Monday, April 30, 2012

This Probably Isn't Good...

Raul Ibanez.  Eduardo Nunez.  Together.  In the same outfield.

May whatever higher power he believes in have mercy on Curtis' soul tonight in center field tonight.  Because I certainly don't expect Raul or Eduardo's gloves to.

Cash Speaks On The Pineda Situation

I almost missed this late Friday, when ESPN ran a piece with some comments from Cash on the Michael Pineda trade and where everything sits now after the injury diagnosis.  Here are some of the highlights:

"Right now, our hopes and dreams for this player are in jeopardy.  Hopefully, someday, our fans will get to see what we expected to see from him for many years to come."

"This is a massive decision gone wrong right now.  So all scrutiny is fair."

"Our fans are right to be upset about this.  I'm devastated by it. I just hope everyone understands that every move I make is to improve this club, not hurt it."

Those are 3 very open, honest, telling quotes from Cash on how he feels about all of this, and I think they all point to something that's important to remember when discussing Cash's job performance.  He's not just some outside hired gun brought in to run the team, he's a lifer in the Yankee organization.  Cash built his professional career up to where it is within the Yankee family, so he's got a lot more invested in his job than just getting paid.  He cares about this team and its fans, and he WANTS to see the team win, as evidenced by this picture of him taking in yesterday's game with Bald Vinny and the rest of the Bleacher Creatures out in right field.  Can't imagine seeing too many other GMs out there doing that.

Every move Cash makes, whether it works out or not, is made with the goal of winning in mind.  When things go wrong, it probably hurts him personally as a lifetime member of the Yankee family just as much as it does professionally.  These quotes are a testament to that.  Cash is rooting for the team to do well just as hard as we fans are, and he's just as disappointed when things don't work out to that end as we are.  I'm sure this makes me come off as a Cash slurper, which maybe I am, and I'm sure it won't keep all the Cash haters from coming out of the woodwork and crucifying him for this trade.  But don't play this up like some kind of situation where Cash is Evil Vince McMahon intentionally trying to "screw" the Yankees out of their top prospects and into damaged goods.  He's a lifetime Yankee and this Pineda disaster is just as devastating to him as it is to us.

Game 21 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 DET 2

(Not quite parachute-y enough... Courtesy of The AP)

After Saturday's mid-day game after a night game, the Yanks and Tigers closed out the series yesterday with a day game after a mid-day game featuring CC Sabathia and Max Scherzer.  The Yankees had to make a roster move to provide enough bullpen depth for the game after a taxing 2 games covering for Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia, and they were looking to their ace for length.

Game Notes:

- It seems weird to have the first point be about the offense and not the starting pitching, but the Yankee lineup made the first big plays of the day in the quietest way possible.  After stranding 2 walks in the 1st inning, the Yankees struck for 2 in the bottom of the 2nd after a walk, a GB single through the 1st base hole, an infield single, another walk, and another infield single.

- CC was cruising through 3 innings and continued to look more and more like the CC we're used to seeing.  His fastball was lively, he commanded it to both sides of the plate, and his slider was working as a swing-and-miss pitch.

- Wins and losses aside, the most important moment of the game was Nick Swisher leaving with a hamstring injury after drawing a walk and jogging to first in the bottom of the 3rd inning.  Joe confirmed after the that it was a low-grade strain and the plan is to rest Swish for a few days, but I can't remember the last time I saw somebody hurt themselves on a walk.

- CC's cruise continued into the 4th inning, right up to the point when Prince Fielder CRUSHED a HR into the 2nd deck in right field on a hanging slider to cut the lead to 2-1.  CC hung a slider and Fielder just murdered it.

- Curtis Granderson countered Fielder's shot with one of his own in the bottom half of the inning, though, and the lead stayed at 2 runs.  CC recovered and allowed only 1 more run for the rest of the game while pitching 8 strong innings.

- The offense gave CC some insurance with 2 more scratch runs in the 7th.  Rally starter Chris Stewart scored on an A-Rod FC and Jeter came home on a sac fly off the bat of Robbie Cano.  It was the most successful day of "nothing" offense I've ever seen.  If you called it anything, you would call it "relentlessly patient and locationally lucky" as 9 walks and some well-placed infield hits are really what got the job done.

- Laser HR from Swish's replacement, Andruw Jones, in the 8th and a 1-2-3 inning from D-Rob in the 9th and the 6-2 game win and 2-1 series win was complete.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Monthly Minor League Report: The Upper Levels

(I think he just walked another guy.  Courtesy of Jim McGregor/

Yesterday we covered A-ball.  Today we focus on what the top 2 levels of the Yankee farm system have been up to this month.  There was a lot of hype surrounding the Triple-A rotation and a few of the players in Trenton, but so far the results have been disappointing for the biggest names at the top, almost completely across the board.

Game 20 Wrap-Up: DET 7 NYY 5

(The face of failure.  Courtesy of The AP)

I dropped the line about the Yankees facing a pitcher they'd never seen before in the previous game recap half-jokingly.  After watching how Drew Smyly handled the Yankee lineup yesterday, I should have been more serious.  He was very, very good in 6+ innings of work, and Freddy?  Well, Freddy was very, very not good.  Again.

Game Notes:

- In the plainest terms, it was same shit, different day from Freddy.  He was up in the zone early and it cost him when he hung a splitter for a 3-run homer off the bat of Andy Dirks in the top of the 1st.  Joe gets a piece of blame pie for intentionally walking an additional run on base with 2 outs.

- As they've been apt to do recently, the Yankee offense responded immediately in the bottom of the 1st.  Nick Swisher got a slider up in the zone from Smyly and parked it into the left field bleachers for his 5th HR of the season.

- Freddy followed up a sloppy 1st with an equally sloppy 2nd that saw him give up 3 consecutive hits for 3 more runs with 2 outs.  The final blow was a 2-run single by Miguel Cabrera that made it 6-1 and Joe was making the pitching change walk way too early again.  It was the third time this year that Freddy failed to make it past the 5th inning, and the second consecutive time he failed to make it out of the 2nd.

- After the Swish HR, Smyly was dominant.  He retired 17 of the next 19 batters he faced through the bottom of the 6th, the only Yankee baserunners coming on a pair of walks.  He threw his fastball for strikes early and used both his cutter and his slider as effective out pitches.  A-Rod got a single off Smyly to lead off the 7th, the first Yankee hit since Swish's HR, and that was it for Smyly.

- Luckily for him, Teix stupidly swung early in the count against Phil Coke and grounded into a double play.  The play was extra lucky considering Curtis cranked a home run in the next at-bat.  This was a great chance to get back into the game for the Yankees, but ended up just a solitary run and a 6-2 deficit.

