hour that C.C. Sabathia will start Game Four of the 2009 ALCS in Los Angeles. Here are the games, in his career, where Sabathia has pitched on three-days rest, as he will in Game Four:

     Cnt Date        Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit GmSc ERA
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+----+
       1 2008-09-28 MIL  CHC W  3-1  CG 9  ,W   9    4  1  0  1  7  0 122  83  0.00
       2 2008-09-24 MIL  PIT W  4-2  GS-7  ,W   7    4  1  1  2 11  0 108  74  1.29
       3 2008-09-20 MIL @CIN L  3-4  GS-6  ,L   5.2  7  4  1  1  3  0 105  47  1.59
       4 2001-10-07 CLE @TOR W  3-2  GS-5  ,W   5    1  1  1  2  5  0  71  64  1.80
       

     

    As you can see, Sabathia has done well, during the regular season, pitching on three-days rest, when called upon to do it. Of course, facing the Angels will not be the same as facing the Cubs, Pirates or Reds as the season is coming to a close…

    Should be interesting to see if this works for the Yankees or not. Then again, CC on three days is probably better than Chad Gaudin, right? What do you think of Girardi’s call here?

    Angels: There Will Be A Game 6 In 2009 ALCS

    Posted by on October 18th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via Danny Knobler -

    But as the Angels packed their bags after Saturday night’s 4-3, 13-inning loss, there was a defiant streak that we never saw from the Twins, a confidence that befits a 97-win team just days removed from eliminating the Red Sox.

    “You’d better believe we’ll be back here [for Game 6],” manager Mike Scioscia said as he walked out of his Yankee Stadium office. “I’m leaving my briefcase here.”

    For the record, Scioscia took the briefcase, but he had made his point.

    So did Torii Hunter, who saw no need for the type of “show some nuts” speech he gave last month in Boston. The Angels are disappointed to be down two games to none, deflated even after a game they led before A-Rod’s clutch home run in the 11th, but not devastated or depressed.

    And not defeated — not yet.

    “Hey, lot of baseball left, that’s all I can say,” Hunter said. “Lot of baseball left, and we’re going to play a little better. I got this feeling, man, that we’re going to have better games, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

    “We go home, it’s going to be a different scene — definitely.”

    “We didn’t hit with runners in scoring position, that was our problem,” [Bobby] Abreu said. “Monday, it’s going to be different.”

    Well, let’s see…

    The 1981 Dodgers were in this spot in the World Series and forced a Game Six. Ditto the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1987 World Series. And, of course, there was the 2001 Yankees in the World Series. And, there was the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series…and the 1978 Yankees in the World Series…

    …so, it can happen…I suppose.

    But, if I were an Angels fan, I would wait to see a Halos win in Game Five before I booked any plane flights to New York for Game Six…

    October 17th Vs. The Angels

    Posted by on October 18th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Has one player ever hit three homeruns over a span of four consecutive post-season games as clutch as the three opposite field homeruns that Alex Rodriguez has hit between Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS and Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS? Three hits? Maybe. But, three homers? I doubt it…

    It’s A-Rod’s World this October and the rest of Yankeeland should just be happy living in it…so far…including this Yankees fan.

    It would have been a disaster to lose this game. You don’t want to be in a spot where it’s 1-1 in the series and now it’s a best three out of five with the Angels having home-field advantage. Plus, it’s just a heart-breaker for the team that loses this game.

    Maicer Izturis…welcome to the club.

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    I have to wonder, if Chone Figgins picks up that ball in the 13th inning, if Jerry Hairston Jr. is able to score?

    You know George Steinbrenner is MIA when Joba Chamberlain shows up to pitch in a post-season game sporting a soul patch.

    Upset about that “DP” which Derek Jeter hit into during the 5th inning that really wasn’t a “DP”? Well, that custom-breaking albeit technically-correct call by second base umpire Jerry Layne in the 10th inning on the DP attempt off Jorge Posada’s grounder sort of offsets that blown call on Jeter, no?

    Think Frankie Cervelli and Chad Gaudin are going to catch any flack on the plane ride to Cali about being the only two Yankees left behind in this game?

    A. J. Burnett did a good job in this one – sans the 5th inning where he lost it. But, Joe Saunders pitched a better game. Something to consider if these two meet-up again later in this series.

