Thursday, May 31, 2012

Russell Martin Tells Laz Diaz To Kiss His Rings


Shitty umpiring in MLB is nothing new, and there's been a string of horrid examples of that recently.  There's guys like Joe West and CB Bucknor who are still convinced they're the center of attention.  There's Mark Wegner blatantly ignoring baseball code and tossing pitchers for no reason. There's Tim Welke just straight not giving a damn if first basemen are actually on the base.  But the whole Laz Diaz-Russell Martin "throwing balls back to the pitcher" thing from last night might take the cake.

Martin wasn't happy with some of the ball and strike calls earlier in the game, and rather than be a professional and just take it, Diaz decided to assert some false authority over Martin as punishment for Martin daring to question his umpiring abilities.

"He told me I had to earn the privilege (to throw the ball back to the pitcher). Even at the end of the game after I get hit in the neck. I’m like, can I throw the ball back now? He’s still like no. I’m like you’re such a (expletive). Like for real. Unbelievable. I even told him like when there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. No. I’m not letting you throw a ball back. That’s pretty strange to me."

"He told me I have to earn the privilege. Now, thinking back, I should have shown him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove. Unbelievable.” (Martin after the game)

Click "Read More" to get the full rantiness.

The Yankee Catching Conundrum

I know this is going to come as a complete shock, but the Yankees really haven't gotten much from the catcher position this season.  After breathing life back into his career last year, Russell Martin has regressed back to his 2009-2010 levels of offensive futility (.187/.333/.333, .309 wOBA, 90 wRC+).  And Chris Stewart, despite my best efforts to hype up his early production, has settled into the exact no-hit/all-field role we all anticipated him filling as CC Sabathia's personal catcher Martin's backup.  This adds up to a combined .196/.314/.313 tripleslash, .290 wOBA, and 77 wRC+ in 192 PA over the team's first 50 games from the catcher spot.  Production-wise, that wOBA ranks 19th in MLB, probably more of a testament to the overall offensive weakness of the position than anything else.  The Martin-Stewart tandem has been good for 0.8 WAR (T-16th in MLB), mainly on the strength of their positive defensive ratings, but with the up-and-down production of the lineup this season, some offensive improvement at the position would be helpful.

Game 50 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 LAA 5

(Whaddaya know?  Another HR for this guy.  Courtesy of The AP)

A couple of horrible innings from Phil Hughes and a couple of horrible pitches from Andy Pettitte ended the Yankees' winning streak and got them started on a new losing streak.  They were looking to get a rare win in Anaheim to avoid a sweep last night, and get things going back in the right direction before starting their trek back to the East Coast, but having Ivan Nova on the mound in that situation wasn't exactly the optimal option given his struggles this season.

Game Notes:

- Nova didn't waste any time making a mess for himself in the bottom of the 1st, hitting, giving up a single to, and walking the first 3 Angel batters. In a pleasantly surprising turn of events, Nova managed to limit the damage to just a single run on a sac fly.

- After stranding a RISP in the 1st and guys on the corners in the 2nd, the Yankees finally struck gold against Ervin Santana in the 3rd.  Russell Martin led off with a walk (the one thing he has been doing at the plate), Jeter singled, and Curtis Granderson (who doubled in the 1st) hit a 3-2 fastball over the heart of the plate for a 3-run HR to right-center and the Yankees led 3-1.

- After a free pass to A-Rod, Robinson Cano stepped in and launched a 1-2 fastball on the inner half into the right field seats and just like that it was 5-1 Yanks.  Santana was missing badly with everything and didn't look much longer for the game.

- Escaping the 1st inning bases loaded situation seemed to settle Nova, as he worked through the next 2 innings quickly and efficiently.  He was locating his fastball down in the zone and getting groundball outs.

- But in the 4th, he hit a pretty big pothole.  Nova walked Kendrys Morales on 5 pitches to start the inning, then gave up Mark Trumbo's third HR of the series to make it 5-3.  A pair of singles and a 2-RBI double by Mike Trout later, and it was a tie game again.

- Ervin Santana was pretty awful against New York as usual, but give him credit for getting through the 5th and not allowing any more runs.  In fact, after the 3rd inning the Yankees only put 1 more runner on base for the remainder of the game.  That runner was Raul Ibanez, who tripled and scored on a sac fly by Swish in the 6th, so it was an important runner.

- Nova battled his way through 6.2 innings of work, fighting his fastball and curveball command the whole time, but he held the Angels at 5 before turning the game over to the bullpen.  Cory Wade got 4 big outs (3 of them via K), and Rafael Soriano picked up the save despite putting 2 more runners on base.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Andy Not Immune To The HR Epidemic

("It's fun to stay at the... " Courtesy of The AP)

Home runs have been the biggest thorn in the side of the Yankee rotation this season, that's no secret.  And as last night showed, Andy Pettitte has not been spared from that trend in his first 4 starts back.  He has allowed 6 HR in those 4 starts, 2 per start minus the scoreless masterpiece he threw against Cincy, and those 6 HR are responsible for 9 of the 11 total ER he's allowed.

Mike Trout's RBI triple last night also scored a run, meaning 10 of the 11 runs allowed by Andy have been via the XBH, the even higher-level problem that has been a constant theme when discussing the rotation this year.  But the reality is that Andy has actually pitched really well since coming back.  Eliminate the handful of poorly-located balls up in the zone and we could be talking about Andy as the early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year.  His ERA is solid, he's giving up less than a hit per inning, he's not walking a lot of batters, and his strikeout numbers are more than acceptable for a soon-to-be 40-year-old.

It's that pesky 26.1% HR rate that's fucking him up right now, and hopefully we see that number start to come down as the IP sample size goes up.

Why The Hell Is Freddy Garcia Still On The Roster?

(I think your time has come, fella.  Courtesy of The AP)

Real talk for a minute, why the hell is Freddy Garcia still a Yankee?  Can anybody explain it to me?  What's the point?  He's been equally useless as a starter and a reliever this season (5.56 FIP as starter, 4.50 as reliever) and currently brings no value to the table as a bullpen option.  Since being demoted after his start on April 28th, he's worked 9.1 innings in relief in 5 appearances.  He went 10 days in early May without seeing any game action, and currently hasn't pitched since May 21st.  None of his appearances have been in games where the Yankees were winning, and only 2 of them have been in games where they were within 3 runs.  Both of those times Garcia allowed more runs to score, effectively killing any real chance of a Yankee comeback in the 8th or 9th.  On the 12-man pitching staff, he's firmly entrenched in the 12th spot, and is damn close to being 13th.

Game 49 Wrap-Up: LAA 5 NYY 1

(Shucks.  Courtesy of The AP)

Andy Pettitte has already exceeded my expectations and the expectations of many others with what he's done in his first 3 starts back after over a year way from the game.  But if there was anything left that was needed to legitimize his comeback, it would be a good performance on the road against a hot team.  That's exactly what he was facing last night in Anaheim, both at the plate and on the mound, and the outcome wasn't what he was looking for.

