Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stat Of The Night


That was the number of earned runs that Rafael Soriano allowed tonight in the 8th inning to preserve a 1-run lead in the eventual 5-4 Yankee win.

I know!  I didn't believe it at first either when I read that in the box score, but I swear it's true.  The guy actually managed to hold the lead.  Who knew he had that in him?  It's like Sterling always says, you just can't predict baseball.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Slump Busting Like You Read About

(Ahhh, the sweet smell of home runs.  Courtesy of The AP)

It wouldn't be an unfair statement if you said that the 2 worst non-Posada offensive players for the Yankees so far this season have been Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  Gardy lost the "vs. righty" leadoff role almost as soon as Joe gave it to him after ST and Swish's power numbers coming into last night were only slightly better than Derek Jeter's.

Last night all that changed, however, as Gardy and Swish sparked the Yankee offensive outburst in the 5th inning that effectively ended the game.  Swish went 3-4 with 3 R, 4 RBI, a walk, and his first home run of the season.  Coincidentally it was his first hit from the left side of the plate this season* (* - probably not true) and it was good to see Swish smiling again as he crossed the plate after hitting the homer in the 7th.  His numbers this year still don't like that great overall (.237/.351/.303 w/ 3 XBH), but last night was a positive sign that he could be turning it around.

Gardner continued his recent power surge that has come out of nowhere in the last week with a HR and a 2B, giving him 5 XBH, 3 of them HR, over his last 6 games.  He also drew a walk, stole a base, and scored 3 runs.  Gardner's line after last night is also nothing to write home about (.169/.229/.385), but at least he's starting to make contact and make hard contact at that.  His 21 Ks in 65 ABs is a gross number, by any standards, and these last couple of games suggest that Gardy might be getting away from his overly patient approach and starting to swing at the strikes pitchers are throwing his way.

With the way The Horse, Cano, Martin, and C-Grand have started the season, the Yankee offense has already been plenty dangerous.  If Swish and Gardy start heating up now, the lineup becomes even more so.  Last night was just one game, but it looked like a step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Example # 2,354,728 For Why The Mets Organization Is A Joke

"...It's been widely reported that the franchise has around $430 million in bank debt. But a potential investor who spoke to Fortune on condition of anonymity points out that the team's liabilities are closer to $625 million, from a buyer's perspective...

... Mets financial statements disclose another $100 million in what the team calls "contingent liabilities." Much of that is deferred compensation still due to players long gone from the Mets roster. The documents give two examples of these liabilities: Bobby Bonilla, who left the team in 1996 and has $1.2 million per year coming to him for the next 25 years, and Bret Saberhagen, who left in 1995 and is owed $250,000 annually through 2029." (via Fortune)

And people say the Yankees were dumb for giving Soriano $35 mil for 3 years.  At least they're handing out checks to players who are still ACTIVE IN THE GAME OF BASEBALL.  Compared to these contingent liabilities, the Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Damaso Marte, and Nick Johnson contracts were highway robbery for the Yanks.

Just another day in the life of the most poorly managed organization in professional sports.  And another easy layup of a blog for me.  Thank you, Wilpons.  Thank you.

/secretly wishes I was Bret Saberhagen right now

Slow Day Mini-Linkapalooza

I'll be honest, I am hung over as a bastard today, so the synapses aren't all firing upstairs.  What's the best way around that?  Links.

- Will at IIATMS shows us what we all already knew.  Bartolo Colon is a badass.

- Eric Schultz at TYA compiles everything you could ever want to know  about this supposed circulatory issue that Phil Hughes has.

- Mike Axisa at RAB breaks down just how awful Nick Swisher has been so far in 2011.  An ISO only slightly higher than Jeter's?  Sheesh.

- And no surprise here, but Kevin Kernan at The Post is still an idiot.

And as always, I bring this visual peace offering to make up for my horrible blogging today.  This time we've got Blake Lively as a redhead.  Enjoy.

Keep building the AB4ARmy, people!  "Like" AB4AR on The Book.  And if you already do, find somebody else you know and get them to "Like" it too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Sh*t List Gets Its Newest Member

(BOOOOOOOO!!!  Courtesy of The AP)

Rafael Soriano, COME ON DOWN!!!!  You've just been elected the newest member of the AB4AR Shit List!!

/standing ovation from everybody who hates Soriano right now

After 10.1 innings of 12-hit, 8-walk, 9-earned run baseball with a 7.84/5.55/6.58 ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash and a BB/9 rate that is HIGHER than your current K/9 rate, all adding up to -0.2 WAR, I think you've more than earned this honor.  And the mopey, seemingly indifferent attitude that you have carried with you along with this horrible performance should help ensure that you stay on the List for some time to come.

Congratulations, jackass.

Updated List:

A.J. Burnett
Damaso Marte
Kei Igawa
Nick Johnson
Randy Levine
Joe's Match-up Binder
** Rafael Soriano** (Inducted 4/27/11)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ouch. My Dick

(Guess which person in this video represents Yankee fans and which person represents Rafael Soriano)

Question of the Night:  As a fan, what's a bigger kick in the junk?  Having your $35 million setup man puke all over his shoes to turn a 1-0 9th-inning deficit into a 2-0 9th-inning deficit to waste a brilliant start by A.J. Burnett or having your $35 million setup man shit the bed to turn a 2-1 8th-inning lead into a 3-2 8th-inning deficit to waste a damn good start by Ivan Nova?

Obviously the correct answer is blowing the lead, because that takes a win off the board.  But you could also call it a trick question because getting kicked in the junk sucks equally every time it happens.

Soriano will get roasted tomorrow and rightfully so.  After tonight we can officially say he has sucked so far.

Rafael Soriano: The New Kyle Farnsworth?

(I don't know what you're smiling about now, Raffy.)

 Let me preface this by saying there is no statistical support for this post.  In fact, if you check Farnsworth's B-R page, you'll find that his first 10 appearances as a Yankee were actually far better than Soriano's, so this is strictly my personal opinion based on what I've seen so far.  But as I sat in my armchair last night watching/screaming at the TV during the 9th inning when Soriano idiotically, and almost smugly, pointed to the sky to let his infielders try and catch a pop up that landed about 10 feet from him for a leadoff single and then threw a horrible 2-strike pitch to Paul Konerko to give up the insurance RBI single, I was overcome by a strange feeling.  It was a feeling I haven't had for a few years now, ever since Kyle Farnsworth was traded, but it was that same feeling I used to have when he took the mound.  The feeling that I never know what is going to happen when Soriano takes the mound, and I instantly start thinking the worst when he's pitching.

His performances thus far have been rather Farnsworthian in their consistent inconsistency and their absolute inability to ever be somewhere in the middle.  Soriano started off with 2 strong outings, then had his 4-run meltdown against Minnesota when he couldn't throw a strike.  He followed that up with 2 clean outings and then had his 3-hit, 1-walk, 2-run near disaster against Texas.  And then last night he looked very shaky in the 9th inning of a 1-run game, effectively killing the chance of a Yankee miracle in the bottom half after having 3 pretty good outings prior.  All of that adds up to a 6.75 ERA, 6.13 xFIP, 17 baserunners allowed in 9.1 IP (7 via BB), and only 6 Ks.  Not exactly what I was expecting for $35 mil for 3 years.

But beyond the performances themselves, the approach has been the most frustrating thing about watching Soriano, and the thing that most makes me recall the horrible days of Farnsworth.  Soriano is inconsistent with his fastball location, he isn't attacking hitters with it because of the inconsistency, and when he does get ahead in counts he suddenly goes away from being aggressive with the fastball and tries to get cute with his slider, a pitch that hasn't served him well so far in 2011.  And as soon as a runner gets on base he becomes even more picky with his pitch selection and location and he gets himself into trouble.

Soriano is a power pitcher, and I understand that his fastball velocity hasn't quite been there early on, but that shouldn't change his approach.  Everything works off the fastball and when he's getting ahead in the count with it, he needs to stick with it.  If he's going to try for a corner, try with the the heater, not a sloppy slider.  Attack hitters, force them to take a defensive swing because they aren't sure if you're going to throw another fastball or waste a pitch.  Don't allow them to get back into a hitter's count by throwing junk and give them a fighting chance when they get to a point where they KNOW you're throwing a fastball.

All of this crap was enough to make me want to throw my beer bottle through the TV screen when Farnsy was the one doing it, and that was when I expected him to do those things because I knew he sucked.  Soriano does not suck.  He's a better pitcher than Farnsworth, with better stuff, but he's not using it to his advantage right now.  Dude needs to sack up and stop tip-toeing around hitters.

