Saturday, June 30, 2012

Monthly Minor League Report (June): The Lower Levels

(I wonder if he'll get a call up or not.  Used courtesy of

Another month of Minor League baseball is in the books, which means it's time to go back and look at how that month went.  With the Major League trading deadline looming in the distance and the Yankees suffereing through some more injury hardships, this could be the last time of these young players get mentioned as part of the Yankee organization.  And with the start of Short Season leagues taking place in June, there are 2 more teams to follow.

Injury Update: Setback For Aardsma

"Setback" seems to be the word of the year to associate with Yankee injuries and related comeback attempts, and David Aardsma is the latest victim of the word after feeling pain in his right elbow after his most recent outing this week.

Erik Boland of Newsday has the details, but the long and short of it is that Aardsma is going to be shut down for at least a few weeks and then start to throw again.  The team says they still plan to have Aardsma back this season, but any kind of return in July is out the window now, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't greatly concerned about the prospects of him making it back this year.

The Yankees could really use Aardsma considering the recent struggles of Cory Wade in the bullpen, but it would be unwise to rush Aardsma back after this setback.  Can't take chances with an elbow that's coming back from TJS.

Game 76 Wrap-Up: CHW 14 NYY 7

(Tough night, kid.  Courtesy of The AP)

The first CC-less outing in CC's spot in the rotation since he joined the Yankees went about as poorly as it possibly could have.  It was not a good night for Adam Warren and it didn't get much better when any of the relievers who entered after he left came into the game.  Just an all-around bad pitching night and a bad loss, and the Yankees will probably have to make some more call-ups today to have a full bullpen of available pitchers.

Game Notes:

- The best thing that could have happened for Warren was to get an early lead, and the offense staked him to a 4-0 in the bottom of the 1st thanks to a Curtis Granderson 2-run HR and an Andruw Jones 2-run double.

- The lead didn't last long, though, as Warren gave the 4 runs back in the 2nd.  A.J. Pierzynski led off the inning with a HR, Gordon Beckham hit a 2-run double of his own, and Kevin Youkilis plated one with a groundout.

- Paul Konerko led off the 3rd with another solo HR, and after 3 more hits and 1 more run, Warren's night was finished.  It was a rough outing for Warren, who couldn't locate his fastball on the corners and never commanded any of his offspeed stuff.  The White Sox hitters were perfectly comfortable at the plate and just teed off on the kid.

- David Phelps made his return, and struck out the side in the 4th.  Jayson Nix followed that up in the bottom half with a 2-run double and it was a 6-6 ballgame.

- But Phelps would struggle through the next 2 innings, allowing a run in each, 1 on Pierzynski's 2nd homer of the night, and Chicago led once again 8-6.

- The offense would score only 1 more run on a Robinson Cano groundout in the 7th, and sacrificial lamb Cory Wade got torched for 6 more runs through the last 3 innings to solidify the loss.  Wade was so bad that he couldn't even finish the 9th inning and Dewayne Wise had to come in to get the final 2 outs.

- There's no way to sugarcoat how bad the pitching was last night.  14 runs on 19 hits, 4 walks, and 4 HR allowed is just putrid.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 6/29

I feel like I would be doing a disservice to myself and all of you dear readers if I didn't use this weekly random rant space before the Linkapalooza to inform you of how awesome Lay's kettle-cooked potato chips are.  I can't get enough of them.  The original ones are banging, the BBQ ones are banging, the cheddar ones are banging, and even the reduced fat ones that don't have the same saltiness are banging.  I have to force myself to stop eating them when I'm watching TV sometimes, like during the NBA Draft last night, because I can eat an entire bag and not even realize it.  Do yourself a favor and try some of those, because they are good shit.  Now onto the links!

- On Tuesday, Jamie Insalaco of Bomber Banter looked at what the Yankees are missing from their roster right now.  And that was BEFORE almost half their rotation went on the DL.  Like Jamie, I don't see much of these issues being addressed before the trade deadline.

- Steve Goldman of Pinstriped Bible commented on the lack of praise that Robinson Cano receives and why his numbers are worthy of more praise.  It's worth nothing that Steve Goldman has packed up Pinstriped Bible and teamed it up with the folks at Pinstripe Alley.

- Rich Kaufman of NYY Universe wondered if Derek Jeter has a chance to reach 4,000 hits, and if he doesn't, where will he end up?

- William Tasker of IIATMS, in honor of Derek Jeter's 38th birthday, went back in time and listed The Captain's 38 greatest hits by WPA.

- On Wednesday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog, as he always does, uses the numbers (and the history) to help disprove the "Yankees hit 2 many homerz" theory.

- Delia E. of Yankees Fans Unite unveiled her Yankee report card for June.

- Mike Axisa of RAB analyzed Cory Wade's poor month of June, citing his poor changeup command as a cause.

- On Thursday, Rob Abruzzese of Bronx Baseball Daily listed 10 starting pitchers the Yankees could trade for if they felt the need after the recent rotation injuries.

- Mike Ashmore of the self-titled Thunder Thoughts scored an interview with the still-unsigned Ty Hensley.  Hensley's self-scouting report sounds like it was delivered by an actual scout.

- Not to be outdone, Andrew GM of Pinstripe Alley interviewed lifetime Yankee hero and current ESPN analyst Aaron F'ing Boone.

- Jimmy Kaft of Yanks Go Yard compared Adam Warren to Ivan Nova to see if we could see a similar pleasant surprise when Warren joins the rotation

- On Friday, Mike Eder of TYA investigated the new phenomenon of Phil Hughes' 2 different curveballs, a topic that became very popular after his latest start this week.

For the Friday Jam, I'm going with "Tres Brujas" by The Sword.  I could have seen The Sword and Kyuss last December at a little concert hall in Milwaukee.  I don't remember why I didn't.  Between the lack of memory, talk of potato chips, and The Sword, it's getitng real stoner-y on AB4AR right now.  Oh well.

Good luck to Adam Warren tonight, and enjoy your weekends, everybody.

