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Yankees April 2014 Wrap Up

Now that April is about over, let’s take a look at the Yankees first month of 2014. For some reason, I’ve decided to not count the series against the Seattle Mariners.

Obviously, starting off the year by losing a series to the hapless Houston Astros is now how you draw it up in the off season, but that’s how life goes sometimes. The best thing we can say about this series is at least they didn’t get swept and thank the heavens that the Astros aren’t in the Yankees division as out of division losses are slightly less painful. The Yankees moved on to Toronto where they won their first season against the Toronto Blue Jays who are, in my eyes, a pesky team, but that’s all. I’m sure we all imagine that the Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles will compete for fourth place in the division this year… Read the rest of this entry

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Jacoby Ellsbury works on Wall Street

You may have already seen the “Jacoby Elsbury is a Trader” photo that has been circulating around the web. Personally, I prefer the Johnny Damon defection signs that read, “Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary, acts like Judas,” but hey, to each his own… until you bring grammar and spelling into it. Now, you’re on my turf and I gotta come after ya.

Look, I studied English in college, and while I don’t claim to be a master (and lucky for me, I have a copy editor that fixes my mistakes – Thanks, Dr. Girlfriend!), I do try to check my work before publishing it. Now, I’m going to let the fact that this young lady is at a Yankees/Astros game and is wearing a hat of a team that’s not playing go. Let’s concentrate on the two big problems with the sign:

1. ‘Ellsbury’ has two Ls in it. If you’re going to be pissed at the guy, at least bother to look up the proper spelling of his name.
2. A “trader” is someone who trades stuff. Like a trader on a wall street, a kid who trades baseball cards, people who trade vintage dictionaries… that’s what trading is. A “traitor,” on the other hand, is one who betrays trust – that sort of thing. Kinda like the way this lady betrays all of her former teachers with her atrocious grammar and spelling.

Anyway, if you’re going to display a sign at a sporting event that’s not especially relevant to the game at hand, at least bother to get the grammar and spelling right.

Will the extra wild card water down post season teams?

This new one game play-in to get to the post season as the official wild card team has now placed a premium on the division title that there hasn’t really been before. Still, despite their injuries, the Yankees look primed to run away and hide with the AL East title and leave everyone fighting for scraps as they continue to plod along into August with their 6.5 game lead over the surprisingly +.500 Baltimore Orioles. So unless something happens between now and the end of the season, the wild card will keep more teams in the hunt longer (and really, just avoiding the inevitable), but perhaps has also altered the trade market in ways that we should have seen coming.

The wild card standings are tight. As of today:

  1. Detriot and Oakland tied
  2. Angels .5 games back
  3. Baltimore 1 game back
  4. Tampa Bay 2 games back
  5. Boston 4.5 games back
  6. Toronto 5 games back

and so on. And I think it’s worth mentioning that the shockingly bad Boston Red Sox as well as the Jose Bautista-less Toronto Blue Jays are both under .500, so it’s tough for me to consider them viable playoff teams. Still, with 2 months to play and about 4 games back, why would the Red Sox want to be sellers at the trade deadline? Crazier things have happened, and they have the talent to make a serious run. I don’t think they will, but who knows. It’s easy for a club to have that attitude, and ultimately, this second wild card has turned sellers to buyers and brought in these other so called contenders who will stand pat, as they’re probably not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to count themselves out.

And that’s what I’m saying – ultimately, with less sellers, the good teams will have a harder time getting better. With a bigger marketplace for sellers to make a trade, they’ll crank up the asking price, and teams won’t pay the outlandish rates, so everybody loses. The crappy teams keep the good player and the good teams go forward with what they have. This wasn’t much of a problem for the Yankees, who don’t have a lot of giant holes, but I’m sure this hurt somebody, somewhere. I believe I read that the Red Sox and Texas Rangers were talking about a blockbuster deal that fell apart because the Red Sox got prospect greedy, and I think that’s going to be the lay of the land going forward. Whether or not this is good for baseball is too early to tell, but I don’t think that keeping false hope alive for a team like the Red Sox does a service to anyone, nor does thinning out the trade market.

It should be noted that the Marlins and the Dodgers did a big deal, and the Yankees did land Ichiro (who is something of a shell of his former self, but still… ICHIRO!)… oh and the Angels got a big pitcher, too…

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.

