Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Joe Still Pushing The Right Buttons

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

I know I wasn't all that enthused to see that both Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki were out of the starting lineup last night, even with a lefty opposing pitcher on the mound.  I was even less enthused to see Eduardo Nunez batting leadoff in their place and was fully prepared to write this morning's post on Joe still leaning too hard on the matchup binder instead of just playing his best guys.  Naturally the team went off for 14 runs on 19 hits, Nunez went 2-6 with 2 R and 4 RBI at the top of the lineup, all 14 runs were driven in by right-handed batters, the Yankees won their 3rd in a row and 4th out of 5, and I was once again reminded why Joe is the manager of the New York Yankees and I'm a cubicle monkey Yankee blogger.

Preston Claiborne Also Onboard The Train To Regression Town

(Courtesy of the AP)

Bullpen issues seem to be a hot topic in Yankeeland these days, much hotter than they were earlier in the season.  From Boone Logan not getting lefties out as often as a lefty specialist should to Mariano Rivera blowing 3 straight saves to Joba Chamberlain ceasing to exist as a viable medium-leverage-and-up relief option, the Yankee 'pen hasn't been the strong, deep unit it was months back.  This is partly because the rotation hasn't been very good either and the bullpen has had to take on more innings, but it's also because some guys, mostly the young guys, have regressed from their pre-summer levels of performance.  Last week we took a look at Adam Warren's rough trip down the ladder, this week it's former walk-less wonder Preston Claiborne who's under the microscope.

Heathcott Back To The DL, Could Miss The Rest Of The Season

He had already set new career highs for games played (103) and plate appearances (444) this season, so I guess it's not a huge surprise that the injury bug finally caught up to Slade Heathcott.  As first reported by Nick Peruffo yesterday, Heathcott has been put on the DL with "right knee tendonopathy."  Coming on the heels of Tyler Austin's disappointing and injury-shortened season and a relatively "meh" season from Ramon Flores, this adds to the overall tough campaign for the top crop of Yankee OF prospects.

As someone with a very checkered injury history, this latest one comes as more cause for concern about Heathcott's future.  Per Peruffo, manager Tony Franklin said Heathcott's knee has been bothering him all season, not a good thing for somebody with hi.  Franklin also said that he thought it would only take rest for this injury to heal, but acknowledged Heathcott could miss the remainder of the season.  It's a shame too, since Heathcott had started hitting better recently and had his season batting line up to .261/.327/.411.  Hopefully there are no lingering effects of this injury and the season-long knee problems heading into 2014.

Mike Francesa Boomsauces Bill Madden

Normally I'm not a Francesa guy.  Most times I find him smug, rude to too many callers who don't deserve it, and not nearly as knowledgeable about baseball or sports in general as he thinks he is.  But one thing Mike does better than anybody is on-air interviews, especially when he's trying to use that interview to steer the conversation somewhere else, and he killed it yesterday with Bill Madden on the A-Rod steroid story.

If you haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, you can check out the whole thing here.  It's pretty lengthy and the first 15 minutes or so are just recapping what's already happened.  It starts getting good in the middle and it was pretty obvious that Mike had an axe to grind with Madden and the NY MSM in general for how they've singled out A-Rod and outlandishly run him through the mud.  The continued questioning about Madden's comparison of A-Rod to Whitey Bulger without any real justification for that from Madden and the heated nature of their exchange about the other names on that unreleased list of 100 players were great.

There hasn't been nearly enough of this in the New York media, so kudos to Francesa for taking Madden and really the rest of the MSM A-Rod haters with him to task yesterday.  Sorry, Bill.  You got roasted, bro.

Game 118 Wrap-Up: NYY 14 LAA 7

(Courtesy of the AP)

A winning streak.  A real actual winning streak.  It seems like so long ago since the Yankees had one of those.  They stood on the precipice of one last night, and once again Joe decided to throw out a questionable lineup to get it done.  I get playing the L/R matchups, but Gardner and Ichiro both out of the lineup and Eduardo Nunez in the leadoff spot?  I feel like this isn't the first or even second time this has happened this season.  I get ready to bash Joe for it every time, but damnit if it doesn't always work out in his favor.  Last night's win was fun, a nice stress-free blowout to send everybody to sleep happy.  For one game at least, we got a look at what the improved offense can actually do.

Game Notes:

- Not a fun start to CC Sabathia's night.  He struck out the first 2 batters he faced, walked Mike Trout with 2 strikes after Vernon Wells failed to get to a foul ball, and gave up a 2-run HR to Mark Trumbo to put the lineup in an immediate hole.

- Wells made up for it in the bottom of the 2nd by leading off the inning with his 11th home run of the season, and (FINALLY!!!!!) his first since May 15th.  Obviously in direct response to my post on his weak H/R splits.  I see you, Vernon.

- Wells helped push another run across in the 4th with a 1-out single, and the Yanks grabbed the lead in the 5th on a 2-run homer by Alfonso Soriano.  They weren't fooled at all by a returning Jason Vargas.  Not at all.

- Some bad defense and a few walks cost CC another run in the 3rd, and those walks almost came around to bite him again when he walked the bases loaded in the top of the 6th.  Wells (in on everything) bailed him out by starting an inning-ending double play.  Sure it was aided by a bad call, but the Yankees have been on the other end of that stick enough times to have one go their way.

- The Yanks got to the bullpen early, and in the bottom of the 6th they struck against the soft underbelly of the middle relief.  The key at-bat was probably the Lyle Overbay walk to put 2 on and nobody out.  The loudest at-bat was Alex Rodriguez's 2-run double to finish off what ended up being a 4-run inning.

- It went from comfortable to lead to full-fledged blowout after a 3-run Soriano HR in the 7th and an Eduardo Nunez 2-run single in the 8th.  Little rain delay, little Dellin Betances meltdown, and that was that.