Thursday, September 30, 2010

Well At Least Javy Knows He Sucks

“I thought today was an important day for me personally, but it didn’t go well."

“If I would have thrown the ball better, that would have helped my case. That’s not the case tonight. I just got hit. I had nothing. I didn’t feel like my pitches were sharp at all today. They just hit me good.”

You know what?  I'm going to give you a little credit there, Javy.  You didn't make any excuses, you just called it like it was.  You went out there, you sucked, and you knew it.  The bad news is you cost the team a chance to re-take the division lead.  The good news is you've thrown your last pitch as a New York Yankee and we will never have to watch you disgrace the Yankee uniform on the mound ever again.

So thanks for playing.  Now get the fuck out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Real Quick, Before I Forget...

Suck it, Boston!!!  Suck it long and suck it hard, you whiny fairweather bitches.  You can complain all you want about your injuries and how losing tha Yookah and the haht of your team, Pehdroiaaaaah, killed your season, but the fact of the matter is Theo's "defense and pitching" offseason plan didn't work at all, your team sucked, and they got beat by 2 teams that were better than them.

So put away your Varitek jerseys and move on to Tawm Brady and the Pats, because that's all you have left this year.  And don't worry, we'll let you know how the clubhouse Korbel and Bud Light tall cans taste.  They taste like victory.

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

P.S.- Enjoy having Josh Beckett's corpse stinking up your rotation as your version of A.J. Burnett for the next couple years.  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

What's The Plan Now?

Alright, so the Yanks are officially in the playoffs, but what's the next move?  Are they playing for the division title or not?

Joe started to show his hand by pitching CC last night and riding him for 8+ innings and then going straight to Mo.  He left no doubt that he was in it to win it last night and the team responded.  But then after the game, the mixed messages started showing up again.  Andy was scheduled to pitch tonight and now he's been scratched and moved back for Javy (WHY???????), and there was talk of resting some of the starters.  But the Yanks have also stated multiple times that their goal is to win the division and when you've got guys like Jeter and A-Rod, who would be amongst the first candidates for some rest, saying they want to stay in and go after the division, what do you do?

Joe and Cash and everybody else need to decide what's important.  They can either play it safe, rest some starters, and juggle the rotation to set up the ALDS, or they can keep the foot on the gas and play it out to try and pass Tampa.  Joe said last night in the locker room that "We still have aspirations of winning our division and trying to get home-field advantage."  Now he needs to decide how strong those aspirations are and how hard he wants to try to win the division.  I would say that starting Javy in place of Andy tonight is not a move made with winning the division in mind and I think everybody would agree with me.

Your move, Joe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All It Took Was One...

Well after a month of crappy play, and a few weeks of play even worse than that, the Yanks clinched tonight and secured themselves a berth in the playoffs and a chance at Title 28.

They had to use their A+-team to do it, playing all the regulars, starting CC, having him throw 8.1 innings, and having Mo close out the last 2 outs, but to get into the dance makes it worth it.

Now they just have to figure out how the fuck they're going to make their ALDS rotation work after starting CC tonight, but we'll deal with that tomorrow.  For now, everybody just pop the champagne and celebrate.  I know that's what I'm doing.

Hey, At Least People Are Showing Up To The Stadium

The Rays are a few victories away from clinching the division and guaranteeing homefield advantage throughout the AL playoffs, but apparently their fans could give a fuck less:

"When 12,446 fans showed up Monday night to see if the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays could clinch their second playoff berth in three years, Evan Longoria decided he'd seen enough empty seats -- and said something about it.

Longoria, who did not play in the Rays' 4-0 loss to Baltimore, spoke at length about the team's chronically low attendance, calling it "disheartening" and "embarrassing."

"We've been playing great baseball all year. Since I've been here in [2006], the fans have wanted a good baseball team. They've wanted to watch a contender," Longoria told reporters. "And for us to play good baseball for three years now, and for us to be in a spot to clinch again and go to the playoffs, we're all confused as to why it's only 15,000 to 20,000 in the building."

His teammate, pitcher David Price, had the same feeling. A post to his Twitter page after the game read: "Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands....embarrassing."

Instead of getting into the discussion of how stupid it is to start CC tonight and make myself more frustrated about the Yankees' current situation, I'm just going to sit back, relax, and enjoy this story.  Division title or no division title, we as fans and the Yankees as players can all take solace in the fact that the Yanks will have a decided homefield advantage both at home and in Tampa, where there probably won't be more Rays fans than Yankees fans at the games.  Now that we know the Rays' fans don't care about their team, we can breathe a little easier about having to go there and face them in their own place for 4 games if it comes to that.

Not to mention the fact that with all the added revenue coming from the Yankee fans flooding The Trop, the Rays will have a little extra money in their pockets.  To show their appreciation, the least they can do is just lay down and die peacefully in the ALCS and let the team, and the fanbase, that deserves to see another World Series move on.

Did A.J. Pitch Himself Out Of The Playoff Rotation Last Night?

(Been seeing way too much of the bad side this season)

For starters, I will say that if it were up to me, the answer to that question would be a resounding "YES."  In a year of a few ups and mostly downs, A.J. came out last night and laid his biggest egg of the year in a game the Yankees could have used to clinch a playoff berth.  For once I was glad that I live out in Wisconsin and didn't have access to the YES network because I would have assuredly trashed my TV and everything else in my apartment if I had to sit through that fucking abortion of a pitching performance last night.  To anybody who was unfortunate enough to witness it, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  Be strong, it's not your fault.  Everything is going to be OK, but you might want to contact a helpline or some kind of service reserved for victims of harsh mental abuse.

But back to the matter at hand.  What does Joe do with A.J. now?  He's clearly down to his last shred of confidence, if he didn't use it up last night, and you would have to think that his teammates' patience with him is wearing a little thin.  There's only so many times you can go out there as a competitor and have your chance to win ripped away from you before you even have a chance to get in the flow of the game before you start to just say "fuck it" and prepare for the worst when A.J. is on the mound, and it looks like that's where the Yankees are after last night.  Sure they hit a few homers to make the game seem close, but there was very little punch or energy in their lineup last night.  When Marc Rzepczynski, he of the 5.75 ERA, shuts you down for 5 innings with 9 Ks, that points to the offense just laying down and dying after being staked to a 7-0 deficit by their starting pitcher.  And honestly, I can't say I blame them.

So with the combination of his horrific pitching and the obvious negative impact it has on the rest of the ballclub, how can Joe risk putting A.J. out there in the playoffs?  He won't have to use him in the ALDS thanks to the scheduling, nor should he use him.  CC, Phil Hughes, and Andy have more than earned their spots with their performances this year and track record in the postseason (mostly for CC and Andy).  But with the switch back to the 2-3-2 format for the ALCS, Joe won't be able to get away with using that 3-man rotation, unless he wants to risk throwing all 3 of them on short rest for the series, an idea that doesn't look too good when you consider Hughes' youth and innings count and Andy still on the recovery path from his groin injury.  Joe is going to need a 4th starter, but should that starter be A.J.?  Sure, when he's on he's awesome.  But those times of being on have been few and far between this year, and if you ask me, I'd rather take 4-5 innings of 3- or 4-run ball from Ivan Nova than take my chances with A.J.  The risk of another 2- or 3-inning meltdown is not worth the potential reward of a solid outing that he may turn in.

A.J. doesn't seem to be able to fix A.J., and nobody else does either.  And quite frankly, at this point in the season, fuck, at this point in his CAREER, we shouldn't be having this conversation.  A.J. Burnett is what he is, and what he is is a shitty pitcher with no confidence, no mental toughness, and no ability to locate his pitches anywhere other than right down the middle of the plate.  He's 10-15 on the year with a 5.33 ERA, 4-13 with a 6.67 ERA since the end of May.  Numbers like that get you sent to Triple-A or released on most other teams, but in New York this year it's gotten A.J. $16.5 million and a season-long spot in the rotation.  Now that we're getting into the time of the year that really matters, though, that shit like how much a guy makes shouldn't count towards anything.  The fact is, A.J. hasn't earned the right to start a playoff game, and unless he goes out on his last start of the regular season and throws a complete game shutout, Joe shouldn't reward him with a start that he didn't earn.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Praising The A-Horse

Well the playoffs must be getting near, because everybody and their mother is starting to climb back on the "A-Rod is Awesome" bandwagon, a bandwagon that I haven't left all year, despite the down tripleslash numbers and lingering injuries.  I will say, though, that any time there's stats involved showing just how majestic The Horse has been, I'm on board with it.  Like this post from Mike A. at RAB:

"Since returning from the disabled list and an injured calf, A-Rod has hit .333/.415/.710 with eight homers in 19 games, and if you go back to before the DL stint, he’s hit 13 homers in his last 29 starts. That his pushed him past for the 4.0 fWAR threshold (it’s 4.1, to be exact) yet again, the 15th consecutive season he’s been no worse than a four-win player. Those 15 seasons represent almost the entirety of Alex’s career, which started in earnest with his age-20 season in 1996."

