Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As The A-Rod Turns (And Walks Back To The Dugout Frowning After Striking Out)

(#Failboat.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

I ended my last A-Rod post with the following statement:

“Maybe the best move to start is to see how the opposing team approaches A-Rod and hope that he finds his power swing. If he doesn’t, though, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and bump him down.”

4 days and 2 ALDS games have passed since then, and in case you hadn’t noticed, Alex Rodriguez is still swinging a limp, lifeless bat. It’s not quite “dogs and cats living together” levels of hysteria in Yankeeland over this situation, but the overwhelming majority of people out there think it’s time for A-Rod to be removed from the 3rd spot in the batting order, and I’m becoming more and more inclined to agree with them. As Mike Eder pointed out earlier today, playoff performance and statistics always need to be looked at in the proper context, that context being one of constant small sample size and lack of reasonable conclusions that can be drawn for them.

Keeping that in mind, it’s certainly overkill to say that A-Rod sucks based solely on his production in the first 2 games of this series. But expanding that sample size scope beyond just the ALDS, it’s clear that those numbers have not just been an isolated SSS fluke, but rather a continuation of a trend that started the day Rodriguez came off the DL.

In Praise Of Joe's Recent Job Performance

(This guy was pretty fun, though.  Courtesy of the AP)

It’s no secret around AB4AR that I’m not a Joe Girardi guy. I wasn’t a Joe Torre guy either, and I will readily admit that I think Girardi does a much better job than his predecessor, but I’m still not a Joe Girardi guy. To be honest, I’m really not sure why I’m not. As someone who embraces all things statistical and sabermetric when it comes to baseball and writes for 2 analytical, stat-based Yankee blogs, I should be bowing at the altar of Joe and his bullpen binder, but I just don’t. There’s something about the way he manages that always leaves me thinking he made his move a little too early or a little too late, and I get very tired of his paint-by-numbers coachspeak when discussing players who are in a slump or stretches where the team as a whole isn’t playing good baseball. Why am I spelling all of this out right now? Because so far in the postseason, small 2-game sample size that it is, I’ve been a huge fan of the job Joe’s done.

2012 ALDS Game 2 Thoughts & Afterthoughts: BAL 3 NYY 2

(Sadly, this was the highlight of the night for the Yankees and it happened in the 1st inning.  Courtesy of the AP)

Game 1 was fantastic.  Just lovely.  The fact that the score was 2-2 heading into the 9th inning didn't even register with me because there was never a moment that I wasn't confident the Yankees were winning that game.  They thoroughly outplayed the Orioles in every facet of the game, and were it not for a couple of ill-timed base running gaffes, that game could have very well ended up a JV version of the Game 162 Massacre.  Anytime I can end a night not drunk as shit, angry as hell, and using multiple curse words in multiple continuous "Game Notes" bullet points, that's a good night for me.

Game 2 had a similar "advantage-Yankees" feel to it heading in.  The offense was facing a possibly gassed, definitely ineffective starter pitcher who they had already seen 4 times in the regular season, they were rolling out the man responsible for the most postseason wins in the history of baseball and a guy who lives for games like this, and they forced Buck to buck the trend (see what I did there?) and insert more lefties into his lineup against a left-handed starter in an attempt to give his offense a jump-start.

There was definitely a feeling of desperation in the air on the Orioles' side, and justifiably so.  Heading to New York down 0-2 is not a confidence-boosting scenario.  The Yankees needed to keep their focus and keep their intensity, not take a deep breath after getting 1 on the road, to really put some pressure on Baltimore.  They put pressure on, but the focus didn't seem to be all there in another frustrating, sloppily-played, boatload-of-opportunities-missed loss to even the series.