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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Projecting Yankees 25 Man Playoff Roster

Now that the Yankees have clinched a playoff berth, I can have some fun and speculate on the Yankees 25 man playoff roster and talk about how I would use them if I were managing the Yankees.

Round 1 – best of 5 against the Minnesota Twins. I don’t feel the Yankees need to use 4 starting pitchers in this series, so I left AJ Burnett off the roster. For the best of 7 rounds, I dropped a backup outfielder (this could also be a relief pitcher in that 25th spot) and put Burnett back on there.

  1. CC Sabathia

    • game 1 starter
  2. Andy Pettitte
    • game 2 starter
  3. Phil Hughes
    • game 3 starter (AJ Burnett isn’t really giving me a choice here)
  4. Mariano Rivera
    • closer.  Mo saves: for he is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever…
  5. Kerry Wood
    • primary setup man
  6. Joba Chamberlain
    • RH RP – comes into the game at the beginning of innings (preferably)
  7. David Robertson
    • RH RP – the fireman, comes into tough situations in the middle of innings to deliver us from evil with Ks
  8. Boone Logan
    • LH RP – primary lefty out of the pen to get the big bat out in the biggest match up situation
  9. Royce Ring
    • LH RP – extra match up lefty, used early in the game – especially useful against all those Twins left handed bats; if the Yankees don’t get the Twins at some point, maybe you fill this spot with another backup outfielder
  10. Sergio Mitre
    • emergency long man; Mitre has decent numbers out of the pen this year.  Javier Vazquez’s sample size for relief outings is too small and Chad Gaudin’s numbers stink.
  11. Jorge Posada
    • starting catcher
  12. Mark Teixeira
    • starting 1B
  13. Robinson Cano
    • starting 2B
  14. Derek Jeter
    • starting SS
  15. Alex Rodriguez
    • starting 3B
  16. Brett Gardner
    • starting LF
  17. Curtis Granderson
    • starting CF
  18. Nick Swisher
    • starting RF
  19. Austin Kearns
    • 4th outfielder
  20. Ramiro Pena
    • pinch runner/backup infielder for every position but 1B, unless absolutely necessary; haven’t seen him play there
  21. Francisco Cervelli
    • backup catcher, not an awful option for punch runner, but then we’re out of catchers, so only in a game ending situation
  22. Lance Berkman
    • DH/PH against right RHP, backup 1B
  23. Marcus Thames
    • DH/PH against LHP, emergency outfielder
  24. Eduardo Nunez
    • pinch runner, emergency middle infielder.  I went with Nunez over Juan Miranda because with Berkman and Thames, I feel like the Yankees bench has enough bats, and I don’t have a ton of faith in Miranda’s bat, anyway.  Besides, Nunez can play more than one position and has speed, which I’d like to have off the bench, say in the 8th inning after Posada walks…
  25. ALDC:  Colin Curtis/Greg Golson/Kevin Russo //  ALCS/WS:  A.J. Burnett, 4 starter
    • I haven’t seen enough of these guys to decide who’d be the most valuable as a pinch runner and/or as a backup outfielder; in fact, I considered putting a reliever in this spot, but who?  I like Ivan Nova a lot, but let’s face it, he’s a kid and has hardly an MLB experience
    • I know, I know – nobody wants to see Burnett in the playoffs.  Sorry, folks – you’re going to have to get over that.  If the Yankees make it passed the first round, Burnett is going to start.  Experience counts in the playoffs, and really, when it’s all on the line, who would you rather have out there?  Vazquez?  Gaudin?  Nova?  Mitre?  In your heart of hearts, you know Burnett and his 95 MPH fastball and nasty curve ball are the way to go.  All starters will be on a short leash, anyway, so at the first sign of trouble, Joe Girardi will more than likely go get him anyway – or anyone else

That’s the way I see it. I know some folks want to give Nova a chance, but I think that’s asking too much, too soon of an inexperienced kid. It’d be a bold move, and I don’t see someone as calculating as Girardi doing it. Joe Torre wouldn’t even consider it; he loves his veterans.