Take a look at THAT tripleslash line and start complaining, will ya?  Or how about this little nugget from Joel Sherman's 3UP post today:

"... here is a question: Who has had more big hits for the Yanks this season, Cano or A-Rod? Both had big moments last night: A-Rod hit a two-run homer in the seventh to put the Yankees ahead 2-1 and Cano tied the score with an RBI single in the ninth after Rivera blew the save.

On the season, however, Rodriguez has 22 hits that have put the Yankees ahead compared to 12 for Cano, who actually has been better in the clutch this year than ever before. It is just that Rodriguez has turned into the hitter the Yanks want up in a big spot more than anyone else – by a lot.

And think about what that means; how completely Rodriguez has altered the perception that he is a choker. He got into a better place mentally last year and then had a postseason in which he cemented a reputation as someone who can thrive under the greatest pressure. That has extended into this year. Rodriguez simply has tremendous at-bats in big spots."

Oh yeah, that's just literary sex right there.  I'm at half mast right now and it's the 13th time I've read it.

You know what, screw the A-Horse.  At this point, with the brightest stage mere days away, the stage on which he completely outshined everybody else last year, he has become something more, something greater.  He is now Secreta-Rod and it's only a matter of time before he starts showing just how wide the gap still is between himself and his competition.

(Swanny Duckson does it again)

 Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some lotion and watch the highlights of the 2009 postseason to finish myself off.

AP Top 25 Yankee Playoff Roster Poll For The Week Of Sept. 27-Oct. 3

Well here's the last poll to decide who makes the Yankees' 25-man roster for the ALDS and there's some changes this week.  His latest horrible outing combined with a friendly off-day schedule means the Javy Vazquez is officially off the roster as the team will probably go with 11 pitchers, opening up another roster spot for a position player.  Who will it be, you ask?  Check it out.

Top 25:
1) Mariano Rivera
2) CC Sabathia
3) Robinson Cano
4) Alex Rodriguez (heating up just in time for a repeat of 2009)
5) Mark Teixeira
6) Andy Pettitte (might not be completely stretched out by the time his first playoff start rolls around
7) Phil Hughes (a monster outing last night when the team needed one)

8) Kerry Wood
9) Dave Robertson
10) Nick Swisher (knee is still a big question mark)
11) Brett Gardner (will be interesting to see how Joe uses him in the playoff lineup)
12) Curtis Granderson
13) Boone Logan
14) Derek Jeter (starting to find it at the plate, sort of)
15) Jorge Posada (can't throw anybody out)
16) Francisco Cervelli (neither can he)

17) Marcus Thames
18) Lance Berkman
19) Austin Kearns

20) A.J. Burnett (probably starting Game 4 after Hughes' solid outing last night)
21) Joba Chamberlain
22) Ramiro Pena
23) Sergio Mitre (probably secured his spot with his 2 shutout innings this weekend)
24) Ivan Nova (should be the 2nd long man out of the 'pen)
25) Greg Golson (gets the last spot because of speed on the basepaths, arm in the outfield, and as added insurance for Swisher's knee)

Also Receiving Votes:
26) Javy Vazquez
27) Eduardo Nunez
28) Dustin Moseley
29) Chad Gaudin
30) Chad Moeller
31) Jonathan Albaladejo

So there you have it, people.  Pencil these 25 in now and then wait for changes for the ALCS when they need a 12th pitcher.  Guys like Vazquez, Moseley, Nunez, and Moeller still have a shot depending on how the injury bug bites or doesn't bite during this last week of the regular season, but I'd say Gaudin and J-Alba are finished after their outings over the weekend.

Yanks-Sox Weekend Recap

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

The Bad News:

- The starting pitching problems continued to show through as Andy got completely shelled on Friday and Ivan Nova again failed to make it through the 5th inning on Saturday.  More concerning than the results of Andy's outing is the fact that he wasn't able to get all stretched out as far as pitch count goes and now only has one start with a 90-pitch cap left this season to get ready for the playoffs.

- The Yanks continued to get inconsistent performances from their bullpen, both from the regulars who will be counted on in the postseason and the guys who are just there because rosters have expanded.  The combo of bad starting pitching and bad relief never gets you too far in life.

- Joe continued to live in 24/7 panic mode when it comes to dealing with his staff.  After losing the first 2 games of the series, he called an audible and inserted Phil Hughes into what was supposed to be Dustin Moseley's starting slot last night.  And again in the 8th inning, after vowing not to do it all year, Joe went to Mo for a 3+-out save.  We all saw how well that worked out.

- Speaking of Mo, somebody needs to check if he's injured or not because he looks off out there.  He's blown 3 saves in the month now, all of them in his last 6 opportunities, and has allowed at least a run in his last 3 appearances.  His cutter isn't cutting at all and he's catching too much of the plate with everything.  And the 4 stolen bases off him in the 9th, slow delivery or not, is unacceptable.  Mo's never one to make excuses, but something has to be up with him because he's not himself on the mound right now.

- The 2 losses to start the series dropped the Yankees back behind the Rays in the race for the division and home field advantage through the ALCS.  But with the kind of baseball they've been playing lately, they are lucky to still be within just a half game.  The Yanks are 11-13 in the month of September and are still stuck in the same rut of slow, sloppy, lazy, disinterested-looking, half-assed baseball that has been the calling card of their recent stretch.

The Good News:

- The Horse was 4-10 in the series with 4 HR, 6 RBIs, and 3 BB.  He has looked better and better with each game since coming off the DL, and looks to be peaking at the right time heading towards the postseason.  He's as locked in right now as he has been all year and his swing looks perfectly in tune, as evidenced by his 4 homers being sprayed all over the park this past weekend.

- C-Grand's hot streak continued this weekend as he went 5-11 with 2 HR, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs scored.  His single off of Okajima to open the 9th was a perfect representation of how his work with Kevin Long has helped him.

- Phil Hughes stepped into a high-pressure situation last night after finding out he was going to be pitching less than 24 hours before the game and turned in arguably one of his best starts of the year.  Hughes' fastball was live and he used that to attack the Boston lineup and keep them off balance all night, which was good because Dice-K matched him with what was his best start of the year as well.  He clearly tired in the 7th when he walked the first 2 runners on, but Hughes' final line of 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K was very good and still didn't do justice to just how great he was last night.  Innings limit aside, Hughes stepped up last night and showed he can be counted on in the postseason.

- Dave Robertson and Boone Logan stepped in and did their jobs admirably last night.  D-Rob worked out of a 2-on, no-out jam in the 7th after inheriting Hughes' baserunners without allowing a run and Logan retired David Ortiz on 2 pitches in the 10th to pick up the win.

- Struggles and injuries and pitching concerns aside, the Yankees still managed to clinch at least a tie for the Wild Card last night.  They have a week of baseball left and need only one more win or one more Boston loss to clinch a playoff berth outright.  It's all but assured that they are going to make the postseason again to defend their World Series title and there's something to be said for that. 

- And they still have a week to get right before those playoffs start.  Everybody else better just hope and pray that doesn't happen...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Are The Yankees Actually Playing The Red Sox This Weekend?

And does it even matter if they are anymore?  The Red Sox haven't been relevant since June.  Can't we just skip this series and the next 2 and get right to the ALDS?

The rivalry used to mean something, but now it's almost like picking on a 5-year-old blind kid compared to the level of competition the Rays present.  The bottom line is the Yankees have bigger fish to fry than the sad sack, ass backwards, "boo-hoo, we have so many injuries" Red Sox.  I'm sure they will put up a good fight and use this series and the season ender as some kind of pathetic rallying cry to build momentum for 2011, but the fact is the Red Sox have fallen off the radar and they aren't going to be part of the playoff picture next year either.

