Ivan Nova had a good (if not great) return to the Yankees starting pitching rotation yesterday, his first MLB innings since Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are carrying six starting pitchers (seven if you count Capuano, which I do NOT) and given the way bullpens are used in the modern game, this six man rotation can’t last forever. Obviously, CC Sabathia is the worst pitcher in the rotation, but getting him out of there is going to be next to impossible. Read the rest of this entry
The Yankees are about an eighth of the way through the season, so I thought I’d take a look at what’s working, not working and what needs to be taken behind the barn and shot.* Read the rest of this entry
Stick a fork in it, the Yankees 2014 season is over.
Although Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow injury does not require surgery, he is expected to miss six weeks, which really means at least six weeks, which I suspect will easily turn into eight weeks. Given the Yankees patch work starting pitching rotation and inept offense, the Yankees can’t afford to miss one of Tanaka’s starts, never mind 6 weeks worth. This essentially turns the Yankees from an 85ish win team to a 75ish win team, meaning no miracle can help them get the playoffs and the season is effectively over.
Unless the Yankees can pull off a trade for David Price or someone similar (which they probably should NOT do as it’s this sort of trade away the future thinking got them into this mess in the first place), their season is completely screwed.
I can’t stress that enough – the Yankees have effectively been eliminated from the playoffs and we’re not at the all star break yet. This is easily shaping up to be the worst Yankees season for me since the strike.
Let’s do a quick starting pitcher autopsy:
CC Sabathia (knee, knee again), Michael Pineda (shoulder again), Ivan Nova (elbow) and Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) – four of five opening day starters are gone. Somehow, 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda is the only member of the rotation to avoid the starting pitcher injury bug. The oldest guy. The guy who ran out of gas last year is the last man standing. Bizarre.
If this team had the 2004 Yankees offense, maybe they could bludgeon their way into the playoffs against the mediocre AL East, but this team can barely hit with a high school squad, so that’s not gonna work.
Yeah, we’re pretty well boned all right.
I guess Mark Teixeira dropped by the site yesterday, read the post and thought, "PSH, I’ll show him!" I’m sure that’s exactly what happened.
Teixeira’s sound barrier breaking (and tie breaking) two run homer was a welcomed site, as was the double off the wall. Teix’s homer didn’t end up on Eutaw Street like Curtis Granderson’s did, but whatever. It’s nice to see Teix flexing his muscles – hopefully, it continues. As for the Grandy-man – sheesh, his 12th homer of the season. Somebody go get that dude a gator aid, he earned it. (Make sure you get him the right one – warm up, recover… what in the hell happened to Gatoraid, anyway? When did it become a fucking science experiment?)
Not only did my boy Ivan Nova get his ass kicked again, but he left the game with an injury. I know the x-ray results were negative, but maybe this is the perfect time for him to get away for a while and hide on the DL. I’m comfortable with David Phelps for a few weeks.
Speaking of getting their ass kicked, Raul Ibanez got hit by a pitch in the elbow, but he’s probably OK to pitch hit tonight as he won’t start against the lefty. It sounds like Clay Rapada is fairly sick, but I doubt he’ll go on the DL. Even if he does, no big deal; losing the second lefty for two weeks is not a big deal.
On the other hand, if David Robertson’s rib cage injury is serious… fuck. That’s the biggest worry of them all, and if it’s some kind of oblique injury, I bet we loose Robertson until after the all star break, which sucks very hard indeed. The minor league depth is going to be tested if Robertson is going to be missed for a long while, but I would think somebody like D.J. Mitchell could show up and pull a Joba Chamberlain circa… when was that, 2008?
We’ll have to wait and see how all this shakes out. Keep your fingers and toes crossed.
Why, Joe? Why?