And for the love of God, get your sorry ass off the mound and catch the pop up next time!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hughes Suffers Setback Today

These are never words you want to hear from your manager when describing a pitcher's side session leading up to a potential rehab start:

"Not good."  "... didn't bounce back like we thought it would."  "... obviously a setback." - via Mark Feinsand 

"I don't feel so good about it now.  I'm concerned." - via Jack Curry

Unfortunately for Yankee fans, those are the words coming from Joe's mouth today after Phil Hughes' session was cut short after a few pitches because his arm had no life and his pitches had no stuff.  The rehab start is obviously off and Hughes' return to the rotation now becomes a big fat question mark.

A few weeks ago, when I was discussing the situation, I said that a plan needed to be made to address Hughes' problem and "if it means going out in the 'pen during his side sessions and getting a gun on him while he tries to correct the mechanical flaws, the fine.  That's a solid starting point.  But if that doesn't help, then medical solutions need to be looked at, be they MRIs, scopes, rest, whatever."  Well I think it's safe to say that after today's results, it's time for the MRIs, the scopes, the rest, and whatever because throwing isn't working.

In the mean time, let's all keep praying that Freddy and Bartolo can keep their 2005 resurrection going.

Joe Broke All Kinds Of Bullpen Commandments (On Easter)

(He didn't carry them all the way down the mountain for you to break them, Joe)

There's nothing surprising about Joe Girardi making bad bullpen decisions.  In all honesty, it feels like he's made more bad ones than good ones since taking over as manager.  Maybe it's his backwards way of thinking when it comes to 'pen management, maybe it's the fear of getting second guessed if he thinks outside the box, maybe it just comes with being a guy named "Joe" who manages the Yankees.  We all know the last one wasn't a bullpen genius either.  Whatever the case, I've come to expect the worst when it comes to bullpen decisions from Joe and yesterday was no exception.  But to commit that many bullpen atrocities on Easter Sunday?  That's practically grounds for excommunication from humanity.  5 commandments broken in just a few hours.  5!!  Let's review them.

- Thou shalt not take thy veteran starter out of the game when he is pitching well and does not have a high pitch count.

Just in case anybody has forgotten, Freddy Garcia was on the mound yesterday.  Not Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances or some other young guy who is having his innings and pitch count carefully monitored.  Freddy Garcia is a 12-year MLB veteran who should have no questions about his arm strength anymore.  If Joe was concerned about how little he had been used and that being a factor in his decision, then that's his fault for not using Garcia enough early in the year.  The Yankees didn't bring him in to pitch short innings, they brought him in to provide LENGTH.  And that's just what he was doing yesterday, to the tune of 6 dominant shutout innings.  When a 12-year veteran is giving you that kind of outing, you don't take him out until he shows signs of breaking down.

- Thou shalt let thine reliable relievers finish an inning, even if they get into trouble.

Dave Robertson has been lights out this year.  Dave Robertson was called in to pitch the 8th inning because Sour Puss was unavailable.  Dave Robertson gave up 2 hits in the 8th inning yesterday, but had also gotten 2 outs and hadn't allowed any runs when Joe decided to pull him.  Luke Scott was coming to the plate.  There was no reason to take D-Rob out of the game in that situation.  Relievers are going to give up hits, it happens.  As long as they don't give up runs and hold the lead, who cares how they get there?  Luke Scott isn't exactly a world beater down at the bottom of the Baltimore lineup, and D-Rob is tough against lefties.  If you bring him in to pitch the 8th, let him pitch the 8th!!

- Thou shalt bring in thy lefty specialist when the situation calleth for it.

According to a LoHud postgame report, Joe decided to bring Mariano in to finish the 8th instead of Boone Logan because he didn't want to use Logan for just one batter.  ...  ...  Huh?  What???  That's what Boone Logan is there for!!!  he's a lefty specialist.  You bring him in specifically for situations like that: 2 on, 2 out, 1-run lead, lefty batter (Scott) at the plate.  Anything you get beyond that from Logan is gravy.  Now granted he provided a whole lot of gravy when he did get the call in the 10th and 11th, but to say you don't want to use your lefty specialist out of the 'pen to face a lefty because you don't want to use him for one batter is asinine.

- Thou shalt not bring in thy 41-year-old closer for a 4-out save in a game in April.

I know Joe's logic on this one.  It was a close game, we wanted to win, Mo was working on 4 days' rest.  But that still doesn't change the fact that he's already been used quite a bit this year, he was coming off a rough outing in which he threw more pitches than usual, and he's 41 freaking years old!!!  He doesn't need to be in a game for extra outs, throwing extra pitches in April!!  Now you've wasted another outing from him when he didn't have his best stuff and threw too many pitches and in turn wasted a chance to use him tonight or tomorrow because he threw so many pitches.  If Joe is Linus, then Mo is his security blanket.  The only problem is, Joe is squeezing the blanket too tight and ripping it.  Dude needs to let it go and trust his other pitchers. 

- Thou shalt not have inconsistent different standards for thine reliable relievers.

Joba comes in in the 7th and gives up a 2-run homer, cutting a comfortable 3-run lead to a tight 1-run lead, yet he is allowed to finish the inning.  D-Rob comes in in the 8th, doesn't give up a single run, but gets yanked at the first perceived sign of trouble because he let 2 runners get on.  Boone Logan, a lefty specialist, is not desirable to come in and get 1 lefty batter out, but he's OK to use for 1+ innings against righties and lefties with a long rain delay in between?  Somewhere along the line, Joe needs to establish some consistency with these guys and stick to it.  There's no reason that D-Rob shouldn't be given the same length of leash as Joba, if not longer, given his results.

Let go of your pre-ordained plans, Joe.  Let go of your stupid roles, your stupid rules, and your stupid bullpen binder.  Trust your veteran starters to pitch well, and trust your middle relievers to get the job done holding leads.  If they don't, so be it.  It happens, everybody has a bad day.  But you have to at least give them the opportunity.  You put all your trust in Mo and even he cracks every now and then.  You need to have that same trust in the Jobas, D-Robs, and Boone Logans of the world for the bullpen to be successful.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Yankees Overcome Weather & Joe Girardi To Win In 11

(Well it took a while, but at least we can celebrate.  Courtesy of The AP)

Well today was an adventure, wasn't it?  The game starts off with single, home run, walk, walk for the first 4 Yankee batters, and it looked like another woodshed beating of Orioles starter Jake Arrieta was in the cards.  But Arrieta got it together and managed to throw 6 innings of 1-run ball from there to keep his team in the game, striking out 9 Yankees in the process.

Arrieta was countered by Freddy Garcia, who turned in a" Godfather: Part II"-version of his first start of the season, again going 6 shutout innings, again allowing just 2 hits, but this time also having 7 Ks.  He had good life on his fastball, consistently reaching the upper-80s, and he changed speeds brilliantly between that, his slider, and his curveball, generating 15 swinging strikes and keeping the Oriole lineup off balance all day.  When he has all 3 pitches working, he can be tough to get good swings against, and he had all 3 working and then some today.

Unfortunately for Freddy, he must have been pitching too well for Joe's liking, as Girardi inexplicably pulled him after 6 innings, with a pitch count only at 90, and after he had just struck out 2 batters the previous inning.  Garcia showed no signs of tiring, no signs of losing his command, but Joe's position as a slave to his bullpen binder and a slave to his predefined bullpen roles forced him to make the first of multiple bad bullpen decisions that cost Garcia a win and the Yankees the lead (Trust me, this will covered in much greater detail tomorrow).

After Joba gave up a 2-run homer and Mo coughed up the lead for the 2nd straight outing in the 9th, the Yanks traded 0s with the O's into the 11th, where, after a rain delay, they managed to strike for 3 runs thanks to some timely hitting and bad fielding from Baltimore.  It wasn't pretty, and it certainly didn't end up finishing the way it looked like it would at the beginning of the day, but the Yanks get another W, they sweep the series, and they now sit 12-6 heading into their series with the White Sox tomorrow.

Other quick game notes:

- Jorge looked awful again: 0-4 with 2 Ks.  With as bad as he has been at the plate, you have to wonder at what point the Jesus-O-Meter will start percolating again.

- No Soriano in the 8th today?  What was up with that?  At least Joe didn't go COMPLETELY by the book with that call, but I'd still like to hear an explanation.