Normally I wouldn't miss a Yanks-Sox series, but when I think about the one starting tonight, all I can say is...

Would You Let This Man Pitch For Your Team?

Seriously, what the fuck was that last night?  3 hit batters in a row.  2 of them on curveballs.  The last one to force in a run.  That was really all I needed to see to know that I no longer want Javy Vazquez pitching for this team in any situation, no matter how meaningless it may seem.  The guy is an absolute pussy, a total headcase, and the fact that his stuff has diminished to the point where he probably wouldn't start in a Little League game makes it even more difficult to tolerate the fact that he's a pussy and a headcase.

People want to get all up in arms about CC's shitty outing last night.  George King is already predicting doomsday and Joel Sherman thinks the sky is falling.  I'm going to be a little more rational about it.  The dude had a bad night.  He started off strong, but it was obvious even early on that he didn't have great command of his fastball and CC works everything off of that.  For whatever reason he just didn't have it last night and that sucks, but it was one game and after it was over the Yanks were still in first place so just chalk it up as a bad game and move on.  If CC was a little tired from his last start against Tampa then last night probably served to help him rest a little since he only pitched 5.1 innings.

My bigger concern is Javy and what the Yanks are going to do with him in the postseason.  Right now they have no set option as a long man out of the bullpen.  Joe hasn't showed much faith in Mitre, Chad Gaudin is a disaster, likewise Moseley, and Nova's role still seems in flux.  The job was Javy's for the taking, even if it's not what he wanted, and he absolutely shit the bed last night.  He really has no business being on the postseason roster, and it's sad because Joe is going to take him, he's going to use him at some point, and Javy is going to fold under that pressure.  I didn't like him back when the Yankees first made the trade and I should have stuck to my guns on that one.  He couldn't get it done here in '04 with good stuff and he can't get it done now with no stuff.

Javy Vazquez is a big piece of shit and offers absolutely no value as a pitcher to the Yankees.  His second go-around with the Bombers has been even more disastrous to the first and the inclusion of him on the playoff roster weakens the Yankees' chances of winning and will come back to bite them in the ass.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good God, Almighty!! Look At The Carnage!!!

Stock the fridge, turn off your phone, put the kids to bed early, and clear your schedules, people.  It's round 2 tonight for CC and David Price.

In one corner we have Carsten Charles Sabathia.  Listed at 6'7" and 290 pounds, CC has 20 wins to his credit this year, a 3.05 ERA, a 1.18WHIP, and a bunch of other stats that support his status as one of the premiere starting pitchers in all of baseball, not to mention he has the power of the parachute pants in his corner.  He is the crafty veteran in this matchup and pitching on his home field tonight, where he has been almost unbeatable this season, and tonight will be looking to lock down a series win and a solid 2.5 game division lead for his club.

In the other corner we have the youngster, David Price.  Price is 17-5 on the year with a 2.79 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 172 Ks to CC's 183.  Price, like Sabathia, has been the anchor of his rotation this year, the one constant in a swirling torrent of inconsistency around him.  He has faced the Yankees 3 times already this year with mixed results, his worst outing coming in a loss in July at The Stadium where he was slapped around for 7 ER on 7 hits and 4 walks in just 5 innings of work, taking the loss in the process.  He will be looking to exorcise those demons and exact some revenge tonight.

I've just finally gotten over the fact that I missed the gem of a performance that these 2 put on last week and now I get to once again miss out on what could be a matchup for the record books.  Why the fuck did I ever move out to Wisconsin in the first place???  My only hope is that Price comes out and spits the bit again and puts up a repeat of his last outing at The Stadium.  At least then I won't feel so bad about missing it.  You people with access to YES don't know how good you have it.

Did Joe Throw In The Towel After The Rain Delay Last Night?

What the fuck was that last night?  I can understand not bringing A.J. back after a lengthy rain delay, and it wasn't like he was pitching all that well anyway, but to come back and use the bottom of your bullpen barrel in a 1-run game against your closest competition for the division title?  Why not just come out and tell the umpires your team forfeits?  What was Joe doing in the clubhouse during the rain delay?  Smoking PCP?

Joe's comments to reporters before the game included the statement "our goal is to win the division," which would explain why Teix was still in the lineup.  Well I'm sorry, Joe.  But if you're looking to win the division, you probably shouldn't go with the value-menu bullpen combo of Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin, and J-Alba.  It was a 1-0 game when things started up again and he got lucky with Ring and Moseley only giving up 2 runs.  And then after the A-Rod single in the 6th, it was a 1-run game again heading into the 7th, crunch time, when you would assume Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, and Mo would be available to hold the lead and give the offense a chance to come back.  But instead Joe goes to Chad Fucking Gaudin and before you know it it's back up to a 3-run lead.

Joba probably wasn't available last night because of his work on Tuesday, and D-Rob was out with back issues (which is not good news at all), but Joe still had 3 of his 5 best relievers in the 'pen, and since I'm not reading anything this morning about any of them being hurt or tired, I'm assuming they were available.  The 7th should have been Kerry Wood time all day.  Your team just got a run, you've got the heart of the Tampa order coming up, you want somebody out there who can shut them down quick and get your batters back up there with a chance to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the inning, not somebody who's going to turn the inning into a home run derby.  Once again, Joe's inexplicable decision making costs the Yanks a chance at a win.  In game 43 of the season I can live with that, but not in game 152 when the division title hangs in the balance.

Honestly, at this point I don't know what Joe's thinking when it comes to the 'pen anymore.  Maybe he really does want to go manage Chicago next season and this is his way of trying to get out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Should The Yankees Rest Mark Teixeira?

Normally you would answer "no" to that question about a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman who currently has 30 HRs and 101 RBIs, but given Teix's recent injuries and his struggles at the plate in September, it may be something the Yanks should consider down the stretch.

Teix was a monster through the dog days of summer, putting up a .344/.462/.698 tripleslash in July with 18 XBH, 20 RBIs, and a 1.667/1 BB/K ratio and then following it up with a .289/.355/.629 line in August with 15 XBH and 21 RBIs.  But on August 31 Teix suffered a broken toe and his numbers have been in a steady decline since then through the month of September, in which he is only hitting .185/.325/.215 with only 2 XBH (neither of which are HRs) and 6 RBIs.  Add in the recent bone bruise to his thumb and the current 0-15 mini-slump he's in, and it's a safe bet that despite him saying he is fine and wants to play through the pain, Teix is being greatly affected by these injuries.

So what should be done with him?  Obviously neither injury is season or career-threatening and neither seems like the type of thing that can get any worse, but the added stress on the thumb and toe from playing every day will surely cause them to drag on longer and continue to affect Teix's performance.  The Yanks aren't paying $180 million to set regular season RBI records or anything like that.  They need him for the postseason and they need him at his best.  Joe already worked in a few off days for him, but the more time he has to rest, the quicker those injuries are going to heal, especially the bruise, which is almost certainly affecting his swing more than the toe.

Given that the Yankees are going to end this current Tampa series still ahead in the division thanks to their 2 straight wins, and in the process have shaved their postseason magic number to 3 games, it might be in their best interests to give Teix a week or so off.  One more win in these last 2 games and they end the series up 2.5, and Boston could be eliminated from contention by the time they face the Yankees this weekend, so there will really be no reason to keep him in the lineup.  With Berkman, Thames, Jorge, Cervelli, Swisher, Kearns, and Juan Miranda, the Yankees have plenty of depth and flexibility to be able to cover the 1B and DH spots in his absence, and the rest should at the very least help him get over the bruise in the thumb.

Joe has had no problem giving A-Rod and Jorge extra days off here and there throughout the season to help them get over bumps and bruises and keep them fresh, and he just recently held Gardner and Swish out for games to let them rest up, so why not do the same with Teix?  He is just as important to the team's success as any of those other guys, in fact he's probably more important.  If it were me, I wouldn't have him in the lineup for the rest of the week, but now that the Yanks have a chance to clinch a playoff berth and all but bury Tampa over the next 2 games, I could see why Joe would want him out there.  If the Yanks do win 1 or both of the next 2 games, though, Teix should be sat immediately and given time to heal.


From LoHud's pregame report:

"Before Girardi’s pregame media gathering, Teixeira told him he was feeling pretty good. But Girardi hasn’t ruled out resting him for three or four days once the Yankees clinch a postseason berth."

