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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.

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Yankees offensive slumber continues, NY Giants rock 49ers

Both games started at 4 PM – that’s just genius. I’m sure you know how things went down by now (even though watching all of both games was impossible) – The NY Giants obliterated the 49ers and the Yankees offensive slump continued as the Tigers went up two games to none in the ALCS.

I was surprised that the Giants were able to run all over the 49ers and had two interceptions, but I guess that’s the reality of the situation – I just didn’t think the 49ers were the sort of team that made those kind of mistakes.

Oh the Yankees and their awful, awful offense – what can you say? Here’s some facts that will make you ill: Robinson Cano is hitless since the first inning of Game Two of the ALDS (his last 26 at-bats) and is 2 for 32, and if that doesn’t sound bad enough, please consider:

- it’s the longest hitless streak in Yankees post season history
– 2 for 32 works out to a .063 batting average; small sample size, I know, but still, that’s the number

I know I’m bashing Cano a lot, but I think he deserves it. Well, at least more than A-Rod does. I know A-Rod stinks (3-23 in 2012 post season), but I don’t expect much from him – Cano is in the prime of his career. On the other hand, the umpires took away one hit from Cano and an out he made at second via the tag, so Cano is just having a lot of bad luck in general besides my bashing.

Hiroki Kuroda was brilliant yesterday – let’s not forget about that. Win or loose, I’ll always remember his excellent start in this series. The Yankees need to make bringing him back for 2013 a top priority as this guy was clearly built for the big stage.

Where’s the crowd?
Yankee Stadium looked a little empty – for a playoff game, that is. Just keep jacking up those parking and ticket prices, guys. Oh, and the $12 George Washington Bridge toll is also great for business!

Well, let’s hope Phil Hugues has some magic in him and Joe Girardi continues to yell at the hitters for not making in game adjustments.

Yankees vs Orioles Game 5 of 2012 ALDS: Rocky II ending?

Obviously, last night was a bitter disappointment as the Yankees failed to capitalize when they had scoring opportunities and the advantage they would have had in a potential Game 1 against the Detroit Tigers, who will not be able to pitch Justin Verlander until game 3. Anyway that ship has sailed. Now, it’s time to move on to Game 5.

Like the other three ALDS series, this series is going to the fifth and final round, and a pitching rematch of game 1. CC Sabathia has been masterful of late, so that has to make you feel good, but the offensive corpses of Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and the rapidly decomposing Robinson Cano desperately need to show up tonight for the Yankees to have a real hope of moving on to the next round.

Maybe it’ll be like Rocky II – all of the games have been close (and in truth, the Orioles could have very easily swept this series if things had gone a different way), so maybe in this final contest, both teams will just fall down on the field and the umpires will award the game to whoever gets up within a 10 count.

Expanded MLB Playoffs And Eliminating The DH

I read an AP article this morning that blew my mind in both the good and bad way:

The first topic centered around Bud Selig’s willingness to expand the MLB playoff schedule.  I am in favor of this, but it has to be done correctly, and the only way I see this working is if they shorten the regular season.  How much, exactly, I don’t know… maybe reduce 162 games to 150 games, as I’ve suggested before.  Again, I think 12 teams in the postseason (like the NFL) rather than 8 teams would be great, leaving 18 teams behind.  I think the first round will have to be a best of 5 and the last three rounds can be the preferred best of 7; I don’t want the playoffs to last two months like the NBA and the NHL. This could be great; it just has to be done carefully… if we end up having game 7 of the World Series in Minnesota on November 15, it could be a disaster.

(I don’t want to repeat a bunch of comments you may have already read – check out my post from last September Proposing a new MLB schedule and playoff structure if you missed it)

Also speaking before the game, Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he was in favor of eliminating the designated hitter in order to standardize rules between the leagues.

Whoa there.  Where the hell did that come from?  I know Nolan Ryan is a crazy Texan that has owned the Rangers for less time than Cliff Lee has pitched for them, but wow – that is straight up crazy shiz.  The designated hitter doesn’t need to be eliminated from the American League, it needs to be added to the National League!  I understand Ryan is a former pitcher (and a brilliant one at that) and in his mind, having an automatic out in the lineup is just fine, but I don’t agree.  At all.  Why would you want to watch the pitcher hit?  Pitchers almost always stink at hitting.  The worst thing you’ll ever hear a baseball announcer say is, “Two on, two out and the pitcher steps to the plate.”  It’s almost immediately followed by one of the following:

1.  “Strike three looking.”
2.  “Strike three swinging.”
3.  “A soft grounder to [insert anyone on the infield here], throws to first and [name of pitcher pitching here] works out of trouble.”

