Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trade Deadline Passes With No Yankee Action

And that was the right move to make for the Yankees.

After Ubaldo went to Cleveland yesterday, the well pretty much dried up in terms of quality starting pitching options that were better than what the Yankees already have.  Hiroki Kuroda wasn't going to agree to a trade, Wandy Rodriguez's contract is a lot to take on and with questions about his ability to transition to the AL he probably wasn't worth the prospect package it would have taken to get him.  And everybody else beyond those 2 who could have been available just plain sucks.

And after the job the 3 Yankee starters did on Friday and Saturday, and with the job Freddy Garcia did again today, the Yankees are in a position where they currently have 6 starting pitchers who are capable of going out and pitching a very good game.  The fact of the matter is, there aren't a lot of teams out there, even among the major playoff contenders, who can say that.  Sure, there's no clear cut #2 starter, and each guy not named CC is just as capable of going out there and blowing up, but again I would say that that holds true for almost every other team out there.

Offensively, the team has already gotten Eric Chavez back, Andruw Jones has come to life, and this weekend provided more proof that Teix and Robbie Cano are starting to heat up.  Swish is on an absolute tear, C-Grand and Gardy are still producing, and Jeter and Martin are chipping in with hits and walks here and there.  Another bat wouldn't have made much more of an impact than the guys in the lineup already are, and of course there is the inevitable return of A-Rod next month.

I, for one, am very happy that the Yankees didn't make any moves at this deadline.  They did not have a glaring need, and they didn't let moves by anybody else influence how they went about talking to their targets or change their plans in terms of what they were willing to offer to get somebody.  The great thing about this team is that it is built to win today, tomorrow, next week, next month, September, October, next year, 2 years from now, and 5 years from now.  The organization is stacked from top to bottom and it was good to see the Yankees go through this deadline keeping that setup intact.

With the deadline out of the way, no we can focus on what's really important.  Whittling away at those magic numbers and making the traditional late-season run against the Fraud Sawx to overtake them in the standings.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunday Shaping Up To Be Slow

I said on Thursday afternoon that the past 2 days would clear the waters in terms of what the Yankees planned to do before the trade deadline tomorrow, and after the past 2 days, I'm thinking there isn't going to be anything major that happens.  Long story short, the rotation stepped up and answered the call.

On Friday night A.J. was unlucky that every hit he gave up was a big one, but he also threw 8 innings and struck out 10 batters.  His stuff was solid, and the results were unfortunate thanks to the bad BABIP luck and the lack of offensive support, but he did nothing to indicate that he wasn't worthy of pitching in the postseason and everything to indicate that the Yankees can be confident in him moving forward.

Today, Bartolo labored through 5 tough innings, but still managed to only allow 2 runs and rack up another 6 Ks.  He did nothing to suggest that his performance moving forward was going to be anything to the contrary of what he's already done.  He's healthy, he's no longer concerned about his hammy, and he continues to pitch well.  Numbers-wise, he's been a viable #2 all year.

Then in the recently-concluded nightcap of the doubleheader, Ivan Nova pitched a damn good game.  He was overshadowed by the offense explosion, but 7 innings of 2-run ball with only 7 baserunners allowed and 6 Ks against the best hitters of the Baltimore lineup is impressive.  Nova even got 8 swinging strikes on his 98 pitches.  He was aggressive, efficient, and confident out there on the mound and should have secured his position as the next in line for the remainder of the year should somebody get hurt or Phil Hughes continue to struggle.

Obviously there is no way to predict how any pitcher will perform in pressure situations or in the playoffs against good teams.  But the Yankee pitchers who took the mound today and yesterday showed that they are capable of handling the job and made the likelihood of finding something better in the trade market very unlikely.  Throw in the fact that Ubaldo just got traded to Cleveland and Kuroda announced he wouldn't accept a trade anywhere and we're shaping up for a very quite final day tomorrow.  Sure, they may add a bench bat or a bullpen arm that we haven't heard much about, but from here on out I think it's safe to say the Yankees are going to roll with what they've got in the rotation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

From The "DUH" Department

Joe on A.J.:

"We just need A.J. to go pitch well." (via LoHud)

Gee, Joe.  Ya think?  I'd say 0 wins in July, combined with a 4.94 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 1.56 WHIP, 6.80 BB/9 in 23.2IP over 4 starts, and the fact that the front office may or may not be willing to part with their top 3 prospects in an attempt to shore up the rotation puts you right on point there.  What page of your secret binder did you dig that nugget of genius out of?

Derek Jeter 3K Looked Pretty Good

If you're a Yankee fan with HBO and you DIDN'T watch this last night, then first of all I hate you for having HBO and having the ability to watch this because I would have murdered somebody in my apartment complex if I knew they had HBO just so I could watch it in their place, and second of all you deserve to have your Yankee fandom taken away from you and be forced to be a Royals fan for the rest of your life.

I literally sat at my computer screen and watched this trailer twice in a row last night, and got goosebumps at least 4-5 times per viewing.  I touched on it briefly in my post about the meaning of Jeter's 3,000 hits earlier in the month, but it's worth saying again.  The guy is my favorite Yankee of all time, always will be, and no matter how far he falls in terms of his abilities over the next few years, I still have the memories and the visions of all the great moments he had that made him one of the greatest Yankees of all time.  And to see various other players, managers, and teammates expressing those same feelings was pretty cool.

P.S.- If this thing is out on DVD by Christmas and my grandmother, probably a bigger Yankee fan than me, doesn't get it for me, then she's never getting another birthday phone call from me ever again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How's That $142 Million Working Out For Ya?

I know the Fraud Sawx are rolling right now and making a little gap in the AL East race, but I still think it's the right time for a fun little reminder of how well the Carl Crawford signing has gone for them.  Here's Carl's numbers to date:

.248/.283/.379 t-slash, .298 wOBA, 78 wRC+, 38 R, 23 XBH, 11 SB, -0.9 UZR/150, 0.0 WAR

Mind you he's "earning" $14,857,143 this season for that "production."  By comparison, for $529,500, the Yankee equivalent of a Best Buy gift card, Brett Gardner is putting up these numbers:

.285/.367/.407 t-slash, .355 wOBA, 122 wRC+, 53 R, 25 XBH, 32 SB, 23.4 UZR/150, 3.6 WAR

Gardner has also managed to stay healthy.  So yeah, I guess the Yankees are winning big time on that deal.  But Sawx fans can look on the bright side.  They've only got another 6 years and $127 mil of Crawford left. 

P.S.- How's John Lackey doing?

Saturday Will Determine The Yankees' Deadline Plans

After Phil Hughes' good but not great 6-inning, 2-run outing yesterday that involved giving up 9 hits to a Mariner lineup that would struggle in the Pacific Regionals of the LLWS, and with the consistently decent but not good  A.J. Burnett pitching on Friday, I think whatever plans the Yankees have or may have are going to be finalized after they get a look at 2 of their other questions marks on Saturday.  Those 2 question marks are Bartolo Colon and (in all likelihood) Ivan Nova, who will pitch in a double-header against the Baltimore Orioles.  Their performances in those games on the heels of whatever A.J. offers up on Friday can and, in my opinion, will determine which plan the Yankees choose to execute in the final day before the trade deadline.

Right now the Yankee postseason rotation would be CC #1 and then ....  The group of Burnett, Colon, Hughes, and Garcia are all capable of going out and performing admirably in a postseason game, but are all also capable of going out and laying an egg.  Combined, they are a solid group of guys who I'd feel comfortable using in a Game 3 or 4, but no one stands out head and shoulders above the other right now in terms of being a viable #2 candidate.  A.J. is the baseball equivalent of a Magic 8 Ball, Colon could very well be worn out and injured again by the time the playoffs roll around, Phil still doesn't have his velocity or command fully back and may not find it this season, and Garcia has already shown that his mish-mash of offspeed slop doesn't play well against good offensive teams.  It's easy to see why all those conditions add up to the Yankees being interested in targeting a starter.

Joe started to open a Pandora's Box of opportunities yesterday during his presser when he made this statement in regards to there being a competition between Hughes and Nova for the 5th rotation spot:

“There could be.  I’m not going to say that there will be, but we want our guys to compete all the time. We want guys to throw the ball well and earn their spots every time. As far as saying there’s a competition for Phil Hughes’ next start, I’m not saying that.”