A Quick Refresher On Adam Warren

(Just chillin'.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Adam Warren will make his Major League debut tonight, and he's got some big shoes (and pants) to fill in CC Sabathia's rotation spot.  He's the 3rd of the previously-vaunted 5-man Triple-A staff to make an appearance in the show this year, and it wouldn't be unfair to say that his opportunity is the best one out of the 3.  With Sabathia on the shelf for a few weeks and Andy for a few months, Warren has a real chance to become a fixture in the rotation for the foreseeable future.  I had Warren ranked as my #7 prospect in the Yankee system in the inaugural AB4AR Top 30 Prospects list last December, but with a lot of time passing since then, it's probably good to reacquaint ourselves with him.

Game 75 Wrap-Up: CHW 4 NYY 3

(D'oh!  Courtesy of The AP)

Rafael Soriano didn't look very sharp in closing out Wednesday's win, and with good reason since it was his 4th appearance in 5 days.  He was not available last night to pitch the 9th, and it really cost the Yankees as the "closer by committee" crew gave up a late lead and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory to break the Yankees' winning streak.  Ivan Nova was good, not great, and the offense didn't do a whole lot to provide a huge margin for error, but it was still a game the Yanks should have, could have, and would have won if their relievers remembered the ABC rule.

Game Notes:

- The teams traded 0s through 4 innings, with White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod having the easier time overall.  Nova put at least one runner on in every inning, and didn't get a lot of groundballs, but managed to work out of trouble every time.

- The Yanks loaded the bases against Axelrod in the 4th on an Alex Rodriguez leadoff double and 2 walks, but couldn't come up with a big 2-out hit as Eric Chavez grounded out to end the inning.

- Nova's biggest mistake in his 7+ innings of work was the 2-1 fastball he left belt high and over the plate to Alejandro De Aza in the top of the 5th.  De Aza hit it into the 2nd deck in right for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

- Like The Empire, the Yankee offense struck back in the bottom half of the inning, and did it all with 2 outs.  Curtis Granderson singled, and Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano followed up with back-to-back RBI doubles to make it 2-1 Yanks.

- The 2-out runs continued in the bottom of the 8th when Mark Teixeira drove a HR to left to make it 3-1.

- Joe mixed and matched with Boone Logan and Cody Eppley to get through the 8th after Nova was removed, but it all fell apart in the 9th.  Alex Rios singled off of Eppley to start the inning, bringing Clay Rapada in to face the lefty A.J. Pierzynski.  He got the double play groundball he wanted, but threw the ball into center field to put runners on the corners.

- Joe went to D-Rob to put out the fire, and instead D-Rob threw gas on it, grooving a 1-0 fastball that Dayan Viciedo crushed for what turned out to be a game-winning 3-run HR.  You can question Joe's decision to not just go with Robertson to start the inning if you want, but the bottom line is that nobody got the job done in the 9th and the Yankees lost because of it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Rest For Raul

(Dude looks tired to me... Courtesy of Getty Images)

For someone who didn't come in with a lot of fanfare or expectations after being signed, Raul Ibanez has been an incredibly important piece of the Yankee lineup this year.  I know that after watching him flail his way through ST and deliver a classic .gif-worthy defensive botch almost immediately after taking a spot in the outfield, I had already started to countdown to the eventual "Raul Ibanez has been DFA'd" story in my head.  But he started to swing the bat OK and hit for some power early in the season, and with Brett Gardner's continued injury setbacks keeping the lineup flexibility limited, Ibanez has proven to be an incredibly valuable resource to have.  He's provided pop when the lineup needed it and his overall defense has been much better than expected.

June has been a pretty rough month for Raul, though.  After yesterday's game, he's hitting .177/.261/.290 for the month in 69 plate appearances, good for a .244 wOBA and a 45 wRC+.  His season batting line had dipped down below the .240/.300 BA/OBP barrier before he used yesterday's at-bats to get himself back up to exactly .240 and .300, and I can't help but wonder if all this time in the outfield covering for the loss of Gardner is starting to catch up with him.

Attempting To Put A Positive Spin On The CC/Andy Injuries

(Unless he's praying to Mecca, that's not a position you want to see Andy in.  Courtesy of Robert Sabo/NY Daily News)

Injuries suck.  There's no other way to say it.  And the reminders that they're "part of the game" and "every team is dealing with them" don't make them suck any less when they happen to your team.  The Yankees have already dealt with their fair share of injury woes in 2012, and yesterday's double-whammy of injury-related suckiness was even more woeful considering it knocked out the Yankees' 2 best starting pitchers for at least the next 2-3 weeks and certainly much longer than that for 1 of them.  There's no way for this situation to suck any less than it already does, but there are a few silver linings and maybe even a positive or 2 to be taken from this situation if I can spin things right.

Game 74 Wrap-Up: NYY 5 CLE 4 (Andy's Ankle 0)

(A grimacing pitcher is never good.  Courtesy of The AP)

At least they got the win and got the sweep.  That's really the only positive to be taken from yesterday's game and pretty much yesterday in general if you're a Yankee fan.  Well that and the fact that Robinson Cano is going to win AL Player of the Month for June.  They lost CC before the game, lost Andy during the game, and both of them are going to miss enough time to make their injuries more than just day-to-day.  It's a shame too, because outside of the 1 unearned run he gave up, Andy was putting in work against the Indians' lineup yesterday.

Game Notes:

- Andy came out firing, striking out the side in the top of the 1st, all on sliders.  He struck out 7 through the first 4 innings, and were it not for an A-Rod throwing error they could have been scoreless.

- Ubaldo Jimenez held the offense hitless through 3, but they struck in the 4th once the lineup rolled over.  Eric Chavez got the key hit, a 2-out, 2-RBI double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.


- Andy's 1-1 pitch to Casey Kotchman in the top of the 5th would prove to be diastrous.  Kotchman lined a shot right off Andy's left ankle, and despite his best efforts he couldn't stay in the game.  After Andy departed, the combination of Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada coughed up the lead before Freddy Garcia (believe it or not) came in to finish the inning.

- The Yankee offense would not be held down, though, and it was the combination of Alex Rodriguez, redeeming himself for the earlier error, and the scorching-hot Cano who combined to regain the lead on a 2-run Cano HR to left in the 6th.  The dude is hitting everything right now, and hitting everything everywhere.