    I really thought the combo of David Robertson and Jorge Posada, pitching to Vladimir Guerrero in the 13th inning with runners on second and third with two out, had “wild pitch, run scores” written all over it…as it was playing out. Glad that feeling was proven to be nothing in the end…

    Just like in Game One of this series, the Yankees win this one with help from Angels mistakes. But, I’m not going to make the mistake of telling Yankees fans that their team got lucky in the post-season twice, two days in a row…

    So, I’ll just close with: Two wins down, two to go.

    2009 ALCS Game 2: Cloudy With A Chance Of No Ball

    Posted by on October 17th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via Accuweather.com this AM -

    The status of this game is, to say the least, in jeopardy. According to Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde here at AccuWeather.com, weather conditions should deteriorate late in the day. A light rain or some drizzle should become a steady rain right around or just before game time. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-40s and with a northeast wind around 15-20 mph (wind chills will be in the upper 20s), a miserable day is in store for the metro area. It is unlikely that the game will be able to be played.

    If the game is rained out, Major League Baseball and the Fox Sports Network have agreed (according to ESPN) to play Game 2 on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. EST. Unfortunately, the weather, although improved somewhat, will not be ideal. Lingering light rain or drizzle, temperatures in the mid-40s and winds out of the north at 15-20 mph (wind chills again in the upper 20s), will make for an unpleasant day to be outside. The good news is that the heavy soaking rain that will have fallen the previous night will be lifted away from the metro area.

    It will really be a shame if they wait past 5 pm ET to call this game today…given the forecast.

    October 16th Vs. The Angels

    Posted by on October 17th, 2009 · Comments (16)

    This was a game of two extremes – the extreme brillance of CC Sabathia and the extreme luck experienced by the Yankees offense.

    First, there’s Sabathia. What more can you ask from your starting pitcher in a post-season game? Each October, on average, there’s maybe four games (give or take) where a starting pitcher does what CC did for New York in this contest – and that’s four times out of all the post-season games played in a year. You just don’t see results like this from your starting pitcher all the time in a post-season game. Today, Sabathia was “the man” – and then some. (Sweet play, by the way, made by CC, on that Torii Hunter bunt attempt in the 6th inning too.)

    Next, the lucky Yankees offense. New York won this game, 4-1. And, three of those four runs were gifts. In the 1st inning, Johnny Damon had an opposite field, broken bat, hit that was barely fair – and that was followed by a bad throw from Juan Rivera and the pop-up botched by Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins. That sequence resulted in two gift runs. And, in the 6th inning, Melky Cabrera was advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt and then came around to score when Torii Hunter over-ran the ball on the single by Derek Jeter. That was another gift run. And, those three gift runs was the difference in this contest. On the whole, the Yankees were terrible, offensively, with runners on base in this game. And, New York will have to do better than that from here out in this series.

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    When A-Rod pulled a rock and ran through the stop sign in the 5th inning, and he had the collision with Angels catcher Jeff Mathis at the plate, my first thought was “Please, don’t let this turn into a 2004 Jason Varitek thing now where it lights a fire under the Angels…” (And, I’m glad that was not the eventual result.)

    Every time I look at Mike Scioscia, I see John-McGraw…he looks like him and runs a ballgame like him. But, I doubt that Scioscia would ever invest in a pool hall with Arnold Rothstein.

    If this game was played in April, May or June, without question, that ball that Vladimir Guerrero hit in the 4th (for a double) and the drive by Robinson Cano in the 6th (for an out to right) would have been homeruns. They can thank the weather tonight for impacting those drives.

    Speaking of Cano, it was funny to see him play this game dressed like he was a Yemeni woman whereas Melky Cabrera played wearing three-quarter sleeves. Talk about two extreme reactions…to the cold.

    Lastly, if the Yankees go all the way and win a ring this year, MLB has to get that 9th inning exchange between Joe Girardi and home plate umpire Tim McClelland, where Tim asked Joe who he was bringing in to pitch and Girardi said “some new guy” and McClelland added “from Triple-A?,” on to the official World Series DVD. That was just too funny to be forgotten.

    One win down, three to go.

