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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Yankees 5th Starter/Long Man Battle

As I’m sure you’re already aware, the Yankees 2012 spring training isn’t exactly one that will be filled with drama. The 5th Starter is one of the few unsettled questions on the team and the two guys battling for the spot (Phil Hughes and “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia) aren’t exactly getting kicked off the team if they lose the competition; the long man spot in the bullpen is the consolation prize.

From a Yankee management perspective (folks who are looking at the team from both a win now and long term basis), I would think that the 5th starter spot is Phil Hughes’ to lose. Hughes is inching toward what will presumably be his prime years while Garcia’s career could end after this season. Although Garcia had a fine 2011 campaign (3.62 ERA), he missed time with a bizarre finger injury I still don’t understand how he incurred (kitchen accident?) and I don’t think anyone expects Garcia to turn in a sub 4 ERA in 2012. Of course, there is plenty of reason to doubt the often injured Phil Hughes, who’s 2011 was a total disaster. We’ve seen the potential, but the results have often not been there. Nevertheless, the Yankees have hung on to him for years, resisting trades and giving him every opportunity, so I don’t see why that would stop now.

From the Yankees perspective, I would think that maximizing Hughes value long term is the way to go, but if you’re a “win now” fan and you prefer Garcia to get the ball every fifth day, I see your point. You know you’re what going to get from Garcia (6 IP of 2 or 3 run ball), and I agree that such a performance gives the Yankees a good chance to win any time The Sweaty One takes the ball. Still, unless Hughes has an utterly horrible spring, look for him to be the fifth starter – and if it doesn’t work out, Garcia will be waiting in the pen to take over.

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A.J. Burnett traded to Pirates, but who gets 5th Starter job?

"My hair looks like this on purpose."

"See ya!"

By now, you’re aware that A.J. Burnett has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates due to his extreme suckiness for marginal prospects and salary relief.    But what does that mean for the Yankees?

The first and most obvious result of ditching Burnett is the change this makes to the 5th starter competition.  At this point, I think it’s clear that the rotation shapes up as follows:

  1. C.C. Sabathia
  2. Michael Pineda
  3. Hiroki Kuroda
  4. Ivan Nova

So we’re left with a battle between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes for the final rotation spot.

In my view, this is a tough decision.  If you choose Garcia, you know about what you’re going to get; 150 innings of average pitching.  With Hughes… well, I he’s kinda got that whole A.J. Burnett thing going for him in terms of being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  In 2010, Hughes had a great first half but then fell off in the 2nd half.  He’s either completely healthy or injured beyond the point of pitching through pain.  When he’s in the bullpen, he’s great – when he’s a starter, it might be OK and it might be a huge embarrassing failure.

From a win now standpoint, I think you go with Garcia; he’s a known quantity and you know you can put Hughes in the pen (although it’s fairly crowded out there), he’s likely to succeed.  In terms of the Yankees long term success, you probably want to give Phil Hughes the chance to blossom as the starter you always hoped he’d become.  You’ve seen flashes of it, and Garcia is only under contract for 2012 whereas Hughes could be a member of the team for years to come.  This is a tough decision and if I’m the Yankees, I go with Hughes and… I don’t know, have Garcia serve as the long man and emergency starter until someone gets hurt or sucks.  If Nova, Hughes and Pineda are in the rotation, that’s a lot of youth, unknowns and possible injury concerns, so you’re probably going to need another starter at some point for two weeks or so.

The other thing that changes with Burnett leaving the Yankees is the salary relief it provides, which will help the Yankees fill out their bench this year and who knows next year.  At this point, we’re all waiting to see who the Yankees grab as their left handed DH; I still think they’re going with Johnny Damon.

But the point is, the A.J. Burnett saga is finally over, and I love it.  He seems like a good man, but beyond a few glorious moments, I don’t think I’ll miss Burnett’s stay in pinstripes all that much.

Time to put out the Yankees flag?

image

Now that the Giants have won the Super Bowl and football season is officially over, do I switch the flags?  Or, do I leave the Giants up for a few weeks in celebration of the victory?  Do I put the Yankees flag up when pitchers and catchers report, when spring training games start, or on opening day?  This isn’t a big problem, but I haven’t made up my mind just yet.

Speculating on the Yankees 2012 Starting Lineup

johnny-damon

I took this photo of Johnny Damon from seats in the upper deck by the right field foul poll while he was in left field... which is why it looks so crappy.

The season hasn’t started yet and the Yankees still have one hole to fill, but I’ve already got a guess at what lineup the Yankees will run out on most days.