You can take that as typical manager speak, but to me that signifies Joe and the Yankees tipping their hand a bit.  There are already plenty of rumors going around about the Yankees' involvement in several starting pitching trade targets (Ubaldo, Kuroda, Danks, and for the life of me Carlos Zambrano), and they already lost one yesterday in Edwin Jackson.  There are no real solid indicators that the Yankees are serious about adding any of these guys, but if they were truly comfortable with their rotation situation right now I don't think we'd be hearing about a maybe/maybe not rotation competition.  This weekend is the chance for that comfort to be re-established or for the discomfort be confirmed and the justification for trading for another starting pitcher be provided.  So here's how I see it.

If Burnett, Bart, and Nova come out and pitch well, I think Cash and the front office will be OK moving forward with what they have in the rotation and just figure out how they want to stack the guys come playoff time.  They'll focus their energies on trying to find a few 'under-the-radar' guys like they did last year to fortify the bench and bullpen, and move into August knowing that they'll be further strengthened by the returns of Sour Puss and The Horse.  If those 3, especially Colon, come out and stink up the joint, I think we'll see the Yanks switch their attention to the rotation and probably go after Kuroda on Sunday if he's still available.

The future of some guys' jobs and some prospects' futures in the organization are going to be on the line in the 48 hours coming up on Friday and Saturday.  It's my hope that the starters do their jobs and the Yanks hold pat on giving up top prospects in what would be an act of desperation.  But for now, all we can do is wait and see what happens.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teix Starting To Turn It Around

(And the battle rages on for team HR lead.  Courtesy of The AP)

July has been an ugly month for good old Mark Teck-SHARE-uh.  His OBP is .320 and his SLG is barely over .400.  By now every blog in the Yankopshere has covered his struggles and what the true cause really is, but the last week or so may be a precursor to the usual Mark Teixeira summer breakout we're used to seeing.

After the win over Tampa on July 18, Teix's line had bottomed out at .239/.344/.496.  He had just 2 XBH in the entire month, neither of them HR and none since July 3, and just 4 RBI.  In the 8 games since July 18, Teix has 10 hits in 32 AB (.313 BA), including 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 R, and 9 RBI.  The power and timing that was seemingly missing from his swing earlier in the month looks like it's starting to come back, he doesn't seem to be pulling off the ball too early and popping everything up as he had been, and the results are much better.  Teix is in the middle of a 5-game hitting streak after another 2-hit night last night, and has all 3 HR and all 9 RBI in just the last 5 games.  He's seen his season line creep back up to .245/.344/.509.

Small sample yes?  Yes.  Drastic improvement?  Not at all.  But with the long stretch of diminishing results leading up to this recent resurgence, I'll take the baby steps as a good sign.  Teix is one of, if not the most important cog in keeping the Yankee offense dangerous during The Horse's absence.  And up until recently he hadn't been living up to that responsibility of his massive contract.  But now all signs are pointing in the right direction and if he can continue this upward trend, and get his production back to the normal Teix levels we expect, it makes the immediate concern for adding a bat at the deadline less of an issue and makes the long-term concern of having the Yankee lineup at full strength and at its most dangerous during the stretch run and postseason much more likely.

CC Better Than Perfect

(Damn rain.  Courtesy of The AP)

I'm really starting to run out of things to say to describe the job CC Sabathia is doing this year.  I said way before the season started that I wasn't going to get involved in the "will he or won't he?" opt out talk, but I'm going to break that commitment right now and just say that the Yankees would be complete fucking morons to not get a new deal done with him before he even has the chance to opt out.  He's that good and they need him.

It helped that he was basically pitching against a Double-A lineup last night, but that still doesn't take away from how brilliant CC was last night.  Through 5.1 innings CC hadn't allowed a baserunner , had 11 Ks, and had only thrown 62 pitches.  That's beyond dominant.  That's beyond perfect.  That's downright inhuman.  He had to wait through a 30-minute rain delay before he lost the perfect game in the 7th to a legit single, and then waited through another 15-minute delay that really cost him as he lost his command after that in the 8th.  The Mariner hitters certainly didn't do anything to halt his miracle working on the hill last night.  The only person/thing that could halt it was another miracle brought on by Mother Nature in the form of rain.  What a whore she is.

Even with the 2 delays and 3 walks that he handed out in the 8th, CC's final line was still mind-bogglingly good:

7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K (Career High), 102 Pitches (71 Strikes), 82 Game Score

He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 batters he faced, and racked up 19 swinging strikes (26.76%).  The fastball was working, the slider was downright murderous.  It almost didn't matter whether he had the rest of the team out there behind him playing defense.  It was the type of performance that you tell your kids about later in life if you were at the game.

With all due respect to the Justin Verlanders and Jered Weavers of the world, if CC is not the leading Cy Young candidate right now, then something is seriously wrong with people.  He has a better FIP (2.49) than both of them, more wins (MLB-leading 15) than both of them, and a higher WAR (5.6) than both of them.  He's pitched more innings than anybody in baseball except for Verlander, strikes out more guys than Weaver, and does it for a better team that has arguably a weaker staff, making what he does more valuable to his team's success than either of the other 2.  And last night was the perfect example of just how valuable he is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2 Legitimate Leadoff Options

(You can't lose with either guy hitting #1 right now.  Courtesy of The Star-Ledger)

Since the beginning of Spring Training, the debate has raged on over who should be the Yankees' leadoff hitter.  First it was Brett Gardner, then Derek Jeter, then Gardner again, then Jeter again, and so on and so forth.  Over the last couple weeks, however, it's become apparent that the Yankees actually have 2 very good leadoff options in both of these guys.

Gardner has been remarkably consistent and downright good ever since the month of April ended.  And after a bit of a rough patch early in July, he has continued his consistent production, currently putting up a .333/.400/.417 line in 72 July ABs, not too far off his spectacular June (.317/.404/.463 in 82 ABs).  He's also a perfect 12-12 in SB attempts for the month, and that, combined with his continued solid walk rate and high pitches/AB makes him a prototypical leadoff threat that wouldn't even be considered for the bottom of the order on any other team.

But a funny thing has happened that has muddied the waters a bit this month when it comes to the Gardner vs. Jeter debate.  Ever since he's returned from the DL, Derek Jeter has rediscovered his spark at the plate.  I touched on that point very early on in his return, brought it up again after his storybook 5-5 3,000th hit day, and now I'll mention it again as he has continued to be productive.  For the month of July, Jeter is hitting .324/.385/.521 in 71 ABs, raising his season line to a more respectable .273/.337/.366.  Of his 23 hits so far, 9 of them have gone for extra bases.  To put that into perspective, Jeter only had 12 XBH in the first 3 months of the season COMBINED.

Jeter's resurgence can best be explained by this blurb from last night's LoHud postgame wrap-up:

"... Jeter said it’s not so much driving the ball to right field that tells him he’s hitting better lately, it’s more the pitches that he’s choosing to take and the pitches he’s choosing to attack. “I can tell if I’m staying back, taking pitches and swinging at good pitches,” he said. “I feel as though I’ve been doing that for the last few weeks so I’m happy with where I am right now.”

That sounds much more like the Jeter we all know and love, and that approach is reflected in Jeter's July swing stats.  His LD rate is a season high 19.6% this month, indicative of a hitter who is seeing the ball better and taking good swings at hittable pitches.  His BB rate is also the highest it has been all year this month at 9.0%.  The improvements in Jeter's selection at the plate explain the better results he's had, and make him just as viable a candidate to lead off as Gardner right now.

With both guys swinging the bat well and the offense as a whole still missing a key cog in A-Rod, it makes sense to me to platoon both Jeter and Gardner at leadoff depending on the pitching matchup to maximize the value of their current hot streaks.  The numbers would support this theory, as Jeter has murdered lefties this year to the tune of a .936 OPS and .414 wOBA (compared to just .621 and .270 vs. righties), and Gardner sports a .788 OPS and .350 wOBA against righties vs. .738 and .338 against lefties.  I would even want to keep Jeter near the top of the order against righties to take advantage of his current hot streak more and lengthen the lineup a bit.  My 2 lineups right now would look like this:

Vs. RHP:

1) Gardner
2) Jeter
3) C-Grand
4) Teix
5) Cano
6) Swish
7) Jorge (or Chavez)
8) Martin
9) Nunez

Vs. LHP:

1) Jeter
2) C-Grand
3) Teix
4) Cano
5) Swish
6) Jones (Or Jesus)
7) Martin
8) Nunez (or Chavez)
9) Gardner

The problem is whether or not Joe wants to tinker with the lineup to try to get the most out of his current hot hitters at the top and help try to bridge the gap to A-Rod's return.  But given the inconsistency his boys have shown lately, I'd rather have the problem of multiple guys hitting well that deserve to hit leadoff than neither of them hitting well.

