Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trade Deadline News: Yanks Get McGehee And Add Another Bullpen Arm...

The Dempster rumors turned out to be smoke, but the Yankees did make a small deal, acquiring infielder Casey McGehee from Pittsburgh for Chad Qualls.  McGehee, a former Brewer, hasn't come close to matching his career season of 2010 these last 2 years, but he can play third and has some pop from the right side.  With Teix missing at least the next couple of games, this was the Yankees' biggest need and McGehee is an upgrade over Ramiro Pena.

The bigger part of this deal is that by moving Qualls, the Yankees clear up a roster spot for Joba Chamberlain, who is going to be activated tonight.  I haven't seen any official reports of it yet, but it sounds like a done deal.  For the first time since June 5th of last year, Joba will be in a New York Yankee uniform and available to pitch out of the New York Yankee bullpen.  That's great news for him and the bullpen, who need another non-matchup arm in the worst way.

Welcome back, Joba.  Now somebody do me a favor and HIT THE FUCKING MUSIC!!!

Inside An Ugly Stretch Of Yankee Baseball

(Game-ending strikeouts are the worst kind of strikeouts.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

As the final few hours before today's trade deadline tick down, the Yankees find themselves in a strange position.  The high of their fantastic 34-13 run that stretched into the middle of this month has been replaced by the low of their current 3-8 streak that started, interestingly enough, in Oakland, the same city where the previously-mentioned hot streak started at the end of May.  The overall quality of play has been lacking, the W-L results have been less than satisfactory, and the injury problems that have plagued major contributors since Spring Training have stayed ever-present, now shifting their torture to the middle of the order.  The Yankees still have a relatively healthy 6.5-game lead in the division, 7 in the loss column, but the outlook is far less comforting as it was just a few weeks ago.

What, exactly, has been happening over these past 2 weeks to change the mood in Yankeeland?  How could the Yankees go from flying high to stuck in the mud so quickly?  The answer, as usual, is in the numbers.

BREAKING NEWS: Update On Teixiera's Wrist

Well at least we can all breathe a sigh on relief on this injury scare.

Via Chad Jennings of LoHud, the results are in on Teix's MRI and they're as positive as they could be.  The MRI showed no structural damage in his wrist and he was given a cortisone injection.  The official diagnosis is inflammation of the left wrist, and the plan right now is to see how he responds to the cortisone and evaluate the wrist again in 3 days.

This is certainly better than any kind of worst-case scenario we could have imagined after hearing about Joe's "big concern" last night.  There's no word on whether or not Teix will have to go on the DL for the injury, and I wouldn't expect one until the re-evaluation of his wrist is done in 3 days, but for now this is good news.

Game 102 Wrap-Up: BAL 5 NYY 4

(At least Ichiro had something to smile about.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

It's been slowly bubbling beneath the surface for the last 2 weeks, started to rise on Sunday night after the second straight not-quite-comeback loss to Bahhston, and can completely surface after another loss in similar fashion last night.  That "it" is the fact that the Yankees aren't playing good baseball right now.  They aren't getting great start pitching, they aren't getting timely hits, and their bullpen work has been uneven at best.  They're 3-8 in their last 11 games and things have become more of a struggle since A-Rod went on the DL.  They're doing just enough to stay in games, but not enough to win them, and it's frustrating.  More potential injury problems to key members of the lineup only adds to the frustration.

Game Notes:

- Eric Chavez put the Yankees on the board first with an RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd.  Gonzalez helped the cause by balking Raul Ibanez to second with 2 outs, but give Ibanez credit for scoring from second; seems like the Yanks haven't been doing enough of that lately.

- Garcia worked easily through the 1st, but after that he started to get hit hard and hit often.  He gave up a double to Adam Jones to lead off the top of the 2nd, a HR to Wilson Betemit to lead off the 3rd, 2 more hits in that inning and in the 4th, and only a trio of double plays prevented the damage from being worse.

- Ironically enough, it was a pair of sac flies that gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead in the 5th.  But they came after Garcia gave up 2 hits to start the inning.  He just wasn't hitting his spots and wasn't fooling anybody with his stuff.

- Ibanez scored the Yankees' first run in the 2nd inning, and he scored their 2nd in the 5th.  Didn't have to hustle too hard for that one, though, as he smacked another HR to right to make it 3-2.

- Boone Logan hadn't pitched since last Tuesday, and had only faced 4 batters in the last 10 days, and it showed after he struck out the first 2 batters relieving Garcia in the 7th.  Logan completely fell apart, walking Omar Quintanilla, giving up an RBI double to Nick Markakis, and having another run charged to him when David Phelps came in and gave up a single to J.J. Hardy.

- The real news on that play was Mark Teixiera leaving after making a diving attempt at Hardy's single. He was shaking his left hand after the play and although X-rays were negative after the game, Joe didn't sound optimistic in his postgame comments.

- Chavez answered right back in the bottom half with a solo HR and his 2nd RBI of the night to make it 5-3.  And then Ichiro followed that up with his first career Yankee homer to make it 5-4.  At least the bottom of the order was nice enough to show up last night.

- After Joe almost overmanaged his bullpen into more late-game innings allowed, the Yankees had a great chance for a 9th-inning comeback after Nick Swisher led off with a ground rule double.  But the bottom of the order, who had been the only source of offense all night, couldn't get it done and the streak of mediocrity continues.

Monday, July 30, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Mark Teixeira Leaves Tonight's Game With Wrist Injury

When the injury clouds rain on Yankeeland, they pour.  Mark Teixiera left tonight's game against the Orioles in the 7th inning after injuring his left wrist diving for a ball off the bat of J.J. Hardy.  He was shaking his hand and flexing his wrist on the field right after the play and was replaced on the field in the next inning.

Multiple Yankee beat guys are reporting that Teix is scheduled to go for tests on the injured wrist tomorrow, and Joe Girardi called the injury a "big concern."  There are some reports that he got an X-ray after leaving the game, but that hasn't been confirmed and results are unknown.  Needless to say this is not good news if  you're a Yankee fan.  More details on this story as they become available.

** UPDATE- 9:33PM- Joe confirmed that Teix is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow and said "we'll keep our fingers crossed."  That statement paired with the "big concern" line pretty much tells the story of where this is going.  Not good at all. **

** UPDATE- 9:53PM- Teix said he actually hurt the wrist on a swing in last night's game but tried to play through it tonight and aggravated it on the dive in the 7th. **

** UPDATE- 10:08PM- Via Marc Carig, X-rays on Teix's wrist came back negative, so at least that's a little bit of good news. **

Gary Sanchez & Mason Williams Get A High-A Education

(Sanchez photo courtesy of Tim Priddy/Four Seam Images, Williams courtesy of Tyrone Walker/The Post and Courier)

No matter what order you'd rank them personally, there's little doubt that Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams are the 2 best Yankee position prospects right now (and yes, the order in which I just mentioned them is how I would rank them).  With the way the top-tier pitching prospects have faltered this season, it's not much of a stretch to say that Sanchez and Williams are the best Yankee organizational prospects period.  When you're blessed with the natural physical gifts and core baseball tools in the way that these guys are, you're going to rise up the prospect board pretty quickly and that's exactly what Sanchez and Williams have done in the early part of their careers.

