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Yankees Austerity Measures

I was going to write a post about the Yankees and their 2014 austerity plan, but there are already plenty of good posts about this subject, like this one from Yanks Go Yard and this one from Bronx Baseball Daily. Essentially, I think it’s time to call bullshit on the Yankees. Sure, I get that they’ll save some money if they’re under the luxury tax threshold and that getting under the said luxury tax threshold will resent the interest rate paid the next time they go over it, but when they charge $9 for one beer and your first born child for parking, I expect the Yankees to spend – especially when YES is overflowing the Yankees coffers with money, besides their other revenue streams. I’m not saying that saving $10 million isn’t significant, but when you billions… it’s like me saving $100 bucks. Significant for me, yes, but not a lot of money that will change my life.

Meanwhile, Russell Martin got 2 years and $17 million from the Pirates, which begs the question who will be the Yankees opening day catcher next year. Presumably, someone who can at least catch but probably hit .200 with no power, so… I guess that’s that. And with Nick Swisher presumably leaving, the Yankees really need to find some right handed power in a hurry and one that fits their ass hatted, penny pitching, wasting my mother fucking time budget!

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Better get your last looks at Nick Swisher in pinstripes

The Yankees might only have two games left this season… So Nick Swisher fans, be aware: On October 15, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues wrote, "I’ll be stunned if the Yankees do not re-sign Ichiro Suzuki to replace Swisher next year." I was thinking the same thing.

I tend to agree that this will happen and with this as a move the Yankees should make. There was little chance the Yankees were going to resign Swisher anyway because of their 2014 reduced payroll plan and the big dollars Swisher is likely to command – couple those nuggets with the fact that Swisher has been a dud in all four post seasons he’s played with the Yankees (Swisher’s lifetime quad slash in the post season is .167/.284/.300/.584) and that Ichiro looks to be rejuvenated by playing on a good team and will probably only going to get a 1 or 2 yr deal (at most) for maybe $8 million/yr (at most) where as Swish is more likely to command something like 4 yrs @ $15 mil/yr. Ichiro fits in better with the Yankees long term plans and their needs to diversify their offense by adding more contact hitters. Not that Ichiro will be here long term – maybe 2 years, max – but Ichiro helps them as a stop gap right fielder until they can get their 2014 ducks in a row while a new contract for Swisher will just make their path going forward that much more difficult.

What i’m saying is, better get your last looks at Swisher in pinstripes while you can.

“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.

derek-jeter-head-in-nick-swisher-lap

Relax… you guys aren’t playing THAT good.

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.

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.

Yankees May 2011 Wrap Up

 

May was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Yankees.

The month of May, 2011 began promisingly enough as the Yankees finished off a series win against the Toronto Blue Jays, which finished up the home-stand on a positive note. Then the Yankees went to Detroit and the wheels came off – or maybe I should say the arms came off as they dropped 3 of 4 while we watched Eduardo Nunez through the ball all over the place. But, when the Yankees got to Texas, the bats came out, and we got Derek Jeter‘s mythical 2 home run game, which seems to have quieted the “Derek Jeter is finished,” media machine – at least for now… for some reason, hitting .264 in May is much better than hitting .256 in April – although I must admit, hit at-bats do look a lot better of late.

Then the Yankees came back home and experienced The Home Stand of Tears, dropping 2 of 3 to the Kansas City Royals (current record 24-30) and getting swept by the Boston Red Sox. Wow. Swept by the Boston Red Sox at home. That was a tough one. Yet, despite the rough patch, the Yankees are in first today by one game over the Monsters from Fenway.

Then the Yankees split two games at Tampa Bay (and they really should have won that first game), swept two games from the Baltimore Orioles (two game series are a waste of my time!) and then took two of three from the lowly Mets at home (current record 25-29). The Blue Jays came to Yankees Stadium and this featured another Yankees series win, including a come from behind extra innings win (pie style) that I feel this team desperately needed.

The Yankees flew out to Seattle to face the Mariners and gave up leads to lose the first two games and salvaged the final one before flying to Oakland to take on Hideki Matsui and the A’s, taking the first two games, including a gem by Bartolo Colon, and here we are, at June 1st, waiting for Game 3 to start later today.

So what did we learn this month?

The Yankees can’t bunt. Seriously, enough with the bunting. Nobody on this team is any good at it. The Yankees need to either start working on this in BP or just stop doing it. Last night’s failed suicide squeeze that resulted in Nick Swisher being tagged out in a run down was embarrassing – almost as sad as the fact that Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter can’t bunt; considering they have no power, they both need to add this trait to their game ASAP, or at least stop doing it, but this in between crap needs to stop.

Curtis Granderson is a golden god. Obviously. I was soooooo happy when they traded for him, and although last year was a tough start, my girlfriend very kindly ran out and bought me a Grandy-Man t-shirt in May of 2010, which makes us both look like geniuses now. Unlike Russell Martin, I don’t expect Granderson to slow down.

In praise of Bartolo Colon. Where would we be without this guy and his fastballs? His low pitch counts keep him in games late, giving a bullpen that is teetering on over use a bit of a breather. The Yankees need to protect this guy and give him an extra day’s rest any time they get a chance.