- Give yet another call to the bullpen for an outstanding performance.  They combined for 7.1 IP of 1-run ball, the 1 run via a HR from Miguel Cabrera, something that no pitcher can be chided for.  Both Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley were effective in multiple-inning performances, as was David Phelps.

- The offense finally started to wake up in the 9th, getting 3 runs off of Jose Valverde to make the game seem closer than it really was.  Swish hit his 2nd HR of the day, and Eric Chavez came to the plate as the tying run, but it was too little too late and the Tigers held on for the win.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Monthly Minor League Report: The Lower Levels

(Mr. Williams hasn't done anything to stop the hype.  Courtesy of Brian Bissell/Future Star Photos)

It's been a hot minute since I've discussed the goings on of the Yankee farm system.  It's understandable, given that the big boys have started their season and they're always the primary focus, but still not acceptable in my book.  So over the next 2 days, I'll take a quick trip through the system to see how everybody's doing.  Today, the lower levels.

Game 19 Wrap-Up: NYY 7 DET 6 (Walk-Off)

As good as he was last season, the Yankees have always held their own against Justin Verlander.  They were looking to do the same last night and to get the focus back on the field and off the latest off-field drama.  Opposing Verlander was Ivan Nova, the man who has been the Yankees' best starting pitcher so far this season, but he would not have a good night.  Fortunately for the Yanks, Nova's struggles were just the opening act to the 9th inning theatrics.

Game Notes:

- Nova became the latest victim of Raul Ibanez's astoundingly bad defense in the 2nd, when Ibanez botched a sinking liner and turned a single into a triple to the wall. Don Kelly, who had walked to lead off the inning, scored from first.  It was definitely as .gif-worthy as Ibanez's flop in right field earlier in the season and I hope to have it soon.

- Even chalking that run up to Ibanez, it wasn't a very good night for Nova.  His command in the zone has been inconsistent and it was a tick worse last night, especially with the fastball.  He caught too much of the plate too many times and the Tigers hitters weren't missing, scoring 3 runs in the first 3 innings.

- Nova was off his game, but the Yankee offense did what they usually do off of Verlander and chipped away to keep the game close.  A-Rod led the way, scoring Curtis with an RBI single in the 1st and then smoking an opposite-field HR in the 3rd to make it 3-2.

- Russell Martin dusted his quiet bat off and cranked a 2-run homer to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead after 5 innings, but Nova promptly gave back 2 runs on 7 pitches and exited with just 1 out and 2 men on in the top of the 6th.

- The bullpen took over from there and held the Tigers scoreless through 3.2 innings, setting up the late-inning drama.  D-Rob and Mo were very strong, striking out 3 in their 2 innings.

- Joe had yet to get tossed this year, but got the gate in the 7th after arguing balls and strikes with Joe West, who may have been a contributing factor to Nova's rough night.  If Joe was looking to spark the Yankee offense, he certainly got the result he was looking for, as a pair of singles from Robinson Cano and Rodriguez and a Mark Teixeira sac fly tied the game at 6 in the 8th.

- Jim Leyland decided to keep Jose Valverde on the bench in the bottom of the 9th and go with Brayan Villarreal and might have cost his team the game with that decision.  Jeter worked a 1-out walk, took 3rd base on a wild pitch, and scored on a heads up baserunning play after a passed ball by Alex Avila to win the game.  Not your usual walk-off win, but a win nonetheless.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 4/27

Another week has come and gone, Yankee fans, and this one really wasn't much different than the last one.  The rotation is still in a state of inconsistent disarray, the lineup hits like gangbusters when it wants to and then goes to sleep at inopportune moments of close games, and the bullpen is straight shutting shit down.  When all that is happening and the Yanks are still only 1 game back of the division lead, I'm a happy camper.  This team hasn't even begun to hit its stride yet and its still one of the best in baseball.  They get the chance to get a little momentum going this weekend back at home against the Tigers, a team they'll likely see in the postseason if/when they make it.  Onto the links!

- On Monday, Lisa Swan of Subway Squawkers weighed in on the latest Michael Pineda developments and the Yankees' position on handling him since the trade.  I can't imagine she felt any better after the labral tear was announced.

- On Tuesday, Andrew Corselli of Yanks Go Yard got his praise in for Derek Jeter's phenomenal start to the season, and also took the time to point out Jeter's low BB rate, which could be a good or bad thing for him moving forward.

- Travis G of Pinstripe Alley took an interesting approach to analyzing Mark Teixeira when he compared Teix's first 3 seasons as a Yankee to Jason Giambi's, the previous big-money first baseman.

- On Wednesday, Josh Norris of Minor Matters posted the first part of his interview with Rick Down, the Yankees' hitting coordinator.  I particularly enjoyed Down's "hitting is like handwriting" theory.

- Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily also hopped on the interview train, sitting down the ambidextrous wonder, Pat Venditte.

- On Thursday, Eric Schultz of TYA put together an excellent piece examining the history of labrum tears in pitchers and how it all adds up to predicting Pineda's recovery path.  Not sure if that post made me feel better or worse about the injury, but it's very informative and worth a read.

- Mike Axisa of RAB shined the spotlight on the 3-4 spots in the Yankee lineup and how weak they've been thus far this season.  While it's certainly worth pointing out how well the offense has done as a whole without production from those spots, it's also fair to say, "hey, Robbie?  Alex?  You guys wanna wake up now?"

- Donnie Collins of the SWB Blog had some details on the sale of the SWB Yankees.

- Fishjam25 of Yankees Fans Unite proposed an interesting scenario when he suggested the Yankees convert Dave Robertson to a starting pitcher.  I understand his logic, but D-Rob never being a starter at any time in his pro career is a big red flag for me.

- Brien Jackson of IIATMS had a much better worded and well thought out reaction than mine as he searched for somebody to hold accountable for the Pineda injury.

- Normally I would never link to him, but Andrew Marchand of ESPN actually did a solid job with this piece, in which Curt Schilling describes his return from a torn labrum and the optimism he has that Pineda can make a full recovery.

- On Friday, el duque of It Is High... spoke on the possibility of John and Suze being gone again after this season if the Yankees get moved to FM radio.