Game Notes:

- Pettitte started off solid, working quickly and cleanly through the first 2 frames, but he got into trouble in the 3rd when he started missing with his offspeed stuff.   Mike Trout hit an RBI triple to left on a slider that was up just enough with 1 out, and Albert Pujols hit a hanging cutter out for a 2-run HR with 2 outs to make it 3-0 Anaheim.

- Angels' starter Dan Haren looked just as good as he did against Seattle early, and he really had his splitter working down in the zone.  But the Yanks still managed to load the bases against him in the 3rd before he struck out Robinson Cano, so there was reason for optimism.

- That optimism turned into confidence in the 4th, when Raul Ibanez hit a 1-out double to right and came around to score on Nick Swisher's RBI single.  For once, the Yankee hitters didn't seem overmatched by a pitcher who was on his game.

- Pettitte seemed to find his game after the 3rd, retiring the next 8 batters he faced in order, 6 via groundout.  He was locating his cutter much better and the Angels' hitters couldn't do much with it.

- Only problem was that Haren and his splitter were even better, and he kept the Yankee lineup at bay after the run in the 4th.  He was constantly ahead in the count, pounding the strike zone with splitters and 4-seamers, and worked quickly out of any trouble he got into through 7.

- Pettitte left a cutter up to Pujols in the 3rd, and he left one even higher up in the zone to Mark Trumbo in the 7th and Trumbo took it out for a solo HR and a 4-1 Anaheim lead.  Andy left after giving up a leadoff hit in the bottom of the 8th, which eventually came around to score off of Cody Eppley.

- It wasn't a horrible outing for Andy.  He threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of groundballs, and didn't walk a batter.  3 bad pitches were what did him in, and the offense couldn't generate enough to pick him up.

The Yankees threatened in the 8th, putting runners on the corners with 1 out, but Peter Bourjos made a great catch on a deep drive to right center to rob Nick Swisher and kill the potential comeback.  It was the third time that Swish was robbed of at least a double in the gap.  Talk about bad BABIP luck.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes. Or The Endless Array Of Organizational Pitching Injuries

(Pick a part of the body and chances are somebody has injured it this season)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a semi tongue-in-cheek post about the incredibly unlucky streak of injuries that had befell the Yankees this season.  The karma doesn't seem to have changed much since then, as both Brett Gardner and David Robertson are still a while away from being able to come off the DL and re-join the 25-man roster, and all the while names continue to get added to the disabled lists across the entire organizational network, most of them pitchers.  If you're not up to speed on who is or has been shelved at some point this season, here's a handy guide that breaks down the injury by body part.

** Disclaimer- AB4AR cannot be held responsible if the following list causes you to start drinking upon completion. **

Game 48 Wrap-Up: LAA 9 NYY 8

It's amazing what a team can do when they get good starting pitching.  The Yankee rotation has been excellent over their 5-game winning streak, providing both length and quality innings, and giving the lineup time to break out if its slump.  They've had the benefit of pitching against the hacktastic Royals and the downright weak A's lineups, and that luxury ended last night in the first game against Albert Pujols and the Angels.  California Kid Phil Hughes was starting and looking to keep both the rotation's, and his personal, streaks of success going against Anaheim ace Jered Weaver.

Game Notes:

- It's always a goal to get Weaver out as early as possible, but even the Yankees couldn't have hoped to get him out THIS early.  Weaver injured himself throwing a pitch to Robinson Cano in the top of the 1st after already allowing a run and that was it for him.  The Yanks managed to plate 2 more in the inning and quickly led 3-0 thanks to 2 Anaheim errors.

- Unfortunately, Phil decided he didn't want to spot his pitches and he gave the lead back and then some in the bottom of the 1st, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits.  By far the strangest start to a game for the Yankees so far this season.

- As he tends to do quite often, Curtis Granderson responded loudly in the top of the 2nd with his 15th HR of the season.  It was a line drive to right, and barely cleared the outfield wall, but it had just enough lift on it to make it a 4-4 game.

- Hughes gave up 2 more runs in the 3rd and 4th, and then it was time for the Mark Teixeira hit parade to continue in the top of the 5th.  Batting from the right side, he hit a 3-2 fastball over the Yankee bullpen in left to make it 6-5.

- The Angels extended to 8-5 in the 6th on a Kendry Morales 2-run double, but the Yankees came right back in the top of the 7th on a sac fly and a 2-run double by Russell Martin.  Neither team's bullpen was particularly effective in holding whatever lead they were given.

- After Boone Logan got them to the 9th, it took just 3 pitches for Cory Wade to give up the game-winning, walk-off HR to Mark Trumbo on a hanging changeup.  Life's tough without the G.O.A.T. closing games.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Think Mark's Getting Overage Charges This Month?

I call Teix out for making me look bad on Thursday afternoon.  From then on, here's his line over the last 3 games:

- 8-14, 3 2B, 3 HR, 3 R, 8 RBI

He's raised his batting average 28 points and his OPS 107 in that time span.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Game 47 Wrap-Up: NYY 2 OAK 0 (Abridged Version)

(Awwww.  Victory hug.  Courtesy of The AP)

Game Notes:

- Hiroki Kuroda threw 8 shutout innings for the second time this season.  For the first time in what seems like forever, he was able to locate his slider and sinker down in the zone.

- The Yankees got their first run in the top of the 2nd when Andruw Jones hit a first-pitch fastball for his 5th HR of the season.  He hasn't done much this year, but he's still going to crush an 86 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate.

- The other run came with 2 outs in the top of the 7th, when Curtis Granderson singled and then scored on Mark Teixeira's second double of the game.

- Kuroda put 2 runners on with 1 out in the bottom of the 7th, but got a big K and a flyout to end the threat.  This is the type of performance the Yankees were looking for when they signed him in January.

- Derek Jeter passed George Brett for 14th on the all-time hit list.  Yeah, the guy is definitely overrated.


- Rafael Soriano got the save again, and once again he managed to do it without having a 1-2-3 inning.  Guess we're just going to have to live with that this season.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Game 46 Wrap-Up: NYY 9 OAK 2

(Lotta high fives for these 2 yesterday.  Courtesy of The AP)

CC Sabathia had a poor outing 2 starts ago, and a poor inning that tarnished an otherwise good start his last time out.  He was on the mound yesterday looking to correct his recent flaws and help lock up another series win for his team.  The weak Oakland offense was an ideal opponent against which to do both of those things, and with the percolating Yankee offense backing him up, everything played out quite nicely for the big fella.

Game Notes:

- CC did not get off to the start he wanted, giving up a run on a pair of singles in the bottom of the 1st, and loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk in the 2nd before escaping unscathed.  His fastball command, the biggest issue he's had this season, wasn't there early.