Did I call it or did I call it?  3 or 4?  Don't be afraid to give him a week if he needs it, Joe.  But that's not the point.  The point is I'm a goddamn genius and there's the proof.

That's What We've Been Missing

- A starting pitcher making it through the 6th inning and beyond and limiting the other team's offensive output despite not having his best stuff.

- Shutdown work in a tight situation from a key member of the bullpen.

- 5-10 with RISP from the starting lineup.

- 7 2-out RBIs.

All the things the Yankees hadn't been doing lately they did last night and were rewarded with another win, another game up in the standings, and another 2 games chopped off both magic numbers.  I guess shit actually works out when you play your A-lineup.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Moment

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Zelevansky/

Is that one of the coolest, most touching sports photographs ever?  I believe it is.  If you don't get a little misty looking at that, then you aren't a true Yankee fan.

Ain't It Grand?

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

2 homers and 5 RBIs, eh?  Don't look now, but I think we found our #2 hitter for the rest of this year and next year.

I stayed away from all the C-Grand bashing when he was struggling because it was obvious the lost time because of the injury affected him.  Now he's back to 100% and he's worked with Kevin Long to fix his swing and he's straight up mashing shit right now.  This is the guy we all hoped we were getting after the trade and this is the guy who is going to be very dangerous for the rest of this season and into 2011 when he'll try again for what should be an easily attainable 30-30 season playing in The Stadium.

Grandy's now hitting .274/.369/.578 with 11 homers and 26 RBIs in 149 plate appearances since he swallowed his pride and came to Kevin Long.  If he can keep this up down the stretch, the lineup becomes much more dangerous, even with Jeter leading off instead of Gardner.

P.S.- How bad do you think Matt Garza's nightmares of Granderson were last night?  20 bucks says he wet the bed at least twice in his hotel room.

Monday, September 20, 2010

AP Top 25 Yankee Playoff Roster Poll For The Week Of Sept. 20-26

Andy makes his return and everybody gets bumped down as a result.  Nova and Hughes can secure their roles, for better or worse, during this series against Tampa.

Top 25:

1) Mariano Rivera (is he hurt?  The cutter doesn't seem to be cutting lately)
2) CC Sabathia
3) Robinson Cano
4) Andy Pettitte (came back in a big way yesterday)
5) Mark Teixeira (bumped and bruised and broken toe-ed)
6) Brett Gardner
7) Alex Rodriguez (maybe the most important guy in the lineup)
8) Kerry Wood (looking like Joe's go-to 8th-inning guy)
9) Dave Robertson (shouldn't have been out in the 11th yesterday)
10) Nick Swisher (needs to get healthy)
11) Phil Hughes
12) Curtis Granderson
13) Jorge Posada
14) Boone Logan
15) Francisco Cervelli

16) Derek Jeter (why is he still leading off?)
17) Marcus Thames
18) Austin Kearns
19) Lance Berkman
20) A.J. Burnett (securing his spot with each better start)
21) Joba Chamberlain
22) Ramiro Pena
23) Sergio Mitre
24) Ivan Nova (looking more like a bullpen option)
25) Javy Vazquez

Also Receiving Votes:

26) Dustin Moseley (first pitching option if somebody gets hurt)
27) Eduardo Nunez
28) Greg Golson (speed AND an arm)
29) Chad Gaudin
30) Chad Moeller
31) Jonathan Albaladejo (Joe doesn't seem to want to give him a chance)

Yet Another Opportunity Lost

Yesterday was the latest in the continued frustrating inconsistency of the Yankees.  Andy Pettitte gave them everything they could have asked for in his first start back, came out the other side of it healthy, and didn't get the win he deserved thanks to some shitty work out of the bullpen and shitty situational hitting by the offense in the late innings.

This recent road trip might well have been the worst the Yanks have played this year.  Yeah, yeah, I know they didn't get blown out and actually played a lot of close games that they could have won, but they were only a couple of swings away from being 0-10 heading into Baltimore and they were just one A-Rod swing away from leaving Baltimore losing 2 out of 3.  The last 2 weeks have been a calamity of iffy starting pitching by everybody in the rotation not named CC Sabathia, the bullpen suddenly not being able to hold late leads given to them, the offense seemingly trying to set a league record for GIDPs and runners LOB, and Joe micro-managing the shit out of the team in every way possible with nothing but negative results to show for it.  All the momentum that was gained by their 8-game winning streak has been washed away, the team still looks too lackadaisical for my liking, and the Yanks head home for their most important series of the year as they kick off their last 4 games against Tampa.

The good news is that they have Andy back and he doesn't look like he's missed a beat despite being out the last 2 months, and they are still .5 game up on the division.  But that gap should be wider and right now the Yankees need some kind of kick start to get them back on the right track towards the postseason, because playing the kind of baseball they have been is not going to get them very far.  I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but that's just a fact.  Super Nova is on the mound tonight, and he needs to give the team a good start to get this series off on the right foot.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Suck It, Uehara

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

The A-Horse laughs at your pitiful attempts to bust him inside with a 90-mph fastball.  He laughs at them and then proceeds to kick your teeth down your throat with a 3-run bomb.  And now begineth the late season push for another 30-HR, 100-RBI season for the A-Taur.  A glorious night indeed.

P.S.- my buddy and I were smashed at the bar when he hit that homer last night.  We jumped up and immediately made the DJ play "Enter Sandman."  As you would expect, there were no girls with us.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Light Coverage Weekend Coming Up

So here's the deal, people.  I'm flying home for the weekend for some activities so the constantly awesome material I've been churning out lately is going to slow down a bit.

I can promise you that I will post something any time I have an opportunity to do so.  I can also promise you that with a wedding on Saturday (complete with 6-hour open bar reception and an after party in the hotel bar after the reception), NFL football and bar hopping with my buddy on Sunday, and what will undoubtedly be a kickass Alice In Chains/Deftones/Mastodon concert on Monday, those opportunities will be few and far between.

So there you go.  You might get some stuff or you might have to sit tight and be patient until Tuesday.  This is the downside of only having one writer on the team.

Whatever.  It's an open bar reception!!!  Cheers, bitches!

Why Are We Even Mentioning This Right Now?

Last time I checked, it was still the 2010 regular season, but I guess I must have missed something because there are already stories being written about the Yankees' 2011 schedule.  Don't believe me?  It's true.  Check here and here.

Guys, what the fuck???  We still got 16 games left to win the division and then the whole playoffs to cover.  Who gives a crap about 2011?

When the Yanks finish their parade down the Canyon some time in November, then we can start discussing the 2011 schedule.  For now let's focus on the tasks still at hand, OK?

The Most Talked About HBP Ever

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

 Are people really that fired up about Derek Jeter's fake HBP the other night?  Is it really that big a deal?

All day yesterday I'm reading stories on all the blogs and all the major sports sites talking about the play, how it affects Jeter's legacy, what it means about his struggles this season, what would people be saying if A-Rod had done that, etc.  Then I go home for lunch and SportsCenter's entire coverage of the game from that night was based around Jeter's play and everyone's reaction to it.  Then I get home after work and that play is the lead topic on PTI and we're bringing in Tim Kurkjian and everybody else to talk about what Jeter's fake means in the context of expanding instant replay in baseball.

All I have to say is, are you fucking kidding me???  Is this real life right now???  What planet am I living on where this play becomes so newsworthy that it overshadowed the eventual outcome of the game and the subsequent changing of hands in the division lead again?  Was it a sneaky play?  Absolutely.  Jeter knew he wasn't hit, but the ump didn't and Jeter took what the guy gave him, putting on a very convincing act in the process with superb supporting performances by Joe and Gene Monahan.  He's certainly not the first guy to fake getting hit by a close pitch up and in and he certainly won't be the last.  What Jeter did was no different than catchers trying to frame pitches to make them look like strikes or runners on 2nd trying to steal signs and I don't hear an uproar from the media about that.

The fact of the matter is, Jeter was playing to win, which is what you're supposed to do as a professional athlete.  The umpire made the mistake and called him hit and Jeter ran with it.  It's not his job to be the moral compass of baseball, it's his job to do whatever it takes to help his team win.  It's not different than if somebody at a restaurant gives you too much change on your bill.  Would you call them back and say "hey, there's too much money here?"  If you would, then you're an idiot.  You take what's given to you.  That's what Jeter did and that's what every other player in that situation would have done, so just leave it at that and move on to more important things.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hail The Conquering Hero

Now that it's official, I can finally uncross my fingers, put my 4-leave clover away, and celebrate.