Wild Card or AL East Division winners, it’s all the same. The Yankees are in the dance, so they’ve got a chance. This is what we wait all year for, and we’ve had the opportunity to watch October baseball for 15 out the last 16 years, and it never gets old. No matter what happens, this has been a great year. Let’s see if they can go all the way and get number 28! I’m predicting a rematch of last year’s World Series and despite Philly looking a little better than last year (although I don’t know who they have in their bullpen), I’m also predicting the same outcome.

LET’S GO YANKEES!

NOTE:
Nice job by David Price for calling out his fan base – it might not have been the best business decision for the Rays organization, but they have a good team and it deserves it’s fan’s support. If they can’t get it, they should move – I’m sure Las Vegas would welcome them with open arms.
An even better job by the Rays for giving away thousands of free tickets in the wake of Price-Gate. Maybe they can win the fans over yet

Check out my post at The Fowl Balls on Mariano Rivera’s tough outings in September.

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Burnett woes

A.J. Burnett got crushed last night – again.  His velocity is still there, but his location is awful, and his curve ball wasn’t very good.  I still believe the yankees will use Burnett in the playoffs – there isn’t really a viable alternative:

  1. Ivan Nova is too young, too inexperienced
  2. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre probably shouldn’ t be on the post post season roster.  These guys just can’t get it done
  3. Dustin Moseley is OK, but I don’t think I want a playoff game in his hands
  4. Javier Vazquez is… well, Javier Vazquez

Burnett is still throwing hard, and I don’t think he’s forgetten how to pitch forever.  I’m not saying he’s going to pitch brilliantly, but his ERA was over 5 in the post season last year, and they still managed to win a few of his starts – and lose a few.  It certainly didn’t break their back.

Let’s have a quick shout out for Bomber banter favorite, Curtis Granderson.  As we all know, he’s really come on since working with Kevin Long, but his September game log is just amazing:  9 HR, 23, RBI, .287 batting average.  That’s getting it done!

curtis granderson

Yankees magic number down to 1

I took a few days off from blogging and I’ve returned to find things pretty much where I left them. The Yankees are a half game behind the Rays and still haven’t clinched a playoff spot. Still, the Yankees have reduced their magic number down to 1 – that is, 1 Yankees win or 1 Red Sox loss, whichever comes first. While the Yankees will get into the playoffs easily, winning the east is going to be tough: they’re facing the Yankee killing Toronto Blue Jays and then going into the hostile Fenway Park environment for another series with the Red Sox. Combine that with Rays schedule, and I just don’t see the Yankees winning the east. Sure, I don’t expect the Baltimore Orioles to lay down for the Rays, but Tampa has four games left with the Kansas City Royals. Nuff said.

So let’s see, what did I miss? Thursday night, CC Sabathia got a butt kicking from the Rays. Friday night, Andy Pettitte got a butt kicking from the Red Sox. Ivan Nova on the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of Death? Butt kicking by the Red Sox. Detecting a theme here? The starting pitching has been dreadful of late. Hence, Joe Girardi went with Phil Hughes last night rather than Dustin Mosely. Hughes pitched well: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 4 ks, 4 BB. Girardi sent him out there for the 7th inning, which I thought was a strange move: I can’t remember the last time Hughes pitched 7 innings (that’s because he hasn’t done it since July) and every time he goes out there in the 7th, he always seems to leave a runner out there.

Enter the bullpen: David Robertson, the man the kids call D-Rob, came out and picked up the pieces in spectacular fashion and finished out the 7th. Kerry Wood got two outs in the 8th, and then Girardi wen to Mariano Rivera to get the last out. Strange; he had Wood walk David Ortiz instead of bringing in Boone Logan. Mo got it done against Adrian Beltre, and I’m sure Mo was feeling strong since he hasn’t pitched since Monday, but it seemed like a risky gambit, especially given the lefty v lefty opportunity that Girardi passed by, which I guess was his way of saying that he doesn’t trust Logan in that situation…

So Mo blows it in the top of the 9th. It’s another ugly one as Mo’s September of Horrors continues. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 9th against Jonathan Papelbon but don’t win it, despite having the bases loaded.

