Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2-Game Slump Thoughts And Afterthoughts

- Well it's official now.  If you want a guaranteed way to beat the Yankees just throw a pitcher out there that they've never faced before.  You would have thought Brian Bullington and Max Scherzer were neck and neck for the Cy Young Award the way they dominated the Bombers over the last 2 days.

- The sad thing is that the Yanks get shut down by marginal or mediocre young pitchers like this all the time.  The even sadder thing is that the "never faced before" excuse seems to fly for them and the YES announcers.  I don't give a fuck if they've faced a guy a million times or none.  It's not that hard to have people in your organization study film of their OTHER starts, take notes on their tendencies, and build a profile for the team to work off of when they come up against a new opponent. 

Guys like Bullington, with his winless career and "major bust" status shouldn't need to have been seen before for the Yankees to beat him into the ground.  But if that's what these guys need to succeed, then somebody in the scouting department needs to get on checking the schedule and preparing for pitchers the Yankees don't have a history against.

- Where has all the clutch hitting gone?  I commented a week ago on how the Yankees hitting with RISP could have cost them 2 games against Boston, and that inability to get the big hit has continued to plague them.  Everyone in the Detroit bullpen gave them chances last night, putting runners on like it was going out of style, and the Yanks could do nothing with the opportunities gift wrapped and handed to them.

- Frankie Cervelli, the darling of April and May, isn't making a good case for himself to get any kind of major playing time next year with The Jesus on the horizon.  He has completely stopped hitting, including with RISP, which was his calling card earlier in the year, and his defense has been incredibly lackluster over the last couple weeks.  The 'loaf after a bad throw and then make a shitty throw to 2nd' combo on Sunday almost brought my lunch back up when I watched it.

- Javy Vazquez needs to be put on the DL, period.  Guy has no velocity and no movement, which is a bad combination for a starting pitcher in the Majors.  Clearly there is something more going on than just him not having his command, and the Yanks can't afford to send him out for just 4 or 5 shit innings and tax the bullpen every 5th day when they're in the middle of a playoff race.  I know it's probably not what they want to do, but Vazquez needs 15 days to rest and get his shit together and Ivan Nova deserves a chance to show what he can do at the Major League level.  Who knows?  Maybe other teams facing Nova will suffer the same fate the Yankee hitters do against every young pitcher in baseball.

- How ironic is it that the rest of the Yankees completely disappear when the bullpen gets it all together and starts to become the asset it was expected to be at the beginning of the year?  I'd say at least a solid 6.5-7 out of 10 on the irony scale.

- Now if you want to jump up to the 8-9 range on the irony scale, let's talk about Curtis Granderson and his newfound swing waking up and starting to produce at the same time the rest of the lineup turned into a bunch of first- or second-pitch swinging hackers.

- And while we're on Granderson's swing, how awesome is Kevin Long?  Guys have problems and he fixes them pronto.  Teix can't do anything at the plate and he opens his stance up.  He takes the movement out of Swish's stance and swing and suddenly Swish is hitting .300.  He does the same with C-Grand and now Grandy can actually get hits again!  He's less hitting coach and more mystical wizard as far as I'm concerned. 

- I don't want to sound like too much of a Debbie Downer (even though I already do), and I definitely don't want to look past the great year he has had, but what's up with Robbie Cano?  His tripleslash has been slowly going down over the last couple weeks and he's not scoring any runs nor driving any in.  At this rate the dude is going to end up "just" hitting .300 on the year with less than 100 RBIs, which didn't look like it was even possible a few months ago.

- I don't want to hear about how he's gotten a bunch of hits over the last week or anything like that.  Derek Jeter needs to swallow his fucking pride and have a little session with Kevin Long, because I'm sick and tired of watching him ground everything to the left side of the infield, especially with runners on base.  His first GIDP last night was bad enough with 2 on, but to ground out to short to end the game last night when Jose Valverde was doing everything he possibly could to help the Yankees win short of ripping off his Tigers jersey to show a Yankee one underneath, was just disgraceful.  Jeter's continued weak pulls to the left, his lower than low OBP, and his nonexistent range in the field right now aren't exactly giving him a lot of ammo for his offseason contract negotiations.

- Speaking of limited range, I know Jeter and A-Rod don't have a lot of errors this season, which may make some people think they are in line for Gold Gloves.  But the plain fact of the matter is they just don't get to any balls hit to the left side.  Any ball hit with a little speed into the hole between them is surely getting through, and that's a bad thing.

- Great play by Gardner trying to take out Carlos Guillen in the 9th to break up the double play.  You don't see a lot of guys slide that late and hard and sacrifice their bodies anymore.  He's also looking better and more patient at the plate again, so that's a good sign.  If he can keep the hitting up it might be time for Joe to consider juggling to lineup to move Gardner to the leadoff spot.

- I know what I said after his 3 homers on Saturday, but with this latest tweaky little injury, I'm starting to have my doubts about whether or not A-Rod will reach 763.  The dude just plain can't stay healthy anymore.  He's always pulling this and straining that.  I know it's tough for centaurs to stretch that many legs, but would it kill him to get out and do a few more calisthenics?

- I don't know what the deal is with this team right now, but it looks to me like they need a little kick in the ass.  And by kick in the ass I mean Joe getting off his own ass, getting that "blah" look off his face in the dugout, and managing the fucking team.

The Yanks have been on top of the division for months now and it looks like they've gotten a little complacent and a little too comfortable.  During a time when the Rays were stumbling and bumbling and the Red Sox were down on the mat, the Yanks should have stepped on their throats and closed out the division.  Instead, they've been playing lazy, sloppy, uninspired baseball and now they find themselves tied for the lead with Tampa again as Boston is starting to get off the deck.

Maybe they need this little jolt of competition to get themselves re-focused, but it would have been nice to see them keep their collective feet on the gas and make a statement that they are the team to beat.  If they can't self motivate each other in the clubhouse then the job falls on Joe.  He's already said they need to hit and play better to the media during his press conferences, now it's time for him to air his team out and make sure they get the message.

Injuries or no injuries, struggles or no struggles, this team is still the best team in baseball.  Now it's time for them to start playing like it again.

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