Saturday, May 9, 2009

A "Departure"

Hey, guys, sorry for the lack of updates. I've been ridiculously busy with finals so no real time to post. I'm done now, though, and will be graduating tomorrow. Wooo!

Anyway, my posting here is actually going to get less frequent because Rob over at Bronx Baseball Daily has recruited me to come write for him. I'll still post over here every so often, but the majority of my writing is now going to be done at BBD. I hope you follow there as closely as you've followed here.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Detroit Series Wrap

After dropping the first game 4-2, the Yankees went on to score 19 runs over the next two games to beat Detroit 2-1 in a three game set in the Motor City. Sadly, I was unable to watch any of these games because none of them were on My9 and I'm blacked out of ESPN coverage. Luckily, I'll be graduating a week from Sunday so I'll be home to watch every game.

SERIES POSITIVES: Starting pitching. Yeah, when was the last time I could say that? The KC series? The Yankees got good performances from their starters in Detroit; combined, they went 21 innings while allowing only 4 runs (all of those from CC) for an ERA of 1.71. Phil Hughes looked incredible on Tuesday night, as his cutter was biting and his curveball was just absolutely filthy. Last night, the Joba Chamberlain of the present looked like the Joba Chamberlain of the future. It's games like Wednesdays that should remind everyone why Joba's future is as a starter.

SERIES NEGATIVES: The bullpen remained a little shaky, as it gave up six runs last night. But in a win, there's little to complain about. After all, the bullpen only pitched a handful of low-leverage situations during this series.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Yankees come home to play the Angels (9-11) stating today. The Angels are 5-5 in their last ten games, but they are on a three game win streak. The pitching matchups are:

Thursday: Anthony Ortega vs. A.J. Burnett
Friday: Jered Weaver vs. Andy Pettitte
Saturday: Matt Palmer vs. CC Sabathia
Sunday: Joe Saunders vs. Phil Hughes

OFFENSE: .279/.357/.470/.828, 116 OPS+, 30 HR, 113 R
PITCHING: 5.87 ERA, 81 ERA+, 1.511 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 7.0 K/9, 1.73 K/9

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boston Series Wrap...kind of.

This series was a mess. That's all I'll say about the games.

SERIES POSITIVES: Robinson Cano. He is hitting like a freakin' mad man right now and I love it. I'm a little worried that he hasn't taken a walk in a while, but I hope his patient approach in this first month sticks around so that Robbie can still be effective when the hits aren't falling.

SERIES NEGATIVES: Literally everything else. This series was Murphy's Law for the Yankees: Mo Himself blew a save, Burnett couldn't hold a six run lead, the bullpen was awful, and, I don't know if you guys heard this, but Jacoby Ellsbury stole home. Another negative for this whole series was the ridiculous bias FOX and ESPN have displayed against the Yankees.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Yankees head into Detroit this week and Phil Hughes will be getting a start on Tuesday. I look forward to that game, as well as the awesome Joba v. Porcello matchup on Wednesday night.

OFFENSE: .276/.358/.475/.833, 115 OPS+, 28 HR, 100 R
PITCHING: 6.26 ERA, 77 ERA+, 1.589 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 7.0 K/9, 1.62 K/BB

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oakland Series Wrap and Centerfield Thoughts

The Yankees beat the A's in 14 innings yesterday thanks to a walk off homer by Melky "I'm Doing the Best I Can to Win My Job Back" Cabrera. The bullpen was spectacular last night after CC Sabathia had another shaky start, allowing 7 runs. The night before, the Yankees got a 5-3 win after 7 innings of 2 run ball from Andy Pettitte and an early offensive spurt; so, the Yankees come away with a sweep of the rain-shortened series.

SERIES POSITIVES: The bullpen, the bullpen, and the bullpen. Brian Bruney gave up his first runners/runs since opening day, but aside from that, the Yankees bullpen has been incredible. After relieving CC in the 7th yesterday, the bullpen held the A's scoreless for the rest of the game, striking out six and allowing only five baserunners. Jose Veras looked unhittable yesterday, striking out four over his 3.1 innings--he also only walked one and didn't allow a hit.