The Yankees sent out Joba Chamberlain to keep the tie in tact and wouldn’t you know it, Girardi wen tot Logan to get Ortiz after all, which he did. So it’s fair to say that Girardi puzzled me in this game – but not as much as Terry Francona did in the bottom of the 10th. Francona brings in Hideki Okajima to face the lefties Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, despite the fact that Granderson already homered off Okajima in the series, but Fancona is managing by the book – fine. Then Okajima fails to retire either batter, and he sticks with him, much to my delight. He’s still got Daniel Bard down there – he said so during his stupid mid game ESPN interview. There is no tomorrow – losing this game pretty much ends the season for the Red Sox because the loss put them in the situation I described at the opening of this piece… what the hell was Francona thinking? I’m sure he had to answer this quesiton after the game, but I didn’t hear what he said – I went to bed. Note to ESPN: starting a game at 8 PM EST is TOO LATE. In the most anti-climatic win ever, Okajima walked in Juan Miranda for the Yankee win. Yep – Okajima saw three more batters after that.

Sorry I didn’t talk about Matsuzaka – he was awesome last night.

So that’s pretty much that. The Yankees can still win the east, but the Red Sox are done – unless the Yankees lose all six of their remaining games and the Red Sox win all six.

Giants lack of anger management an embarrassment

When you’re a fan of a sports team and they win, it’s easy to ignore how bad they look while doing it. When they lose, it’s easy to kill them for playing like a bunch of animals.

Taking a page from Brandon Jacobs’ book, the Giants committed 11 penalties, some of which may be grounds to have a few players committed to an asylum for the criminally angry. I have no interest in routing for or defending a team that thinks its OK to tear off another player’s helmet after the play is over. Pushing guys on the other team after the play is over is not only stupid, but when the Giants seem to be going out of their way to make sure they do it right in front of an official… jeez. I have to wonder how these guys manage to get across the street alive. So is it Roid Rage, are these guys on cocaine, speed, or what? I haven’t seen a temper tantrum like that outside of a three year old, and even when a three year old acts like that, I look at the kid and say, "Oh, come on – you know better."

Now that chop block penalty that resulted in the safety was a tough one; but the rules are the rules. And the replay showed a Giants lineman blocking two guys at once, and he did so by holding on to the Titans lineman’s face mask. Pretty sure that’s a no-no.

The NFL needs to do something about how they score interceptions. If the quarterback throws the ball and it bounces off one of his receivers and the other team ends up with the ball, that’s NOT an interception. I bring this up because interceptions are stats that are counted as a negative against the quarterback, but when your receivers aid the other team in catching the ball, I don’t see how that’s your fault. The Giants desperately need a number one receiver; the guys they have are good, not great, and I believe you need a great receiver to win in the NFL as the rules currently stand. The Giants just don’t have this player on their roster, and they need one, fast. Eli Manning is so much better than his receivers, it’s ridiculous. If you get hit in the hands or the chest and can’t come up with the catch, don’t complain to Eli that you didn’t expect to get the ball – it’s YOU who sucks! Sure, there were some good things to talk about: Ahmad Bradshaw had some nice rushes (88 total years, 1 touch down), but the negatives far outweighed the positives.

Here in the greater New York City area, there was only one game on during the one o’clock early game. What’s the deal with that? FOX was showing infomercials. It would have been ice to have something else to flip to while the Giants were embarrassing me. If the Giants can get out of their own way, we might get a chance to see their full potential next week. Maybe.

Girardi goes to B relievers after rain delay

Once Joe Girardi found out how long the rain delay was going to be (over two hours), I guess he made a decision. It must have been the kind of decision he’s been making a lot during this month of September, and that’s been the decision to protect the relievers he needs in the playoffs.

After AJ Burnett lost the rest of his start to the elements, Girardi wasted no time showing the Rays and Yankees fans that his bullpen was going to be protected today. Royce Ring took the mound for an inning and two thirds and surrendered a run. Next up was Dustin Moseley, who pitched an inning and a third and gave up one run. Moseley made way for Chad Gaudin, who promptly destroyed any hopes the Yankees had of winning the game by giving up 2 home runs in an inning and two thirds. Jonathon Albaladejo finished the night over an inning and a third and surrendered a run while walking three and striking out two. (I just don’t get Albaladejo; he has good stuff, but he can’t put it all together.)

