Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The $900,000 Man Comes Through Again

(Not gonna lie, I kinda want to hug the guy too.  Courtesy of The AP)

How's this for a stat line:

9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 103 P (71 strikes)

If you would have told me I'd be getting that line from a 38-year-old Bartolo Colon in a start on the West Coast in late May, I would have asked for the phone number of your drug dealer.  At this point, there is no debate anymore, no other way to say it.  The guy has been flat out money.  He has been worth the 900k the Yankees shelled out to get him and then some after just 8 starts!

For a change of pace this season, Joe actually made a decision about his pitching staff that worked out when he decided to flip CC and Colon's spots in the rotation after last week's off day.  And boy did it work out.  CC's outing on Sunday was a tough act to follow but Colon blew it out of the water yesterday with an extra day's rest.  He absolutely owned the outside corner with his fastball, consistently getting ahead in the count (first-pitch strikes against 23 of 30 batters faced) and then putting guys away thanks to his pinpoint command.  As has been the case in his strong outings, he never lost any velocity as the game wore on, and Joe followed up one good decision with another by letting him go out for the 9th inning and finish the game.

There's really nothing left to say about what Colon has done this year and how smart Cash was for monitoring him and then having the faith in what he saw to sign the guy.  Every time he steps on the mound, I feel like more of a jackass for all the negative ranting and raving I did back in January and February.  But with the kind of results Colon has put up, I don't mind looking like a jackass.  I mean, a 3.26/3.35/2.91 tripleslash and 1.3 WAR in just 11 outings?  For less than a mil???  That's highway robbery of the highest order.

If anybody needs me, I'll be going back through my earlier posts where I made fun of Colon's moobs and slapping myself.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Big Man Gets It Done

After sleepwalking through 2 consecutive textbook Yankee losses, the Bombers needed Carsten to come through today to not make it a lost weekend.  In short, he did.

8 innings of 1-run ball, giving the offense plenty of chances to find itself, which it did, and the Yanks leave Seattle with 1 win.  They still have work to do to get to my previously stated acceptable 5-4 record on this road trip, but that work is a lot easier to do from 1-2 than 0-3.

P.S.- cue the opt-out talk again after tonight's outing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ugh, Do You Hear That Awful Sound?

"You fahckin' New Yawk quee-yahs did nawt believe in the powah of Red Sawx Nation!  Everybody doubted us and ow-uh ability to ovahcome awbstacles and make it back to the prawmised land, but we fachkin' did it so fahck you!!

And I'm nawt tawlking about the Bruins, even though they ahh the best.  I'm tawlking about the fahckin' hahht and soul of ow-uh city, the fahckin' Saaaawwwwwx, baby!  Back in first place where they fahckin' bee-lawng.  It's been a lawng, hahhd road back from the 0-6 stahht, but the scrappiness and grit of this team has ovahcome everything else to get back to the tawp.

It just goes to show what hahht and detehhmination (and $170 million dollahs) will get you.  And those fahckin' Yankee faggots ahh going down!"

When the first thing on the ESPN bottom scroll is "Sox move into first place for first time this season" over a Game 7, you know it's going to be an even bigger celebration in Boston.  It's days like today that I'm thankful I moved to the midwest.

Friday, May 27, 2011

AB4AR Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Linkapalooza

Just like last year, I'll be traveling to good old Baltimore (recently voted 8th most dangerous city in the US.  SCORE!) for the NCAA Lacrosse Championships this weekend.  That being the case, my updates on the site could be few and far between over the next 4 days.  So to tie you, dear readers, over until I make my gallant return, here's another hot lap around the Yankosphere.

- 3460kuri of Pinstipe Alley wonders why Joe continues to platoon Brett Gardner against lefties when the numbers suggest he shouldn't. As usual, you can't argue with the numbers. But you can argue with Joe's logic. What else is new?

- Larry Koestler of TYA breaks down Nick Swisher's awful start to the season from pretty much every angle. I'd say a little more luck and a little less swinging at bad pitches should help the situation, no?

- Matt Warden of TYA has a hilarious flow chart that perfectly lays out where to point the finger when the Yankees lose.  I imagine most of the typical Yankee callers into WFAN have this printed out and hanging up somewhere in their homes already.

- Jay Jaffe of Pinstriped Bible looks at how Buster Posey's unfortunate situation could affect the Yankees' plans with their horde of catchers.  My favorite part was when he mentioned trading Cervelli.

- Mike Axisa of RAB has top prospect Slade Heathcott's K and BB rates charted out for his pro career to date.  Lot to like there.

- Speaking of prospects, Tamar Chalker of IIATMS has a new prospect profile on Adam Warren.  If he keeps pitching like he did earlier this week, Warren could be next in line for a call up when a spot starter is needed.

- First of 2 from William at The Captain's Blog.  This one from Wednesday examines the recent offensive scuffles.

- And this one from yesterday is a trip down memory lane, all the way back to Mariano's first career appearance.  Way to gun that one up to 88, William.

- Last is a recommended must-read to any Yankee fan.  It's David Cone's recent interview with New York Magazine.  In it, he discusses everything from advanced stats to his take on the Jorge situation to his affinity for motorcycles.  David Cone is never not entertaining.

So that's it for today.  Maybe I'll get on a computer to follow up on the weekend series with Seattle, maybe not.  If not, everybody enjoy their Memorial Day weekend.

AB4AR Prospect Roundup


Everybody knows I love me some Yankee prospects.  But if you read the blog enough, you also know that I don't devote as much time to following the Yankee MiL system as other sites.  Basically that's because I don't have the time or the resources to devote to that coverage, but that doesn't mean I still don't follow the comings and goings of the system.  So here's my belated quick run through of some of the standouts, both good and bad, for each team so far.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees:

Pleasant Surprise- Jorge Vazquez

Already 29, Vazquez has been a constant source of power all season.  His .960 OPS and 17 HR leads the team, and his .403 wOBA is very good.  Vazquez's big issue is his 28.9% K rate, which pretty much makes him an "all or nothing" type player.  But that doesn't take away from his monster production so far.  If only he were 24...

Not So Pleasant Surprise- Brandon Laird

After raking in Double-A last season, Laird was a dark horse candidate to make the MaL roster coming into ST in 2011.  He hasn't been able to replicate that success this year, however, hitting just .244/.281/.340 with just 10 XBH so far.  He has been better so far in May than in April, but he still has some work to do to re-establish himself as a serious prospect.

The Rest-

Adam Warren, David Phelps, and D.J. Mitchell have all pitched well in the rotation, with Warren throwing 8 1-run innings in his most recent outing.  Justin Maxwell has 21 XBH and an .885 OPS to go along with his 68 Ks.  The Jesus, while not mashing quite the way we'd all like to see, is still holding his own with a .308/.343/.417 tripleslash.  Kevin Whelan is filling J-Alba's shoes nicely as the closer.

Double-A Trenton Thunder

Pleasant Surprise- Tim Norton

Norton has picked up right where he left out last season, pitching to a 1.88 ERA and 2.37 FIP in 24 innings so far this season, striking out 36 batters.  He doesn't get a lot of ink because of the higher-profile names on the pitching staff, but at 28, Norton is making a name for himself as a potential future relief option.

Not So Pleasant Surprise- Melky Mesa

The kid is still striking out like a mofo, posting a 33.8% K rate so far this year.  Combine that with a .673 OPS and he continues to be a question mark moving forward.

The Rest-

The other 2/3 of the Killer Bs are performing well (1.30 ERA, 10.12 K/9 in 7 starts for Betances.  1.96,8.35 in 8 starts for ManBan), and with Shaeffer Hall pitching well and Graham Stoneburner rehabbing, the rotation is still the best in Double-A on paper.  At the plate, Austin Romine (.754 OPS) and Corban Joseph (.753) are leading the charge.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fred Wilpon FINALLY Makes A Good Decision

I'd like to talk about how much of an idiot Fred Wilpon is, but that's already abundantly clear to everybody who follows baseball or anybody who is sad and pathetic enough to be a Mets fan.  So instead of wasting everybody's time and my typing effort, I'd like to take the opportunity, in honor of today's good news that the Mets are selling a minority stake in the team to a guy named Einhorn, to play this clip and laugh once again at the Mets expense.

OK.  I'm done now.  Carry on.

Looking At The Soriano-Less Bullpen

(Could we see a new face out here soon?  Do we need to see one?)