I know I've tried to put a positive spin on the last couple weeks, but now that I don't have to pretend to be OK with Dustin Moseley and Javy Vazquez sucking balls anymore, I'm just not going to.  A weak link is being removed from the rotation, and the Yankees' 2nd best pitcher is coming back just in time for the end of the year run to the division title and the start of the march through the playoffs to title 28.  That's good news when your team is a couple of timely hits away from a 10-game losing streak.  Sunday can't come fast enough.

I can honestly say that this is definitely the first, and most likely the only, time I will ever be this excited about a 38-year-old man coming back into my life.  But when that man is Andy Pettitte, I'm OK with it.

Searching For A Silver Lining

Another strong Phil Hughes start turned into just an OK one last night thanks to a couple of misplaced pitches.  This has been a constant theme for Hughes all year long and now the impact of that theme is felt even more in the heat of a division race, especially when the offense is still lost at sea without Swish and Gardner and seemingly unable to get a hit or two with RISP.

On the negative side, Hughes was given 2 leads and couldn't hold either of them.  He could have helped the Yankees gain a little more breathing room over Tampa and chop 2 more games of the divisional magic number and instead the Yanks wake up today looking back up at the Rays in the standings.  He has given up a lot of home runs this year in key situations and is still probably in limbo as far as his postseason role goes.

On the positive side, Hughes pitched exceptionally well for the rest of the game last night, hitting his spots with his fastball and mixing his pitches up far better than he had been recently.  And if you eliminate a handful of the home runs he's given up this year, Hughes could be looking at 18 or 19 wins right now.  Location and pitch selection issues aside, Hughes has pitched incredibly well this year in his first year as a full-time starter.  Improving pitch selection and location is something that comes with experience, so imagine how awesome he's going to be once he masters that over the next year or 2.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Nova-Centric Mini-Linkapalooza

After last night's fantastic first 4 innings and meltdown of a 5th, Ivan Nova has now become the wildest of wildcards in the Yankee pitching pecking order, both for the remainder of this season and looking to the playoffs.  Naturally, Nova was a hot topic of discussion around the blogosphere and the best in the business were all over it.

- First, Chad a LoHud takes a look at what caused things to fall apart for Nova last night.  Particularly telling about how Nova's starts have gone was this inning-by-inning comparison:

First inning: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K — 1.80 ERA
Second inning:
5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K — 0.00 ERA
Third inning:
5 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 K — 3.60 ERA
Fourth inning:
5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 K — 3.60 ERA
Fifth inning:
4.1 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 4 K — 18.69 ERA
Sixth inning:
2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K — 0.00 ERA

- Building on that breakdown was Joe Paw's piece on RAB examining Nova's approach the second and third times through the order last night.  As Joe states, Nova's strong starts to outings and struggling finishes point more to his inexperience than flaws in his stuff.

- Building on his own dissection of Nova's outing last night, Joe Paw followed up his first post with another questioning Nova's potential effectiveness out of the bullpen in the postseason.  His .194/.275/.306 tripleslash against in the first 2 innings of each outing this year and his .238/.327/.429 tripleslash against with runners on base could be good predictors of success in shorter outings, small sample size aside.

- Stephen R. at TYU takes the 'Nova out of the 'pen' concept a bit further by comparing Nova to all the other options for the 10th and 11th playoff pitching staff spots.  I agree with Stephen that Javy is making the roster one way or another, but Nova could very well be the best option for the "other" long man role.

He's hit a few bumps in the road lately, but I'm still very high on Nova.  His stuff has played up extremely well against Major League hitters and he thinks and operates on the mound mentally better than a 23-year-old rookie should.  Teams are starting to learn his approach right now and they're keying in on him, so he clearly has some work to do, but Nova should still be considered a vital option for the Yanks as either a starter or a reliever.  And since I can't say it any better than these guys already have or point to any advanced stats that they haven't already come up with, I'll just do what I do best and end this with the "Nova the Terrible" Photoshop picture.

K-Rod Still F'n Up

Apparently Francisco Rodriguez doesn't understand how a restraining order works, otherwise he wouldn't have sent over 50 texts to his girlfriend in violation of said restraining order since the time he decided to kick the shit out of her father right in front of her.  Here are some of the gems of the collection, via the WWL: 

•  "I know this message could get me in trouble again, but I already lost you, my house and my children"
•  "I do not want to have problems with your family, all I want ... is to recover you and my children and continue forward"
•  "Lets find a solution to this conflict, baby if you really loved me do not deny me the opportunity to fight for you and my children"
• "Tell your father and mother, so that the three of us can get together and reach an agreement and leave things as they are and I can recover my house and my job, please lets find ... way to solve this."
• "Thank you for sinking me turning your back, take good care of my children ... and now I see that your were with me because of the money to see that your family ..."
• "Your parents are manipulating you like a marionette ... You are already a woman who can make her own decisions"
• "You are already a woman who can make her own decisions and because of that, our home in spite of its ups and downs we built it together no longer exist because of their greed. I pray to God that is not too late for you to open your eyes and reconsider."
• "Daian, I understand that perhaps I made a mistake, the biggest mistake of my life for doing what I did but I love you"
• "Things like this should not be done especially when your parents have what they have because of me, even clothes."

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!  This would almost be sad if it wasn't so incredibly hilarious.  What an asshat.  First off, dude, if you're going to blatantly violate a court order, you might want to not use your own phone to text.  And if you're trying to apologize to the mother of your kids, you might want to refrain from accusing her of turning her back on you, accusing her of being a gold digger, comparing her to a puppet, and attempting to play off the seriousness of the situation because you supposedly provided her parents with stuff.

Now I've done my fair share of apologizing to girls in my life, sometimes when it was warranted and sometimes when it wasn't.  And I can say from experience that a well-written, honest, remorseful text message is a good starting point.  But to then turn everything around and insinuate that you shouldn't have a restraining order against you because you bought the old dude who you kicked the crap out of a t-shirt or two is definitely not the correct next step.

It's just a never-ending calamity of errors for the Mets, on and off the field.  Even as a shitty baseball team they are still entertaining.  And now it appears that in his personal life, just like he often does on the mound at the end of a game, The Pitcher Formerly Known as K-Rod has trouble closing.  And if there's one rule we follow here at AB4AR, it's A-B-C.

Always Be Closing.

Tell him, Blake.

Bigger Than A Win

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

Last night's win was big for the Yankees.  Let's not try to pretend it wasn't.  Sure they've all but locked up a postseason berth, but this team expects better; they expect to win the division.  And the quality baseball they had been playing over the last 10-14 days was not championship-caliber baseball, so to jump out to a big lead on the road early and then scrap back to tie and re-take the lead in the late innings is big.

But bigger than winning the game was the emotion the Yankees showed last night throughout the affair.  Everyone was into the game and focused from the first pitch, and the emotion built up as the game continued on.  You had guys jumping around for A-Rod and Cano's homers early.  You had Dave Robertson practically losing his shit after Granderson made that great catch in the 9th.  You had Swish freaking out over Jorge's go-ahead homer to the point that the casual fan may have thought Jorge broke some kind of record.  You had Jorge almost separating his shoulder with an agitated fist pump after Jeter couldn't hold onto the ball on Crawford's steal attempt.  And after the indescribably awesome Golson-to-The Horse DP to end the game, you had the entire team celebrating like they had just won a playoff game.  Shit, even Mo was fired up and you only see him show emotion when he closes out the World Series.

Regardless of the outcome, the Yankees were in it to win it last night.  There had been a noticeable lack of emotion over this recent weak stretch, so to see them come out last night with playoff intensity was a good thing.  And to have that energy and focus and emotion rewarded with an extra-innings victory, well that's the kind of stuff that can propel a team and motivate them moving forward.  They're still banged up, they still have questions in the bullpen, and they still have more questions in the rotation, but last night the Yankees may have just gotten their swagger back.  If they can come out later tonight and thrash James Shields, we'll know for sure.

P.S.- How much did Greg Golson help his playoff roster chances last night?  100%?  500%?  1,000%?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Hip fuckin' hip, people!!  He might be older than shit, he might be brittle as hell, and he might still be concussed, but Jorge can still knock the crap out of the ball when he gets into one.  And his timing (and Joe's timing when it came to substitutions) couldn't have been better.  Yankees hadn't had one of those in a while, now let's see what they can do with it.