What do all of those Yankees relievers have in common? None of them will be on the playoff roster. Not one. Once he lost his starter to the rain, Girardi decided that either these guys were going to do it, or they were going to lose the game. That’s it. It was a close game until the 7th, when Gaudin had his misadventure of serving off long balls into the night, but then, down by only 1 run to your division rival (suck it, Red Sox), I would think that under normal circumstances, you’d put in a higher quality reliever than Gaudin, but not this time.It might not have been the rain that effected Girardi’s decision after all; I believe he has a rule about relievers pitching two days in a row and then getting two days off, so a better reliever than Gaudin might not have been available last night.

Tonight, the Yankees should have a full complement of their best relievers available, but with CC Sabathia starting (against David Price), the Yankees might not need many relievers. This is also a rare opportunity for the Yankees to win a four game series; I feel like these four game sets usually get split. The last time Sabathia and Price matched up, it was an epic battle – hopefully the Yankees will come out on top this time.

5 spot, Hughes and short handed pen beat Rays

I’ll spare you the recap; I’m just going to assume you watched, listened or followed the game – here’s the box score and the Game Day. Here’s what bugged me about last night’s Yankees vs Rays contest:

Phil Hughes came out to pitch the seventh inning despite being over 100 pitches. I know the Yankees bullpen was short handed last night, but Hughes is on an innings limit to protect his arm – it seems contrary to skip him a time or two in the rotation and then leave him out there last night, but what do I know. I would also think that, since Javier Vazquez was one of the few available relievers last night, he would be better suited to starting the inning rather than coming in with a runner on base, which he allowed to score.

Joe Girardi continues to manage in such a way that protects his team for the playoffs. Sure, he’d like to win every game, but he didn’t run Mariano Rivera out there last night, and that tells you all you need to know.

Lance Berkman was interviewed by Susan Waldmen after the game; he said something to the effect of games in the National League being over when the home team puts up a five spot in the first inning. He also mentioned that the two and a half hour game just didn’t happen in the American League because the offenses are too good, and he’s right – Tampa had 8 hits and 2 walks, so they were no strangers to the base paths last night. Berkman also mentioned that since the games were longer, his eating schedule wasn’t what it used to be, and by the end of the game, he’d worked up quite the appetite. I guess his body’s clock hasn’t adjusted to being a Yankee yet.

Derek Jeter had two hits last night and his average has ticked up to .265. It’s too late for him to reach his usual numbers, but it doesn’t matter. I think he’ll hit in the post season and the Yankees will resign him for something like 4 or 5 years at $20+ million per year, so it’s Jeter’s 2010 campaign discussion is purely academic.

The Yankees are at 92 wins. I picked them to win 100 games this year and with 11 games left, I’m not sure I can pick them to go 8-3 against Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto. Oh and those Blue Jay games are AT THE ROGERS CENTRE. BOOOOOOOO.

Also, the NY Times post another article about the George Steinbrenner monument, just as I did. They’ve actually interviewed folks, and most people seem to agree that it’s just too big. To have your say, vote your mind here.

Tonight we’ll see AJ Burnett face off against Wade Davis. Which AJ will show up is anybody’s guess.

Do you think the George M. Steinbrenner monument is too big?

When you talk about the Yankees, you can’t do so without mentioning George Steinbrenner.  Love him or hate him, his effect on the Yankees and Major League Baseball is undeniable.  After Mr.  Steinbrenner passed away, the Yankees modified this space above the right field bleachers, which formerly showed a list of all championship seasons, with a photo of Mr. Steinbrenner:

George M Steinbrenner III

That seemed like a fine idea to me; and I imagined that although large, it was probably only temporary and in 2011, the signage will more than likely revert to it’s original state.

Then I heard they were going to give Mr. Steinbrenner a monument, and I thought, “Great.  He deserves one.”  Then I actually saw the monument.

