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Phil Hughes is the new A.J. Burnett and the search for offense

*The title for this post sounds like a weird sports/fantasy/adventure 80s movie, doesn’t it?

I know, I know, I keep harping on Phil Hughes, but can you blame me? Look at his game log – look! He’s only effective against anemic offenses and just about anybody with a bat and a pulse crushes him. The dude has a 5 ERA for a reason and his WHIP is abysmal. And speaking of WHIP, take a look at Joba Chamberlain’s game log. It is FUGLY. Both Hughes and Chamberlain will be free agents after the season is over, but they’re still around right now, stinking up the joint… Is there any way to turn them into a positive?

The answer is probably a resounding ‘no.’ Does any contender need pitching this badly? (Or, maybe the question is, "Does any contender want pitchers this bad?") But, if the Yankees could somehow find another team that has a surplus of bats, then maybe they could find someone who is either going to be a Free Agent or has some money left on their contract the Yankees could eat. 1st and 3rd base seems like a logical place to start as Mark Teixeira’s season ending surgery seems to be only a matter of time and Lyle Overbay is… well, Lyle Overbay. A-Rod could easily be ineffective, suspended or just never even make it back – who knows. And there’s probably too much of a log game in the corner outfield spots what with Ichiro and Vernon Wells, who we’re stuck with until at least the 2014 All Star break.

Why anyone would agree to take Hughes and Chamberlain for anything is beyond me, but I can’t help but try to think positively. Maybe Hughes could flourish in a bigger ballpark – maybe Chamberlain just needs a change of scenery. Who knows… if there’s anyone who has pitching problems the way the 2004 thru 2008 Yankees did, maybe Hughes and Chamberlain could fill a hole. I wouldn’t count on it, but the Yankees need to add a bat – and I think some addition by subtraction via an exit for Hughes from the rotation would be another positive step.

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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On Petitte and Teixeira

Andy Pettite is BACK. The starting rotation is set.

If you didn’t love Pettitte’s first start in his comeback from reitrement, I can’t blame you. Two home runs is a tough day, but besides those mistakes, you have to like what you’ve seen his first MLB start since 2010. His fastball was right where it needed to be (89ish) and his cutter, curveball and slider were all working. If he can stay healthy, I think we can look forward to some fun Pettitte starts throughout this season.

Finally – the rotation is set! No more waiting! And I have to say, I’m comfortable going to war with these guys: Sabathia, Kudora, Hughes, Pettitte and Nova is probably the best rotation the Yankees have had in some years, and backed by a quality bullpen (even without Mariano Rivera), this could take the Yankees far. I’m very optimistic about the upside!

Ah, but then there’s the offense. They only mustered two runs yesterday, and the Mariners walked in both of them. Friggin horrible! And will someone get the paddles and try to resuscitate Mark Teixeira? I know the dude is/was sick, but this is getting ridiculous.

Mark’s triple slash:
.223 / .275 /.369

4 homers, 17 RBI

This is not cutting it, dogg.

If Joe Girardi bats him higher than 5th at this point, I’m going to have to steal the match-up binder, light it on fire and hurl at Teixeira during BP. Maybe he can hit that out of the infield.

I know it’s not Teixeira’s fault that offense laid down to Kevin Millwood (well, not all his fault), but Teixeira is the sort of bat that’s supposed to pick the team up, not drag it down.

Yankee Offense-less

David Robertson needed to do his job last night, and he didn’t – but he wasn’t the only one.

The Yankees offense needs to get their collective act together, ASAP. D-Rob gets a pass from me for last night – he’s allowed to screw up every once and a while. I’ll also excuse Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, because those guys have been dominant in 2012. The rest of you guys are slacking.

Last night:

0-8 with runners in scoring position

1 RBI (Robinson Cano, double, scoring Jeter from first)

That’s it. Nick Swisher had that great 11 pitch at bat, but nothing came of that. Hitters are supposed to win those long duels! Mark Teixeira is really starting to worry me – I know he always starts slow, but it’s May – let’s pick it up, guy!

9 hits, 1 extra base hit

9 hits isn’t bad, but one extra base hit coupled with 1 RBI is shameful. They need to figure out a way to string three hits together or… something! Hopefully, Brett Gardner can get these guys going, but I don’t really buy the idea that Gardner is the missing piece because Jeter is sitting at the top of the line up hitting .400.

Tonight, the Yankees face David Price. I don’t think he has great numbers against the Yankees, but he is a great pitcher.

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.

The Yankee Fan’s Prayer

a-j-burnett-new-tattooLord, protect us from your servant, A.J. Burnett.

Protect us from his fastball command,

Protect us from his 59 feet curve balls,

And give strength to that new tattoo that is not helping at all.

Lord, guide Russell Martin’s Canadian glove hand,

Let him block pitches and wield a mighty April-like bat.

Lord, help Derek Jeter hit with runners in scoring position,

Seriously – people are booing A-Rod and Jeter has left a small village on the base paths.

And Lord, speaking of Alex Rodriguez and, while we’re at it, the middle of the order -

Can you do something about Mark Teixeira’s anemic bat?

Lord, keep Joe Girardi’s head in the game and out of the match up binder.

Make sure he doesn’t stick with A.J. for too long like he did with C.C. Sabathia last night.

I still can’t believe he let Brett Gardner bat in the 9th inning when they were down by one with a runner on.

Lord, How did it come to this?  A season in the pitching hand of A.J. Burentt;

Is this because Jesus Montero didn’t get into the game last night?

Game 151 – Phoning it in

There’s resting players and then there’s "Eh, I could care less about the outcome of today’s game." Sunday’s game was the latter when Joe Girardi sat Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson. I completely understood why he did it – off days in September are over for the rest of the month and on their last off day, they were flying from Seattle to Toronto, so that probably doesn’t offer much in the way of relaxation. Here’s the lineup they trotted out, which was able to produce zero runs.

