Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Rain "Suspension" Pick Me Up

Since we can't talk about tonight's game, and the weather ain't looking too hot for tomorrow, here's something we can all watch and enjoy.

The biggest kudos in the history of kudos to the person who put this together.  If you're a serious Yankee fan this almost should come with a NSFW warning because you might want to just start jerking off about halfway through this.  Fucking Fraud Sawx.

P.S.- Bonus points for trashing Shaughnessy's hideousness.

P.P.S.- Adios, Terry.  Good luck getting a job managing in the Majors in 2012 after admitting that you couldn't reach your players at your presser today.  Idiot.

Son Of A Bitch Rain

You know, you spend all this time scrambling to catch up on your research for the ALDS after being in Vegas.  You get to work early and bust your ass knocking out some kickass previews.  You rush off the plane and jump into your car and then politely as possible try to clue your drive into speeding the fuck up so you can get home and see as much of Game 1 as possible, and then the goddamn heavens open up, the field gets flooded, and Game 1 gets postponed due to weather like half of the games at Yankee Stadium this year.

Seriously, Mother Nature.  Way to be a bitch.  If this is some kind of inside joke between you and Al Gore, it's not fucking funny.  Get bent, you old hag.

On a baseball note, here's the deal now.  Tonight's game will resume tomorrow at 8:37 EST (stupid move, just replay the whole game) and Game 2 will now be at 3:07 on Sunday.  While it sucks to lose what looked like it was shaping up to be a strong CC outing tonight, the Yankees' pitching plans aren't completely screwed.  They can stick with Nova tomorrow to keep him on his regular schedule, bring CC back on Sunday as he only threw 27 pitches tonight, and still have Freddy lined up on his regular schedule for Game 3 on Monday.  And Nova and CC swap Games 4 and 5, which actually works out better for the Yanks because they were each going to be going on short rest anyway but now they have the big fella throwing Game 5 if needed.  Your best pitcher in a must-win situation?  Yeah, I'll take that.

So it sucks that tonight got rained out, but all hope is not lost.  I'll be back tomorrow to put up a quicky preview for tomorrow's resumed Game 1, but Sunday could be looking rough for any kind of preview or reaction post as I'll be spending my day in the stands of Dover Downs Raceway drinking beer and giving the finger to Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.  I'll see what I can do.


So to review again, Game 1 will resume tomorrow at 8:37/7:37.  Game 2 is Sunday at 3:07/2:07.

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Mano-Y-Mano

Pitching Matchup: CC Sabathia (19-8) vs. Justin Verlander (24-5)

Starting Lineups (** Projected based off what I expect the Tigers to do against a lefty.  I'm hopping on a plane well before the actual lineups will be announced. **):

NYY- Jeter (SS), C-Grand (CF), Cano (2B), A-Rod (3B), Teix (1B), Swish (RF), Jorge (DH), Martin (C), Gardner (LF)

DET- Jackson (CF), Ordonez (RF), Young (LF), Cabrera (1B), Martinez (DH), Avila (C), Peralta (SS), Raburn (2B), Inge (3B)

3 Things to Watch For:

1) CC's Command

The big fella wasn't himself over the last month + of the season when the 6-man rotation was instituted, specifically the command of his fastball and sharpness of his slider.  He's coming off a simulated outing during his last scheduled work day, which is not the same as pitching a real game, so it still remains to be seen if that command will be back now that he's closer to a regular schedule.  It won't be hard to tell if it's there early on, as CC will be in more 2- and 3-ball counts if it's not.  This is not a lineup you want to miss spots with, because there are plenty of guys who will make you pay, but if CC has his command back, his swagger won't be far behind and it could be a long night for the Tiger hitters.

2) NY's Approach Against Verlander

Justin Verlander is going to win the Cy Young this year, that's a given.  What's not is how he'll fare against the Yankees tonight.  In both of his outings against the Bombers this year he's been relatively successful (16 Ks in 12 IP), but has also been out of each game after 6 innings.  The Yankees have been successful at drawing walks (7 in 2 games) and fouling pitches off against Verlander to work up his pitch count and get him out early (114 on Opening Day, 127 on May 2nd).  Will they employ that same traditional Yankee patience tonight or look to jump on Verlander early?  Whatever they do, I expect Verlander to be on top of his game, and ready to match Carsten pitch for pitch.

3) Miguel Cabrera

We just discussed how he absolutely tears Yankee pitching apart, so pay attention to how CC and the Yankee staff approach him and how willing Cabrera is to take what the Yankees give him.  My guess is CC will pitch to him without runners on, and be more selective with guys on base, and I expect the general rule for everybody not named CC or Mo to be intentionally walk Cabrera in a RISP situation and 1st base open.  If that trend starts to play itself out tonight, it will be interesting to see if Cabrera maintains his patience through the series or starts swinging earlier in the count to try and make something happen.

Player to Watch: Alex Rodriguez

I'll just come right out and say it, I'm concerned about The Horse.  He hasn't been healthy in a long time, is even less healthy right now, and we've all seen how his swing and power fall apart when he's banged up.  Joe has already stated that A-Rod is good to go and will play 3B the whole series, but tonight should give us a pretty good idea of what kind of A-Rod the Yankees are going to have.  Are we going to get a healthy, strong Horse?  Or a banged up, weak one?

It's playoff baseball time again, folks, and that's when shit gets exciting.  Every at-bat matters a little more, every pitch matters a little more, and there's that extra bit of energy and electricity in the air.  The Stadium is going to be packed tonight, and it's going to be rocking.  We've got 2 evenly matched teams squaring off with the 2 best pitchers in the AL on the hill ready to do battle.  I salute them for the jobs they've already done this year in helping getting their teams to the playoffs, and for the rest of the Yankee lineup taking the field tonight, we all salute you in the tradition originally set forth by the fine folks at Fack Youk.

** (Just a reminder, I'm out of town again for the weekend starting this afternoon.  If I can somehow manage to snag a computer to bring with me, I'll cover as much of Games 1 and 2 as I can.  If not, I'll at least be able to watch and take notes and comment on Monday before Game 3.) **

2011 ALDS Preview: 3 Things That Will Decide The Series (And A Prediction)

The Yankees and Tigers met 7 times in the regular season, first in the season opening series at the end of March/beginning of April and then in early May, with the Tigers taking 4 of the 7 games.  In the months since then, a lot of things have changed about each team, but many things have stayed the same.  There will be a few new faces on either side that weren't present in the spring, but the core of each team remains intact.  A basic once over of each team reveals more similarities than differences.

Both teams boast strong, deep lineups that were among the best in baseball all season (Yankees .346 wOBA- 3rd in MLB; Tigers .336- 4th.  Both teams in top 5 in wRC+), and both have rotations with strength at the top and then question marks behind that (CC-Nova for the Yanks, Verlander-Fister for the Tigers).  Both teams can hit, and both teams can pitch (kinda), so there won't be an easy predictors for determining victory at the basic level, AKA the Tim McCarver Method of Analyzing Baseball.  Luckily, I've already done a little digging to find the 3 keys to this series.

1) Speed/Athleticism

Something that typically gets overlooked in baseball decisions, and something I admittedly rarely consider when breaking down matchups, but there are some stats tied to this that the Yanks and Tigers are not even close in, and it will play a factor.  First, defensively the Yankees boast a team Fielding Rating of 22.9, good for 7th in MLB.  The Tigers team rating is -2.0, which puts them near the bottom.  The Yankees are boosted by strong ratings for Brett Gardner in left and Nick Swisher in right, as well as Martin behind the plate, Teix at first, and A-Rod at third, and even Jeter, Cano, and C-Grand pass the eye test at their respective positions more often than not.  The Tigers, however, are a bit of a mess in the field.  There's nobody close to a Gold Glover in the infield, and even the speed of Austin Jackson can't cover for the limitations of the lumbering Delmon Young in left and Magglio Ordonez in right.  Quite simply, the Yankees get to more balls and make more plays in the field than the Tigers do.

The other area where the Yanks' athleticism advantage should show through is on the basepaths.  The Yankees' team Baserunning Rating of 1.1 only puts them in the middle of the pack amongst MLB teams, but the Tigers' rating of -7.6 ranks 26th.  And there's also the wide gap in stolen bases to consider.  New York's 147 SB was 4th in baseball; Detroit's 49 was dead last.  We've seen the Yankees go for the steal, double steal, hit-and-run, and sac bunt often this season, using their speed and baserunning skills to their advantage.  We won't see any of that from the Tigers.