Their individual successes in 2012 earned them each a promotion to High-A Tampa recently, and last Friday Kiley McDaniel of ESPN posted a scouting assessment of the Tampa Yankees, including a very detailed scouting report on Sanchez and Williams based on what he'd seen since their call-ups.  It's an Insider-only piece, and the details of McDaniel's report paint a very positive picture of where both players are right now in their development.  The report also points out the weaknesses in Williams' and Sanchez's respective games, weaknesses that are starting to be exposed more now that they're facing a better level of competition, and sets the stage for the next step in their prospect evolution and future scouting evaluations as they finally get to a level where natural tools aren't enough to get by.

Andy Pettitte's Non-Setbacking Setback

There was a bit of breaking news prior to last night's game involving Andy Pettitte and his rehab from his broken ankle.  There were reports that he had pushed himself too hard while working out in Seattle (which I still say is completely stupid) and was going to have to back off for an undetermined amount of time.  Seeing as how he was already scheduled for a return sometime in September, that undetermined amount of time could put his return at all this season into jeopardy.

Quick to quell the rumor mill before it could get started too much, Cash, via Ken Davidoff, said that Andy did NOT suffer a setback but rather experienced the "ebb and flow of rehab."  I don't know about you, but that sounds like the definition of a setback to me.

So that raises the all-important question.  Is what happened to Andy, whatever it was, a setback or not?  Is it a setback... or isn't it?  That's the question.

/grabs a bottle of Hennigan's

Think about that for a while.

Game 101 Wrap-Up: BOS 3 NYY 2

(Sad Raul is sad.  Courtesy of The AP)

It was a frustrating game last night.  The Yankees got great starting pitching from Hiroki Kuroda but couldn't do much against an inconsistent Felix Doubront.  They were able to muster up a little late-game offense to tie it up and force extra innings, but that ended up being nothing more than a moral victory after they lost the lead and the game in the 10th.  If you're interested in my thoughts on the game as it unfolded, check out last night's live blog.

Game Notes:

- Need proof that Kuroda got jobbed last night?  Of the 24 outs he recorded, 15 of them were on the ground and only 2 left the infield. 2 of the 7 hits he allowed were groundballs that found holes, and 1 was a line drive right at Derek Jeter that Jeter probably should have caught.

- Kuroda was very good last night.  He once again had his slider working to perfection to right-handers, and although he couldn't get the downward break on his splitter that he had the previous 2 starts, he made up for it by having a solid sinker and a lively 4-seamer.

- Doubront had really good stuff last night, and he should get credit for that.  15 swinging strikes out of 64 (23.44%) is nothing to sneeze at.  But he also battled inconsistency with his fastball, and left more than a few hittable pitches over the plate.  The Yankee offense just didn't do much with them.

- The 1-4 hitters for the Yanks last night (Jeter, C-Grand, Teix, Cano) were a combined 1-19 with 1 BB, 6 K, and 6 LOB.  That's just not going to get it done against any pitcher, whether he's commanding his stuff or not.

- Of course Russell Martin showed up on a night where nobody else did.  As I told my buddy Gary last night via text, Martin has one of these games every 12-15, so we probably shouldn't expect to hear much from him offensively until about the second week of August.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

AB4AR Yanks-Sawx "Return Of Swish" Live Blog

(Pimp juice.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

It was implied when Joe used him as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th last night, and it was made official when tonight's lineup was posted.  Nick Swisher is back.  Not all the way back, as he's the DH tonight and not playing his usual spot in right field, but being healthy enough to swing the bat and run the bases is a step in the right direction and the Yankees could certainly use Swish back in the lineup to help lengthen it a bit.

The Bombers are looking to bounce back from last night's 9th inning disappointment to get the series win, and based on the way he pitched last time out, they've got the right man for the job in Hiroki Kuroda.  There's some weather in the area again, which is good if you're looking for a symbolic final cleansing of last night's loss but not so great if you're live blogging the game like me and hoping that rain delays don't drag this thing out until midnight.  Hopefully the heavy stuff clears through and stays away once the game starts.

Yankee Starting Lineup-

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

SP) Hiroki Kuroda- RHP

First pitch is scheduled for just after 8PM Eastern/7PM Central.  Regardless of Mother Nature's cooperation in making that happen, I'll be back sometime right around 7 to kick this live blog off right.  Go Yankees!

Teix Turns His Swag On

The impact was felt only briefly, thanks to Curtis Granderson's Scott Smalls impression in the bottom of the 9th, but hands down the biggest moment of last night's game was Mark Teixeira taking Vicente Padilla yard one pitch after Padilla tried to clown him with a 51 MPH floater and then pimping the ever-loving shit out of it by standing and admiring the shot and doing the slow walk down the first baseline.

One of the biggest criticisms of Teix has always been that he's got the personality of a black-and-white photograph of a bowl of plain oatmeal, and it's a fair criticism.  The guy is a bit of a stiff.  So to watch him admire a home run in such an exaggerated fashion, a fashion that was almost as over-the-top as a Barry Bonds or David Ortiz performance, brought a smile to my face.  Teix has been having a great month, and he's going to be looked to even more with A-Rod on the shelf.

I don't expect him to step to the plate tonight with a bunch of gold Jesus chains on, or start his own series of complicated handshakes in the dugout, but it was good to see that Teix does have some personality in there.  In that moment last night, his swag was on a hundred-thousand-trillion and it was fucking awesome.

Game 100 Wrap-Up: BOS 8 NYY 6

(Failboat.  Courtesy of The AP)

On paper, this should have been a cake matchup for the Yankees yesterday.  CC Sabathia had been pitching pretty well since coming off the DL, Jon Lester had been pitching like absolute garbage for pretty much the entire season.  But as the old saying goes, that's why they play the game.  There was a pretty significant rain delay that pushed back the start of this game, and there's no way to know for sure if that had any effect on CC, but he was not sharp and put his team in a pretty big hole.  They managed to climb out, only to be kicked back down again in the 9th inning on one of the worst defensive plays you'll ever see.