- Chavez drove in a big run in the bottom of the 8th on a groundball base hit to right to extend the lead to 5-3.  There's nothing flashy about his season line, but Chavez has had some big hits.

- After D-Rob struck out 2 in a perfect 8th, Rafael Soriano came on (4th appearance in 5 days) and made things interesting in the bottom of the 9th, walking in a run to make it 5-4.  But he held on and saved the win, ensuring that the day wasn't a total loss.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Force Works In Mysterious Ways...

What Andy said:

"We’re playing well, everybody’s throwing the ball well, and we’ve got guys that are going to step up and do a great job. I’ll be back. Time flies quick. I’ll be back before you know it."

What he meant:

"You can't win, Casey. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."

BREAKING NEWS: CC To the 15-Day DL (Update: Pettitte Out Too)

(Bummer, dude.  Courtesy of The AP)

The story has been out there for a little over an hour now, but CC Sabathia will be heading to the disabled list for the first time in his Yankee career after suffering a Grade-1 strain of the adductor muscle in his left leg.

Chad Jennings of LoHud has the backstory and the latest details on the situation, but it doesn't sound like anything serious; more precautionary than anything.  CC felt something in his start on Sunday against the Mets and it was still there during his latest bullpen, so with the All Star break coming up the decision was made to 15-day him and let him get back to 100%.  It's the smart play considering CC is the ace of the staff and the Yankees have a cushion in the division right now.

Freddy Garcia will take CC's spot in the rotation while he's out.  Shouldn't be more than 2 starts.  If any additional important details come up, I'll update as needed.

** UPDATE- 1:50PM- Not CC-related, but Andy Pettitte was knocked out of today's game in the 5th inning after taking a line drive off his left shin/ankle.  Limped off the mound, and Freddy Garcia is now in the game as part of the carousel of pitchers trying to replace him.  No news on Andy's condition yet, but this could throw an even bigger wrench into the Yankees' current rotation situation. **

** UPDATE- 2:47PM- Yankees are saying the diagnosis for Andy is a fractured left ankle.  No surgery planned, but he's expected to miss at least 6 weeks.  Suddenly the rotation is looking very thin. **

On Dewayne Wise's Non-Catch And Fan Actions On The Play

Obviously the Dewayne catch drop of the foul ball hit into the stands in the top of the 7th last night was an incredible botch by the umpires, and the latest example of why MLB needed to institute instant replay yesterday.  The video can't be embedded, but you can watch the entire play in real time and multiple replays here.  I can understand missing the call in real time to a certain degree, especially with Wise tumbling into the front row so quickly.  But 3rd base ump Mike DiMuro, shown running towards the play in the replays, was in perfect position to see the ball come out of the glove, still missed it, and then for some reason did not check to make sure Wise had the ball in his glove as he climbed back onto the field, which Wise didn't.  I mean, great effort by Wise on the play, but it wasn't like he even really sold the catch that well.

That is what it is.  What I want to talk about is the fan conduct in that area during the whole ordeal.  Too often we see overzealous fans in those front row seats around the field stupidly interfere with their home team players trying to make a catch so they can get on TV.  This was not the case last night.  Yeah, there were a few fans standing up and raising their hands to make a play, but check the people directly in the area of where Wise was reaching/falling to make the play, particularly the dude in the red shirt:

He's standing back, out of the way, and giving Wise room to make the play without interference.  He was smart enough to recognize the situation, follow the play, and make sure that he didn't get involve to screw up Wise's attempt to make the out.  Good on you, sir.  +1.

Now, on the other side of that coin are the 2 goobers who picked up the ball that Wise dropped:

Game 73 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 CLE 4

(Not a catch.  Courtesy of The AP)

After his awful start in Anaheim at the end of May, Phil Hughes rebounded in his next outing to pitch a 1-run complete game against Detroit.  Hughes got shelled in his start in Atlanta last week and much as he did in Detroit, Hughes rebounded big time against Cleveland last night at The Stadium, pitching 8 shutout innings and leading the Yankees to their 4th straight win.

Game Notes:

- Hughes walked leadoff batter Shin-Soo Choo but quickly retired the next 6 batters he faced in order to get through 2 innings.  He was throwing the curveball for strikes and there was even a changeup or 2 in there.

- The offense gave Hughes an early lead with a 3-run bottom of the 2nd against Justin Masterson.  With 2 outs and Nick Swisher on 1st, the Yanks put together 4 consecutive singles, 2 of which didn't leave the infield.  The big blow was Curtis Granderson's 2-run line drive to left.

- Stuff has never been a problem with Hughes this year.  He's shown to be fully recovered from last season's shoulder ailment, and his K rate this season reflects that.  Interestingly enough, Hughes didn't record his first K until the top of the 4th last night, an inning in which he had 2 and maintained his 3-0 lead.

- The Yanks plated another run in the 5th after a C-Grand leadoff walk, Robinson Cano single, and Mark Teixeira sac fly.  It wasn't a hit with RISP, but it was a manufactured run and didn't come on a HR, so suck it, haters.

- How about a hand for Dewayne Wise, master of the hidden ball trick?!  Replay showed that Wise' near-incredible catch into the stands in the top of the 7th wasn't even close to being caught, but Wise fooled the umpire.  Give him credit and give the ump scorn.

- Alex Rodriguez got things back to normal offensively with a solo shot in the bottom of the 7th to make it 5-0, just in case anybody was worried that the Yanks weren't going to hit enough HRs.

- Hughes was already over 100 pitches after 7, but Joe sent him back out for the 8th and Hughes had arguably his best inning of the night, retiring the side in order on 10 pitches.

- Chris Stewart plate a 6th run with a sac fly in the 8th and it turned out to be a damn good thing he did because Cory Wade almost gave the game back with a 4-run 9th.  His fastball command was not there and it was up to Rafael Soriano to get the 2-pitch save.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Birthday To The Captain

"Why yes.  Jessicas Biel and Alba will be joining me for a postgame rendezvous." Courtesy of The Daily News)

It would be a Yankee sacrilege to not point out and acknowledge that today is Derek Jeter's birthday.  The Captain turns 38 today, and despite a recent stretch of underwhelming offensive output, is still outperforming what a shortstop his age should rightfully be doing.  The guy is and has been the unofficial King of New York for the last 15 years or so, is a 5-time champion, a member of the 3,000-hit club, a no-doubt first-ballot HOFer, and yet it still doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was dragging my old man to card shows at the mall so I could push people out of the way and buy up as many Derek Jeter cards as my minuscule 13-year-old bankroll would allow.