- Robinson Cano quickly erased the 1-run deficit in the 2nd, hitting his 2nd HR in as many days on a 2-1 fastball from Bartolo Colon.  It took a little longer than we hoped it would, but Robbie is locked in at the plate right now.

- A Derek Jeter RBI single in the 3rd gave the Yankees the lead, but CC quickly gave it back in the bottom half when he gave up a HR to Josh Reddick, his 2nd of the series.  CC really labored through the first 3 innings, and it was shaping up to be a battle of attrition on the mound.

- Mark Teixeira hit a solo HR in the top of the 4th to give the Yankees the lead back 3-2, and it was the way in which he hit it that was impressive.  Teix worked his way back from 0-2 to 2-2 before ripping a 2-seamer to right.  It was the type of AB he hasn't been having at all this season and a step in the right direction.

- From that point on, it was all Yankees.  The offense tacked 2 on in the 5th and CC started to find his command, retiring 9 of the next 10 batters he faced to work through the 7th and keeping the A's scoreless.  Once again, CC managed to turn chickenshit into chicken salad on a day where he wasn't at his best.

- More insurance runs came in the form of a Jeter RBI HBP with the bases loaded in the 8th and a 2-run homer by Teix in the 9th.  Cory Wade and Cody Eppley worked the final 2 innings cleanly.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Game 45 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 OAK 3

("Seriously, guys.  I thought I was going to make it to third."  Courtesy of The AP)

The Yankees had their travel day on Thursday, I had mine yesterday.  I still made it home in time to watch the majority of their series opener in Oakland last night, and it was a great feeling.  Ivan Nova was on the hill, trying to move away from the issues he's had locating the ball in the strike zone and giving up a ton of extra base hits, and the offense was trying to keep their positive trend going and hit more of them.

Game Notes:

- Nova said after his last start that he wanted to get back to generating more groundball outs and he was doing that early last night.  Through 4 innings, he hadn't allowed a run and had 4 GB outs and 2 Ks.  He was keeping the ball down and working efficiently against the light-hitting A's lineup.

- The Yankee offense didn't appear to have missed a beat after the travel day.  They were on Tyson Ross from the top of the 1st when they put 2 runners on.  A bad error led to 3 unearned runs in the 3rd, but credit Mark Teixeira for hitting the HR and making Oakland pay for their poor D.

- And it didn't stop there.  Robinson Cano led off the 4th with a HR to dead center field, and after Teix inexplicably tried to stretch a bloop double into a triple (and failed miserably), Raul Ibanez doubled to left-center and Nick Swisher homered to left to make it 6-1 Yankees.

- Nova got a little inconsistent with his fastball command the 2nd time through the lineup, giving up a solo HR to Josh Reddick in the 4th and another run thanks to a couple of hits and a sac fly in the 5th, but his offspeed stuff looked very sharp.

- His XBH woes continued to plague him in the 7th, when he hung a curveball to Kila Ka'aihue for a HR that made it 6-3 Yankees.  He made it out of the inning, and overall it was a better outing, but 3 runs and 6 hits allowed against the A's still isn't anything special.

- The offense pounded Ross, but went silent once the game got in the hands of the Oakland bullpen.  They were retired in order from the 6th-8th inning, and had A-Rod's 9th inning single represent their only baserunner after the 5th.

- Rafael Soriano threw a scoreless 9th for the save.  Strangely enough, he still hasn't thrown a 1-2-3 inning this year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Site News: Light Weekend Coming Up

As I mentioned in the Linkapalooza earlier, it's a family weekend and a lacrosse weekend for me, so the site is going to be a little light on content over the next 3 days.  You'll get a game recap tomorrow morning (because I can actually watch the game tonight), a game recap Sunday, and a game recap on Monday.  Anything more than that, consider it gravy and consider yourselves lucky that I love you and love the Yankees enough to tell my family to pound sand while I hover over their laptop in the hotel.

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 5/25

Memorial Day weekend.  Always a good time and this year should be no different.  I'm flying home this afternoon to join my family up at Foxboro for the NCAA lacrosse championships this weekend, which means getting buzzed in the parking lot drinking good beer with my old man and sneaking looks at college girls that I'm probably too old to even be thinking about now.  If the Rangers can pull their heads out of their asses and win tonight, there will also be some serious Game 7 viewing/boozing somewhere with one of my best friends from home.  Good times.  Onto the links!

- On Monday, George S. of Gutty Gritty Yankees, making his Linkapalooza debut, used math and logic to shoot down the MSM hand wringing over A-Rod's early lack of HR power.  What a concept!

- Rich Kaufman of NYYUniverse pointed out the lack of run support that Hiroki Kuroda has gotten so far, which is a very fair point to make.  Yes, Kuroda has been generally bad, but he also hasn't gotten the type of offensive support he probably expected going from the Dodgers to the Yankees.

- On Tuesday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog looked at the numbers breakdown to try to get to the root cause of the Yankees' recent struggles hitting with RISP.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS commented on the lack of Brett Gardner in the lineup and how his absence is hurting the team's production.  Who woulda thought that it was the #9 hitter who held the key to the Yankees' offensive success?

- Mustang of It Is High... posted something quick on the Yankee radio broadcast, but the only thing that really matters is the hilariously awesome screen shot of John Sterling that was used.  Good stuff.

- Mike Axisa of RAB looked into how the Yankee lineup is handling pitches in the strike zone, and the numbers suggest that problems there could be a contributing factor to the recent stagnant offense.

- On Wednesday, Steve Goldman of Pinstriped Bible mused on the team-wide issues and what kind of team the Yankees are with them as well as what kind of team they can be without them.

- Michael Augustine of Bronx Baseball Daily handed out his latest round of player grades after 42 games.  Not a lot I can argue with there.

- Frank Campagnola of Pinstripe Alley discussed the disconnect between the eye test and the numbers when it comes to Curtis Granderson's center field defense.

- Mike Eder of TYA broke down Phil Hughes' pitch selection in May to find the adjustments he's made to improve his game.

- On Thursday, Jorge Arangure Jr. wrote a piece chronicling Ivan Nova's path to the Yankee starting rotation.  Regardless of how you feel about how he's pitched this season, this is a must-read and better than anything Wallace Matthews writes.

- Fishjam25 of Yankees Fans Unite continued the Nova discussion by delving into the 2 different Novas we've seen (GB pitcher vs. K pitcher) and stating that Nova needs to find a pitching identity.

- Anthony Rushing of Yanks Go Yard commented on Phil Hughes' strong May and the need for him to be consistent.  It's something we've heard plenty of times regarding Hughes, but it still rings true.

With the Yankees on the West Coast for their first long-distance road trip of the season, it only seems fitting to go with something Cali-themed.  I've already done Biggie this year, but so the F what?  Truth be told, I've always thought this was a better song than "California Love."  There.  I said it.  I ride East Coast 'til I die.

Enjoy your long weekends, everybody.  Happy Memorial Day and go Yankees!