It would not be an unfair statement to say that Rafael Soriano was the hole in the Yankee bullpen before he was put on the DL last week.  But now that the results of his Dr. Andrews have come back and we know he's going to be on the shelf for a while, it's also fair to state that, as bad as he has been, there is still potentially a hole in the 'pen without him.  Heading into tomorrow's game, here's what the Yankee bullpen looks like:

- Mariano Rivera- 1.71/1.71/2.96 ERA/FIP/xFIP, 7.29 K/9
- Dave Robertson- 1.42/2.11/3.01, 14.21
- Joba Chamberlain- 3.33/3.60/2.80, 7.40
- Boone Logan- 3.75/4.07/4.51, 5.25
- Luis Ayala- 1.50/3.49/3.54, 6.75
- Hector Noesi- 1.29/3.47/5.11, 5.14
- Lance Pendleton- 0.00/2.90/5.39, 3.68

While the end of games looks to still be in good hands with Mo, D-Rob, and Joba, the middle innings are a bit of question mark right now.  Sure, the Yankees have gotten good results from Noesi and Pendleton, but those results have come from a total of just 14.1 innings pitched over 7 appearances and the higher FIP and xFIP values of those 2 combined with low K/9 results suggest that some lucky BABIP values and good defense behind them has something to do with the results.  Over the long haul, these numbers might start to look uglier as the law of averages sets in.

The lefty spots in the 'pen have also been, and could continue to be, a question mark.  Boone Logan's overall body of work might look adequate, but when you consider that he's the #1 lefty specialist out of the bullpen and has a .323/.382/.484 tripleslash against in 31 at-bats vs.lefties, it's clear that he's been far from a sure thing at his job.  And Ayala's numbers, while strong, have come in just 12 innings, and counting on him to replicate what he's already done over the rest of the season would be a risky venture.

In general, though, this group gives the Yankees plenty of flexibility for the time being.  They have their 7th, 8th, and 9th inning roles clearly defined (just the way Joe likes them), they have 2 lefties who can be used for a batter or 2 or an inning + if needed, and in Noesi and Pendleton they have 2 guys who can fill in for multiple leveraged middle-relief innings, garbage time innings, or be stretched out in extras as Noesi was in his first appearance.  Every conceivable situation is covered, and with the rotation consistently providing at least 5-7 innings and sometimes more, there is little risk of anybody getting overworked.

The decision the Yankees need to make is whether or not they are comfortable with this group moving forward for the foreseeable future.  Outside of their 3 top guys, there really isn't a lot of swing-and-miss stuff out there and if nothing else, there are guys in Triple-A who could potentially provide that.  Kevin Whelan (9.15 K/9), Ryan Pope (9.53), George Kontos (9.25), and Andy Sisco (9.42) could all bring a little more OOMPH to the Yankee 'pen, but some multiple-inning flexibility would have to be sacrificed by sending either Noesi or Pendleton down to accommodate one of these 4.

For the time being, I see the Yankees sticking with what they have and continuing to make moves to replenish a multi-inning arm as needed.  If somebody does start to fall off a cliff, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the lower-leverage guys (probably Pendleton) sent down in exchange for a more powerful arm.  My money would be on either Whelan or Pope.

Another Milestone For Mo

1,000 career games is impressive in any sport.  To play in that many games is a testament to a player's talent, health, and commitment.  To play 1,000 career games for one team is even more impressive because it points to a relationship between a player and team that goes beyond just business.  It shows a mutual respect and understanding that player and organization have for each other, something that is rare in today's sports world of free agency, trades, and everything coming down to dollars and cents.

Last night, Mariano Rivera became the first pitcher in Major League history to appear in 1,000 games for one team.  For a guy who is running out of records to break and needs no more recognition of his undeniable greatness, Mo got another opportunity to be recognized last night.  And at 41, when he should be sitting at home, he didn't achieve this milestone as a fading former star hanging on by a thread who was just thrown out there to get the number.  He achieved it the same way he has achieved almost all of his career appearances, by coming into the game in the 9th inning and pitching a shutout frame to preserve a win for his team.  Congratulations, Mo.  On 1,000 jobs well done.

I've slobbered all over the guy plenty on this blog, and I will continue to do so until he retires because, with all due respect to Bret Hart, Mo is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shaking Up The Sh*t List

It's been almost a month since I last updated the Official AB4AR Shit List (in case you don't scroll down the page enough to see it on the sidebar), so it's time to tighten that up, set a ranking system, and issue ranks based on latest goings-on by the list members.

New List:

1) Rafael Soriano- He's a dick, he hasn't pitched well since Opening Day, he's robbing the team blind with that contract, and now he's probably going on the shelf for the rest of the season.

2) Randy Levine- A key cog in bringing Soriano to The Bronx.  Still hasn't learned that he doesn't know a thing about baseball and should leave Cash to his own devices.

3) Joe's Bunting Strategy**- Newest member of the List, Joe's mismanagement of his bullpen is succeeded only by his never-ending desire to continue to play old-school NL baseball with his lineup and sacrifice outs for the chance to score 1 friggin' run.

4) Joe's Match-Up Binder- We haven't seen it much lately, but he's still too married to situations and pre-defined roles instead of watching the game and trusting his guys.

5) Damaso Marte- Is he even still alive?

6) Kei Igawa- Getting paid MILLIONS to pitch in Double-A.  Awesome.

7) Nick Johnson- I think I'm almost over the latest Johnson fiasco.  He always got hurt, I knew he was going to get hurt, and I shouldn't have been so upset that he got hurt.

So there's the latest list.  You'll notice that a certain Mr. A.J. Burnett no longer appears anywhere.  He hasn't done anything eye popping, but in fairness to the guy, he hasn't been horrible, he's giving his team a chance to win on a consistent basis, and a 4.02/4.50/3.95 tripleslash is not worthy of my hatred.  So he's off.  For now...

Soriano To Visit Dr. Andrews, Cash's Feelings About The Signing Vindicated

Just to review, here's how Rafael Soriano's Yankee career has gone to date:

- Signed a 3-year/$35 million deal on January 13, 2011, chock full of opt out clauses.

- Reported to Spring Training in February, acts like a dick, refuses to pitch against AL East teams

- Put up a 5.40/4.96/5.94 ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash in 16 outings, with his only 1-2-3 inning being on Opening Day, before being shut down with elbow problems.

- Threw his teammates under the bus when asked about how it felt to not be pitching against division rivals on May 16.

- Was put on the DL, retroactive to May 14, on May 18 because of the continued elbow problems.

- Went for an MRI yesterday, got bad results, and is now scheduled to go visit Dr. James Andrews for the elbow, signifying the likelihood of a significant injury and a significant chunk of time to be missed, at the very least.

Not exactly the type of resume that would inspire YES to start putting together Raffy's "Yankeeography."  You can trace the history back to January and find that I have, admittedly gone back and forth on how I felt about the Soriano signing.  Those feelings have obviously transitioned exclusively to the negative side since the guy actually started pitching in pinstripes, and I'm not going to waste any more time talking about how awful he's been or stating the obvious point that the deal looks terrible now that he's gotten hurt and could be out for the year.  I will just refer back to Cash's comments during Soriano's introductory press conference:

"I didn't recommend it [the deal], just because I didn't think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have... 

... It's all the other stuff wrapped around the deal, the money, allocating closer type money to an eighth-inning guy, those type of things." 

And this is why Brian Cashman should be making the baseball decisions and Hank and Randy Levine should just stay up in their offices and make stupid statements to the press.  Cash knew what the risks and downsides of this signing were, Hank and Randy ignored them.  Cash knows what he's doing, these other 2 don't.  Now the Yanks might be on the hook for a big chunk of money next year if Soriano is done for the year.

In Cash we trust.

A Little Pie For Breakfast

(Teck-SHARE-uh gets him some.  Courtesy of Getty Images.)

Why the hell not?!  Like Bruce Willis' chick from "Pulp Fiction" says, "any time of day is a good time for pie."  That theory holds doubly true on a night when the offense finally picked up CC for a change.

P.S.- Can we officially declare C-Grand the starting CF in the All-Star Game yet?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Morning Analogy Comes Full Circle

The first 7 innings weren't pretty.  Lots of untimely 4s, not getting 1s when they needed them, and more than a few cases of the Sorry! card being pulled when things started looking up.  But then the Yanks got a few men into Home in the 8th and in the 9th C-Grand drew a 2 with his clutch RBI single, stole second, and got the backwards 4 that he and the team needed in the form of Teix's walk-off RBI single.  There were no homers, nothing for the MSM to squawk about, just good, solid baseball when it mattered the most.

Hey, Toronto!