It's a small part of the game, something that can't be as easily measure statistically as other things, but those numbers show that the Yankees have a decided advantage in the Speed/Athleticism department.  Their defense gets a boost from it, allowing them to better pick up their pitchers when the ball is in play, and their offense becomes more dynamic and more versatile as a result of their speed on the basepaths.  In a short series it will be next to impossible to quantify this, but we've all seen how just a couple of plays here and there can change a series: a diving catch here, a stolen base or extra base taken on a ball in the gap there.  The Yankees are much more equipped to take advantage of those opportunities than the Tigers are and I expect them to continue to use that to their advantage every chance they get.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

AB4AR's Final Postseason Roster

It's only been a week since the last list, but there have been some major changes here.  Guys who I had as sure things last week now look like they're going to be on the outside looking in, and through some stroke of evil black magic, I think we're all going to be exposed to A.J. Burnett being a part of the playoff 25-man.  That's just a frightening thought, but you know what?  THE FACKING FRAUD SAWX AHH NAWT GOING TO BE THEY-AH!!!!  So that makes it a little better.

Here's my final prediction:

Top 25 as of 9/29/11-

1) CC Sabathia
2) Mariano Rivera
3) Robinson Cano
4) Curtis Granderson
5) Dave Robertson
6) Nick Swisher
7) Derek Jeter
8) Mark Teixeira
9) Russell Martin
10) Brett Gardner
11) Ivan Nova
12) Alex Rodriguez
13) Rafael Soriano
14) Freddy Garcia
15) Eric Chavez
16) Andruw Jones 
17) Boone Logan (even though he's been dog ass lately)
18) Eduardo Nunez
19) Cory Wade
20) Chris Dickerson

21) Jorge Posada- It wasn't looking nearly as good for Whore-Gay this time last week.  But a key HR here, a base hit there, some solid defensive plays, and the fact that the Detroit Tigers have never even heard of a left-handed pitcher makes him a virtual lock now.

22) Hector Noesi- He tired in his spot start earlier in the week, but after watching the rest of the September call-ups and scrap heap pieces like Scott Proctor shit the bed for the past few weeks, you have to think Joe is smart enough to realize Noesi is his most reliable "Swiss Army Knife" guy for the 'pen.

23) Jesus Montero- The Earth stood still last night as we waited for word on Montero's hand.  But the X-rays were negative and reportedly all is well.  We probably won't see him much, but having The Jesus lingering on the bench as a pinch-hitting option is a good idea.

24) Phil Hughes- All of this goes out the window if he wakes up tomorrow with yellow fever or shingles or something, but it looks like Joe has already decided that Phil is going to be one of his guys for the playoff 'pen.  And velocity or not, Hughes did work through his 2 extended auditions without allowing a run this week.

25) A.J. Burnett- I don't know how it happened, or why.  But I honestly think A.J. did enough in his last start against Bahhston and in his Yankee reliever debut last night to earn Joe's trust.  I personally don't think he deserves to be there, and I would take Bartolo over A.J., but I think Joe wanted A.J. all along and can justify taking him in his own mind after A.J.'s recent outings.

Also Receiving Votes (Barely)-

26) Raul Valdes- Because I can see Joe getting cute and going with another LOOGY now that he has Hughes and A.J. available to eat up some of Noesi's long-man innings.

27) Austin Romine- If Jorge or Jesus trips and falls down the stairs tonight.

28) Bartolo Colon- I would have more faith in Colon than I would in A.J. in a tight spot, but I think Bart's bad timing with his late-season flameout while A.J. pitched his best game of the year was his undoing.  It's a shame too, because Bart was a big part in keeping the Yankee rotation afloat earlier in the year.  But I think he's getting the shaft. 

29) Luis Ayala- Not unless 2 guys ahead of him die.  He completely fucked himself last night.

Sad Mike Aviles Is Sad

Just try to look at this picture for more than 5 seconds without bursting into giddy, childish laughter.  You can't.  Nothing captures how pathetic the Fraud Sawx and their sadsack Fraud Sawx Nation are better than this image.  I fucking love it.

Courtesy of The AP

Early Week Recap

Now that we know how the AL playoffs are going to line up (and that they won't include the Fraud Sawx), we can look forward to the ALDS matchup against the Tigers.  But before we do that, I just want to take a quick spin around the Yankee news circuit and comment on some of the stories I missed while I was in Vegas. 

- Robbie Cano Moved Up to 3rd in The Lineup

It makes sense because he's the team's best hitter, and Teix has been plain awful this year at times batting ahead of A-Rod.  But I would question those who think Cano is going to see more pitches hitting in front of The Horse rather than Swisher.  A-Rod hasn't been doing much of anything with the bat since coming back, and now he's got thumb and knee issues.  In my opinion, the best thing to come out of this move by Joe, besides getting Cano more at-bats, is the protection he'll offer Curtis in the 2-hole.  Pitchers might be more apt to pitch C-Grand carefully knowing they have to deal with Cano after.

- Teix to 5th

Also makes sense.  No need to delve into the numbers more than everybody already has.  It's just a fact that Teix is having a down year, he's gotten too pull happy, and he knows it and finally admitted it this week.  You can't have a guy with a BA in the .240s and an OBP in the .330s hitting 3rd.  You just can't.  Hopefully last night was a sign that Teix is starting to snap out of his year-long swoon, but strategically swapping him and Robbie was the right move.

- Hughes to The 'Pen

No surprise here, as his results as a starter have been mixed since returning in July.  It's probably the only way Joe could have justified getting him on the postseason roster, which I think Hughes will make now even though he probably doesn't deserve to.  His velocity hasn't played up so far out of the pen, but Phil has managed to throw 2.2 scoreless innings since the move.  This has been a lost season for Hughes, no doubt.  He really needs to sack up and come into Spring Training 2012 in killer shape and committed to becoming the kind of pitcher he looked like in the first half of 2010.

- Playoff Rotation Set

Earlier in the week, there was still some uncertainty surrounding the 3rd starter for the ALDS.  A.J. turned a lot of heads with his outing against Bahhston on Sunday, but Joe showed his hand last night, using A.J. out of the 'pen and announcing Freddy Garcia as the 3rd starter.  They'll line up CC, Nova, Freddy, CC, Nova for Detroit and that's the way it should be.  Those guys have earned it with their body of work and most recent outings. 

- Bartolo Left Out in The Cold?

With Nova and Freddy officially in the rotation, and Phil and A.J. looking like locks for the bullpen, the clock looks like it's struck midnight on the $900,000 Man.  And while that's a bit of a bummer considering how important he was to the Yankee rotation early, I think even Bart would tell you that he got more out of himself than he expected this season.  He gave the Yankees what they needed and helped ease the sting of not getting Cliff Lee, and he was another feather in Cash's cap.

- Boone Logan's Issues

Joe can say whatever he wants, but Boone Logan is a problem right now.  Game mattering or not, it's inexcusable to blow a 7-0 lead in the 8th inning and Logan got the ball rolling on that last night with his sloppy work.  Logan's recent struggles might not open the door for Raul Valdes to get a postseason spot thanks to Hughes and A.J., but I'm very concerned about matching him up with anybody in the postseason.  Guy just hasn't been consistent at all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011



Fuck Jacoby Ellsbury.  Fuck Jawnathan Papelbawn.  Fuck Dahhstin Pedroy-ah.  Fuck Terry Francona.  Fuck Theo Epstein.  Fuck Big Sloppi.  Fuck the city of Bahhston and everybody in it.  Have fun watching the playoffs from the couch, you fucking fugazi bitches.  And enjoy the rest of Carl Crawford's contract.

Betances Starting Tonight

I'm back from Vegas.  I'm unshaven, haven't showered, still in the clothes I wore out last night, and despite brushing my teeth twice and chewing a couple pieces of gum this morning my mouth still tastes like cigarettes.

And now I'm reading that Dellin Betances is starting tonight for the Yanks in the final game of the year.  What?  Am I still drunk?  What the fuck is going on?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Betances fan.  I think once he learns to harness his stuff and have some command, he could be lights out.  But he didn't exactly shine in his MLB debut last week when he did his best Rick Vaughn impression by walking 4 Rays and hitting 1 in just 0.2 innings.

