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...