P.S.- Feels good to be in first place again.  It was weird being away from it for so long.

How Mad Can You Be?

I mean really.  When the Yanks went into the game with D-Rob and Joba not available and Mariano probably only available in a save situation and you end up in the 11th inning with Wood and Logan already out, who do you expect Girardi to go to?  He stole an inning with Gaudin in the 10th, and Mitre is likely going to make the postseason roster as the long man, so why wouldn't Joe bring him in in a pressure situation?  And when the guy has pitched once in the past 16 days, you almost have to expect him to be rusty and give up something.

The Yanks got everything they could ask for from CC last night, which you expect from your ace.  The Rays just happened to get everything they could have asked for out of their ace too, which is why both of those guys are aces.  It was a masterful display of pitching on both sides and in the end the Yankees having a depleted bullpen came back to bite them in an extra-innings game.  The writing was on the wall, people just need to read it.

If you're going to be mad, be mad at Brett Gardner for getting thrown out trying to steal 3rd in the 10th.  Or be mad at Joe for not using Mitre enough lately, but not for bringing him in last night.  I like to get on Joe for his bullpen management as much as the next guy, but you really can't last night.  It was a great game full of great pitching by both sides and the home team won in their half of the inning against the 5th or 6th best guy in the Yankee bullpen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

3 Reasons Why This Yankees-Rays Series Matters

The Yankees have 7 regular season games against 2nd place Tampa and they'll play 3 of those games over the next 3 days starting tonight at The Trop.  The Yanks will be sending CC, Ivan, and Phil to the mound against David Price, Matt Garza, and James Shields for Tampa in what could be the first preview of the ALCS.  Knowing that those are the high stakes in place later down the line while the more immediate benefit of division lead also being in play, it goes without saying that this is a big series for both teams.  But it's not for the cliche, ho-hum reasons you'll probably hear on Baseball Tonight or the YES pregame show.  It's not about the Yankees "righting the ship" after a horrendous weekend and a 6-out-of-the-last-7 losing stretch, nor is it about one team "building momentum" or "gaining a mental advantage" over the other for the playoffs.  No sir, there are plenty of real, actual baseball reasons while this series matters for both teams.  Here are, in my mind, the 3 biggest.

1) We get to see how the young pitchers respond to a high-pressure, playoff-style atmosphere.

This might seem like another cliche, ESPN-fabricated talking point, but when you look back over the history of the playoffs, there are plenty of pitchers who have completely shit the bed on the mound with the spotlight on them, both young and old alike.  And using some basic logic, those younger pitchers without any experience of pitching in a playoff setting would seem the most likely candidates to get a bit of that gag reflex when put into that setting.

There are candidates on both sides: Wade Davis, David Price, Jeff Niemann, Jeremy Hellickson for the Rays.  Hughes, Boone Logan, and Ivan Nova for the Yanks), and although we will probably only see one or two from Tampa, one outing is enough for an opposing team to tell if the moment is too big for a particular guy, especially veteran hitting teams like those 2.  Price hasn't pitched all that well against the Yanks this year, and his only postseason experience came out of the bullpen in 2008 when he was rookie with unknown stuff and lower expectations, not the ace of his staff as he is today.

For the Yankees particularly, this series should be telling.  Hughes struggled mightily in the playoffs last year out of the bullpen, and hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire lately as a starter.  Another rough outing for him could put his playoff rotation spot in jeopardy.  The opposite holds true for Ivan Nova, who could do himself a great service in securing a playoff roster spot with another good outing against a quality team.

2) Both teams can experiment with bullpen roles/matchups for the postseason.

Us Yankee fans know that Joe loves to play the matchups when it comes to his bullpen.  Joe Maddon, also a known in-game strategist, is no stranger to playing the mix-and-match game himself.  Seeing as how these teams haven't played each other in a while, this series should serve as the first round in playing the odds and determining what approach each manager may take in late-game situations.

Should Teix be walked with A-Rod behind him?  Is it worth bringing in a lefty to face Robbie Cano?  Who do the Yanks use to neutralize Longoria in the later innings?  Will Maddon use Rafael Soriano for more than 3 outs?  The answers to those questions could start to be answered in some close games this series.

3) Brett Gardner vs. Carl Crawford.

This looks more towards 2011 than anything related to this year.  But Crawford is the big free agent positional prize this offseason, one the Yanks seemingly had their eye on heading into this year, and Gardner is the younger, much cheaper current leftfielder for the Bombers who has greatly outperformed expectations this year, possibly to the point that Crawford no longer becomes as big a need as he might have been at the beginning of the season.

Crawford is hitting .305/.357/.494 this year in 522 at-bats with 100 runs scored, 159 hits, 30 doubles, 12 triples, 15 HRs, 78 RBIs, and 42 stolen bases while continuing to play Gold Glove-caliber defense in left.  He has a wOBA of .376, a UZR of 22.0 in LF, and is rated at 6.4 WAR for the season.  He also made $10 million this season and should make more than that next year.

Gardner is hitting .280/.388/.379 this year in 428 at-bats with 85 runs scored, 120 hits, 17 doubles, 5 triples, 5 HRs, 45 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases while also playing Gold-Glove caliber defense in left and center field.  Gardner has a wOBA of .360 for the season, a 17.1 total UZR (16.9 in left, 0.2 in center), and is rated at 4.9 WAR, all for the lovely price of $452,500 for the year.  Gardner has also performed incredibly well hitting from the leadoff spot, something he could conceivably do next year with the Yanks given Derek Jeter's 2010 decline.

Now that stats show that Crawford has been the better player this year, but not by a significant margin.  And when you factor in that he has been an MLB regular for years now and this was really Gardner's first full season, and that Gardner is 2 years younger, it does make Gardner look like the more attractive option for next year, especially considering the strength of the rest of the Yankee lineup.  But we all now how enamored George used to get with certain players, and there has to be some of that DNA left somewhere within Hank and Hal.  A monster series from Crawford against the Yankees and the talks about bringing Crawford into the fold next year could start to heat up again, even if the Yanks do get great approximated Crawford-level value from Gardner.

AP Top 25 Yankee Playoff Roster Poll For The Week Of Sept. 13-19

Another week, another batch of changes to the playoff roster poll.  Some new guys getting some look from the voters after September call ups.  Their chances to make the roster, although slim, were greatly improved by the continued injuries to Yankee regulars (Swish and Jorge) and the season-ending injuries to Alfredo Aceves and Damaso Marte.  Here's the latest look of what the roster should be after last week:

Top 25:
1) Mariano Rivera (hiccup aside)
2) CC Sabathia
3) Robinson Cano
4) Mark Teixeira
5) Brett Gardner
6) Kerry Wood (absolutely lights out since donning the pinstripes)
7) Curtis Granderson (becomes more valuable w/ OF injuries)
8) Nick Swisher (knee not getting any better)
9) Dave Robertson (value increases w/ rotation struggles)
10) Phil Hughes (needs to rebound this week)
11) Jorge Posada (somebody get him a crash helmet and safety bubble)
12) Boone Logan (dude has been almost automatic since his call back)
13) Alex Rodriguez (still looks strong)
14) Francisco Cervelli
15) Derek Jeter (still too many groundouts)

16) Marcus Thames
17) Austin Kearns
18) Lance Berkman (looking a little more Puma-ish)
19) Sergio Mitre
20) Joba Chamberlain (always bad at the worst times)
21) Ramiro Pena

22) A.J. Burnett
23) Ivan Nova (could improve chances w/ a good start against TB)
24) Javy Vazquez
25) Dustin Moseley (will be off once Andy comes back)

Also Receiving Votes:
26) Andy Pettitte (due back this week)
27) Eduardo Nunez
28) Chad Moeller (depends on Jorge's health)
29) Jonathan Albaladejo (could sneak in if guys keep f'ing up)
30) Greg Golson (Joe loves speed)
31) Chad Gaudin (just to make him feel special)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Garbage Weekend

Get it?  It's a visual metaphor for how the Yankees played like trash all weekend.  Pretty clever, huh?

I got nothing else to say tonight.  Updated playoff roster coming tomorrow...

A Bad Omen?

