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Yankees Beat Os in Rain Soaked Blood Bath

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.

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Say It Ain't So, Joe Girardi

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.

Yankees First 6 Games Of 2012

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…

The Bullpen
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.

The Offense
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.

The Defense
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.

Going Forward
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.

Who Will Be The Yankees 4th and 5th Starters?

new-york-yankees-2012-pitching-rotation-battle

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.

Freddy Garcia

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.

A.J. Burnett

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.

Ivan Nova

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.

Phil Hughes

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.

Fickle Fan’s Yankee Player Shit List – OCT 7

yankee-stadium-facadeSometimes, 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.

ALDS Post Mortem: RISP Fail

Here’s some numbers for ya from last night’s ALDS game 5 between the Yankees and the Tigers:

Yankees Offense:
LOB: 20
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:

Alex Rodriguez:.111
Mark Teixeira:
.167
Nick Swisher: .211
Derek Jeter: .250

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.

Ivan Nova: Rookie of the Year

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!

Night of Blunders decreases Yanks wildcard lead

MLB.com’s headline, "Abreu torches Yanks with homer off Mo" might be hyperbole (the game was tied, after all; it wasn’t a save situation), but it’s general sentiment sums up the Yankees performance during the evening well enough.

This season, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have scored 447 runs – that might sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the Red Sox’s league leading 629 or the Yankees own 607, you realize that you’re dealing with a team that has trouble scoring runs – at least compared to the superior teams in the league. So of course, A.J. Burnett promptly gives up the big hit and allows 4 runs in 6 IP… did I mention he allowed all 4 runs in the 6th inning? The guy has won some big games for the Yankees (game 2 of the 2009 world series), but these days, Burnett often folds like Superman on laundry day – faster than a speeding bullet. I think it’s time to admit that Burnett can’t start a game in the playoffs.

Yes, Mariano Rivera gave up the go ahead 2 run home run, and boy, did he look shocked. Mo usually goes through a phase where he gets hit hard around this time of year, so it’s no concern – but it couldn’t of happened at a worse time.

Curtis Granderson, who started things rolling with a solo home run, ended the scoring just as suddenly when he he got picked off with two outs in the bottom of the 9th as the Yankees tried to rally back from a two run deficit. I know it happens to everyone, but it looked HORRIBLE.

The Yankees need to put last night’s blunder behind them and rally behind Ivan Nova, who gave the Chicago White Sox a tremendous beating his last time out. They still retain a 6 game lead in the wild card, but the Yankees are a decidedly better team than the Angels, and there’s no reason to let things get interesting.

Yankees stand pat, win home stand

After a 7-3 home stand that ended with the Yankees standing pat at the trade deadline, the Bombers head out on the road to play four games in Chicago with the White Sox and then 3 games in Boston with the Red Sox. When reached for comment, Don Henley remarked, “Hmph… .”

I’d hoped that the Yankees would have managed one sweet during the home stand that features competition including the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and the American League bottom rung in wins Baltimore Orioles and go 8-2, but you can’t have everything. After winning the first game of the road trip against the White Sox, the Yankees were able to gain a game on the Red Sox and are now only one game behind in the division – although at this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that both teams will make the playoffs.

I can’t remember the last time the Yankees did nothing at the trade deadline, but I guess it just wasn’t in the stars. As Ubaldo Jimenez seemed to be the most likely candidate to be acquired, the YES Network reported during last night’s game that the Colorado Rockies weren’t willing to let the deal be finalized after Jimenez passed a physical. That’s a little suspicious, no? Oh well – it sounds like the Yankees were willing to give up the farm for him, and after reviewing his declining numbers coupled with the no physical clause, I’m OK with passing on this opportunity.

So that’s where the Yankees stand – we’re going to war with the team we have. And hopefully, there are more reinforcements coming from the disabled list in the persons of Alex Rodriguez and Damaso Marte; the latter has been gone so long that I don’t think I could pick him out of a line up.

So can the Yankees win the World Series with the pitching rotation they have? I’m not sure about that. If Bartolo Colon is healthy and throwing well in October, that certainly increases their chances. I’d say that Ivan Nova is on the verge of taking Phil Hughes‘ rotation spot, and if he’s throwing well come late September, Joe Girardi is going to have some tough decisions about who starts, who relieves and who gets left off the roster. Let the competition begin!