SERIES NEGATIVES: CC had another shaky outing, walking four while striking out only two. I would be alarmed, but CC had a rough April last year and rebounded nicely for Cleveland. After four bad starts in April, Sabtahia went on to post a 2.16 ERA, a 1.008 WHIP, a 5.45 K/BB, and a 9.42 K/9. Another negative is the fact that Joe Girardi had to pinch hit for Cody Ransom with Brett Gardner yesterday. You know you're having a bad day when Brett Gardner is coming into the game to HIT for you. Ouch.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Yankees have a day off today, except for CMW who's throwing an EST game to try and get himself right, and then they start a three game set with the Sox who've won seven in a row. The matchups are good ones with Joba facing Jon Lester on Friday, it's an alliteration battle on Saturday as Burnett takes on Beckett, and the series closes on Sunday with the veteran Pettitte taking on the young Justin Masterson.

OFFENSE: .271/.351/.485/.836, 114 OPS+, 25 HRs, 84 R
PITCHING: 6.02 ERA, 82 ERA+, 1.522 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 1.70 K/BB

Now, onto my thoughts about centerfield. Early on, I advocated for Brett Gardner to start over Melky Cabrera. At this point, Brett really ain't cutting it. He can't seem to hit his way out of a paper bag, and despite his speed, he can't use it if he's not on base. Melky may not play as well on defense as Gardner (who's actually playing poorly now, but in a VERY small sample size), but he's got the hot bat and Girardi needs to play the hot hand. If I'm him, I'm starting Cabrera over Gardner in Boston. This vacillating back and forth between the two of them probably doesn't matter much in the end. Why? Because neither one of them is a viable long term solution in centerfield for the Yankees. If Gardner continues to hit this poorly, he should stay on the bench. If Melky regresses to his norm as a barely league average player, then the Yankees will need to pull the trigger on a trade for Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Last Night's Game and Xavier Nady

So the Yankees got a 5-3 win last night over the A's. It was Andy Pettitte's second win and Mariano Rivera's fourth save. Overall, it was a good game for the Yankees. They kept a sustained rally, Pettitte was able to pitch well despite not striking out a batter, and there were some flashy defensive plays. Brian Bruney allowed his first baserunner and run since Opening Day in the eighth, but Rivera was able to shut the door so it was all good. Brett Gardner, who also made a spectacular catch on a long drive from the very well received Jason Giambi, had two RsBI last night, thanks to a Bob Geren mistake. With the infield playing in early in the game, Gardner squeaked a single passed the slick-fielding Mark Ellis to plate the first two runs of the ball game for the Yankees. It was all down hill from there for Oakland starter Dana Eveland. On the plus side for Oakland, it was fun to watch reliever Andrew Bailey come in and throw some smoke. Despite giving up a homer--his first run allowed all year--to Johnny Damon, Bailey was blowing it by the Yankees in the mid-90's.

Two things that may fly under the radar are the two hits Hideki Matsui collected. The first was a double down the left field line and the second was a base hit right up the middle. What's so special about these two things? The directions of the hits. The double was on an outside pitch that Matsui actually went with and smoked down the line. The single was over the middle and that's where Matsui put it back after contact. Matsui usually has a tendency to roll his hands over on pitches that are middle/away and ground out weakly to the right side. It was very, very nice to see him drive the ball the other way and back up the middle. Perhaps he is coming out of his mini slump; I say mini-slump because despite not getting a whole lot of hits, Hideki is still reaching base. Counting last night, Hideki now has 9 walks on the season, and his OBP is up to .409. Matsui coming alive is a very good sign.

Another good sign for the Yankees is that Xavier Nady will not need surgery, and will most likely miss 4-6 weeks. This also likely means that the Yankees won't make a trade or pick someone off the free-agent/waiver wire, since X will be out for a relatively short period of time. It does, however, mean that Melky Cabrera will get more PAs. Melky's hitting .294/.368/.467 as of right now, but I would expect those numbers to fall with more playing time. Regardless, Nady won't have to have surgery and that's good news. Here's to a speedy recovery, X!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poll Results and Thoughts

Okay so my latest set of polls has closed, time to look at the data.

For question 1, I asked you all how many innings you think CC will pitch in 2009. 10 out of 18 said 201-220, which is probably about right. For question 2,regarding Burnett's strikeouts, it was a little closer. There were 11 total votes and 4 said 181-200, and 4 said 201+. I'd be more likely to fall into the 181-200 category, but at the rate A.J. is pitching, 201+ seems reachable, no? The Gardner questions almost seem to be a moot point, considering the poor rate of Gardner's hitting so far in '09. Out of the 12 votes regarding steals, no one said BG would get less than 21 steals, and 3 brave souls predicted 40+. 8 of 12 said Gardner would hit his first homer in his first 50 at bats. Gardner's at 45 right now (50 plate appearances) so he could still do it before the 50 AB mark is eclipsed.