So Happy Birthday, Derek!  Keep doing the damn thing.  If recent history has taught us anything, it's that Jeter will probably go 3-4 tonight with a walk, 2 doubles, and the game-winning RBI.

P.S.- What do you get Derek Jeter for his birthday?  Does his family even bother getting him gifts or even a card?  What do you get the guy who has everything??  He's Derek Effing Jeter for crying out loud!

5 Reasons To Be Confident That The Yankees Will Win The AL East

Just to be clear, before anyone bookmarks this post to point back to in October if the Yankees don't win the division, this is not me coming out and saying that the Yankees are absolutely going to win the AL East this year.

/checks the title of the post

Crap.  Maybe it is.  Well whatever.  I'm feeling pretty good about where the Yankees stand right now and I'm not going to apologize for it.  The doom and gloom of May has been replaced by a very successful June, and that's despite the fact that there are still some glaring problem areas in the team's overall performance.  The Yankees have risen while the rest of their AL East competition has either floundered or treaded water, and with 90 games to play to iron out their remaining issues there's reason to be confident.  That confidence comes with plenty of "ifs," "ands," and "buts" attached to it, and this season has already taught us that even the most unthinkable can happen, but here are 5 things that can counter a lot of the IA&Bs as we move closer to the 2nd half of the season.

Game 72 Wrap-Up: NYY 7 CLE 1

(Dude's been getting a lot of high fives lately.  Courtesy of The AP)

Hey look!  We're back in the American League! Back in baseball civilization where there are designated hitters and less than 17 sacrifice bunts a game, and people like Jordany Valdespin and Vinny Rottino are not on active rosters.  And last night's return matchup to the Varsity league should have been an interesting one as Hiroki Kuroda faced the Cleveland Indians, a team he'd never faced before, and the Indian hitters faced Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher they'd never faced before.  The Yankee lineup was familiar with Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin and looking to build on previous successes against him.

Game Notes:

- Tomlin doesn't have putaway stuff, so he makes his living on command.  He didn't have it last night and against the patient Yankee lineup that's not a good thing.  They worked him over in the top of the 1st for 35 pitches and 2 runs on a C-Grand walk, Teix single off the wall in right, and 2-run double to the right-center gap by Robinson Cano.

- Tomlin's command didn't improve much in the 2nd when he pretty much put a curveball on a tee for Dewayne Wise that Wise crushed for a 2-run HR.  When Dewayne Wise is taking you deep, that's never a good sign.

- Cano kept the run-scoring train going in the the 3rd when he smashed a 2-out homer to right field to give the Yanks a 5-0 lead.  Nick Swisher shoveled more coal on the fire with an opposite-field solo job right after Cano to make it 6-0.

- Oh yeah, Kuroda was pitching too.  And he did a damn fine job through the first 6 innings, minus the top of the 4th when he started pussyfooting around the strike zone and walked the first 2 batters.  He was efficient, he threw strikes, and wasn't trying to do too much against a weak Cleveland lineup.

- The HR in the 2nd inning was good enough, but the RBI triple in the bottom of the 6th for Wise was just insult to injury.  And yeah, he was out at third but what are you gonna do?  Dewayne Wise: Power Hitter.

- His final line got marred a bit by the runners he put on in the top of the 8th when he shouldn't have been in the game (thanks, Joe!), But Kuroda was very good last night.  The bullpen hosses needed a night off and his 7+ strong innings gave them just that.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Throw the damn towel indeed.  Poor Josh Tomlin.  Dude probably wishes it was still interleague play.

D-Rob Hasn't Missed A Beat

D-Rob's line since returning to the active roster on 6/15:

4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

- 4 appearances in a little over a week?  Check.

- At least on baserunner in each outing?  Check.

- Extra drama being added to each outing because of the presence of said baserunners?  Check.

- High K rate and incredible timeliness of strikeouts to close out innings and strand said baserunners?  Check.

Game 71 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 NYM 5

(Touchdown!  Courtesy of The AP)

The internet at my apartment was kind enough to crap out on me in the middle of the 8th inning last night, so while you can refer back to last night's live blog to get everything that happened leading up to that point, I'll use the space here to cover what happened after and hand out the AB4AR good checks and bad checks on another Subway Series victory for the Yankees.

Game Notes:

- After Robinson Cano's MONSTER blast to dead center field to give the Yankees the 6-5 lead in the 8th, the whole "Freddy Garcia coming into a close game" idea was scrapped and Joe went to D-Rob to pitch the bottom half.

- Pitching for the 2nd consecutive day for the first time since coming back, D-Rob did his usual thing, striking out the first 2 batters of the inning before Andres Torres singled to right, stole second, and took third on a balk.  After falling behind Ruben Tejada 3-0, Robertson battled back and forced a groundout to A-Rod to end the threat.

- Rafael Soriano came into the game to close it out in the 9th, and the rain came with him, but it didn't bother Raffy as he worked around a 2-out Lucas Duda single to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

AB4AR "Parachute Pants vs. Knuckle Dick" Subway Series Live Blog

The decision to do another live blog was a pretty easy one to make once I knew tonight's pitching matchup was Carsten Charles and Robert Alan.  I've listened to everybody on ESPN fall all over themselves praising R.A. Dickey for the past couple weeks and declaring him the no-doubt NL ASG starter over guys like Greinke, Strasburg, and Cain, who are having just as good if not better seasons, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for CC and the Yankee offense knock Dickey down a peg tonight.  CC is coming off a much more CC-like complete game win against Atlanta on Monday, and if he has that 4-seamer working again tonight he could really chew up this Mets lineup.