    Cash: Yanks Need To Prove They Can Beat Angels

    Posted by on October 16th, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Via Bob Klapisch

    “To be honest, I think they look down on us,” said general manager Brian Cashman. “They’ve had their way with us for some time, and now we have something to prove to them. It’s not the other way around.

    “I think the Angels feared the Red Sox, but they don’t fear us. I think they’re happy they’re playing us.”

    Can’t disagree with any of this…

    General Joe To Play Hide-A-Starter Card Again?

    Posted by on October 15th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Remember that game in April last year where Joe Girardi didn’t want to “waste” a starting pitcher in a game that began with it raining – and he “started” Brian Bruney and then later brought in the scheduled starter, Ian Kennedy, once it was clear that the game was not going to be rained out or be subject to a long rain-delay after his scheduled starter was already in the game…

    Think General Joe would dare play that card again in Games 1 and/or 2 of the 2009 ALCS – because of the weather forecast? It would be a gamble, for sure, if he did…

    Rain To Make Yanks Season Land On Gaudin’s Wing?

    Posted by on October 15th, 2009 · Comments (51)

    The Yankees plan to start CC Sabathia in Game 1 and A.J. Burnett in Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS. A potential rainout of either of these games would likely force them to use a fourth starter, since Andy Pettitte is scheduled to pitch Game 3, setting up Joba Chamberlain or Chad Gaudin to pitch Game 4 at Anaheim.

    Anyone paying attention lately knows that it’s not going to be Joba Chamberlain and most likely will be Chad Gaudin.

    Now, if the Yankees win the first three games of the ALCS, this probably is not an issue – because if Gaudin tanks, at the worst, you’re still up, three games to one, with three to play. (Sure, we remember the “2004 ALCS situation” – but, having CC Sabathia ready to pitch Game 5 should ease that concern.)

    But, if the Yankees are not up, three-oh, by Game 4, then starting Chad Gaudin has all sorts of risk tied to it.

    If the Yankees are down, three-oh, do you really want your season riding on the arm of Gaudin?

    If the Yankees are down, two games to one, do you really want to start Gaudin and risk being down, three games to one, after that start – and then be forced to win the next two in a row or go home?

    Heck, even if you’re up, two games to one, do you want to start Gaudin and then maybe find yourself in a spot where the series is tied at two (assuming you lose Game 4) – and then have the series turn into a best two out of three?

    Of course, maybe Chad Gaudin starts Game 4 and is a hero – throwing six shutout innings. Anything is possible. But, is it likely?

    In the end, if this ALCS comes down to the Yankees starting Gaudin in Game 4 – and him costing them the game and maybe the ALCS, many will blame it on the rain. But, is that fair? If the Yankees had a fourth starter they could trust, then none of this would be an issue right?

    Forecasted Wet Weekend In Bronx To Mess With ALCS?

    Posted by on October 14th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    The schedule for the 2009 ALCS is as follows:

    Game 1: Friday, Oct. 16, 7:57 p.m. ET
    Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 17, 7:57 p.m. ET
    Game 3: Monday, Oct. 19, 4:13 p.m. ET
    Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:57 p.m. ET
    Game 5: Thursday, Oct. 22, 7:57 p.m. ET
    Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 24, 4:13 p.m. ET (or 7:57 p.m. ET if no NLCS game that day)
    Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, 8:20 p.m. ET

    The weather forecast, at this moment, for the Bronx calls for rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    It does appear as if they’ll have a window to play on Friday night – as of now. But, Saturday could be at risk. And, with Game Three scheduled for Monday out in SoCal, they’re going to have to try and get Game Two in that day – or the following day, on Sunday, depending on which day there’s less rain.

    If they do play on Sunday, instead of Saturday, this is going to mess with the Yankees plans to use only three starting pitchers in this series. And, it’s going to make for some tired ballplayers on Monday, if they play on Sunday night, with Game Three scheduled for 1:13 pm Cali-time on Monday. (Think about it – going from NYC late Sunday/early Monday to the West Coast to play a few hours later on Monday – if they have to play Sunday night instead of Saturday night.)

    Granted, both teams have to deal with this – and the Yankees have a better bullpen than the Angels, if it comes down to having to lose starters due to rain-delays, etc.