It's been a little rock heavy in the Friday Jam world recently, so I'm changing that up today and going with a little Pusha T/Tyler, the Creator collabo.  I don't care who you are, where you're from, and whether or not you even like rap music.  If this beat doesn't at least make you head bob a little bit, you have problems.  If I was a professional baseball player, this would absolutely be my "walking to the plate before an AB" music.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Andy Pettitte: From Luxury To Necessity

(Courtesy of The AP)

Andy Pettitte wasn't supposed to be icing on the cake for the rotation this season, he was supposed to be the sprinkles on the ice cream that sat on top of the icing on the cake.  For the better part of spring camp after his signing was made official, all the talk was about how the Yankees were 7 deep in the rotation, 10 deep if you counted Phelps-Mitchell-Warren, and a dozen deep if you wanted to throw ManBan and Betances into the mix.  I myself discussed the idea of what should or shouldn't be done with Pettitte if he's ready to pitch and the rotation is solid.

How quickly things can change, huh?  Suddenly the Yankee rotation is looking just as weak and potentially just as thin as it has for the past couple seasons.  Michael Pineda is on the shelf for at least the next calendar year, Hiroki Kuroda has been up and down in his first 4 starts, Phil Hughes has been downright awful, and Freddy Garcia's next start will determine whether he gets labeled "more awful" than Hughes or "not quite as awful" as Hughes.

And still lingering in the background is Andy, fresh off his most recent rehab start on Wednesday, when he allowed 3 ER on 7 hits in 5 innings of work at Double-A.  After that game, he expressed some displeasure with himself and his performance for the first time since coming back, leading to questions about just how many more starts he will need to make before he is declared ready for the rotation.  Whenever that declaration is made, Andy will now not just be expected to waltz in on the pinstriped carpet and provide some innings here or there while people flock to take pictures of him; he's going to have to pitch well.

If Hughes and Garcia continue to struggle, Andy is going to be looked at to provide length and quality innings to solidify the back end of the rotation.  And while that certainly won't fluster a professional of his caliber with his track record, it's probably not what most of us were expecting to say about his return.  Andy was the de facto stopper for the rotation late in the 2009 season and through the World Series run.  He might have to take on a similar role with the 2012 rotation in May.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughts & Afterthoughts On The Pineda Situation

OK, it's not quite that bad, but it still definitely sucks.  The fallout from yesterday's revelation of Michael Pineda's torn labrum is still falling out, and I've got just as many opinions on the situation as everybody else.  Rather than try to compose them in a clearly-worded and orderly post, I'll take my usual easy way out and just stick to the bullet points.

- First off, anybody who wants to play the "Cash fucked up, we got sold a lemon!!!" card can just stop.  For a trade of this magnitude, and surely for every trade, the Yankees always put players through the full gauntlet of physicals and tests to make sure there are no health concerns before pulling the trigger and making the deal go through.  That's standard practice.

- There's no way that Cash, Levine, or anybody else from the organization who was involved in this deal would have gone through with it if anything showed up during the pre-trade physical that would have led them to believe there was a problem with Pineda's pitching shoulder.  If there was, and they still went through with a trade involving their top prospect, they would all deserve to be fired and would never hear the end of it in New York.  They know that, we know that, so just cut the crap with the doomsday theories.

Some Interesting Early Season Trends

The fun part about small sample sizes is the room for interpretation they leave when analyzing a player's numbers and trying to identify what he's doing right or wrong.  It's pretty easy to look at a full season's worth of stats and break down exactly what a guy did to end up with the numbers he had, but a much smaller sample can leave some ambiguity in there.  Here are some examples of early season trends for some Yankees and the varying levels of support that their stat profiles give in explaining those trends.

* Note- Stats referenced below do not include last night's game *

1) Derek Jeter's Resurgence

I went into this one fully expecting to see a huge change in contact percentages for Jeter this year compared to the last few.  When a 37-year-old shortstop who turns 38 in 2 months is sporting a .416/.439/.649 tripleslash and a .460 wOBA, I think that's a fair expectation.  I was thinking something like 25/45/30 LD/FB/GB.  Surprisingly enough, Jeter's contact breakdown so far in 2012 isn't all that different from his splits in 2011 or even 2010.  His current LD rate of 20.0% is only slightly better than the 19.0% he posted last season, although it is still higher and his highest LD rate since his last great year in '09.  His GB rate of 61.4% is only slightly lower than the 62.4% rate he had in 2011, and his FB rate of 18.6% is exactly the same.  While things like a much lower K rate (8.4%), much improved performance against RHP, and more power are obviously big contributing factors to Jeter's hot start, I really expected the contact splits to show a more dramatic increase in line drives and fly balls and they don't.  Jeter appears to still be hitting the same balls, he's just hitting them where they ain't.

2) Russell Martin's Lack Of Pop

Russell Martin has done next to nothing at the plate this season.  The guy has a .195/.400/.293 slash line right now.  Were it not for the 20.0% BB rate he's sporting, his wOBA (.339) and wRC+ (111) would look way worse and you could remove the "next to" from the first sentence of this section.  The biggest thing hurting Martin early on is his glaring lack of power.  A year after the home run was a big part of his offensive contribution, Martin has hit just 1 this year and has only 1 other XBH to speak of out of the 8 total hits he's accumulated, good for a .098 ISO.  His .241 BABIP, a career low, suggests some bad luck in there, but the dramatic increase in GB rate (63.3%, up from 47.3% in 2011) suggests something fundamentally wrong with Martin's swing.  It's worth mentioning that Martin's current K rate of 20.0% would be a career high, but judging from his BB rate he's clearly seeing the ball well, so maybe a session with Dr. Long is in order to bring a little juice back to Russ' bat.

More after the jump.

Game 18 Wrap-Up: TEX 7 NYY 3

(Not a visit you want to have in the 3rd.  Courtesy of The AP)

After getting the bad news on Michael Pineda's condition, the Yankees took the field in Arlington looking to take the series from the Rangers with Phil Hughes on the mound for the 4th time this season.  Hughes got a quick hook from Joe and it got no better from there.

Game Notes:

- Hughes retired the top of the Texas order on just 11 pitches in the bottom of the 1st, even throwing a couple changeups to Josh Hamilton, but then his usual demons reared their ugly heads.  Misplaced offspeed stuff in the zone, piss poor pitch sequencing, and a failure to put guys away with 2 strikes and 2 outs led to 4 runs in the first 3 innings for the Rangers.

- Hughes' fastball command also eluded him in the bottom of the 3rd, when he was either way outside the zone or catching the meaty parts of the plate.  2 hit batters on errant heaters is never a good sign, especially when the 2nd comes after a coaching visit to the mound, and Hughes was sent to the showers after just 2.2 IP.

- After stranding a runner in each of the first 3 innings, the Yankees broke through on a pair of singles by Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira and a ground-rule double from Raul Ibanez in the 4th and that was it for Texas starter Scott Feldman.  A sac fly by Eric Chavez cut the lead to 4-2.