Winning and Injuries

The Yankees are 8-2 over their last ten games and 13 games over .500, a 2011 season high, and I’m excited about that – but this team needs help. Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees deserve kudos for the winnings they’ve been doing, but this team has some glaring holes – some I understand, like the bullpen, but then, when they only score 1 run in Chicago against one of the worst pitchers in the game and let him hang around for 8 innings… it’s hard to know what to think. This and other Yankees issues are probably due to age, injury, regression or all three issues.

So who’s hurt these days? Its so numerous that it’s getting tough to keep track of. Fortunately, it looks like we’re going to get Jeter, Colon and Hughes back – 2009 Jeter is probably never going to show up again, but, he’s probably the lesser of alternative evils. Colon is a must and Brian Cashman is practically married to Phil Hughes, so if you don’t like Hughes… you’re out of luck.

Derek Jeter
El Calfstrain is just short of his 3000th hit, and while it’s kinda crazy that we get to watch the active hit leader and in the future can say, "I saw that guy play," you have to admit that he’s kinda dragging the team down with his bat and lack of range at short. On the other hand, Eduardo Nunez’s fielding can only be described as frightening, but more on that later.

Bartolo Colon
If you pray, please pray for Colon every night. We need this guy back at 100% – hopefully, right after the All Star break. Without him… I don’t know how realistic our chances are of actually going anywhere in the playoffs. He’s that important!

Phil Hughes

If you haven’t seen the reports, it sounds like his first rehab start went well, the velocity is there and he’s feeling good, so maybe we’re getting the good Phil Hughes back, but this guy is as unpredictable as they get – I know he won a zillion games last year, but I have trouble trusting this guy – he’s either going good, going bad or hurt. Consistency isn’t his strong point.

All Left Handed Relievers Except He Who Shall Hence Be Known As "The Crappy One"

Let’s see… I read somewhere that both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte are starting to throw off flat ground, but who knows what that means in terms of a return time table. If neither of them can get David Ortiz out, then it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Joba Chamberlain

See you next year, Joba. Anybody got a spare setup man lying around that they’re not using?

Rafael Soriano

Oh right, you were supposed to be the setup man. I forgot. Joba was going to the 7th inning guy… anyway, Soriano is still supposed to be resting and maybe will come back in the middle of July, but I’m not holding my breath.

So we definitely need more pitching, but that’s not a surprise – although I thought it was going to be starting pitching, not bullpen help. So let’s take a look at who stinks.

Eduardo Nunez (fielding)
So, now that you’ve seen Eduardo Nunez for a while at short, what do you think? Obviously, he can’t field worth a damn – every time he picks up the ball, I say a silent prayer and everybody sitting behind 1st base braces for impact. Nunez can hit, but I’m starting to wonder whether or not this guy belongs in the infield.

Boone Logan aka "The Crappy One"
If Boone Logan was a Sioux, his name would be "Only On Team Because He’s Left Handed," or something more clever than that. Since he can’t get anybody out, he decided to try a different strategy against the Reds – just hit the guy, it’s faster. He’s given up 16 hits in 16 innings while walking 8 and striking out 11. That is NOT getting it done.

The Bullpen
We’ve got David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and a collection of stiffs. Seriously… the Yankees are, as of this writing, carrying 12 pitchers on there roster – and I’m sure it would be 13 if they could find another lefty. It’s that bad. I know Hector Noesi has looked good and Corey Wade has looked good so far, but we need more help, and we can’t count on any of the DL relief corps to come back. It’s time to go to the scrap pile (again) or make a trade.

Francisco Cervelli

I don’t expect backup catchers to hit, but this guy has got to field better. In fact, he’s got to field great – because if a backup catcher can’t catch, then what’s the damn point? It’s not like he’s a regular position player who you expect to contribute with the bat – Cervelli is a catcher and the guy just isn’t getting it done behind the plate. Cervelli and Nunez need to do serious work this winter.

Other Stuff

I guess Nick Swisher is finding his swing, but splits are still frightening. Jorge Posada is also looking better at the plate, but… who knows. The Brett Gardner Crisis of April has been officially over as he’s gotten his average almost up to .300 now – too bad he completely forgot how to run or steal bases. Kudos are due to Ivan Nova, who has really done well in his last several starts, especially last night. A-Rod is apparently playing hurt, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him much; but, if he is truly hurt, the Yankees would be wise to DL him now rather than waiting – Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira can supply the power in the interim.

Now what?
The bench needs help and the Yankees desperately need relief pitching, and they need the two hardest things to get: a lefty and a setup guy. Can these holes be filled? I’m sure we can find guys to fix the bench, but the bullpen is going to be tricky. I hate to tie my hopes to Rafael Soriano coming back to the team healthy and effective, but I’m betting there aren’t many other choices.

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