** UPDATE- 3:29PM- I completely forgot to include Eric Chavez in the lineup versions.  Idiot.  Obviously he would be a more attractive choice than Nunez and probably more than Jorge given the way he's swung the bat this month. **

Here Come The Reinforcements

"New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Eric Chavez could return Tuesday after the team was satisfied with an evaluation of the third baseman on Monday night." (Courtesy of

"Soriano said he's feeling much better, leaving for NY tonight and expects to be activated Wednesday or Friday." (courtesy of the SWB Yankees' Twitter)

A strong lefty bat to fortify the bench and left side of the infield during A-Rod's rehab and the man who was signed to be the 8th-inning bridge to Mariano making their returns right before the trade deadline, lessening the likelihood that the front office will panic and overpay in a stupid trade to add some warm body?  I'll sign up for that.  Mrs. Doubtfire will too.

A Much Needed "Pick Me Up"

It's been a rough couple of days for your faithful Captain.  My car died on me on Sunday and I had to fork over a hundo to have it towed to a repair shop, it was a completely shitty day at the office yesterday, I couldn't come up with anything good to write about, and to top things off I'm going to be out a couple grand to replace the entire engine in my dead car.  The rain delay before the game last night wasn't helping matters either, as their was nothing else on TV worth watching.  But by the time SportsCenter came on, I got the little boost I needed and it had nothing to do with the NFL lockout being over.

(Courtesy of The Bahhston Herald)

Look at that.  Isn't it glorious?  That's Kevin Youkilis wincing in pain after he hurt his hamstring running to first base late in the Sawx' loss to KC last night.  And it was at that moment that I saw him wince and limp up the baseline on the replay that I knew things were going to be OK.  That injury to Youkilis' hamstring was God's way of saying "It's OK, Brad.  I know you've had a tough day or 2, but this will make you feel better."  And it did.  It doesn't matter if Youk misses any time or not.  The fact that was hurt, in pain, and I got to see it was all I needed.  I would pay a premium to watch Kevin Youkilis limp around in pain if I could.

So the pep is back in my step and I'm ready to go for a better day of blogging than yesterday's 0-fer.  Thanks to Kevin Youkilis and his gimpy hamstring.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Does This Team Really Need?

The trade deadline is exactly one week away, and the more and more I watch this team play or read the game recaps, the more confused I become about what their plan should be for making moves at the deadline.

One day they put up 17 runs and 20 hits and look like they never even lost A-Rod to injury, the next they look like they've never hit in the Major League before.  One time through the rotation they've got everybody clicking on all cylinders, with Bartolo and Freddy pitching like they're in their prime, the next they both look old and washed up.  One outing Hughes looks like first-half 2010 Phil Hughes, the next he looks like he should be making more MiL rehab starts.  And don't even get me started on A.J. and Boone Logan.

On any given day, the Yankees can look like they'll sweep the World Series with the team they have right now or they can look like they should be blown up and start over.  And as much as I'd love to play the John Sterling "You just can't predict baseball, Suzyn" card, when it comes to inconsistency of this nature I just can't.  There are a multitude of needs for the team right now, even if none of them involve making a big Cliff Lee-like splash.  But those needs aren't going to come cheap, and how do you judge whether a 2-month Band-Aid is worth giving up some promising young talent, especially with Soriano and Chavez coming back soon and The Horse eventually galloping back into the lineup?

For my money, another impact reliever is a must, preferably a lefty.  I'm tired of Boone Logan and his shenanigans, and I don't have faith in anybody out there not named Robertson or Rivera (that feeling goes double for Soriano).  Next, I would want a bat for the bench, provided it doesn't cost much more than a C- or D-level prospect.  And as much as it pains me to say it, I think a starter should be the last thing on the wish list.  There's nothing out there that's head and shoulders better than what the Yankees have, and the guys who are better are either going to cost too much in terms of prospects or are just flat out not available.  CC is a monster, Bartolo is fine, Freddy is still getting it done, and you have to think Hughes is going to figure it out sooner or later.  As much as he pisses us all off, A.J. as your 4th or 5th best starter is something we can live with, especially with the 'pen and lineup getting strengthened from within with the guys coming back from injuries.

I have no clue what the Yankees' plans are over the next week.  From reading all the rumors and stories, it doesn't sound like they do either.  But with the inconsistency they've shown lately, I think a move or 2 is an absolute must.  I'm just happy I'm not in Cash's shoes to have to make those calls this year.

People Are Still Writing About Kei Igawa

I know, I can't believe it either.  But there's a very in-depth story by Bill Pennington about the $46 million waste of space from yesterday's NYT, which you can find here.

It's bad enough that writers still find this story of epic failure newsworthy.  As much as he sucks, you can't really help but feel bad for Igawa when you read this story.  But it gets worse when you read Cash's comment when asked about the Igawa deal.

"It was a disaster.  We failed."

"Oof" and "da" right there, folks.  I really don't think a GM could describe any deal for any player in a worse way.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Brandon Laird Going To Play?

Seriously, what's the deal?  Does Joe just hate young players or something?  It's bad enough he's got Hector Noesi rotting away in the bullpen while he brings Boone Logan in to pitch to multiple right-handed batters, but now we have to continue to watch Nunez flub the ball all over the field or Ramiro Pena flat out suck in general instead of giving Laird a chance to play?

At worst, it's reasonable to expect that Laird can hit much better than Pena and maybe as well as Nunez.  He's rocking a .266/.296/.412 line in Triple-A for the season, and those numbers have been much better over the last couple months after an atrocious April.  Nunez's MaL career line is barely over that (.256/.307/.380 in 217 plate appearances), and Laird hits for much more power.  And while he won't win any Gold Gloves at 3rd, I don't see Laird flubbing as many balls or making as many bad throws as Nunez.  So if he was called up, and there are this many things he can do as well if not better than the other 2 IF guys, why isn't he playing?  Is whatever he's learning being in the locker room and on the bench with the Major League Squad really that much more valuable than what he would do playing every day at SWB or at least getting some ABs and time in the field in the Majors?  Fuck and no.

Give the kid a shot, Joe.  You already know what Pena is going to give you, and Eddie Nune has shown what his value is as an everyday player (not that great, as evidenced by his -0.4 WAR on the season).  I'm not saying Brandon Laird is going to make us all forget about Alex Rodriguez, but doesn't he deserve a shot?  He brings more to the table offensively, which could be a help to the struggling O, and won't take as much off of it defensively.  He better see some time this weekend, period.

Eric Chavez's Role When He Returns

(Don't hurt yourself, dude.  Courtesy of

Eric Chavez, out since early May with a broken foot, is rehabbing along side Rafael Soriano right now in Tampa, and so far it's going well.  He had 4 hits the other night for the High-A Tampa Yankees and ran the bases without any issues, and played the field at 3rd last night while picking up another hit.

I don't know exactly what the timetable for his return is, but with each passing game at the Major League level, Chavez is looking like he'll be a more important piece of the puzzle down the stretch.  The Yankees' current offensive struggles showed no signs of ending last night, and with A-Rod out, Jorge looking like he needs to be taken behind a barn and shot again, and Joe being contractually obligated to only play Andruw Jones once every 10 days, Chavez will be a welcome addition to the lineup.  Small sample sizes be damned, the guy did nothing but hit from the minute he put a jersey on in ST, and was rocking an .834 OPS with twice as many walks as Ks before he hit the DL.  You think the offense couldn't use a little of that action right now?

Now it's going to be important that Chavez stay healthy, or at least be used in a way that he has the best chance to stay healthy when he first gets back, but if I'm Joe I'm not looking at him as just some added bench depth at this point.  Jorge should be officially on notice that he either needs to get his shit together or he's going to be spending a lot more time on the pine while his ABs go to Chavez.  He has completely stopped hitting from both sides of the plate, and a L/R platoon of Chavez and Jones will be more dangerous and probably more productive at this point.  And if Chavez isn't having any issues with the body, and continues to produce at the plate once he comes back, I would have no problem making him the full-time DH over Jorge.

And not only that, if Eric is really feeling frisky, I wouldn't mind Joe using him at 3B a couple times a week and plopping Eduardo Nunez on the bench.  Nunez has shown he can carry the stick in the Majors, but let's face it, the guy is a complete disaster in the field and will end up costing the Yankees more runs than he would create if he's left out there for the duration of The Horse's DL stint.  Last time I checked, Eric Chavez had a closet full of Gold Gloves somewhere in his house.  So a better bat in the lineup and a better glove in the field?  Yeah, I think that'll work.