Watching the pitcher hit is a painful experience – it’s what they invented the DH for in the first place – to avoid misery.  Sure, people love offense, and that’s great, but the DH also exists because it’s ridiculous to expect starting pitchers to hit at the MLB level when they only get a few at bats a week, and its even more ridiculous to expect relief pitchers to hit when they get only a few at bats a month, if any.  Sure, it’s fun (or hilarious) when they succeed, but it’s not worth the misery.  Ryan must be nuts; somebody make that guy take his meds.

So wow, busy morning.  I’ve already forgotten that the Giants dropped a 7 spot on the Rangers late last night during game 2, winning 9-0.  If you check my Twitter, you’ll note that I’ve adjusted my picks to the Giants winning this series in 6 games… which isn’t looking like a solid pick right now – more like the Giants in 5.

Stay tuned for 2010-2011 Off Season action!

Yankees head for the golf course

Today, I received the ‘Vote Yankees for the 2010 This Year in Baseball Awards’ email from MLB.com. Are they kidding? Sorry if I’m not in the mood to vote for anything for the Yankees right now.

Not after Friday night. I’m still a bit confused why Joe Girardi elected to flip flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the starting rotation. Sure, Hughes had better road numbers than home numbers in 2010, but I’d think you’d want the better pitcher – this case, Pettitte – to pitch before Hughes. At least that’s how I’d do it.

The Yankees tied the game at 1 in the top of the fourth and Texas immediately answered: Hughes pitched OK through the first four inngs, but when the tough got going (and by tough, I mean the Rangers), Hughes got shipped to the clubhouse for David Robertson, who promptly stunk up the place as bad as Hughes had or worse. After putting up a 4 spot, the game was over, and so was the Yankees season. Everybody knew it. You could smell it, feel it in the air - the air had gone out of the balloon. The Rangers didn’t pop champagne in the top of the sixth, but they may as well have. The Yankees only had 3 damn hits and scored their only run on a wild pitch. Like the rest of the series, the Yankees sucked in game 6. They lost to Cloby Lewis twice, for cryin’ out loud!

But don’t fret: this isn’t the end of BomberBanter.com until next spring, it’s just the last post of the 2010 Season. I still have a ton to do around here:

Not to mention blog the off season – after the World Series ends, the hunt for Cliff Lee begins!

Yankees and Girardi stink up the place

new york yankeesImagine your team’s moral as a balloon:  before the game starts, your team is pumped.  As a manager, you do the best job you can to keep the balloon full of air as the slings and arrows of the opposition and circumstance do their worst to pop your shiz.

I’ve already been critical of Joe Girardi’s decision to flip flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the rotation – I understand Hughes has better road numbers than home numbers, game 3 is usually considered the swing game of a post season series and the Cliff Lee vs Andy Pettitte match up gives the Yankees the best opportunity to win game 3, but I don’t think this was the best strategy towards winning the series.  I thought the Yankees should have managed and played games 1 and 2 like elimination games and thrown Phil Hughes in game 3 and take their chances, but it didn’t go down like that.  They stole game 1 and were lucky to do so, and when they came home knotted with the Rangers at a game a piece, I started to worry, and more than at any other time in his tenure, I started to question Joe Girardi’s managing style.

Down two games to one, I fully expected CC Sabathia to start game four on short rest, but it didn’t happen.  If they lost the game under this scenario, they would have had to of asked Phil Hughes pitch the elimination game on short rest, and I guess they didn’t want to do that, so AJ Burnett started game four last night.

new york yankeesIn the bottom of the fourth inning, A-Rod was hit by a pitch to lead off, then Robinson Cano hit a single.  With 1st and 2nd and no outs, I fully expected a bunt… which never came.  Nick Swisher ended up striking out.  I know Swisher is a great hitter and the Yankees were playing for the big inning, but they’ve been so bad at executing in this series that I thought Girardi would bunt for sure.  He didn’t.

The Yankees put more base runners on again in the bottom of the 5th and they failed to score again, but even more demoralizing was the injury to Mark Teixeira.  For current team moral after the bottom of the 5th, please see the balloon image at right.  Joe Girardi was going to need to take his balloon management to a new level to keep things from falling apart.

aj burnett

new york yankeesI think it’s fair to say that AJ Burnett exceeded my expectations for 5.2 innings.  When he came into the sixth inning, I thought he was clearly tired after just one batter.  Joba Chamberlain had been warming up for a long while, so after the intentional walk, I thought Joba was coming in for sure, but no such luck – and BOOM, home run by Bengie Molina – a guy you don’t necessarily expect to hit a home run, but a guy who was challenged by a tired pitcher who hadn’t pitched in three weeks who just walked a guy (intentional or not, I feel it’s a rhythm killer for pitchers) and hasn’t been great at locating the ball this year.  Why did he face Molina in the first place?  Awful managing.  It was pure divine providence that Burnett got any outs in the sixth in the first place – Girardi was already gambling with house money, he let it ride and he lost big.  After that home run by Molina, the game was over.  All the air was out of the balloon.