Minor League Prospect Wrap-Up

(Stone Cold Tyler Austin.  Courtesy of Brian Bissell/Future Star Photos)

Since yesterday was a travel day for the Yankees and there's no game to recap, what better time than now to catch up on the goings on in the Yankee farm system?

Team Notes:

- The Triple- A rotation was struggling early and it's still struggling now.  Manny Banuelos had a couple of great starts but is now back on the DL, Adam Warren is still not pitching well (4.98 ERA/5.00 FIP), and Dellin Betances' numbers look even rougher (5.24/5.89, 7.66 BB/9).

- There have been a couple of good offensive performances, but not from anybody you'd see popping up on a Top Prospects list.  Jack Cust has finally found his stroke, and he's up to 4 HR and 21 RBI on the season, and Ronnier Mustelier has continued his hit parade since being called up earlier in the month.

- With some players ahead of him moving on, Brett Marshall is poised to break into a lot of Yankee Top 10 lists this year, and on the surface he's been very good (2.98 ERA, 2.65 BB/9, .227 BA Against).  But his strikeouts have dipped dramatically this season (just 27 in 54.1 IP) and it'd be nice to see him start flashing his swing-and-miss stuff again.

- Their lineup has been ravaged by injuries, but Double-A Trenton has got both Corban Joseph and David Adams back as they both try to work all the way back from health issues.  And after missing a significant chunk of time, Zoilo Almonte made his return to the lineup last night.

- There's been some shuffling in the High-A Tampa rotation, as Nik Turley and Jose Ramirez have both hit the DL.  Zach Nuding continues to pitch well, and with Matt Tracy returning and Caleb Cotham and Evan DeLuca being promoted, there's plenty of guys to keep an eye on until Turley returns.

- Offensively, Rob Segedin continues to get it done (.301/.369/.489, .396 wOBA) and he's starting to get some help from Ramon Flores, who is up to .272/.338/.348 on the season and has hit the ball much better in May.

- Down in Charleston, the Tyler Austin train just keeps rolling on.  He had 4 hits last night, including the game-tying and game-winning ones, and currently sports a .443 wOBA with 30 XBH.  There's really no reason NOT to promote him to Tampa; he's got nothing left to learn at this level.

- Jose Campos is still on the DL with elbow inflammation, but Bryan Mitchell has stepped up in his absence with a 2.53/3.11 ERA/FIP split and a MiL career high 9.07 K/9.  Evan Rutckyj has joined the rotation to help cover for the loss of Campos as well.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wondering About David Phelps' Role

(Courtesy of The AP)

The late-spring injuries helped, but David Phelps definitely earned his spot on the Yankee 25-man roster with the job he did in Spring Training, and quickly made people take notice of him after his first few successful appearances out of the 'pen.  Since then, he's had a couple of rough outings, made a pair of spot starts, and been used in a variety of different scenarios as the pitching portion of the Yankee roster continued to change due to injuries.  The roster has been relatively stable since D-Rob hit the DL, and it seems like a good time to talk about just how, and where, Phelps fits in the bullpen hierarchy moving forward.

Mark Teixeira Is Still Powerless (And It's Not OK Anymore)

(CRIPES!!!  Courtesy of The AP)

Exactly 5 weeks ago, I wrote a post preaching patience and positive vibes in regards to Mark Teixeira's slow start. Stumbling out of the gate in April was nothing new for Teix, he was still in the process of getting used to the stance, swing, and approach changes that he worked on in the offseason to improve his performance from the left side of the plate, and there were enough positive things to take from his peripherals to suggest that he would eventually put everything together and get back to being the all-around effective hitter we thought we were getting when he signed his new contract in '08.

Well 5 weeks later and not only are we not seeing that putting together of everything, we're seeing Teix's production regress back to and beyond the troubling downward trend he's already been on. He currently sports a .229/.291/.386 tripleslash, a .294 wOBA, a .155 ISO, and a 81 wRC+. His .227 BABIP ranks 163rd out of the 172 hitters with enough ABs to qualify for the batting titles, and he's not drawing walks anymore (8.1% BB rate, which was boosted by his 3-walk night last night). Of the 14 extra base hits, 21 runs scored, and 21 RBI to his credit, 5, 6, and 8 of them respectively came in 2 games (4/21 against Boston and 5/14 against Baltimore). Teixeira has truly been all or nothing in the season's first 7 weeks.

Yankees For Sale?

I'm sure the Steinbrenners are happy to see the team put 2 consecutive wins together after this recent rough stretch of games, but I wasn't expecting to wake up this morning and read about them being interested in selling the team.

The Daily News ran a piece this morning speaking to exactly that, and they quoted multiple sources.  Both Randy Levine and Hal Steinbrenner were quick to shoot down the details of the story, but with what the Dodgers were able to fetch in their sale it's understandable for the Steinbrenners to at least be interested in seeing what they could get for the most decorated franchise in American sports history.

I don't expect to hear a lot more about this potential story given how emphatically Levine and Hal denied the report, but it's worth keeping on mental back burner for the next few days.

Game 44 Wrap-Up: NYY 8 KC 3

(The home run canter.  Courtesy of Reuters)

If you would have asked me before the season, I would have said that "Andy Pettitte vs. Will Smith" had to be among the most unlikely possible pitching matchups for the 2012 season.  And yet, those were the 2 guys on the mound last night for their respective clubs as the Yankees and Royals played the final game of this series.  Joe bumped Mark Teixeira up to the #3 spot against the lefty Smith, a move I'm not sure Teix has earned with the way he's been hitting lately.  But that's why he's the manager and I'm the lowly blogger.

Game Notes:

- The Yankees getting out to early leads is not something that has happened with regularity recently, but that's just what they did against Agent J in the bottom of the 1st.  In a move he probably learned from Ivan Nova, Smith threw a belt-high slider over the heart of the plate that Curtis Granderson absolutely crushed into the right field seats to put the Yanks on the board.

- After walking Teix 2 batters later, Smith had to face The Horse, and he went about it all wrong.  A-Rod might not have the same kick that he did in his prime, but he's still not the type of hitter to whom you can throw 6 consecutive fastballs and get away with it.  The 6th was lined into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead.

- You would think Smith had learned his lesson the first time, but there he was firing fastball after fastball again when A-Rod came up in the 3rd.  He fell behind 3-0, threw a fastball for strike 1, and then threw another one 3-1 that Rodriguez hit for his second 2-run HR of the game.  5-0 Yankees.

- Oh yeah, Andy Pettitte was pitching too.  He worked quickly and efficiently through the first 2 innings, but had to battle at times from then on.  He needed a great double play started by Teix to bail him out of the 3rd, and allowed a run each in the 4th and 5th on solo HR.

- The Yankee offense answered right back in the bottom of the 5th, plating 3 more runs after getting into another bases loaded, no outs situation.  It wasn't the most glamorous means to an end, more about patience and bad pitching than good hitting, but runs are runs.