Game Notes:

- Sabathia struck out Jacoby Ellsbury to start the game, then gave up a bunch of well-struck hits that led to 3 Fraud Sawx runs in the top of the 1st.  The big hits were doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Will Middlebrooks on 4-seamers that were up and over the plate.

- Lester looked good through his first 2 innings of work, but made a mistake in the 3rd, to Chris Stewart of all people, and Stewart hit his first home run of the season to make it 3-1 Bahhston.

- CC settled down and worked through the 4th inning without issue, but with 2 outs in the 5th his command started to elude him again.  He gave up a single to Pedro Ciriaco, walked Dustin Pedroia, and grooved a first-pitch slider that Gonzalez crushed for a 3-run homer and a 6-1 lead.

- The lineup quickly worked to pick CC up in the bottom half of the 5th.  Andruw Jones led off with a walk and came around to score on Jayson Nix's 2-run home run.  After another walk and an Ichiro single, Derek Jeter scraped another run across on a groundout and it was 6-4.

- Joe got one more inning out of CC then went to David Phelps in the 7th.  As he has done since being recalled, Phelps was fantastic in his 2 innings of work, striking out the side in the top of the 8th to keep the Yanks within striking distance.

- And strike they did in the bottom of the 8th, in one of the most badass ways imaginable.  Vicent Padilla was on to pitch, and after giving up a leadoff single to pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, he got to face his mortal enemy Mark Teixeira with 2 outs.

- After throwing an eephus pitch for a strike, Padilla tried to come back with a fastball 2-1 and Teix was waiting for it.  He launched it deep into right field for a game-tying 2-run homer and did his best Barry Bonds impression walking almost a third of the way down the first base line to watch it before starting his trip around the bases.

- The Stadium was rocking after the Teix bomb, but were quickly quieted in the 9th.  Rafael Soriano came on and walked Ellsbury with 1 out.  Ciriaco was up next and hit a line drive to center that Curtis Granderson couldn't have made a worse play on.  He came in first, then got turned around trying to recover, and fell on his ass reaching for the ball as it landed over his head for a triple.  It was a truly horrible play by C-Grand and after Ciriaco came home on a sac fly to make it 8-6, the Yankees' goose was cooked.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thinking About Other Possible Trade Targets

(This guy WOULD look good in pinstripes... )

The Yankee trade talk has quieted down a bit since the Ichiro deal and the initial boom in hypotheticals in response to the Alex Rodriguez injury, but it's never wise to consider Cash "done" until the trade deadline has passed.  There are still a few days until the happens, and with Eric Chavez hobbled by an HBP last night, production from the catcher position still inconsistent and underwhelming, and the natural connection of the Yankees to any big name pitcher who may be available, it's still worth at least talking about what the Yankees could do.  At the moment there is nothing to indicate that the Yankees are or will be involved in major negotiations about any of the gentlemen mentioned below, but here's my takes on a few players whose services could fit the Yankees' future wants and current needs.

Game 99 Wrap-Up: NYY 10 BOS 3

(A whole lotta something sorta Grand-ish.  Courtesy of The AP)

Gonna have to make this one quick.  Damn internet at the apartment has been crapping out all last night and all this morning.  Plus the game was so one-side that I don't really need to waste a whole lot of words describing what everybody already knows.  But in case you missed it, here are the highlights.

Game Notes:

- Mark Teixeira's hustle down the line and the Fraud Sawx's laziness in trying to turn 2 kept the bottom of the 1st alive for the Yankees, and Raul Ibanez made that count with a 2-run homer to make it 3-1 New York early.

- Bahhston would keep it close through 3 and a half innings thanks to 3 solo home runs off of Yankees' starter Phil Hughes, but that was all they would get as Hughes settled down and managed to work 7 innings.

- The lead was extended from 4-3 to 6-3 in the bottom of the 4th on an Ichiro Suzuki single and a Russell Martin 2-run HR.  Always good to see the bottom of the order producing.

- Props to Joe for sticking with Hughes despite Hughes having to work hard through 5 innings and clearly not having his best command, and props to Hughes for rewarding Joe's faith by retiring the sides in the 6th and 7th in order.

- Curtis Granderson had the final big blow in the bottom of the 8th to cap off his day with a 2-out grand slam in the bottom of the 8th, his 28th HR of the season.  It was a GRANDERSLAM!  Nailed it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Joba's Return Right Around The Corner

(A Joba fist pump right now would be the kitty's titties.  Courtesy of Audrey Tiernan/MCT)

It would be super mega-awesome if Joba returned to the bullpen (and the mound) this weekend.  From a storyline perspective, it wouldn't get much better than having him return at home against the hated, struggling Fraud Sawx, blow them away with some high-90s smoke, and walk off the mound with a triumphant fist pump.  The newspapers would eat it up, fans would eat it up, it would provide some much needed positive energy after the Yankees' rough West Coast trip, and it would make it fun to watch the BBTN guys try to spin the story in a way that poo-poo'd the Yankees and made excuses for the Fraud Sawx.

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 7/27

One of, if not the single worst thing about working in the corporate world is meetings.  People always want to have meetings, are constantly scheduling and re-scheduling meetings, and are leaving meetings early so they can go to other meetings.  My company thrives on meetings.  Not in the sense that we do good business because of our ability to have good meetings, but in the sense that people around the office flat out cannot function without scheduling meetings.  You can be in the middle of a discussion with one person or multiple people about some topic, working towards a solution, and out of the blue some mouth-breathing manager will say, "let's schedule a meeting" and boom!  Conversation over.  It's maddening.  If you have to schedule a meeting to better prepare yourself for a topic that you were just discussing, you should not be in charge of people.  You should be driving an ice cream truck or working as a ticket taker at the county fair.  Anywho, onto the links!

- It's from last Saturday, but Josh Norris of Minor Matters scored another interview with Yankees' pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras.  Definitely a must-read to get Contreras' take on guys like Jose Campos and Mark Montgomery.

- On Tuesday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog did what he does best and composed a well-reasoned, logical analysis of the Ichiro trade.

- Fishjam25 of Yankees Fans Unite interviewed 2012 1st-round pick Ty Hensley.  Lots of good self-analysis by Hensley on his stuff and commentary on the shoulder abnormality MRI.

- Joe Pawlikowski of RAB examined Hiroki Kuroda's numbers this year and how they've helped disprove, at least for Kuroda, the belief that NL pitchers can't get it done in the AL.

- Mike Eder of TYA broke down the changes in Phil Hughes' pitch selection and arm slot since April to show how he's improved since then as the season has progressed.

- Vizzini of NoMaas had a pretty good idea for a minor trade that could shore up the Yankees' catching situation, and sound support for why it makes sense for Cash to do it.