I'm all for not using a regular starter so they can be lined up for the playoffs this weekend, but I also don't want to see Betances go out and struggle tonight and get his Major League career off to a crappy start.  You never know how something like that can affect a kid that young.  And what if he pitches well and shuts the Rays down and then the Fraud Sawx make the playoffs?  That would suck.  I guess we'll see what happens in a few hours.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Next Week At AB4AR

Normally this would be the post where I tell you that this next week is going to be chock full of postseason preview goodness in preparation for the ALDS starting on Friday.  Unfortunately, tonight I'm flying to Las Vegas to attend a trade show for work and will be fully engrossed in that on Monday and Tuesday.  I'll have my computer with me, and if I do have the time I'll check in and post on the events taking place in Yankeeland, but don't expect anything major.

When I get back on Wednesday afternoon, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of posts devoted to previewing and breaking down the ALDS through the remainder of the week.  But I'll also be traveling out of town on Friday, and most likely won't be able to fully cover and comment on Games 1 and 2 next weekend.  Again, I'll do what I can to stay on top of things, but expect next week to be light thanks to the pesky rest of my life.

It's a bummer to not be able to go all in during playoff season, but after this next week is up I'll be 100% back in the game.  I'm talking game previews for every game, recaps of every game the next morning, in-game comments, and possibly a live blog or 2.  So hang in there over the next week and I promise 7 days from now you'll get the AB4AR-style postseason coverage you're used to.

In the mean time, do me a favor and check out the AB4AR Facebook page and "Like" it if you haven't already.  And don't be afraid to spread the good word about it to the rest of your Yankee fan friends.  Don't tell the Mets or Sawx fans, though.  They don't deserve to know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Freddy And The Jesus Cement Their Postseason Roster Spots Tonight

(Probably your Game 3 ALDS starting pitcher.  Courtesy of the AP)

If there was any doubt that Jesus Montero and Freddy Garcia were going to play prominent roles in the Yankees' postseason plans, I think both of them ended that today.

The Jesus went 3-4, just a triple short of the cycle, with 2 runs scored and 4 driven in.  He absolutely owned Jon Lester in his first 2 at-bats and continues to show the plate discipline and ability to hit to all fields way beyond what he should rightfully be able to do as a 21-year-old.  I still say there's no reason why he shouldn't be penciled in as the DH every single game.

Freddy rebounded nicely from his recent struggles with 6 shutout innings against a decent Sawx lineup.  He allowed some hits, but all singles, and only walked 1 batter.  He mixed his pitches nicely and showed that he's more than capable of handling a postseason start.  I wouldn't be surprised if Joe dropped him the 3-slot behind Carsten and SuperNova and just went with those 3 for the ALDS.

One more win and the Yanks have homefield advantage through the AL postseason.  Plenty of opportunities to lock that up with the doubleheader tomorrow.

O Captain, My Captain!

How's a little 3-run job in your ear, Lester?  Fucking slob.

Shoulda rocked a little Cervelli clap when he touched home plate.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dan Shaughnessy Waves The White Flag

Not really.  He's just doing his usual routine of writing outlandish crap that he doesn't even believe in order to cause controversy and stir up emotions amongst the unwashed masses of Fraud Sawx Nation.  And he does it well.  In his latest craptastic masterpiece, Dan argues that the Fraud Sawx shouldn't even be allowed to participate in the postseason if they make it.  Let's FJM the highlights: 

"With nowhere else to turn, I called baseball commissioner Bud Selig yesterday.  Left him a message:"

No you didn't. 

"Please, Bud. This is your chance to think outside the box. You have sweeping powers that enable you to make unilateral decisions 'in the best interests of baseball.'"

Yeah.  Like turning a blind eye to steroid use, expanding All Star Game rosters to the point that the talent on display in the game is completely diluted, instituting the "homefield advantage in the World Series" clause to the ASG winner, and now considering expanding the postseason.  Those have all worked out in the best interests of the game. 

"How about banishing the 2011 Red Sox from postseason play on the grounds of horsebleep play for the entire month of September?"

Because that is the only month that should be taken into account when looking at a team's performance. 

"Let the worthy teams participate in the playoffs. The Sox are not worthy."

Even though they're 20 games over .500. 

"Really, how do you root for these guys anymore?"

Because you're a real fan who actually knew the franchise existed prior to 2004 and actually followed the team prior to 2004 and you've stuck with them through the good times and bad and don't jump ship and move on to Patriots season at the first sign of trouble?  Maybe that's how.  Just a thought. 

"They have the third-highest payroll in baseball."

And what a tough, gritty, underappreciated third-highest payroll it is. 

"They were in first place on Sept. 1. Three weeks later - with a full week left in the regular season - they were eliminated from the top spot in the division by a Yankee team that was roundly mocked throughout New England for most of the last year."

Because winning the regular season series is SOOOOOOO fucking important in the grand scheme of things.  But hey, at least Fraud Sawx Nation has that to fall back on. 

"This is about Carl Crawford’s pathetic 18-steal, no-production season. For $20 million a year, Crawford can’t get on base 30 percent of the time?"

Again, for the record, Brett Gardner leads the AL in SB with 46, has gotten on base at roughly a .350 clip all year, should win the Gold Glove in LF, and has racked up 4.9 WAR for just $529,500. 

"General manager Theo Epstein gets his share of the blame pie for the inestimable millions spent on 1. players who aren’t here and 2. players we wish weren’t here."

Yeah.  It's almost like Theo hasn't really done a great job over the course of the last couple years but has gotten a free pass on it from everybody in the MSM because they can't take their Sawx-colored glasses off and look at him objectively.  Wait, what? 

"And let’s not start on Bobby Jenks, Mike Cameron, and the raft of shortstop busts."

Actually, could we start on that?  I think that could be a fun conversation.

+1 For Russell Martin

“Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me…. They are fun to play against just because they have a quality team, and they’re gritty, and they play hard and stuff, but I’d love to see them lose.”


“Because I hate the Red Sox."

That gem of a quote comes from Mr. Russell Martin during yesterday's pregame interviews.  I'm going to gloss right over that game because it didn't actually count, matter, or even happen in my mind, and instead just focus on the beauty of Martin's blunt honesty here.  No PC bullshit, no standard player talk about "wanting to win every game," just pure unadulterated hatred.  That's my kind of Yankee.  Tip of the cap to you, Mr. Martin.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Postseason Roster Version 2.0

It's been almost 3 weeks since I took my first crack at predicting the 25-man for the postseason, and with all that's happened since then and the fact that I can't jinx the Yankees' playoff chances now, I figured it's as good a time as any to update the list.

Top 25 as of 9/22/11-

1) CC Sabathia
2) Mariano Rivera
3) Curtis Granderson
4) Robinson Cano
5) Dave Robertson
6) Nick Swisher
7) Derek Jeter
8) Mark Teixeira
9) Russell Martin
10) Brett Gardner
11) Rafael Soriano
12) Alex Rodriguez
13) Boone Logan
14) Ivan Nova
15) Eric Chavez
16) Bartolo Colon
17) Freddy Garcia
18) Andruw Jones
19) Cory Wade
20) Eduardo Nunez
21) Chris Dickerson
22) Hector Noesi
23) Jesus Montero
24) Jorge Posada
25) Luis Ayala

Also Receiving Votes-

26) Phil Hughes
27) A.J. Burnett
28) Austin Romine
29) Raul Valdes
30) Francisco Cervelli

- Cervelli comes off the roster as a guarantee because of the concussion and the continued uncertainty surrounding his condition.  Everything so far makes it seem like the Yankee are going to keep him out of action as a precaution, which is a smart move considering how many he's had.  But I kept him eligible on the off chance that he does improve.  If he can go, you know the team would rather have him as the backup catcher.

- With Cervelli out, Jesus becomes the obvious choice to replace him because he can catch and he adds bench depth with his power.  Last night showed that teams are going to be willing to pitch around other guys to test him, but without other viable options Joe might as well give the kid a shot.

- I also removed Phil Hughes as he's been scratched from 2 straight starts and last night we learned that an MRI showed inflammation in his back.  He had already been struggling of late, almost certainly wasn't going to get a postseason rotation spot, and the bullpen hierarchy is already pretty much set.  Add in this new injury, and it doesn't spell a lot of opportunities for Phil to get used.

- So with Phil out, I inserted Luis Ayala as the new bullpen arm.  I had him as a Wild Card in my bullpen hierarchy post, and yesterday he continued his strong September showing with 2 Ks in a tight spot of Game 1 against the Rays.  He's as good as anybody else they could put into that position.

- I feel more comfortable saying that Jorge, Chris Dickerson, and Hector Noesi are locks than I did 3 weeks ago, and I still feel comfortable saying A.J. is out.  His meltdown in the 4th and 5th innings of his last start were surely the nail in the coffin.