George M Steinbrenner III

I wrote it this morning, and I’ll write it again.  It’s friggin HUGE.  It dwarfs all the other monuments by a lot and I noticed in this evening’ s New York Times,  I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Just FYI:  it measures 7 feet across and 5 feet high across its bronze face (so these measurements don’t include the base) and weighs 760 pounds.  Look how it dwarfs David Wells!  Boomer is 6 ft 3 in, by the way.

It’s not that big of a deal, and I don’t think the Yankees need to do anything about it, but do you think it’s too big or the right size?  Take the poll and holler back.

Big Win, Bigger Monument

The Yankees unveiled the George M. Steinbrenner III monument before last night’s game against the Rays. It’s friggin HUGE. It’s bigger than all of the ‘holy trinity’ monuments of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig combined. If it was up to me, I probably would have made it the same size as the aforementioned monuments of these legendary players. While I do believe Mr. Steinbrenner is as important to the Yankees as Babe Ruth was, I don’t think he was more important. I do think Mr. Steinbrenner changed the game of baseball, but Babe Ruth saved the game after the 1919 ‘Black Sox’ scandal. In my thinking, the monument to Mr. Steinbrenner indirectly implies that he was bigger than Mr. Ruth, which I don’t agree with. On the other hand, you can argue that the Yankees have given Mr. Ruth his due with Babe Ruth Plaza, but I don’t think you can ever say enough about what Babe Ruth did for the game. In fact, I think the Yankees need to add a statue of Mr. Ruth to his plaza, post haste. I also would have preferred that the event was handled more like a celebration of Mr. Steinbrenne’s life rather than a funeral, but I guess it’s a bit too soon for that sort of sentiment, and how they would have accomplished that… well, I admit I don’t have any solid suggestions. I know it was mentioned a million times, but I was impressed to see Joe Torre and Don Mattingly there.That was a classy move on the part of all concerned.

Last night’s game was a bit too close, or rather, closer than it should have been. Ivan Nova, who I believe has a bright future ahead of him, again hit the wall despite a low pitch count and dominating performance, this time through five innings instead of six. I’m still not sure what the problem is: fatigue, pressure, total innings pitched this year, pitching from the stretch rather than the wind up, third time through the order… there is an issue here, but I think it’s fixable. Nova could end up being a valuable player on the Yankees for years to come – I think he’s that good. Boone Logan had a rare off night and didn’t retire anybody, although Mark Teixeira booted a dribbler up the line he probably should have come up with, but it was a tough play. I know it was only the sixth inning, but I was pretty surprised to see Chad Gaudin come into the game in a big spot and after a walk, get a big flyout. Logan or Gaudin walked a runner in… I forget which one did, and they both gave up a walk. I could check game day, but whatever. Kerry Wood has emerged as the setup man – his season has turned around in a major way since coming to the Yankees – I guess playing for a winner makes a big difference to some guys. With Wood in the fold, the Yankees bullpen is stacked and is going to be a huge plus in the playoffs. Mariano Rivera was just not getting the calls last night (he wasn’t the only one), and his velocity seemed down from yesterday, when he blew the save. But two hits, a walk and 1 run weren’t enough for the Rays to catch up to the Yankees offense.

Besides Jorge Posada sitting this one out, I think this is the first time the Yankees have fielded their full team as starters in over a week at least. (I’d guess Francisco Cervelli gets the start when Nova pitches because he’s caught him in the minors.) Curtis Granderson continues to reward my faith. Last night’s two run home run performance to the tune of five RBI was impressive to say the least – I can’t recall seeing anyone hit a homer off the foul poll quite that high. I think I’ve said enough about Kevin Long on more than one occasion, but that guy sure can fix players. It was also nice to see Nick Swisher go 2-2 with an RBI and 2 BB while playing the outfield. It looks like he’s as close to 100% as he’s going to get. A-Rod continues to come up with RBI (that was number 112 on the year) despite not hitting for average or power, but I’ll take it – Alex Rodriguez leads the team in RBI and missed what, almost an entire month? How is that possible? Bizarre, but he’s that good. Even though he’s not hitting the ball out of the park, he hits solid line drives, not squeakers, and he continues to do what matters – plate base runners.