I Still Can't Believe Bobby Valentine is the Red Sox's Manager

You know how sometimes you see a company making a decision that doesn’t make any sense to you? You hear what they’re doing and you think, "Why are they doing that? That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard!" Thats what it was like for me when the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine. As a former Mets manager, I have a pretty good idea of who the guy is and how he rolls, and you’d think the Sox checked up before they hired him… They must have, right? He’s already got Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis pissed at him on top of the fact that they’ve started off the 2012 season 4-7, which is kinda how I remember them starting of the 2011 season. I just can’t believe Valentine questioned Youkilis’s work ethic. Now if Valentine questioned his grooming habits, well, that’d be one thing, but he’s a first rate hitter who can man both the corner infield positions as good as anybody… I dont know what he was thinking.

I love that Brad from An A-Blog for A-Rod spells Dustin Pedroia "Dahhston Pedroyahh" – friggin awesome. Check out his site, at the link, he’s got all of the pertinent quotes compiled as well as excellent use of Seinfeld – as he often does.

Still, it’s only April – the Orioles are 7-4, so it’s too early to assume the Red Sox are riding on the proverbial Titanic, but I wouldn’t hire Bobby Valentine to captain my $146 million dollar boat.

Red Sox Fans

I caught myself feeling bad for Boston Red Sox fans last night and today – I won’t make that mistake again.

I wanted to hear what their fans were saying, and at OverTheMonster.com, I stumbled across this post:

The "Did That Really Just Happen?" Overflow Thread
by Ben Buchanan
Somehow, as always, the Yankees have made themselves the villains.

Really? The Yankees are the villians in this Red Sox tragedy? Really, Ben? That’s not even a little funny, ironic, or true in any way. When September started, the Red Sox had a lead on the division and the Yankees wild card lead was thought to be insurmountable. If you’re looking for a villain in all this, take a closer look at the Red Sox 40 man roster and the architects who put it together.

SB Nation user Tessie’s Dad has this as his tag line:

"What’s so special about Lou Gehrig? Shouldn’t EVERY Yankee have a disease named after him?"

I understand that Red Sox fans don’t like the Yankees, but really? No respect for ALS sufferers? And if you don’t know what’s so special about Gehrig, look up his numbers. Coincidentally, there is a disease named after you: Foot In Mouth Disease.
Also, he has Curt Schilling’s bloody sock as his avatar… meh.

And someone else attributed the fact that they didn’t recognize the handles of many of the posters who were making some of the negative comments to the fact that there were "Lot of Yankee fans here." Doing what, posing as depressed Red Sox fans who have every reason to be upset with the way their team played this month? Seems unlikely.

To be fair, most of the user comments got it right – the Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves. "Crawford, hustling like it’s an intra-squad game in March," "I don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust Papelbon again," or "That was pretty pathetic, death at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles." I’m sure the anger at Papelbon for blowing the save will dissipate, but it’s an understandable reaction, yet if you Red Sox fans want my opinion on which direction to cast stones, I would start with your pitching rotation, your general manager and yeah, the awful play of Carl Crawford is certainly worthy of a pebble or two. Red Sox would, however, do well to remember that Josh Beckett’s first season in Boston did not go very well, and it’s worked out pretty well since then.

Anyway, stay classy, Red Sox fans. Oh, and see you next year.

Season Over

Whew! That was the most exciting night in baseball I can recall when the Yankees had absolutely nothing at stake.

Completing the Sweep
I predicted it yesterday and it came to pass. The Yankees stuck to the plan and got in the work for everyone they wanted to and shelved the guys they wanted to rest. You might say it’s unfair to the Red Sox, but the Yankees first duty is to get themselves ready for the playoffs and the BoSox have no one to blame for the fact that they’re headed for the golf course but themselves.

The Harder They Fall
Again, I predicted it yesterday and it came to pass. The Red Sox just didn’t have enough left – or rather, Jonathan Papelbon didn’t have enough left after the Orioles worked him over hard on Tuesday night and put on great at bats last night. Again, The Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves – but what else can you say after a 6-20 September?

Be careful What You Wish For
I think it’s an easy bet to pick the Texas Rangers over the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round, but you never know. Tampa has mostly Boston’s ineptitude to thank for their playoff spot (and the Yankees, who were getting their house in order for October), but they might surprise us and take the Rangers down. Assuming the Yankees can navigate Justin Verlander, it could make for an interesting ALCS, bu we’re a long way’s off for that.

Facing Verlander
Brrr… Justin Verlander in a short series. This is why I wanted the Yankees to face the Rangers in the first round, but here we stand. On the other hand, if the Yankees can win game one, that puts Detroit in a pretty serious hole.

I Bet You Didn’t Know

A.J. Burnett is second to only C.C. Sabathia in team strike out totals with 173. Sabathia had 230 and Bartolo Colon is third with 135, so there is obviously a lot of separation between the Yankees strike out leaders.

