Friday, August 26, 2011

What's The Bigger Disaster: Irene Or A.J. Burnett?

I wish this was a joke.  But I honestly am terrified about what could happen when A.J. takes the hill tonight in Baltimore.  Does anybody out there have any faith that A.J. will come out and produce even a MEDIOCRE outing?  I know I don't.

I am prepared for literally any bad possibility to happen tonight in this game.  I won't be shocked if A.J. is terrible right off the bat and doesn't make it out of the first inning.  I won't be shocked if he sucks early on and pulls one of the Roger Clemens fake injuries to get himself taken out after 2 or 3 innings.  I won't be shocked if he doesn't even make the start because he comes down with some phony sickness or injury.  I won't be shocked if he walks or hits every batter he faces tonight and doesn't record a single out.  I won't be shocked if he has his normal 4-6-inning shitty performance, culminating in the usual meltdown at the end, and then just runs off the mound and into the locker room crying as Joe comes out to get the ball from him, then showers, changes, packs his stuff up, and disappears into the Baltimore night, never to be heard from again.

The only thing that would shock me is if A.J. actually pitches a good game tonight.  And I'm not even talking about a legit good game; I'm talking A.J.-type good.  Like 5.1 innings of 3-run ball.  But I don't have one ounce of faith that A.J. will produce even that tonight.  So there you go, A.J.  You're working with low expectations tonight.  Go out and make me proud.

(I should really have this updated now to have the full Two-Face look.  There is no more Good A.J. or Bad A.J.)

** P.S.- To any readers out there on the East Coast who will experience the hurricane this weekend, stay safe. **

The Final Sign That Derek Jeter Is Back

(Later, toots!  Courtesy of Neil Miller, NY Post)

There was the 5-5 with the HR to reach 3,000 hits after coming off the DL.  There was the rest of July where his swing looked like it had some life and speed back to it and his pitch selection was much better than it had been.  There's been the month of August where he's hit .422/.475/.511 in 90 ABs with 6 XBH, 18 R, 12 RBI, including a ridiculous 28-57 (.492 BA) stretch since August 10th that has his season line back up to .299/.359/.388 and reminded everybody just how good he is.

But the final piece of the Derek Jeter Rebirth puzzle was put into place this morning, thanks to this little nugget of info via The Post:

"The Yankees legend and notorious ladies man reportedly has separated from his gorgeous actress girlfriend Minka Kelly after three years.  Kelly’s rep confirmed the split to People Magazine early today.

"They care about each other and it was amicable," a source told the magazine.  "They’re still friends."

BOOM!  It's official.  Derek Jeter, HOF shortstop and #1 cocksman of all time, is back on the open market.  And the timing makes perfect sense.  The wheels of Jeter's decline started turning about 3 years ago, the same time he started dating Kelly.  His all-around awesomeness was starting to dwindle a bit, most likely lessening his confidence in his ability to jump from lady to lady like he used to in his prime.  After last season's debacle, Jeter probably figured (even though he'd never admit it publicly) that as his days as a premiere baseball player were at their end, and that his chances at continuing to be the all-time greatest tail puller would end as well, hence the continuing to stay with Minka and start to make wedding plans.

But then this recent resurgence re-lit the spark inside of The Captain, and he realized he's not only got a little life left in his bat, but that he's also still got some life left in his bat (wink, wink).  And because of that, he knew he couldn't be tied down by Minka.  He had to be free.  His swag is on a hundred-thousand-trillion right now and he's looking to plow.  He's gotta strike while the iron is hot, so he dumped the dead weight (probably a good call considering how horrible the new "Charlie's Angels" show looks) and put himself back out there on the open market.  It's like we're back in 2002 again.  The Captain is raking at the plate and about to rake in the celebrity poon at home.  All is right with the world.

So look out, young Hollwood.  Derek Jeter is back on the prowl.  By this time next week, I guaran-damn-tee we hear rumors of Jeter being linked to Zoe Saldana, Victoria Justice, and Kate Upton.  Or possibly all 3.

Who Actually Wants To Be In The Rotation?

With A.J. committing rotation hara-kiri in August for the 2nd season in a row, the rotation picture moving forward should have been clearing up significantly.  But with the recent goings on of the rest of the guys in the current 6-man situation, things are just as blurry as ever.

Bartolo Colon, the man who was the clear cut #2 starter behind CC earlier in the summer, and who was arguably the Yankees' best starter for a brief period earlier in the year, has been on a steady downward trend since July, and it's gotten to the point where it's blatantly obvious now and everybody is talking about it.  As I said earlier in the week, I can't really get on Bart for getting worn down given his injury history over the last 3-4 years and his drastically increased workload this season.  But his decline might be the biggest cause for concern for the Yankees moving forward, given how well he was pitching earlier and the fact that he was considered a "sure thing" behind CC during that time.

Freddy Garcia has been out with his hand injury for a few weeks now, and he didn't exactly light the world on fire in his first rehab start in Triple-A earlier this week.  He should be plenty rested after his DL stint, and he doesn't bring a lot of lightning to the table on his fastball to begin with, so a breakdown similar to that of Colon shouldn't be a concern.  But Freddy's ability to be successful with his scrap heap of offspeed stuff against better hitting teams is a major question.  The Yankees won't be facing the Mariner or Twin offenses in the postseason, and he needs to be sharp with what he does have to handle the likes of the Rangers and the Fraud Sawx.

And last night, Phil Hughes, he of the 4 consecutive games of 2 < ER allowed, took a big leap back.  He allowed 6 ER and 7 hits in just 2.2 innings of work.  He walked none and struck out 5, but his stuff didn't look that great and his command was even worse.  After all the good work he had done before last night, Hughes was looking more and more like his 2010 self and more and more likely to get a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season.  But last night's disaster will only bring back all the questions about how confident the Yankees can be in him moving forward and whether or not he'd be better off in the 'pen (for the record, I don't want to see Hughes back in the bullpen ever).

The individual struggles are bad enough, but the worst thing about all of this is that it creates more opportunities for A.J. to continue to be a part of the rotation.  He obviously doesn't deserve the spot, but all the rest of the rotation options failing to set themselves apart from him combined with the blind loyalty and faith that Joe still seems to show in him makes A.J.'s chances of sticking around look better with each rough outing had by somebody else .

It's almost September and the Yankees are still CC and ... ?  Somebody, or somebodies, needs to step up over the next couple weeks and establish themselves to make Joe's decision a little easier.