I Wish I Was As Positive As Nick Swisher

(We need this guy back again.)

There's no other way to say it than to just state facts and say that Nick Swisher has sucked the big one so far this year.  His wOBA currently sits at .291, he's hitting .171/.296/.220 with RISP, and his OPS of .633 is actually lower than the Jorge/Jeter standard of sucktitude right now.  And while he hasn't been selfish enough to flat out refuse to play when demoted in the lineup, he has been benched for the last 2 games for Chris Dickerson.  If I were doing that poorly at my job that my manager asked me to not come into to work, to stay at home while they brought in a college intern to handle my responsibilities, I'd be looking at life through the haze of a case of Miller Lite right now.  But not Swish.  The dude is just too damn positive for words.

“It kind of seems like when you’re struggling, it seems like a lot of people have opinions on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do.  But I know my guy’s K-Long, and he’s going to tell me everything I need to do. I know if I listen to him and do the things he tells me, I’ll be right back where I need to be...

Whether I get to the same numbers I did last year, I’m going to bust my ass to get back there, and more.  That’s kind of my philosophy all the time. Sometimes you run into rough patches, and you learn a lot about yourself. I’m going to keep grinding, keep fighting, make sure I get weights in, make sure I’m getting my extra hitting in, doing all the things I have to to make myself better.” (quotes via LoHud)

And that right there is why I can't hate on Swish for being so terrible this year, as much as I'd like to.  He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't feel sorry for himself, and he doesn't spit the same tired old cliches back at you that Jeter would if he were the one struggling.  He stays positive, puts his work in, and waits for his chance to redeem himself.  And he still never takes a play off when he is in the lineup.  Dude is out there giving it 100% every day.  Good for you, Swish.  Hopefully we see you back in the lineup tonight and hopefully you get a few hits to start getting back in a groove.  For the sake of your 2012 option, you better.

George Willis Joins The AB4AR "SPST" Club

Well here's some good news for the dopes at ESPNNY.  They're getting a new member of their little club, yay!  This morning in The Post, George Willis all but officially declared Bartolo Colon's comeback over based on last night's bad 6th inning.  Read the whole thing if you want, but be advised- Make sure you don't have any coffee in your mouth when you do, otherwise it's going to end up all over your monitor and keyboard when you see some of this astounding stupidity.

"On a day when Bartolo Colon tired to continue his Cinderella story as the Yankees' surprise of the season... "

I'm going to come right out and pick nits here.  Bartolo Colon is not a "Cinderella" story. Cinderella was a young, unappreciated chick who never got her opportunity to shine and show what she could do. Players who fall into a "Cinderella story" category would be similar in background to that.  Colon is a veteran athlete who has had heaps of success in the past over his career, has been broken down by injuries, and has now experienced a revival later in his career thanks to a medical procedure.   There's nothing Cinderella about him.  If you're going to be cliche about the situation, at least get your Disney princess references right.

"Colon's revival took a nosedive last night when he gave up five runs in the sixth inning as the Blue Jays claimed a 7-3 win over the Yankees in the first of their three-game series at the Stadium."

That's right, a nosedive.  Because if there is anything that baseball has taught us over the years, it's that one bad inning is the end of a pitcher's career.  And if there are 2 things that baseball has taught us, it's that we should not discuss how well Colon was pitching in the preceding 5 innings last night or how stellar his overall body of work has been this season.  The only thing that matters is the one bad inning.

/looks up Colon's FanGraphs page, sees current 2.93 xFIP, poops in envelope to send to Willis

"Until the sixth inning, Colon was a walking advertisement for Liriano and his fellow physicians... "

But after the sixth inning?  Walking advertisement for how stupid the Yankees were for even considering signing him in the first place.  Guy is a piece of trash.  "Get freakin' Colon outta heeah!"

/typical NY stereotype voice calling into WFAN 

"But it all went wrong in the sixth, beginning with a lead-off double to right-field by Corey Patterson."

And the matter was made worse by Joe Girardi's decision to intentionally walk Juan Rivera later in the inning.  The same Juan Rivera who currently rocks a .228/.319/.331 tripleslash.  The call to put another potential run on base by walking arguably the worst hitter on the other team has nothing to do with Colon's bad inning.  Nothing at all.  The glass slipper just fell off and now he's turned back into a pumpkin.

You can hang the unintentional 4-pitch walk to Thames on Colon, and then following meatball for the bases clearing double wasn't good.  But don't sweep the fact that his manager made another bad call to put more runners on base under the rug.

"Colon's line was brutal: seven hits and six earned runs in six innings."

So brutal.  No pitcher in the history of the game has ever put up a line that bad.  And it's even worse because (looks around and whispers) he's OOOOOOOOLD.

For the record, Yankee starting pitchers have accumulated a total of 4 outings where they threw fewer than 7 innings and allowed more than 6 earned runs this season.  CC has 1, A.J. has 1, Phil Hughes has 1 (plus 2 more where he gave up 5+ ER in < 5 IP), and Colon has 1.  And Ivan Nova has thrown a few stinkers early too.  It happens.

"Maybe this subpar performance will quiet the growing commotion about the treatment Colon received for his shoulder."

Seriously, what commotion?  The story came out 2 weeks ago, it was a story for about a day and a half and it's been a dead issue since then.

"Still, Colon's performances are being watched by all of baseball wanting to know how a veteran pitcher, who was 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA the last time he pitched in 2009 and hasn't appeared in more than 10 games since 2005, could pitch like he did when he won the AL Cy Young in 2005 with the Angels."

Ummmm, they still haven't figured out how he's been able to do this?  Maybe because he received stem cell injections into his shoulder to try to revive it and that increased shoulder strength has allowed him to regain the form he had earlier in his career?  I thought that was made relatively clear already.  And why would/should anybody be shocked that a guy who has had great stuff and has been an All Star and Cy Young winner in the past could pitch well when he's healthy?  That seems like a no-brainer to me.

"If everything checks out clean, this stem-cell treatment could be the biggest thing for baseball since Tommy John surgery. Colon will give every pitcher with a sore shoulder and an aging birth certificate hope."

Bartolo Colon: Symbol of Hope for the unwashed, sore-shouldered masses.  He's like the Jesus Christ of aging pitchers.

And what the hell is an aging birth certificate?  That term doesn't make any sense to me.  Just call them old.

"But let's not call it a miracle cure just yet. Not after last night."

Let's not call it a miracle cure at all because it wasn't a miracle.  It was a medical procedure that has been tested, evaluated, and experimented with multiple times across the medical field.

And even if it was a miracle, last night's one bad inning would do nothing to lessen the miracle.  The guy had a bad inning.  He made a few bad pitches and it cost him.  But that doesn't take away from what he's done this year for the Yankees.  He's pitching to a 3.77/3.60/2.93 ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash with 8.79 K/9 and a 1.07 WHIP.  He has already been worth way more than the 900 grand the Yankees signed him for and has made Brian Cashman look like a genius for making that deal.  One bad inning doesn't change that, nor does one bad outing.

It's obvious George Willis needed to fill space, had nothing to write about, and so he grasped at the one straw he could.  Unfortunately for him, that straw wasn't worth grasping and unfortunately for him, I read his story today.  Shut the hell up, George Willis.  Leave the doom and gloom to the idiots who call into Joe & Evan and Wallace Matthews.

A Perfect Comparison For The Yankees Right Now

(No, that's not the cover of Joe's bullpen binder.)

Everybody remembers playing the board game "Sorry!" as a kid, right?  Did anybody else get as frustrated as I did trying to play that?  It seemed like a game of strategy and planning, where if you made the right calls here or there you could win easily.  But it basically came down to a game of random luck because of the cards you had to draw.  Sure, you could try to move a piece around quickly after drawing the 2 and then an 11 on your draw again, but then you could get caught up with a 3, a 1, and the dreaded 4 (which you had to move backwards) on your next 3 draws.  You could try to leave a piece right on your start area after taking it out and hope to get the 4 to move back and set yourself up to get into the safety zone, but then the 4 would never come.  Everybody else would get the damn things and eventually you would have no choice but to start moving the piece around the board because you were out of options.  And even when everything looked like it was falling your way, you had 3 pieces in Home and the 4th just outside the Safety Zone, you would get screwed on a draw where you drew too high to move the piece in and sure enough, the next player drew a goddamn "Sorry!" card and kicked your ass back to start.

