Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Rain "Suspension" Pick Me Up

Since we can't talk about tonight's game, and the weather ain't looking too hot for tomorrow, here's something we can all watch and enjoy.

The biggest kudos in the history of kudos to the person who put this together.  If you're a serious Yankee fan this almost should come with a NSFW warning because you might want to just start jerking off about halfway through this.  Fucking Fraud Sawx.

P.S.- Bonus points for trashing Shaughnessy's hideousness.

P.P.S.- Adios, Terry.  Good luck getting a job managing in the Majors in 2012 after admitting that you couldn't reach your players at your presser today.  Idiot.

Son Of A Bitch Rain

You know, you spend all this time scrambling to catch up on your research for the ALDS after being in Vegas.  You get to work early and bust your ass knocking out some kickass previews.  You rush off the plane and jump into your car and then politely as possible try to clue your drive into speeding the fuck up so you can get home and see as much of Game 1 as possible, and then the goddamn heavens open up, the field gets flooded, and Game 1 gets postponed due to weather like half of the games at Yankee Stadium this year.

Seriously, Mother Nature.  Way to be a bitch.  If this is some kind of inside joke between you and Al Gore, it's not fucking funny.  Get bent, you old hag.

On a baseball note, here's the deal now.  Tonight's game will resume tomorrow at 8:37 EST (stupid move, just replay the whole game) and Game 2 will now be at 3:07 on Sunday.  While it sucks to lose what looked like it was shaping up to be a strong CC outing tonight, the Yankees' pitching plans aren't completely screwed.  They can stick with Nova tomorrow to keep him on his regular schedule, bring CC back on Sunday as he only threw 27 pitches tonight, and still have Freddy lined up on his regular schedule for Game 3 on Monday.  And Nova and CC swap Games 4 and 5, which actually works out better for the Yanks because they were each going to be going on short rest anyway but now they have the big fella throwing Game 5 if needed.  Your best pitcher in a must-win situation?  Yeah, I'll take that.

So it sucks that tonight got rained out, but all hope is not lost.  I'll be back tomorrow to put up a quicky preview for tomorrow's resumed Game 1, but Sunday could be looking rough for any kind of preview or reaction post as I'll be spending my day in the stands of Dover Downs Raceway drinking beer and giving the finger to Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.  I'll see what I can do.


So to review again, Game 1 will resume tomorrow at 8:37/7:37.  Game 2 is Sunday at 3:07/2:07.

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Mano-Y-Mano

Pitching Matchup: CC Sabathia (19-8) vs. Justin Verlander (24-5)

Starting Lineups (** Projected based off what I expect the Tigers to do against a lefty.  I'm hopping on a plane well before the actual lineups will be announced. **):

NYY- Jeter (SS), C-Grand (CF), Cano (2B), A-Rod (3B), Teix (1B), Swish (RF), Jorge (DH), Martin (C), Gardner (LF)

DET- Jackson (CF), Ordonez (RF), Young (LF), Cabrera (1B), Martinez (DH), Avila (C), Peralta (SS), Raburn (2B), Inge (3B)

3 Things to Watch For:

1) CC's Command

The big fella wasn't himself over the last month + of the season when the 6-man rotation was instituted, specifically the command of his fastball and sharpness of his slider.  He's coming off a simulated outing during his last scheduled work day, which is not the same as pitching a real game, so it still remains to be seen if that command will be back now that he's closer to a regular schedule.  It won't be hard to tell if it's there early on, as CC will be in more 2- and 3-ball counts if it's not.  This is not a lineup you want to miss spots with, because there are plenty of guys who will make you pay, but if CC has his command back, his swagger won't be far behind and it could be a long night for the Tiger hitters.

2) NY's Approach Against Verlander

Justin Verlander is going to win the Cy Young this year, that's a given.  What's not is how he'll fare against the Yankees tonight.  In both of his outings against the Bombers this year he's been relatively successful (16 Ks in 12 IP), but has also been out of each game after 6 innings.  The Yankees have been successful at drawing walks (7 in 2 games) and fouling pitches off against Verlander to work up his pitch count and get him out early (114 on Opening Day, 127 on May 2nd).  Will they employ that same traditional Yankee patience tonight or look to jump on Verlander early?  Whatever they do, I expect Verlander to be on top of his game, and ready to match Carsten pitch for pitch.

3) Miguel Cabrera

We just discussed how he absolutely tears Yankee pitching apart, so pay attention to how CC and the Yankee staff approach him and how willing Cabrera is to take what the Yankees give him.  My guess is CC will pitch to him without runners on, and be more selective with guys on base, and I expect the general rule for everybody not named CC or Mo to be intentionally walk Cabrera in a RISP situation and 1st base open.  If that trend starts to play itself out tonight, it will be interesting to see if Cabrera maintains his patience through the series or starts swinging earlier in the count to try and make something happen.