The return of Phil Hughes and soon to be returning Rafael Soriano have and will help bolster the Yankees' pitching depth down the stretch and possibly lessen the need for them to make a big deal for an arm before the deadline.  With the offense continuing to sputter, the return of Chavez could mean the same thing for the lineup.  It's fair to say that the Bombers could definitely use another bat out there right now, and if they can add that bat internally, I'm all for it.  He shouldn't be playing every single day, since he is made of glass and all, but Eric Chavez should be used as much as possible when he comes back to help rebound from this recent offensive drought.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Birthday To The Big Fella

Carsten Charles Sabathia turns 31 today.  And he does it with 171 career wins.  To put that into perspective, here's a little tidbit on that achievement, compliments of LoHud:

According to Elias, the last pitchers with at least 170 wins before turning 31 are currently in the Hall of Fame: [Catfish] Hunter, Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Ferguson Jenkins and Jim Palmer.

Not bad company to be amongst, huh?  In addition to his birthday, CC also takes the mound tonight looking to lock up a series win for the team and his 15th personal win on the year against James Shields.  It's a fair statement to say that CC has been one of the 3 best pitchers in baseball this season, and it's not a stretch to say he's been the best since about mid-May.  What better way to cap off the last 8 weeks with a birthday victory, right?

So break out your parachute pants and hit the music to celebrate.  It's CC Time, baby!

Freddy Comes Up Big Again

I'm past the point of trying to figure out how he does it.  I'm just going to go ahead and say that Freddy Garcia has done an outstanding job this year for the Yankees, and last night was arguably his best outing of the season.  He was much sharper than in his first start back after the long layoff, and it should in his results:

6.2 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 92 Pitches (66 strikes)

He threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 29 batters he faced.  He got 13 swinging strikes (14.13%).  And he basically kept the Tampa batters off balance all night with his selection of offspeed garbage, bearing down and getting big outs when he had to with runners on base.

Garcia has now pitched 103.2 innings for the Yankees this year.  He has 8 wins, and 12 quality starts out of the 17 he's made.  He sports a 3.21 ERA and a 3.74 FIP, both far better than what his ZiPS projections were before the season (4.83/4.58).  Freddy's 1.7 WAR is the 3rd highest total amongst Yankee pitchers this season, just behind Bartolo Colon and much higher than what A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova have done over a similar innings count.  Cash should be walking into Hank's office every day and putting clippings of Freddy's outings and printouts of his stats on his desk.  Maybe throw a few of Soriano's shitty numbers in there too, just to rub salt in the wound.

It isn't always pretty.  He isn't going to wow you with anything.  But Freddy Garcia is a professional pitcher who knows how to get the job done, and he's been reliable almost every time he's stepped out there.  He isn't flashy, but he knows how to get outs, and grinds his way through it.  Freddy Garcia is The Garbage Man.

(Another great Photoshop performance by Swanny Duckson)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Post Where I Argue ONCE AGAIN That The Jesus Should Be Called Up

The Yankees are 5-3 in the 8 games since the Horse had his surgery.  They're still comfortably in 2nd in the AL East and the Wild Card race and right within striking distance of Boston for 1st.  On the surface, all looks well.  But the reality of the situation is that the offense is struh-gull-ing right now with A-Rod on the shelf.  The rest of the team has not stepped up and picked up the slack to account for his absence, and with his return still probably a month away, a shakeup might be in order to add a little muscle to the lineup.

For the season, the Yankees are averaging 5.12 runs per game, but in the last 8 games they have scored just 32 runs (a 4 R/G average for the mathematically impaired).  14 of those runs came in 2 separate 7-run outings, so that's them down to 18 total runs over the other 6.  And looking through the lineup, there are a lot more ugly numbers to be had than pretty ones.  Robbie Cano and C-Grand are both having solid months in July right on par with what they've been producing all seasons, and Jeter has actually produced pretty well since coming off the DL (.286/.314/.429 in 49 July ABs).  But Mark Teixeira is having a brutal July (.237/.318/.288 in 59 ABs), and the combination of Jorge (.135/.214/.162 in 37 ABs) and Russell Martin .170/.264/.234 in 47 ABs) has been so bad that I'd rather see some cancer kids from the ESPN "My Wish" thing hitting in their spots in the order instead of them.  Even Swish has slowed down after his torrid June (.260/.321/.320 in 50 ABs), and the bench, save for Andruw Jones and his very limited ABs, is a bare bones collection of Triple-A guys.  The only guy who you can say is having a GREAT month is Brett Gardner (.365/.431/.462 in 52 ABs).

And it seems like teams are starting to realize it.  Save for the semi-boneheaded decision by Joe Maddon to intentionally walk Swish the other night, you don't see pitchers trying to tip-toe through the Yankees lineup right now.  They recognize that guys are slumping, they recognize that A-Rod isn't there, and they're attacking the Yankee hitters.  And a slumping, weakened lineup is an easy one to beat.

So what's the solution?  Seeing as how the biggest black hole of production is coming, once again, from the C/DH spots, it makes perfect sense to me to call up The Jesus.  He's back off the DL, he's hitting again, and quite frankly, I'm getting fed up hearing about how he's bored, not focused, pressing, etc.  Even if it's not the level of power production that the MSM and uninformed baseball fanbase would like to see, the guy is still hitting .282/.340/.412 on the season, and he's still one of the top 3-5 prospects in all of baseball.  I don't feel like I have to remind people of this, but I will anyway.  Some scouts have compared Montero's bat to that of Miguel Cabrera.  That isn't a comparison that gets thrown around a lot.

(Not to mention the fact that he's the son of God)

 Before he got hurt, Alex Rodriguez was still valuable to the lineup.  At best, he was getting hits, drawing walks, and helping the team score runs.  At worst, he was still a presence in the lineup that pitchers were aware of and had to think about facing.  Montero could be that same sort of presence, at a lesser level, because of his reputation and the fact that pitchers haven't faced him yet.  Bare minimum he provides more than what the team is getting from Posada and Martin, gets to show what he can do catching at the Major League level, opens up space for Romine to be promoted, and showcases what he can and can't do for prospective trade partners.  Anything more than that is gravy.  If it doesn't work out, you can send him back down to SWB, no big deal.  But if it does, and he catches fire, then the lineup becomes even deeper and more dangerous when A-Rod does return.  Isn't that scenario better than what the Yankees are rolling out there every day right now?

Just a little over a week ago, the Yankees ranked 2nd in baseball in wOBA, OPS, and WAR.  In only a handful of games since then they have fallen behind the Rangers to 3rd in all of those categories, actually dropping 0.1 points in total team WAR.  It's indicative of a small sample size and also the good baseball the Rangers are playing, but it still classifies as proof that the offense is struggling, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that The Horse's absence could be a major determining factor.  Brandon Laird, Greg Golson, and Chris Dickerson are nice and all, but they aren't going to get it done in the everyday lineup.  The Yankees need to make a move to bring a little more depth and danger back to that lineup, and the move that makes the most sense is calling up Jesus.  End the drama, patch up the biggest hole(s) in the lineup, and give the team a better chance to win.

Last Night's Loss In Dramatic Pictures



"It's OK, guy.  We know you suck."

Double sadface

That's some pretty heavy shit right there, people.  Teix and Swish look so distraught that they are currently receiving aid from FEMA.  But that's what happens when you're playing in the shittiest stadium in professional sports and have a big left-handed doofus on the mound who can't make a play most kids in Little League make on the reg.  I'm chalking the 7th inning up to the baseball gods balancing things out after the Yankees benefited from all the walks on Monday night.

Photos courtesy of The AP

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hypothetical Bad Times Scenario

(Don't leave us, Cash.)

So while A.J. was putting on his best batting practice pitcher imitation in the bottom of the 1st last night, I was struck with this horrible series of events that played out in my head while I was talking with my buddy about the game and about A.J.

Imagine this.  Bartolo, Freddy, and A.J. continue to struggle over the next week or so before the deadline.  Talks with Colorado about Ubaldo Jimenez fall apart because of their asking price and because Cash isn't willing to part with Montero, ManBan, and Betances.  But Hank and Randy Levine, like they did in the offseason with Soriano, become obsessed with adding starting pitching because of the other guys' struggles and so they intervene and end up forcing trades where the Yanks give up some combination of those top prospects for Edwin Jackson, Wandy Rodriguez, Ryan Dempster, or some combination of any of the 3.  But those guys don't help the way Hank and Randy envisioned, instead contributing to weird feelings, bruised egos, and interruptions of guys' routines around the clubhouse as the team tries to juggle 7 starters down the stretch, and the Yanks end up bowing out some time before the World Series again.

