Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brien Gordon: Hollywood Story

One man.  A man with a dream.  A dream he's waited 15 long years to live out.  And now his dream has become a reality.  At 32 years of age, Brien Gordon gets his chance.  The chance to be a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees.

/cue the dramatic music

This summer, Brien Gordon is...

Coming soon to a ballpark near you.

A Swanny Duckson Production

Non-Baseball, Anti-Boston Sidebar

Dan Shaughnessy, you unbelievable front-running douchebag: 

"Today would be a good day to call your out-of-town friends and tell them you live in a city that just won its seventh championship in 11 years. You live in the only hamlet that’s won the Grand Slam of North American trophies within seven years."

Because the "Grand Slam of North American trophies within seven years" is something that only became a relevant point to mention after the final horn sounded last night in Game 7.  It's not like there was a running ticker at the Elias Sports Bureau headquarters counting how long it had been since an American sports city pulled that feat off.  But yeah, go ahead and call your out-of-town friends.  Brag to them about how big a fan you are after you just purchased your 6th different off-colored Boston sports hat on Monday morning.  Openly flaunt your bandwagon jumpy-ness the same way you did in '04.  People respect that.

Not that I need to, but let me remind you that this is the same guy who spoke of a meaningless mid-March ST game like it was the fucking World Series.  And the same guy, who less than 2 weeks ago, wrote this in a piece for after the Canucks had gone up 2-0: 

"This beautiful city deserves a Stanley Cup and it certainly feels like the chalice will be delivered sometime soon.

I just spent five days in Vancouver last week and it's hard to carry a grudge against the city and it's great fans.

Sure it would be nice to see my hometown Boston Bruins win their first Cup since Bobby Orr and Co. hoisted the grail on the Madison Square Garden ice in the spring of 1972... But let's face it: Vancouver is no less deserving."

Shut the fuck up, Shaughnessy.  You are insulting to sportswriters and sports fans everywhere.  Of all the horrible things I think of when I think about Bawston and Fraud Sawx Nation, you might very well be the most horrible.

Hate Shaughnessy.  "Like" AB4AR.

The Impact Of A Jeter-less Infield

(Never a good expression when you're running to 1st.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

In terms of star power, name recognition, and MSM talking points, Derek Jeter's trip to the DL is a bummer for the Yankees and Yankee fans.  But realistically, it may not be all that bad of thing.  Jeter was hitting .260/.324/.324 before the calf strain, good for a .298 wOBA,  83 wRC+, and a ranking near the bottom of any statistical measurement system.  His range at short has also been suspect at best, and all indications were that the decline we saw at the end of the 2010 season was what the real Derek Jeter is and will be moving forward.  In the 2 games since his being placed on the DL, the Yankee lineup has been just as good, if not better, than when he was in it.  Now of course 2 games isn't enough to make good predictions about anything, but knowing what Jeter had been contributing and knowing there is another 2 weeks without him, I think it's worth taking a look at how things could change without him.

#1 Spot in the Batting Order- Brett Gardner won this job out of ST, but lost it almost immediately after a slow start.  To Jeter's credit, he has actually hit better as a leadoff guy, (.270/.336/.345 in 226 ABs as the #1 hitter, .344/.410/.456 in 90 ABs leading off an inning) but there is still room for improvement.  Jeter is averaging 3.85 pitches/plate appearance, 3rd lowest amongst Yankee regulars.  His replacements over the past 2 games, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, average 4.20 and 4.19 respectively.  They are working counts, setting up better hitting opportunities, and giving the guys behind them more chances to see the pitcher's stuff, all beneficial to offensive success.

Then there's the whole production thing.  Gardner went 3-4 with 3 R, 1 RBI, and 1 BB on Tuesday night from the 1-spot and Swish went 1-3 with 1 2B, 1 R, and 2 BB last night.  The nights of Jeter producing like that have been few and far between.  Both of these guys have been seeing and hitting the ball well lately, better than Jeter has at any point this year, which creates more opportunities for the offense as a whole to score.  Gardner sees more pitches, draws more walks, and has better speed than Jeter, and Swish sees more pitches, has more power, and also draws more walks.  Adding those factors into the offense over the next few weeks is an upgrade from where it was with Jeter in the leadoff spot and could provide more support for Joe changing things up and moving Jeter down in the order when he returns. 

Production/Performance from the SS Position- This will be the area affected the most by Jeter's absence, SS being his position and all, and just like the leadoff spot, early returns are looking good.  In the last 2 games, Eduardo Nunez has gone 4-8 with 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB, 0 K, 2 SB, and a hard hit ball almost every time up.  He's shown good patience and discipline at the plate, taken good swings, and hit the ball with more authority than Jeter has.  In the field he's still a bit of an adventure (see last night's botching of the in between ball in the 5th inning), but he does have a good arm, range at least as good as Jeter's, and he looked good turning the plays he did make last night.

Joe has all but said that Nunez is going to be the everyday SS while Jeter is out, so he's getting his first chance to show what he can do with regular playing time.  The Yankees have already held him out of some past potential trades, so they clearly think that Nunez has a chance to be a good player.  He doesn't have to go 2-4 with a homer and a stolen base every night, but if he can continue to show some pop in his bat while at the very least replicating Jeter's defense in the field, he can go a long way in proving he belongs and deserves more playing time regardless of Jeter's health situation.