That's kinda what the Yankees are right now; a game of "Sorry!"  They look like they have all the pieces in place and when things are going their way they look great.  But then they hit a rough patch of bad cards (failure to get hits with RISP, bullpen blowing leads, errors in the field) and suddenly they're losing games that they should have won.  They get a killer 2/12 combo to move a piece way out around the board (big 1st inning), and then slowly move the piece all the way around because of bad draws (GIDPs, pop ups on the infield by Teix, Cano swinging at the first pitch).  And then sometimes out of nowhere, they get 4 or 5 good draws in a row and the game is over before you know what happened (8th inning against the Mets on Sunday).  Whatever the situation is, it's been a frustrating series of inconsistencies, bad luck, and bad strategic moves that has the Yankees unable to establish a solid winning streak.  And don't even get me started on Joe and his inability to properly split a 7.

P.S.- Just to keep this analogy going a little longer, Colon's implosion in the 6th inning last night was the equivalent of having somebody pull a "Sorry!" card on you late in the game when you're the only piece on the board and they have the only piece still in the start area.  Just devastating.

P.P.S.- Why were there no 6s or 9s in Sorry!?  What was that about?  Were they really that worried about people being confused?  Can't tell you how many times I could have moved from just outside the Safety Zone straight into home if I could have drawn a damn 6.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The "Yankees Are Hitting Too Many Home Runs" Rhetoric Has To Stop

(Too bad the NY baseball writers don't.)

Despite the ups and downs of the Yankee offense as a whole this season, one constant has been their power.  Since Opening Day the Yankees have been crushing home runs and they used the long ball to their advantage again over the weekend against the Mets.  The other constant that has come with the power has been the MSM's continued insistence that the Yankees hitting all these home runs is somehow a bad thing.  Brien Jackson from IIATMS has been the leading voice of reason in combating this ridiculous line of thinking, and he took to the interweb again this weekend to pick apart the idiocy of The Daily News' Filip Bondy as well as that of The Post's Kevin Kernan.  But that hasn't stopped these guys and others from continuing to bang the anti-HR drum, and I can no longer sit idly by and read this crap.  So I'll get my 2 cents in about the topic, using portions of these 2 goobers' respective columns.

First up, Bondy's attempt to create connections between other facets of the game and home runs when there are none and then failure to even try to trace a connection between high home run and run totals to wins.

"Hardly anybody ever singles in runners from second or third. Again yesterday, the Yanks managed no hits with runners in scoring position. They have only 26 stolen bases and stood second-to-last in fielding in the American League, giving up 21 unearned runs in 44 games on 32 errors."

"The Yanks have struck 70 homers and scored 118 of their 226 runs this season with longballs. Their ratio of homers to total runs scored is .310, greater than the 1961 Yanks' .290." (via The Daily News)

On the one hand, Bondy wants you to think that the Yankees' high home run total is something that should be tied to their struggles in other areas, such as hitting with RISP, stealing bases, and fielding the ball.  Anybody who understands the basic principles of baseball can tell you that home runs have nothing to do with any of these stats.  They are a completely separate animal and should be treated as such.  Not to mention the fact that the home run is a play of certainty, where the factors influencing the outcome of the play are limited and the results always work to the advantage of the team who hit the home run.

If there are runners on 3rd and 1st and the batter hits a home run, his team is getting 3 runs for sure.  All 3 guys cross the plate and there's nothing the defense or pitcher can do about it.  If the batter hits a groundball to short, there are tons of factors in play and many different outcomes that can influence how many runs are scored.  The defense could turn 2 and allow the runner from 3rd to score, they could throw home and try to cut the runner down at the plate, allowing no runs to score, or there could be an error in which no outs are recorded, 1 run scores, and the opportunity is still open for more runs.  And that's just 3 scenarios off the top of my head.  There are plenty more that could come up, but the idea that holds true in any of them is that there is uncertainty about how many runs will be scored.

Hitting home runs eliminates all of those possibilities and leads to only one outcome: runs scoring.  It's the best possible play from the offensive standpoint because your team is scoring runs without sacrificing outs.  There's a reason why HR totals are still valued and are worth more in calculating OPS, OPS+, wOBA, etc.  Because the outcome is always the same and it's always a positive for the offense.  That fact never changes and so trying to tie home runs in with other plays like advancing runners, getting hits with runners on, and stealing bases is an incredibly flawed and stupid way of thinking. 

Kernan's piece in today's Post was equally stupid, but for a different reason:

Fred Wilpon Sucks At Timing

By now we've established that the Wilpons are scummy people, sloppy owners, and just general nincompoops when it comes to being a part of the human race.  But in case you had forgotten, Fred Wilpon is here to remind you.  In his latest escapade, Fred follows up on the Mets' losing of the Subway Series over the weekend in the best way possible: by doing an interview where he bashes pretty much every player on his team.

On Jose Reyes- "He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money. He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."

On Carlos Beltran- "We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was."

On David Wright- "Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."

On Ike Davis and the team in general- "Good hitter.  "Shitty team. Good hitter. ...We're snakebitten, baby."

The full story, including more discussion about the Madoff scandal, is in an article in The New Yorker, but from a baseball perspective, this is really all you need to know.  Fred Wilpon is a dope, his son is a dope, and their combined dopiness has run the Mets team into the ground.  And now that he's done that, he essentially ejects himself from the flaming wreckage and throws blame at the passengers.  Real classy, real smart business decision.  Makes Randy Levine and Hank look like geniuses.  Thank you, God, for making me smart enough to be a Yankee fan.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

He's BAAAAAAAaaaaaaack!

After dropping to a season low .242 BA this past Monday with an 0-4 w/ 3 K performance, The Horse eased the worries that he was still hurt and started to break out of his extended slump with 2 HR against Tampa on Tuesday.  Since then, he's put the slump completely to bed, tucked it in, and started on another hitting hot streak as he led the Yankees to 4 wins in their last 5 games, including a 9-3 shellacking of the Schmets today to win the Subway Series in which he went 4-5 with a run and RBI each.

Since Monday's 0-fer, The Ataur has gone 13-27 over his last 6 games with 4 XBH, 4 RBI, and 7 R scored.  Despite the power not being all the way back, A-Rod has fixed the issue with his leg kick, found his timing again, and set the tone for the team's offensive resurgence.  As he went earlier in the season, so did the Yankee offense as they rushed out of the gate.  As he struggled after the oblique injury, so did the Yankee offense and so did the team as the stumbled through the last couple weeks.  And now that he's started to heat up again, the team has won 5 of its last 6.

Jeter and Jorge may still be the official and unofficial team captains, but A-Rod is definitely the leader on the field.  He's the official Pied Piper of the Yankee O and if he can keep this going, we should see the Bombers back atop the AL East in no time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Where Is The Heart Of The Lineup?

I don't want to get into a huge discussion of this, because the game sucked enough as it is, but does anybody remember the last time Teix, A-Rod, and Cano all had big games in the same game?  They're supposed to be the heart of the order but I can't think of the last time that the Yankees had a game where all 3 of them cleaned house and carried the offense.  One has a good game here, then another one there, and it feels like the other 2 are nowhere to be found.

Their individual numbers are all pretty good, but they just aren't doing it together and that's another problem with the offense right now.  Tonight they were a combined 2-12 with 1 RBI.  That's just plain not good enough.

Coming into tonight, it looked like the offense had started to find its stride, but tonight was a step backwards and some fingers need to start being pointed at the big money All Stars.  These guys are among the best, if not THE best, offensive players at their respective positions and they need to start producing like it.  Instead of being a part of the offense getting it together, it's time for Teix, A-Rod, and Robbie to start leading the offense back.

A Perfect Segue

Could there be a more perfect opponent for the Yankees this weekend as they start to get their shit back together than the Mets?  In a series where they're rolling out R.A. Dickey, Chris Capuano, and Mike Pelfrey to face the waking giant that is the Yankee offense?  With David Wright and Ike Davis on the DL?  Really??

I guess the Mets can take solace in the fact that they might only have to face one beatdown tonight and then the rapture tomorrow will save them the embarrassment of being swept.  I mean, the rapture can't be as bad as this...


It's Friday, I'm feeling good, the Yankees are getting their swagger back.  Somebody hit the music!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Now THAT'S More Like It

It's amazing what happens when the lineup that has 8 current or former All Stars hits like a lineup that has 8 current or former All Stars and the ace on the hill throws 8 shutout innings like an ace should, huh?

Can we officially call this a winning streak?

Is Mo Being Overworked?