But it gets worse.  Now it's the 2011 offseason.  The team is minus 2 of the big 3 prospects plus some lower-level guys, and stuck with some combination of CC, A.J., Hughes, and potential bad contracts of the pitchers they traded for if those guys choose to exercise player options.  They have no room to try to move guys to go after other trades or potential FA targets, and most importantly, Cash is still without a contract and pissed that he got overruled again on a baseball decision that didn't work out to the team's benefit.  Tired of having to deal with the interference from above, Cash decides not to re-up with the Yankees, leaving for another team or just take a break, and the Yanks now have to find a suitable replacement for Cash.  There will be some internal and external candidates, but whatever new guy they end up with, they will be back in a position of being run from the top (Hank and Randy) as this new guy won't have the tenure or street cred within the system that Cash did.

This new regime starts changing up of all the plans the team had in place with their remaining younger guys (including trying to trade more of them), which crushes some of their futures, and we end up heading down another path similar to 2002-2008 with each bad trade/signing being supplemented by another one because nobody listened to the smart baseball people in the front office that were supposed to be put in place to make the baseball decisions.

That would suck, huh?

It's an admittedly melodramatic and worst-case scenario, I know.  But I also don't see it as something completely outside the realm of possibility.  I'm already on board as being against trading the 4 names in question to Colorado for Jimenez; I just don't see the baseball logic in sacrificing a potentially great extended future for a potentially better immediate future when the team is still doing incredibly well.  But the first thought that popped into my head when A.J. was blowing up in the 1st inning last night was how that, and any additional hiccups from the rotation over the next 12 days, could be seen as proof that the Yankees NEED to make a move to add a big time pitcher.

That's why it was huge that A.J. got it together last night, and why it's critically important that A.J. and Bartolo and Freddy have these recent struggles just turn out to be blips on the radar and not indicators of declining performance moving forward.  I understand and expect the Yankees to make moves to put themselves in a better position to win, but I don't want to go back down the road of making knee-jerk blockbuster deals just for the sake of it.  And we all already know that Hank and Randy are capable of such things.

Monday, July 18, 2011

AB4AR Recommended Read Of The Day- TYA Tackles Teix

Inspired by his recent July struggles, I had plans to dedicate a post today to the recent goings on of Mark Teixeira and try to find out what the deal was with his continued decrease in BA and OBP.  Fortunately for you readers, Matt Imbrogno of TYA beat me to the punch and put together a comprehensive post breaking down Teix's numbers this season, what numbers he usually puts up, and what his numbers would be if his batted ball stats weren't so out of whack.

It's far better than anything I could have put together on my lunch break today, so do yourself a favor and head over to TYA to read the post in its entirety.  A tip of the cap to Matt for jumping on this.  Now let's hope Teix can start turning this around and get some of these balls in play to actually drop in for hits.

Why Is He Still Here?

I know he's fun to talk about, I know he's fun to make fun of, and I know he makes for great Photoshop opportunities.  But why the fuck is Sergio Mitre still on the 25-man roster???

In his 4 appearances since making his gallant return, The Tray has not only not had a clean inning, he hasn't even had one BAD inning.  They have pretty much all qualified as Hurricane Katrina-level disasters (it's been 6 years, I can use that joke.  You don't like it?  Tough).  In 5.1 IP, Mitre has allowed 9 hits, 4 walks, either 7 or 8 ER depending on whether or not you're referencing ESPN's stats or FanGraphs (I'm going with Fangraphs), and just 2 Ks.  That equates out to a 13.50/5.03/6.12 tripleslash and a .5007 K/BB rate, which, by some stroke of black magic, is still not worth negative WAR (thank God for small sample sizes).

I understood the logic in picking up Mitre at the time the Yanks made the deal.  The 'pen was hurting for warm bodies, he was cheap, he's familiar, and when he's on he can generate a lot of ground balls.  But the fact of the matter is, he hasn't been remotely close to on and he's an anchor to an otherwise still solid bullpen.  And the Yankees have Kevin Whelan, George Kontos, Eric Wordekemper, and, once he's fully healthy again, Tim Norton to choose from at Triple-A.  Or they could even go back to the Buddy Carlyle/Lance Pendleton well.  Now none of those options may turn out to be better than The Tray, but they certainly couldn't be much worse.

It really is starting to become inexplicable why the Yankees have such an infatuation with Sergio.  Does he have compromising pictures of Brian Cashman?  Did he walk in on Randy Levine shredding documents?  Is he holding Joe Girardi's family hostage?  At this point, I would not consider any of those possibilities as unlikely, because he sure has shit hasn't done anything on the mound to deserve a roster spot.

The Rockies Are Hilarious

Via Jon Heyman's Twitter:

"rockies name price for ubaldo: montero, banuelos, betances & nova. nyy will do montero plus other pitchers (not those guys)."

Oh, that's all?  Just the top 3 prospects in the Yankees' system plus another young pitcher who has thrown almost 100 innings of above-average ball in the Majors this year?  That's all you're looking for, Colorado?  Well at least the Yanks would be getting Troy Tulowitzki back to solidify the SS position for the next 10 years?  What's that?  Tulo isn't in the trade?  Well then good thing the Rockies are also throwing in Chris Iannetta to bolster the Yankees' depth at catcher?  What?  He isn't in the trade either?  It's all that for JUST Ubaldo???

Get bent, Colorado.  Cash may be in the last year of his deal, but he wasn't born yesterday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hughes Continues To Progress

It's hard to not be happy with Phil Hughes' performance today.  He threw 6 innings of 2-run ball, allowed only 6 baserunners, and struck out 5.  After demonstrating improved and maintainable velocity in his first start back, Hughes showed even better velocity today and a much better curveball than he showed in Cleveland.  Whatever work he and Larry Rothschild did to tweak the grip certainly worked as Hughes was very effective with the curveball today and used it to generate 8 swings and misses on his 80 pitches.  And he was aggressive in the strike zone too, throwing 51 of those 80 pitches for strikes.  It didn't take a genius to see that Hughes looked much more confident and comfortable on the mound today than he did against the Indians, and the results spoke to that.

And I'm even OK with Joe taking him out after 6 innings.  80 pitches doesn't seem like that many, but Hughes worked hard early and it's still early for him coming back from the shoulder problems.  With a decent lead and his better bullpen guys available, it was a good situation for Joe to get Hughes out while he could and let him end on a high note.

With Bartolo Colon scuffling and Freddy getting knocked around this weekend, Phil's role is becoming more and more important down the stretch.  Today was another sign that he's on his way back to being that 2-3-type guy that many of us expected coming into the season.

Just Call CC Sabathia Butter...

'Cause he's on a roll.  7 straight wins, 14 for the season, and 5 straight starts of 7+ IP and 1 or fewer runs allowed.  His fastball is consistently cranking in the mid-to-upper 90s and his slider is practically unhittable.  It's nice to know that, for at least one day during a rotation through the lineup, you don't have to think about the inconsistency in the bullpen, the question marks in the rotation, and how the lineup is going to replace A-Rod.  On CC's day, you just check the game update every now and then to see how many the Yanks have put up in support of him, because you know he's going to dominate.  That's a good feeling.

8 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 1 ER, 8 K

That'll do, Carsten.  That'll do.

(Courtesy of The AP)

Friday, July 15, 2011

David Price Is A Bitch

"The pitcher who gave up Derek Jeter’s 3,000th career hit has a deal to sign memorabilia connected with the milestone.

Tampa Bay’s David Price agreed with Steiner Sports to autograph collectibles, including baseballs and pictures. Some of the souvenirs will bear the inscription, “I Gave Up DJ’s 3K,” and be signed by both Price and Jeter." (courtesy of The AP)

Really, dude?  Are you serious?  You can justify it in your head as much as you want to, Dave.  Tell yourself it's fun and cool to be a part of history.  Tell yourself that it's worth it because you'll be making money off the deal.  But the bottom line is this is a pathetic and potentially career-defining decision, and not in a good way.  Unless you go on to have a Hall of Fame career and win a couple Cy Youngs, you just resigned yourself to being "The dude that gave up Jeter's 3,000th" until the day you die and beyond.  Your kids, should they go on to sports careers, are going to be known as the sons of the dude who gave up Jeter's 3,000th.  You might as well just let Jeter come into your house and bang your girlfriend while you're at it.

So good luck with this deal, bro.  Let's see how you feel in 25 years when you're still signing "I Gave Up DJ's 3K" on shit for little kids who weren't even alive when he hit 3,000.  Pussy.