I just don’t understand why Joe Girardi sent Ivan Nova back out there for the 7th inning. It just didn’t make any sense. He’d had struggles often during the night, but had managed to come up big when he needed to – it had been a tough 6 innings. He held the Baltimore Orioles to 7 hits and 3 walks, but most impressively, the Os were 2-11 with RISP. That’s a lot of base runners, a lot of stressful innings, but in the end, the Os only came up with 2 runs in the first 6 innings. And Nova was at 99 pitches.
So what does Girardi do? Ne sends Nova back out there and he gives up 3 more runs.
You just can’t lose a series to the Baltimore Orioles at home. No matter how well they’re playing. It just can’t be allowed. I don’t know what’s up with the Yankees pathetic bats and Girardi can’t go out there and hit the ball for them, but he has to control what he can control, and sending Nova back out there was a mistake I can’t even being to understand. There’s just no rational. He used Corey Wade anyway, and if the Yankees somehow got 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th, Girardi would have went to his formula guys. If Wade gives up 3 runs, then he goes to Freddy Garcia for the last innings – like he did anyway. I don’t get it. Didn’t he take Hiroki Kuroda out of the game after 7 innings with an 89 pitch count just to go to his formula? I only bring this up because clearly Girardi doesn’t care about his guys getting stretched out to 115 – he just wants to win the game… right? Then why leave Nova in, who put runners on base all night? I don’t get it. There are a million defenses Girardi could use if he took Nova out after 6 and the bullpen let the game get out of hand:
"Nova was gassed."
"Nova had guys on base all night."
"Nova was at 99 pitches."
"It was a stressful 6 innings for Nova and I didn’t want to tempt fate with 9 outs left for our bats to try to get some runs."
"I wanted to get Nova out of there so he could feel good about this start. Six innings and two runs is nothing to be ashamed of."
I hate to join the bandwagon, but Joe Girardi’s pitching management and match up binder are starting to bug me.
The Yankees will play their home opener this afternoon, but before that, let’s take a look back at their first 6 games of the season in the road trip that started in disaster and ended in triumph.
Let’s break it down:
The Starting Rotation
Holy hell, what a disaster. Sure, it’s still early and I’m not rushing to judgement, but Ivan Nova is the only starter who’s put in a decent performance so far. C.C. Sabathia can’t command his fastball, Phil Hughes is looking better than last year (but that doesn’t say much), Freddy Garcia is trying to kill the dirt in front of home plate with his splitter and Hiroki Kuroda was up in the zone all night long. Here’s hoping he’ll be better today and everyone else will straighten out. I’m not worried about C.C. Sabathia, and what we’ve seen from Kuroda isn’t his reputation, so not much to worry about there, either – as for Hughes and Garcia… well, the clock is ticking. Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda are on the way. How Sabathia got through six innings last night is anybody’s guess…
All hail the bullpen! For it is the bullpen corps that were the road trip saviors! Sure, Mariano Rivera did blow that first game, but whatever – that’s going to happen from time to time – he’s rebounded nicely. Just because I worship the guy doesn’t make him an infallible god. David Robertson likes to make us sweat, but he gets the job done. Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano also deserve high praise for their performances last night.
Some ups, some downs, but mostly, I’m happy with the overall production – what I’d like to see is some POWER! What do Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez all have in common? No homers. I guess if they hang out with Derek Jeter, it’s a No Homers club – they’re allowed to have one. Derek Jeter is on fire so far this year – that guy sure is good at putting naysayers in their place.
For the most part, I’m happy, but let’s do our best to keep Raul Ibanaz on the bench as the DH, hmm? And Eduardo Nunez… I just don’t know what to say about Eduardo Scissorhands. I’d need to see how he plays on a day to day basis (and I am starting to hope I never find out what that looks like) to know for sure, but I’m starting to think that this guy is just not an infielder.
