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Monthly Archives: June 2012

What are the Yankees Missing?

The Yankees are in first place right now and have a stellar 44-28 record on the season as the All Star break continues to creep up on us. After a rough April, the starting pitching has (for the most part) corrected itself, despite the fact that C.C. Sabathia is not throwing his best ball. And even without Mariano Rivera, the bullpen has been dominant all year long while the offense pounds the baseball for power. Still, even a team as good as the Yankees has some holes, and as the trade market begins to open (Kevin Youkilis has already been traded to the White Sox), the Yankees might be looking around to see if there are any fits to their needs in areas where they could use the help.

A True 3 Hole Hitter
When it comes to a 3 hole hitter, I think you want someone who gets on base a lot – a .400 OBP guy. This guy is probably always right around .300 with his batting average but has enough power to hit it over the wall a few times a month… and the Yankees don’t really have a hitter like this. ARod is probably the closest right now, but the Yankees aren’t paying him all that money to get on base – they want Home Runs out of him. Still, hitting 3rd is probably the best place for ARod, even if he doesn’t exactly fit the mold. Robinson Cano just doesn’t get on base enough to hit 3rd, but the clean up spot is probably the best place for him going forward. I don’t see the Yankees finding a guy like this via trade this year.

Base Stealing Speed
With Brett Gardner on the shelf, the Yankees just don’t have a lot of speed. Curtis Granderson can really move, but that’s about it. Sure, I wouldn’t call Derek Jeter or ARod slow, but when Gardner returns, it’ll help the Yankees outfield and offense a lot with the addition of his legs alone.

Bunting Skills
Nobody on this team can bunt – I guess Jeter can, but that’s about it. Well, Ivan Nova laid down a nice bunt in DC (or was it Atlanta?), but that’s not especially helpful. I don’t love the bunt, but it’d be nice if the Yankees could actually do it considering Joe Girardi loves bunting.

OBP, AVG Hitters
The Yankees are at 115 home runs already this season, the most in the majors. Meanwhile, only Jeter and Cano are at .300 and only Gardner has an OBP over .400, and he hardly played at all this season.

Still, the Yankees are in first place, despite these flaws. I don’t see much getting corrected (besides whatever Gardner brings with him when he returns), but if their pitching holds up, it probably doesn’t matter.

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The Big Bat Still Stands

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Its great to see that the big bat from old Yankee Stadium is still standing.  But, it’s starting to look like crap.  It’s time for the Yankee brass to put somebody on a lift with some duct tape as the hand grips are starting to fall off.

Win Streak Turns To Losing Streak

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I went to today’s game (my first this year), but I didn’t have the magic and now, the Yankees have lost two in a row and their first series in a long while.

My bad.

Anyway, it was still a great day at the ballpark despite the poor pitching.  Still, $12 a beer is a bit excessive.

Win Streak, Roger Clemens, Raul Ibanez & Lord Voldemort

Wow.

That pretty much says it all, right?  The Yankees have now won 10 in a row and they’re doing most of it on the strength of their starting pitching.  After losing Michael Pineda and the way they threw the ball in April, I have to admit I didn’t see this coming.  Can you imagine what this team will do when the offense starts firing on all cylinders?  This team is starting to look frightening.  Look at this comparison of Raul Ibanez and Lord Voldemort – this is what other teams see when they look at the Yankees.  When they look at Derek Jeter… maybe they see Lestat de Lioncourt from Interview with the Vampire.  Ha, I like the idea of Chipper Jones yelling, “Fuck, it’s Tom Cruise!  Run!  Run for your fucking life!”

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“Only I can hit home runs forever!”

I haven’t been following the Roger Clemens case at all, but at least it’s finally over.  Can you believe it’s been 5 years?  I hate it when the government flushes my tax dollars down the drain, but this…  ugh.  They only got one of four counts on Barry Bonds and the Roger Clemens thing has been a debacle from start to finish.  I still can’t believe the government showed inadmissible evidence to the jury on the third day of the first trial.  What happened, did they forget?  It was the third day.  I always imagined the judge called both legal teams into his chambers and the prosecutor said, “Oh shit, I forgot all about that!  Can I have a mulligan?”  Anyway, guilty or not, I just want some return on my tax dollars, and either way, this seemed like a poor way to spend them.  Even as a baseball fan, I don’t care because as I’ve said before, without knowing a complete list of who did what when, there’s no way to quantify the results, so it doesn’t matter.  I guess double jeopardy doesn’t apply to a miss trial.  The point is, even a ‘not guilty’ verdict can never clear his name in the public’s mind, and with good reason.  Take a look at his numbers, the down turn in his career, the shocking up turn and at the age at which he did things.  It’s hard to believe he was clean, but then, considering when he was doing it, I still don’t think it matters.