(Use wisely, it's an antique.  Courtesy of The AP)

Probably the hottest debate this morning in Yankeeland was whether Joe should have stuck with Bartolo Colon for the 9th last night after he dominated the first 8 innings on just 87 pitches as opposed to going to Mo for the 3-out save.  There are arguments for either case, and essentially you're argument about positive vs. positive.  Yes, Colon looked incredible, had a low pitch count, had shown no signs of slowing down, and the Oriole offense had shown no signs of figuring him out.  But we're also talking about Mariano F'ing Rivera in the 'pen.  The greatest closer of all time and arguably the greatest at doing his specific task in the history of organized athletics.  And while I would have liked to see Colon get the chance to finish the game, I can't argue with the decision to bring in Mo.  He had only thrown 6 pitches in his previous outing the night before and had a day off before that outing.

But then I took a quick peak at his stats for the year, and in doing that decided that keeping Colon in the game for the 9th inning last night, at least until he got into trouble, would have been the right move when you consider Mo's workload so far this year.  A look at his stats shows that, after last night, Mariano has appeared in 21 games so far this season, pitching 20 innings in the process.  The results of those 20 innings are predictably Riveraesque: 7.20 K/, 1.35 BB/9, 0.90 WHIP, 1.80 ERA, 1.77 FIP, 2.97 xFIP.  My concern, however, is not with the overall results but with the overall usage and how much higher those numbers project if the current pattern continues.

If you take Mo's current workload and project is over a full 162-game season, he would be expected to make 83 appearances and throw 79 innings.  That innings total would be Mo's highest since he threw 80.2 in 2001 regular season and that number of appearances would be his highest ever, his previous regular season high being 74 in '04.  Now if he were to continue to perform like he has so far, then it's a given that we would all sign up for that many appearances and innings, and I'm sure we would all be happy to have the 2001 and 2004-version of Mariano handle that kind of workload.  But we're not dealing with that version of Mo.  We're dealing with the 41-year-old version of Mo, the version that can and has gotten banged up easier over the last couple of seasons.  Heaping this kind of career-high workload on a 41-year-old pitcher is not a smart baseball decision, even if that pitcher is the seemingly cyborg-like Mariano Rivera.

I know there are more factors to workload than just innings pitched.  And it's true that Mo has had some easy outings already this year.  7 of his 21 appearances have been 10 pitches or less, including the last 2, and he has thrown 21 pitches or more in only 4 of his other 17 appearances.  But 2 of those 4 appearances resulted in 2 of his 3 blown saves and if you remember those games, it was clear that Mo didn't have his trademark zip or command of his stuff.  The fact is, he's an old guy by any baseball standard and he should be used as such to maximize his value over the length of the entire regular season and postseason, should the Yankees get there.

As much as Joe might not want to overwork Joba and D-Rob or as much as he might not completely trust Soriano to get 3 outs in the 8th, he can't always use Mo as their crutch.  The Yankees can't afford to have him miss time in the summer because of strains and sprains accumulated from being overworked.  If Joe doesn't trust the other guys in the 'pen, then moves should be made to get him some better pieces, by they internal promotions or additions through the free agent or trade markets.  Running a 41-year-old Mariano Rivera into the ground is not the right solution.

A Little Bit Of Everything

Last night's 15-inning marathon was one of the stranger Yankee games in recent memory.  Just to recap:

- A 38-year-old fat slob who hadn't pitched in the Majors in 2 years and underwent stem cell treatment this offseason to try to improve his shoulder strength threw 8 shutout innings on just 87 pitches, striking out 7 batters and inducing 10 groundball outs.

- The G.O.A.T. managed to blow a save and pitch a complete inning on just 9 pitches.

- A rookie pitcher made his MLB debut in the 12th inning and threw 4 shutout innings to pick up the win, all while giving up 4 runs and 4 walks over his 4 innings of work.

- But in those 4 innings, this rookie threw 66 total pitches and got a swing and miss on 10 of them.

- And he actually managed to get a critical out in the bottom of the 15th via the rare "runner gets hit by a batted ball" play.

- A Yankee got hit by a pitch in the head, had to leave the game, and was pinch run for by A.J. Burnett in the 15th inning.

- When the final out was recorded, the Yankees had the guy who started the game at SS in right field and their everyday SS, who had spent the previous 14 innings as the DH, back at his normal position.

(The Horse loves him some winning.  Courtesy of The AP)

Yes indeed, last night was a certifiable carnival on the diamond.  Bartolo Colon was absolutely masterful, commanding his fastball all night to both sides of the plate, and adding velocity as the game went along.  With just 87 pitches in the book, it would have made sense to me to send him out to finish the thing in the 9th inning, but Joe, ever a slave to his predetermined bullpen roles, went to Mo and Mo couldn't get it done.  I know Mo hasn't been overworked lately, but he did pitch the previous night, he is 41 years old, and Colon was straight up dealing.  Why wouldn't you send Colon out to finish what he started, a right he earned through the first 8 innings, and have Mo ready in case of trouble?

The other noteworthy pitcher was Hector Noesi, who finally got in a game as a Yankee after rotting away in the bullpen since his earlier call ups.  The 8 baserunners allowed doesn't look great, but Noesi pitched well and made big pitches when he had to.  His stuff looked good (10 swinging strikes) and he never seemed rattled despite every baserunner he allowed being the potential winning run.  It was a hell of a debut in my book, and even though he'll probably get sent down for a fresh arm today, I think Noesi opened some eyes and could earn himself some more burn the next time he gets called up.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, and it had to be pretty damn tiring, but it was another win, and that's all that matters.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yankees At The Quarter Pole

(A rare recent positive moment for Jorge.  Courtesy of The AP)

The season is 1/4 complete after last night's game, and I think it's fair to say that the team is not at the level we thought they would be coming into the season.  There were some question marks, no doubt, but on paper there was a lot more to like about this team than not like.  With what was expected coming into the season, it's not a stretch to say that overall the team has not met expectations.  The performance on the field has been consistently inconsistent, with flashes of brilliance followed by instances of chaos so bad that they would make Little League coaches cringe.  And the recent locker room turmoil is something straight out of "The Bronx Zoo," something that we have not seen from the Yankee organization since that time in the 70s.

Offensively, the Yankees have been a mixed bag.  Plenty of power (MLB-leading 63 HRs), and some general sabermetric stats that look very good: .778 OPS (2nd in MLB) and .343 wOBA (tied for 2nd).  But there are also some areas of concern.  The team .250 batting average is low, and yes it's a byproduct of a .269 BABIP that is near the bottom of MLB, but that still doesn't make it a good value.  Neither is the .243 BA w/ RISP.  And despite the high run totals and solid team OPS, the offense seems to be all or nothing.  The Yanks will put up 5 runs in the first 2 innings and then nothing the last 9.  Or they will be held scoreless through 7 and then manage a measly 1 or 2 when the game is out of reach in the late innings.  The lineup has not been able to get in a consistent groove where guys are producing at the same time, and that inconsistency has been a hindrance in the Yankees' ability to win close games.

Defensively, the team has devolved into a walking disaster lately.  I'm not even going to break into the numbers because you only need the eye test to tell the story.  Too many errors, too many passed balls, and too many mental lapses on simple plays that you just don't see the Yankees have.  We know Jeter doesn't have great range at short, we know Gardner and C-Grand can cover ground in the outfield.  Those things aren't going to change.  What can change and what needs to change is the focus and execution aspects of the simple, routine plays.

Pitching-wise, the Yankees have experienced the same inconsistency that has plagued them at the plate, but I actually think, all things considered, they have actually exceed expectations.  Nobody foresaw Phil Hughes being wildly ineffective and shut down to resolve his arm issues, nobody foresaw Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon performing as well as they have, and nobody foresaw Rafael Soriano being a complete waste of space as the setup man.  Nothing about the Yankees' team ERA, WHIP, FIP, or xFIP numbers blows you away.  They are somewhere in the middle of the pack in all of those categories.  But given all the concerns that people had about the staff they were going to start the year with, you can't say that the rotation hasn't held up their end of the bargain and consistently given the Yankees a chance to win.  CC has some things to work on, A.J. is still susceptible to implosion, and who knows what Colon, Garcia, Nova, and Hughes will provide moving forward.  But with the job they have done, and the solid performances of Mo, Joba, and D-Rob in the 'pen, the argument can be made that the Yankees should have won a few more games if the offense was performing up to their expectations.

The bad news is that the Yankees aren't the best team in their division or league right now, at least record wise, and that they still have issues to iron out on the field.  The good news is that they still have the overwhelming majority of the season ahead of them to correct those issues and regain the momentum with which they started the season.  The clubhouse problems are a bigger concern to me right now than the on-field problems, and that could be a bigger factor in determining the success of this team moving forward than situational hitting or grounding into double plays.