NYY Starting Lineup:

1) Derek Jeter- SS
2) Curtis Granderson- CF
3) Alex Rodriguez- 3B
4) Robinson Cano- 2B
5) Mark Teixeira- 1B
6) Nick Swisher- RF
7) Raul Ibanez- LF
8) Chris Stewart- C
9) CC Sabathia- P

First pitch should be about 8:07PM Eastern/7:07 Central, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that it's a knuckleball.  Live blog kicks off about 30 minutes before that, so I should have plenty of time to get a few jabs in at John Kruk or whoever is in the BBTN studio tonight.  Come join me, won't you?

(I wanted to go with the Ron Burgundy, "we're on the air?  Right now?  I don't believe you" line here, but I couldn't find it)

Game 70 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 NYM 3

(Betcha Jesus Montero wouldn't have hit that.  Courtesy of

Things were sloppy early in the game.  The starting pitching was inconsistent, the defense was shoddy, and the offense was nowhere to be found again.  The Yankees didn't resemble chickens so much as they did dumb dodo birds; too clumsy and dopey to get out of their own ways.  But a quick offensive strike in the 7th inning was enough to give them a lead, a lead that the bullpen made sure held up, and we will head into tonight's marquee primetime matchup with the series on the line.

Game Notes:

- Ivan Nova wasn't horrible by any stretch of the imagination last night.  He did a pretty good job of mixing pitches and keeping the ball down in the zone, and did strike out 7 in 5.2 innings.  But he was a little inconsistent with his fastball command, and it got him into trouble a couple times.

- The first time was against Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the bottom of the 3rd, when he fell behind 3-1 and let a fastball get just enough of the plate that Nieuwenhuis was able to hit it the other way for a HR and a 1-0 Mets lead.

- The second was in the next inning, when he gave up a double to Omar Quintanilla that eventually led to a run on a Josh Thole groundout.  In fairness to Nova, that run may not have scored if A-Rod doesn't bobble a Scott Hairston grounder to start the inning.

- Through 5 innings the offense wasn't doing much to help Nova.  They managed just 2 singles and 2 walks against Chris Young, and despite Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson's best efforts to create opportunities with stolen bases on the basepaths, the scoreboard was filled with 0s.

- The bottom of the 6th was a combination of bad pitching by Nova and questionable strategy by Joe.  After giving up a leadoff double, Nova retired the next 2 batters before being ordered to intentionally walk Thole to get to Young.  Nova threw a first-pitch fastball down the middle and Young hit it for an RBI single to make it a 3-0 Mets lead and the end of Nova's night.

- Something must have clicked the third time through the order, because the Yankees punished Young in the 7th inning and they did it quickly.  He walked Mark Teixeira to lead off the inning, then gave up a double to Nick Swisher and a game-tying 3-run HR to Raul Ibanez on consecutive pitches.  The lead was gone and Young was finished just like that.

- It would get no better after Jon Rauch replaced Young.  He struck out Russell Martin, then watched as pinch hitter Eric Chavez smacked an 0-2 fastball over the left field wall for a solo HR and a 4-3 Yankee lead.

- There was certainly nothing chicken-like about the way the bullpen handled the game once they got the lead.  Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano combined for 3 scoreless innings, just 2 hits, and 7 strikeouts to lock up the win.  Logan was really big, striking out Lucas Dude and Daniel Murphy to end the 7th, and D-Rob worked around 2 walks to K the side in the 8th.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mid-Season Minor League Thoughts And Afterthoughts

(Yes, this kid is the future. Screen cap courtesy of

Tonight's game is still 4 hours away, and I'm probably going to get screwed on the regional FOX coverage again because the lameass Brewers are on the schedule as well.  So that being the situation it is, and us being right around the mid-way point of the Minor League season, why not have us some good old-fashioned free-flowing commentary on the Yankee MiL system?  Good?  Good.

Game 69 Wrap-Up: NYM 6 NYY 4

(Swag.  Courtesy of The AP)

The losing streak is official now, so that's a bummer.  Andy Pettitte was on the mound to face Jonathon Niese again last night, and like his last appearance against the Mets, this one was marred by one bad inning.  That "one bad inning" theme has really come back to haunt the Yankee starters this week, as has the offense's inability to drive in runs when they put runners on base.  Both of those problems were the direct causes of last night's loss, and something the Yanks need to clean up to start getting back on the right side of these close games.

Game Notes:

- You wouldn't have known it at the time, but the game was basically over after the 1st inning.  Andy gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in the bottom of the 1st, the big blow a 3-run HR by Ike Davis on a hanging slider that Nick Swisher almost (and probably should have) brought back.

- After that disastrous 1st, Andy worked the next 5 innings scoreless, giving up only 2 hits and recording 12 outs either on the ground or via strikeout, but the damage was done.

- It was like the tale of 2 Andys.  In the 1st, he didn't seem to have a feel for any of his pitches.  In the 2nd-6th, it was like the Andy we've seen since he came back.  Really strange.

- The offense was homer-happy again (Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones each crushed solo jobs in the 6th and 7th to make it 5-2), but other than that there wasn't much generated against Niese.  They put 2 runners on in the top of the 1st and 2nd innings and turned those opportunities into nothing.

- Cory Wade replaced Andy in the 7th and gave up a big run on an Omar Quintanilla single and David Wright double to make it 6-2 Mets, and that extra run really stood out after Robinson Cano hit a 2-run bomb in the 8th to pull the Yankees within 6-4.

- 2 runs was as close as the Bombers would get, despite Frank Francisco's best efforts to give the game back.  He gave up a deep line drive by Russell Martin to lead off the 9th that Andres Torres made a diving catch on, put the next 2 baserunners on with 1 out, and then got bailed out when Curtis Granderson took strike 3 right down the middle and Mark Teixeira popped a belt-high fastball up to short to end the game.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 6/22

Not having a smart phone kicks ass.  It really does.  I have the most basic, shitty flip phone available through Verizon and I absolutely love it.  It allows me to make and receive the phone calls I want to make and receive and has unlimited messaging so that I can stay in relatively constant text message contact with those I wish to text.  And the best part is, it's my personal phone, so I'm not subjected to all the work BS and don't have my contact information out there on some wireless company network for every Tom, Dick, and Harry from my company or our customer base to find.  I don't need 24/7 access to the internet or my work email and I sure as shit don't want it.  I'm on the internet for pretty much every hour of the day that I'm awake, and that's good enough for me.  If you're out there and you still have a flip phone like me, you know exactly what I'm talking about and you know that I'm right.  Now onto the links!