PREDICTION: Rays Win Wildcard as Red Sox Complete Collapse

Tonight, the American League Wildcard Race could be decided (as could the National League Wildcard Race, but yawn), unless both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays have the same outcome, but that’s not what I foresee.

After last night’s victory over the Orioles, the Red Sox have to be a bit drained. Tonight, the BoSox are sending Jon Lester to the hill on short rest – I know it’s a must win game for them, but is this really their best option? Given the state of their pitching, it actually is. Also, Jonathan Papelbon threw over 25 pitches last night and although he had Monday off, he also threw a ton of pitches against he Yankees on Sunday. If they need him, how much does he have left? What about Daniel Bard? He also pitched yesterday. The Red Sox inabilty to keep the lowly Baltimore Orioles off the scoreboard is a problem that is bound to bite them in the butt again and although the Red Sox offense produced last night, it’s hard to have any faith in the team that has posted a 6-19 mark this month.

As for the Rays, they’re sitting pretty. The Rays will send power lefty David Price up against the Yankees starting pitcher To Be Decided – not to mention the fact that most position players not named Alex Rodriguez will probably ride the pine, and I don’t expect the Yankees to use any of their key relievers tonight, including Mariano Rivera, David Robertson or Rafael Soriano. Maybe the Yankees will start one of their kids like Dellin Betances and back him up with the likes of Andrew Brackman and Scott Proctor, although I also expect Phil Hughes to make an appearance out of the pen as that’s the role he’ll have in the playoffs. So yeah, I expect Tampa to beat the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees tonight. I mean the New York Yankees… whatever.

The Red Sox are certainly a better team than the Rays, but everything is against the Red Sox tonight while down in Tampa, every possible situation the Rays could ask for is coming to fruition. If you’re a gambler, put some money on Tampa to win.

A Tale of Two Colons

I know this isn’t new or good information, but Bartolo Colon just hasn’t been the same since he came back from the leg injury – but hey, the season is essentially over, so what else do we have to do? When you take a look at his game log, it shows you that every time he faces a good offense, he essentially gets hammered – and the only good hitting teams he’s faced are Toronto and Boston. Now if I recall correctly, the 0.2 IP start against Toronto was the alleged stealing signs game, so maybe you want to toss that one out, but even still, his numbers are kinda scarey in general. It’s hard to understand how he can get whipped so badly by a team like Tampa that gets a lot of it’s offensive production from Johnny Damon.

In other news (of a sort), Brian Cashman told ESPN New York that he only met with Carl Crawford’s agent to drive up the price for the Boston Red Sox. I think everyone knew that, but to actually hear him say it is pretty funny. And why would he say it now, right before the Red Sox pull into town? Maybe he is trying to pump everyone up for the series – including fans who might not be interested in coming to a wet, humid ballpark.

Also, I heard that Michael Vick is healthy enough to play with the Eagles against the Giants this weekend. I don’t usually hope someone gets hurt while playing a sport (or ever), but to the defensive players of the Giants: hit Vick. Hit him hard. Then do it again. Hit him so hard his Grandma hits him again because she remember why people hate him so much.

Fuck that prick.

Yankees Finally Win A Series Against Red Sox

Yes, it’s true: The Yankees finally won a series against the Red Sox – and in Fenway, no less! Better late than never, I suppose. But, maybe it’s because the Yankees had a little something extra this time around – Lord knows, A.J. Burnett needs all the help he can get. Maybe it was the need to prove themselves, maybe it was the desire to win, and speaking of ‘Lord,’ maybe it was…

JESUS.

That’s right, I said it: Jesus helped the Yankees win last night.

Jesus Montero. You know, the Yankees most highly regarded minor league prospect, who the Yankees just called up from their Scranton/Wilkes-Barre AAA affiliate club yesterday – he served as the team’s DH yesterday. Sure, he went 0-4 with 1 K, 6 left on base, a hit by pitch and a run scored, but maybe it was simply his divine presence that somehow alleviated the usual disaster that is A.J. Burnett’s fastball command.

All told, both teams left 18 (!) runners on base. The Yankees came up with some timely hits (all hail Russell Martin!), good bullpen performances and awesome defense – kudos especially go to the outfield, particularly a late into the game performance by Brett Gardner, who continued his hot defense from the night before as he again delivered Rafael Soriano from evil… hmm, maybe it’s Gardner who is the second coming.

Well, the Yankees are a half game behind the Red Sox now, and it really comes down to who you want the Yankees to face in the first round of the playoffs – the Detroit Tigers or the Texas Rangers. As for me, I prefer the Rangers; I know they’re a more complete team, but Justin Verlander scares me. A lot – and especially in a short series!

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