- On Wedneday, Kate Conroy of LLP started looking ahead to the month of August and the tough schedule that awaits the Yankees.

- Matt Imbrogno of TYA built off of JoePaw's post and compared Kuroda's results on his sinker and slider from April/May to the results from June/July to ID one of the sources of Kuroda's turnaround.

- Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily mused on a couple of potential replacements for Swish that the Yankees could target at the deadline.  It would be against their usual MO, but still sound strategy.

- William Tasker looked at Curtis Granderson's ridiculously bad defensive metrics this season and wondered how they could influence the Yankees' future plans for him.

- On Thursday, Jimmy Kraft of Yanks Go Yard gave his thoughts on the Ichiro trade and why Ichiro is a good addition in the outfield for the Yankees.

- Andrew Mearns of Pinstripe Alley issued an open letter to Joe Girardi on his problems with Joe's bullpen management this season.  As someone who is always harder on Joe for his 'pen mgmt. than everybody else, I approve Andrew's message.

- On Friday, Chad Jennings of LoHud got some quotes from Ichiro on his thoughts about playing in Yankee Stadium as a member of the Yankees for the first time this weekend.

For the Friday Jam, I'm going to play a huh-YUUUUGE nerd card here, almost as big as the nerd card I could play by mentioning my comic book knowledge, and admit that I am picking this weeks' song, "This Fire Burns" by Killswitch Engage by the way, because of WWE.  I watched the 1,000th episode of "Monday Night Raw" on Monday night (duh), and when CM Punk jumped back in the ring and clotheslined The Rock I marked out HARD!  The Rock blows these days and I'm ashamed to admit I used to root for him when I was 13, so it was awesome to see CM Punk upstage him and completely wreck his shit to close the show.  I'm praying that Punk's clothesline was the start of a huge heel turn, and him coming out to his original WWE entrance song, which is not a bad song by any means, would be a great way to get that storyline going.

There you go, people.  I work 40-50 hours a week in a lowly cubicle monkey job, I worship and write about the Yankees, I drink a lot of beer, I use way more movie and TV show lines in my everyday conversation than any grown man should, and I watch wrestling.  This is my life.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.  Be on the lookout for a live blog for Yanks-Sawx on Sunday night.

Nick Swisher's Return & Adjusting A Horse-Less Lineup

(Hopefully this guy returns tomorrow.  Courtesy of Barton Silverman/NY Times)

The lineup was already a bit short without Nick Swisher this week, and it got even shorter with Tuesday's injury to Alex Rodriguez.  The Yankees managed to get by on Wednesday thanks to Jayson Nix's big 8th-inning double, but the team has a glaring lack of right-handed power right now with by Swish and The Horse riding the pine.  Swisher took some BP earlier in the week and all signs point to him making a return to the lineup this weekend against Bahhston, likely Saturday.  A-Rod, of course, is going to be out much longer than that, which still leaves the Yankees with just Swisher, Teix, and Andruw Jones as the only real sources of righty power in the lineup.  With a shortened lineup and a lack of right-handed pop, now would be an appropriate time for Joe to do some lineup juggling and match up even more against RHP/LHP.  If I were calling the shots, here's how I'd do it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let's Give A Call To The Bench

They haven't gotten a whole lot of ink this season while the majority of the focus has been on the injuries, RISP Fail, and starting rotation, but the contributions of the Yankee bench this season should not be going unnoticed.  Their collective role has become more important with the injuries suffered by everyday players in the lineup and Joe's need to keep the older players in the starting lineup fresh with regular rest and DH days, and across the board the bench guys have lived up to those roles.  Their importance is only going to increase with Alex Rodriguez down and out for the next 6-8 weeks, and much like certain unsung members of the bullpen earlier in the season, the ability of these unsung bench bodies to produce could be the extra little boost the Yankees need to keep marching forward and not miss a beat with A-Rod gone.

Game 98 Wrap-Up: NYY 5 SEA 2

(That's why he wears the "C."  Courtesy of The AP)

Well it took almost 100 games this season, which is later than it's been in recent seasons, but the Yankees finally had to play their first game without A-Rod due to injury yesterday afternoon.  Eric Chavez got the start at third base in his place, both Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones were in the lineup to fill out the DH and OF spots, and Joe went with a 1-2 of Ichiro and Derek Jeter in the batting order to attempt to keep the middle of the lineup as deep as possible.  Ivan Nova was the starting pitcher against Hisashi Iwakuma, and the Yanks were looking to at least salvage something from this series with a win.

Game Notes:

- Jeter isn't the first name that comes to mind when discussing making up for A-Rod's lost power in the lineup, but he sure looked powerful hitting a 1-out homer to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st.

- Of course Nova gave the lead right back in the bottom half.  The soft liner singles weren't the problem; they happen.  The back-to-back walks to load the bases and force in a run were, and they led to another run on a fielder's choice in the next AB.  Can't give shitty teams free baserunners.

- Keeping the "missed opportunities" theme from yesterday going, the Yankees put at least 1 runner on base in every inning against Iwakuma, 2 each in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, and came away with no more runs to add to Jeter's leadoff HR.

- It took Oliver Perez, yes THAT Oliver Perez, relieving Iwakuma in the top of the 6th to get a 1-2-3 inning for Seattle.  Go figure.

- Nova kept the Mariners at 2 runs through 5 innings, but he didn't have much in the way of command and was yanked for Clay Rapada after walking the first 2 batters in the bottom of the 6th, his 5th and 6th walks of the day.

- Rapada and David Phelps did the job, and the lineup FINALLY put enough timely hits together to recapture the lead in the top of the 8th.  The big blow was a pinch-hit bases-clearing double by Jayson Nix, and Russell Martin followed up with an RBI single to make it 5-2 Yanks.

- D-Rob handled the 8th, Soriano the 9th, and the Yankees were able to enjoy their flight back to civilization with a series win.  After the weak LD barrage in the 1st inning, the Mariners managed just a single hit from then on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taking Stock Of The Internal Third Base Options

(SPOILER ALERT- Nobody on this list can replace this guy.  Courtesy of The AP)

The injury cloud that has hovered over the Yankees since Spring Training is still there and starting to rain on the position players now.  Alex Rodriguez is officially heading to the DL again, for what will surely be an extended period of time, and the Yankees are left with decisions to make about what to do to replace him in the immediate short term and long term for the remainder of the regular season.  Those decisions have an added level of urgency and intrigue connected to them with this injury butting up against the upcoming trade deadline.  Cash already made a splashy swerve move this week, but there certainly no talks being had about corner infielders.  As those talks start to heat up today, the Yankees will first look to their internal cache of fill-in options.