- On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog examined the stats for 2012 interleague play to show that the AL (and the Yankees) are still the Drago to the NL's Creed.

- On Tuesday, Dan Pfeiffer of NYY Universe commented on the suddenly crowded Triple-A rotation and who could be getting moved out of it.

- Rob Steingall of Pinstripe Alley profiled Low-A Charleston 2nd baseman Angelo Gumbs and the under-the-radar solid season he's putting together.

- On Wednesday, Donnie Collins of the SWB Blog had the details on the upcoming contest to rename the Triple-A team and remove the "Yankees" title.

- Brian D. of Yankees Fans Unite issued his own reactions and thoughts on the Roger Clemens verdict.

- William Tasker of IIATMS pointed out some troubling trends in A-Rod's numbers that suggest a big power surge might not be coming from him.

- Ben Badler of Baseball America has the most thorough scouting report I've seen so far on new international FA signee Omar Luis Rodriguez.

- On Thursday, SJK of NoMaas continued to point out the major source of the Yankees' RISP Fail.

- Chad Jennings of LoHud looked at what has changed for the Yankees in the past month, both for better and for worse.

- Joe Pawlikowski of RAB ran through the possible explanations for why Phil Hughes struggles to put batters away with 2 strikes.

- On Friday, Matt Imbrogno of TYA followed up on Joe's Hughes piece with his own analysis of Hughes' pitch selection with 2 strikes.

- Mike Eder of TYA, in preparation for Sunday's "CC vs. R.A." showdown, shone his bright PITCHf/x light on R.A. Dickey and his curveball.

I had a song in mind for the Friday Jam on Tuesday, but that was before I watched the old Alice In Chains "MTV Unplugged" concert from 1996 in its entirety on YouTube on Wednesday.  Damn that was a great concert and Alice In Chains was easily the best rock band to come out in the early 90s.  I want to say I've played them once before here, but I don't care.  Alice In Chains is the biz.

One last link, and it's the usual self-promotion one.  If you have the time or the desire, please check out the AB4AR Facebook Page and "Like" it.  I would appreciate it.  Oh, and if you didn't think I was going to do another live blog for the Sunday night game, you are outside of your mind.  So make sure you're around to check that out.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Frank Francisco Is Kidding, Right?

From the NY Post:

"'I can’t wait to face those chickens,' Mets closer Frank Francisco told The Post when asked about playing the Yankees in this weekend’s Subway Series at Citi Field.  'I want to strike out the side against them. I’ve done it before.'"

Checking On The Yankees' All Star Game Chances

The 2012 Major League Baseball All Star Game is a little over 3 weeks away, and there's already been a few rounds of ballot updates that have been released showing where players stand in the fan voting.  The Yankees are well represented in the top 5 at almost every position, and in some cases are leading the charge.  But how many Yankees realistically have a chance at making the ASG roster for the American League?  Quickly, and simply, let's take a quick look.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Curtis Granderson: Master Of The 3 True Outcomes

("Base hits?  Groundouts to third?  Sorry.  Fresh outta those.")

I've been having a bit of fun with the Curtis Granderon "not a home run hitter" theme in the past week or so.  I find it amusing that Curtis is still so adamant about NOT being a home run hitter, like it's some kind of pock mark on his statistical profile and reputation.  Being known as a guy who produces the best possible offensive outcome when he steps to the plate with great regularity is easily one of the best compliments that you can be given as an offensive player, so it entertains me every time he smacks one, knowing that the topic will come up postgame and I'll get the chance to read his response and chuckle to myself.

If Curtis doesn't want to be labeled as a home run hitter, more power to him.  But one trend that is undeniable is his movement towards becoming a much higher "Three True Outcomes" hitter since his well-documented hitting therapy session with Kevin Long in 2010.

Musing On The Future Of The 2012 Rotation

2012 has been a season of surprises for the Yankee starting pitching staff.  The mid-January trade for Michael Pineda was a surprise, as was the follow-up signing of Hiroki Kuroda, who did not appear to be on the Yankees' radar anymore at the time.  Andy Pettitte announcing his return was a surprise, and a welcome one after the surprising season-ending labrum tear suffered by Pineda.  Once the season started, the poor collective performance out of the gate was a bit surprising, with guys like Kuroda and Ivan Nova, who were expected to be at least above-average, contributing more poor starts than good ones.  The recent turnaround and red hot streak of the rotation (Phil Hughes' stinker yesterday not included) has been surprising.  And I don't think any of us envisioned Andy's comeback being this successful or a stretch where every start was pitching like a #1 or #2 guy.

This continuing string of surprises from what is almost always the most talked-about part of the Yankee roster should make the next 94 games incredibly exciting for Yankee fans.  Where will they go from here?  Who will continue to pitch well?  Will anybody get hurt?  Will the team trade for another pitcher (hopefully not)?  And not to jump the gun or anything, but assuming they make it, what is the postseason rotation going to look like?  But as I sit here on another off day, with Phil's bad outing very easy to analyze and nothing else really jumping out at me, my thoughts about the current rotation start to drift further into the future. I start to wonder about just where this group is going to be in 2013 and if there's a possibility of all of them being back in pinstripes.

Game 68 Wrap-Up: ATL 10 NYY 5

(Hot towel, anybody?  Hot towel?  Courtesy of The AP)

I don't consider a winning streak official until it reaches 3 games, and the same logic holds for losing streaks.  The Yankee pitching that had been so stellar this month hit another pothole yesterday, Phil Hughes in particular.  The individual HRs he had been allowing ballooned into multiple HRs and the Yankees found themselves in an early hole that they weren't able to dig all the way out of.

Game Notes:

- The theme of Hughes' inability to finish off batters and innings returned in the top of the 1st, when he got 2 outs but then gave up an RBI single to Dan Uggla on a 2-2 pitch and a 2-run HR to Freddie Freeman on a 1st-pitch fastball for a quick 3-0 Braves lead.