- 2 intriguing question marks are Austin Romine and Raul Valdes.  Romine's gotten some work behind the plate since Cervelli went down, and will probably get more over the next week with the division wrapped up.  If Joe doesn't feel confident that Jesus can step in and catch if needed, he might bring Romine and go with a shorter 'pen.  And since finally being dusted off and used as a bullpen option, all Valdes has done is strike out 5 of the 11 batters he's faced in 2+ scoreless innings of work.  Maybe he slots into the #2 LOOGY role if Joe wants another southpaw.

This Is Why Games Are Won On The Field

Before the season started it was all Fraud Sawx all the time.  "The Fraud Sawx have the better pitching.  The Fraud Sawx made a big splash by signing A-Gon and Carl Crawford.  The Fraud Sawx bolstered their bullpen."

"The Yankees didn't get Cliff Lee.  The Yankees lost Andy Pettitte.  The Yankees didn't add a big-time pitcher.  The Yankees are stupid for signing Colon and Garcia.  The Yankees are too old."

And even when the season started, it was the same shit.  "The Fraud Sawx just haven't hit their stride yet.  They still have the deeper rotation.  They still have the better lineup.  The Fraud Sawx are the team to beat."

"The Yankees will never get back with this team for the whole season.  Colon and Garcia are washed up.  They'll get hurt and won't be able to replace guys.  The Yankees are too old."

Well how do you like them apples, you bunch of Bahhston nuthuggers?  A week to go in the season and your boys are drowning in their own choked up puke while the Yankees are celebrating on their homefield in ill-fitting AL East title shirts.  So enjoy battling it out down the stretch with what's left of your pathetic rotation and even worse bullpen, and take pride in the fact that you won the season series against the Yankees.  They'll be busy popping bottles in the locker room and getting ready for the ALDS.

P.S.- How sick was Reggie's postgame locker room celebration swag last night?  Dude was KILLING it next to A-Rod while he was talking to Tim Kurkjian.  Hat cocked, sipping from the bottle.  SWAG!!!

(Screen cap courtesy of video)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Postseason, Here We Come

It wasn't looking good through 7, but a little 8th inning offensive magic and here we are, with the New York Yankees officially in the 2011 postseason.  It's just a small part on the journey to title 28, but it's still an important milestone.  You can't win it if you aren't in it, and the Bombers are in.  So pop a little champagne at home, at work, in the car, wherever you are, and toast to the Yankees making the playoffs.  And then settle in for the nightcap tonight and root for the Sawx to keep losing.

And somebody please HIT THE FUCKING MUSIC!!!!!!!!

In Case Anybody Was Wondering...

... No.  No, ESPN does not have a pro-Bahhston bias.  None whatsoever.

As if I didn't already want the Fraud Sawx to complete their collapse this year more than I've ever wanted anything in the history of my existence, this cover and this issue of the shitpile that used to be ESPN: The Magazine makes me want it just a little bit more.  I can't believe this is actually a real thing, but it is.

P.S.- Come on, ESPN.  If you're going to flaunt your Pro-Bahhston bias right in my face like that, at least spell your favorite city right.  It's BAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHSTON for Christ sake.

Ivan Nova's Sink-Or-Swim Moment

What Ivan Nova has done since being recalled from Triple-A has been among the most pleasant surprises for the Yankees this season.  During a time where they were struggling with inconsistent performances from A.J. and Bartolo Colon and trying to work Phil Hughes back into the fold, Nova provided some consistency behind CC Sabathia.  As he has continued to pitch well since his recall, Nova has made himself an increasingly likely candidate for the postseason rotation, with that spot being all but locked up as he headed into last night's start.  And last night's start, particularly the 7th inning, proved to me that Nova has what it takes to handle that responsibility.

Through 6 innings Nova had been very good.  He had held the Rays scoreless up to that point thanks to a combination of timely pitching and good defense, and scattered 5 hits, a walk, and an HBP.  His pitch count was low, his stuff was looking good, and all was right with the world.  But then he gave up a leadoff single, hit the next batter, and walked the one after that on 4 pitches.  Suddenly the fastball command was gone, Nova looked rattled, and the wheels looked like they were starting to come off of his great start as the batting order cycled back around to the top with the dangerous combination of Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton.

This was the point where most pitchers Nova's age collapse.  They either try to get cute and lob one over the middle to throw a strike or continue to overthrow and walk the next batter.  Earlier in the year, I would have bet Nova falls into that same trap, but last night he took a deep breath (literally), got his composure, stepped back on the rubber, and refocused on the next batter.  He threw quality strikes to get ahead of Jennings 1-2, then ran a nasty 94 MPH heater up and in on Jennings' hands that he weakly popped into shallow left field, failing to bring the runner at 3rd home.  Then, after falling behind Upton 1-0, Nova didn't give in and throw a meatball.  Instead he throw a fastball inside and at the knees that Upton rolled over on and grounded weakly to 3rd to start the inning-ending double play.

Nova was in it deep, but instead of giving in and succumbing to the pressure, he buckled down and went after the hitters.  He located his pitches in good spots to induce weak contact, a great approach against a team of swingers like the Rays, and worked himself out of trouble.  And more importantly, Joe didn't go with the quick hook when things started to fall apart.  He left Nova in and said "sink or swim" and Nova swam.  He showed he can handle these situations and make pitches when he has to.  It's a trend that Nova has been following since the recall and it has served him well.  He isn't going to strike a lot of guys out, but he makes pitches when he has to.  And that's why we're going to see him get the ball in a big spot come October.

(Just call him "Nova The Awesome" now)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Could This Night Be Any More Perfect???

Super Nova passes his last test for proving he's worthy of being a postseason starter the Yankees can count on, C-Grand continues to look like he's breaking out of his slump at the perfect time, the team gets a shutout win over some of their nearest competition for the playoffs, and the Sawx blow yet ANOTHER game thanks to Daniel Bahhd and Jawnathan Papelbawn blowing the lead in the 8th inning against the Fighting Buck Showalters.

By this time tomorrow the postseason berth can be official.  I fucking love it.

P.S.- Erik Bedard looked pretty good on the hill starting for Bahhston too.

A.J. Burnett's Command Is Keyser Soze

7 strikeouts in the first 3 innings, 4 of them swinging.  No runs allowed, no walks, just a bunch of dinky infield hits.  A.J. Burnett was looking good.

Follow that up with 6 hits, 1 walk, and 4 earned runs allowed over his next 10 batters faced in the 4th and 5th innings and a ND after failing to retire a batter in the 5th inning.  Night and fucking day.  And somehow A.J. has managed to exceed last year's terrible numbers.  That's his power.

The greatest trick A.J. Burnett ever pulled was convincing the world that his command didn't exist.  And like that,

... poof.  It's gone.

Greatness Defined

(The G.O.A.T.  Courtesy of EPA)

I touched on it briefly yesterday after he recorded out number 3 to officially set the MLB all-time saves record, but Mariano Rivera and the record he set yesterday deserves more than just one short paragraph, so we'll kick off today's AB4AR schedule with some more praise for the man, the myth, the legend.

Like I said yesterday, there are all kinds of numbers and milestones in baseball that really don't mean anything.  For example, ESPN devoted air time last week to mentioning Tim Wakefield's 200th career win and Johnny Damon's 400th career stolen base.  No disrespect to either of those guys, but those aren't really records and they really don't mean shit in the grand scheme of things.  They're nice numbers that were achieved through longevity more than baseball excellence, and while that does merit some recognition, it doesn't merit as much as Mo's record because Mo's is a combination of both longevity and excellence.

After already being anointed as the greatest at his position in the history of the game, Mo reached a statistical level that supports that greatness yesterday.  His record allows him to sit atop the closer mountain and look down upon all his peers, not be lumped in with a group of other players, no matter how small and exclusive the group is.  Sure, A-Rod can say it's great to be a part of the 600-HR Club and likewise Jeter with the 3,000-Hit Club, but those are still clubs and neither of those guys is at the top.  Mo's "club" is far more exclusive, just 2 members, and he's the #1 member after yesterday.  Overrated or not as a statistic, there is something to be said for the greatest closer of all time also having the most saves of all time.  Having that record associated with Mo actually gives more importance to the record rather than it being the other way around.

Beyond just the record itself, though, it's the way he reached it that truly separates Mo from the rest of his competition and from the rest of the record breakers in Major League history.  After being dominant for the entirety of his career leading up to this season, and at an age where most other players are long retired, Mo is not only still playing, but still playing at the highest level.  His cutter might not sit mid-90s like it used to, but he has adapted to that fact and his drop-off in production has been negligible as he's aged, that is if you even consider his numbers over the last few seasons to be a drop off.  He is 41 years old and still the undisputed gold standard when it comes to measuring modern closers.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Mariano Rivera has just set the all-time Major League record for career saves with 602.