- One thing Andy was last night was efficient, and that allowed him to pitch deep into the game again.  He threw a ton of strikes and he had really good stuff as he worked through 7 innings of 2-run ball, finally giving way to David Phelps to finish things off after walking Alex Gordon to start the 8th.

- No more runs for the offense after the 5th, even though they loaded the bases again in the 7th, but they didn't need any more.

- It was an all-around good night for the lineup, but they aren't totally out of the woods yet.  The RISP Fail issues are still present and the team only went 1-6 in that situation last night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yankees About To Get Jiggy With It?

I was already a little concerned about the prospect of the struggling Yankee offense facing a member of a fictional junior hockey team from the "Mighty Ducks" movies.  But now, come to find out that the Royals are pulling Luis Mendoza from his scheduled start tonight and inserting Will Smith and I'm even more concerned.

It's a diabolically genius plan by KC.  Not only are they playing to the continually-growing legend of the Yankee lineup being unable to handle starting pitchers they've never faced before, they're adding the allure and star power of one of the biggest Hollywood leading actors and greatest family-friendly rapper of all time into the mix as an additional distraction to the Yankee hitters.

On the other hand, if Smith's pitching is as bad as MIB 3 appears to be, and there are indications that it could be, maybe this is just what the Yankee bats need to break out of their cold streak.  Whatever the case may be, you can take it to the bank that there's going to be some jigginess in The Stadium tonight.

Now hit the fucking music!

Game 43 Wrap-Up: NYY 3 KC 2

(Looks like a base hit to me.  Courtesy of Reuters)

Hey look at that!  The Yankees won a game!  And they're not in last place!  This is certainly a surprising event.  All kidding aside, last night was a step in the right direction for the Yankees.  They got a good starting pitching performance, knocked a few hits with RISP, and started to show some signs of life after basically being a bunch of zombies over the last 10 games.

Game Notes:

- Phil Hughes actually looked pretty sharp early last night.  He was primarily fastball-curveball again, but he did mix in some changeups here and there.  He gave up a run in the 3rd on a Humberto Quintero, but he also got 4 strikeouts and 4 groundouts.

- I don't know if there's any truth to it, but it feels like Jeff Francoeur always does something against the Yankees.  In the 4th, he got a belt-high fastball from Hughes in a fastball count (2-0) and belted it into the left field bleachers for a solo HR and a 2-0 KC lead.  Even when they're pitching well, the XBHs are still hurting the Yankee starters.

- After being silent through the first third of the game, the Yankee offense finally stirred in the bottom half of the 4th when Robinson Cano smacked his 5th HR of the year to cut the lead in half.

- Hughes threw up a quick 0 in the 5th and the Yankee O went right back to work.  A pair of singles by Teix and Dewayne Wise sandwiched around a Russell Martin HBP put them in another bases loaded, no outs situation and this time they didn't waste it. Derek Jeter singled home a run, Curtis Granderson plated the go-ahead on a groundout and it was 3-2 Yankees.

- More runs could have been scored in the inning, but Luke Hochevar struck out A-Rod and Raul Ibanez to end the inning.  With the team coming into the game on a 6-72 skid with RISP, you take the baby steps and hope they can build on it.

- Hughes started to run out of gas in the 6th and got the ball up in the zone a bit, but he managed to work around trouble and keep the Royals off the board to maintain the 3-2 Yankee lead as he turned it over to the bullpen.

- Joe played mix-and-match with the 'pen in the last 3, using Cory Wade for 2 outs, Boone Logan for 1, Cody Eppley for 1, and Clay Rapada for 2 on a lineout DP to Teix to end the 8th.  Soriano worked a scoreless 9th for the save.  They had to be good, because the offense didn't put any runs on the board after the 5th, and they were.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Too Many Extra Base Hits

You can basically name any part of the game of baseball and the Yankees aren't doing it well right now.  It's hard to remember a time when the team has collectively played this poorly for an extended period of time, and for once I'm actually glad I don't have the ability to watch them on TV every night.  Whether you accept them or not, there are some quasi-viable excuses for the poor performance from certain groups.  The lineup as a whole is old and dealing with the un-fixable problem of age-related decline, and the bullpen has been decimated by injuries and burdened by a heavy workload.

The starting rotation, however, really doesn't have an excuse to fall back on to explain themselves.  Losing Michael Pineda's services before they even had a chance to see them sucked, but they still have a healthy CC Sabathia, a healthy Hiroki Kuroda, 2 young guys in their primes in Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, and the recently-added Andy Pettitte, who looks like he's got plenty left in the tank.  And yet the Yankee rotation currently ranks 26th in MLB in team ERA at 4.93 and 28th in FIP at 4.60.  I've touched briefly on the fact that Nova and Kuroda are getting absolutely killed on balls in play going for extra bases when they miss in the strike zone in a couple posts, but in looking at the bigger picture it seems that the XBH problem is a rotation-wide one.

The Next Wave Of Bullpen Help

What was a very deep and dominant Yankee bullpen earlier in the season has quickly disentegrated into a struggling group of pitchers who seem to be in over their heads lately. They were able to tread water for a week or so after Mo and D-Rob went to the DL, but in the last games the lack of depth and lack of lights out talent has started to be exposed. Cory Wade and Boone Logan have both given up runs in their first appearances as the new bridge to the closer. That closer, Rafael Soriano, is still a bit of an adventure, and guys like Clay Rapada, Freddy Garcia, and Cody Eppley are being used in higher-leverage situations than Joe probably ever wanted to have to use them.

Combine all of that with the fact that this current group is close to being overworked due to the rotation's inability to provide length, and the seemingly omnipresent threat of more injuries, and there's a very good chance that the Yankees are going to have to make some more roster moves to keep the bullpen fresh and productive. When that time comes, and it could come soon, there are some viable options in Triple-A that could be of service.

Game 42 Wrap-Up: KC 6 NYY 0

(No caption needed.  Courtesy of The AP)

Staying above .500 and out of last place in the AL East was hanging in the balance last night in the Bronx.  It's a little strange to even be saying that 6 weeks into the season, but that's the way things have gone for the Yankees this year.  Poor performances aplenty, injuries galore, and a lack of timeliness both at the plate and on the mound have left the team in its current slump, and Joe finally decided it was time to juggle the lineup to try to help drag them out of it.  A good outing from Hiroki Kuroda would have been nice too, but I guess that would have been asking for too much.

Game Notes:

- A lot of Kuroda's stuff was up in the zone in the 1st inning, even the pitch he struck Eric Hosmer out with, and it quickly bit him in the ass when he left a 2-2 fastball right over the middle of the plate to Mike Moustakas.  28 pitches to get through the 1st, and a 2-0 deficit.

- Kuroda definitely didn't have his A-game again, and gave up another run in the 3rd, but the Yankee offense didn't do much to help him.  After loading the bases with 0 outs in the bottom of the 3rd, the trio of Cano (K looking), A-Rod (K swinging), and Ibanez (flyout) each failed to plate a single run.