- 4-6 for The Captain today, including a 2B.  Sure, not all of them were well struck, but at least they found holes.

- Brett Gardner is flat out lost at the plate.  0-5 today with 4 Ks for his first golden sombrero of the year.  I know he had a couple XBH yesterday, but it's time for Joe to start thinking about getting Andruw Jones some more at-bats.

How Close Is Kevin Millwood To Joining The Yankee Rotation?

Of all the WTF-eliciting pitching signings this season, the most bizarre has to be the recent signing of Kevin Millwood,a guy the Yankees looked at multiple times and decided they didn't see anything they liked and a guy who the rest of MLB said the same thing about when he didn't end up getting one offer to join a team before the season started.

After they did sign him, Millwood justified everybody's lack of interest early by looking downright awful in his first couple of MiL outings.  His fastball was sitting low-to-mid-80s, his secondary stuff was nonexistent, and he seemed like he'd be out of a Yankee uniform before he even had a chance to wear on.  Then he had a solid start in Double-A, earned a call up to Triple-A for another start last night, and wouldn't you know it, the old bag of crap actually pitched alright.

"The 36-year-old right-hander allowed two runs across seven innings of work, striking out three and getting nine ground balls against just one walk and three air outs. Sixty of his 95 pitches were strikes (63.2%). Donnie Collins spoke to a scout who clocked Millwood at 85-86 mph mostly, though he did touch 89 on occasion." (via RAB).

Not a bad outing, but still some causes for concern.  The velocity still isn't there, it's even lower than Phil Hughes' has been, which could get Millwood into trouble if his secondary stuff isn't there and his fastball location is a little bit off.  The fact that he put the leadoff runner on in every inning also doesn't bode well for his future in the Majors, if he has one.  You make mistakes like that in Triple-A with diminished stuff, you give up a couple runs; you make mistakes like that against the Fraud Sawx or the White Sox, you get lit up.

Millwood has time for one more outing before his opt-out clause kicks in, and although he hasn't lit the world on fire in his auditions, the fact that the Yankees keep throwing him out there against better competition and the fact that he hasn't completely blown up leads me to believe he's going to get a shot with the Yankees after his next Triple-A start.  The Yankees have been pushing Ivan Nova back in the rotation due to all the rain delays, so he appears to be falling out of favor with Joe early.  Unless he comes back strong in his next start and looks more like he did in his first outing of the season, Millwood will probably be taking his spot next time around.  Is it the right move?  Hard to say without having seen Millwood against big league hitters yet.  But it does show just how desperate the Yankees already are for starting pitching.

(P.S.- Did anybody have Garcia, Colon, AND Millwood in the same Yankee rotation at any time this season in their office pool?  I know I sure as hell didn't.)

Saturday, April 23, 2011


You want the laundry list of awesomeness from tonight's game?  OK.

- 14 hits and 5 walks tonight from the Yankee offense.

- Every starter except Nick Swisher had at least 1 hit.  And even Swisher still managed a walk and a run scored.

- 5 players with 2+ runs scored, 4 players with 2+ hits, and 3 players with 2+ RBI.

- Another HR from Jorge.  He ain't hitting much, but he's hitting everything in the air and over the fence.

- 2 more HR, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBI for Russell Martin.  When do the damn ASG ballots come out?

- 8 lockdown innings from CC in a completely dominant performance.  He had everything working tonight except for the 1 bad pitch to Adam Jones in the 7th.  If the game wasn't so far out of reach in the 9th, he would have been out to finish it.  That's how low his pitch count was, that's how good he was tonight.

- 2 XBH (1 2B, 1 HR) and 6 RBI from the Horse in another vintage Horse-like performance.  He hasn't missed a beat since coming back from his few days off.

Even Brett Gardner managed a 2-run homer.  When that's happening, you know it's a good night for the Yankees.  I just feel bad for whoever starts for Baltimore tomorrow, because the Yankee offense was straight up murderous tonight.  Big thanks to Buddy Carlyle for wandering onto the mound and getting the last 3 outs.  I'm assuming he won some sort of fan contest or something to get on the mound.

Friday, April 22, 2011


In honor of the Yankees being rained out for the 47th time this year, I leave you with this.

I'll talk about baseball tomorrow.

The 5 Most Interesting Stats Of The Early Season

No work for me today, so I actually have some time to peruse the web and check out things I've been missing.  Part of that perusal included thumbing through the FanGraphs pages of Yankee players.  Based on the early season limited sample size, we can't put full weight on these numbers, but that doesn't change the fact that some of the stats are damn interesting.  Here are 5 of the best ones I noticed:

Jorge Posada's .300 ISO & 26.3 HR/FB%

It's no secret that Jorge hasn't done much other than hit home runs this year, but the rate at which he's doing it, as shown by these stats, is way beyond anything he's ever done.  The .300 ISO is a full 60 points higher than his previous career high, which he set all the way back in 2000.  And the HR/FB rate is his highest since 2003 and almost twice his career average coming into the season.  He isn't hitting very much, but at least when he is he's got some oomph on the swing.  A product of not getting beaten up behind the plate?  Perhaps.

Alex Rodriguez's 1.271 OPS/ .510 wOBA

I know he looked really good in ST, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find anybody, myself included, who thought The Horse would be THIS good so far.  He's going to be 36 this year, he hasn't been able to stay healthy recently, and the general consensus was that he was beginning the natural decline of a player his age.  And right now he has an OPS that's 200+ points higher than his previous career high and a wOBA that's 60+ points higher.  Interestingly, both of his previous career highs in these categories came in his monster '07 season with the Yankees.  It's clear by these numbers that when he's healthy, The Horse is still one of the top 5-10 best hitters in the game.

Phil Hughes' -4.2 wCT

With all the talk about his lack of arm strength and velocity on his fastball, it's a surprise to find that the cutter is the pitch most down statistically this season for Phil.  Sure, the fastball value is way down from last year, but it's still only slightly below average this year.  The cutter is way down and way down below zero.  Now that could be a byproduct of the struggles with the fastball.  Maybe people just aren't seeing them differently.  But this value shows that Hughes is definitely being hurt by his second-best pitch being wildly ineffective too.

Bartolo Colon's 2.72 xFIP

As if we needed more proof that Bartolo Colon has exceeded expectations so far, just take a look at his xFIP.  It's almost a full run below his ERA, showing that he's been better than the basic numbers and results actually show.  His stuff has been electric, his control has been impeccable, and even though his caloric intake is still probably too high, Bartolo Colon has been one of the best Yankee pitchers anyway you look at it.

P.S.- CC's xFIP is 3.40, just for the sake of comparison.

Derek Jeter's 72.9 GB%

This one should probably fall under the "Disturbing" category instead of "Interesting."  Despite working with Kevin Long in the offseason to tweak his swing mechanics, despite him and Long and Girardi continuing to say he's doing the right things and will get there, and despite every announcer on TV saying Jeter "looks" like he's about to break out, Jeter's 2011 has started off worse than his 2010 went.  His swing still looks slow, he's got little to no power to show, and the high groundball rate he had last year has increased.  Again, small early sample size but the results are not encouraging.  Jeter needs to start getting the ball into the air and with a little authority.  Maybe some hitting lessons with A-Rod?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Wrong Was I About Bartolo Colon?

"Fat guy with a nasty sinker..." Courtesy of the AP)

Thinking back to when the signing happened, the general consensus around the blogosphere was that Bartolo Colon would be a longshot to make the team at best.  And while I acknowledged that he was a low-risk/high-reward signing because of the deal and anything positive the Yankees got from him would be gravy, I did take time to point out how little I actually expected from Colon in my "Back of the Rotation" rant in February.

"Yeah, Joe.  I knew that guy too.  And that was 6 years, 40 pounds, and a dozen-ish injuries ago.  The 2011 Bartolo Colon doesn't even look like he could make it up a flight of stairs without stopping for oxygen and a 5-Dollar Footlong halfway up." (on Joe's comment that the Bartolo Colon he remembered was a good pitcher)

I'll admit I was a bit harsh on him there, but at the same time I wasn't inaccurate with what I was saying.  Colon did, and still does, look like a hot mess sundae physically.  So that part isn't too bad.