- New fireman David Phelps was anything but last night, flashing little command and allowing 3 earned runs in what was easily his worst outing to date.  Hey, they can't all be gems.  Too bad this stinker had to come after the Yankees started to get back in the game.

- After the 4th inning, the Yankee offense was mostly silent.  Somebody named Robbie Ross shut them down for 2.2 innings after Feldman left, and they only managed 2 hits after that point in the game, one of them Ibanez's 3rd homer of the season.

- Just an all-around ugly night for the Yankees.  Their starting pitching was bad, their middle relief wasn't much better, and their offense was a non-factor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Pineda Has Labral Tear

Via Mark Feinsand and multiple other Yankee reporters, the diagnosis is in for Michael Pineda and it isn't good.

The 2nd MRI today revealed an anterior labral tear to his pitching shoulder.  Surgery has already been scheduled for next Tuesday and it will be performed by the same doctor who Pineda went to see today for the 2nd opinion.

This isn't quite as big of a worst-case scenario as it could be if it was the shoulder capsule, but typical recovery time from this type of injury is estimated in months, which means we aren't going to be seeing anything from Pineda in a Yankee uniform this year.

More on this story as it becomes available.

** UPDATES- 4:47PM **

- Via Feinsand, Cash confirmed that Pineda will be out for the rest of this season and stated the team believes the injury took place on the final pitch of Pineda's rehab outing on Saturday.

- Via Dan Barbarisi, doctors confirmed that there was no damage to the rotator cuff, which makes the injury less severe and gives reason to be optimistic that Pineda can make a full recovery.

** UPDATE- 10:19PM- Via Chad Jennings, doctors are "cautiously optimistic" that Pineda will recover well from the surgery because there is no rotator cuff damage.  Cash stated that Pineda passed all his physicals, no previous MRIs showed any damage, and he responded fine to regular resistance stretching and tests even right up before his start last Saturday. **

Can Phil Hughes Take The Next Step?

(Be this guy tonight, Phil.)

It's been a rocky start for Phil Hughes in 2012, even rockier when you consider how well he pitched in Spring Training.  But his most recent start last Thursday was a step in the right direction.  Despite giving up some runs on 2-out hits (aided by an Eduardo Nunez error) and a HR on a poorly-located pitch, Hughes' overall performance was better than in his first 2 starts.  He was more efficient than he had been, and despite his inability to consistently get ahead in the count (only 9/25 1st-pitch strikes) he managed to throw strikes and work deeper into the game than one would expect after the work he had to put in in the top of the 1st.  His fastball velocity continued to be good, his command of the pitch was improved, and his curveball was the best its looked to date.

The question is how Hughes will follow up that outing tonight against a much more dangerous offensive team.  We've seen CC and Kuroda both stymie the Ranger lineup through the first 2 games of this series, but they're pitchers that can be expected to do that more so than Hughes because of their more well-rounded repertoire and better command.  Hughes, after showing some improvement with his changeup in camp, has really not used it much in his early outings, and his curveball has still not been good enough to qualify as "good."  He needs to utilize those pitches better and throw them for strikes tonight to keep the Texas lineup from murdering his fastball.  Having seen what he's done with both pitches so far, the question has to be asked whether or not he can do it.

The combination of Hughes' improved 3rd outing and Freddy's BP session on Saturday have probably saved Hughes from being the primary target for rotation replacement for the time being.  He can go a long way towards solidifying his spot for the near future with a good outing against a good hitting team tonight.  In order to do so, though, he needs to build on his finish to his last outing and try to be a more complete pitcher.

The Right Man For Pineda's 2nd Opinion

As you know if you're a regular follower of the AB4AR Facebook Page, the results of Michael Pineda's dye contrast MRI were delayed yesterday after it was reported that his agent requested a 2nd opinion.  That request was made PRIOR to the completion of the MRI, which makes the situation slightly less stressful, but it still probably means more bad than good.

All I know is, if Pineda is getting this 2nd opinion today, there's only one doctor he should be seeing.

Game 17 Wrap-Up: TEX 2 NYY 0

(Nothing to be ashamed of, Hiroki.  Courtesy of The AP)

The quickly-hyped "Hiroki Kuroda vs. Yu Darvish" matchup was the focal point of last night's game, and it lived up to its billing.  Both pitchers showcased the best that Japan has to offer in what must have been a very prideful experience for all Japanese baseball fans.  In the end, Darvish was better and led his team to a 2-0 victory.

Game Notes:

- Kuroda was very good last night, but had a few hiccups that really cost him a great outing.  He gave up a leadoff homer to Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the 1st, then retired 8 of the next 9 batters he faced into the 3rd inning, 6 of them via groundout.

- With 2 outs in the 3rd, Kuroda gave up a walk to Elvis Andrus and an RBI single to Josh Hamilton to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead, then worked the next 4 innings scoreless with 4 strikeouts.  His stuff was very good, and his command much improved from his last outing, but a few offspeed pitches left a little too high up in the zone killed him.

- Darvish, on the other hand, was money.  He used 103 pitches to work through the first 7 innings, and it was easy to tell he was on his game as he struck out 9 batters (including the side in the 7th) with a dazzling array of moving fastballs and offspeed stuff and also got 9 groundball outs.

- As good as Darvish was, the Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the top of the 3rd.  They loaded the bases with no outs after a walk to Russell Martin sandwiched between 2 singles from Eric Chavez and Derek Jeter, but failed to score after Darvish battled out of the inning by striking out Curtis Granderson and inducing a double play off the bat of Alex Rodriguez.

- After that, the Yankees put a runner on base in every inning through 7, but never really mounted much of a rally against Darvish. 

- I wouldn't have blamed Ron Washington if he went to his 'pen after 7, even as good as Darvish was, but he showed confidence in Darvish and was rewarded with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th and even an out in the 9th.  Darvish gave his team length and dominant length at that in his 8 innings of work to earn the win, looking completely like a pitcher worth $112 million.

- Bullpen props to the Yankees' LOOGY crew of Rapada & Logan, who retired the 2 batters they faced, and Texas' Joe Nathan, who needed just one pitch to get a game-ending DP from Raul Ibanez.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wild World Of Eduardo Nunez

(Derp!  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Whether you love him or hate him, there's no denying that Eduardo Nunez is one of the most intriguing players on the Yankee roster.  Personally, I wouldn't put myself into either of the extreme categories, but I would definitely say I lean more towards the "hate" side.  I fully recognize the importance in keeping him on the roster as a viable utility infielder, and yet I can't help but cringe every time I see his name on the lineup card, hide my eyes every time a grounder is hit to him, and facepalm every time he swings way too hard at a pitch.