Game 97 Wrap-Up: SEA 4 NYY 2

(Hey look!  Another Yankee getting hit by a pitch!  Courtesy of The AP)

It had already been a frustrating game for the Yankees before they came to bat in the top of the 8th inning last night.  They had failed to capitalize on a litany of opportunities given to them by a not-so-sharp Felix Hernandez and found themselves trailing in the game after Freddy Garcia gave up just enough runs to the horrible Seattle lineup.  But all of that went out the window when Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the 8th and went down in pain, clutching his left hand.  It didn't look good, it didn't sound good, and the diagnosis after the game was not good.  The Yankees lost the game last night, but the loss of A-Rod could prove to be far more devastating.

Game Notes:

- Curtis Granderson got things started in the top of the 1st with a solo HR to make it 1-0 New York.  A-Rod walked but was quickly erased by a Robinson Cano GIDP.

- The lead didn't last long, as Michael Saunders took Freddy yard on a 1-0 fastball in the bottom of the 1st to tie things up.  It was about as horribly as one could locate a fastball, belt high and right over the middle of the plate.

- The Yankees got another 1-out walk in the 3rd, and just like in the 1st they immediately erased it with an inning-ending DP.  That's 4 inning-ending double plays in the first 12 innings of this series, if you were wondering.

- Freddy struck out the side in the 2nd, but gave up what would prove to be the game-losing runs in the 3rd.  An infield single off a deflection, a groundball single through the right side, a soft liner single to right, and a sac fly.  Nothing that major, but well placed and effective to make it 3-1 Seattle.

- The Yankees loaded the bases with 1 out in the top of the 4th on a pair of singles and a walk to Mark Teixeira, but could not plate a run as King Felix got the next 2 batters out.  Like I said, tons of missed opportunities.

- There was nothing to suggest that the A-Rod HBP was intentional, nor the one to Jeter earlier in the 8th inning or Ichiro earlier in the game, but if I'm Ivan Nova I'm laying a fastball in Michael Saunders' back tonight.  You just can't let 3 of your guys getting hit go like that, especially when one of them ends up on the DL because of it.

- As for the rest of the 8th inning, the Yankees once again had the bases loaded with 1 out, and scored a run on a Teix sac fly to make it 3-2.  But Joe left Raul Ibanez in to face a lefty (WHY??????) and Ibanez predictably struck out swinging to end the inning.

- After giving up the 3 runs early, Freddy settled down and actually retired the next 15 batters he faced in order before giving way to the bullpen with 1 out in the 8th, including 4 swinging strikeouts.  What started out looking like another disaster turned into a pretty solid outing for Garcia.

- Unfortunately, the mix-and-match crew in the 8th couldn't pick him up.  The infield RBI single by Kyle Seager was a fluke, but the 3 walks to load the bases weren't.  The call to intentionally walk Jesus Montero with 2 outs was also questionable.  Ballgame over, Yankees lose.

Well That's A Fine Way To Wake Up This Morning

(Un-friggin-believable.  Courtesy of The AP)

"Rodriguez has a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal near his left pinky."

The Horse is heading to the DL for 2 months.  Shittiest wakeup ever?  Shittiest wakeup ever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Joba=Beast Mode

I dropped a line about this on the AB4AR Page earlier this afternoon (hint, hint, "Like" that shit), but it definitely warrants its own post.

Cash was on "Boomer and Carton" this morning, a show I really miss and stupidly forget to put on every single morning when I get to the office, and he had some very interesting things to say about Joba's rehab.  Apparently, not only is Joba well ahead of schedule coming back from both TJS and his ankle surgery, but somewhere along the way he managed to transform back into the 21/22-year-old version of himself:

“Joba’s out of control.  The stuff he’s featuring is remarkable. He’s as high as 100 but upwards consistently 96, 97, 98. He looks really good...

So yeah, he’s due back here shortly. I mean, the worst-case scenario would be the first week of August, but he should be here ahead of that."

What's that you say?  Joba sitting upper 90s with the heater again?

/checks Fangraphs

Why he hasn't done that since 2007! Sounds like we got us a little Henry Rowengartner situation here.  This is great news indeed!  And it will be even better if he's still throwing that kind of smoke when he returns to the bullpen in the near future.  Say he's stupid for getting on the trampoline, say he's underachieved as a Yankee, say the Yankees should make him a starter again.  Say whatever you want about Joba.  But don't say he hasn't worked his ass off to get back this season, and don't say you aren't excited to see him take the mound again for the first time.

Now Joba just needs to get the 3 R's back into his routine and he'll be golden.

Thoughts On The Ichiro Trade

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Just as he did in January with the Montero-Pineda trade, and just as he's done in years past with other deadline moves, Ninja Cash came out of the tall grass with a trade that nobody saw coming with the deal that went down for Ichiro Suzuki yesterday.  And just as he did with guys like Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman, Cash added a declining former All Star whose skill set matches the Yankees' needs for little cost.  With Brett Gardner all but OFFICIALLY officially out for the season and Nick Swisher still tweaking upper leg muscles, the Yankees' need for some outfield depth increased, and rather than get tied up in discussion over prospects and salaries of some of the bigger-name guys reportedly on the market, Cash and Co. made the wise choice to go low-risk/high-reward again with Ichiro.  This has been the Yankees' trade deadline MO for a few years now, and if Ichiro pans out as well as some of the other recent moves have, it could be another steal.

What's The Plan For David Phelps?

(Pop quiz- Is Phelps starting or relieving in this picture?  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Or perhaps the more appropriate question to ask would be, IS there a plan for David Phelps? Despite performing admirably as both a starter and reliever for the Yankees this year, Phelps has been unable to nail down a set position and role on the staff, and has been shuttled from bullpen to rotation and from the Majors to the Minors almost non-stop since the season began on April 6th. Making the transition to the show is almost never easy for young players (unless you're Mike Trout), and as a pitcher with an ever-changing role it has probably been even more difficult for Phelps. Yet Phelps currently sports a very good 2.78/3.95/3.62 slash line on the year, and his 9.73 K/9 is tops on the team for pitchers who have thrown more than 45 innings this season.

At this point, the questions surrounding Phelps should have moved from the "what CAN the Yankees do with him?" to the "what SHOULD the Yankees do with him?" variety.  The problem in trying to answer that question is that the Yankees don't seem to have a clue, and the constant changing of Phelps' role is starting to make me a little nervous. Check Phelps' usage timeline from the start of the regular season:

Game 96 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 SEA 1

(Guess all the Yanks needed to get a win was another former All Star.  Courtesy of The AP)

Yesterday morning the headlines were dominated by the Yankees' getting swept out of Oakland and what it could mean (cue the scary music).  By the time yesterday evening rolled around, that all got pushed way onto the back burner to make room for the announcement of the Yankees trading for Ichiro Suzuki.  That story only got bigger as Ichiro sat down for a pregame press conference, was put on New York's active roster, and started the game in right field for the Bombers last night in Seattle.  Whether the Ichiro news served as a distraction in the clubhouse to get the Yankees' focus away from the Oakland sweep is unknown.  What is known is that they came out last night and got back in the W column.