"Look at the guy's damn boobs!  Look at them!  I don't know whether to throw up or just crop out the face part of the picture and rub one out.  Bartolo Colon is flat out DONE.  D-U-N.  He's a low-risk, high-reward option for the rotation... but that doesn't mean he should get the nod over younger, healthier, more in shape pitchers who will almost assuredly give the Yankees more innings than he will." (my take on Colon getting a rotation competition spot over some of the younger guys)

OOF and DA for me on that one.  His previous 2 outings were a sign that he still had something in the tank, and last night's sterling performance validates it.  It's a fact, Bartolo Colon can still get it done on the mound.  He isn't going to win any Mr. America competitions, but the guy still has good stuff and still knows how to use it.  He put on a clinic last night before he tired in the 7th.  His fastball had great life and continued to maintain (and even increase) its velocity later into the game, he located it perfectly, kept the ball down in the zone, and basically overmatched a legitimately good Major League lineup.  Colon did what A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes have not been able to do consistently this year in give the Yankees some length in an outing, attack hitters, throw strikes, and generate swings and misses.  And now he has to be considered a staple of this rotation moving forward, at least until he shows he is incapable of carrying the workload.

I brought the question to the table last night on The Book, and while I will say that it is still a bit too early for me to start cooking a big plate of crow for myself, I have to admit that I was wrong about Bartolo.  He has been impressive and deserves to hold a spot in the rotation for as long as he can.  There's no way to predict how much more he'll give the Yankees going forward, but even with what he's already done I think we can call this signing by Cash a success.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Happier Bullpen News...

(It's FIII-YAAAAHHH!!!!!  Courtesy of Swanny Duckson)

I think the Yankees have found their new OFFICIAL fireman in Dave Robertson.  Dude was straight money last night in striking out 2 to leave the bases loaded and preserve A.J.'s then 4-3 lead.  If I would have been watching that game, there's a chance I would have been kissing the TV screen as he walked off the mound before YES went to commercial.

Even though Joe doesn't seem to have any clue about how he wants to use D-Rob (evidenced by the fact that D-Rob is up in the 'pen warming in almost every game and sometimes on off-days), when he has gotten the call Robertson has been solid all year.  Only five baserunners allowed in his 6 shutout innings of work over 7 appearances, 10.50 K/9, 3.50 K/BB, and a 1.73 FIP that proves he hasn't just been getting lucky?  Yeah, I think that qualifies him for official "Fireman" status.

Sorry, Sour Puss.  You're out.  Stop being a baby and learn how to pitch in adverse weather conditions and then come back and talk to me.  Now somebody hit the music!

Opinions Varied (And Mostly Wrong) On A.J.'s Start Last Night

(The walk of semi-shame.  Courtesy of The AP)

"Burnett pitched pretty well for the most part.... " - Chad from LoHud.

Wrong.  More like he pitched mediocre for the most part and OK for the least part.

"A.J. Burnett did what he has done all season, giving the Yankees a solid start." - Tamar at IIATMS.

Wrong.  The start wasn't that solid and wasn't what he's done all season.

"A.J. Burnett was frustrating in this one, but kept the Yankees in the game. He allowed only three runs (two earned) in 5.1 innings of work, but walked six on 105 pitches. He left in the sixth with the bases loaded and the Yankees clinging to a 4-3 lead that looked tenuous at best." - Mike J-G at TYA.

Closer, but still giving Burnett too much credit for the low number of runs allowed and not enough scorn for the lack of length to his start. 

"After three encouraging starts, A.J. Burnett reverted back to his old ways on Tuesday, and he has his bullpen to thank for the fact that his ERA actually went down....

He walked five guys, and four of those free passes went to players hitting in the bottom third of the lineup. You just can’t walk Jose Molina, Corey Patterson, and Jayson Nix (twice) and live to tell about it....

... he did not pitch well tonight at all. Leaving the game with the lead had far more to do with Robertson and his offense than anything else. Hopefully this is just a hiccup, but who knows with Burnett." - Mike A. of RAB.

Bingo.  As usual, Mike was spot on with his brutally honest and completely accurate assessment of Burnett's outing.  Sure the 6 Ks and more swings and misses look nice, but there was too much of Bad A.J. in the outing: constant bounced curveballs, not enough strikes, inability to throw strike 1, multiple meetings at the mound.  He didn't attack hitters the way he has in his earlier starts, and he tried to tip-toe around guys after giving up hits or walks to them earlier in the night.

If people want to try to look for silver linings in the outing last night because he's pitched decent so far, that's fine.  But don't sugarcoat the fact that overall, A.J. did not pitch a good game last night and the numbers and the eye test for anybody that saw the game are proof.  That is the plain fact of it and to try to say otherwise is just wrong.  It's bad enough that the Yankees have had to treat the guy with kid gloves.  The blogosphere shouldn't be doing the same thing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Just Happened?

Where in Joe's 40,000-page bullpen binder is there a section that talks about bringing in your scheduled starting pitcher for Friday to pitch the 10th inning of a tie game on Tuesday night when he still has 3 arms available in his bullpen?

Somebody better explain to me what the hell just happened...

Tonight's Lineup Is Missing Something...

1) Derek Jeter- SS
2) Curtis Granderson- CF
3) Mark Teixeira- 1B
4) Robinson Cano- 2B
5) Nick Swisher- RF
6) Eric Chavez- 3B
7) Jorge Posada- DH
8) Russell Martin- C
9) Brett Gardner- LF

Can you guess what it is?  Here's a hint: It starts with "A-Horse" and ends with "leads MLB in SLG and wOBA."  And when there's no Horse in the lineup,

Oh well.  At least the Toronto infield won't have to worry about anybody scaring them out of their shoes when they're trying to catch pop ups.

Checking In On The AB4AR Sh*t List

It's been a few months since I've introduced the AB4AR Lists, and now that the season has started, the unlucky gentlemen (and one inanimate object) who made the initial Shit List have the opportunity to earn their way off.  Have any of them done enough so far to accomplish that feat?  Let's find out:

- A.J. Burnett- 3-0 to start the season with 3 pretty good starts is a good start.  And the fastball and curveball life look better than they did in 2010, with a new and improved changeup to boot.  But then I think back to A.J.'s start to 2010 (6-0) and I remind myself not to fall for the same trick this year.  He stays on for now, but to be fair I will say that he can earn his way off with a 7-inning or more/2-runs or less outing tonight against Toronto. 

- Damaso Marte- On the 6-day DL, almost certainly not pitching at all for the Yanks this year, and making $4 million for it?  Yeah, he stays on.

- Kei Igawa- He managed to make his way down to Double-A Trenton's roster this year, and only needs to get demoted to Single-A to complete the first $46 million reverse baseball career in history.  And he still looks like Droopy Dog.  On.

- Nick Johnson- He's in the Indians' organization now, so at least I don't have to see him taking up space on the Yankee injury report.  But the fact that this schlub is still being paid to play (or not play) professional baseball is an unforgivable sin.  On.

- Randy Levine- He hasn't said or done anything stupid lately.  But he's still a huge douche.  On.

- Joe's Matchup Binder- Going to Soriano when he shouldn't?  Check.  Getting D-Rob up to warm seemingly every game and then not using him?  Check.  Not using his better relievers in higher-leverage situations?  Check.  Still being a slave to his binder and his pre-defined roles instead of managing the 'pen per the situation?  Check.  The binder stays on until somebody burns it.

So there you have it.  Not a lot of change so far, but it's still early.  Plenty of time left for some of these guys to work their way off and new guys to work their way on (I'm looking at you, Sour Puss).

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Like" AB4AR

The official AB4AR Facebook page.  There it is.  Go check it out.  Live it.  Love it.  "Like" it.  We added a few more new fans last week and we're looking for more.  I need to build the AB4ARmy, people, and I can't do it without you.

It's got everything: Links, posts, commentary, analysis, Photoshops, black leather gloves.  It's a Yankee fan's dream.  And you, dear readers, need to do yourselves a favor and "Like" it so you're up to date on the latest and greatest coming from AB4AR at all times. 

Here it is again.  It's awesome.  Trust me.  Russell Martin is a fan on Facebook and that's why he's having such a good year so far.*

* (Comment cannot be confirmed) *

Is There Anything Up With CC?

(The man.  The myth.  The parachute pants.  Courtesy of The AP)

I touched on it briefly this morning, but the more I reflected on CC's last 2 outings the more I started to think that something was amiss in his game that was causing these un-CC-like results.  I thought surely there had to be some glaring difference in his stats this year that would point to the problem, so I consulted his Fangraphs page and came to a surprising conclusion.