- If you were keeping score at home on your RISP Fail Counter, that 0-fer threesome made it 6-64 with RISP.

(** Full Disclosure- After this happened, I flat out stopped paying attention to the Gameday feed and just watched the Ranger game.  That also turned out to be a poor decision, but whatever. **)

- He managed to hold the Royals at 3 for the remainder of his night, but it could hardly be called an effective outing for Kuroda.  To throw 103 pitches and only make it through 5.1 innings, and to allow 10 baserunners in the process, is not a good thing.  Seems like Kuroda is suffering from the same problem as Nova right now; every miss he has in the zone gets punished.

- Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada got a few outs in the 6th and 7th, and then Freddy Garcia came on.  He gave up a 2-run home run to Jeff Francoeur on a belt-high splitter right over the plate on his 2nd pitch, another run on a wild pitch in the 7th, and the rout was on.

- For the 2nd time this year, Felipe Paulino absolutely dominated the Yankee lineup.  He worked 6.2 clean innings, only walking 2 and striking out 8.  There isn't a single guy in the lineup right now who pitchers are concerned about facing and it shows.

- Final RISP Fally tally for the night: 0-13.  And the scary thought is, this game could have been a lot worse.  The Royals only went 1-12 with RISP themselves.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Really, Guys???

(Courtesy of

Really, guy?

(Also courtesy of

Really, guy??

Teix Back In The Lineup, Dropped To 7th

I was certainly in favor of dropping Teix in the order, but I have to say I'm a bit surprised that Joe decided to implement that tactic after giving the guy 3 days off.  I figured Joe would have given Teix at least 1 day in his regular spot to try to make something happen.  But when you're hitting .226/.281/.384 (.290 wOBA, 77 wRC+) and you're "vs. L/vs. R" wOBA splits are .263 and .304 respectively, it's a hard case to make that you should be hitting 5th.

If you're so in shock at this move that you think it can't be real, head over to the official AB4AR Facebook Page and check out tonight's complete lineup.  Hell, do me a solid and "Like" the hell out of it while you're there.


Warning Track A-Rod

(And this reaction wasn't even on the HR swing.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

It was a rough weekend for supposedly elite horses.  Bodemeister got run down again on the home stretch of The Preakness on Saturday and Alex Rodriguez failed to hit a ball that he thought he got all of over the wall in the 8th inning of yesterday's 5-2 loss to the Reds.  In Bodemeister's case, he did pretty much everything you could do to win a race, he just got beat by a better horse.  In A-Rod's case, the failed HR was the latest example of a troubling trend in his game and a perfect visual representation of the Yankees' collective offensive struggles.

We've been conditioned since 2004 to know when The Horse hits a big home run.  There's the brief split-second pause at the finish of his follow through, the bat flip to the on-deck circle, the turn to the dugout, and the beginning of the slow victory lap jog around the bases to bask in the moment of triumph.  All of those trademark A-Rod moves were in play yesterday when the ball left his bat in the 8th inning, and all that had to be done was watching to see just where the ball was going to land, bullpen or stands.  But then a funny thing happened.  Chris Heisey settled under the ball about halfway onto the warning track, raised his glove, and made the catch to keep the go-ahead runs off the scoreboard and put the 2nd out on it.

Game 41 Wrap-Up: CIN 5 NYY 2

(Clearly it was the ball's fault.  Courtesy of The AP)

This game sucked.  No other way to say it.  It should have been a situation for success for the Yankees, and through 6 innings it was playing out that way, but everything completely fell apart in the late innings and the offense continued to come up small when it matters most.  It had already been a frustrating week to be a Yankee fan.  Losing a second straight game when CC Sabathia is on the mound only added to that frustration.

Game Notes:

- CC had his 4-seamer and slider working early and rode them to a scoreless, hitless start through 3 innings.  He did hit a batter and walk another, but Sabathia also struck out 3 batters and looked to be well in control.

- Through 4 innings, the Yankee offensive struggles continued.  They left at least 1 runner on base in every inning, grounded into 2 more double plays (both on nice defensive plays), and plated 0 runs against a less-than-perfect Johnny Cueto despite getting 4 hits and working 2 walks.

- CC got into a little trouble in the 6th, when a leadoff bunt single and a walk put 2 on with no outs.  But he did what you expect your ace to do and promptly shut the potential rally down with a much-needed GIDP from Brandon Phillips and a strikeout of Jay Bruce.

- Raul Ibanez continues to do damage with the bat.  After the offense failed to capitalize on numerous chances through 5 innings, Ibanez stepped in with 1 out and Robinson Cano on 2nd after a leadoff double and hit his 9th HR of the season (6th in his last 12 games) to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

- Little strange to see CC give runs back, but that's just what he did in the top of the 7th and he did it in spectacular fashion.  2 solo HRs by Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Hanigan tied the game, and a single and 3 consecutive walks forced home the go-ahead run.  CC wasn't happy with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, and he let him know it after the inning, but that was a shockingly bad job by CC.  Hanigan's HR came on an 0-2 fastball that couldn't have been more over the plate if CC tried.

- The bullpen didn't get the job done either, as Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano combined to give up 2 runs in the top of the 9th to make it 5-2 Cincy.  Can't fault Joe for how he manged this one; his guys just didn't get it done.

- As they've been apt to do recently, the offense went silent down the stretch.  As many times as CC has picked them up, it'd be nice to see the lineup return the favor on a day like today.  But the only baseunner they could manage in the last 3 innings was on an error and it was another lost series.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nova's Thinking About It All Wrong

(Courtesy of The AP)

I like that Ivan Nova recognizes that he has to change something about his approach with the way he's getting beat right now.  And I appreciate that he has a plan in mind based off of what type of pitcher he is and what he knows he has to do to be successful.  It's encouraging to see a pitcher this young be so upfront about his performance.  But I question whether this change in approach would be the right change to make.

“It doesn’t matter if I get a strikeout or not.  I used to pitch with a lot of ground balls. This year I haven’t. I guess I’ve just got to go back and do exactly the same thing as last year, getting my ground balls and a strikeout when you need it.” (Nova after yesterday's game)

I see what you're trying to do there, Ivan.  You're trying to go back to what's given you the most success in the past.  But what you're forgetting is that strikeouts do matter and they're way better than groundouts.  Any time you're getting an out without giving the hitter a chance to put the ball in play, that's a good thing.  The strides you've made over the past year to improve your stuff and your control to get more strikeouts (career-high 9.55 K/9 this season) and cut down on your walks (career-low 2.94 BB/9 this season) are both positive strides.  That's what has raised your ceiling from a back-of-the-rotation depth arm to a potential above-average #3 starter.  You want to keep doing that.