Well it's a good thing the internet connection was fucked at my apartment all day yesterday, because after the last 2 games, my immediate postgame responses would have been much harsher than this morning's will be.  As it is, the Yankees have opened the door for the competition and their critics with 2 consecutive losses against a likely playoff opponent in 2 games that they could and should have won.

Let's start with Friday.  Another "meh" start by Javy gets picked up into a potential win situation heading into the bottom of the 8th after a bases-loaded walk to Teix in the 6th put the Yanks ahead 5-4.  Enter Joba in the 8th and exist baseball into the bleachers on his first pitch to Nelson Cruz.  Goodbye lead and goodbye win after 13 innings when the Yanks could do nothing in extras off the Rangers bullpen and Cruz put on an encore home run performance off of Chad Gaudin.

The Yankees were a combined 3-17 with RISP on Friday night, and in the 12th and 13th innings had the go-ahead run at 3rd with 1 out and couldn't get anything across.  Joe also showed how important winning that game was, using Phil Hughes out of the bullpen in the 9th and Mo for 2 innings in the 10th and 11th.  The Yanks couldn't scratch a run across and that extra work on Mo would come back to haunt them the next day.

Now yesterday.  Another close game, another "meh" starting performance by A.J., who was pulled after 4 innings and 88 pitches, and another late-inning Yankee lead courtesy of an A-Horse 3-run double in the 8th.  Mo entered the game in the 9th and commenced with a Joba-like meltdown.  Leadoff walk, single, double, and just like that the lead was gone.  After an intentional walk to load the bases and an out, Mo hit Jeff Francoeur with a pitch to force in the winning run.

Mo looked completely awful yesterday.  21 pitches, only 9 of which were strikes, a day after he worked 2 innings by throwing 20 of his 23 pitches for strikes.  Joe had said he didn't want to use Mo for more than an inning during the regular season, but in the last 2 days he has not only broken that rule, but then brought him back the day after to close out a game in which Mo was clearly not ready to be used again.  While it's always a little strange to see Mo that off his game, it almost should be expected from a 40-year-old pitcher who worked multiple innings the day before.  Sometimes we need to remember that Mo is human, and he is old, and yesterday we saw the end result of an old pitcher who had been overworked.

The offense cost the Yanks more on Friday (even though they were just 3-13 with RISP yesterday) and Joe cost them the win yesterday with his decision making on Friday.  But the bottom line is the Yanks lost 2 close, playoff atmosphere-style games in a row in which they had the late in the 8th inning or later and now the Yanks find themselves just a half game up on a surging Tampa team and on the verge of getting swept by a club they could face in the postseason.  The suddenly mortal (and possibly injured) Cliff Lee is on the hill today for Texas against the always-mortal Dustin Moseley, and even though their playoff ticket is all but punched, with Tampa breathing down their necks and a big series in the Trop looming, I say this is a must-win for the Yankees today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Did I Miss This???

The Jesus had ankle surgery???  For an infection???  How in his father's name does that happen???  He's The Almighty, The Savior, The Chosen One.  Regular human injuries should not even happen to his celestial, otherworldly body.  And if they do, one would think that The Jesus could just heal himself, no?

Light a candle and say a prayer tonight for The Almighty, Yankee fans.  He needs our love and faith now more than ever.

Get well soon, sweet prince.  Rest and heal and return in 2011 ready to begin your legacy.

Postseason Questions, Anyone?

Chad from LoHud had an interesting piece yesterday about all the questions facing the Yankees as they head towards the postseason, and there are plenty of them.  Being the helpful guy that I am and seeing as how I was spot on with pretty much everything playoff-related last year (check the posts from last October and November if you don't believe me), I decided I would answer those questions today.  Here we go... 

Big decision:
Who else gets a start in the playoffs?

- Andy Pettitte will most certainly get a start as long as he stays healthy upon his return to the rotation.  A.J. will most likely get one just because he's making $16.5 million this year and he has the experience.  And as long as he doesn't start to show significant effects of his increased workload this year, Phil Hughes will be the 4th starter. 

Smaller decisions:
• How do the starters lineup after Sabathia?

- The starters should line up Hughes for Game 2, Pettitte for Game 3, and A.J. for Game 4.  That gives the Yanks the best chance to win a short series and at least come out up 2-1 heading to a Game 4 while keeping their most volatile and unpredictable starter off the mound for as long as possible.  But they will, in all likelihood, line up A.J., Andy, Phil. 

• How much consideration does Ivan Nova get?

 - Unless any of the previously-mentioned 4 get hurt, Nova won't get much consideration even though he should.  Seeing how Joe has managed him so far, and seeing how he's managed A.J. throughout the season, I don't see Joe giving Nova a shot over A.J., regardless of how shitty A.J. may pitch down the stretch.  Nova would be a good option against any of the teams the Yanks will face in the playoffs because none of them will have seen him more than once if at all, but knowing Joe I just don't see it happening. 

Big decision: Is Brett Gardner still the No. 9 hitter?

- Yes he is.  Even though he probably shouldn't be.  Gardner is obviously a better choice for the leadoff spot than Jeter, but again, unless Jeter gets hurt Joe is never going to take him out of the leadoff spot.  The best lineup would be Gardner, Jeter, Teix, A-Horse, Cano, Swish, Jorge, Berkman/Thames, C-Grand, but Joe's loyalty to Jeter and unwillingness to do anything that could be seen as an insult to Jeter will prevent that lineup from ever seeing a lineup card. 

Smaller decisions:
• Does Marcus Thames get any DH consideration against right-handed pitchers?

- If he continues to produce then he certainly should.  Thames' tripleslash against righties this year, while not as good as his numbers against lefties, is nothing to sneeze at.  Joe is already working on riding the hot hand and trying to get Thames ABs however he can now.  If Thames stays hot, he can't be ignored as the ideal DH option no matter what hand the opposing pitcher is throwing with. 

• Is Austin Kearns an automatic starter against left-handers?

- No, and he shouldn't be.  C-Grand has been much better against righties and lefties since working with Kevin Long and the fact of the matter is he's a better player across the board than Kearns.  Going into the playoffs, the outfield should be set with Gardner, Grand, and Swish.  If Granderson does struggle against lefties then Kearns becomes a bigger possibility, but in no way should he be considered an automatic starter. 

• Is there any chance Jorge Posada catches A.J. Burnett?

- Chad didn't think so, but I say hell yes to this.  With the extra off-days that come with the postseason, Jorge has more time to rest his bumps and bruises.  And with the way Cervelli has hit since May, the Yankees can't afford to sacrifice a more productive bat for his just to make A.J. feel warm and fuzzy out on the mound.  It's put up or shut up time for A.J., and if the Yanks are facing a must-win game with him on the mound they need their best lineup out there.  That means Jorge and his bat behind the plate and Frankie and his bat on the bench. 

• Is there any reason to give Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter a day off?

- Not unless they absolutely need it.  See the logic above for Jorge.  Extra off-days in the schedule means free off-days for the old guys.  The postseason isn't the time to rest, it's the time to win.  You manage your players' off-days accordingly during the end of the regular season so you can ride them to a title in the postseason.  Period. 

Big decision: Who fills the back of the bullpen?

- Like Chad said in his post, Mo, Wood, D-Rob, Joba, and Boone Logan are shoo-ins.  I think the Yanks are taking 12 pitchers, so with the 4 starters locked in that leaves 3 spots.  Sergio Mitre should and will be the long man with Ace on the shelf, and Javy will make the roster just because of who he is and how much he's making.  The last spot should go to Nova, but with Mitre and Javy the Yanks will have 2 guys who can go long innings if needed.  With that in mind, don't be surprised to see Jon Albaladejo take the 12th spot if he pitches like he did all year in Triple-A for the rest of the season. 

Smaller decisions:
• Do the Yankees need a defined eighth-inning guy?

- Hell no.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind them using any of the 4 they have setting up Mo right now for one batter at a time in the playoffs just to keep the other team on their toes.  The beauty of having Wood, D-Rob, Joba, and Boone Logan available is that it gives them options for any situation that could crop up in the 7th and 8th innings of close games.  Not to mention Joe will be more willing to use Mo for more than 3 outs if he has to.  I get on Joe all the time for how he micromanages the 'pen, but the mixing and matching has been working for a while and with all these guys dealing right now there's no reason to change the formula come playoff time. 

• Does someone take the Gaudin role?