    Of course, you have the off-day on Wednesday, October 21st – and you could shift Game Three to October 20th and Game Four to October 21st (and then play Game Five, as scheduled on October 22nd). And, that takes away the issue of no-sleep for Game Three – should the teams have to play in Sunday night instead of Saturday (for Game Two). But, MLB probably does not want to do that…

    I wonder if the Yankees are keeping an eye on Saturday’s weather and working that into their plans? If they’re not, they should, for sure…

    Yanks CC, A.J. & Andy Vs. Angels

    Posted by on October 13th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    How have CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte done, lately, when they’ve faced the Angels? Here are the stats:

    CC Sabathia

      Cnt Date       Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit ERA
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+
        1 2009-07-12 NYY @LAA L  4-5  GS-7  ,L   6.2  9  5  5  3  6  0 114 6.75
        2 2009-05-02 NYY  LAA L  4-8  GS-7  ,L   6.2  8  5  4  1  5  0 119 5.40
        3 2007-09-08 CLE @LAA W  6-1  CG 9  ,W   9    5  1  1  1  3  0 103 1.00
        4 2007-04-10 CLE  LAA W  7-6  GS-7  ,W   7   10  3  1  2  7  0 108 1.29
       

     

    A.J. Burnett

      Cnt Date       Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit ERA
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+
        1 2009-09-23 NYY @LAA W  3-2  GS-6  ,W   5.2  7  2  2  3 11  0 101 3.18
        2 2009-04-30 NYY  LAA W  7-4  GS-7       7    8  4  4  1  5  1 108 5.14
        3 2008-07-04 TOR @LAA L  2-8  GS-7  ,L   7   12  8  6  0  3  2 101 7.71
        4 2008-06-01 TOR @LAA L  3-4  GS-8       8    3  2  2  3  8  1 102 2.25
        5 2008-05-22 TOR  LAA W  4-3  GS-6  ,W   6    6  3  3  2  6  0  98 4.50
       

     

    Andy Pettitte

      Cnt Date       Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP   H  R ER BB SO HR Pit  ERA
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+
        1 2009-09-21 NYY @LAA L  2-5  GS-6  ,L   6    5  3  3  2  3  0  91  4.50
        2 2009-07-11 NYY @LAA L  8-14 GS-5  ,L   4.1  7  6  6  2  1  1  83 12.46
        3 2009-05-01 NYY  LAA W 10-9  GS-6       5.2  9  5  5  4  2  0 111  7.94
        4 2008-09-10 NYY @LAA L  2-4  GS-5  ,L   4.2  9  4  3  1  5  0 100  5.79
        5 2008-08-10 NYY @LAA L  3-4  GS-8       7   10  3  3  2  3  0 101  3.86
        6 2008-07-31 NYY  LAA L  6-12 GS-6  ,L   5.1 11  9  9  3  4  2 110 15.19
        7 2007-08-22 NYY @LAA W  8-2  GS-7  ,W   7    5  1  1  2  6  1  95  1.29
        8 2007-07-06 NYY  LAA W 14-9  GS-5       5   10  8  8  1  5  0  88 14.40
       

    What do I see here? Sabathia last had success against the Angels in 2007. But, then again, he didn’t face them in 2008. If you can get A.J. Burnett to go six innings and allow three runs against the Angels, you should be happy with that – because, for the most part, over the last two years, that’s the best he’s done against them (give or take). And, the Angels use Andy Pettitte for batting practice – just look at all those hits he has allowed to them: 66 hits in 45 IP (since 2007).

    Sorry, wish I had better news here…

    Sabathia Starting After A Long Layoff

    Posted by on October 13th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    There’s been some speculation as to how CC Sabathia will do in Game One of the 2009 ALCS – pitching on 8 days rest (between starts). In an attempt to get an idea here, I decided to look at every big league start that Sabathia has made with at least 7 days rest but with no more than 10 days rest. Here’s the list of such games for CC:

      Cnt Date      Tm   Opp GmReslt App,Dec    IP    H  R ER BB SO HR Pit ERA
    +----+-------------+---+----+-------+---------+----+--+--+--+--+--+--+---+---+
        1 2007-09-28 CLE @KCR W  5-3  GS-7  ,W   7    8  3  3  1  4  1  96  3.86
        2 2007-07-14 CLE  KCR L  5-6  GS-7  ,L   7   11  6  6  2  6  1 113  7.71
        3 2007-04-10 CLE  LAA W  7-6  GS-7  ,W   7   10  3  1  2  7  0 108  1.29
        4 2006-07-15 CLE @MIN L  2-6  CG 8  ,L   8   13  6  4  0  7  1 115  4.50
        5 2005-07-15 CLE  CHW L  1-7  GS-5  ,L   5    6  4  4  4  9  0 119  7.20
        6 2004-07-05 CLE  TEX L  5-8  GS-3  ,L   3    8  6  6  1  4  1  65 18.00
        7 2003-09-12 CLE  MIN W  4-3  GS-7  ,W   6.2  6  2  2  4  6  1 119  2.70
        8 2003-08-23 CLE @TBD W  7-5  GS-6  ,W   6    7  5  5  1  5  3  99  7.50
        9 2003-07-19 CLE @NYY L  4-7  GS-6  ,L   6    6  6  6  1  5  2  99  9.00
       10 2003-05-30 CLE  CHW W  7-3  GS-5  ,W   5    3  3  3  3  4  1  98  5.40
       11 2002-07-11 CLE  NYY L  4-7  GS-7  ,L   7    6  4  4  5  1  1 114  5.14
       12 2002-05-18 CLE  KCR L  2-4  GS-6       6    3  2  2  4  4  0 108  3.00
    

     

    It’s sort of a mixed bag here, huh?  I see some great games, some so-so games, and some real terrible games – in terms of Sabathia’s performance with “DR>=7 and DR<=10." But, I think the most important thing here is that CC has not pitched during the regular season on with "DR>=7 and DR<=10″ since 2007. So, who knows how he will react to it now?

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

    Halos Throwing To Yanks Wheelhouse?

    Posted by on October 13th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Via the Times -

    But the Los Angeles Angels pulled off a riveting two-out rally of their own in the ninth inning on Sunday to finish off the Boston Red Sox.

    After Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon retired the first two batters in the inning, Los Angeles had a mere 1.3 percent chance to win, according to Fangraphs.com. But the Angels strung together a single, a walk, a run-scoring double, an intentional walk and a two-out single by Vladimir Guerrero to take a 7-6 lead. Brian Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Red Sox were swept from the playoffs.

    Papelbon’s surface numbers this year were excellent – a 1.85 earned run average, 38 saves and a 4.88 Win Probability Added that led all relievers – but his peripheral statistics revealed chinks in his armor. After walking 4.8 percent of opposing batters from 2006 to 2008, he handed out free passes to 8.4 percent in 2009.

    Nonetheless, his newfound propensity for walks got the better of him Sunday.

    Additionally, Papelbon showed an uncharacteristic inability to put hitters away. His strikeout rate this year of 10 per nine innings was in line with his career totals, but he has shown an increasing tendency to rely on his fastball. He threw it 81.5 percent of the time in 2009 versus 73.5 percent in his breakout 2006.

    In this appearance, he did not trust his off-speed stuff enough to throw a single breaking ball; all 25 pitches in the inning (excluding the intentional walk) were fastballs. Major league batters will always be able to hit 96-mph fastballs if they do not have to worry about anything coming in under 92 – particularly a team like Los Angeles that emphasizes making contact. Three Angels faced two strikes with two outs, and each of them reached base.

    After dispatching the Red Sox with atypical ease, the Angels will have to contend with the game’s undisputed juggernaut. The Yankees’ lineup has no weaknesses, but it is particularly proficient at clubbing home runs.

    Keeping the Yankees’ hitters in the park requires a pitching staff with strong ground-ball tendencies.

    The Colorado Rockies, whose rotation of sinkerballers mitigates the effect of their high-altitude home park, allowed flies on only 33 percent of batted balls. If they had wound up facing the Yankees in the World Series, they could have hadsome success at preventing power-fueled innings (like the 9th and 11th in Game 2, when home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira propelled the Yankees to a comeback victory against the Minnesota Twins).

    But the Angels’ fly-ball rate of 40 percent was the sixth highest in the majors. Starter Jered Weaver, who allowed more than half of his batted balls in the air, could have a particularly rough time. If the Angels’ pitchers cannot adapt their approach to counter the slugging strength of their next opponents, they will probably find themselves sent home every bit as quickly as the Red Sox were in the first round.