Game Notes:

- The Yanks put a runner on in each of the first 2 innings only to have them erased by inning-ending double play balls off the bats of Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez.  I still don't understand how Kevin Millwood does it against these guys.

- New York starter Hiroki Kuroda worked around his own trouble in the 1nd inning after an A-Rod throwing error (been a couple of those lately) put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, but seemed to have his offspeed stuff working again.

- Seattle decided to run on Kuroda in the bottom of the 3rd and got a run because of it on a John Jaso groundball.  Seattle stole 2 bases off of Kuroda in the inning, but would only get the 1 as a strikeout of The Jesus ended the threat.

- The lineup finally solved the Millwood riddle in the top of the 4th.  A pair of doubles by A-Rod and Mark Teixeira sandwiched around a Robinson Cano walk scored 1 run, and follow-up RBI singles by Ibanez and Andruw Jones gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead that they would not surrender.

- Kuroda was absolutely filthy after getting the lead.  He faced the minimum from the 4th inning through the 7th and recorded all 12 of his outs on the infield (6 groundouts, 6 Ks).

- Attempting to further make up for his earlier defensive gaffe, A-Rod hit a solo shot to left center in the 8th for an insurance run.  It was on a ball a little bit down in the strike zone, so it was good to see A-Rod go and get it and hit it with power.

- No fooling around for Joe.  He went to D-Rob and Sour Puss to finish it off and they sat the sides down in order in the 8th and 9th, although Robertson had a scare when he slipped and rolled his ankle on his second-to-last pitch of the inning.  No hangover for Soriano from his blown save the other night.

- Final line on Ichiro in his Yankee debut: 1-4, 1 SB, 2 LOB.  He singled and stole second in the 3rd inning in his first career Yankee at-bat and got a much-deserved ovation from the Seattle crowd.

Monday, July 23, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Yankees Trade For Ichiro

Via Jack Curry, the Yankees have acquired outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for MiL pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.  There are also reports out that Seattle picked up a significant amount of the money that is still owed to Ichiro.

This move is obviously in reaction to the Brett Gardner "out for the year" news, but could also be a sign that things are more serious with Nick Swisher's hip flexor injury than they appear.  More details to come on this story as they become available.

** UPDATE- 5:49 PM- No word on a roster move, but Chad Jennings is reporting that Ichiro will be on the Yankees' active roster for tonight's game. **

** UPDATE- 5:55PM- Multiple Yankee beat writers reporting that Dewayne Wise has been DFA'd to clear a 25-man roster spot for Ichiro. **

** UPDATE- 6:06PM- According to Curry, the Yankees are only on the hook for $2.25 million of what's owed to Ichiro this season.  He was on a 5 year/$90 million deal, so you do the math.  This is shaping up to be a good deal for the Yankees. **

** UPDATE- 6:37PM- During his press conference, Ichiro said he asked the Mariners for a trade a couple weeks ago, was excited to play for a contender, and didn't want to be in the way of younger players with the Mariners being in rebuild mode.  He also confirmed that he would not wear jersey # 51 (not a surprise), and Joe stated that the Yankees plan to play Ichiro primarily in left field. **

** UPDATE- 7:09PM- Ichiro in the Yankee starting lineup tonight, playing right field and batting 8th.  There you go. **

Don't Sleep On C-Dick

While the Yankees continue to be connected to every outfielder who could conceivably be considered available right now, and go through the process of considering the variables associated with each, there's an in-house outfield option flying under the radar right now.  With the way he's been performing of late, he probably deserves at least a blip or two on the radar.

I'm talking about AB4AR favorite Chris Dickerson, AKA C. Diddy, AKA C-Dick.  He missed a lot of time early in the season with injuries, but since coming back he has posted a .281/.377/.451 slash line in 183 PA for Triple-A Empire State, good for a .380 wOBA.  He's been on a quiet tear in the last week too, with 11 H (3 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR), 10 R scored, and 6 BB in 37 PA.

Granted his production has been against lesser competition, and C-Dick has never shown a real ability to replicate his MiL success in the Majors, but he possesses a similar skill set to Gardner (takes walks, speed on the basepaths, plays above-average outfield defense) and could conceivably replicate what Gardner brings to the table if used properly.  The Yankees also wouldn't have to give up anything to add him to the 25-man roster, something that can't be said for the Shanes Victorino or Justins Upton of the world.

Just sayin'...

** UPDATE- 10:47PM- Just kiddin'... **

A Little Oak-Town Perspective

(Sad Yankees are sad.  Courtesy of The AP)

The sweep at the hands of the Oakland A's this past weekend sucked, no doubt about it.  Any time another team does something to the Yankees that they haven't done in 40 years it stings, but before everybody starts buying into the MSM's attempts to stir some shit up and raise the panic level to DEFCON 2, let's just take a step back and look at everything that went down.

Game 95 Wrap-Up: OAK 5 NYY 4

(#staytucked.  Courtesy of The AP)

Yesterday's loss was a bad one, no other way to say it.  The Yankees had a 4-0 lead in the 4th inning, appeared to have former teammate Bartolo Colon's number, had their ace on the mound, and still managed to lose their 4th straight 1-run game to Oakland.  The offense went completely to sleep after the 4th inning, scoring 0 runs for the rest of the game, Colon started to get things together long enough to give his team a chance to come back, the ace started giving up runs, and the bullpen completed the collapse by blowing the save in the 9th and giving up the winning run in the 12th.  It had already been a tough series for the Yankees, but yesterday's loss made it even worse.

Game Notes:

- After the teams traded scoreless frames through 2, the Yankees struck with a barrage of 4 straight singles to start the top of the 3rd, the last one an RBI knock for Mark Teixeira.  An Alex Rodriguez 2-run double with 1 out gave the Yankees an early 3-0 lead.

- That lead was extended on Curtis Granderson's solo homer in the top of the 4th inning and the Yankees looked like they were off and running.  They were jumping all over Colon's 2-seamer and it looked like only a matter of time before he completely caved.

- The A's finally got on the board in the bottom of the 5th, thanks to a pair of solo homers by Brandon Inge and Kurt Suzuki.  CC had been leaving some offspeed pitches a little higher in the zone than he wanted and it finally caught up to him, although there's no excuse for giving up a HR to Suzuki.