Player to Watch: Alex Rodriguez

I'll just come right out and say it, I'm concerned about The Horse.  He hasn't been healthy in a long time, is even less healthy right now, and we've all seen how his swing and power fall apart when he's banged up.  Joe has already stated that A-Rod is good to go and will play 3B the whole series, but tonight should give us a pretty good idea of what kind of A-Rod the Yankees are going to have.  Are we going to get a healthy, strong Horse?  Or a banged up, weak one?

It's playoff baseball time again, folks, and that's when shit gets exciting.  Every at-bat matters a little more, every pitch matters a little more, and there's that extra bit of energy and electricity in the air.  The Stadium is going to be packed tonight, and it's going to be rocking.  We've got 2 evenly matched teams squaring off with the 2 best pitchers in the AL on the hill ready to do battle.  I salute them for the jobs they've already done this year in helping getting their teams to the playoffs, and for the rest of the Yankee lineup taking the field tonight, we all salute you in the tradition originally set forth by the fine folks at Fack Youk.

** (Just a reminder, I'm out of town again for the weekend starting this afternoon.  If I can somehow manage to snag a computer to bring with me, I'll cover as much of Games 1 and 2 as I can.  If not, I'll at least be able to watch and take notes and comment on Monday before Game 3.) **

2011 ALDS Preview: 3 Things That Will Decide The Series (And A Prediction)

The Yankees and Tigers met 7 times in the regular season, first in the season opening series at the end of March/beginning of April and then in early May, with the Tigers taking 4 of the 7 games.  In the months since then, a lot of things have changed about each team, but many things have stayed the same.  There will be a few new faces on either side that weren't present in the spring, but the core of each team remains intact.  A basic once over of each team reveals more similarities than differences.

Both teams boast strong, deep lineups that were among the best in baseball all season (Yankees .346 wOBA- 3rd in MLB; Tigers .336- 4th.  Both teams in top 5 in wRC+), and both have rotations with strength at the top and then question marks behind that (CC-Nova for the Yanks, Verlander-Fister for the Tigers).  Both teams can hit, and both teams can pitch (kinda), so there won't be an easy predictors for determining victory at the basic level, AKA the Tim McCarver Method of Analyzing Baseball.  Luckily, I've already done a little digging to find the 3 keys to this series.

1) Speed/Athleticism

Something that typically gets overlooked in baseball decisions, and something I admittedly rarely consider when breaking down matchups, but there are some stats tied to this that the Yanks and Tigers are not even close in, and it will play a factor.  First, defensively the Yankees boast a team Fielding Rating of 22.9, good for 7th in MLB.  The Tigers team rating is -2.0, which puts them near the bottom.  The Yankees are boosted by strong ratings for Brett Gardner in left and Nick Swisher in right, as well as Martin behind the plate, Teix at first, and A-Rod at third, and even Jeter, Cano, and C-Grand pass the eye test at their respective positions more often than not.  The Tigers, however, are a bit of a mess in the field.  There's nobody close to a Gold Glover in the infield, and even the speed of Austin Jackson can't cover for the limitations of the lumbering Delmon Young in left and Magglio Ordonez in right.  Quite simply, the Yankees get to more balls and make more plays in the field than the Tigers do.

The other area where the Yanks' athleticism advantage should show through is on the basepaths.  The Yankees' team Baserunning Rating of 1.1 only puts them in the middle of the pack amongst MLB teams, but the Tigers' rating of -7.6 ranks 26th.  And there's also the wide gap in stolen bases to consider.  New York's 147 SB was 4th in baseball; Detroit's 49 was dead last.  We've seen the Yankees go for the steal, double steal, hit-and-run, and sac bunt often this season, using their speed and baserunning skills to their advantage.  We won't see any of that from the Tigers.

It's a small part of the game, something that can't be as easily measure statistically as other things, but those numbers show that the Yankees have a decided advantage in the Speed/Athleticism department.  Their defense gets a boost from it, allowing them to better pick up their pitchers when the ball is in play, and their offense becomes more dynamic and more versatile as a result of their speed on the basepaths.  In a short series it will be next to impossible to quantify this, but we've all seen how just a couple of plays here and there can change a series: a diving catch here, a stolen base or extra base taken on a ball in the gap there.  The Yankees are much more equipped to take advantage of those opportunities than the Tigers are and I expect them to continue to use that to their advantage every chance they get.