Through no intentional fault of his own, Eduardo has conditioned me to expect the worst when he's on the field, and yet somehow he always manages to contribute.  As we live and breathe right now, Nunez is tied for 3rd on the team in fWAR despite having less than half the plate appearances of most of the regulars in the lineup.  Let that sink in for a second. Eduardo Nunez has been more valuable so far in terms of WAR than Mark Teixeira.  He's been more valuable than Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher COMBINED.

I know full well it's a statistical byproduct of him working in a smaller sample size than everybody else in what is a still very young season, but I can't for the life of me logically figure out how Nunez does it.  He doesn't work counts or draw a lot of walks and seems to swing at more bad pitches than good, and yet he's got 10 hits already in his 30 PA and only 1 strikeout.  He bobbles more routine grounders in the field and throws more routine balls away than anybody I can remember, he's already got 2 errors on the season in limited time on the field, and yet he currently sports a positive defensive rating.  He gets picked off 1st base late in a game because he clumsily tripped over his own feet, and yet he's a perfect 3-for-3 in SB attempts on the year.

Joe is so enamored with Nunez that he's willingly penciling Eduardo's name into the DH spot on lineup cards despite the fact that his ISO is lower than that of Brett Gardner and Chris Stewart.  And Joe's practically falling all over himself to make excuses for "Nuney's" errors while discussing plans to use him more in the outfield.  I watch the guy play and I can't help but think of bumbling fools like Mr. Bean or Frank Drebin from the "Naked Gun" movies who fall ass backwards into their success, and yet here he is being talked about and utilized like he's the greatest bench player in the history of baseball.

In fairness to Nunez, I will say that I consider him a better utility IF option than guys like Ramiro Pena, Doug Bernier, and Brandon Laird, but I still don't see him being the answer as the next everyday Yankee shortstop after Jeter retires.  He's erratic, inconsistent, and downright unreliable at times.  But he's generating positive results early on, and small sample size or not, you can't argue with the results.  He's doing things to help his team win baseball games, and he's earning the right to be on the field.  In the slightly altered words of the great Wes Mantooth, I pure, straight don't like you, Eduardo Nunez.  But goddamn it, do I respect you.

Bumming On Pineda

There was a lot to be excited about after the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda in January.  Sure, it cost them their best hitting prospect since Derek Jeter and a useful arm for the bullpen or rotation, but the return that Pineda represented was worth it.  He was a big, power pitcher still years before his physical prime with a year of success at the Major League level already under his belt and many years of team control at minimal cost.  Pineda was exactly what the Yankees were looking for to solidify their rotation for the present and the future, and the idea of him and CC anchoring the top of that rotation for the next handful of years was certainly worth salivating over.  After the latest setback in his Extended ST rehab start on Saturday, however, it's starting to look more and more like 2012 is going to be a lost season for Pineda.

The dye contrast MRI that was scheduled for yesterday was pushed back to today, so we still don't know the extent of the damage to Pineda's right shoulder.  But it's a safe bet that given the amount of time he rested before starting to work his way back from the initial injury and the results of his Ext. ST outing, we won't be seeing him back in May or any time soon.  Naturally, the comparisons to Phil Hughes' 2011 season are going to be made, and it wouldn't be completely unfair to make them.  Like Hughes last year, Pineda came into camp this year not in the best shape, experienced a decrease in fastball velocity that he never regained, and ended up on the DL with shoulder problems.

Game 16 Wrap-Up: NYY 7 TEX 4

(Courtesy of The AP)

After yesterday's rainout, the Yankees headed to Texas to meet the AL's best team.  They had reason to be confident coming into the game because of the way they finished Saturday's dramatic comeback win at Fenway and because they had their ace on the mound.  In their first big test of the year to find out how good they are, the Yankees passed.

Game Notes:

- The Yankee offense is a code that Rangers' starter Derek Holland hasn't been able to crack in his previous 4 starts against New York, and that continued tonight.  The Yankees jumped on him early in the 1st inning thanks to a 2-out, 2-RBI single by C-Grand (the type of hit that gets you to heaven) and never let up.

- The crushing blow was a 3-run HR off the bat of Alex Rodriguez in the top of the 5th inning to make it a 6-1 Yankee lead.  He had seen a lot of pitches in his first 2 at-bats against Holland, both of them walks, and was looking fastball all the way on a 1-0 pitch.  Holland's fastball command was his enemy all night and the Yankees were all over it, no more than on that A-Rod swing.

- Whereas Holland's fastball command eluded him, CC Sabathia's continued its emergence from winter hibernation.  He allowed a cheap run in the 1st but was lights out through the 6th inning, the only blemish a HR by Josh Hamilton on a slider that stayed up in the 6th.

- The wheels looked like they were falling off in the 7th, when a walk and 2 straight doubles got the lead down to 7-4, but CC regrouped, got out of the inning, and then pitched a 1-2-3 8th on 3 groundball outs to get it to Mo.  The big guy was efficient, aggressive, and got a lot of bad swings on his fastball and slider.  The weather is starting to warm up and so is CC.

- Lot of contributors on offense tonight.  Derek Jeter with 4 hits, Cano with 2 and 2 RBI, A-Rod with the 3-R HR, Curtis with 2 RBI, and THE Chris Stewart with a double and 2 runs scored.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yanks-Sawx Thoughts & Afterthoughts

(Yeah, he was on the mark on Saturday.  Courtesy of The AP)

It had been a very hot and cold start to the season before the Yankees coming into the 100th anniversary party for Fenway on Friday.  They were getting more bad starts than good, and the offense was nowhere near clicking on even half its cylinders.  A year after we had to deal with the stupidity of the "too many home runs" theory about the offense, the Yankees came into this weekend not hitting very many at all, at least not from the guys you usually expect to hit them.  Well, after this weekend, I think anybody who was thinking of commenting on the lack of power from the Yankee lineup will have to reconsider, even if the pitching inconsistencies still linger.  Here's my take on the 2 games I didn't get to watch over the weekend.

I'm Back, What'd I Miss?



And the leader in the clubhouse for Yankee quote of the year, courtesy of Mr. Mark Teixeira:

“It’s baseball, and it’s hard to feel sorry for anybody.  That’s not a knock on (Bobby Valentine) or anybody, but you go out to win the game. I’ve never felt bad about winning games.”

Nor should you, Mark.  Not with the game you had on Saturday.  I have to say that watching the 7th-8th inning comeback on Saturday while standing at a craps table with my best friends while all of us were riding mini-hot streaks and yelling and cheering like maniacs was quite enjoyable.  Even more so when there was a guy at the other end of the table wearing a Fraud Sawx shirt.