Team Record After 40 Games: 21-19, 2nd in the AL East

AB4AR Team Grade After 40 Games: B-

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hitting Slump? What Hitting Slump?

All I saw out there tonight was a champion thoroughbred centaur at the top of his game.  Crushing home runs, cantering around the bases, and continuing to be the world's greatest man/horse athlete.  Winning indeed.

Should Joe Be On The Hot Seat?

(Don't ask me what's going on.  I just manage the team.  Courtesy of The AP)

Now that we're done recapping Rafael Soriano's diarrhea of the mouth, I can get back to the topic I wanted to address earlier this morning, that being Joe's job security and how secure it should be.  Now let me preface this by saying that this is not meant to suggest that I think Joe should be fired or that the Yankees should even consider firing him.  It is simply meant to be a conversation starter and to point out some of his deficiencies as a manager that may be hurting his team.

This Joe's predecessor, Joe Torre, was run out of town after continued poor performances by his teams in the postseason and based on concerns about his bullpen management, his in-game strategy, his perceived lack of "fire" during games, and his perceived different sets of standards for veteran guys in the clubhouse.  In examining Giardi's recent history, there are a lot of parallels to be found.

First, Girardi's bullpen management system, while not as destructive to his pitchers' performance and health as Torre's "ride the hot hand 'til his arm falls off" method, is still just as flawed and has produced poor results.  His marriage to the "defined roles" of guys and having those roles dedicated to specific innings rather than dedicated to the situations and the leverage of those situations in games has been detrimental to the team's success and has undoubtedly cost the Yankees some games, both this year and in years past.  He has shown no willingness to break from this stubborn, flawed way of thinking, which suggests these issues will continue to hinder the team moving forward.

As for strategy, one need only to look at Girardi's insistence on sacrifice bunting seemingly every time the Yankees get a runner on first with no outs to see that his in-game X's and O's aren't exactly top notch.  Lately it's been Brett Gardner who's been getting a heavy dose of the bunt sign and considering he's shown himself to be a below-average situational bunter, he's one of, if not the hottest Yankee hitter over the last couple weeks, and the call has almost never worked in the Yankees' favor, one would think that Joe would abandon this proven wrong strategy and let his guys swing away.  But nope, he's still content to give up outs at the expense of more runs.  Everybody else can see it , Joe. Why can't you?

And this latest mess of a slump and added clubhouse turmoil speaks to Girardi maybe not being the best behind the scenes either.  He called a closed-door team meeting after Friday night's loss and what was the result?  The Yankees came right back out the next day and Sunday and yesterday and played the same sloppy, lifeless, losing baseball that they had been.  Whatever was said in that meeting clearly didn't get through to the players because nothing has changed since then.  A manager's words are supposed to inspire his guys to play better and harder, but the results on the field since that team meeting suggest that no inspiration came from Joe's words on Friday night.

And while I can't argue with Joe's logic in batting Jorge 9th, why is he getting the shaft while Jeter continues to hit at the top of the order?  Sure, he had a nice game in Texas a few weeks ago, but since then he's been back to his comical constant groundball ways, and his season OPS is actually LOWER than Jorge's right now (.625 compared to .626 for Posada).  When one guy who's sucking gets demoted in the lineup but the other doesn't, do you know what that's called?  It's called different standards, and it's something that managers can't and shouldn't have.  If a guy ain't producing, he should be dropped in the lineup regardless of what he's done in the past.  That held true for Jorge, but still hasn't for Jeter.  If you don't think the rest of the guys in the clubhouse noticed that, then you're kidding yourself.

Again, I'm not saying that Joe should be fired right now.  But I am saying that there are flaws to his approach, and they are being exposed in a big way right now.  His team is in the longest slump of his managing tenure, hasn't shown any signs of correcting the mistakes they need to correct to get out of the slump, and he doesn't seem to have any solutions.  And mind you, this is coming off a postseason in which his team was thoroughly outplayed and outcoached by the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.  I know he's less than 2 years removed from a World Series title, and that there is some grace time that comes with that, but I believe it's only fair to lay some of the blame for the Yankees' recent lackluster performance at the feet of the man in charge of running the team whose decisions and actions are a contributing factor to the recent struggles.

Fair?  Not fair?  You decide.

Soriano's Stupidity Steals The Show

I was going to come in this morning and write a quick post about Joe Girardi's job security and how the seat might be starting to warm up a little under him.  The idea came into my head last night as I was reading the box score of the latest team meltdown and it seemed like a logical, albeit early, point to bring up considering all the turmoil surrounding the team both on and off the field in the last couple weeks.  But then I read Rafael Soriano's postgame comments in the LoHud wrap-up of last night's game and was completely blown away.

Take it away, Raffy:

On whether it bothers him to not be able to pitch: “I don’t think the bullpen be the problem right now. I think it be the hitters. That thing happens sometimes. Whatever we have to do, make a good game and see what happens. One of these days, everything be better.”

On how much it bothers him to not be able to pitch against Boston and Tampa: “Not at all, to me.  Because in the situation, how the team looks be the situation when I’m supposed to be in the game, the eighth. Everybody see, (the team is) losing two, three runs. I don’t think it be that situation that I would be in the bullpen, that I would be in the game.”

Wow.  Just... WOW!  That is some of the most selfish, ignorant, ego-centric shit I've ever read in my life as a Yankee fan.  Mind you this is the same guy who has put up a 5.40/4.96/5.94 ERA/FIP/xFIP tripleslash in his 16 appearances this year, allowing 26 baserunners in 15 innings of work, before this elbow flare-up shelved him.  And he's going to get in front of the media and throw the offense under the bus and then essentially say it doesn't matter that he's not pitching because he wouldn't be in the game anyway???  Who'd Raffy get lessons on how to be a good teammate from?  Jorge Posada?

That $35 million is looking real bad right now...

Monday, May 16, 2011

And It Just Gets Worse

- 0-4 for Teix

- 0-4 with 3 Ks for The Horse

- 30 combined pitches seen in 8 at-bats between the 2 goobers mentioned above.

- A.J. surrendering a 4-run lead in the 6th inning, capped off by giving up a 2-run homer to B.J. Upton.

- Eduardo Nunez continued to embarrass himself, his family, and the Yankee organization in the field by committing his 6th error of the season.

- Yankees lose their 6th in a row, the longest winless streak of Joe Girardi's tenure.

On the positive side, C-Grand hit another home run and Joba managed to not give up any home runs to extend the deficit in the 8th inning.  But that's really just grasping at straws right now.

No Worries, Everybody. It's All Good Now

Derek Jeter even said so today after he, Hal, Cash, and Randy Levine had a conference call earlier.

"We are all on the same page." - Jeter

See?  They're all on the same page.  Everything is fine.  We have nothing to worry about.  All the problems have been solved.  Except that Girardi wasn't on the conference call and probably should have been, nobody knows what the conference call was about, Jorge STILL hasn't apologized to his teammates, and Hal and Randy Levine should never be involved with any baseball-related conference call because they don't know shit about baseball!

But hey, they're all on the same page.  Too bad it's Page 13 of this book:

ZING!!!  Take that, guys.

Now seriously.  Cut the crap with all this behind-the-scenes garbage and get back to focusing on fixing the real problem.  That being the horrible play on the field.

Yanks-Sox/PosadaGate Weekend Recap Linkapalooza

I feel like I did a pretty good job of letting my feelings on the matters be known during last night's live blog, and quite frankly, I'm too tired today to muster up some more commentary.  So instead I'll just take a quick lap around the Yankosphere to get everybody else's take.

- Joel Sherman of The Post touches on the Posada issue being only the tip of the iceberg of Yankee problems right now.

- Mike Vacarro has a piece on the "should vs. will" dynamic of a Yankee turnaround.  That's a fair argument to make when you look at the team's age.

- Lisa of Subway Squawkers has a post on everything that was wrong about what Jorge did and why the fans were wrong for cheering him last night.  There wasn't a single word in her whole piece that I didn't completely agree with.

- Brien of IIATMS, on the other hand, wrote about why it was right to cheer for Posada, and while I can see his point, I have to disagree.  You just don't cheer lack of effort and lack of commitment, regardless of past history.

- SJK at NoMaas came up with this very well done photographic summary of the whole Jorge ordeal:

A tip of the cap to you, sir.  And nicely done on the "Jeter GIDP" tracker on the sidebar.