Joe Girardi’s Match Up Binder
I’ve enjoyed Girardi’s tenure as manager so far, particularly his skill with the bullpen and keeping those guys healthy – a refreshing change after Joe Torre’s reign of terror (ask Scott Proctor, Mike Myers, Paul Quantral… you know, anybody that pitched out of the pen for Torre). Still, when he plays match ups in the first inning, I get annoyed – you can imagine what I was thinking when he went to match up strategies and started intentionally walking guys in the first inning of the first game of the season with his ace on the mound! On the other hand, I loved when he brought the extra infielder into the game, even if it was Eduardo Scissorhands.
I think things can only improve from here. Sabathia and Kuroda should round into form, I’m sure Sweaty Freddy will find his splitter and reinforcements are on the way.
At this point, I think it’s pretty clear that the Yankees intend to front their rotation with C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. But who will they slot in as their fourth and fifth starters, and in what order? There is a case to be made for all the candidates.
Garcia gave the Yankees 25 starts, 146.2 IP of 3.62 ERA ball – not exactly setting the world on fire, but more than serviceable. He’s a veteran, he’s been this guy for two seasons in a row, and, like any pitcher, you know what he’s going to get unless he breaks.
At this point, the only positive thing I can say about Burnett‘s tenure with the Yankees is he always takes the ball when it’s his turn and he soaks up innings. If the Yankees are willing to eat say… 75% of his salary, they can probably trade him, but that’s a spicy meatball.
Nova’s rookie campaign have the Yankees 165.1 IP of 3.70 ERA ball in 27 starts while going 16-4. That’s impressive. Now I think it’s fair that no one expects him to repeat that performance in 2012, but Nova looks like the real deal, and I don’t see any reason why the Yankees would want to disrupt his progress (Hughes style… Chamberlain style… sigh.), so it stands to reason they’ll find a spot for him.
Hughes has been the Yankees pet project for years, but I think it’s finally over. Hughes has repeatedly shown success in the bullpen while the injuries just keep piling up. Sure, he had that one strong year in 2010, but his health is a concern.
So what’s a team with four arms for two spots to do?
Nothing. Having too many starting pitchers is the sort of problem that could work itself out before opening day as someone could get injured. Phil Hughes’ fastball velocity could be in the toilet again… Burnett might get punched in the face again… Garcia might have another kitchen accident… who knows?
Make a trade. The bullpen is already pretty crowded, so maybe the Yankees try to move Hughes. On the other hand, his value is low now, so the Yankees would be selling low, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. They have been reportedly shopping Burnett for months now, and, because they are sick of his act, may be willing to eat a ton of money just to get rid of him – especially now, with this influx of too many arms and a need for a part time DH. (Of course, they can keep Burnett and pick up Johnny Damon or Carlos Pena for straight cash.
But what will they do? What do I think they’ll do? I think they’ll force Burnett out the door for a bag of balls… but we’ll see.
Sometimes, players don’t perform to expectations – other times, they just suck in general. Either way, they’ll find a home (whether temporary or permanent) on the Fickle Fan’s Yankee Player Shit List.
LIST DATE: OCTOBER 7, 2011
PLAYER: Alex Rodriguez
TRANSGRESSION: An easy target – his sleepy bat and two of the most painful strike outs (one with the bases loaded, one to end the game) will probably keep him on the list all winter.
PLAYER: C.C. Sabathia
TRANSGRESSION: He gave up a run in an elimination game and his 6.23 post season ERA – an easy addition to the list.
PLAYER: Ivan Nova
TRANSGRESSION: Back to back dingers in an elimination game will get you on the list.
PLAYER: Mark Teixeira
TRANSGRESSION: His batting average is an eyesore! But hats off to the RBI walk.
PLAYER: Nick Swisher
TRANSGRESSION: His batting average is an eyesore and that strikeout with the bases loaded haunts my dreams!
Submit your suggestions for the Fickle Fan’s Yankee Player Shit List in the comments below.