You can argue about the legitimacy and importance of all kinds of different statistical records in baseball, even saves.  I mean, Lee Smith held the record before Hoffman, and he still isn't close to sniffing the Hall of Fame.  But in this case, I think we can all agree that this record holds more meaning because it confirms what anybody who understands baseball already knows.  That Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time.  And if there were still any baseball fans out there who doubted that statement, today ends the debate once and for all.

Congratulations, Mo.  It's an accomplishment well deserved.  And fitting to end it on a strikeout.

Tough Weekend For The Rotation

(7 HR allowed in his last 14 IP.  Oofda! (Courtesy of Getty Images)

- CC on Friday night: 5.2 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 4 ER, 8 K

- Bartolo on Saturday: 4 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 ER, 3 K

- Freddy yesterday: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 ER, 4 K

I know the 6-man rotation was designed to keep guys like Colon and Garcia (and Phil Hughes) healthy down the stretch.  But clearly it has not been helpful to the staff's ability to pitch.  CC continues to show now command of his fastball, Colon continues to struggle with his as well, and Freddy Garcia has fallen off the cliff in September after being damn good through August.  Yesterday's start marked the 3rd straight outing in which he's not only failed to go more than 5 innings, but also the 3rd straight outing in which he's allowed multiple HRs.  He's allowed 21 H and 16 ER in just 12.1 innings over 3 starts this month.  It's almost like the entire team is in on some secret plan to get A.J. included on the postseason roster by pitching so poorly.

Just like with Curtis' recent slump, somehow this hasn't affected the Yankees' ability to win, as they actually increased their division lead to 4.5 games during this rough road trip.  But they finish the season with 10 games against the Sawx and Rays, and they're still in the process of lining up the rotation for the playoffs.  With the way guys are pitching right now, I'd hate to be in Joe's shoes when it comes to picking the 2, 3, and 4 starters because nobody has really stood out lately.  Hopefully juggling guys around and getting them back on a regular rest schedule helps them find their stuff, because the extra rest certainly hasn't helped at all.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Horse Returns Today

So I was one day off.  It happens.  What's important is that A-Rod is back in the lineup today.  Via LoHud:

1) Derek Jeter- SS
2) Curtis Granderson- CF
3) Mark Teixeira- 1B
4) Robinson Cano- 2B
5) Alex Rodriguez- 3B
6) Nick Swisher- RF
7) Jesus Montero- DH
8) Brett Gardner- LF
9) Austin Romine- C

I'm a little surprised to see A-Rod not in his usual cleanup spot, but I guess that's Joe's way of trying to ease him back into things.  I will be enjoying the best that America's microbreweries has to offer today at the Great Lakes Brewfest in Racine, WI, so I won't be following the game today.  Go Yankees, and I'll see ya on Sunday.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Will We Get A Healthy Horse Tonight?

Alex Rodriguez's streak of consecutive 30-HR/100-RBI seasons will come to an end this season.  That much we know for sure.  And that's fine.  The ending of that streak comes with an injury-related asterisk because of all the time A-Rod has missed in 2011.  What we don't know for sure is whether or not The Horse will play tonight, whether or not his thumb is all the way healed, whether or not his knee will hold up to a full-time return to action moving forward, and quite frankly whether or not A-Rod will make it through the rest of the regular season and however far the Yankees go in the postseason without getting injured again.

The Yankee lineup is better with A-Rod in it, there's no denying that.  But the last couple months have shown us that the team is just as dangerous and successful without him in the lineup.  So Joe has a real tightrope to walk for the rest of this season in terms of how he uses A-Rod and how much he uses him.  Obviously it's important to shake the rust off, test the knee and thumb, and get his timing back at the plate so he's hitting on all cylinders come playoff time.  But in the interest of health, it might be more important to give The Horse more days at DH, take him out of games late for defensive replacements so he can rest, and to have some days where the team just leaves him in the paddock and lets him eat oats.  And that will be something that will have to be monitored daily.

I feel bad for doing it, because the guy's name is the title of this blog, but with all the bumps and bruises he's had over the last few years and now this season, I have to say that I'm not 100% confident The Horse will make it through the remainder of this year healthy.  In fact, I don't even feel confident he'll make it through tonight's game (assuming he will be in the lineup) without re-aggravating something.  So here are the odds:

- Re-aggravates thumb injury and leaves game- 2:1

- Re-aggravates knee injury and leaves game- 3:1

- Suffers some other leg injury and leaves game- 5:1

- Suffers some upper-body injury and leaves game- 10:1

- Plays whole game without injury, hits home run, and kicks catcher in the face with his back hooves after touching home plate- 500:1

Place your bets, people.  But do say a prayer that we get the long odds outcome and get the benefit of a healthy Horse batting cleanup from here on out.  I don't know if I can live with having to watch Eduardo Nunez man the hot corner in the postseason.

(I don't think horses have thumbs)

The Sawx Collapse: A Quick Photo Essay

Now only Youk knows for sure here whether the look of pain on his face is due to indigestion, his nagging sports hernia, or the fact that he just struck out in that at-bat and completely sucks as a baseball player and a human being, but never the less it's a fantastic job by the photographer in using the stadium lighting to pull your eye right to Youk's face.  He wants us to know Youk's pain, to feel it.

"Come on, meng!  Gimme a hug, meng!"

"... In the cold November raaaain!... "

Sad Josh Reddick is sad that he couldn't catch that 3-run homer and bring it back into the pahhhhhhhhhk.

And Sad Carl Crawford is even more sad that his team just got their dicks stepped on again at home.  Or maybe it's because he's still having an unbelievably shitty year: .249/.285/.396, .300 wOBA, 82 wRC+, and just 0.1 WAR.  Yep, that'll get the overtly racist home crowd to turn against you pretty quick if you're a black professional athlete in Bahhston.  Sadface.

Sure, the Sawx are probably still going to make the playoffs when all is said and done.  But it's still great to watch them, their fans, and ESPN wallow in their recent misery and have to sweat it out in these last couple weeks.  I'm legally bound as a Yankee fan to bag on them in situations like that.  It would be un-American of me not to.

(Photos courtesy of The Bahhston Globe and Reuters)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

C-Grand's September Struggles

(Not the happiest smile in the world.  Courtesy of The AP)

A little over 3 weeks ago, I was sitting here making the case that C-Grand should have been the leading AL MVP candidate.  Since then, things have hit a bit of a rough patch for Curtis as his numbers are down across the board in September.  After posting monthly OPS values of .908, 1.016, .845, .876, and 1.080 from April to August, he's rocking a measly .569 in September.  And his monthly wOBA breakdown is just as ugly: .399, .435, .363, .373, .462 April-August down to .262 so far in September.

As far as timing goes, Curtis' slump couldn't have been better and worse.  His drop in production hasn't affected the Yankees' ability to win games.  In fact, they've gone from 2nd to 1st in the division since my MVP debate post and currently sit just a handful of games from locking up another playoff berth.  The timing of the slump coinciding with the Fraud Sawx completely falling off a cliff and the Rays not doing enough to make a dent in the Yankees' cushion on them was a nice stroke of luck for the team.  But on an individual level, this slump could very well cost Curtis the AL MVP.  Jose Bautista still has the gaudy numbers that voters like, and everybody and their mother is jumping on the Justin Verlander bandwagon, so it's probably going to take a mighty big rebound over these last 2 weeks for C-Grand to put himself back in the voters' minds.

But what changed in September to cause this slump?  And how can C-Grand right the ship to head into the playoffs swinging the kind of bat he had been all season up until now?  Besides the low OPS and wOBA values, the thing that stands out most to me in September is the wide gap in BB/K ratio.  We all know that Curtis is a bit of a K machine, but his high BB% and incredible power numbers more than make up for that.  This month has been a different story.  Curtis already has 15 Ks this month and only 4 BB.  The eye test would say that he's been swinging at more pitches lately and not working himself into favorable hitting counts, and those BB/K totals would support that.

In addition, the contact Curtis has been making in September hasn't been nearly as effective as it's been all season.  His BABIP for this month is only .250, by far the lowest he's put up in any month.  His September LD% of 12.1% is a season low and his GB% of 45.5% is a season high.  Less solid contact and more balls on the ground are certainly a solid formula for low BABIP, and would support the theory of Curtis swinging more and putting himself in bad hitting situations.  It's a case of a couple different things all happening at the same time, and when these things happen to any hitter, it's going to spell a slump.  And let's also not forget that Curtis has had quite the workload this year.  He's played in 145 of the team's 148 games this season, and the recent scheduling debacles probably haven't done him any favors in terms of being able to rest a/o devote a little more time on the side to work with Kevin Long.