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Johnny Damon/Andruw Jones, DH
  8. Russel Martin, C
  9. Brett Gardner, DH

I think this is the year to sandwhich A-Rod between the powerhouse of Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Imagine how long it will take when the 2, 3 and 4 spots come up inthe 7th inning? Managers with two lefties in their pen will go to their first LHP for Granderson, then to a RHP for A-Rod, and then back to a lefty for Cano. We’ll be there for half an hour.

A-Rod and Teixeira are both due for bounce back years with the stick, but until they prove they can hit their way into better spots in the lineup, I say let them hit 3rd and 5th, respectively.

Yeah, I think the Yankees are waiting for Johnny Damon to drop his asking price and then they’ll sign him to be the DH against RHP and an emergency guy off the bench for the outfield, and maybe even first base. (I swear I’ve seen Damon play first base!) Damon has a great Yankee Stadium swing, it looks like he can still run OK and we all know he’s got the right attitude. I think he’s the right choice – it’s only a matter of time before they sign him.

2 Simple Reasons The New England Patriots Lost The Super Bowl

As The New England Patriots learned when they played the Baltimore Ravens, sometimes you win the game, but other times, your opponent loses the game. I’m not sure if Super Bowl 46 was one of these cases, but Tom Brady made two mistakes that ultimately made it very difficult for the Patriots to win the game. (Which worked out great for me!)

The Safety
There’s been some Intentional Grounding calls we’ve seen over the years that felt a bit like splitting hairs, and then there’s an Intentional Grounding penalty that’s so blatant it is called by seven year old kids throwing yellow napkins at their TVs. What on earth was Brady thinking? I guess he wasn’t – he just panicked, trying to get rid of the ball and avoid the safety, but got one anyway.

The Interception
This wasn’t nearly as bad as the safety, but still, not a great throw. Sure, you look at the match up between the defender and the receiver, but it’s The Super Bowl; you can’t throw the ball like that. Oh well.

Still, even if it wasn’t he best played game, it was fun to watch. Tom Brady still gave a pretty good performance, and as I’m sure Eli Manning can sympathize, you can throw a bunch of good balls, but you can’t catch them for your receivers.

And hey, I was pretty close on my prediction – I had the Giants winning the game 24-17, so not too bad.

2 Simple Reasons The New York Giants Will Win The Super Bowl

As the New York Giants marched into camp, began the season and perhaps as recently as Thanksgiving, I was a naysayer. The Giants let important players like Kevin Boss leave after last season and didn’t replace them. Key players were hurt and others weren’t producing. When I watched them play, I just didn’t see a championship team, and often, I didn’t see a playoff team. Then something happened: players began performing to expectation or better (maybe not Brandon Jacobs, but he’s better than he was), still other players got healthy and Victor Cruz rode in on a white horse and saved the day. Suddenly, Eli Manning had a team around him that was firing on all cylinders at the best possible time.

Now, the Giants find themselves in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots for the second time in just a few years, and conditions are looking right for Big Blue to repeat against the Pats. Why? As Mr. Spock would say, "Simple logic will suffice."

1. The Giants have a great defense
Defense wins championships in any sport, and the Giants have a great defense. Sure, the Patriots have a great offense, and Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but the Giants D can limit the damage more so than the Pats D can – hence, the Giants will allow fewer points.

2. The Patriots’ record is against them
Yeah, I know – the Patriots lost only 3 games all year. But the proof is in the numbers; look at who they beat and who they lost to. I’ll give the Patriots their due; they are a good team, but they aren’t great. They didn’t win that game to get to the Super Bowl, the Ravens lost it (bringing to mind the Giants win over the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl way back in the early nineties), and that’s a big difference. During this season, the Patriots didn’t beat a single team with a record better than .500 except the Ravens, and the Ravens blew that game. The Giants are just a better, more well rounded team, pure and simple. Also, it should be pointed out that the Giants have already beaten the Patriots this year. In New England. Sure, it was a close came, but the Giants were in bad shape and on the road… the Patriots should have found a way to win that game, but they couldn’t because they just don’t have what it takes to beat the better teams – not this year. (Oh, and the Giants beat the Pats in preseason, too, but I’ll let that slide. Preseason is BS.)

That’s all there is to it. Of course, it’s football, so anything can happen, but the smart money is on the Giants. Unlike the defense heavy Ravens, the Giants are, again, a well rounded team that simply has more weapons than the Patriots, and I’m looking forward to celebrating a Super Bowl victory Sunday evening.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION:
New York Giants 24
New England Patriots 17

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