Despite the less-than-stellar recent results, there really isn't anything that CC is doing wrong or not as well as usual that can be pointed to as the root cause.  His FIP (2.94) and xFIP (3.45) are slightly higher than his ERA (2.52), but not at such a rate that they should be a concern.  His WHIP (1.36) and BB/9 (3.24) are up from last year, but my belief that he wasn't throwing as many strikes isn't valid as his Strike % (63.41%) is right in line with what it was last year (63.31%) and close to his career average (64.56%).  In fact, his Strike Zone % (47.1%) and Swinging Strike % (10.5%) are actually higher so far than they were last year.  And CC is generating more swings and less contact than he did in 2010.  So at face value, he's throwing just as many strikes as he has before, and is getting better results on those strikes that he throws.

So then what the hell is the problem that is leading to more runners on base and more runs scored over the last couple games?  The answer can be found in the contact that is being made by hitters on the swings they are taking.  While they are swinging more and missing more, when they do make contact against him, the numbers being generated are not in line with what we're used to seeing from CC.  His Line Drive % is way up this year (31.1% compared to just 15.1% last year), and his Ground Ball Rate is significantly down (39.2% this year compared to 50.7% last year).  And to top it all off, CC's current BABIP is .324, over 40 points higher than last year and well above his career average.

Basically, what it comes down to is some bad luck on the part of CC.  Yes, he hasn't been able to put hitters away, but he is still getting the kind of peripheral results you want to see from a top-flight starting pitcher.  The problem has been guys managing to make better contact than usual against him and getting hits to show for it.  When the BABIP and LDR numbers regress back to CC's mean, we should see stat lines that we're used to seeing from him.  Seeing that most of his numbers are positive, it could also be fair to say that he's been getting some crummy calls by the umps that are contributing to his recent increase in walks.

In short, there's nothing to worry about with Carsten.  A few bad calls here and some lucky contact there is all.  Moving forward, we can expect some of those numbers to balance out with what we're used to seeing from CC and the number of baserunners and runs allowed will decrease as well.  Now if only the poor guy could get the bullpen to hold a lead for him.

Monday Morning Free-Flowing Commentary

(Yes, Mark.  Eric Chavez is the man.  Courtesy of The AP)

- CC did another decent job of limiting damage last night, but his last 2 starts have looked more like Phil Hughes' 2010 than the CC we're used to seeing.  He gets ahead in the count and the can't put anybody away with 2 strikes.  And his fastball command has been spotty at best.  The stuff is clearly there, but he needs to find his command.

- It's a strange feeling, but when Jeter came up with 2 on and 2 out in the 7th last night I had absolutely 0 faith that he was going to come through with a hit.  These days it's almost as sure a thing that Jeter will ground out in these spots as it used to be that he would come through with a clutch base hit.

- With his recent injury history and the devastating effects they have had on his swing mechanics, I am WAY more nervous about this A-Rod back/oblique strain than I normally would be.  If he plays on Tuesday, it will be easy to see if he's still feeling it or not.

- I know he hit a home run from the right side over the weekend, but it still looks like Teix is standing too far off the plate when he bats righty.

- Small sample sizes be damned, Cash looks like a genius right now for the moves he did make this offseason.  Russell Martin has been the best catcher in the AL, Chavez and Jones have combined for 11 hits (4 XBH), 4 R, 5 RBI in just 27 at-bats with solid D to go along, Colon has looked like Alfredo Aceves used to in his last 2 outings, and Freddy Garcia fired 6 shutout innings in his season debut on Saturday.  And go figure that the one guy Cash didn't want is the one who's been struggling early.

- Speaking of old Sour Puss Soriano, at what point do we start getting concerned about his lack of velocity the way we have been with Hughes'?

- The latest with Hughes (long-toss program and anti-inflammatories) is just as confusing to me as everything leading up to his DL stint was.  I thought he was supposed to be getting rest to build up arm strength.

- How are we supposed to feel about Joba right now?  Good that his velocity is back and he's striking out 9/9IP or bad that he's given up a run in 4 of his 9 outings and looked shaky coming out of the 'pen to relieve CC last night?

- Am I the only one who's excited to see Hector Noesi's first outing of the year?  If I am, how pathetic does that make me?

- Anybody who is actually considering watching that new "Franklin & Bash" show on TNT is an asshole.

- There are still issues to resolve on this team, and no part of it is anywhere near hitting on all cylinders yet, but the Yanks are still finding ways to win games and win series' and that's the most important thing.  They wake up today with a 2.5 game lead in the division and the distinction of being the only AL East team with a winning record.  I'll take that.

** P.S.- Somebody find me a video of Bobby Valentine calling Jorge "Whore-Gay Posada" at the end of the BBTN pregame show last night. **

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Define "Unclutch"

6 GIDPs last night.  6!  That's a bad number over a 2 or 3-game stretch, let alone over the first 8 innings of 1 game.  And from 6 different batters?  That's just unreal.  Definitely not the kind of AL record you want to be setting.

And it would be one thing if it was against Cliff Lee or Josh Johnson or King Felix, or somebody who was actually a good pitcher.  But this was against Matt Harrison.  Who the hell is Matt Harrison?!?!  The bats better wake up today because there were plenty of chances to put up more than 3 runs last night and the Yankees flat out didn't take advantage of them.

(The least surprising GIDP candidate.  Courtesy of The AP)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hughes To The DL

It's not the solution I wanted to see (at least not without confirmation that there is or isn't something medically wrong with him), but at least a decision has been made on how to handle Phil Hughes' alarming and continuing lack of velocity.  Maybe this phantom DL trip will be good for him, maybe it won't.  But it is a better option than throwing him out there and letting him get shelled, physically and mentally, and sacrificing the chance to win for the opportunity to see if he magically regains his form.

And as an interesting side note to this situation, who would have thought that the original AB4AR Phil Hughes Photoshop would still be relevant this year.  Too bad this time it's because he's throwing the ball like a pageant queen.

Sorry, Phil.  Get that strength back and we'll see you in 15 days.

Feliciano's Left Arm Not Looking So Good

(Swanny Duckson does the best he can with what I gave him)

Dr.'s assessment:  Your arm's off!

The unknown: Whether Feliciano's desire to stick it to the Mets will cause him to say "'tis but a scratch" and stupidly try to rehab it this year in hopes of pitching.

The Good & The Bad After Two Weeks

(The Horse has been OK so far, I guess.  Courtesy of The AP)

The Good:

- Russell Martin: The guy has looked like 2007-2008 version of himself so far this season, hitting .289/.325/.579 with 5 XBH and 9 RBI.  He's also the only catcher in MLB who has caught every inning of every game, so his health appears to be a non-issue, at least early on.  I don't expect him to hit for that much power all year, but he doesn't have to in this lineup.

- Robbie Cano: Apparently we don't know because Cano has flown under the radar so far, quietly putting up a very good .326/.340/.587 tripleslash while leading the team with 15 hits (8 XBH) and 8 RBI to boot.  The walk rate is down early, but that should come up as teams start to pitch him more carefully to get to Swish and Jorge like they did last year.  And ever since that flub on Opening Day, he's been solid in the field.

- A.J. Burnett: 3 wins in 3 starts is good enough, but when the peripherals surrounding it are all better than last year's, that's even better.  His 4.67 ERA might not look great, but that has been artificially inflated by some later-inning garbage runs and his WHIP (1.27), FIP (4.35), and xFIP (3.65) are better indications of how well he's pitched.  His K rate is up from last year, his walk rate is down, and he's using his changeup more effectively.

- Mariano Rivera: His announcement this week that he doesn't plan to play after 2012 certainly hasn't had any effect on Mo's performance in 2011.  He has allowed just 3 baserunners in his 6.1 IP so far, saving 5 of the team's 7 wins and picking up the W in the one last night.

- The Rest of The 'Pen: 5-for-5 in save situations, 7 holds, and a collective 3.61 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.  Factor out the one bad Soriano outing and those numbers look even better.  Other than that he's been very effective, even with diminished velocity, Joba is starting to look like the Joba of old, D-Rob has become the Tommy Gavin of the 'pen (best fireman ever, if you didn't get the reference), and Bartolo Colon has been great as the long man in his last 2 outings.  If Boone Logan gets it together, they might not miss Feliciano as much as people think.

- The Horse: A .412/.512/.882 line, 8 XBH, 9 RBI, 11 R, and 7 BB to just 4 K in 34 ABs?  Yeah, I guess that's pretty good.  A .566 wOBA, .471 ISO, and pitchers league-wide pissing themselves every time he steps in the box?  That's even better.  Obviously these insane numbers aren't going to carry over all year, but the important thing is that A-Rod has carried his stellar ST over to the regular season.  He still looks healthy, smooth, and locked in at the plate.  And his Kentucky Derby odds keep improving.