And something like this could only happen to a Yankee.  You don't see anybody signing on to make money off giving up Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit.  Or Paul Molitor's.

Did I Jinx Colon?

(Bartolo sad.  Courtesy of The AP)

I thought it was a good idea to do the quick little "Yankees At The Break" series this week.  It gave me something to write about over the Really Good Player Break and I thought it would lead smoothly into the 2nd half of the season.  But after last night's debacle, I'm starting to rethink that strategy, especially when it comes to Bartolo Colon.

"Both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are pitching well above expectations and, save for Colon's quick DL trip, have stayed healthy."

"The rotation's effectiveness will hinge almost directly on Colon and Garcia's continued strong performances and the performance of the defense behind them."

That last quote is the one that clearly did the most damage, as Bart's defense was absolutely brutal behind him last night in the first inning.  But he also admitted after the game that he's still worried about the hammy and that's having an adverse effect on his performance on the mound.

For the sake of Bart, I'm going to step up and take the blame on this one.  Sorry, dude.  I didn't mean to jinx you.  And your D didn't mean to shit the bed behind you.  Don't worry about the hammy, just go out next time and pitch your game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2nd Half Starts Tonight

And it's about damn time!  After the Really Good Player Game break, shit's about to get real.  The trade deadline is looming, division races are heating up, magic numbers are starting to get important, and it starts tonight against the Blue Jays.  Here's the lineup, courtesy of LoHud:

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

Jones gets the start at DH tonight against a lefty.  Time for him to start producing a little, which means it's time for Joe to get him a few more ABs.

In Other Semi-Yankee Related News: Clemens Case Declared A Mistrial

"The federal judge presiding over Roger Clemens' perjury trial declared a mistrial Thursday because the prosecution revealed information that he previously deemed inadmissible." (courtesy of The NY Times)

Ouch.  Yeah, bringing back evidence that was already thrown out will get your case blown up 10 times out of 10.  I guess the prosecution MISREMEMBERED that critical step in legal proceedings.  BOOM!  Roasted.

I'll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen.

P.S.- If you think Roger Clemens didn't take steroids and didn't lie about it under oath, then you're an idiot.

J.C. Romero, Come On Down!


The first piece of the Yankee deadline puzzle seems to be in place, as Ken Davidoff reported last night that the Bombers will be adding J.C. Romero today.  In the never-ending quest to find reliable left-handed relief pitching, this is probably the best option in terms of committing money or players to a viable arm, but still, this does more to shed light on just how crappy the Yankees' current options are than to make their bullpen better.

Romero has never been one to light the world on fire with his stuff or his command, and this year has been no different.  In 16.1 MaL innings with the Phillies, Romero has put up just a 5.51 K/9 while straight up walking the fucking yard with his 6.61 BB/9.  He gets by by managing to limit the damage of all the runners he puts on base, but his real value is as a lefty specialist and the splits support that.  He has a 3.46 FIP and 8.23 K/9 against lefties in career vs. 5.25 and 6.68 against righties in his career, and this year has been more of the same, with a 2.39 FIP and 8 K in 7 IP vs. lefties and a 5.24 FIP and 2 K in 9.1 IP vs. righties (small sample size alert!!).

Those numbers become more attractive when you look at the internal lefty candidates.  Randy Flores' stats in Triple-A look decent (2.95 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 3/1 K/BB in 21.1IP), but he's scuffled lately and has never bee able to hang full time in anybody's bullpen since 2002.  And Brad Halsey, after a strong start in Double-A, has come crashing back to Earth and now sits at a 5.85 ERA, 4.46 FIP, and a Romero-esque 6.28 BB/9.  Basically, if you're the Yankees and you're going to be eating off the steamed shit section of the buffet, why not take the best looking pile (Romero)?

The biggest thing to take from this latest move, should it become official today, is that the organization still doesn't have faith in Boone Logan.  He was better in June than he was in the first 2 months, but he still does nothing to inspire confidence when he's out on the mound (see: 1st-pitch plunking of Hafner against Cleveland), and the fact is he hasn't been good at getting lefties out.  14 Ks in 13.2 IP against lefties looks nice, but 21 baserunners allowed is just not good enough, and his FIP against lefties is over a full run higher than against righties.  Any way you cut it, that sucks.

Make no mistake, a move to get Romero is definitely scraping from the bottom of the barrel.  But when that's really where the Yankees already are in terms of the left-handed relief pitching, why not take another cheap chance to improve?

** UPDATE- 12:57PM- It's official.  Romero has signed with the Yankees.  He might be headed to SWB to pitch tonight.  **

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can We Finally Stop Talking About The Whole "Yankee Fan Guy Who Caught Jeter's 3,000th Has To Pay Taxes" Thing?

If you follow AB4AR's Facebook page, and you damn well should be if you aren't, then you probably saw my comment on the whole Christian Lopez saga on Monday.  In my opinion, it never should have been a talking point for anybody to begin with.  The guys did what any REAL fan would do, give the ball back to the person who deserves it and not turn the whole situation into a bargaining/auctioning drawn out mess.  Then the whole tax situation on the gifts he received from the Yankees came up and everybody was up in arms again.  Well this should help finally put this thing to rest.

"Miller High Life issued a statement Wednesday saying that the company would cover Lopez's tax bill....

Lopez will receive five percent of the entire chain's [Modell's] Yankees merchandise sales for one week. Both Modell and Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, guaranteed Lopez at least $25,000 each....

In addition, Topps will produce a trading card featuring Lopez that will be included in sets later this year. Company vice president for sports Mark Sapir says Topps employees were impressed by Lopez's selfless act.  Sapir says Topps also will have Lopez choose the image for its 2012 Derek Jeter card." (courtesy of Fraud Sawx

So there you have it.  The guy is going to have the taxes on all his swag covered and he's getting even more money and his own baseball card.  What I said was correct all along.  Lopez did the right thing and he has been handsomely rewarded for it.  That's how it should happen.  And do you know how I know that?  Because I'm a selfish dick who never does the right thing and I've never had offers from companies to pay my taxes or make a baseball card honoring me.  It's pretty simple.

Case closed on this non story.  Let's get back to baseball.

Yankees At The Break- Looking Ahead

(Definitely want to see a lot of this in the 2nd half.  Courtesy of The AP)

With one more off-day before the season starts again, we know where we've already been so far this year and we know where we are right now.  So the only left to do is gun the DeLorean up to 88 and try to look into the future to see what the rest of the season has in store for the Yanks.

Thanks to bad weather, the Yanks, along with the Orioles, have played the fewest games in baseball at 88 and have had the benefit of their schedule so far being home heavy.  Of their 74 remaining games, they will play just 32 at home and 42 on the road.  Those remaining games include 9 against Bahhston and 13 against Tampa, their 2 main competitors for not only a playoff spot, but what playoff spot they get.  They'll be on the road for 6 of the 9 games against the Fraud Sawx and 7 of the 13 against the Rays, an uphill battle for sure but not a situation in which the Yanks are incapable of doing well, especially considering recent history.  Also included are a couple of potentially big series against Anaheim, one at home and one on the road.

The biggest thing for the Yankees to overcome in the 2nd half will probably be injuries.  The 15 players that have already landed on the DL match last year's total and they'll be without The Horse for at least a month, maybe 2, because of his recent surgery.  With older players like Jeter and Posada, Joe will have to get creative to give guys rests as they need them, even more so now that his bench depth is all but depleted.  But once again, Eduardo Nunez will get to show whether or not he's capable of shouldering an everyday load as he'll get the majority of time at third in A-Rod's absence.  Questions also still linger about how long Colon and Freddy Garcia will hold up, and whether or not Phil Hughes has fully regained his shoulder strength.  There are definitely more than a few potential injury landmines that the team needs to avoid.

Performance-wise, everybody in the lineup not named Curtis Granderson should be looked at to step it up a bit to make up for the hole A-Rod left in the lineup.  Mark Teixeira, specifically, needs to get the BA and OBP back up to match his gawdy power numbers, and I'm interested in seeing if the seemingly rejuvenated Derek Jeter is a mirage or a real rebound from his last year's worth of at-bats.  Continued production from Cano and Swish will be vital, and a rebound from Russell Martin's 2-month long swoon would be nice.  The rotation's effectiveness will hinge almost directly on Colon and Garcia's continued strong performances and the performance of the defense behind them.  That effectiveness can be bolstered by a true return to form from Phil Hughes.  CC and A.J. almost don't need to be commented on.  We know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

The most interesting part of the 2nd half is always the injection of new blood into the lineup, and the Yankees certainly aren't afraid to cannonball themselves into the trade pool to improve their team.  Cash is already on the record as looking for pitching help, both in the rotation and the bullpen, but the return of Hughes and the possibility of Rafael Soriano returning soon makes these issues a little less critical.  One potential target, the kind and friendly Francisco Rodriguez, is already off the market after the Mets traded him to Milwaukee last night.  A temporary replacement for A-Rod could also become a high priority if Nunez can't repeat the success he had filling in for The Captain, and RAB already took the liberty of breaking down some of the candidates.  Whatever direction they end up going, you can take it to the bank that the Yankee front office will be active as the deadline draws closer.