Tonight, the Yankees send CC Sabathia to the hill as they face elimination.  I honestly have no idea what to expect from tonight’s game – the Yankees could step up and hit with runners on base and Sabathia could turn in his first quality post season start and they could win the game.  Or they might get crushed.  Coming back from a 3-1 game deficit is a tall order, and with the way the Yankees have been playing in this series, I don’t think they can do it.

I hope they prove me wrong.

Rangers take series lead

Nothing went the Yankees way last night.

Brett Gardner beat Cliff Lee to 1st base and missed the bag during his head first slide by maybe an inch. Derek Jeter’s first inning home run bid fell just short. Cliff Lee was dominant all night long. When Gardner lead off with a single, the Yankees couldn’t get him around. The Yankees bullpen, which was dominant in games 1 and 2, was beat last night – every ground ball found a hole.

There’s not much else to say about game 3 – Cliff Lee had what, 12 Ks last night? That’s dominant. The Yankees just couldn’t hit him, and they worked his pitch count pretty well, too, and he still wouldn’t relent. Besides the first inning, Andy Pettitte pitched well, but it was all for nothing. It’s hard to complain much about the bullpen when the offense gets shut out.

All things considered, the Yankees should be happy they’re down by only one game, considering how the Texas Rangers have outplayed them in all three games. As far as I can tell, the Yankees are still going with AJ Burnett in Game 4, which I think is a mistake of disastrous proportions.

Joe Girardi is open to second guessing for flip-flopping Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in the rotation – I think he liked the Pettitte vs Lee match up (I did too), but given that Lee pitched exactly how he was expected, and so did Pettitte, it seems like they would have been better off with Pettitte in game 2 and Phil Hughes in game 3. Pettitte isn’t the sort of pitcher who implodes in big games and neither is Lee, so you figure maybe starting Pettitte in game 2 gave you a better chance to win a game you had any chance of winning in the first place.

Also, Game 5 starts Wednesday at 4 PM. Way to go, MLB – I don’t have anything to do on Wednesday, anyway… oh wait, I have to work, like everybody else.

Well, I guess they’re really going to send AJ Burnett to the mound tonight. I still think they’re nuts, or the Yankees think they’re that much better than the Rangers. When they play like it, I’ll believe it.

Yankees vs Rangers ALCS game 2 review & 3 preview

I can’t talk about game 3 until I get game 2 out of my system. The idea that Joe Girardi started Phil Hughes in game 2 of the ALCS becaues he has a 15 1-3 scoreless innings in Arlington streak is ridiculous – he started him there because he decided he’d rather have Andy Pettitte go head to head with Cliff Lee instead of Hughes, and that makes sense – relying on a 15 1-3 scoreless innings streak in an away ballpark that dates back to way back in… uhm what year was that? 2007? – is insane. (Joe Torre was managing the team when Hughes was pitching a perfect game in Texas before he heard a pop in his hamstring that pretty much derailed the rest of his season.) So to all you folks who were pushing that angle as the storyline to this game, you’re idiots. Isn’t a playoff game enough of a storyline for you knuckleheads?

The Yankees lost game 2 because Hughes straight up stunk; he just didn’t give his team a chance to win by virtue of his nonexistent fastball command. And if somebody knows the reason why Jorge Posada would throw through to second base with a runner on third, I’d love to hear it.

Tonight, Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee will square off. I know everybody has written this game in the books already as a Rangers win (including me), but that’s a bit premature. Andy Pettitte is nearly unbeatable after Yankees loses and the game is at home, after all – and the Yankees have hit Cliff Lee before. But, if they do lose this game, I think the whole world expects CC Sabathia to start game 4 on short rest.

In fact, I feel good about this game tonight and I’m going to reverse myself – I say the Yankees take this one!