- After CC put a couple more runners on in the 6th, Jayson Nix's inability to smoothly turn 2 led to another Oakland run.  Nix was starting for Derek Jeter at short and bobbled the transfer before getting the ball to Robinson Cano for the throw.  4-3 Yanks.

- Despite the lack of offense after 4, the Yankees were still in position to win in the bottom of the 9th, but just as Sabathia had done, Rafael Soriano left a slider up just enough and Seth Smith hit it for a game-tying home run.

- The offense had 2 runners on in the 10th and 12th innings and could not bring anybody in.  After putting up 4 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk through 4 innings, the Yankee lineup mustered just 4 hits and 2 walks in 8 scoreless innings from then on.

- David Phelps came in for the 10th, got 2 strikeouts to start the 11th, and then was inexplicably removed for Clay Rapada to face Smith.  Going lefty-lefty for 1 batter in extra innings is a questionable move, regardless of what Smith had done earlier, and Phelps deserved to stay out there longer.

- The matchup game would come back to haunt the Yanks in the bottom of the 12th, when Joe went to Cody Eppley to replace Rapada and immediately watched Eppley repeat his Friday night performance, giving up 2 hits and the game-winning one to lefty-hitting Coco Crisp to finish up the sweep.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How "In On Everybody" Are The Yankees, Really?

(How much does this guy really know?)

Jon Heyman helped stir the trade talk pot with his report yesterday that the Yankees were "in on everybody" in looking for a replacement for Brett Gardner in left field.  His report built off of some of the already-existing rumors out there connecting the Yankees to guys like Shane Victorino, Denard Span, and Justin Upton, and also off of Thursday's news that Gardner will have arthroscopic surgery on his injured elbow and will likely miss the remainder of the season.  There hasn't been a whole lot of real evidence to support the Yankees really being THAT interested in any of the available trade targets, despite Heyman's quoting of a "rival executive," and in my opinion there's too much about these 3 that doesn't fit with the Yankees for any of them to be considered serious trade targets right now.

Game 94 Wrap-Up: OAK 2 NYY 1

- More good starting pitching.  7.2 innings of 2-run ball from Phil Hughes.

- More of this from the offense:

- A couple of solo home runs should never beat you, but that's essentially what this series has come down to so far.  The Yankees have one more chance to get something out of this series today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joba Back Before The End Of The Month?

(Joba's rehab has been smooth sailing so far.  Courtesy of John Munson/The Star-Ledger)

The question of whether or not Joba Chamberlain would be able to pitch by the end of this season seemed almost out of the question months ago.  Questioning whether or not he could come back by the end of July would have seemed certifiable, but that's just the scenario that George King of the NY Post posed this morning:

"The plan is for Chamberlain to throw a bullpen session Monday. The next test will have Chamberlain throw in back-to-back games. If he comes through that exercise with no problems, he could come off the disabled list before the end of July."

Joba's latest rehab outing was last night for High-A Tampa, and it was his first tough one.  He gave up a couple hits and an earned run, the first he's allowed since starting his rehab schedule, in 2 innings of work.  Reports of mid-to-high 90s speeds on the fastball have been consistent since his first outing, and there have been absolutely no reports of Joba feeling any kind of discomfort in his elbow or ankle, so assuming all goes well in this next week a return by the end of July isn't out of the cards.  But Joba does have until August 8th to complete his 30-day rehab assignment, and coming off of 2 serious injuries to his arm and leg is no joke.  I'd feel much more comfortable with the Yankees giving him more time than he needs to complete the assignment than just enough, current bullpen situation being what it is.

Extra Base Hits Still A Problem For Nova

Ivan Nova's early-season extra base hit issues took a backseat to a lot of other storylines over the past 2 months, but they've still always been there and are starting to become more problematic again.  Nova gave up 4 doubles and 1 triple last night, and in his 4 July starts he has allowed 14 total XBH in 24.2 IP, accounting for 45.16% of the total hits Nova has given up this month.  Nova's very good at limiting damaged when he puts runners on, but it's hard to overcome that many XBH.

For the season, Nova is still the AL leader in XBH allowed with 64, and he's comfortably ahead of second place man James Shield (52).  Nova has only walked 7 batters this month, so he's clearly made strides in improving his control and has seen some positive results from it.  But his command of his stuff is still not a great strength, and Nova's ability to establish some consistency there and locate pitches better inside the strike zone is what will determine whether he can be more than a #4 starter.

Game 93 Wrap-Up: OAK 3 NYY 2

(Still too many extra base hits, Ivan.  Courtesy of The AP)

I don't know if the Yankees left their bats in New York before making the trip out to Oakland or if Tommy Milone is really that good, but they didn't do a whole lot of damage again last night and lost another close game because of it.  Ivan Nova wasn't particularly sharp, but he did what he usually does and limited the damage to 2 runs to give his team a chance.  The Yankees just never mustered up enough offense to support him and ended up losing on a walk-off single in the 9th after coming back to tie the game at 2.

Game Notes:

- Nova loaded the bases in the bottom of the 1st but managed to escape without allowing a run.  He gave up 1 in the 3rd on a triple and a sac fly and another in the 4th on an RBI double by Brandon Inge.

- The Yankee offense didn't get a runner to second base until the top of the 6th when Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira singled.  Teix was thrown out trying to go first to third in the 4th inning, and Milone was just dominating the Yankees with his changeup.

- 6.2 innings of 2-run ball isn't terrible, but Nova struggled with his command in the strike zone all day, and the A's pounded him when he did.  5 of the 9 hits he gave up went for extra bases.

- Nick Swisher left the game after running out a ground ball in the 7th inning.  It looked like it was his pesky groin again, but postgame it was revealed to be a left hip flexor.  Doubt we'll see him for the rest of the series.

- Milone exited after 7 innings and 10 strikeouts, and the Yankees were finally able to put some runs on the board.  Russell Martin hit a solo HR to lead off the 8th inning and Robinson Cano hit one to lead off the 9th and it was a 2-2 game.

- With the game tied, Joe decided not to go with Soriano in the 9th and it cost him.  Cody Eppley came in after Clay Rapada got a strikeout and gave up 3 consecutive singles to allow the winning run to score.

- The Yankees' streak of consecutive games with at least 3 runs was broken at 43.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Afternoon Linkapalooza: 7/20

I don't have much to say today, people.  I'm tired, I'm cranky from a long week at work, I haven't slept particularly well all week, and all I want to do right now is get the hell out of my office so I can go watch "The Dark Knight Rises."  I honestly debated whether or not to wear my Batman t-shirt to work today to honor the occasion, and I plan on marking out really hard when I'm in the theater tonight.  I am such a child.  Onto the links!