    Of course, this all depends on the Yankees batters making contact first…as you have to hit the ball to create a fly-ball…

    But, this is encouraging news. It’s certainly better than hearing the Angels lead the league in getting ground-ball outs, etc.

    Angels Vs. Yankees – Who Has What Edge?

    Posted by on October 12th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    How do the Angels compare against the Yankees this season – in terms of personnel and performance? Well, here’s my opinion…based on part-stats and part-feel…providing grades on a scale of one to ten…with ten being the highest grade possible…

    OVERALL	                      Angels	Yankees
    Offensive Production:	        8.5	10
    Offensive Production vs. RHP:	8.5	10
    Offensive Production vs. LHP:	7	10
    Pitching Production:	        4	 6
    Starting Pitching Production:	4	 6
    Bullpen Production:	        3	 6
    Pitching Production vs. RHB:	7	 6
    Pitching Production vs. LHB:	2	10
    Defensive Production:	        5	 7
    Play @ Home:	                7	10
    Play on the Road:	       10	 9
    Play in Close Games:	        9	 8
    

     

    It’s somewhat close here with the exceptions being that the Angels don’t hit left-handed pitching as well as they do right-handed pitching, the Angels bullpen is weak, and the Angels pitchers have issues with left-handed batters. So, the Yankees should be sitting pretty in this ALCS…providing Sabathia and Pettitte are on their game and the Yankees batters can get the Angels starters out of these games quickly. Oh, and, Cano, Damon, Matsui, Teixeira, Posada and Swisher better get some good swings in from the left-side…

    Can Angels Run Yanks Out Of ALCS?

    Posted by on October 12th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    During the 2009 regular season, the Yankees were 5-11 when allowing 3+ stolen bases in a game and they were 12-17 when allowing 2+ stolen bases in a game.

    Think the Angels are going to try and run like crazy against the Yankees in their upcoming ALCS? Well…they’d be stupid not to…right?

    Of course, the best way to put the breaks on an opponent’s running game is to keep runners from reaching base. To that end, the Yanks will have to be very careful not to issue many free passes the Halos in these games. (I know…that’s a tough assignment for guys like A.J. Burnett, David Robertson and Brian Bruney.) And, the Yankees should do their best to avoid allowing batters to reach via an error…while they’re at it.

    Hey, since the Yankees “M.O.” at home is more of a power game than a speed game, why not think about loosening up the dirt around the bases at the Stadium, throwing some sand in there, and giving it a good watering down before the game starts? Hey, there’s no rules against that…last time I checked.

    It’s either that or slap a number “20″ on the back of Jose Molina and see if you can sneak him on to the field when Jorge Posada is supposed to be catching (and then have Posada bat when his turn comes up in the line-up). Yeah, just kidding on that one…mostly because you really can’t try and pass off a Panda as a Posada…

    FOX Perry: ’09 ALCS To Be Grand One

    Posted by on October 12th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Via Dayn Perry today –

    Get ready for one hell of an ALCS.

    You’ve got the two largest media markets in play, you’ve got bi-coastal tribalism, you’ve got two candidates for “Team of the Decade” honors, you’ve got two thunderous offenses, and — most of all — you’ve got the two best teams in baseball.

    Oh, and you’ve also got two teams coming off first-round redemption. The 97-win Angels, in defiance of ALDS history (coming in, they were 1-9 against the Red Sox in Division Series play), swept Boston out of the postseason, and the 103-win Yankees — after giving the three-game bum’s rush to Minnesota — have advanced to the ALCS for the first time since 2004 (in Yankee Land, this qualifies as a “drought”).

    Give the slightest, most marginal of nods to the Yankees because of the bullpen, defense and Sabathia. New York in seven. This one has the makings of a white-knuckled classic.

    The Yankees are a candidate for “Team of the Decade” honors? Really? How?

    In any event, will this ALCS be one for the ages? At first blush, without doing any heavy analysis, I think it’s going to be a close one – and would not be shocked to see it go six or seven games. How about you? What are you thoughts about the ALCS this season – now that we know it’s the Yanks and Halos?