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I circled stuff with reckless abandon.

Release or Trade Garcia, Keep Eppley

After two sweeps in a row, the Yankees get a much deserved off day (especially for their bullpen) before they start a series in Washington DC against the Nationals. And speaking of the bullpen, David Robertson is going to make his return to the 25 man roster on Friday, which means somebody has to go. I nominate Freddy Garcia.

If you watched last night’s game, you saw Cody Eppley dig down deep in a tough situation, get ground balls and never give in with a fastball over the middle of the plate. His numbers aren’t gaudy, but he got the job done. Nevertheless, Eppley is perceived as the lowest man on the Yankees bullpen totem pole, but I don’t agree – Garcia isn’t nearly as valuable than Eppley, who has proven he can come into games and get big outs. Garcia is nothing more than a garbage time long man who soaks up innings when the Yankees are either so far ahead the don’t think he can screw it up or so far behind that they don’t care what happens. A pitcher like that doesn’t provide much value.

My hope is that before Robertson is activated, Garcia is either traded or given his release so Eppley can hang around. It’d be nice to have a long man, but I don’t see a point in keeping someone around who’s only job is to mop up a big mess.

Fangraphs from Yankees at Braves 6/12/12 as commented on by the Atlanta Braves

River Ave Blues is really good about putting together a comprehensive post about Yankee games, and they almost always include the Fangraphs breakdown. Few ins are as fun to look at on graph as last night’s game.

With four outs to go, things were looking bad for the Yankees, but then BANG AND BOOOOOOOOOOOM. Suddenly, the graph fell off the cliff and the Yankees took a win way from the Braves when they only needed 5 more outs. That’s life. Good job by the offense of picking up C.C. Sabathia after another tough start and congratulations to A-Rod for tying Lou Gehrig’s grand slam record. As Darth Vader would say, "Impressive. Most Impressive."

Anyway, enjoy a look at Fangraphs from last night’s game as commented on by the Atlanta Braves. Sucks to be them.

1st Place, Bret Gardner & Other MLB Disappointments

Injuries are part of the game; they’re inevitable – like Agent Smith from The Matrix. Still, amongst 2012 MLB disappointments, the injury to Bret Gardner’s elbow ranks at a 8.5 on my ‘this sucks’-o-meter.

If memory serves, Gardner was only able to start 8 games before a sliding catch injured his elbow, and now, many weeks later, he’s suffered a second set back in his rehab program. After visiting Dr. James Andrews yesterday, he’s going for a second opinion via Dr. Tim Kremcheck today. This is not good news, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of major, even season ending elbow surgery was in Gardner’s future. It sucks, but there it is. So now what?

River Ave Blues ran an interesting article about replacing Gardner in the short term, and I am concerned with that, but what really concerns me is keeping Raul Ibanez out of the outfield as much as possible. The dude is still a stud hitter (although last night’s homer was his first in a few weeks), he’s not a great outfielder by any stretch of the imagination and at his age, I’m concerned about him wearing down or getting hurt out there. His bat is too valuable to risk, so I don’t really care what the Yankees do to limit his time in the field, just that they do something and they do it soon. If the Yankees lose Ibanez, it’s going to rank almost as high as losing Gardner on my ‘this sucks’-o-meter. As for me, I’d like to see the Yankees call up Chris Dickerson and find out exactly what this guy can do once and for all.

As you probably know, the Yankees are in a flat tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the division (10 games over .500), which, in it’s way, is kind of shocking. If you watched last night’s game, you got to enjoy more flubbing around by the Yankee offense with the bases loaded. In all, they stranded eleven men on base and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and grounded into two double plays – not a lot for the 2012 team, but still too many for my liking. But, when you have that many men on base and can’t plate any of them, the odds of grounding into a double play probably go up a lot simply because there are more opportunities for a twin killing. And this brings me to my point: the Yankees offense has yet to start firing on all cylinders in 2012. Not even close. And they’re still 10 games over .500 because the starting rotation has rounded into the form and despite injuries to two of it’s best pitchers, the bullpen hasn’t missed a beat. It’s fun to cheer for all of the great offensive players on this team and watch in awe as Curtis Granderson continues to hit homer after homer, but this team is winning because of it’s pitching – and C.C. Sabathia hasn’t had one of those great runs yet, either.