- Power from The Captain is always a plus, and Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the 1st with a 1st-pitch homer of his own off Tommy Hanson.

- Hughes got 5 straight outs after the Freeman dinger, but then got in trouble throwing 4 straight fastballs, the last one in a clear fastball count to Martin Prado in the 3rd that Prado hit for a HR.  Hughes missed with another 2-strike fastball to Jason Heyward in the 4th to make it 5-1 Atlanta.

- He mixed it up a little by leaving a curveball up just enough for David Ross to lead off the 5th with a HR, and Hughes had a new career high for HR allowed in a game with 4.  It was just a tough day for Phil.  He didn't locate his fastball or his curveball well, and with those 2 pitches being the bulk of his offerings these days, that wasn't a good combination.

- The offense slowly chipped away with a homer barrage of their own.  Eric Chavez led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo shot, and Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back bombs in the 6th to pull within 2.

- Give a call to Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada, who worked a perfect 2.1 innings after Hughes with 5 Ks to give the offense a chance.  Damn fine middle relief work.

- Curtis Granderson got the Yanks within 1 in the 7th with an RBI single, but the good work Eppley and Rapada did was quickly erased by Cory Wade and Boone Logan, who gave up 3 runs in the 8th to put the game out of reach, the last 2 on Heyward's 2nd HR of the day off a hanging Logan slider.

- Fun fact on a bad day: the 9 combined HRs between the 2 teams tied a Yankee home game record and set the "new" record for the new Yankee Stadium.  Not that that makes the loss any better.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Michael Pineda Resurfaces

("GET TO DA CHOPPAH!!!!"  Used courtesy of NY Daily News)

There was a surprise guest in the Yankee clubhouse before last night's game.  You might remember him as the top-flight young starter for whom the Yankees traded their top prospect, a Mr. Michael Pineda.

Chad Jennings of LoHud had the details on Pineda's return, and they included positive reports on his rehab from his labrum surgery, his apparently improved physical condition, and suggestions that he could be ready to start throwing again by September.  All of this is about as good as any news could be on Pineda, who will undoubtedly enter Spring Training 2013 as an even bigger wild card than he was this year.  I hope the plan is to give him as long as he needs to make a full recovery and be able to return to full pitching form, even if that means him missing part or all of ST or the beginning of the regular season next year.

And because we're keeping this Pineda talk positive, I'm not even going to mention how the team's winning streak was broken on the day that he showed back up in the clubhouse.

Game 67 Wrap-Up: ATL 4 NYY 3

(You're out, dude.  By a fucking mile.  Courtesy of

We all knew that the Yankees weren't going to win every game for the rest of the season.  And the fact that they had this 10-game winning streak against a bunch of above-.500 teams was an impressive feat and a sign of what this team is capable of.  But that doesn't make losing and having that streak broken any easier, especially in a game where the Yankees had multiple chances to get the runs they would have needed to win.

Game Notes:

- Hiroki Kuroda worked briskly through the first 2 innings on 2 strikeouts, 2 groundouts, and 2 flyouts, and it looked like he was lined up to keep the streak of standout starting pitching going.

- The offense followed up with a Teix single, Raul Ibanez double, and Nick Swisher 2-RBI double off of Tim Hudson to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd, and it looked like the winning streak was going to be in good shape to continue as well.

- But it all came to a halt after that half-inning.  Kuroda gave back 1 run in the 3rd after a leadoff triple from Jason Heyward, and then imploded with 2 outs in the 4th, going walk, double, walk, single to allow 2 more runs to score and the Braves to take a 3-2 lead.

- The offense bounced back in the bottom half, scratching an unearned runs across on a pair of errors by Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones to tie the game, but that was really the last time we would hear from the lineup all night.

- The Braves took the lead in the 6th on a leadoff ground-rule double and a hotshot RBI single by Heyward that went off of Teix.  Kuroda wasn't awful last night, but in situations where he needed to make a pitch, situations that he consistently came through in last time against Atlanta, he couldn't do it.  Sometimes it goes that way.

- Ugly finish to the game by the offense.  Teix got thrown out at home in the 5th by about 100 feet, and Curtis Granderson also got thrown out at home in the 7th, the 2-55 spots in the lineup went a combined 2-16 with 0 RBI, and they only recorded 1 hit as a team in the final 4 innings.

- When you draw 5 walks against somebody like Hudson and get him out of the game after 5 innings, you should win.  The Yankees' inability to capitalize and get those timely hits that they've been getting (2-11 w/ RISP as a team) were why they didn't last night.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Josh Norris' "State Of The System"

I'm a day late on this, but if you're looking for some good afternoon/evening reading, look no further than Josh Norris' 4-part "State of The System" series that he posted over on his blog on Sunday.  Norris covers the Trenton Thunder full time, but he's also one of the foremost authorities on the Yankee farm system in general, and the insight he provides and direct quotes from scouts that he posts here is further proof. 

I'm always fascinated by the drastically different opinions that one scout and another can have on one prospect, and there are more than a few of those cases in Josh's report.  Definitely a must-read if you like following the Minors or fancy yourself an amateur prospect expert.

- Triple-A Empire State

- Double-A Trenton

- High-A Tampa

- Low-A Charleston

A Quick Word On Roger Clemens

Everybody knows by now that the verdict came back in the Roger Clemens perjury trial yesterday, and unsurprisingly it came back not guilty on all counts.  Seeing the way the Barry Bonds trial played out, I knew this was coming, and I don't feel bad saying that you're a complete idiot if you expected anything otherwise.  I didn't give this incredible waste of media air time and US taxpayer money one second of thought while it was going on, and I didn't give it one more second when the verdict was announced yesterday.

I don't need a guilty verdict to know that Roger Clemens used steroids.  I know he did, and I've known for a while now.  And it really doesn't change my opinion of him because I was never a big Roger Clemens fan anyway.  I always thought he was an asshole; I always thought he was a money-grubbing mercenary who was too caught up in the smell of his own farts and the sound of the local and national media fellating him to care about any of his teammates or fans.  My greatest memory of Clemens is him pitching like shit and probably faking an injury to get removed from Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS, so that should tell you everything you need to know about where I stand on him.