(Photos courtesy of The AP)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Morning "1st Yanks-Sawx Series Of The Year And I'm Going Away" Linkapalooza: 4/20

It's been a long week, people.  A really long week.  My only saving grace from it is that I flew back to CT yesterday to see my family and more importantly, to attend a bachelor party with my best friends this weekend.  Somehow we lucked our way into one of the top-floor suites at Mohegan Sun and it's going to be an absolute disaster show.  And to be able to work some televised Yanks-Sawx action into that show is the icing on what will surely be a booze-soaked cake.  But first, onto the links!

- On Monday, Jay Jaffe of Pinstriped Bible examined the shift in Derek Jeter's numbers, specifically his lowered GB rate, that has contributed to his 2011 resurgence and great start to 2012.

- William Juliano of The Captain's Blog looked at Ivan Nova's elevated slider use since his 2011 demotion to Triple-A to show how Nova's early-season success is more than just luck.

- On Tuesday, SJK of NoMaas went "Seinfeld" on Chris Stewart's earth-shattering 3-RBI game, against the Twins, which is about as surefire a way to get into the Palooza as there is.  It actually would have been awesome if Stewart took off the catching gear mid-game and walked off the field.

- Travis G of Pinstripe Alley took a look at Hughes' early numbers in his first 2 starts and didn't find much to give himself confidence moving forward.

- Shawna Lent of Yanks Go Yard said not to let Jeter's hot start get you too excited about the possibility of him reaching 4,000 hits.  I would have to agree.  I don't see Jeter sticking around that long.

- On Wednesday, William Tasker of IIATMS checked in with his latest "State of the Yankees" address.

- Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily investigated whether the Yankees' front office strategy of looking for patient, high-OBP guys was actually hurting them in the postseason.

- Mike Axisa of RAB offered up the latest in his "Teixeira Analysis" series running this week, this post on Teix's BIP numbers from the left side.  If you check out that post, you can find links to the other 2 in the series from earlier in the week.

- Matt B of Yankees Fans Unite pointed out how Mo's durability during this time when closers are dropping like flies is another testament to his greatness.  If you're heaping praise on The G.O.A.T., I'm interested.

- On Thursday, Mike Eder of TYA continued his streak of stellar PITCHF/x analysis of opposing pitchers.  I cannot stress enough how much you need to be checking these posts out on the reg.  I can barely sit down to go through PITCHF/x data for one post because there's just so much going on.  Eder is doing it EVERY DAY.  If you want to have a great idea of what to expect from whatever starter the Yankees are facing each game, make these posts a must-read.

- Ray Rothfeldt of Zell's Pinstriped Blog commented on the early struggles of the starting rotation and set his expectations for the returns of Andy and Michael Pineda.

- On Friday, The Mighty Casey of Bleeding Yankee Blue joined me in calling out Bobby V for his shenanigans and openly rooting for him to fail.

The downside to the bachelor party/Yanks-Sawx festivities is that I won't be bringing my computer with me, and so the blog will take a short hiatus over the next day or two.  I'm hoping to be coherent enough to catch up with the events I missed by Sunday afternoon, but that might be up in the air as well as we're all planning on hitting up a bar to check out the "Sunday Night Baseball" game.  By Monday I'll be back and things will start operating normally again, but you're going to have to survive without your daily AB4AR fix for the majority of this weekend.

With that, I leave you with the Friday Jam, which is this classic from STP.  Take care, enjoy your weekends, and I'll be back in a few days.  Go Yankees!

Game 13 Wrap-Up: NYY 7 MIN 6

(Job well done, gentlemen.  Courtesy of The AP)

Phil Hughes had to be feeling the heat coming into his 3rd start last night, whether he wanted to admit it or not.  It wasn't a great performance by him, but it was better than his first 2, and it was enough to get the Yankees a win they needed to leave home with a 2-2 series.

Game Notes:

- Things certainly didn't look great early for Hughes, who gave up 4 runs in the top of the 1st inning.  Eduardo Nunez and his inability to make the most basic of baseball plays had something to do with that, but Hughes gave up a pair of 2-run scoring hits with 2 outs, a calling card of his, and the Yanks were down 4-0 before they even came to bat.

- Like the other night, the Yankee offense made like The Empire and struck back in the top of the 1st thanks to a pair of homers from Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.  They followed that up with 3 more runs in the 2nd and never looked back.

- If you had Curtis playing in your fantasy baseball league last night, you're a happy camper this morning.  He hit 3 HR on the night, giving him a team-leading 6 for the year, and becoming the first name in the new Yankee Stadium record book to accomplish the feat.

- Hughes settled down after the first inning and worked through the 5th without allowing a run and only 2 baserunners.  His fastball command was pretty good and his curveball was as good as it's looked since ST.  He gave up a HR in the top of the 6th to end his night, but overall it was a step in the right direction.

- The bullpen trinity of SoRoMo preserved the win with 3 scoreless innings.

- At some point soon, Joe might want to scrap the shift on defense.  I haven't seen or read about the Yankees successfully pulling it off yet.  Stop trying to be Joe Maddon and just play your guys where they usually play.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Grandy Man Can

Yes. Yes he can.

Mark Teixeira Is Powerless (And That's OK)

There's been a major power shortage in the middle of the Yankee lineup so far this season.  If the team weren't still winning ballgames, and if the rotation didn't have its own issues, it would probably be a bigger a story.  Guys like Robbie Cano and A-Rod get a little leeway because of their track records, especially with Cano starting to break out last night.  For Mark Teixeira, however, the situation might not be so cushy.  As we all know by now, Teix is coming off 3 straight years of declining production and the devolution to an all-or-nothing power hitter from the left side of the plate, a far cry from his not-so-long-ago heyday as one of the best all-around hitters in baseball.  Teix spent plenty of time this past offseason working on his swing from the left side to help right some of the wrongs he's developed over the last 3 years of swinging for the short porch, but so far that has not translated into a whole lot of success at the plate.  Some people might be ready to push the panic button on him, but looking a little deeper at the numbers, I don't see a reason to be concerned just yet.

Of Teixeira's 12 hits so far this year, 7 have come from the left side of the plate and 5 have come from the right.  He only has 3 XBH hits, all of them doubles, and all 3 of those have come as a lefty.  That translates into a .333 SLG, .067 ISO, and .316 wOBA.  In sample sizes as small as these, there's not a whole lot to be taken from those stats, unattractive as they may be.  The contact and walk/strikeout rates can tell a little more as they speak to changes in Teix's approach, and positive changes at that.