Losing streaks are inevitable. If you saw a lot of the New York papers (cough Post, cough Daily News) insisting that the Yankees blew their chance to bury the Red Sox, I tend to disagree. The Red Sox (not to mention the Rays) struggled early, and the Yankees hadn’t struggled yet. It was bound to happen. It could happen again. It’s a long season and there are many ups and downs.

Derek Jeter isn’t Derek Jeter anymore, but he’s hardly terrible. I don’t have any plans to build a statue to the guy on my front lawn, but I refuse to kill him in print the way so many have done. But then, this is another good example of what happens when you let Randy Levine meddle in negotiations.

Phil Hughes… ugh. Can this guy get through two consecutive seasons without spending major time on the DL? I know he’s still young, but he’s not that young anymore. Is it time to stash Hughes in the bullpen for good? I’m not sure, but given the Yankees appeared shortage of starting pitching, it’s a tough call. If you don’t believe in Freddy Garcia, I can’t blame you, but is Hughes really a better option? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what he has when he comes off the DL.

GOING FORWARD:
Take a look at the Yankees June schedule; it’s a tough one. Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Indians… if they’re still in first on July 1st, it’ll be a miracle.

Yankees End Home Stand With Series Win

Before the Yankees head to the west coast to face every good pitcher the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Midgard have on their roster, it was nice that the Yankees took care of business against the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Game 1: Intentional walk blues
I hate, hate HATE the intentional walk. I understand that it can be an effective strategy, but in my eyes, it’s almost the last act of the desperate. I don’t know what Bartolo Colon‘s ground ball rate is, but he’s a strike out pitcher, right? I don’t feel that his two seamer is the sort of pitch that sinks and generates a lot of ground balls the way other guys can, so I wasn’t a huge fan of the strategy, and low and behold, it lead to a big inning. I guess I’m bound to be right about something every once in a while when I yell at the TV. If you’re going to have Colon issue an intentional walk to set up a double play, you might as well just pull him, because he probably got into the tough spot in the first place because his stuff wasn’t there anymore (and it wasn’t), so why leave an ineffective pitcher in there? I just don’t understand the strategy deployed there.

Game 2: Let there be pie!
Things weren’t going well; the Yankees were down late in the game, but suddenly, the 2009 Yankees showed up and came from behind to win the game! (I’m still pumped about this – wearing my Curtis Granderson t-shirt today.) This gave me a sense of confidence in the 2011 Yankees that I don’t think I’d felt before.

Game 3: Poor Jo-Jo
Day games suck. I understand that teams need a getaway day game, especially when the Yankees have to fly to the west coast, but seriously, who’s around to watch a ball game during the afternoon in the middle of the week? How can this be profitable for the Yankees as a business? But whatever.
You ever drop by Fan Graphs? I love that graph they have on the scoreboard page, showing how the percentage changes as things happen during the game, as both team’s 50/50 chance to win the game modifies with particular events. The graph starts with both teams having a 50% chance to win, but when Jo-Jo Reyes is the game’s starter, shouldn’t the Yankees get at least a 10% bump toward a win? Reyes hasn’t recorded a win since 2008, when he was with the Braves – and he went 3-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 113 innings. This year, his 4.70 ERA over 51.2 IP isn’t terrible, but it’s certainly not good, but when a guy has a cloud like that floating over his head… I don’t know how he overcomes it. Bottom line, the Yankees crushed him, as they should. It’s good to see Andruw Jones showing some power with 2 homers in a game – maybe Joe Girardi needs to consider platooning him with Nick Swisher in right field – Swisher is still hitting around the .200 mark, and I don’t feel like his swing is getting any better. I do think his discipline has been a little better in May than it was in April, but that’s a small consolation.

Coming up:
As aforementioned, the Yankees are going out west to facing good pitching, so the staff needs to respond in kind and toss up zeroes. With A.J. Burnett on the mound tomorrow night, we’ll have to wait and see if the good doctor is there or if the raging Mister Hyde takes the mound and throws the ball into the backstop – or maybe it’ll be one of those starts where both guys show up. Who knows…

Feast Or Famine Again?

 

In recent past seasons, I’ve expressed concern that the Yankees have continually put together offenses that either produce a zillion runs or none to almost no runs at all; or, as it is often called, a feast or famine offense. When I scroll through the results of the 2011 season, I do feel that this team can easily lapse into that tendency.

Last night, the Yankees scored 13 runs on 14 hits, which is great – except that the night before, they were held down to one run over 14 innings until picking up 3 more in the 15th. Now I understand that different line ups, and even particular players on specific days are going to produce different results on separate games, but the Yankees weren’t exactly facing Pedro Martinez in his prime on Wednesday night, and they left a ton of guys on base. So what gives?

It’s still a bit too early to draw conclusions about the 2011 Yankees. For example, I don’t think Derek Jeter is going to meander around the .255 mark all season – I think he’s probably a .275-.285 guy this year. It’s also impossible to predict Brett Gardner; he simply doesn’t have enough MLB time to know if what he did last year and what he’s done in the month of May is who he really is or not. I have no idea what’s going on with Nick Swisher (although he’s starting to show signs of life, too), and Jorge Posada doesn’t have a single hit off a left handed pitcher yet this season – and he’s NEVER had bad splits before in his entire career.

So while it’s too soon to call the 2011 Yankee offense a feast or famine club, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

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