That being said, when I saw the video of his post-verdict press conference yesterday, I did have one thought and one thought only that went through my head.

Singing The Songs Of The Unsung Bullpen Heroes

(Cody Who??? Courtesy of Getty Images)

Say what you will about the Yankees' organizational ability to successfully manage their young pitching prospects and build them into something useful, or their ability to scout and sign the right external free agent pitchers to strengthen their rotation.  Both of those track records are filled with their fair share of flops and failures, and any kind of reasonable criticism directed at them comes with some truth attached.  But if there's one thing the Yankees have done consistently well in recent years, it's find and implement good relief pitching from unexpected sources.  Internally, externally, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere.  The Yankees know how to get value from undervalued relief assets and the Cody Eppley-Clay Rapada tag team this season is just the latest example.

Game 66 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 ATL 2

(Fastball command is funny.  Courtesy of The AP)

After a long day at the office, I just didn't have another live blog in me for last night's game.  And with CC Sabathia back on the mound, I wanted to spend more time watching the game and really pay attention to his fastball to see if he had made any improvements with it.  Swish was still out of commish, and Raul got the night off with the lefty Mike Minor on the mound for Atlanta, so the lineup was a little short.  But Carsten was on his game, and Minor couldn't repeat the success that he had the last time out.

Game Notes:

- The Braves came into the game scoreless in their last 20 innings, and it took all of 4 pitches from CC to end that streak.  A leadoff triple to left-center for Michael Bourn and a groundout by Martin Prado and Atlanta led 1-0.

- That was all Atlanta would get, though, as CC worked out of the inning without further issue and needed just 26 more pitches to get through the first 3 frames.  The Braves helped by swinging early (4 1-pitch outs), but give CC credit for that too by being around the plate.

- Minor brought his pitching shoes to The Stadium last night, and matched CC out for out early.  He no-hit the Yanks the first time through the lineup, and through 4 innings had only allowed 1 baserunner.

- CC put the first 2 runners on in the 4th and got out of it, but he wasn't so lucky in the 5th.  Leadoff single by Jason Heyward, infield single off a deflection by Andrelton Simmons, and a 1-out RBI single from Bourn on a pretty good pitch and it was 2-0 Atlanta.

- Minor lost the no-hit bid in the 5th after giving up a leadoff single to A-Rod, and lost the shutout soon after.  Robinson Cano walked, and on a 3-0 pitch Russell Martin got the green light and lined a 1-out ground-rule double to left to score A-Rod and cut the lead in half.  Derek Jeter followed with a 2-out 2-run single to center after a great at-bat and the Yankees took a 3-2 lead.

- If Fredi Gonzalez wasn't regretting sending Minor out to start the bottom of the 6th when the inning started, he definitely was after Mark Teixeira took a hanging change from Minor and parked it in the left field bleachers to lead off the inning.

- You expect your ace to give you shutdown innings after you take a lead, and CC gave the Yankees 3 after they put runs on the board in the 5th, 6th, and 7th.  The 6th-8th innings were easily CC's best of the night; he threw a lot of strikes and got 4 Ks, plus 2 slick plays by Jeter and Cano to end the 7th and 8th innings and preserve a 5-2 Yankee lead.

- Another Robbie Cano HR for more insurance?  Why the hell not?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Love For Sour Puss

By now it should be crystal clear to everybody that I am not, nor have I ever been a Rafael Soriano fan.  He hasn't pitched that great overall since joining the Yankees last season, at least not as well as his monstrosity of a contract would suggest he should be.  Because of that contract, and the fact that nobody in their right mind would give him that much on the open market, he's basically guaranteed to be back on the team as a big financial burden next year.  And he's just really not a very likable guy, definitely not the easiest to root for.

But I'll be damned if old Sour Puss hasn't stepped up the plate and done a bang-up job filling in as the team's closer since Mo and D-Rob went down.  Since becoming the "official" closer on May 10th, here's Soriano's line:

15 App., 13.1 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

Game 65 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 WAS 1

(Winnah!  Courtesy of The AP)

I scoffed when Ivan Nova said he wanted to get away from his new strategy that had made him a big strikeout pitcher and also a big XBH pitcher this season.  I thought he just needed to tighten up the command of his stuff in the zone and he could be a dominant pitcher.  Well what the hell do I know?  Since then, Nova has looked more like the version of himself he was in the second half of last season and he's been silly good in the process.  Yesterday, he put together another great start and got the Yankees their 2nd straight road sweep and 9th straight win in the process.

Game Notes:

- As they've done a lot during this recent hot streak, the offense got off to a fast start and got Nova an early lead.  Derek Jeter led off the game with a single, Curtis Granderson followed with a double, and the Yanks were in business with no outs in the 1st.  They only managed to score 1 run on a Mark Teixeira sac fly, but a 1st-inning lead is still a great thing to have.

- Nova made one mistake in the bottom of the 2nd, a fastball up to Adam LaRoche that he hit for a HR, but otherwise he was on his game early.  He got into trouble in the 3rd with runners on the corners and 1 out, but induced an inning-ending DP ball from Danny Espinosa to end the threat.

- The lineup put pressure on Edwin Jackson, but couldn't convert on their opportunities through 4 innings.  It wasn't until non-home run hitter Curtis Granderson led off the 5th with a HR that they regained the lead.

- As they did with Gonzalez and Zimmerman, the lineup worked Jackson out after 6, and once he left they struck.  Robinson Cano hit a 1-out HR off of reliever Tom Gorzelanny in the 7th, and Mark Teixeira doubled and came around to score on a passed ball to make it 4-1.

- Those 4 runs would be all Nova needed.  He was efficient, he got ahead in the count, and he did a good job of locating the ball down in the zone to get those GBs he loves.  He had the curveball working and really tried to use that as his out pitch, and was brilliant through 7.2 innings before giving way to Boone Logan in the 8th.

- RISP Fail will continue to be a talking point for the offense, and justifiably so after the team went 0-12 yesterday in that situation, but when you get the kind of outing they got from Nova, that masks a lot of problems.

- Sour Puss picked up his 4th straight save since the BS against the Mets last Sunday, and 2nd in as many days, in a clean 9th.