Quick ALCS Picks

yankeesGame 1:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

Shock of shocks,  I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. CC Sabathia pitched poorly in his first outing and it’s unlikely he’ll pitch poorly again
  4. C.J. Wilson is good, but he’s not Cliff Lee

yankeesGame 2:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Again, I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are still in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. Phil Hughes pitched well in the ALDS against the Twins, and I don’t think the Rangers offense is that much better than the Twins
  4. Colby Lewis‘ first name is Colby.  Seriously?  I assume he spends a lot of time shopping at the Gap during the off season with Jacoby Ellsbery

rangersGame 3:  Andy Pettitte vs Cliff Lee

Ah, the plot thickens, as the kids like to say.  Given Cliff Lee‘s dominance against the Yankees this season (and against everyone else – ask Tampa Bay), it’s hard to expect the Yankees to suddenly give him a beating.  But Andy Pettitte could toss a gem… and still lose.  It’s a tough one.  I think the Rangers win this one.

rangersGame 4:  AJ Burnett vs the World

OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but I can’t expect the Yankees to play with any confidence behind A.J. Burnett, but AJ could surprise us and not get annihilated, but I’ll believe that when I see it.  The Rangers take this one, too.

Suddenly it’s tied at 2 games a each.  How’d that happen?

yankees

Game 5:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

CC pitches his humongous butt off – Yankees win.

colby lewisGame 6:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Phil Hughes knocks Colby’s monocle off – the Yankees win.

Yep, Yankees in 6, folks. You heard it here… probably not first.  Also, if the Yankees are trailing in the series after the first 3 games, the entire world expects the Yankees to go to Sabathia on short rest – and I’m sure they’ll keep going that way until they win, which will screw them up in the World Series against the Phillies (yeah, the Phillies are winning the NLCS; seems pretty obvious when their opponent couldn’t a run to save their lives), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Yankees take game 1 of ALDS against Twins

CC Sabathia was not sharp at the beginning of the game, then he retired a zillion batters, and then in the 6th inning, things came unglued a bit. As the home team with a lead and your ace on the hill, Twins fans must have went to bed taring at their pillows, trying to figure out how Ron Gardenhire let victory slip away.

I think any Yankees fan could readily admit that Sabathia was showing some rust after getting extra rest at the end of the season. He hit a batter and struggled to locate all of his pitches, especially the fastball. Can you remember the last time you saw CC walk a runner with the bases loaded? I was surprised Joe Girardi stayed with him after that. Gardenhire had a similar situation and he let Francisco Liriano stay in as well – and it probably cost the Twins the game. Then again, as good as Liriano is, he’s not Sabathia, but then, few are.

Liriano had kind of a Pedro Martinez inning in the 6th: he was dominant the first five innings and he suddenly tired and gave it up. The first time through the order was about perfect besides that walk to Gardner, but the Yankees did better with each look they got off him, until they went boom for four runs in the 6th.

The Yankees bullpen was stellar. Boone Logan almost got out of the 7th, but that trickler just couldn’t be played. David Robertson played fireman and got out of the big situation after a walk (he seemed to be overthrowing a bit and lighting up the radar gun higher than usual), just like he always does. They ought to call that guy Fire Marshall Bill. Kerry Wood pitched pretty well, but with the hit and the walk on base, Girardi had to go to Mo. Even though all six umps convened in the bottom of the 9th about whether or not Greg Golson made the catch on the fly, they still got it wrong and Rivera had to contend with getting 5 outs instead of 4. Why they can’t put an umpire upstairs who can just call the crew chief on his cell phone and tell him they blew the call, I don’t know. It seems like the fastest solution. But Mo was up to the task, and that’s all for that game, folks.

Bad form by A-Rod for not covering 3rd base when Orlando Hudson advanced after Teixeira had to dive to tag fist base on the trickling hit he fielded. Maybe Hudson still would have been safe, but at least there would have been a play. With Rodriguez twiddling him thumbs, there was no chance at all.

I wore my Curtis Granderson t-shirt to work yesterday (the only thing awesome about my office is that there is no dress code), and I’m glad I did. He just missed a homer, but that triple off the wall was the hit of the game – although Mark Teixeira‘s home run was a close second.

What time did the game finally start, 8:45? By the ninth inning, I was totally exhausted. I know that MLB doesn’t want to compete with college and NFL football, but for cryin’ out loud! If there are going to be three games in one day, they’re going to have to do it on a weekend. I would have watched the Rays vs Rangers game, but I couldn’t – because it started at 130 in the damn afternoon! Who the hell got to watch that game, anyway? Richies, retiries, college kids, the unemployed… It’s also a shame that the only playoff series that’s going to be on broadcast television is the NLCS and the World Series. How did MLB let this happen? Oh well – at least I won’t have to endure game recaps intercut with whatever movie FOX has coming out this winter.

Congrats to Roy Halladay on his no hitter. That guy deserves a big win like that after suffering with the Blue Jays for all those years, even if it was against the Reds. ‘Doctober,’ however, is the worst thing I’ve ever heard – well, maybe ‘Roctober’ is just as bad. The Rays might get away with losing the first game of a short series at home, but against a team as good as the Yankees, the Twins won’t be so lucky.

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