Given that this is the first time we've seen a prolonged slump from Curtis this year, I don't think this current situation is anything to be alarmed about.  We haven't seen him abandoning the swing mechanics that brought him this success and he doesn't seem to be guessing at the plate.  He's just not taking as many pitches as he has been all year to draw walks and favorable counts and he isn't making great contact on the pitches he is hitting.  With the off day today and surely more rest ahead as the regular season winds down, there's plenty of time for him to right the ship before the postseason.  And if all else fails, there's always Dr. Long.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ahh You Fahcking Kidding Me?

Daniel Bahhd, wat ahh you doing out they-ah?!  We ahh still trying to climb outta this fahckin' slump and you ahh pulling this kinda hoarseshit?  That is nawt what you ahh paid to do.  You need to pitch with mah hahht!  HAHHT!  Like fahckin' Wes Welkah.  Did you see that fahckin' guy on Mahnday night?  99 FAHCKING yahhds, bro!!

3 fahckin' blown saves this mahnth.  9 eahrned runs.  Too many fahckin' wawlks!  Tawm Brady would nevah allow this kinda harrible perfoarmance!  You ahh bridging the gap to nowhey-ah!

And especially awn a day whey-ah Lack is stahhting!  It's been a tough fahckin' yee-ah fah the guy.  He needs a win.  WE need a win!  You need to fahckin' get it to-fahckin'-gethah, my friend.  Look at how upset Lack is:

I think he shat himself.  The fahhckin' magic numbah keeps getting lowah.  And we don't even know how Jawsh's ankle is going to hold ahp awn Friday.  Fahckin' nawt good times, bro.  Nawt good times.

Setting The Postseason Bullpen Hierarchy

The playoff bullpen is always a tricky situation.  You want to make sure you're covered for every conceivable match up or extra-inning situation that can and usually does come up, but you don't want to do it at the expense of thinning out your bench.  Depending on manager preference, opponent, and schedule, 10-11 pitchers is more than enough to cover a team for a series, 7 of them bullpen guys.  The Yankees are going to have some decisions to make when it comes time to pick the 25-man for the playoffs.  Here's how the pool of bullpen candidates breaks down.

Tier 1- The No-Doubters: Mo, D-Rob, Sour Puss

These guys would be in even if they had their arms cut off Black Knight-style.  Despite some hard-hit balls against him recently, Soriano looked solid last night and has looked solid ever since he came back from the DL.  He's the official 7th Inning Guy.  D-Rob is a high-socked monster who's having one of the best seasons for a reliever in recent memory.  Any way you check the stats, D-Rob has been one of the 3 best relievers in baseball this season, and he has thrived in high-leverage situations.  He's got the 8th inning on lockdown.  And Mariano Rivera is still the closer for the team, and still the best closer ever.  He's in.

Tier 2- The Almost Assuredlies: Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Hector Noesi

If Mo, D-Rob, and SP are sitting at the head table of this party, then these 3 guys would be table 2 or 3.  Boone Logan, issues against lefties aside, is still the team's #1 lefty out of the 'pen.  And with big bats like Josh Hamilton and Big Sloppi looming in the playoffs, he's going to be Joe's go-to guy for those at-bats whether he's earned that role or not.  Wade has been an absolute steal of a pick up, effectively filling the 6th-7th-inning void left by Joba's injury and D-Rob's graduation to the setup role.  His sub-2.00 ERA is a bit deceiving, but he throws strikes and hasn't seemed to be the type to shrink in a big spot.  Noesi is like a 2011 version of Ramiro Mendoza.  He can come in to finish up lower-leverage games, provide an inning or 2 of high-leverage relief, or go 3-4+ innings if a game goes deep into extra innings.  Barring injury, I think all 3 of these guys are safe bets.

Tier 3- The Wild Cards: Luis Ayala, Phil Hughes

I'm going to go ahead and say that Phil Hughes won't be picked for the postseason rotation, but Joe will still want him available as a relief option since we've seen before how his stuff can play up out of the 'pen.  That being said, if Colon or Garcia goes down in the last few weeks, I think Phil gets the nod over A.J. if Joe sticks with a 4-man rotation, so I can't fully commit to him being the 7th reliever.  Ayala has had a mind-boggling season.  He's given the Yankees what they needed from him, but his 4.03 FIP exposes his 1.80 ERA as phony and he hasn't made very many high-leverage appearances. He has rebounded from a late-August slump to throw 4.1 shutout innings in 5 September appearances while only allowing 2 baserunners, and could replace Wade or Noesi if Joe values "experience."

Tier 4- Outside Looking In: A.J. Burnett, Aaron Laffey, Scott Proctor, every other September call up

Anything short of pitching complete game shutouts in the rest of his starts this season and I don't think A.J. gets invited to the postseason party.  And taking a lifetime starter and trying to make him a reliever in a short timeframe is risky, doubly so when the pitcher in question is A.J. Burnett, King of Wild Pitches.  Laffey could have been a Wild Card because of Boone Logan's recent dead arm, but as long as Logan is healthy Joe won't consider Laffey and shouldn't.  And since Joe doesn't seem interested in seeing what guys like George Kontos and Andrew Brackman can do, they don't have much of a shot.  Also, Scott Proctor sucks.

600 For Mo

(Start the countdown to 602.  Courtesy of The AP)

The cutter, the consistency, the inhuman ability to never age.  Mo's the greatest of all time.  'Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What The Hell Is Going To Happen With The Catching Situation?

(Could this guy actually make the postseason roster?  Courtesy of Getty Images)

 Joe Pawlikowski already touched on this earlier today, but it's an issue potentially serious enough that everybody should have their say.  Long story short, the Yankees' catching depth has become what's known in the biz as a "fluid situation" over the past handful of days.

- Russell Martin has been out after taking a ball off the thumb on Saturday.

- Jorge Posada dusted off the shinguards and made an appearance behind the plate after Martin left Saturday's game.

- It's been confirmed that Frankie Cervelli did suffer a concussion after those 2 collisions at the plate last week against Baltimore.

- The Jesus made his Major League catching debut on Sunday, to OK reviews.

- Austin Romine, called up after Martin went down, started last night's game and did a decent job behind the plate while also picking up his first career hit.

With the flexibility that September roster expansion allows, the Yankees are covered for the rest of the regular season.  Romine projects as a Cervelli 2.0 at the Major League level, it's to the Yankees' advantage to get as many looks at Jesus as possible behind the plate to make a decision on how they want to use him long-term, and Martin's injury doesn't look like one that will shelf him long term.  And when it comes to concussions you really want to be careful with Cervelli, who has had a couple over the past few years.  Look at Sidney Crosby, look at Justin Morneau, and then sit the guy down for the rest of the year so he doesn't turn into a mush head.

But come October, decisions have to be made, and there are a lot of interesting scenarios that could play out when it comes time for Joe to pick his 25 men.  I think it goes without saying that Jesus will take Cervelli's spot on the postseason roster based on the merit of his bat alone.  But that still leaves the 25th roster spot as a wild card.  If it were me, I would roll Montero as the DH, Dickerson as the extra bench body, and Jorge as an extra bat.  But if Martin's thumb continues to be an issue, and the Yanks aren't convinced Montero can handle postseason catching responsibilities, that could open the door for Romine to be added.  Then the team would essentially be carrying 3 catchers (plus Jorge) and be severely limited in the late-game bench flexibility department.  Or the Yankees could cut another pitcher out of the 25-man and bring everybody.  Lots of interesting potential scenarios in play here.

The extra off-days during the playoffs will make things easier to manage, and surely factor into Joe's final decision.  But as the last couple days have reminded us, catchers are always an endangered species because of the position they play and their availability is always one foul tip or homeplate collision away from changing.

In Appreciation Of Chris Dickerson

(Swag.  Screen can courtesy of

Chris Dickerson is a dirty MF, huh?  Who knew?  I knew the guy was big, athletic, and an ideal late-game replacement as an outfielder or baserunner because of his speed, but that was an A+ home run swing last night.  That shot looked like it came off the bat of Barry Bonds.  And from a guy who's 6'3", 230, and looks even bigger on TV, why shouldn't it?  Dude looks like a goddamn linebacker!

