Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why The Eff Is Swish Not On The DL?

I don't get it.  I really don't.  Forget for a second that not putting him on the DL leaves the team with a 24-man roster and a 2-man bench until Gardner comes off the DL, both of which are not exactly winning strategies.  Forget that the 2-man bench will be whoever from the Ibanez-Jones-Nunez isn't scheduled to start and Chris Stewart.  Forget that for the immediate future the Yankees can make things work in the outfield with the bodies they have and will be OK depth-wise when Gardner comes back (assuming he doesn't suffer any last-minute setbacks).  And forget that the MiL call-up options are a bit limited with C-Dick and Zoilo Almonte both on the DL and Dewayne Wise not having any options that would allow the Yankees to stash him back in Triple-A when the time came for him to be sent back down.

Focus solely on Swish and his health, and how well he's played to start this season and how important his offensive contributions have been with the big boppers in front of him in the order scuffling.  Then think about whether or not you would be willing to risk losing that by him coming back too early and re-injuring himself.

Joe has already said that Swish is going to be out for a week.  As early as it still is in the season, what's the harm in putting him on the 15-day, giving him more time to rest the hammy, and increasing the chances that you get a 100% healthy Swish back in the middle of the month?  He's already had some injury scares with his groin issues in Spring Training, and hamstring injuries can be tricky if they aren't allowed to fully heal.  I'd hate to lose Swish long term because a stupid decision was made in the short term.

The Inaugural AB4AR "Best Of The Month" Awards: April 2012

AB4AR takes another step towards blog legitimacy with the first ever handing out of the AB4AR "Best of The Month" awards.  Of course baseball is a team sport, and it's rare that individual plays or players can be pointed to as the sole reason for a victory or a loss, but within that team concept there are always individual performances worth recognizing, and that's what this monthly feature will do.  For as consistently inconsistent as the Yankees were in April, and with as many problem areas as the team seemingly has right now, the best of the month was still very, very good.

And the winners are...

Where For Art Thou, Robinson?

The lack of production from the middle of the Yankee lineup this season is a theme that probably deserves more time and space to discuss than it's gotten so far.  There have been a few big games here and there, but in general the trio of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano has been pretty mediocre, and lucky that the rotation has been even worse.  For guys like A-Rod and Teix, with injury histories, track records of slow starts, and swing/approach adjustments that they're focusing on, the slow start can be understood to a degree.  For Cano, however, his sluggish start comes as a surprise.  This is a guy who hit .320/.340/.639 last April and has a .294/.335/.480 slash in the season's first month in his career, and yet currently sits at .264/.323/.391 (.312 wOBA) 96 plate appearances into the season.  A glance at Cano's peripherals to try to explain this slow start makes the situation all the more confusing.

With Cano, the logical first place to start when investigating problems is his selectivity.  Cano has always been a free swinger with a low BB rate, and those things tend to manifest themselves as bigger problems in his game when he's slumping.  This has not been the case this year, as Cano's current BB rate of 8.3% is consistent with where it was in his banner year of 2010.  He's also sporting a minute 7.3% K rate, indicating that Cano isn't flailing away and missing at a lot of pitches.  His PITCHF/x Swing Rate of 46.0%, O-Swing Rate of 25.6%, and SwStr Rate of 6.2% are also lower than they usually are for Cano, significantly lower in the case of the Swing Rates, and support the theory that Cano has been more selective and less swing-happy at the plate this year.  In theory, a hitter of Cano's caliber should have much better numbers with across-the-board improvements in the swing/take department.  Something's not adding up here.

Game 22 Wrap-Up: NYY 2 BAL 1

(Out!  Courtesy of Getty Images)

The Yankees used the Orioles to end their season-opening losing streak with a 3-game sweep in Baltimore earlier in the month.  They were looking for the same thing this time around coming off a series win against Detroit, and had the type of pitcher in Hiroki Kuroda who could hold the free-swinging Baltimore lineup down if his command was on.

Game Notes:

- I don't know when Eric Chavez's power got moved out of the ICU and off the Witness Protection Program, but it's good to see it back.  Chavez cranked a 2-run HR off Baltimore starter Jason Hammel in the bottom of the 2nd, his 3rd of the season, to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead, and looked damn good doing it.

- Kuroda was nothing if not efficient in his start last night.  His stuff wasn't great, and his command wasn't perfect, but Kuroda still managed to mix pitches well and keep the Orioles off the bases.  A cheap run on a sac fly in the 2nd was all Baltimore had to their names through 5 innings, and Kuroda had thrown only 63 pitches.

- Give Baltimore starter Jason Hammel credit.  After the Chavez HR he managed to make it through 6 innings without allowing another run to score.  It took him 101 pitches to do it, and he did get bailed out by a first-pitch swinging double play to end the 6th, but it was still a solid job.

- Things got a little hairy for Kuroda in the 7th when a single, hit batter, and wild pitch put runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out.  But Kuroda got a big strikeout of Chris Davis and made a great play tagging out Nick Markakis trying to score on a wild pitch to keep the O's off the board and keep the lead intact.

- D-Rob was absolutely filthy striking out the side in the 8th.  Just dirty.  Kuroda was only at 87 pitches through 7, but Joe probably wanted to stay on the safe side after the tumble Kuroda took making the play at the plate aN. Robertson was available.  Not a bad call to make.

- The Yankee offense could do no more after Hammel left the game, but it didn't matter.  Mo came in for the 9th, exit light, enter night, 2-1 Yankee win.

** UPDATE- 3:50PM- Tonight's pitching matchup corrected after the jump.  Apparently keeping 5 guys in order is a tall task for me.**