Game 12 Wrap-Up: MIN 6 NYY 5

(With a Yankee loss and Ranger loss on the same night, I looked the same way around 10:30 PM.  Courtesy of The AP)

With CC starting to come around in the later innings of start on Tuesday night and Kuroda coming off a gem last Friday, the top of the Yankee rotation appeared to be settling in.  It didn't take long for Kuroda to be unsettled last night.

Game Notes:

- Things should have been looking up for Hiroki Kuroda after his Yankee Stadium debut last Friday, when he was absolutely brilliant.  He was anything but last night and it started immediately in the top of the 1st when he allowed 4 ER on 5 hits against the first 6 batters he faced.

- Kuroda was much better in the 2nd, and in the 4th, but he gave up another run in the 3rd inning and another in the 5th on Justin Morneau's 2nd HR of the game and that was it for Kuroda.  His sinker was absolutely horrible all night; he couldn't get it down at all and the Twins just killed it, Morneau in particular.

- The Yankee offense did their damnedest to keep Kuroda in the game early, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st and another in the 3rd.  Robinson Cano led the charge, the power in his bat suddenly awakening with a double and a homer in his first 2 at-bats of the game.

- After the Cano HR, the offense never generated many threats the rest of the way.  They had 2 on, 1 out in the bottom of the 7th and couldn't convert, with Nick Swisher striking out to strand Jeter and Teix to end the inning.

- With as poorly as Kuroda pitched, give a call to the bullpen trio of Rapada, Logan, and Soriano for pitching a scoreless 4.2 innings to keep their team in the game.  Logan was really good, striking out 4 in 2 innings.

- Derek Jeter continued to be the best power hitter on the team, hitting a solo HR in the bottom of the 9th to make things interesting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Brett Gardner To The DL

Mark Feinsand is reporting that the Yankees have put Brett Gardner on the DL and called up righty reliever Cody Eppley to take his place on the active roster.

Gardner was a late scratch for tonight's game due to what was called right elbow stiffness, but a move made this quickly certainly suggests something worse.  Gardner had a great night last night, but could have hurt himself making that sliding catch in the 6th.

Little surprised to see Eppley get the call over better players.  Methinks it's Joe planning for a war of bullpen attrition against Bahhston this weekend, and that somebody like Dewayne Wise or C-Dick will get the call-up afterwards to replace the lineup depth.  More on this story to come as details become available.

** UPDATE- 4/19, 7:38 AM- Sweeny Murti reporting that Gardner has a bone bruise and a strain of the right elbow and confirmed that the injury was sustained when Gardner made the diving/sliding catch on Tuesday night. **

Raul Ibanez Is In Right Field Tonight

I wish I were joking people, but I'm not.  Joe gave Swish the DH spot tonight and he's Raul back in right.

On the negative side, this:

On the positive side, maybe he'll give me something new and even funnier to use tomorrow.

Game 11 Wrap-Up: NYY 8 MIN 3

After a so-so first 2 starts that were more about survival than dominance, everybody was hoping this would be the night CC Sabathia started to find his command.  After a rough first few innings, he certainly gave Yankee fans a lot to be happy about and turned in a vintage CC performance.

Game Notes:

- CC started off looking like he was going to put on an encore performance from his first 2 starts, allowing 3 ER and 4 hits through 3 innings.  Once the offense got him the lead in the bottom of the 3rd, however, he was a different pitcher and worked the next 4.1 scoreless.

- From the 4th inning on, Sabathia's fastball command was the best its been all year and he used it to pound the zone, throw strikes, and work from ahead in the count.  That's a dangerous place to be as a hitter against someone with CC's arsenal and the Twins had no answer, managing just a walk after the 3rd.  CC sat down 13 in a row from the first out in the 3rd through the 2nd out in the 7th.

- Francisco Liriano has never had much success against New York and that trend continued last night.  He was either walking guys or leaving meaty pitches over the plate to hit, and the Yankees didn't miss.  When Brett Gardner is taking you for ground rule doubles and Chris Stewart is smoking base hits to left, it's probably time to hit the showers.

- Almost everybody got in on the action for the Yankee offense, with 5 guys each getting 2 hits, 5 guys driving in a run, and 3 guys scoring more than 2 runs.  The biggest stars were the UNusual suspects- Gardner, Stewart, and Andruw Jones, who cracked his 2nd HR of the year.

- After CC departed in the 8th, D-Rob came on to get 2 outs and Cory Wade closed out the 9th to get the Yanks back in the W column and back above .500.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chris Stewart Is The New Hotness

I think my exact words when the Yankees made the Kontos-Stewart trade and sent Frankie down to the Minors were:

"If there's one thing that Chris Stewart brings to the table, it's an elite-level bat.  You might get lucky on some offspeed stuff away every now and then, but you flat out aren't sneaking an inside fastball past this guy.  Make even the smallest mistake and he's going to make you pay."

And sure enough, guy is out there raking tonight.  Making Bill Dickey in his prime look like Rube from "Major League 2."

So to review:

- Francisco Cervelli = Old and Busted

- Chris Stewart = New Hotness

Pineda Throwing Bullpens Again

As if the Andy Pettitte 2012 Comeback Party and the Phil Hughes Early-Season Struggle Extravaganza weren't enough to stoke the rotation fire, the party could be getting crowded again in the next month or so with yesterday's news that Michael Pineda threw a 25-pitch bullpen session yesterday and reported no pain or problems with his right shoulder.

The word, according to Mark Carig, is that Pineda will throw another 'pen session sometime later this week and then who knows from there.  If he comes through without any further problems, the next logical step would be a MiL rehab assignment.  But with recent memories of Hughes' shoulder problems last year still fresh in everybody's mind, it wouldn't surprise me if the Yankees played it extra careful with Pineda.  If I were a betting man, I'd say we see Andy back in the rotation before Big Mike.

Attempting To Predict Andy's Return Date

Andy Pettitte is coming. While the 5 guys currently in the rotation work to find their games and get where they need to be, the fact remains that Pettitte, barring injury, is going to be ready to join the rotation at some point in the near future. With the way his first 2 comeback/rehab starts have gone, and yes I say this knowing full well they were against High-A hitters, it looks like that date is going to come sooner rather than later. Pettitte has been effective and efficient in both of his first 2 starts, throwing 79 pitches in 7 total innings of work, and according to scouts who were on-hand to watch him Sunday, his stuff progressed very nicely from the 1st start to the 2nd. With all of that in mind, let's have a little fun and try to figure out exactly when Andy might make his return.