The last, and potentially most fun, thing to look forward to is roster expansions in September.  There have already been enough calls for The Jesus to come up and bring some much needed pop to the C/DH spots in the lineup, but will the team actually do it?  There's also the stable of young arms in Triple-A (Phelps, Warren, Mitchell, Whelan, Norton) that could get a chance to make a splash should injuries sauce rotational havoc, and let's not forget about Ivan Nova down there in SWB either.

It's already been a great season and it's only going to get more exciting (and more frustrating) from here.  There's a lot to look forward to as a Yankee fan looking at the next few months.  Hopefully it ends with another playoff berth and World Series run.

The Hot Streak Is Over

So it looks like I was a little off with my predictions yesterday.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all.  I'm going to go ahead and lay all the blame squarely at the feet of Buck and McCarver.  Sweet Jesus those guys were awful last night.  Even for them.  I would have settled for Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

Nice job by D-Rob coming in to cover for Beckett's sorry ass in the 2nd inning, though.  Now I just hope little Joshy ends up on the DL.  Then we'll see how many people want to criticize Jeter and Mo for pulling out because of injury questions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AB4AR's Fearless ASG Predictions

I nailed it with the Cano call last night at the Derby, so I'm going to ride the hot streak and make some predictions for the uninjured, non-exhausted Yankees who are playing tonight.

- C-Grand: 1-2 w/ a single and a nice running catch in center.

- Robbie Cano: 1-2 w/ an RBI 2B and a slick DP turn with Ass-DREW-bull in the 4th.

- Russell Martin: 0-1 w/ a K and a BB.

- D-Rob: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.

I don't know if there are any prop bets being laid on this stuff tonight out there on the interweb, but you loyal readers would be wise to print this out and lay a few bucks down if there are.  Don't worry, you can thank me in the morning.  Or use that money to buy the AB4AR t-shirts I've been meaning to design for months now.

Yankees At The Break- Where They Stand

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Yesterday, we looked back at what's already happened leading up to the All Star break, so today we'll focus on where the Yankees currently stand after the last 3+ months.

Currently, the Bombers are 53-35, 1 game behind the Fraud Sawx in the AL East, 0 in the loss column.  They are 30-19 at home, 23-16 on the road, and possess the MLB's best run differential at +121.  They are 5 games clear of both Tampa Bay and Anaheim for the Wild Card right now, with 2 games in hand over Tampa and 4 in hand over Anaheim, which works to their advantage.  They are an astoundingly good 26-5 in day games, a surprisingly sub-par 27-30 in night games, and have played the AL East and Central at a slightly above-.500 clip while feasting on the AL West and the National League.  They have also been better than usual against LHP, racking up an 18-8 record so far.  All in all, the Yankees are in a very good place considering the combination of serious injuries and uneven performances they've experienced so far.

Offensively, it's pretty easy to say that the Yankees are the 2nd best in baseball behind the Fraud Sawx, with a small window to argue that they are #1.  They currently rank 2nd in team OPS (.784), wOBA (.346), wRC+ (116), and WAR (21.6), 3rd in R (455), and 1st in HR (123).  There are 3 legitimate All Stars in the lineup in C-Grand, Cano, and The Horse, with Mark Teixeira putting up All Star-caliber power numbers.  Those guys have carried the load with the likes of Swish, Jorge, and Jeter rebounding from slow starts, Gardner and Russell Martin bringing up the rear in terms of production (while still remaining productive offensive players), and the bench chipping in a little here and there.  Really nothing out of the ordinary for the type of lineup the Yankees roll out on a daily basis.

Pitching is where the team has actually overachieved.  Currently the Yankee staff ranks 9th in MLB in ERA (3.46), 12th in FIP (3.76, which is 4th in the AL), 11th in K/9 (7.03), and 7th in WAR (12.2).  In fairness, a lot of that has to do with the combination of CC, D-Rob, and Mo, but for the most part the rest of the staff has chipped in admirably.  Both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are pitching well above expectations and, save for Colon's quick DL trip, have stayed healthy.  A.J. has rebounded from his awful 2010 to get back closer to his '09 numbers.  And Ivan Nova, before being sent down to make room for Phil Hughes, has held his own in his first full year as a Major League starter.  Despite all the injuries to the 'pen, the Yanks are getting solid contributions from guys like Luis Ayala, Hector Noesi, and Cory Wade, and Boone Logan looks like he's starting to get out of his funk.

Defensively, the team has really shined this year, Jeter and Cano's range be damned.  They currently rank 4th in baseball in UZR (25.0) and 1st in UZR/150 (7.5), which tells a better story than their middle-of-the-pack FP and E numbers.  All 3 OF are playing above average, Teix and A-Rod are still Gold Glove worthy at the infield corners, and Russell Martin has been an upgrade over Jorge and Frankie Cervelli behind the plate.  When you add up the defensive with the top-of-the-heap offensive and pitching numbers and it's easy to see why the Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball again.

Injuries are the biggest issue for the Yanks right now.  A-Rod had his meniscus surgery yesterday and will be on the shelf for at least a month, and Jeter, Mo, Swish, and Russell Martin are all a bit banged up from the wear and tear of the first half.  On the positive side of the injury report, Phil Hughes is back and in the rotation, his strength and velocity looking much better than they did in April, and Rafael Soriano and Damaso Marte have started throwing again.  Joba is still out for the years, and things don't look promising for Pedro Feliciano or Eric Chavez, but as a whole the team is starting to get healthier than they have been the last few months.  And that's a good thing when you consider how well they've already done.

Monday, July 11, 2011


(If ya don't know, now ya know.  Courtesy of The AP)

Robbie Fucking Cano!!!!

Didn't I tell you?  I told you.  I fucking told you!

"He's got the type of smooth, easy swing that I think can translate well to an event like this. He won't tire himself out, and if he gets in a groove, watch out."

And he kept that smooth swing going all night, had plenty left in the tank at the end, and put on a goddamn show!  Dude was so money.  There's no other way to describe it.  He barely even broke a sweat, for crying out loud!  Sure, I was in the middle of literarily drooling over Kate Upton when I called it, but I still fucking called it tonight.  I am a genius.  And Robbie Cano is a truckstick.

(How do more people not read my shit?!?!  It's G-O-L-D.)

Kate Upton Is A Yankee Fan?

It certainly appears so now, doesn't it?  Which means I just became a Kate Upton fan.


Side note, what's everybody thinking about Robbie's chances in the Derby tonight?  He's got the type of smooth, easy swing that I think can translate well to an event like this.  He won't tire himself out, and if he gets in a groove, watch out.  I also don't buy into the theory of him messing his swing up by participating.  Watch him during games, the swing never changes.  It's his problem of swinging too much that gets him in trouble.  I honestly have no clue how these new team rules work, so I don't know if he can actually win or not, but take it to the bank that Robbie Cano is putting up double digits in his round tonight.

Alright, enough of my half-hearted HR Derby analysis.  Back to Kate Upton:

(Photos courtesy of Total Pro Sports)

Derek Jeter And The Meaning Of 3,000 Hits

(Courtesy of The AP)

I wanted to wait a little while to write this post.  Typically, something that historic being done by a Yankee warrants immediate commentary, but in this case I needed time to collect my thoughts and really think about what I have to say.  And even now, as I sit here at my desk, I still don't even know the right way to talk about this, so it will still just come out as a rambling mess but here it goes.

As a Yankee fan, Derek Jeter has always been and  will always be my favorite player, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that would be the case for many other Yankee fans from my generation.  He is our Thurman Munson, our Mickey Mantle, our Joe DiMaggio.  Years from now, when I'm talking to my kids and grandkids (assuming a member of the female gender is unfortunate enough to procreate with me), I won't be telling them about Nick Swisher's exploits in right field or how underrated a player Tino Martinez was during his time in pinstripes.  I will be talking about watching Derek Jeter play and how good a player he was, plain and simple.  So to have those feelings as a fan makes something like what Jeter accomplished on Saturday even more special.