Brett Gardner, CF
Eduardo Nunez, 2B
Robinson Cano, DH
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 1B
Russell Martin, C
Chris Dickerson, LF
Ramiro Pena, SS

Freddy Garcia, SP

I would usually talk a lot about how Freddy Garcia didn’t last five innings, but when the offense doesn’t score any runs, what’s the difference?

Somebody wake up Joe Girardi!

AJ Burnett is not necessarily the best pitcher to ever grace a mound with his presence. Sure, you’ll hear tales of his filthy stuff, and it’s true, to an extent: Burnett has some good pitches in his arsenal, including a hard fastball and a snapping curve ball. In yesterday’s fourth of July game, he struggled but overcame in the 1st inning but overall, pitched 6 solid innings. Sure, at the end of the 6th, he looked a little tired, but I couldn’t begrudge Joe Girardi for sending him out there for the 7th, especially after how much the bullpen worked in the Mets series. But at some point, you have to go to your bullpen.

AJ Burnett is not the sort of guy who saves your bullpen; he’s just not. Sure, he’ll go 8 innings every once and a while, but it’s just not who he is. So after that Shelly Duncan at bat, during which Burnett was clearly tired and didn’t have anything left and couldn’t snap off a curve ball to save his life, Girardi left him in there. He didn’t go to his bullpen, he didn’t send Larry Rothschild or even Russell Martin out there to give him a breather.

After the Duncan single, I thought it was obvious that it was time for a call to the bullpen to get somebody up before the ball got back to the infield, followed by a lengthy mound visit. Then, the next batter should have been given the unintentional intentional walk. By then, your bullpen guy ought to be ready to go, and you make the change. It’s that simple.

Instead, BOOM – home run, and the Yankees go on to loose a game they should have found a way to win. Nice job, Girardi!

YANKEESNEWS VIA TEXT:
Today’s text reads: “HBO & MLB Productions to produce a 1 hour special chronicling Jeter’s 3K chase.”
My guess is that working titles include, “Boring as Hell: Jeter’s 3000 Chase” or “Jeter Documentary: The Best Editing You’ll Ever See,” because this must be one boring film. How much drama could the end possibly have in store? Jeter did not have a good offensive year last year (.270 average, 179 hits), nor has he this year (.256 average, 68 hits), and he’s been hurt for the last several weeks with 6 hits to go. Maybe I’ll get more excited about this as we get to the end, but right now, I’m not interested in Jeter’s personal achievements – but I’m happy to have his glove back, because Edwardo Nunez can not field.

YANKEES VIA EMAIL:
subject – MLB best Six Yankees are headed to the All-Star Game

In case you didn’t already hear, the Yankees heading to the All Star game are

Can we PLEASE climb out of Jeter’s ass? A-Rod has been to the All Star Game a few times, why can’t we count how many times he’s been? And really, Jeter is one of the six best Yankees on the team? Really? Derek Jeter is having a better year and/or is more valuable to the team that Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia or Brett Gardner? Or how about David Robinson, for that matter? I feel like I spend a lot of time writing negative things about Jeter in this space, but I don’t hate the guy – I just don’t think he’s the golden god everyone else makes him out to be – at least he’s not anymore.

Whatever, I don’t care about the all star game and I wish no Yankees were going, because if anyone gets so much as a cramp from appearing in the farce, I’m going to be PISSED!

Yanks and Chi Sox split 4 game set

When two teams get together and play a four game set, I would bet on a split every time – yet the Yankees should have took three out of four against the inferior Chicago White Sox. Let’s take a look at the series using my The Good, The Bad and the Fug-Ugly style. I heard that Mark Teixeira was sitting for game four just as a precaution to rest his sore shoulder, but I don’t know why The Captain sat for that game, too. Maybe just a scheduled night off for Derek Jeter? Or Joe Girardi is hoping a rest will jump start his bat? No idea. However, I think it is only a coincidence that the Yankees scored a million runs on the night Jeter wasn’t in the line up.

The Good:
The Starting Pitching – sure, you can argue that the Chicago White Sox aren’t the best offense in the league, but they’re far from the MLB leading worst run scoring San Diego Padres, who have only managed to score 70 runs on the young season. In case you’re wondering, the Yankees have 126 and the White Sox have 103 – the Cleveland Indians lead MLB with 129 and the St Louis Cardinals lead MLB with 136.
So yeah, the Yankees starting pitching blew my mind during this season, performing well above my expectations. We got two stellar eight inning performances from AJ Burnett and Bartolo Colon, and CC Sabathia had a fine night while any time Ivan Nova doesn’t get his ass handed to him, I call that a victory. If you’ve already started building a statue to Colon on your front lawn so you can leave offerings at it before each of his starts, I don’t blame you. Finish that shiz! =)

The Bad:
The Offense – For an offense of the Yankees caliber, a shutout is pretty hard to accept despite who is pitching on the opposing side. And yes, I know they got their hits in last night, but it sure did take long enough. But, Nick Swisher finally got the home run column filled, so maybe he’ll start hitting… wait, did he hit it right handed or left handed? Please tell me he hit it left handed, because he’s been so bad against left-handed pitchers so far this year…

The Fug-Ugly:
The Bridge to Mo – They only had one chance to get the ball to Mariano Rivera, and they blew it. I’m not worried about Rafael Soriano going forward, but it’s time to pick it up. Blowing leads against the White Sox at home is not acceptable!

The Yankees have Toronto coming in this weekend – hopefully, the Yanks pitching can keep the Blue Jays homers to a minimum.  Also:  Francisco Cervelli returns to the roster tonight!

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