The Bad:

Brett Gardner: He hasn't exactly excelled in the leadoff role, hitting .154/.227/.225 early.  And that weak hitting is being compounded by the fact that his rep as a count worker is starting to work against him as he's taking way too many strikes early in the count this year and putting himself in bad spots.  Those bad spots are causing him to take more defensive swings and he just isn't making contact.  His Ks are up (tied for the team lead with 13) and his walks are down (.91 BB/PA).  That's a bad combination for a guy who doesn't hit for a lot of power.  He needs to be more aggressive early in the count and start swinging at good pitches to hit.

Curtis Granderson: Another rough tripleslash (.194/.275/.444) being helped by the fact that he's hit for a little power, Grandy's biggest problem has actually been against righties this year.  He has his 2 HR and 3 RBI in 8 at-bats against lefties this year, but is hitting just .179/.281/.286 against righties.  A career-low BABIP could have something to do with the bad numbers, so at least we can take solace in the fact that he has reverted to his old mechanics.

Phil Hughes: There's no other way to say it.  Hughes has been awful so far this year.  He was a little better last night, but 4.1 innings of 5-run ball kind of takes any merit out of the statement "best start of the year."  As I touched on yesterday, the issue isn't so much the diminished velocity, but rather the lack of a clear definition of what the approach to finding a solution is going to be.  Hughes is pitching without his best stuff and without confidence right now, and that's a bad thing.  He's still a young pitcher and needs some support from his coaching staff to help him regain his form, that support being more than Joe saying he "believes" that Hughes is going to find it.  One more bad start with bad stuff and it might be time to start talking about sending Hughes down to try to find something.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Walk-Off Of The Year

From down 5-0 in a game where Phil Hughes' arm was lifeless again to the first walk-off win of the year in extra innings?  Yeah, I'll take that.

Somebody get the whipped cream ready and somebody hit the fucking music!!!

Pedro Feliciano, We Hardly Knew Ye

It looks like Pedro's desire for revenge against Dan Warthen will have to come next year, because his MRI came back and it doesn't look good.  This statement from Joe yesterday paints a pretty grim picture: 

“He’s got a damaged shoulder.... The MRI did not come back good. He has a damaged shoulder. He has a shoulder injury. In fairness to the player, he needs to talk about it with our doctors and the agents and decide what the next course of action is.”

If that statement doesn't scream "SEASON ENDING SHOULDER SURGERY!!!!!!" then I don't know what does.  I can't really hold it against Feliciano, since it wasn't his call to be run into the ground over the last 3 years by the Mets, but his final stats for the season don't exactly live up to the 2-year, $8 million deal the Yankees signed him to.

0 APP, 0 IP, $3.75 mil/hold, $3.75 mil/appearance, $3.75 mil/inning, $3.75 mil/pitch thrown.

So long, Pedro.  It's a shame we didn't get to see you perform in the pinstripes.  Maybe you and your shredded shoulder will be back next year.  Then again, maybe not.

A.J. Wins Another One

(Look!  He's landing on his heel!  Courtesy of The AP)

The final line might not show it, thanks to 2 2-run homers in the 7th, but A.J. was definitely Good A.J. last night.  And more importantly, he managed to be Good A.J. despite having a rough start that usually signals the appearance of Bad A.J.  He was giving up hits and walks, throwing wild pitches, and according to his postgame interview, he was so concerned about his poor mechanics that he actually called Larry Rothschild out to the mound.

“It was actually probably the first time in my career I actually called a pitching coach out. I was landing on my heel constantly, couldn’t correct it. I called him out and just basically said, ‘I’m landing on my heel. What’s going on?’"

Rothschild's response?

"Forget about that. Next pitch, just let it go. You’re fine."

And he was.  From then on, A.J. retired 14 of the next 16 he faced and held up the big lead that the offense gave him early.  And that comment from Rothschild was all it took.  No tweaking of mechanics, no correction of how he should plant his lead foot to get off his heal, just a vote of confidence.  And you know what?  Maybe that's all A.J. needs.  We all know that when he's on, he's damn near unhittable.  Maybe he doesn't need to be poked and prodded every time he starts screwing up.  Maybe he just needs a pitching coach who's going to tell him he's fine, give him the confidence to settle down and pitch and then deal with the mechanical stuff on an off-day.

Just like with the lineup, it's still too early to make any definitive conclusions, especially considering how well he started last year, but A.J. looks good out of the gate again.  His mid-4s ERA does not speak to how well he has pitched in his first 3 outings, and his changeup is starting to become a dangerous weapon for him.  He threw it a lot last night and it's looking good.  Being able to add that in and make it a usable pitch should help A.J. immensely moving forward on days where he doesn't have his best stuff and on days when The Horse isn't mashing balls all over the yard.

** Quotes via LoHud**

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Does Anybody Know What's Up With Phil Hughes?

(The look of frustration and bewilderment.)

The lack of velocity and dreadful results are bad enough, but the continued lack of clear definition of what is wrong with Hughes and subsequent lack of direction that is being taken to remedy the situation is my bigger concern.

Over the last week or so since his bad first start, we've seen stories and reports on Hughes noticing mechanical flaws with his head position and arm swing compared to last season, then noticing more mechanical flaws with his his leg drive off the mound compared to last season, without either being confirmed as the actual problem and without any improved results to show as a result of trying to correct the flaws.  All the while, the organization continues to stand firm in their belief that Hughes doesn't need an MRI and there is nothing physically wrong with him.  For his part, Hughes believes that it is an arm strength issues and Larry Rothschild believes it is a mechanical issues, but the REAL issue here is the fact that nobody knows what the issue is and Hughes is starting to become concerned.

"It’s obviously something to be worried about.  This is my job, my livelihood and I don’t have the stuff I know I’m capable of going out there with. It’s worrisome and it’s frustrating." (Hughes via ESPNNY)

Worrisome and frustrating are not words you want to hear one of your top pitchers saying, ever, especially when it relates to his stuff.  That is basically Hughes admitting that he has no clue what is wrong with him and that the organization doesn't either.  And since nobody involved in this saga can come up with a clear plan for what needs to be done to address the problem, Hughes is just going to continue to go out on the mound with that worry and frustration in the back of his mind and hope for the best.  That strategy simply is not acceptable and not one that should be taken with a young pitcher who is such a vital part to the team's success.

All the parties involved in this issue (Hughes, Rothschild, Girardi, and Cash) need to sit down and hash out a plan to address Hughes' missing velocity.  If it means going out in the 'pen during his side sessions and getting a gun on him while he tries to correct the mechanical flaws, the fine.  That's a solid starting point.  But if that doesn't help, then medical solutions need to be looked at, be they MRIs, scopes, rest, whatever.  And Hughes' thoughts need to be factored into the plan.  He knows his body better than anyone and what he's feeling in his arm, be it strength or weakness, should be the leading determining factor in how they move forward/

To continue to guess at this, guess wrong, and have Hughes go out there on the mound without confidence in himself while everybody waits for him to magically regain the velocity is just plain stupid.  It's obvious that nobody knows what's wrong with him, and that's not necessarily the worst thing in the world.  The worst thing is to continue to hope for the best without having a plan in place for the worst, that being if the velocity doesn't come back.  The bottom line is, something needs to happen to get this issue resolved, and it needs to happen soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yanks Rained Out Again. Freddy Garcia Might Never Get A Start

Another extra off day thanks to Mother Nature, another discussion about pushing Freddy Garcia's first start of the season back as a result.

We know there will be no doubleheader in this series, we know A.J. is pitching tomorrow, and we know Phil is pitching Thursday.  Today's unscheduled off day means Ivan Nova could be lined up to pitch Friday and then who knows beyond that.

I can't argue with the logic of giving the pitchers you believe are better more starts over inferior ones, but I kinda feel bad for Freddy here.  He's like the girl at the prom who was in a horrific car accident that left her horribly scarred.  Everybody feels bad, but there ain't nobody stepping up to the plate and offering to dance with her.

Hang in there, Freddy.  You'll get to start a game sooner or later.  And if it ends up being later, then at least you can get some more 8th-inning mop-up work, right?

Why's Everybody Getting Antsy About The Offense?

(Mark Teixeira: The worst player with 4 HR and 10 RBI through 9 games in MLB history.  Courtesy of The Daily News)

The usually reliable Mark Feinsand fell victim to the typical NY media worryworting this morning in his article about the "struggling" Yankee offense. 