- On Monday, William Juliano of The Captain's Blog attempted to educate the Yankee masses on the flawed logic in constantly booing A-Rod.  I was going to write something up on this same topic on Monday night.  After reading William's take, I'm glad I didn't; I couldn't have said it any better.

- On Tuesday, Matt Keegan of Pinstripe Alley examined the maturation of Corban Joseph's game that has led to his great MiL season.

- Vizzini of NoMaas offered a reminder of how the last couple Yankee trades worked out to put the upcoming deadline into perspective.

- On Wednesday, Greg Corcoran of Bronx Baseball Daily commented on the starting pitching logjam at the lower levels of the MiL system.  You can never have too much starting pitching, right?

- Matthew B of Yankees Fans Unite looked at Mark Teixeira's recent turnaround and hot July.

- Mike Eder of TYA analyzed CC's first start back from the DL with the PITCHf/x microscope and showed that the results were positive.

- On Thursday, el duque of It Is High... listed the top 10 moments in Darnell McDonald's long and storied Yankee career.

- Steve Goldman of Pinstripe Alley peered into the future to talk about what the Yankees can/will do to replace Nick Swisher.

- Chris Carelli of Yanks Go Yard discussed the solid all-around production coming from the Yankee bench recently, and the benefits of that production.

- On Friday, Mike Axisa of RAB released his much-anticipated post-draft Top 30 Prospects list.  Let the debates begin!

- William Tasker of IIATMS weighed the "Garcia or Phelps" options after Freddy's most recent rough outing in Oakland.

- Chad Jennings of LoHud broke down the current situation in left field with Brett Gardner now looking like he's going to miss the rest of the season.

For the Friday jam, we're going with some Rage Against The Machine.  If there's one band that I want to see officially get back together and record a new album, it's Rage.

Enjoy your weekends, everybody.

Game 92 Wrap-Up: OAK 4 NYY 3

("Try not throwing it over the plate."  Courtesy of The AP)

I hate West Coast trips.  The whole concept of time zones really becomes a bitch when you're going to bed and the Yankee game is still in the top of the 4th inning.  The Yankees certainly seemed to share my sentiments last night in the opening game of their 4-game weekend series in Oakland.  They didn't generate much firepower with their bats and Freddy Garcia got knocked around for the second straight time.  The A's are no joke, and they've been playing some good baseball over the past 2-3 weeks just like the Yankees have.  This is going to be a series.

Game Notes:

- No fast start for the lineup last night.  Instead the tables were turned when it was Oakland who struck in the 1st inning thanks to a Yoenis Cespedes 2-run HR.

- Garcia loaded the bases in the bottom of the 3rd and gave up 2 more runs when Seth Smith lined a 2-run single into center to make it 4-0 A's.

- The offense put runners on base in each of the first 2 innings, then got sat down in order through the 5th.  They were finally able to do something against A's starter A.J. Griffin in the 6th, when they loaded the bases with singles and cut the lead to 4-2 on a Mark Teixeira sac fly and a Nick Swisher single.

- David Phelps relieved Garcia in the 6th and threw 2.1 perfect innings of relief with 4 strikeouts.  Hmmm, maybe they should have started the kid, huh?  Phelps is locked in with his fastball command right now, and should get Garcia's rotation spot.

- Swish made it interesting in the top of the 9th with a solo HR to make it a 4-3 game, but Ryan Cook managed to close things out and put a temporary end to the Yankees' hot streak.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keep Doing The Damn Thing, Boys

With all the negative storylines that have dominated the Yankee talk this year, it would be easy to think they were having a down season.  They traded away their best prospect and lost the pitcher for whom they traded him for the season due to injury.  They've had major injuries to their most important relief pitchers and their best starters.  They've gotten inconsistent performances and declining production from key spots in the middle of their lineup.  And they are too one-dimensional without their speedy starting left fielder and rely too much on the home run to score runs and win games.

And yet despite all of that negativity, the Yankees find themselves 23 games over .500 with an MLB-best 57-34 record.  They've won 5 of 6 since the All Star break, 10 of 14 since the start of July, 26 of 35 since the start of interleague play, and 34 of 47 since their last West Coast trip.  They've got a +80 run differential, which is 2nd best in baseball by 1 run, they lead everybody in team wOBA (.348) and wRC+ (115), and are top 3 in the AL in team ERA (3.72) and FIP (3.88).  They've built a 10-game division lead in what is widely considered to be the best division in Major League Baseball, and have already started shoveling dirt on their competition for the division title.

Despite all the negative press from the MSM and occasional nitpicking from the blogosphere, it turns out that the Yankees are actually a pretty damn good baseball team.  They're also in the middle of a stretch where they're playing damn good team baseball.  They're hitting for average and power, getting good work from their pitching staff, and playing solid defense.  Everybody on the 25-man roster is getting a chance to contribute and it seems like everybody is contributing something when their name is penciled into the lineup card or their number is called from the bullpen.  It's good times in Yankeeland right now.

Game 91 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 TOR 0 (7 Inn.)

(How the game ended.  Courtesy of The AP)

Does any player better personify the continued irrelevancy of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East than Ricky Romero?  Every year we hear about how the Blue Jays are better than they were and ready to take the next step, and every year they underwhelm and finish 4th.  And every year we hear about how Ricky Romero is a future stud young lefty who can be a key to Toronto's rotation improvements, and every year he ends up being the same talented but underwhelming middle-of-the-rotation arm that he is.  He was facing Hiroki Kuroda yesterday in a series finale matinee, and he didn't fare too well at all.

Game Notes:

- The offense came out swinging in the bottom of the 1st.  A Derek Jeter double, Nick Swisher single, and Mark Teixeira 2-run homer and it was 3-0, and a Robinson Cano double and Andruw Jones single made it 4-0 before Romero had even recorded 2 outs.

- Kuroda was back on his game after a couple of subpar outings earlier in the month and it showed from the word "go."  He allowed just 1 hit through 3 innings, and got 8 of the 9 outs via the strikeout or groundout.

- After the top of the order got things started, it was the bottom half's turn to build on the early lead.  They tacked a run on in the 4th after Jayson Nix doubled and scored on a Dewayne Wise RBI single.  That duo teamed up again in the 6th for a pair of singles and the Yankees' 6th run of the day.

- He didn't rack up a high K total, but Kuroda finished just as strongly as he started.  He worked around a leadoff double in the 5th and a 2 on/1 out situation in the 7th, and he was in control all day.  He had the sinker working, the slider working, and the splitter working, and the Blue Jays were helpless against them.

- The only thing that was able to slow the Yankees down yesterday was the weather.  And when the rains came in the bottom of the 7th, the game was called and the Yankees had their sweep.  Perhaps more importantly, the bullpen got some rest.