Last night’s win puts the Yankees 1.5 games in front of the Rays with 3 more to play in this series. With the Yankees having their full compliment of players available at home, I think we can confidently hope for a better outcome than last week’s series in Tampa Bay.

Yankees Road Trip From Hell Ends

Swept by Texas; lost 2 of 3 in Tampa and took 2 of 3 from the Orioles. That’s a 3-6 road trip for the Yankees, the worst of the year, as far as I recall.

How’d it happen? Injuries played a big part; whether players were unavailable or resting, the Yankees were never at 100% during this road trip. True, few teams are at this point in the season, but missing two of your corner outfielders is pretty tough, and that just scratches the surface.

I’ve already commented on the debacle at the hands of the Texas Rangers and the tough series loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, so today I’ll be focusing on the series with the Os, which, like the series with the Rays, could have gone either way.

AJ Burnett pitched decently in the first game, but every time he gives up a homer, its hard not to think, "Here we go again." But we all know how this one went; A-Rod saved the day with a 3 run homer with 2 strikes and 2 outs in the top of the ninth, which was largely made possible by Jorge Posada’s 11 pitch at bat to lead off the inning with a single. As soon as A-Rod’s bat touched the ball, it was gone. Mariano Rivera came in and got the save, and all seemed right with the world. The next afternoon, CC Sabathia earned his 20th win as the Yankees offense mowed down the Orioles pitching. No one was able to win 20 games last year, which makes you realize what a special accomplishment it really is – so hats off to CC! But Sunday’s blown save by Mo rained on the parade – perhaps one of the fastest blown saves ever as the lead off batter came on to hit a game tying home run. It was all over after that. But then, the game started out so promising with the return of Andy Pettitte, making his first start on the MLB level in about two months. Andy looked pretty sharp and didn’t seem especially fatigued; if he’s fresh in the playoffs and Burnett is decent, the Yankees could be dangerous this fall.

The Yankees can’t seem to win an extra inning game on the road this year – it’s a tough feet, but I feel like they’ve lost every one of them in 2010. Maybe it’s just the recent loses to Tampa and Texas in extras that are haunting me. Given Friday’s come from behind at the last second win, the Yankees could have easily lost this series. I hope all the resting of players and cortisone shots will pay off this week.

When all is said and done, the Yankees are still in first place. How can that be? They’re 3 for they’re last 9! But there it is. With four huge games against the Rays that may decide the fate of the AL East and possibly home field advantage for the playoffs, there’s a lot going on this week. Get pumped. Oh and the Red Sox are coming at some point… whatever, those guys are done. =)

Big Manning's Team Destroys little Manning's Team

I’m sure there’s a "Mom! He’s not playing fair!" joke in here, but I’m not feeling it.

I would assume, however, that the Giants are feeling it, right in the butt, after the Colts kicked it so hard. Sunday night’s beating was reminiscent of Saturday night’s thrashing of Wake Forest by Stanford… I think that’s fair – comparing it to a college game. I understand that NBC likes the story angle of Manning vs Manning, but scheduling Giants and Colts for Sunday night football is something even a Giants fan probably wouldn’t do – who wants to be embarrassed on the national stage like that?

I know I’ve said some things about the Giants having a lot of talent, and I suppose they do – but they’re missing something; even when everyone is healthy, they’re competitive, but not much more. Think about it this way: if you’re into fantasy football, would you rush to grab Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham, Eli Manning, Kevin Boss or Steve Smith for your team? I doubt it. I’m still trying to figure out why Eli Manning through that bomb that was picked off when it was 14-0 in the first half; seemed a bit premature for a hail memory, but then, maybe not: At that point in the game, did anyone really think the Giants were going to win that game? And the Giants defense last night was hilariously over matched. They set themselves up to cover every possible receiver (one linebacker, really?) and the Colts ran the ball down the Giants’ throats over and over again. When they finally switched it up… the Colts still ran the ball down the Giants’ throats.

I didn’t watch much of the second half. Did Brandon Jacobs really throw his helmet into the stands at some Colts fans that were taunting him? That’s just great.

There are a lot of questions in this post, and I’d say that’s a great way to describe the Giants’ season: one big question mark.

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