"Imagine what the Yankees' record would be right now if the lineup was actually hitting.

Yes, the Bombers are tied for the American League lead with 18 home runs, but they rank in the lower half of the league in average (.236) and on-base percentage (.311), relying far too much on the longball to score." (via The Daily News)

The rest of the article isn't as "end of the world" as you would expect with that beginning, and Feinsand does acknowledge that it is early in the season and some of the low numbers possessed by Yankee regulars right now are to be expected in such small sample sizes.  But the fact that he's looking at just batting average and OBP as evidence of the Yankees' team-wide offensive woes is flawed and the implied idea that the Yankees hitting so many home runs is a bad thing is completely ludicrous.

Joe Pawlikowski at RAB touched on the same subject this morning, saying:

"When the home runs stop flowing, the logic goes, the Yankees will face trouble scoring runs. Yet this blatantly ignores what we’ve all learned from years of watching baseball.

The team you see on the field will change in the course of the next few months. The players might remain the same, though there’s a good chance we’ll see changes there, too. But the manner in which the team plays will always be changing."

And that right there is the important thing to remember.  What's happening right now, good or bad offensively, is not indicative of what can or will happen moving forward to the next game, the next week, or the next month.  The sample size so far is too small to be making any kind of judgments, and the argument that the Yankees could be in trouble if this continues overshadows what is really important, that being that the Yankees have managed to be a productive offensive team despite their apparent early struggles.  Case in point:

- While they rank 9th and 8th in the AL in BA and OBP respectively, the Yankees as a team rank 4th in OPS thanks to their high SLG percentage (cough, cough: home runs).  They might not be getting a lot of hits, but the hits they are getting are big hits.

- Their 50 runs scored ranks 5th in the AL.  Again, they might not be hitting all the time, but they're making the most out of the hits they get.

- Even with the recent 0-18 mini-slump, Teix is still 2nd in the AL in HR and RBI.

- The Yankees are the only team in the AL with 4 players in the top 25 in OPS (A-Rod 7th, Martin 16th, Cano 19th, Teix 24th).

And that is the point that Feinsand and I'm sure plenty of other people seem to be missing.  It's not a bad thing that the Yankees aren't hitting as well as we'd like them to be, and it's certainly not a bad thing that they're bashing home runs and doubles all over the ballpark to score their runs.  On the contrary, it's good that they are showing power now when the hitting for average isn't there collectively because it's putting them in a position to win.  And as Joe Paw stated, what we see now from the lineup isn't what we're going to see later on.  Things are going to balance out. C-Grand and Gardner and Posada will pick it up. Martin will come back to Earth a bit.  And when that happens, the Yankees will still be productive as a whole, which is the most important thing in contributing to winning baseball.

Joe said it best at the end of his post:

"This type of thing happens every year. At some point people say that the Yankees don’t do this, or the Yankees don’t do that. Maybe it’s true for that moment in time. But as the season progresses the team changes. Players who slump early start to streak. Guys who hit a ton of homers might cool down, but that doesn’t mean they become unproductive.... The Yankees offense as a whole, though, will be just fine. To think otherwise is to ignore years of experience watching a 162-game season unfold."

Basically, there's nothing to worry or write about with the Yankee offense right now.  Just be happy that they are helping the team win while the issues with the rotation continue to fester.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fraud Sawx Building Momentum Off HUGE Game 9 Victory Sunday Night

The Sawx were taking no prisoners tonight after their dramatic Game 7 World Series victory over the Yankees 24 hours ago, and they clearly have their momentum going in the right direction towards their next title after tonight's dominant victory.

Dice-Gay was dealing from the start tonight, Wakefield backed him up with a couple solid innings of relief, and Dan Wheeler locked it down with a quick 9th inning.  Yes sir, the weekend series with the Yanks was just what the Sawx needed to right the ship and they are clicking on all cylinders now.  The rest of the AL better watch out.

P.S.- Why the hell is Tim Wakefield still pitching?  That guy was done like dinner after '09.  Guess everybody forgot to tell him.

P.P.S.- Dan Wheeler has an 18.90 ERA and a 3.00 WHIP in 3.1 IP this season.  Another great signing by the Boy Wonder.

P.P.P.S.- Less than 2 weeks into the season and the Magic Number is almost 1/10th gone to eliminate Boston.  That's just fantastic.

Yanks-Sawx Thoughts And Afterthoughts

(I feel ya on that, CC.  Courtesy of The AP)

- I don't know what the deal is with Phil Hughes and his nonexistent velocity, but he and the team better figure it out and figure it out quick.  I still haven't seen one single reasonable explanation for why his arm is so dead, but when you throw a flat fastball at 88 MPH, you are going to get shelled and that's what happening right now.  I love the guy, but he flat out isn't giving his team the slightest chance to win when he's on the mound.

- I liked the version of Bartolo Colon I saw on Friday afternoon much better than the one I saw against Detroit.  His 2-seamer was dominant and he commanded it better than any Yankee pitcher has commanded any pitch this year.  There's no way to predict how long he can stay healthy and effective, but the more outings he has like that the better that signing looks.

- Hey!  You put D-Rob in the game and he does the job!  What a concept!  I know I said Soriano should have "Fireman" as his entrance music earlier in the year, but Robertson was all that and more on Saturday to preserve the Yankee win after Nova stumbled.  His 1.2 shutout innings practically earned him a guest spot in this upcoming season of "Rescue Me."

- Where have you gone, Mark Teixeira?  Last 4 games, including this Boston series- 0-15 with 7 Ks and 2 BB.  He looks like he's gone back to his classic April approach of pulling off of everything early, swinging too hard, and either completely missing or popping everything up.  How the hell did that happen so fast???

- That being said, the pitch that Teix got punched out on to end the game last night was complete bullshit.  That wouldn't have been a strike at Pedroia's knees let alone Teix's.

- Speaking of midgets, this series was a great reminder for how much I hate Dustin Pedroia.  9-13 in the series, 4 XBH, 4 R, 5 RBI?  Yeah, that's a pretty solid ownership of the Yankee staff.  And he does it all with that stupid swing that makes it look like the bat is too heavy for him.  I don't get how he does it, I don't want to know.  I just know that I hate Pedroia's guts and I hate him even more when he succeeds against the Yankees.

- I called CC's outing the worst 1-run performance in baseball history last night on The Book and I stand by that statement today.  He just didn't look like he had command of anything last night and he could never throw strikes inside like he said he wanted to.  After a few innings it looked like he abandoned that approach completely.

- THAT being said, he still held Boston to just 1 run, battled to get out of the problems he created for himself, and gave his team a chance to win.  Beckett just flat out shut down the offense.  Through 3 starts, CC has a 1.45 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP (inflated greatly by last night's 13 baserunners allowed), and an 0-1 record to show for it.  Can somebody score some goddamn runs for the guy???

- Was I the only one who had half a stack in his pants when CC hit Adrian Gonzalez last night?  I practically jumped out of my chair and ran to the TV to hear the sound of the ball smacking off his fingers in the replay.  Too bad it's not broken.

- Whatever his approach is at the plate, high stride, medium stride, no stride, whatever, the fact is Jeter's bat looks reeeeeeeeally slow at the plate right now.  He isn't getting around on any fastballs and he's mashing everything into the ground again.  Yes it's early, and yes it's too few at-bats to make any serious judgments, but he isn't passing my eye test right now and it's something worth keeping an eye on.

- Did anybody catch the BBTN portion of SportsCenter after the game?  Jesus Christ, what a bunch of loser fans!!  Out there freaking out behind the set like they just won Game 7 of the '04 ALCS.  Calm down, you morons!  Your team is still 2-7, your pitching is still wildly inconsistent and ineffective, and your offense still can't hit well with RISP.  If ever there was a perfect visual example of why I call them Fraud Sawx Nation, that was it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Food For Thought For Tonight

Here is Josh Beckett's line over his last 6 starts against the Yankees dating back to August of 2009:

34 IP, 49 H, 13 BB, 37 ER, 14 HR, 9.79 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 1-3 W-L

I'm not even going to bother calculating the ERA+, FIP, or WAR for those 5 starts because I already know they suck.

I will just say good luck tonight, you fat piece of shit.  You're going to need it.