Via Pete Abe, Wang's next start will in fact be skipped. I think this is a smart move. The rain and the off day will line everyone up to pitch on full rest and Wang needs a day off. I know he wants to pitch and wants to get out there, He can't try to work out the kinks against the Red Sox in Fenway. Boston's scored at least 5 runs in 5 of their last 6 games, including double digit scores (10 and 12) twice. It looks as though their bats are starting to wake up and Wang would only help that. Wang has also struggled in Fenway for his career. Pitching in Boston, Wang has a 5.11 ERA, a 1.523 WHIP, and a .60 K/BB. Skipping Wang in Boston can only help the Yankees.

Like I said yesterday, I'd give him one, two his next start is good, before the Yankees find some reason to put him on the DL and let him work his stuff out in Tampa. This could give him time away from the big league club to work out his issues (which seem to be his release point, the elevation on his pitches, his hands, his arm, his body, his landing....everything) without the pressure of pitching in games that matter. It would also give Phil Hughes some Major League innings, which a) would be good for him and b) probably couldn't be any worse than what Wang did. If Wang was running out there giving starts like Ponson and Rasner did last year, that'd be "alright." But lasting no more than 3.2 innings this season is just unacceptable. In Scranton, Hughes is pitching to the tune of a 2.31 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, a 6/1 K/BB, and a 9.64 K/9.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cleveland Series Wrap Up and Xavier Nady Musings

The Yankees just finished their first series in the new Stadium and it was "meh" to say the least. I was at my girlfriend's house, and was able to watch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was good to see some games in person and not have to follow Gameday Audio or Gameday itself. Joba's struggle with command was troubling, but that's gonna happen every so often. Saturday was, well, ugh. Sunday was better. It was nice to see that Burnett didn't fall apart despite walking seven. Granted, those types of days are the exceptions and not the rules.

The new Stadium is definitely playing small, as balls seem to be flying out to right. Maybe it's the weather? Maybe it's the wind? Maybe it's the balls? Maybe it's the players? Who know? But, I say we give it more than one series before we declare the new Stadium Arlington North or Coors East.

SERIES POSITIVES: Well, splitting a four game series is good, I guess. It's generally pretty hard to win three out of four. The offense is still clicking nicely, though, which is good to see. Brian Bruney had a good series; pitching in two games, the right hander threw two perfect innings while striking out two, throwing only 20 pitches between the two outings. Bruney hasn't allowed a baserunner since Opening Day. Are you watching, Wallace Matthews?

SERIES NEGATIVES: Wang. He was just awful again on Saturday. You've gotta wonder if he's near the end of the proverbial rope. I'm assuming (hoping?) that Girardi skips him in Boston this weekend. After that, he'll probably get one or two starts before we all start chanting "We Want Hughes," though I'm sure people are already chanting that.

LOOKING AHEAD: The game tonight against the A's is called, but they've got two more coming up against Oakland. It'll be nice to see the Big-G back in the Bronx and I hope he gets a big hand tomorrow. I feel like the Giambino will always be under-appreciated in the Bronx.

OFFENSE: .260/.342/.475/.817, 110 OPS+, 20 HR, 70 R
PITCHING: 6.54 ERA, 74 ERA+, 1.584 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 7.6 K/9, 1.76 K/BB

Nady Musings:

Via Kevin Devaney, Xavier Nady still doesn't have a diagnosis on his right elbow. No matter how much time X misses, it's not good for the Yankees. Sure, I wanted Nick Swisher to play over him, but not this way. While I think Swisher would've eventually played his way into the lineup over Nady--and Swisher is the better player--Xavier's absence hurts. The fourth outfielder is now Melky Cabrera instead of Swish or X. Any time the Yankees have to give more PAs to the Melk-man, it's not a good thing. This could give Damon less time off than Girardi would like, and it most likely means that if Brett Gardner struggles, a trade is going to have to be made. No Nady off the bench means that Swisher and Damon will probably see zero action in CF this year and maybe I'm looking too deep into my fake-crystal ball, but I don't see the Yankees giving Melky the CF job, even if/when Gardner falters. Nady would've also been able to spell Hideki Matsui against tough left handed pitchers if need be. I was never a huge Xavier Nady fan, but his presence on the team was vital to its depth. His injury means more playing time for a lesser player and maybe even an external move. Regardless, I hope X gets a good diagnosis and he's able to play again this season. If not, we've more than likely seen our last of Xavier Nady in the Bronx.