MLB Disappointments
It doesn’t really matter to me, but I can’t believe the Phillies, Red Sox and Tigers are all still under .500 at this point in the season. I mean shiz, this is crazy. Today is June 12, and their records are:

Red Sox: 29-32
Tigers: 28-32
Phillies: 29-33

Now if one of these squads is your team, don’t panic yet. Feel free to sweat, but don’t freak out. There is still plenty of time for any of these teams to put together a 10 game winning streak and get right back in it… but sheesh. After you pass the 60 game mark, the whole "It’s getting late early" thing is in full effect, if not over due. Every time I see Red Sox highlights, it seems like Josh Beckett is on the mound and they’re losing. He’s 4-7 with a 4.14 ERA, which isn’t terrible, but he did give up 4 runs to the Marlins last night (over 7 innings), and for a team that’s struggling the way the Red Sox are, that’s not good enough.

Join the Yankees tonight for another on in Hot-lanta where hopefully, C.C. Sabathia can keep the rotation’s great pitching on track. The lack of DH should help, and it’s fun to watch a big man with a bat.

Phil Hughes was replaced with William Campbell on May 6 – it's a CONSPIRACY!

Any 20th Century music fan worth a salt knows the legend of "Paul is Dead" – the myth surrounding the supposed death of Beatles bassist and composer Paul McCartney in a 1966 car accident. You can find all sorts of fake clues (if you look hard enough) on Beatles album covers and in song lyrics that point to the notion that Paul’s death was covered up and he was replaced by somebody named William Campbell, which is proof that there were plenty of stupid rumors about celebrities even before the internet. But I’m beginning to believe in the "Phil is Dead" rumor (that I just started a few words ago) – and I have the stats to prove it!

I remember reading one vintage review of a later Beatles album, during which the reporter claimed something to the effect of "If Paul is dead and this is some new guy, then I prefer the new guy." Such is the case with Phil Hughes.

It’s really beginning to look like Phil Hughes "blew his mind out in a car" because "he didn’t notice that the light had changed" some time before his May 6th start against the Royals, because since that start, he’s been a different pitcher. In four starts over the course of April, Hughes managed only 16 innings and a horrendous 24 hits, 14 runs to a bloated 7.88 ERA. (Sorry, I left out his May 1 start against the Os – he stunk in that one, too.) Since they arrived in Kansas City, Hughes has been pitching to a 3.51 ERA in his last 7 starts, which includes one clunker against the Angels, the one of two games where didn’t measure up to the so called ‘quality start’ standard of at least 6 IP and no more than 3 ER – the other was in Toronto, where he escaped major damage, meaning I’ll let Hughes trade 2 outs for 1 less ER. (By the way,6 IP and no more than 3 ER works out to a 4.50 ERA – I wouldn’t refer to an ERA that high as quality, but that’s just me.)

So who is this guy, and what happened to Phil Hughes?

Sure, this guy looks like Phil Hughes, and in some respects, he even pitches like him (8 homers and 45 hits since May 6 in 49.1 IP), but this guy doesn’t give up as many runs. Why? I think his strike outs increase…

Old Hughes’ first 5 starts: 23 Ks – 4.6 Ks per game
New Hughes next 7 starts: 40 Ks – 5.7 Ks per game

Yep, they sure did. New Phil Hughes brings the Ks. The instances where Hughes has had success and less than four strikeouts per inning is low – he’s only won 2 games under those conditions. On the other hand, his first two starts yielded high strike out totals and he still got rocked. So that means…

I don’t know. If you want a more compelling look at Old Phil vs New Phil, petition The Yankee Analysts or River Ave Blues. Both of those sites are great at stuff like this. Hell, they’ve probably already done the analysis.

When it comes to numbers, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I do know one thing for sure – New Phil is much preferred to Old Phil.

“Things are going great, and they’re only getting better…”

Things are going well for the Yankees of late.  They’re winners of five of their last six games and ten in the last thirteen.  Sure, I’d like to see better numbers for the hitters with runners in scoring position and bases loaded, but I have to believe those will improve with time – these guys are too talented for it not to.

Meanwhile, there’s this picture.  I think we’ll all come to regret this.

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Relax… you guys aren’t playing THAT good.

With Verlander Pitching On Sunday, Yankees Need a Win Tonight

The Detroit Tigers will send Rick Porcello to the mound tonight to face the Yankees in a game that will most likely decide who wins this three game series.  Porcello is a sinker ball pitcher who can’t get that pitch to work this season and has an ERA over 5.  In his last start, he gave up three runs in six innings to the Minnesota Twins, the only American League team that has not yet recorded their 20th win, so the Yankee hitters need to go to work tonight and it done.

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