And if you look at the numbers this season, small sample sizes be damned, Dickerson has been a valuable piece for the Yankees this year at the plate too.  In just 36 PA he's accumulated 0.4 WAR not only thanks to his athletic gifts that make him an above-average fielder and baserunner, but also thanks to him being serviceable with the stick.  Dickerson's line on the season, .333/.371/.485, .397 wOBA, 150 wRC+, is nothing to sneeze at.  His BB and K rates aren't ideal, but he makes the most of the contact he does make and generates good results (3 XBH, 8 R, 6 RBI).

I already had Dickerson as a shoo-in for the postseason roster for the obvious strengths he brings as a late-game option, but if he can continue to swing the bat well, his role could expand.  And with Nick Swisher dealing with elbow issues, this last few weeks of the season would be a great opportunity for Joe to get Dickerson some more time as an everyday guy and see if he can be a consistent contributor.  With what he's already done in limited appearances this year, I think Dickerson has earned it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

King Felix Got Dethroned

I don't know if that was his evil twin or an impostor in his uniform tonight, or if Felix Hernandez was really that awful.  All I know is the defending AL Cy Young Award winner, and owner of the Yankee lineup, got his fucking dick kicked in tonight.  9 hits and 6 ER is more than Hernandez allows over 3-4 starts against the Yankees and tonight he gave it up in 6 innings.

So I don't know how or why it happened.  But it did.  And that can only mean the Yankee bats are starting to wake up.  And that's more reason for David Ortiz to panic.

A Very Shiny Silver Lining

We are all well aware that the Yankees, for whatever reason or possibly multiple reasons, haven't been playing great baseball lately.  They've looked slow, sluggish, and sloppy over the last week and yesterday's come-from-behind win saved them from a bona fide losing streak.  But here's the best part.  They haven't lost a single game of their division lead during that time.  In fact, with yesterday's win the Yanks actually increased their lead over 2nd place in the AL East to 3.5 games, 4 in the loss column.

And why/how did that happen, you might ask?  Because the Bahhston Fraud Sawx, despite all they-ah hahht and grit, have quietly put on a bed-shitting performance over the last 2 weeks that rivals the big dump they took back in April to open the season.  I'm talking 5 losses in a row, 10 out of 13, including a weekend sweep at the hands of the Rays to pull them that much further away from the Yankees at the top of the division and that much closer to Tampa in the battle for the Wild Card.

And it's been a 5-alarm meltdown on all fronts for the Sawx.  We're talking guys in the lineup hitting the DL (Youkilis), guys in the lineup not playing well (Pedroia), the bullpen completely falling apart, Josh Beckett getting hurt, Tim Wakefield continuing to be old, John Lackey continuing to suck.  The rotation injuries are so bad right now that the Sawx started somebody named Kyle Weiland on Saturday.  I don't even know who the hell Kyle Weiland is, and I'm pretty sure Terry Francona didn't know either.  Predictably, he got shelled, Daniel Bard blew another lead, and then Jon Lester went out yesterday and got slapped around worse than he ever has.  It's downright boner-inducing how bad the Sawx are right now, and the timing couldn't have been better.

The Yankees showed signs of awakening during yesterday's game, and hopefully started to shift the momentum back their way with the victory.  The Sawx are still in a downward spiral and have so far shown no signs of being able to pull out of it.  They're slumping, they're hurt, and now they're in a fight for the Wild Card that could get very interesting depending on how their final 4 games with Tampa plays out.  This means they won't have the luxury of resting guys down the stretch who need it.  They might be running Beckett out there on a bum ankle to bail them out, they have no choice but to run John Lackey out there because every other starting pitcher is laid up in the hospital.

When Big Sloppi has gone from telling reporters to fuck off and flipping his bat after every meaningless home run to saying this in the postgame interview:

“Hell, yeah, you've got to panic,”

You know it's good times.  I'd rather it didn't happen, but the Yankees picked a hell of a time to have a slump.  And if they can keep yesterday's good vibes going and get back on the winning track this week, the AL race could be over by the time we leave work on Friday afternoon.

(quote courtesy of Bahhston dawt cawm)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On This Day 10 Years Ago

On this day 10 years ago, I was just a sophomore in high school.  And I remember very early in the morning talks starting around the hallways about plane crashes around the country.  Nobody really had the real story, and over the next couple hours I heard so many different versions of what was going on, that I started to become legitimately worried that our country was under attack.  For the rest of the day in school, we pretty much stayed glued to the TV or radio as we went from class to class and as I started to see the images of the wreckage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I knew that something was very wrong.

By the time I get home from school in the early afternoon, my parents were both already there, also glued to the TV.  I walked into our living room and asked them what had happened now and they told me that Mike was missing.  I laughed and told them that no he wasn't.  My brother Mike was also home from school and safely in the other room watching TV.  They told me that they weren't talking about my brother, they were talking about my uncle, who at the time wasn't my uncle yet but was my aunt's boyfriend.  I knew he was a NYC police officer, but it was that day, September 11, 2001, that I came to know that his patrol area was the World Trade Center, and that he was one of the first responders on the scene after the first plane hit the North Tower.  Hours later, after both towers had fallen, nobody had heard from him, nobody knew what had happened to him, and nobody knew where he was.

Miraculously, my uncle survived.  He was one of the lucky ones that day, and to hear him tell the stories of what had happened to him that day gave me a greater appreciation of not only how horrific things were that day at Ground Zero, but also of what it means to be a true hero and who true heroes really are.  We are raised to look up to the actors, musicians, athletes, the beautiful people.  Most of us never stop to consider the everyday heroes that are all around us: the doctors, the teachers, the soldiers, the firefighers, the police officers.  And while people like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia may dazzle us with their performance on the baseball field, and they along with the rest of the Yankees provide all of us fans with so much joy and happiness, they are merely men playing a game for a living.  They aren't the real heroes, and they would be the first ones to tell you that, especially on a day like today when we all look back and remember the tragedy of 9/11 and all the heroes who gave their lives that day.

Every year on 9/11, my thoughts always go to my uncle and I try to think about what he had to endure that day and how he's coped with those experiences ever since.  I don't think I will ever understand the hell he went through, and so I choose not to discuss it with him.  But I think back to that day, when I came to the realization of who my uncle was and what he did and I can't help but be in awe of him.  His actions, and the actions of so many others that day, were far more heroic than anything that anybody could do on a baseball field.  I thank him and I thank every other member of the NYPD, FDNY, PAPD, and all of our soldiers fighting overseas for the sacrifices they've made and the sacrifices they continue to make.

And if you haven't done so already, take a minute to reflect today on your thoughts and feelings from 10 years ago.  And offer your thanks and your prayers to someone you know who's a hero.  Without them, we wouldn't have the freedoms that we have in this country.  And that should never be taken for granted.

Wait, That Can't Be...

... Holy balls, it is!  That's Jorge Posada behind the plate.  With his catching gear on.  Catching!  In an actual game!!!

(Courtesy of The AP)

That's when you know things aren't going well.  And 1 run scored in the last 25 innings while the team's entire staff of catchers heads to the ER is not well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where O Where Have The Yankees Gone?

(I know, Teix.  I can't believe how shitty you guys are playing right now either.  Courtesy of The AP)

I guess this crazy schedule is really causing problems, huh?  For the 3rd game in a row this team looked like absolute garbage.  The offense is nowhere to be found, they're making unforgivable errors, and their bullpen seems to be thin every single day (I don't understand how that can happen with 19 pitchers on the staff right now).  And last night it all combined to waste one of Bartolo Colon's best outings in a while.  He looked like the early-season version of himself with great zip and location on his fastball, but it was all for naught.

You can throw credit Jered Weaver's way, and justifiably so.  He was dynamite last night.  But the Yanks still look lifeless right now.  Somehow they need to find a way to shake out of it and start winning this weekend to take advantage of the Sawx and Rays beating up on each other.

Bare minimum, Jesus Montero needs to be in the lineup every game until they get things going again.  He's the only player with some life in his bat right now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Boone Logan Sucks Again

("Just give me the ball and get the hell outta here.")

Just a little over a week has passed since I had my post praising Boone Logan and the job he had done recovering from his disastrous start to the season.  Since that post, here's the line Boone has put up over his last 6 appearances:

2.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

Ouch.  Not good, Boone.  Not good at all.  And in the last 2 appearances he's made, Logan hasn't retired a batter.  To make matters worse, he's reverted back to not being able to get lefties out, and that's a bit of a problem when the other lefty in the bullpen is Aaron Laffey.  So I'll step up and take the blame for jinxing him and killing his success.  Sorry guys.  Hopefully this new reverse jinx will help right the ship.