** UPDATE- 6:15PM: No Horse in the lineup tonight for the Yankees.  He started to feel sick late this afternoon.  Chavez replaces him at 3rd and Cano moves up to the cleanup spot in the batting order.  At least that gives Beckett a slightly better chance.  **

** UPDATE- 10:09PM: No other way to say it, Beckett had it going tonight.  Hey, the sun shines on a dog's ass every now and then, right?  And as good as he was, the Yankees did him some favors by not putting good swings on the hittable pitches he did give them early and then just plain swinging like crap late.  So congrats to Fraud Sawx Nation for climbing out of the cellar tonight.  Call me when you get to .500.  **

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cliff Lee Who???

(The starting AL All Star catcher after 8 games.  Courtesy of The AP)

Eric Chavez and Russell Martin combined today: 5-9, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, approximately 2 kajillion SLG.

And Luis Ayala preserved the win with 2 shutout innings in the 8th and 9th.

Who says the Yankees didn't spend good money this offseason?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Well At Least Phil Hughes Isn't Delusional

Via LoHud:

"It’s a difficult feeling. I don’t feel like I’m bringing anything to the team right now, and that’s a tough thing to deal with....  It’s kind of a helpless feeling.” (Hughes after today's outing)

I'll give Hughes credit.  At least he isn't coming out giving the textbook BS pitcher responses when asked about how bad he's been to start the season.  But the fact is he has no velocity, he and the team have no clue why that is, and he hasn't given his team a chance to win in either of his starts.  Not what the Yankees were looking for at all from their 3rd starter in a year that he was expected to be one of the certainties.

Perhaps the only pitcher worse than Hughes has been Boone Logan.  Check these numbers:

1.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 13.50 ERA, 5.25 WHIP, and lefties were hitting 1.000 against him until he got Ellsbury out to end the 7th today.

Holy piss, that's bad!  Steve Garrison could be up in the show any day now with those kind of results.

P.S.- Bartolo Colon was a BOSS today.  Worked Boston to death with that 2-seamer.

Thoughts On The First Week

Before I get into my thoughts, let me preface this by saying yes, I realize it's only been a few games and yes, I know there's a lot of baseball to be played.  It's just my take on what I've seen so far, not what I expect moving forward.

- I didn't have high hopes for him at all, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen from Russell Martin so far.  He's been solid behind the plate, has done a good job of handling the pitching staff, hasn't shown any signs of wear and tear from catching every day, and has shown the ability at the plate that had him looking like Joe Mauer Jr. a few years ago.

- CC has had 2 outings, one that was good not great and the other that was damn great.  He didn't appear very happy with his performance in either.  That's a good sign.

- Jeter hasn't looked really good or really bad at the plate with his new swing mechanics, but I certainly hope the rumors about him abandoning his new step  aren't true.  Jeter needs to be smart enough to realize that he needs to stick with the new approach to be successful.  If he starts getting back to the big stride, pitchers are going to eat him up with the fastball like last year.

- He has slowed down a bit over the last couple games, but Teix is still having a huge April by his standards.  He could never get a hit for the rest of the month and his numbers would still look better than they did the last couple years.

- The Horse hasn't put up the numbers that Teix has, but he has continued to look locked in and well balanced at the plate.  The off-day and rainout have also helped Joe to be able to keep him rested without taking him out of the lineup.  Score!

- Poor Freddy Garcia.  Everybody said he shouldn't have gotten the 5th starter spot over Colon and now the Yankees seem intent on having him pitch as little as possible.  That isn't going to do him and his nothing stuff any favors, but for his sake he better look halfway decent when he finally does take the mound or he won't be around very long.

- Stop taking so many strikes, Brett!  Swing the damn bat!!

- Even though I didn't see it, I liked what I saw from Nova in his first start.  If he continues to hone that slider/cutter hybrid and use it consistently, he could be better than people expected this year.  I still don't think he gets enough respect from scouts because he isn't as flashy as the Killer Bs.

- With the way Ayala and Boone Logan have pitched, at what point do we start praying that Feliciano isn't going to be shut down for the year?  And if he is, at what point is it OK to start sending FedEx packages full of dog shit to Citi Field?

- Mo's line so far:  4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 4-4 SV.  What else is new?  The guy simply isn't human.

- Overall, there was a lot to like about the opening week of the year.  Even though everybody isn't quite locked in, the offense has looked patient and done a good job of scoring runs both with the long ball and with small ball.  Once Grandy and Cano really get going they are going to be tough to squeak by through the heart of this order.  And if Phil can find some velocity, the rotation could be better than people expect.  I'd rather they be 5-1 right now, but I'll take 4-2.

It's Rivalry Time Again

Yeah the Yankees beat the Twins yesterday, A.J. Burnett pitched relatively well again, Soriano was back to being Soriano, blah, blah, blah, whatever.  It's time to stop living in the past and time to look towards the future, that future beginning tonight, at Fenway Pahhhhhk, when the Yanks and Sawx hook it up again in their first series of the season.

The Yankees come in playing well, being one Soriano meltdown/Joe brainfart away from being 5-1 on the year, while the Sawx come in at the fraudiest of their most fraudulent; 0-6, worst start since the 1940s, can't hit, can't pitch, and can't run the bases.  This series won't be a major determining factor for how the rest of each team's season will go, but it can certainly go a long way in keeping Sawx fans and writers crying in their Bahhston Lagahhs and pulling their pink hats over their eyes, and THAT'S why this series is important this weekend.  Any time you have an opportunity to kick somebody while they're down, you damn well do it!

A couple of early betting lines for tonight's game:

- Over/Under for Runs Allowed by Lackey: 9.5

- Over/Under for Top Fastball MPH by Hughes: 90

I'm a positive guy (sort of) so I'm taking the over on both.  Lay some money down while you can.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Baserunning 101

(Video used courtesy of Barstool Boston)

Darnell McDonald putting the "DUH" in fundamentals there.  Talk about a horrible way to lose a game.  Screw "never make the first or last out of the inning at 3rd base," how about "never make the final out of a one-run game as the tying baserunner by rounding 2nd base too far on a chopper to 3rd."

What an assclown.

P.S.- Will I regret this bit of mini-knife turning when the Yankees hit a rough patch in the near future?  Maybe.  But it's too fun to not jump on the Sawx and kick them when they're down after all the time the MSM spent fellating them this offseason.

The Sawx Look Good

- Last in the AL in team ERA
- Last in the AL in team WHIP
- Last in the AL in OBP Against
- 3rd to last in the AL in Runs Scored
- 2nd to last in the AL in Hits
- 2nd to last in the AL in team BA
- 3rd to last in the AL in team OPS

Oh yeah, and they're 0-5 and can't even remember what constitutes a force play and what doesn't.  Even on rain outs the Yankee magic number is shrinking faster than people's interest in Charlie Sheen thanks to the Fraud Sawx.

Guess it's time to kick the "hahht and scrappiness" factor into overdrive, huh?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

** UPDATE- 1:55PM- The Sawx continued their losing ways today, falling 1-0 to the Indians and losing the game on an 8th-inning combination of walk, stolen base, sacrifice, squeeze bunt.  On behalf of Yankee fans everywhere, I just want to say thanks to the Sawx for that.  That jokes just writes itself.  **

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Plug Pluggy Plug Plug

Please know that I have no joy in saying this, but if you frequent the site then do me a favor and CHECK OUT THE DAMN FACEBOOK PAGE!!  There's a link to it here, and another one here, and a third one right here.   And I've even got the whole Facebook box thing on the homepage to take you right to it.  That took my almost an hour to set up.  Pathetic, I know, but that's not the point.  The point is, check this stuff out and when you're done checking it out, click the "Like" button and get my numbers up.

I mean, 18 fans?  18???  That's just turribull (copyright: Charles Barkley).  Those 18 fans includeme, and about half of the rest of the people aren't even Yankee fans.  Some of them aren't even baseball fans!  They're just friends of mine or family members who were nice enough to like it through their association with me.  And don't get me wrong, that's all well and good to get the train pulling out of the station, but now I need to start stocking the Facebook fan shelves with some legit Yankee fans.  I've got d-bag fans of other garbage teams using up valuable comment space to swear at me for speaking the truth and nobody coming to my (or the Yankees') defense.  And that just cannot be allowed to happen.

If you're a Yankee fan and you haven't already, "Like" AB4AR on Facebook.  And if you have family members and friends who are Yankee fans, get them to do the same.  I'll even extend the invite to some Met fans, since they clearly have nothing better to do than like the site.  There's plenty of room on the Yankee bandwagon, people.  It's time to start building up the AB4AR army.  Make it happen.

 (Dr. Long recommends AB4AR to all his patients.)