Here’s some numbers for ya from last night’s ALDS game 5 between the Yankees and the Tigers:
Team LOB: 11
RBI: Cano (9), Teixeira (1)
2-out RBI: Cano; Teixeira
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Posada; Cano; Gardner 2; Swisher 2
Team RISP: 2-for-9
Pretty abysmal, right? I wonder why they couldn’t get the big hit last night – they certainly ran into some good pitching, that’s part of it, but maybe not the whole story. I really thought someone was going to come up with a single the second time the bases were loaded, but we all know now that Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher bot struck out – not to be confused with Russell Martin and Brett Gardner grounding out the first time the bases were juiced. Maybe I can find the answer if I drift through the local papers…
OK, this was a mistake. When I am going to learn to stop reading NYPost.com?
The richest team in baseball history, the most talented in the game, and you could almost hear the players’ knees knocking over the din of the crowd. Does that come from the manager? Girardi was forced to his bullpen early when Ivan Nova’s forearm started to bark, but it was his choice to use Phil Hughes for only four outs, his choice to use CC Sabathia, his choice to use seven pitchers.
Those relievers, save for Sabathia, were perfect. And you could argue Girardi was merely matching the urgency of the situation.
But you could also argue that anxiety and stress flow from the top down.
Here are the batting averages for the ALDS for the following players:
Obviously, batting average isn’t the best measure of offensive production (especially across such a small sample size), but since Mike Vaccaro went with batting average elsewhere in his article, I might as well, too. Obviously, the dominance of Justin Verlander and some of the other Tigers starters has a lot to say about this, but really, Mr. Vaccaro? You think these guys didn’t get the big hit last night because Joe Girardi was too anxious and his players fed off that same anxiety? Talk about having no respect for the guy throwing the ball… I’m not trying to let the Yankees’ bats off the hook, but that’s a pretty far leap from these guys just not getting it done to some psycho-semantic stress response that induced knee knocking tension. “Does that come from the manager?” Really? I have no idea where Mr. Vaccaro got that from. I guess that in the search for answers, some grasp at straws… or just make shit up.
I checked some other papers, but to no avail: Mike Lupica just complained that the Yankees are the most expensive team in baseball and have only won one ring over the last 10 years. This seems like a silly argument because most teams don’t even make the playoffs every year, which the Yankees have save one – never mind win the World Series. If 1-10 over the last decade isn’t enough for Mr. Lupica, how many World Series victories would be? Two? Three? Four? Five? Does he expect them to win the whole damn thing every single year because they have the highest payroll? Surely he knows that’s not how it works… Anyway, the NY Times just offered reporting as that’s what they’re best at.
What else can I say? It was a close game, the Yankees lost, and it was probably closer than it should have been considering the Yankees fashioned 7 innings out of their bullpen. Once Ivan Nova left the game, visions of the 2003 World Series and David Wells‘ balky back began to drift across my mind – not to mention the fact that teams hardly ever win games when their starter doesn’t give them at least 5 innings. I’m forced to go back to my musings from Spring Training – at that point, I thought the Yankees didn’t have the pitching to win a World Series, but when it came down to this game 5, they just couldn’t muster the offense.
In the end, I don’t feel to bad about this loss – the Yankees just couldn’t get the big hit and for whatever reason, I’m OK with that. At least they didn’t get shelled – that would have really bothered me.
Jim McIsaac’s photo of Ivan Nova says it all: this guy can PITCH!
I don’t know what asinine method the baseball writers use to vote for Rookie of the Year (probably whoever hits the most home runs), but I can guarantee that Ivan Nova won’t win, although he probably should. I’m not a big believer in wins as a standard of judgement for starting pitchers, but you can’t deny a 16-4 record. Nova’s 3.62 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) yielded less than a hit per inning (155 hits in 159 IP) which is impressive given his lack of strike out ability, although that may change as his slider develops.
(Uhm, Nova didn’t have enough days in the league last year to qualify, right?)
So three cheers for Ivan Nova, the Yankees number 2 starter!