Boone, you suck!  You're a disgrace!  Get your shit together and start being more of a LOOGY, less of a LNOGY.

Everybody Who Wishes Ian Kennedy Was Still In The Yankee Rotation Raise Their Hand

(The kid looked good in the pinstripes.)

Yeah, me too.  I mean, damn!  I knew he was having a great year, but leading the NL in wins with 19?  I don't care what anybody wants to say about that stat being meaningless, that's still impressive when you consider some of the other dominant pitchers out there in that league.

And he hasn't backed his way into it by any means.  Dude has straight up become a good pitcher and his numbers across the board speak to that.  202 IP and counting in 30 starts, 2 fewer than he made last year when he threw 194 innings, a 2.90 ERA (down from 3.80 last year), a 3.37 FIP (down from 4.33 last year), and a 3.51 xFIP (down from 4.10 last year).  Kennedy has improved his stuff and his command considerably, evidenced by a K/9 of 7.93 (up slightly from 2010), and a 2.27 BB/9 (almost a full walk less than 2010).

It's impossible to say how Kennedy's progression since being traded to Arizon would have played out if he stayed a Yankee.  I'm sure the numbers above wouldn't be quite as good as they are pitching in the NL West if Ian had to face the Sawx and Rays and Jays all season, and he's still not much of a groundball pitcher (39.1%), which could be an issue in Yankee Stadium.  But there's no denying that Kennedy has become the type of pitcher the Yankees envisioned when they called him up, and having a guy like that would certainly be a huge benefit to a rotation mired in inconsistency, questions, and a constantly-changing idea of who the real #2 starter is.

I'm not trying to say that I wish the Yankees wouldn't have made that trade.  Curtis Granderson is an MVP candidate and I'm not missing Phil Coke or Austin Jackson at all.  But when you look at what's become of Joba, and you look at Phil Hughes' struggles this year, you have to think back and wonder what could have been with Kennedy if the Yankees would have shown a little more faith and patience in the kid.  It's a shame they didn't, but I'm glad to see somebody from the "Big 3" have some success.

A Little Bit Of Nitpicking

I hate to be "that guy," but I've really got a problem with the way things were handled the past 2 games.  I get that the Yankees were and still are in a shitty position schedule-wise for the rest of the season.  I get that Buck Showalter is a dickbag and yesterday's game probably shouldn't have been played yesterday.  And I totally get that the Yankees are sitting pretty for a playoff spot right now and are thinking big picture as this last month of the regular season progresses.  But I DON'T think that those factors add up to it being OK to not play to win, and I feel like that's the message that Joe sent with the way he managed both Wednesday's game and yesterday's game.

And that's not to say that the players don't share some of the blame for the 2 losses.  They flat out didn't play well, in the field or at the plate.  Against a team like the Orioles the Yankees should do more than score 8 runs in 2 games, and the Yankees should especially do more than put up 0 runs against a bullpen the likes of that of the Orioles.  But when your manager enters a lineup card on Wednesday that has basically the entire starting lineup on the bench on a day where your team's worst pitcher is on the mound, that sets the tone for that game maybe not being that important.  And the players, being human beings, can pick up on that and play as if the game isn't that important.  And when you get into extra innings the next game, and your manager decides to stick with Scott Proctor for a 2nd inning of work after he had a less than smooth 1st inning of work, and sticks with him during that 2nd inning even when he's clearly worn out and giving the game away, well that just sends an even bigger message that that game isn't that important.

Again, I get that yesterday's game was a crappy situation for the Yankees because it was supposed to be a West Coast travel day.  But that still doesn't excuse playing like you've got one foot on the plane, and it doesn't excuse managing like you've got one foot on the plane.  Sitting pretty or not, the Yankees aren't officially in the playoffs yet, and the AL East isn't locked up.  The only thing that makes those 2 things happen is winning ballgames, and the Orioles are a team that should be very easy for the Yankees to beat to cut that magic number down when they want to.  And with the decisions that were made over the last 2 days, I don't think they wanted to.

Everyone needs rest, and everyone needs to be healthy, but the bottom line is winning.  Winning is the most important thing, and since I don't feel that Joe managed to win yesterday or Wednesday's game, I certainly hope the calls he made help the team be ready to come out and play winning ball in Anaheim.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

AB4AR "Another Day Game" Linkapalooza

I can't explain why I haven't done a linkapalooza in a long time.  And there's really no excuse for it.  There are worlds of better writers and better blogs out there than this one covering the Yankees and I simply haven't been living up to my responsibilities to give them their props and spread their gospel.  That's unacceptable and so it will stop today.  If you're like me, and you're stuck in a cube without access to today's game, devote some time to reading this stuff.  I haven't done this in a while, so in my best A.J. Burnett fashion, I guess I'll post these links the best that I can.

- Hippeaux of IIATMS created a bit of stir around the Yankosphere earlier this week with this piece about WAR being the new RBI.  The Hipster argues that WAR is just as dependent on context as RBI, which you can choose to believe or not believe on your own, but it's a very interesting and thought-provoking post.  High recommendation.

- In response to that post, William at The Captain's Blog put together this post arguing that WAR is not the new RBI while still admitting that there are flaws in the WAR stat.  William also delves into the major flaws with the UZR stat.  Another must-read for any stat freak out there.

- Joe Paw of RAB broke down the Cy Young race between CC and Justin Verlander on Tuesday.  You'd be a fool to think that Verlander isn't the favorite, but like Joe says at the end, a monster September for CC could help him steal it.

- Dan Hanzus of River & Sunset had a post yesterday on Jeter's resurgent year this year and how the way he carries himself during it is reminiscent of Donnie Baseball's final Yankee years.

- Friend of the blog Larry Koestler from the TYA crew put together an all-encompassing analysis of Phil Hughes' 2-strike problems and comes to the conclusion that we'll likely see Phil back in the 'pen come this postseason because of his underwhelming secondary stuff and inability to finish hitters off with it.  The post made me sad, but it was right on the money.

- Ian Casselberry of Big League Stew adds a few more tidbits to A.J.'s historic wild pitch night last night.


- Joel Sherman of The Post had a good article today about Dave Robertson's importance this year and beyond.

- Continuing that trend, John Harper of the Daily News called D-Rob even more important than Mo when it comes to the Yankees' postseason success.  I have to say, it's a valid point.  Who knows how many 4-or-more-out saves Mo has left in him.  D-Rob locking down the 8th inning will go a long way towards keeping Mo fresh for the entirety of the postseason run.

There you go.  Enjoy.  Game's on right now, so it's time to bring up the online gamecast and watch it like an idiot as if it were an actual game.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't Lose That Confidence!

It's bad enough that Joe overmanaged a bit today and rested too many guys and it probably cost the team the game.  Seriously, you rest half of the regulars today and half of the regulars tomorrow and those 2 teams can still beat the Orioles.  You rest everybody and you roll out a JV lineup that kicked the ball all over the field and didn't do the damage offensively that they should have done against Britton and a garbage bullpen, and you end up just losing in extra innings.  But to make things even worse, this is the shit I have to read from A.J. Burnett after the game.

“I guess I kept them in as best I could.”

You guess you kept them in as best you could?  Are you fucking kidding me, bro?!?!  That might honestly be the weakest quote I've ever heard a professional athlete say in the history of organized sports.

First off, there's no guessing when it comes to a pitching performance.  You either pitched well or you didn't.  And your line today, A.J.- 6+ IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 4ER, 7 K, 3 WP- that's an example of not pitching well.  Secondly, you're not out there to keep the team in the game.  You're out there to fucking pitch well!  And lastly, this isn't the fucking Little League World Series.  Nobody is going to commend you for trying your hardest and doing the best you could.  And even if they were going to commend you, they certainly wouldn't do it if the best you could was 11 baserunners and 4 runs allowed in 6+ innings.  That's not the best you could.  The best you could would be 7 or 8 innings of shutout ball, because that's what you SHOULD be doing against the Baltimore Orioles lineup.

I read a comment like that, and I'm just at a loss for how the Yankees can even allow this guy to throw another inning for them this year.  Or next year.  Just let him go in the offseason and eat the contract.  He's a lame, weak, sadsack, hopeless mess and that quote not only proves it, but also proves that he doesn't even care.  Not even any serious discussion about what was happening on the mound, how he felt, what happened on the home run pitch.  Just "I guess" and "best I could."  What a fucking joke.

But hey, at least A.J.'s outing was a historic one today.  23 wild pitches ties the all-time Yankee record for most in a season.