- See: "Mitre, Sergio" or "Vazquez, Javier" if the Yanks are really in a pinch. 

Big decision: Is there room for a fifth bench player?

- As long as everybody is healthy then no, and there shouldn't be.  Pitching is what wins in the postseason and it's why the Yankees won the title last year, not because they had Freddy Guzman on the bench.  Cervelli is your backup catcher, Kearns is your 4th outfielder, Thames is your one-man wrecking crew, and either Pena or Nunez is your utility infielder.  Combine that with the flexibility that Swish and Gardner provide in the field and you're covered for every conceivable scenario. 

Smaller decisions:• If there’s room for only one, which utility infielder makes the roster?

- Smart money would be on Ramiro Pena.  Nunez has shown flashes since being called up, and he is a better hitter than Pena, but I don't think he's shown enough to supplant Pena from his spot.  Pena is the better glove and has more experience, which always factors into managers' decision making come playoff time. 

• Is there something about the individual matchup that affects the bench?

- No.  Like I said before, the Yankees are covered for every possible scenario.  You want your 25 best guys for the playoffs so there's no sense in trying to get cute and add a speedy runner or another lefty bat or something quirky like that at the expense of a better overall player. 

• If they do carry a pinch runner, is Golson or Nunez a better bet?

- Nunez.  He's already had some Major League success and is more of an asset in the field and at the plate than Golson would be if he had to stay in the game.  Nunez would provide better defense if he ran for A-Rod whereas Golson subbing for any of the regular outfielders is almost a wash while also being a downgrade from any of them at the plate.

Another Pitching Prospect!!

(Photo used courtesy of Mike Ashmore)

He looks a little old to still be in Double-A, but this Pettitte guy looked pretty damn good to me last night.

4 shutout innings, only 2 hits allowed, no walks, and 4 Ks.  That'll get the job done 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.  His fastball lived in the high-80s, but he can locate it well to both sides of the plate, and his cutter and curveball can also both be thrown anywhere at any time to induce weak grounders and swings and misses.

It was the first I've heard of this Pettitte character pitching for Trenton this year, but something tells me if he keeps pitching like that he's definitely got a future in the Yankee organization.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Catching Up With The Mets And Their Good Deeds

Some of you may have noticed a glaring absence of Met-bashing here at AB4AR lately.  I could apologize for that since it is one of my hobbies and favorite topics to cover on the site, but honestly, with as pathetic as the Mets have been over the course of this season, I just didn't feel like I could come up with anything to make what they were doing on and off the field any funnier or entertaining than it already was.  That is, until I read Mike Puma's piece in today's NY Post about some of their players' latest great decsion.  Here are the highlights:

WASHINGTON -- Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Oliver Perez can add a missed visit to a military hospital to the Mets' laundry list of issues with them.

According to a clubhouse source, COO Jeff Wilpon wasn't happy that the trio of underachievers skipped the team's visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Tuesday.

Beltran said he had a foundation meeting about a high school he is building in his native Puerto Rico.  "I don't know who is creating this issue, but [last] offseason I went to visit a veterans hospital in New York, so it's not that I'm against it," Beltran said. "I went with Fred Wilpon, I liked it and I wanted to go [this time]. But I had my own things to do, and I couldn't make it."

Castillo also denied he was trying to make a statement by not visiting the hospital.  "I don't like to see people like that, so I never go there," Castillo said. "Sometimes you see people with no legs, no arms. I don't like to see that."

Perez refused to address the subject.  "I don't answer anything about outside the stadium," he said.

So there you have it.  Not only are the Mets and their players a complete and utter embarrassment to the game of baseball, some of them are also interested in pissing in the collective faces of the brave men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to preserve the freedom that allows them to make exorbitant amounts of money by playing a fucking game.  I mean the Yankees already have a laundry list of good causes they and their players take part in (HOPE Week, Turn 2 Foundation, Jorge Posada Foundation, Grand Kids Foundation, want me to keep going?), but you can be damn sure that if Teix, Robbie Cano, and D-Rob were scheduled to show up at an army medical center then they would be at the damn medical center. 

And it's not even like the excuses are any good either.  High schools in Puerto Rico, Carlos?  Come on, dude.  School year's already fucking started.  If that shit ain't built now then there's no point in trying to make it happen.  You've already wasted valuable learning time for those kids. 

And I'm sorry that you don't like seeing veterans in pain who have had their limbs blown off, Luis, but how do you think THEY feel about having to be laying there in pain missing those limbs???  More importantly, with all the added pain they suffer through from watching you and your teammates get your heads kicked in on an almost daily basis, don't you think the least you could do is show up and let them spit at you?

And Ollie, who the fuck are you kidding with this 'not talking about anything outside the stadium' bullshit?  You don't do anything INSIDE the stadium that anybody wants to talk about.  Shit, at this point I would be shocked if there was anybody anywhere that wanted to talk to you about anything other than how they could kill you and the team could escape the rest of your horrible contract.  Just admit that you were afraid one of the vets in the medical center was going to stab you for sucking so much and get on with your life.

It's bad enough that the Mets are killing their fans slowly from the inside out with their wretched play on the field.  You would think they would at least want to try to brighten up a few lives and sign a few autographs off the field, but some of them can't even do that.  I'd like to say I'm surprised, but when your team is run by this dude:

(We know, Jerry.  There ain't much going on up there)

 ... that pretty much tells the whole story right there.

Fuck the Mets.

How Good Was Ivan Nova Yesterday?

The answer would be "very good."  Nova rebounded nicely from his rough outing last time against the Blue Jays, throwing strikes and attacking a weaker lineup that was not familiar with him.  He got ahead in a lot of counts early and put hitters away with ease the first time through the lineup, and more importantly, showed some toughness and ability to work out of jams when they started adjusting to him the 2nd and 3rd time through the lineup in his last 2 innings of work.  All in all, Nova continued to justify his place in the rotation while the question marks continue to swirl around him.

Through the first 4 innings, Nova allowed just 2 hits and struck out 5 batters.  He was working quickly and economically, and the Orioles didn't seem to have any idea what he was doing.  In the 5th he ran into a little trouble, and his at-bat against Matt Wieters wasn't good (fell behind 3-0, gave up a 2-run homer on a meatball), but that was really Nova's only mistake of the day and he was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.  Particularly telling was his inning-ending strikeout of Ty Wigginton after the Roberts double and intentional walk to Markakis in which he threw 3 straight curveballs that Wigginton swung and missed at.  That takes some balls to throw those pitches with runners on and talent to make them look appealing enough for a batter to not lay off of, and is something that I would bet A.J., Javy, and Phil couldn't do right now.

Nova got himself into another 2-on, 2-out situation in the 6th before retiring Cesar Izturis to end the threat, once again working out of self-made trouble created by wild pitches and intentional walks.  To be able to bear down and get an out after throwing 4 straight balls is something that we've seen plague other pitchers, but Nova handled it coolly and calmly.

At the end of the day, Nova's line looks very good by any standards: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 6 K.  But his total performance was actually better than those numbers indicate.  He threw first pitch strikes to 19 of the 26 batters he faced, a very solid 73.08%, and while his strike percentage (60/91 or 65.93%) doesn't blow you away at first glance, you have to remember that 8 of those balls thrown were intentional.  Eliminate those and re-calculate and you get a better strike percentage of 72.29% (60/83), which is much more indicative of how well Nova pitched yesterday.  He threw strikes, was usually ahead in the count, and did not unintentionally walk anybody.  He pitched more than well enough to win and only lost out on one because of the pathetic Yankee offense.

Once again, Nova pitched beyond his limited experience and continued to impress as a vital member of this year's rotation and a potential asset to the back end of the 2011 rotation.  At this point he is more of a known commodity than other younger Yankee pitchers, and he doesn't have the "blow you away" stuff of a Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos, but Nova can certainly hold his own in the Majors and should continue to be a key contributor for the Yankees going forward.

P.S.- 3 innings of scoreless, hitless, walkless, 6-K relief to back up Nova wasn't too shabby either.

Get Some, Kim Jones!!!

Get some indeed, you dirty, dirty girl.  You knew exactly what you were doing getting yourself that close to Swish yesterday during the postgame interview, positioning yourself perfectly in the line of fire from A.J.  You wanted to get pied.  You NEEDED to get pied.  And darlin', you got you some pie right in the old facepiece.

And we were all a little bit happier because of it.