Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wondering About David Phelps' Role

(Courtesy of The AP)

The late-spring injuries helped, but David Phelps definitely earned his spot on the Yankee 25-man roster with the job he did in Spring Training, and quickly made people take notice of him after his first few successful appearances out of the 'pen.  Since then, he's had a couple of rough outings, made a pair of spot starts, and been used in a variety of different scenarios as the pitching portion of the Yankee roster continued to change due to injuries.  The roster has been relatively stable since D-Rob hit the DL, and it seems like a good time to talk about just how, and where, Phelps fits in the bullpen hierarchy moving forward.

Mark Teixeira Is Still Powerless (And It's Not OK Anymore)

(CRIPES!!!  Courtesy of The AP)

Exactly 5 weeks ago, I wrote a post preaching patience and positive vibes in regards to Mark Teixeira's slow start. Stumbling out of the gate in April was nothing new for Teix, he was still in the process of getting used to the stance, swing, and approach changes that he worked on in the offseason to improve his performance from the left side of the plate, and there were enough positive things to take from his peripherals to suggest that he would eventually put everything together and get back to being the all-around effective hitter we thought we were getting when he signed his new contract in '08.

Well 5 weeks later and not only are we not seeing that putting together of everything, we're seeing Teix's production regress back to and beyond the troubling downward trend he's already been on. He currently sports a .229/.291/.386 tripleslash, a .294 wOBA, a .155 ISO, and a 81 wRC+. His .227 BABIP ranks 163rd out of the 172 hitters with enough ABs to qualify for the batting titles, and he's not drawing walks anymore (8.1% BB rate, which was boosted by his 3-walk night last night). Of the 14 extra base hits, 21 runs scored, and 21 RBI to his credit, 5, 6, and 8 of them respectively came in 2 games (4/21 against Boston and 5/14 against Baltimore). Teixeira has truly been all or nothing in the season's first 7 weeks.

Yankees For Sale?

I'm sure the Steinbrenners are happy to see the team put 2 consecutive wins together after this recent rough stretch of games, but I wasn't expecting to wake up this morning and read about them being interested in selling the team.

The Daily News ran a piece this morning speaking to exactly that, and they quoted multiple sources.  Both Randy Levine and Hal Steinbrenner were quick to shoot down the details of the story, but with what the Dodgers were able to fetch in their sale it's understandable for the Steinbrenners to at least be interested in seeing what they could get for the most decorated franchise in American sports history.

I don't expect to hear a lot more about this potential story given how emphatically Levine and Hal denied the report, but it's worth keeping on mental back burner for the next few days.

Game 44 Wrap-Up: NYY 8 KC 3

(The home run canter.  Courtesy of Reuters)

If you would have asked me before the season, I would have said that "Andy Pettitte vs. Will Smith" had to be among the most unlikely possible pitching matchups for the 2012 season.  And yet, those were the 2 guys on the mound last night for their respective clubs as the Yankees and Royals played the final game of this series.  Joe bumped Mark Teixeira up to the #3 spot against the lefty Smith, a move I'm not sure Teix has earned with the way he's been hitting lately.  But that's why he's the manager and I'm the lowly blogger.

Game Notes:

- The Yankees getting out to early leads is not something that has happened with regularity recently, but that's just what they did against Agent J in the bottom of the 1st.  In a move he probably learned from Ivan Nova, Smith threw a belt-high slider over the heart of the plate that Curtis Granderson absolutely crushed into the right field seats to put the Yanks on the board.

- After walking Teix 2 batters later, Smith had to face The Horse, and he went about it all wrong.  A-Rod might not have the same kick that he did in his prime, but he's still not the type of hitter to whom you can throw 6 consecutive fastballs and get away with it.  The 6th was lined into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead.

- You would think Smith had learned his lesson the first time, but there he was firing fastball after fastball again when A-Rod came up in the 3rd.  He fell behind 3-0, threw a fastball for strike 1, and then threw another one 3-1 that Rodriguez hit for his second 2-run HR of the game.  5-0 Yankees.

- Oh yeah, Andy Pettitte was pitching too.  He worked quickly and efficiently through the first 2 innings, but had to battle at times from then on.  He needed a great double play started by Teix to bail him out of the 3rd, and allowed a run each in the 4th and 5th on solo HR.

- The Yankee offense answered right back in the bottom of the 5th, plating 3 more runs after getting into another bases loaded, no outs situation.  It wasn't the most glamorous means to an end, more about patience and bad pitching than good hitting, but runs are runs.

- One thing Andy was last night was efficient, and that allowed him to pitch deep into the game again.  He threw a ton of strikes and he had really good stuff as he worked through 7 innings of 2-run ball, finally giving way to David Phelps to finish things off after walking Alex Gordon to start the 8th.

- No more runs for the offense after the 5th, even though they loaded the bases again in the 7th, but they didn't need any more.

- It was an all-around good night for the lineup, but they aren't totally out of the woods yet.  The RISP Fail issues are still present and the team only went 1-6 in that situation last night.