- Not to be outdone, Jimmie Reese at It Is High... had his own fun ragging on Teix for his recent infatuation with popping up in every other at-bat.  I would laugh more at that if it wasn't so pathetic and true.

- Larry Koestler at TYA actually analyzed and wrote about something troubling ON the field, that being The Horse's continued struggles at the plate.  And Larry does a hell of a job looking at this from every possible angle.

- Chad from LoHud quickly touches on the situation the Yankees have gotten themselves into by offering the recent long-term deals to Posada and Jeter.

- And just to top things off, Buster Olney at ESPN is reporting that the Yankees are now mad at Captain Jeter  for his reaction and response to the Jorge debacle.  Good to know this situation is behind us, right?

Maybe later tonight I'll muster up the energy to comment on some of this further.  Or maybe I'll just move on to complaining about how the Yankees got snuffed by David Price.  I guess that's up to the boys and how they decide to play tonight.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

AB4AR Yanks-Sox "Let's Get It Together" Series Finale Live Blog

I've got a stomach full of McDonald's, a fridge full of beer, a mind full of concerns about the current state of the team, and a heart full of hope that tonight will be the night the Yankees start turning this recent poor string of games around.  All that adds up to the perfect formula for a live blog opportunity.

First, an update on the upstanding clubhouse leader formerly known as Whore-Gay Posada.  No, he's not in the lineup tonight, but with lefty Jon Lester on the mound and Jorge's 0-24 performance against lefties this year, that's not surprising.  Jorge did say to the media that he apologized to Joe today when he arrived at the clubhouse.  Next up is an apology to the rest of his teammates for bailing on them yesterday.  But we'll talk about that more this coming week.

Here's tonight's lineup:

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

SP) Freddy Garcia- RHP

There's a lot of turmoil in the clubhouse right now and not a lot of sterling play on the field to inspire confidence, but I'm going in with the happy face on tonight.  Hopefully the boys can get it together, rough up Lester early, and keep that smile there all night.

Live Blog Tonight

8PM Eastern, 7PM Central.  Be there to share in the continued frustration created by the Yankees and their lackluster play.  I'd like to say tonight is the night they break out of this funk, but with Jon Lester on the mound you never know.

I will say this right now as a fair warning.  If they come out and lay an egg again like they did last night, the live blog will be filled with a lot of this:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Low Point? Low Point.

Tonight was the culmination of the recent Yankee team-wide shittiness, and as much as I'd like to be calm and rational and logical about it, I just can't.  The team has played sloppy, lazy, lifeless, horseshit baseball for 2+ weeks now and there has been little to no signs of things getting better.  Joe called a team meeting after last night's loss and instead of turning things around tonight, the team came out and laid down and died again, falling 6-0 to Fraud Sawx Nation.  If they were a tree in the forest, you wouldn't have to ask if anybody heard them fall tonight because they went down quieter than Helen Keller in her sleep.

And this whole Jorge Posada situation is a complete shitshow.  Joe demotes Posada in the lineup, which is perfectly justifiable given Jorge's performance so far this season.  Only Jorge doesn't like it so he decides to tell Joe he isn't playing tonight.  Jorge's wife scrambles and tweets that he had back stiffness even as comments from Cash are coming out that don't point to any injury being mentioned or being the cause for Jorge's absence in the lineup, and then after this crap heap of a game Jorge decides to state that he had a stiff back and didn't tell anybody about it.  Classless, childish, selfish, unprofessional, take your pick.  For a player who has been as solid all around as Jorge throughout his career, this was pretty low.

There are issues simmering beneath the surface of this Yankee team right now, and they are clearly having a big time negative effect on the team.  They aren't hitting worth a damn in any situation, their pitching has either been solid from the rotation and horrible from the 'pen or vice versa, and there are no signs of intensity from anybody.

The clubhouse leaders aren't getting it done, Joe's not getting it done, nobody is fucking getting it done right now and it's downright pathetic.

** Note- This rant was written after about a dozen beers and a handful of shots.  So take that however you want. **

Slade Heathcott Had An Interesting Friday

First there was a story from the Post and Courier that ran yesterday that shed light on some of the details of Heathcott's troubled past.  I have to admit that I didn't know ANY of Heathcott's backstory other than the mentioning of "character issues," so this was a very interesting read and I would suggest that anybody who didn't check it out from the link on the AB4AR Facebook page yesterday do so today.

But that was just the beginning.  While the Yankees were stumbling over their own feet again in losing to the Fraud Sawx, Heath and his Charleston River Dogs teammates were taking on the Boston Low-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, and things picked up when Heathcott was hit by a pitch and then turned and decked the Greenville catcher, sparking a bench-clearing brawl.  Check the video below.

Three things on this:

1) It would be silly to assume that there wasn't some connection between the story of Heathcott's past struggles coming out yesterday and this fight breaking out after he was hit.  The catcher more than likely was talking smack and probably made a comment about the story that Heathcott took offense too.  And while Heathcott was certainly in the wrong for turning around and trying to punch the guy, and deserves whatever suspension he will get, I like the fact that he stood up for himself and liked the fact that there was actually somebody in the Yankee organization showing some fight yesterday.

2) These 2 event will no doubt spark all kinds of debate about Heathcott's makeup and how stupid the Yankees were in investing the kind of money they did in a guy who clearly "doesn't have it together," but that's all crap.  If you go back and read the story from the P&C, Heathcott is, by all accounts, a good person and has already made great strides in becoming a better person and a better ball player.  This fight should serve as another valuable life lesson for him moving forward and I hope he uses it to continue to improve on his path to the Majors.

3) Regardless of whether or not people think Heathcott was out of line, and he was, that's a terrible job by his teammates in coming to his defense once things went down.  The Drive were practically pig piling on the guy and trying to cheap shot him while he was on the ground.  Check out #33 trying to kick Heathcott while he's being held on the ground at the 16-17-second mark and then #24 coming out of the pile with Heathcott in a standing guillotine choke at the 29-second mark.  Call me a Yankee homer if you want, but those 2 should get some significant suspension time for those moves as well.  But if you're on the River Dogs and you're going to come out of the dugout and the 'pen in that situation, you need to help your teammate.  Don't just stand around trying to hold everybody back.  Get in there and do something!

And Slade, I feel for ya, buddy.  While I didn't start a bench-clearing brawl or get kicked or choked, I did get tossed from my HS lacrosse game that I was coaching last night.  Getting ejected sucks, no matter the circumstances.  Keep your head up, dude.  Learn from this and move forward.

Site's Still Not Fixed

There were some technical issues with the blog on Friday, issues that apparently still haven't been resolve, and as a result I'm still missing some of my latest posts from Wednesday and Thursday.  God only knows if this is actually going to be posted and viewable.  But in any case, last night's game sucked.  A good start by Colon wasted by Joba and the continued shitty offense.  If I have to watch Nick Swisher smile and shake his head after striking out on a bad pitch again, I might kill myself.

And Jorge?  You're done, dude.  Somebody get Montero up here now.

** If Blogger manages to get their shit together, be on the look out for a live blog on Sunday night. **

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Guess The Bullpen Was OK Last Night

BAM!!  Who needs the 35 Million Dollar Manbitch when you've got The Fireman and The Starting Pitcher Formerly Known as Joba on the case.  Dudes were straight up lights out last night and have been looking better each time they're on the mound.  D-Rob continues to shine as the clean up guy in messy situations (18 Ks in 13.1 IP) and Joba is quietly rounding into a form similar to what we saw when he first came up (17 Ks in 18 IP, 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, hit 98 on the gun last night).

These 2 are holding up their end of the bargain right now, and Mo is back to being Mo after his usual early-season hiccup.  If Soriano gets it together and Boone Logan can establish some consistency in actually getting lefties out, the Nasty Boys comparison could be selling this group too low.

Sorry, don't have a Joba Photoshop yet.  Gonna have to get Duckson working on that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Melkman Returns Tonight

(You're out, bro.)

After a career year in 2009, Melky Cabrera was not brought back by the Yankees, who instead chose to upgrade their outfield by adding Curtis Granderson and installing Brett Gardner as the everyday left fielder.  That decision has worked out well for the Yankees, as Gardner was solid all around last year and C-Grand seems to have recaptured his Tiger All Star magic under the swing treatment program of Dr. Long, while the Melkman was arguably one of, if not the worst, OF in baseball last year with the Braves.