Joe has said already that he envisions Andy making 5 or 6 starts as part of his extended ST to build his arm and leg strength up to game shape, and he said last Sunday that he considered Andy's Sunday outing to be number 2 in that series. Andy's pitch count was 25 in his first outing and he threw 32, and it was reportedly somewhere around 45 Sunday and he threw 47. That number is still nowhere near the level he will need to be stretched out to in order to be an effective starter at the Major League level, so I think it's a safe bet to assume he will make the additional 4 starts that were a part of the plan before the Yankees even consider bringing him back. Joe also said yesterday that the plan was for Andy's pitch count to increase by about 15 in his next outing.

Considering those bits of info, and the fact that Andy received an extra day of rest between start 1 and start 2, it will be important to balance out the expected increases in pitch count over these next 4 starts while getting him back onto a regular rest cycle, which appears to be the plan heading into his next scheduled start on Friday. Combining all these factors together into a pitching plan for the remainder of his starts, I anticipate we will see something like this:
  • 3rd Start: April 20th- Regular Rest- Pitch Count of 60-70 Pitches
  • 4th Start: April 25th- Regular Rest- Pitch Count of 75-80 Pitches
  • 5th Start: April 30th- Regular Rest- Pitch Count of 85-90 Pitches
  • 6th Start: May 5th- Regular Rest- Pitch Count of 95-100 Pitches

Game 10 Wrap-Up: MIN 7 NYY 3

(Web Gem?  Courtesy of Getty Images)

The only way I could think of to ruin a "Carl Pavano in Yankee Stadium" outing would be to lose to him, and unfortunately for the Yankees that's exactly what happened last night.  Freddy Garcia wasn't very good, Pavano surprisingly was, and the Bombers find themselves back at .500 for the moment.

Game Notes:

- Freddy Garcia had problems finding and keeping the ball anywhere near the strike zone in his first start in Baltimore.  Tonight, it was the exact opposite.  Too often, Freddy was leaving pitches right in the center of the zone last night and the Twins hitters capitalized on it, especially with 2 outs.

- Freddy's outing was a reverse poop sandwich, with the poop as the bread in the 1st inning and late 5th-early 6th innings when he gave up 5 earned runs on 9 hits and the meat in the middle being the 2nd-4th innings when he retired 9 in a row, 6 on groundballs.  His control was better tonight than in his first start, but he wasn't commanding anything where he wanted to in the zone.

- Carl Pavano certainly looked up the challenge of matching Freddy hit for hit when he opened the bottom of the 1st by giving up back-to-back HRs to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson on 4 pitches, but he managed to settle down after that and efficiently worked his way through 7 innings, only allowing 5 more baserunners in the process and striking out 6.

- Pavano's curveball was working, but I still have to call out the Yankee offense for making it easy for him after the 1st.  They only got 1 ball out of the infield after the 3rd inning, and Pavano is not an overpowering pitcher by any stretch of the imagination.  You have to put some good swings on pitches.

- Little surprised to see Joe go to Rapada and not Soriano in the 9th, just to get Soriano some more work, but after Cory Wade gave up the 2 runs in the 8th, I guess Joe decided to keep that card in the deck for a game he felt better about winning.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Brief Message To Carl Pavano

(The question was, "What was your favorite part about making $40 million to do next to nothing?" Courtesy of The AP)

Hey Carl,

How's it going, man?  Good?  Great.  That's great.  Glad to hear it.  I heard you were coming back into town tonight and I just wanted to remind you that I haven't forgotten about your time in New York.  I'm sure a lot of other people have moved on, have let bygones be bygones, and are happy for you for picking your career up off the scrap heap and putting it back together, but not me.  I still think you're a dirty liar and a piece of crap for flat out stealing $40 million during your time here.  I certainly hope you've spent that money well and have some nice knick-knacks in your place to remind you of how badly you snowed the Yankees and Yankee fans everywhere.

And when you come back to The Stadium tonight, don't expect a warm welcome.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way and you're going to be booed.  You should be booed.  Part of me wishes that tonight just turns into an endless barrage by the Yankee bats upon you and your pedestrian offerings.  I want every pitch to either be a home run or a comebacker off the very same buttcheek and rib that you injured while you were here.  I know that won't happen, so I'll settle for a repeat of last night's beatdown of the Angels' staff, but know that you're still the enemy, you're always going to be the enemy (at least in my eyes) and I wish you no success in tonight's outing or any of your future outings hereafter.

If that makes me a crummy person, so be it.  I don't pretend to be a great one and I certainly don't pretend like I don't still have bad memories about your time as a Yankee.  If other people have moved on and are happy for you now, more power to them.  I'm not, and I hope the Yankee offense beats you the F down tonight.  Best of luck to you tonight, guy.



** UPDATE 6:33PM- The first 2 at-bats in the bottom of the 1st LITERALLY could not have gone any better than they did. **

P.S.- When are pitchers going to learn that you can't miss inside against C-Grand with his new swing?  He's going to park it in the seats.

Bobby V Making Himself Right At Home In Bahhston

(You should probably be sitting here if you're going to mouth off, dude)

All this "consistently covering the Yankees" stuff has got me slipping on one of my true passions in life, that of course being bagging on the Fraud Sawx and their crumbling mess of an organization.  And DAMN, am I missing some good stuff.  We're barely over a week into the season and shit's already starting to play out like a season of "The Real World."  Let's go to the quote book!

Game 9 Wrap-Up: NYY 11 LAA 5 (With Bonus Thoughts & Afterthoughts)

(Ahoy, Captain.  Courtesy of The AP)

One of the few times I can stomach ESPN is when they have the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball.  Last night was one of those nights, so everybody gets a bonus batch of my brand of analysis.  You're welcome.

Game Notes:

- Jerome Williams experienced the same fate as Phil Hughes the day before, failing to consistently throw his fastball for strikes and leaving the ball up in the zone, and as a result he wasn't around long.  The Yankees punished him for 5 ER on 5 H and 3 BB in just 2.2 IP.

- Ivan Nova pitched very similar to how he did in his first start last night, flashing a mid-90s fastball that he generally commanded to both sides of the plate and a killer curve that he got plenty of swings and misses on.  He did miss spots here and there and give up some hits, but once again there was never the sense that he was in real danger in his 6 innings of work.

- After the Yankee offense knocked Williams out in the 3rd, the big hit was Jeter's 3-run HR to right in the 4th inning to make it an 8-1 game.  Classic Jeter power swing, and one that's been MIA for the last few seasons.

- In the late innings, with the Angels threatening to climb back into it, the Yankees shut the door with D-Rob and Logan in the 8th-9th innings and a monster 2-R HR from Raul Ibanez for some insurance.  Game, set, match, start spreadin' the news.