Game 40 Wrap-Up: CIN 6 NYY 5

(Awwww, dude!  Courtesy of The AP)

Day game after a night game and the altered lineup was even more altered than usual thanks to the current Yankee health situation.  Teix was out again so Swish was playing first base, Ibanez was playing right field and batting 5th, Cano got a day at DH, Wise was back in left field, and Nix was playing 2nd.  To add to the scattered situation, Ivan Nova was making his first start after leaving early with his foot/ankle injury earlier in the week and all eyes would be on him early to make sure the injury wasn't affecting him.

Game Notes:

- Nova didn't appear to be suffering any ill effects of the injury, but his performance was more of the same.  The stuff was very good, but his fastball command was spotty at best and he missed with some offspeed stuff up and paid for it.

- Through 3 innings, Nova had recorded 8 of his 9 outs via strikeout (7 of them swinging and 5 on the curveball), but a pair of walks and 2 doubles given up led to a 2-0 Cincy lead.

- I didn't think it was right to bat Russell Martin 7th today, even with the 2 guys behind him being Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix, but Martin hit the first pitch he saw in the game for a HR to right to lead off the bottom of the 3rd.  More of this please, Russ.

- Nova's misplaced offspeed stuff continued to bite him in the ass in the 5th when he left a slider up in the zone with two runners on to Joey Votto.  Not a lot of pitchers get away with that, and Nova didn't either as Votto hit a 3-run homer to right-center for a 5-2 Reds lead.

- The offense put a few more on the board, on a Raul Ibanez RBI double in the 4th and a Nix HR in the 5th (his 2nd in the last week), but went silent again in the later innings.  That lack of production loomed large after Cincy tacked on a cheap run in the 8th on a single, walk, and a couple of sacrifices against David Phelps, who didn't help his cause with a costly error after a great catch.

- Aroldis Chapman has been the NL version of Dave Robertson this season, and in his first appearance at Yankee Stadium he put on a show, striking out C-Grand and Cano swinging with fastballs and getting A-Rod to pop out in the bottom of the 8th.

- Shawn Marshall replaced Chapman for the 9th, and apparently he was just what the Yankee offense needed.  Ibanez led off with a double, and was quickly singled home by Nick Swisher.  After a Martin K, Andruw Jones singled Swish to third base, and Nix followed with an RBI single to pull the Yankees within 1.  They had 2 on, only 1 out, and Marshall gave way to Jose Arredondo.

- The Yankees made it interesting, but Arredondo did the job to preserve the win.  I question Jeter's decision to swing first pitch in a 2 on/1 out situation in the 9th, and I hated Curtis Granderson swinging and fouling off a hittable 3-0 fastball.  That's just kind of how it's been going for the offense lately.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Some Saturday Night Stats

- No Yankee starting pitcher this season has a HR/FB% below 11.1%.  The one that does is David Phelps, and he only started 2 games.

- 35 of the 65 hits (53.85%) allowed by Ivan Nova in his 8 starts this year have gone for extra bases (22 doubles, 3 triples, 10 home runs).

- Alex Rodriguez has 9 XBH in 167 plate appearances this season, 4 doubles and 5 HR.  Brett Gardner, Eric Chavez, and Jayson Nix have a combined 9 XBH in 110 combined plate appearances.

- Even with a couple of hits today, the offense is still just 5-55 with RISP over the past 7 games.

It's pretty simple.  When your pitchers are giving up too many home runs and extra bases hits in untimely situations and your hitters aren't hitting enough extra base hits in timely situations, you aren't going to win a lot of baseball games.

Game 39 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 CIN 0

(Job well done, sir.  Courtesy of The AP)

I, like many others, had my concerns about how Andy Pettitte would hold up to pitching in the Majors after a year away.  He was very effective in his final 2 seasons as a Yankee, but not the dominant pitcher he was at times in his prime.  Last night was like a blast back to 2000.  Andy was simply brilliant, no other way to describe it.  No matter what happens from here on out, there's no doubt that Andy can still do this.

Game Notes:

- Andy came out firing in the 1st inning, and would have struck out the side if defensive specialist Chris Stewart would have caught strike 3 to Zack Cozart.  As it was, Pettitte managed to get 4 outs in the 1st and looked damn good doing out.

- The 3 strikeouts were good news, but the better news was that they weren't just a mirage.  Andy was legitimately "on" last night, probably the best he's looked since he started pitching again.  He had all his pitches working, he mixed them incredibly well, and kept the ball down in the zone.  The Reds have some good hitters in their lineup and Andy made them all look foolish.

- The monster starting pitching performance didn't do much to wake up the Yankee offense, though.  Through their first 5 innings, they managed only 1 run to support Andy, scratched across in the 4th inning when Alex Rodriguez led off with a double and scored on a groundout.

- The bottom of the the 6th perfectly encapsulated the Yankees' recent offensive struggles.  After Derek Jeter singled (his 2nd of the game), Curtis Granderson singled (his 2nd of the game), and Robinson Cano walked to load the bases, it took all of 8 pitches for A-Rod, Ibanez, and Swish to ground out, ground out, and pop out to end the inning in scoreless fashion.

- Andy was absolutely incredible last night.  He worked 8 innings, didn't allow a run, allowed 4 hits, walked just 1 batter, and got 16 of his 24 outs either via strikeout or groundout.  Of his 9 Ks, 8 of them were swinging.  We've seen a lot of vintage Jeter this season.  Last night was vintage Pettitte.

- At long last, the offense finally came through when they needed to!  Bottom of the 8th, 2 outs, Robbie Cano CRANKED a HR to right, A-Rod singled, Ibanez homered, and a slim 1-0 lead became a comfortable 4-0 lead.  Bronson Arroyo had been cruising up to that point, but he hit the wall fast and hard.

- Little surprising to not see Soriano out for the 9th, even though it wasn't a save situation, but new setup man Boone Logan sat the Reds down in order to finish Andy's gem and get the Yanks back into the win column.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Force Is Still Strong With This One...

"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

Stop Waiting For Something To Happen And Make It Happen

(Courtesy of The AP)

There are an abundance of different managerial/coaching styles when it comes to professional sports.  Some guys are real good at the people level, like Joe Maddon, and get the most out of their players through basic human motivational tactics.  There are guys like John Tortorella who yell and scream and curse and act like dicks to the media to try to keep the focus solely on their players and off of them.  And then there's Joe Girardi.  I've spent plenty of time and space on this blog questioning some of Joe's tactics, mainly his reliance on his bullpen matchup binder and his love for the sacrifice bunt, but overall I think Joe does do a good job managing the Yankees.  One thing I don't think he's good at, however, is providing useful commentary and explanations in situations where the Yankees are playing poorly, like what has happened over the past 3 games.

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 5/18

I don't know what's been rougher (probably not a word), my week at the office or the week the Yankee lineup had at the plate.  I'm not quite 3-for-41 with RISP bad this week, but it's been a damn long week.  Hopefully everybody else's has been full of sunshine and rainbows.  Onto the links!