And the statement that Derek Jeter was/is a very good baseball player, regardless of what all the Jeter haters out there want people to think, is a fact.  And his reaching 3,000 career hits and beyond on Saturday afternoon is a testament to that.  Out of all the men who have played professional baseball in history, only 28 of them have ever achieved 3,000 hits in their career.  It is not something that can be easily accomplished.  It takes an almost perfect combination of career longevity, closely tied to healthy and injury luck, and consistent upper level baseball skill.  There is no way to luck into 3,000 hits.  You have to be a damn good hitter to do that.  And the plain fact of the matter is that Derek Jeter has been a damn good hitter for almost his entire career.

Yankees At The Break- Looking Back

(Easy choice for best first half moment, no?  Courtesy of The AP)

The Yankees started the 2011 season, like most years, with a multitude of questions surrounding their team.  And, like most years, the main questions were related to the pitching staff.  After being stiffed by Cliff Lee for Philly, the Yankees were left without a viable option to replace the retired Andy Pettitte in the rotation.  Rather than reach on the rest of the overpriced, undertalented trade and FA markets, the Yanks made do with an internal promotion (Ivan Nova) and a couple of cheap scrap heap options (Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia) who weren't expected to do much more than steal innings until another young Triple-A pitcher was ready.

As luck would have it, those 3 would turn out to be much more valuable to the rotation and the team in the first half than the likes of A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes.  Burnett has been better than in 2010, but still hardly worthy of the type of money the Yankees are paying him, and Hughes, after a career high workload in 2010 came out of the gate with no velocity and no movement on his pitches to start 2011 and was quickly shelved for almost the duration of the first half with shoulder inflammation.  In Hughes' absence, Bartolo Colon has been a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, posting a 3.20/3.56/3.19 line in 90 innings, good for 1.6 WAR.  Nova and Garcia have also been more than serviceable, pitching 183.2 innings in 31 combined starts and picking up 15 wins and 2.1 WAR.  Not Cy Young worthy to be sure, but definitely better than anybody anticipated, as evidenced the team's 9th ranked 3.46 ERA.

The anchor of the rotation, as usual, has been CC Sabathia.  If the talks of his possible opt out after the season are distracting him, he certainly isn't showing it as he current holds a 2.72/2.50/3.09 line in 145.2 IP, good for an MLB leading 13 wins and an AL leading 4.8 WAR.  If there was any internal doubt about whether the Yankees should re-sign him if and when he opts out of his current deal, Sabathia has all but erased that with his tremendous first half.  Looks like cutting the Captain Crunch out of his diet really paid off.

The offense, expected to have fewer holes and question marks than the rotation, has actually underperformed a bit despite being 3rd in baseball in runs scored, 2nd in OPS, 2nd in wOBA, 2nd in wRC+, and 1st in HR by a wide margin.  The Yankees currently have 4 players with 50+ R and 50+ RBI apiece at the break (C-Grand, Teix, The Horse, and Cano), the first time that's been done by a Yankee team since the late 30s, but save for Granderson you could make the argument that each of the other 3 is having a "down" year.  Early struggles by older players like Jeter and Jorge Posada also didn't help matters, nor did April slumps for Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner.  All 4 of those guys have rebounded since then, but with The Horse's injuries, Teix's inability to hit anything other than a HR, and Cano's refusal to take pitches, there are still improvements that can be made.

Offensively, the MVP has been Curtis Granderson.  A year after flailing through the first half of the season and having his swing completely rebuilt by Kevin Long, Granderson is putting up numbers that have him on pace to shatter all his previous career highs.  He is tied for the team lead with Teix with 25 HR, has 63 RBI from the 2-spot in the lineup, has scored an insane 79 R, and currently leads the Yankees in SLG, OPS, wOBA, wRC+, and WAR.  If the consistency he has shown would have been matched by a few more of his teammates, we would likely be talking about the clear cut #1 offense in baseball.

More than the hitting exploits of C-Grand, the pitching greatness of CC, or the surprising performances of Colon and Garcia, the biggest talking point for the Yankees in the first half was injuries.  To date, the Yanks have had Jeter, A-Rod, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Rafael Soriano, Joba, Pedro Feliciano, and Damaso Marte miss significant portions of time because of injury, with Swish and Mo also missing a few games recently.  The majority of the bullpen guys won't be back this year, which makes the jobs Mo and Dave Robertson have done that much more important, but with A-Rod now on the shelf for the next 4-6 weeks Joe and Yankee fans everywhere need to start saying their prayers that the rest of the team can stay healthy.

All things considered, the first half of 2011 has to be considered a success for the Yankees.  With the injuries they've suffered and the guys they're rolling with in the rotation, one would certainly not expect to be sitting 18 games over .500 at the All Star break, but that's exactly where they are.  And with the Phil Hughes injury, the CC opt out talk, the plague of bullpen injuries, the Jorge "day off" saga, and the recent Jeter march to 3,000, there has been no shortage of storylines/distractions along the way.  Now they need to regroup, rest up, and start getting healthy for the stretch run in the 2nd half.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Keep moving, folks.  Nothing to see here.  Nothing at all.  Certainly not the guy with the most wins in MLB who has put up 31.2 innings of 1-run ball (the last 23.2 of them scoreless) while allowing just 22 H, 6 BB, and striking out 42 in his last 4 starts, all of them wins.  Certainly not the guy who's making a solid case for being considered the best pitcher in baseball even though nobody is really talking about him as such and he wasn't even picked to the All Star Game.

Nothing to see here.  Just move along.

P.S.- Screw the stupid HR Derby team thing.  Why not bring CC to the ASG to pitch against all these guys and see how many can actually get a hit off him.  $100,000 to the charity of choice of the first player who gets the ball out of the infield off of CC.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


The 3,000 Hit Club has its newest member, and that member is Derek Jeter.

After leading off the bottom of the 1st with a solid single off of David Price, Jeter came up with 1 down in the bottom of the 3rd and worked a 3-2 count against Price before yanking a slider that just hung up enough into the left field seats for a home run and his 3,000th career hit.  If you wrote it up as a Hollywood script, you would be told to go back and change it because it would be too cliche.  But you wouldn't expect anything else from The Captain. already has the video up, and you can watch the whole thing right here.  It was cool to see Jorge Posada come out to be the first to greet him at home plate, and cool to see Johnny Damon come out of the vistors' dugout and applaud.  Just the latest and greatest in the long history of classic Jeter moments.

Congratulations to Derek Jeter on this historic accomplishment.

Let's Talk About Meniscuses

Specifically The Horse's right one, which was revealed to be slightly torn after his MRI yesterday.  A-Rod was already scheduled to be out of the lineup last night as a result of the MRI and the now well documented pain he has been playing with in the knee, and now the amount of time he could stay out of the lineup becomes an even bigger, and much more important question.

He could continue to play through the injury, as he has already been doing and doing well.  For all the talk about his dreaded homerless streak since early June, The Horse has continued to play solid all around baseball, racking up hits and walks at the plate and playing arguably the best defense we've seen him play since he transitioned to the hot corner.  Obviously now we can assume that this meniscus tear is causing some, if not all, of the lack of power that we've seen from A-Rod, and he doesn't look comfortable running the bases, but he has played at a very high level with this injury already.  And with the Yankees far from clinching a playoff spot at this point in the season, it goes without saying that the team is in a better position to when with him in the lineup, even if he doesn't hit home runs.

The other option is surgery, something that would likely put A-Rod on the shelf for at least a month.  Without him in the lineup, the team could struggle even more than they already are this week, but down the road during the regular season stretch run it would be much more beneficial to have a 100% healthy Horse than one playing at whatever percentage he's currently at.  And while the injury may or may not get any worse, it certainly isn't going to get better the more he plays on it.  If A-Rod is at 75% right now, it's possible that continued wear and tear and him trying to compensate for the injury could have him at 50% heading into October.

Recent offensive struggles aside, the Yankees have been very good all year, both at the plate and on the mound.  One would think that they would be able to hold down for the fort for 4-6 weeks without A-Rod, especially if Cano and Swish continue to swing hot bats and Teix can start to be more consistent.  And with Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes back in the rotation, and CC pitching like a man possessed, there is more than enough talent to get the job done.  This is the same injury that CC pitched through last season, but he was only playing once every 5 days.  Joe doesn't have that option to try and give A-Rod that much rest.

It's a tough decision either way, but if it were up to me, I would want to see A-Rod get completely healthy and be ready to go for the end of the regular season and the playoffs.  We've already seen what a healthy Horse can do when he's locked in in the postseason, so whatever has to happen to be able to get him back to that health level is something I would be in favor of doing.