This year he has experienced a bit of a resurgence in KC, currently sitting at .283/.305/.441 with 15 XBH, 22 R, 21 RBI, and a .331 wOBA.  Those numbers more than likely won't hold up over the long haul as his current .317 BABIP should regress back below .300 and closer to his .280s career average, but it's still a good start for Melky and it's good to see him have some success when it looked like he could be bagging groceries after last year's .294 wOBA/-0.9 WAR 2010 campaign.

Melky was a fun player to have around during his time in pinstripes, and despite his deficiencies as a baseball player, he did provide some spark and some memorable moments while he was a member of the Yankees.  I don't miss him, I don't want him back at the expense of any of the 4 current Yankee outfielders, but it's good that he is still in the game and personally I think it would be good to see him back in The Stadium tonight if I could.  He came up through the system and he won a ring as a Yankee, and that's something that's never forgotten by Yankee fans.

P.S.- What are the odds Sterling delivers a "THE MELKMAN DELIVERS!!!" call if Melky manages to homer during the series?

Wallace Matthews Doesn't Understand Baseball

I've already checked in on one old friend today, so it only seems fitting to see what our old buddy Wallace Matthews is yammering about at ESPNNY.

"While a lot of Yankee fans have been clamoring for the promotion of Jesus Montero from AAA Scranton to the big club to supplant the struggling Jorge Posada as DH, nobody seems to be noticing that Justin Maxwell is leading the International League on homers (11) and RBI (24). Meanwhile Montero, despite his .354 batting average, has left the park just once and has only seven RBI. Also, Maxwell's .614 slugging percentage dwarfs Montero's .438. Maybe Maxwell's batting average has something to do with it; he is hitting just .238.

But in spring training, Montero bombed out both at the plate and behind it, while Maxwell,acquired from the Nationals in a trade of minor-leaguers, nearly made the final cut as a reserve outfielder."

 Wow.  Even by Wallace's incredibly low standards, this is just horrible.  I don't even know where to start, so I'll just dive right in with some bullet points.

- Justin Maxwell is a 27-year-old who has played a total of 122 Major League games in his career dating back to 2007.  He has essentially reached his ceiling.

- In those 122 career games, Maxwell has a .201/.319/.379 tripleslash, a .316 wOBA, and a 37.9% K rate.

- In the 3 seasons that he did get MaL time, Maxwell's K rates were 30.8% ('07), 36.0% ('09), and 41.3% ('10).  In short, as he gained experience at the MaL level, he struck out MORE.

- This year, in Triple-A, Maxwell's current K rate is 43.8%, almost 6 percentage points higher than his career MaL average.

- Maxwell's career BABIP is .271 at the MaL level, and just .277 this year at SWB.

- Jesus Montero is a 21-year-old who has yet to play in the Majors, but is ranked as the #3 overall prospect in baseball, has been compared to the likes of Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, and his ceiling is unknown right now, but much higher than that of Maxwell.

- In his MiL career, Jesus is a .315/.370/.505 hitter with a wOBA in the .380s and a K rate below 20%.

- Jesus has never had a BABIP below .319 in his MiL career, and this year his BABIP currently sits at .407.

It's really quite simple when you look at it.  Justin Maxwell can't hit and Jesus Montero can.  Maxwell's career numbers, if you care to check, are a testament to that fact.  The guy has never been a big contact guy, has always been a big strikeout guy, and his numbers this season are completely in line with those trends except for this power boost.  That type of power, impressive as it is, will almost certainly not be sustained by Maxwell given his makeup.

Montero, on the other hand, has established himself as a consistent hitter who makes a lot of contact, makes solid contact, and can hit for power.  That's why he is the high-level prospect that he is, because he's a well-rounded hitter and he's a well-rounded hitter at an age where most guys are still trying to figure out how to hit offspeed stuff.  With that kind of solid base to work from, one would expect that Montero would be able to make adjustments and benefit from better coaching to become a very good Major League hitter.

Justin Maxwell swings and misses at everything in  Triple-A, so how the hell is he going to make an impact at the Major League level when he's facing Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, David Price, Jon Lester, Brett Anderson, Jered Weaver, and Dan Haren on a weekly basis?  Simple answer, he's not.  And that's why he's spent more time in the Minors than the Majors, that's why he's never stuck in a Major League lineup, and that's why nobody is clamoring to call him up to replace Jorge.

Get a clue, Wally, and look at more than just the HR and RBI columns the next time you try to statistically support an argument.

Hey, Jon!

Hey buddy!  How's it going?  Haven't talked to you in a while.  I just wanted to check in and see how things were.

I saw you on the TV last night, blowing a save.  That musta been a bummer, huh?  I know, I know, you must be wondering why I would ever waste my time watching you and the rest of you d-bag teammates.  Well it was an off day for the Yankees and I was channel surfing, and I saw you out there giving up the lead and I just couldn't turn that off.  Sure, your team came back and won the game in extras when Carl Crawford drove in his 8th run of the year and raised his tripleslash up to a scintillating .211/.250/.301 on the season, but you still blew the chance to win the game in regulation and get Josh Beckett the win he deserved.  That's gotta sting.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hey and let you know that I haven't forgotten about you.  It looks like your numbers are a little better to start this year than they were last year, but don't let that fool you.  You're still not that good, you're not Mariano and you never will be.  You're scary "stare in at the catcher" face still isn't scary at all.  You're still the same loudmouthed phony who completely blew the deciding game in the 2009 Divisional Series against Anaheim, and the same asshole who actually wore this shirt in public at some lame team dance-a-thon.

Good talking to you, chief.  Keep up the bad work.  Let me know when you guys and your scrappy $163 million payroll get back over .500.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brett Gardner's Recent Resurgence

After April 25, Brett Gardner was sitting at .136/.190/.254.  He had lost the leadoff hitting role that he had been given out of ST, had 19 Ks to just 4 BB, and was looking completely helpless at the plate.  A lot of his issues could have been attributed to Gardner using his patience too much to the point that it was becoming a detriment to his approach.  He was taking too many strikes, getting himself behind in the count early, and then having no choice but to hack to try to stay alive.  Not being a particularly good curveball hitter, it doesn't take a genius to figure out where all the strikeouts came from with that approach.

Since then, however, Gardner has been on a mini-roll over the last couple weeks.  Over the last 13 games, he has raised his tripleslash to a much more respectable .233/.337/.389 with 13 hits (3 XBH), 8 runs scored, 3 RBI, and 10 BB to just 5 Ks.  I'm not going to pretend to be smart enough to come up with a sabermetric explanation for this turnaround, but I imagine it has something to do with Gardner adjusting his approach to what pitchers were doing to him early, being a little more aggressive early in the count, and generally having better pitch recognition than he did in the first month of the year.

Gardner and Jeter had been 2 of the 3 weakest links of the Yankee offense early in the season, raising questions about whether or not either of them should be leading off.  Lately, however, both have turned it around and now it might be time for Joe to re-examine his early-season strategy of having Gardner lead off against righties and Jeter against lefties.  Sort of a "strike while the iron's hot" approach.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Captain Leads The Team To Victory (No Really. He Did)

(Haven't gotten to see the Jeter home run trot in a while.  Courtesy of The AP)

Whether it was a sign that all the talk about Jeter being "this close," "almost there," "looking good at the plate," or "needing to use his lower half more" was real and today was the result of that coming together or whether it was just a flash in the pan is irrelevant.  What's important is that the Yankee offense was dominant this afternoon in their 12-5 victory over the Rangers and Derek Jeter was the leader of the offensive barrage.

This was a line straight out Jeter's prime: 4-6, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB.  And it was a sign that there might still be some life left in his bat that had looked oh so slow and oh so weak through the first 30 games of the year.  After a week where the offense brought very little to the table, to have Jeter step up and have the kind of day he had could be a momentum starter for the rest of the team moving into this week.  Jeter came into today's game already 3-9 in the series with a couple runs scored, but tonight was the big break out, and it came on a day where CC wasn't at his sharpest again.

There were other contributors today as well.  C-Grand went 3-4 with 3 RBI and his 3rd homer of the weekend, Teix was 2-5 with a 2B, HR, and 2 RBI, Brett Gardner had 3 more hits and 2 more runs scored, and Frankie Cervelli managed to crank a grand slam in the 8th inning to slam the door on any potential Texas comeback.  But the story of the day was and will be Jeter, and justifiably so.  There hasn't been much to talk about that's been positive when discussing Jeter so far this year, and the endless stream of excuses coming from his coaches was getting a bit tiresome.  So even if this was just a one-night thing, it's still nice to heap some praise on The Captain for his throwback performance.

And if he really did turn a corner today and can carry this kind of performance forward, even better.