- On Monday, Brien Jackson of IIATMS commented on Teix's horrible start at the plate and what may need to happen to try to get him fixed.  Maybe Teix read this before his 2-4 game that night.

- Chris Carelli of Yanks Go Yard wondered if this dimished version of Teix that we've seen in 2011 and early 2012 is what we should get used to seeing through 2016.  Not a comforting thought, but one that has to be considered given Teix's huge statistical declines.

- Nick Fleder of Bronx Baseball Daily used the PITCHf/x-colored glasses to analyze Andy's first start back in pinstripes.

- On Tuesday, Joseph Kringer Jr. of NYY Universe discussed the Yankees' merry-go-round situation with the closer's role since Mo's injury and what it might say about Girardi's thought process.

- On Wednesday, Mike Eder of TYA studied A-Rod's numbers against the fastball to see if declining bat speed is a cause for A-Rod's lack of power this season.

- Frank Campagnola of Pinstripe Alley offered up his own opinions on A-Rod's missing power.

- On Thursday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog examined the Yankees rotation's high HR rate and what it might mean moving forward.

- El Duque of It Is High... , inspired by the back-to-back (and belly-to-belly) no-shows by the Yanks on Tuesday and Wednesday, listed the 10 most horrific truths about the current state of the Yankees.

- Mike Axisa of RAB looked at Mason Williams' absurd contact rates and low K rates and concluded that he should be promoted to High-A Tampa sooner rather than later.
- Fishjam 25 of Yankees Fans Unite dissected the recent sluggish of the Yankee offense, and the big dip in hitting with RISP and SB that has made them very one-dimensional.

- Eric Schultz of TYA analyzed the numbers on Hiroki Kuroda's early ups and downs to see how a different a pitcher he has (or hasn't) become since transitioning to the AL East.

- On Friday, Lisa Swan of Subway Squawkers was not amused to know that the Mets currently have a better record than the Yankees.  I myself am not amused at this either, so thanks for the cruel reminder, Lisa.

- Steve Goldman of Pinstriped Bible got real deep and philosophical on changes.  It's pretty heavy, dude, and I'm sure there's some underlying message there about the current state of the Yankees, but being a zombie this morning, I have to admit that I missed it.

We're going back to the hippin' and the hoppin' for the Friday Jam.  That new Kanye track is hot fire.  Maybe a little G.O.O.D. Music swag will help wake the Yankee bats up.

Don't work too hard this afternoon, people.  I know I won't.  And enjoy your weekends.

Game 38 Wrap-Up: TOR 4 NYY 1

(Courtesy of The AP)

The last 2 games before last night's series finale against Toronto hadn't been pretty.  In fact, they might have been the 2 ugliest games the Yankees have played this season.  The goal was to get back on track offensively and salvage a series split before heading back home, but the Yankee bats still couldn't shake the cobwebs off to support starter Phil Hughes.

Game Notes:

- The rest of the lineup has been quiet, but Robinson Cano has continued to hit over the past few days.  He didn't waste any time last night, smoking a double to the left-center field gap to score Curtis Granderson and give the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead in the 1st.

- Hughes worked through the first 2 innings scoreless, but he was hardly sharp.  He walked 2 batters, threw 40+ pitches, and was pretty much exclusively 4-seamer & curve with his offerings.  In the 3rd inning, after striking out Jose Bautista on fastballs and curves in the 1st, he hung a cutter to him and Bautista hit it for a 2-run homer and a 2-1 Blue Jays lead.

- Hughes didn't allow any more runs after that, but he also didn't give the Yankees the length they needed.  I don't know if he just didn't have enough of the reliever mentality or whatever, but there was a lot more of the typical Hughes inability to put hitters away with 2 strikes, and he used an inefficient 107 pitches to get through just 5.1 innings.  He wasn't awful, but he wasn't that good either.

- Drew Hutchison pulled a repeat performance of Drabek's outing from the other night.  He wasn't overly dominant or efficient in his 6 innings of work, he didn't have great command, he gave up 4 walks, but only the 1 run from the 1st because the Yankee bats could only manage 4 more hits off him.  If you're a Toronto fan, you're thrilled with 6 innings of 1-run ball from Hutchison, and that's what they got.

- Cory Wade entered to finish out the 6th, and got 2 outs in the 7th, but he hung a change to J.R. Arencibia with a runner on and Toronto got a couple of much-needed insurance runs.  I said earlier in the week that Wade, as good as he's been, wasn't going to go a whole season with a 0.0% HR rate.  There you go.

- For the first time, the Yankee hitters swung like they were starting to press at the plate.  After Hutchison left, they went down in order in the 7th, 8th, and 9th, only making Darren Oliver throw 7 pitches in the 8th and only making Casey Janssen throw 9 in the 9th.  There's plenty of pitches to hit out there, they just aren't doing anything useful with them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Hate It When I'm Wrong

Me on Monday:

"Guys are keeping runners off base, keeping the ball down in the zone, working efficiently and pitching deeper into games, and limiting damage by getting more groundball outs and big strikeouts when they need them. Nova starts another turn tonight... .  Hopefully he can continue this stretch of solid starting pitching performances and help inch his team closer to the top of the division."

Yankee starters since then:

16.1 IP, 23 H, 16 ER, 9 BB, 16 K, 5 HR, 0-2 Record

Did I jinx it again or did I jinx it again?  It wouldn't be the first time.  So sorry, I guess.

2012: A Freak Injury Odyssey

As they are in every other sport, injuries are a big part of baseball. They affect the good teams and the bad, and a team's ability to overcome its injuries and still produce and win is what separates the great teams from the good. It would be completely unreasonable to expect your team to not get bitten by the injury bug at some point, and the unpredictable nature of injuries makes it almost impossible to plan for. All of that being what it is, it's fair to say that the 2012 season has been irregularly unpredictable and unkind to the Yankees in the injury department, to the point that it's downright freaky. It doesn't just seem like it's every week that we're all scrambling to our computers or smart phones to write or read the latest "BREAKING NEWS!!!!!111!!!" story on a major injury to a key player; that's almost literally the way it's gone for the Yankees this season, and it goes all the way back to Spring Training.

With no statistic, basic or sabermetric, in place to analyze injuries, I took it upon myself to create a rudimentary system to measure and capture just how freakish the Yankees' collection of injuries has been this year. I call it the "Johnson-Hill Scale," and it's a simple 1-10 numbering system that measures an injury's freakiness. The low end of the scale, 1-3, represents injuries so common and expected that you would almost be surprised if they DIDN'T happen, and is named after Nick Johnson and his Mr. Glass-like skeletal and muscular structure. The high end of the scale, 8-10, represents injuries so unexpected and out of left field that it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility for some evil forces to be involved, and is named after former outfielder (and Yankee) Glenallen Hill, who infamously cut his foot on a glass table while sleeprunning to escape from a spider that was chasing him in a dream. Here's how the Yankees' collection of bizarre injuries this season grades out on the Johnson-Hill Scale.