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Current Projected

Look what people have to say about the RLYW!

CAIRO just takes the Marcels and changes the underlying assumptions and components in a bunch of ways that make the Yankees look better.

Wow, two stupid posts in one day. I think you’ve reached your yearly quota.

I don’t know if any of you current posters were around for that, but if so, I just can’t understand how you can call yourselves Yankee fans. Pathetic quitters is what you sounded like. Of the lame posts I could stand to read, the only person who had any confidence in the Yankees at that point was a (yeesh) Red Sox fan.
Jeter is King

Quite the attitude you have SG. Maybe you should shitcan this blog and join Steve at WasWatching? Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years. Jeez… and some people think Yankee fans are entitled.

This site is best viewed with a monitor.

Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

Sunday, September 14, 2014 Yankees’ Derek Jeter has bad stats, good at-bats, Joe Girardi says

BALTIMORE — Derek Jeter is hitless in 20 at-bats and is having a terrible second half to what will be his final season.

But manager Joe Girardi said he’s not looking so much at the numbers when it comes to Yankees hitters.

“You look at at-bats,” he said after Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Orioles. “We don’t get so caught up in what the numbers are. You look at the at-bats.

“Sometimes you could be swinging horrible and be getting hits, too. So I thought he hit a ball on the screws last time. He hit a couple the other day. He didn’t have much to show for it.”

I feel better now knowing that.

--Posted at 9:55 am by SG / 9 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

NY Times: Yankees Head to Panama and a Reunion With Rivera

TAMPA, Fla. — Joe Girardi had barely heard a comment concerning the weather in Panama when he blurted: “Ninety-eight, every day. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Ninety-eight. The low is 75, and if you look during the middle of the day it’s not humid, but it gets humid at night. Believe me, I checked it out. It’s 98, 98, 98.”

Spoken like a tourist and not so much like a baseball manager who was taking his team to another country for a couple of spring training games.

Actually, though, Girardi is both.

“I’m interested in going,” he said. “I’m excited. I want to see the Panama Canal; see things I’ve never seen.”

He also wants to see how C. C. Sabathia performs in his next start, and assorted other things that a manager looks for during spring training.

The Yankees’ flight — they took a split-squad team — left Thursday night for Panama, just a few hours after the team beat Baltimore, 6-0, at Steinbrenner Field. The team will be in Panama for three days, sightseeing while promoting baseball in the country that produced one of the franchise’s greatest players, Mariano Rivera. It is the first time since 1947 that Major League Baseball will play games in Panama.

I always felt like spring training hadn’t started until Mo made his first appearance.  Unfortunately, those days are over.

--Posted at 8:10 am by SG / 5 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

USA Today: Girardi returning as Yankees manager

Joe Girardi, who kept the New York Yankees in playoff contention well into September despite a rash of injuries and the incessant distraction of the Alex Rodriguez saga, agreed to a four-year contract with the club, the Yankees announced Wednesday.

No mention if Binder™ has also been retained.

I can’t say I care about this one way or the other.  I think the list of better managers than Girardi is shorter than the list of managers he’s better than.

Girardi’s fine, but can he make chicken salad out of chicken shit?  Because that’s what he’s going to have to do for the foreseeable future.  Say, the next four years.

--Posted at 3:11 pm by SG / 42 Comments | - (0)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Seattle Times: Patient Cubs willing to top Yankees’ offer to Girardi

CHICAGO — The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908, so they’re content to wait as long as possible until Joe Girardi decides whether to accept an offer to stay with the Yankees or pursue other opportunities.

There’s plenty of guarded optimism because the Cubs have made it clear through channels that they are willing to top whatever offer the Yankees tender, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Girardi, who is completing a three-year contract that paid him about $3 million in 2013, could be in line for a new contract that is longer than three years and could be more than $5 million annually, the source added.

“We’re going to give him a real good reason to stay,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

I’m assuming the real good reason to stay isn’t a contending team, so it must be money.

--Posted at 9:19 am by SG / 53 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

TGS NY: Yankees to offer Girardi a new deal

NEW YORK—With the assurance from Joe Girardi that he would like to return as New York Yankees manager, general manager Brian Cashman plans on offering him a raise when the time comes to negotiate with Girardi’s agent over lunch Wednesday.
. Girardi, 48, could have other opportunities in managing and broadcasting. Cashman declined to say if he would grant Girardi permission to speak to the Chicago Cubs, who fired Dale Sveum on Monday. Because Girardi is under contract until Oct. 31, a source told TGS NY that the Yankees are hesitant to give him permission to speak with the Cubs.

From the Yankees’ point of view, it would only give Girardi more leverage in negotiations. If talks were to break down, then the Yankees might let him talk to the Cubs, if Chicago has interest. On Sunday, Girardi said he would like the situation to be cleared up shortly.

When asked specifically about letting Girardi talk to the Cubs, Cashman declined to answer if he would or would not.

I don’t have a problem with bringing Girardi back.

--Posted at 9:17 am by SG / 18 Comments | - (0)

Monday, September 30, 2013

NYDN: Yankees season ends as Rivera, Pettitte head into retirement - will Joe Girardi return?

HOUSTON – Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte had their emotional farewells this past week. Was it Joe Girardi’s turn on Sunday?

The Yankees’ organizational meetings will likely begin later this week, but before the Yankees manager speaks to the team about a new contract, Girardi must first sit down with his wife and their three children to discuss his future.

“We’ve talked about it, but we’ll sit down and actually have a real pow-wow around the dinner table,” Girardi said before the Yankees ended the season with a 5-1 win in 14 innings over the Astros. “It comes down to family. They are first, and whatever is best for group of us – not one individual, not me or just my wife or just one of my children – whatever is best for us as a group, that’s what we’ll decide to do.”

I think Girardi did the best he could given the roster he had this season.  If anything, the Yankees overachieved their underlying performance by winning 85 games despite scoring 650 runs and allowing 671, which points to a Pythagorean record of 79-83.

79 wins should be the baseline they need to improve on, not 85.  They don’t need to add five wins to get to 90 wins, they need to add 11.  We’ll see how they go about it.

My two favorite moments of the 2013 season were Mo-related.  Mo at the All Star game was fantastic, and it was topped with his final appearance.  If the Yankees made the postseason, the second one of those would not have happened.  In a lot of ways, it wasn’t just Mo’s farewell, it was a real farewell to a period of excellence from 1995.  We’ve been spoiled rotten by what the Yankees have done over the last 18 years, and Rivera was front and center in it all.  You can replace a closer, even one as good as Mo.  But the Yankees have to do a lot more than that.

Pettitte’s last game was also a treat.  Sure, Houston stinks, but it was an awesome way for a very good career to end.  Unlike Rivera, I don’t think Pettitte belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he could get in there and it wouldn’t be the worst outrage ever.

So now the focus turns to 2014, and how the Yankees will fill the gaping holes all over the roster.  The first order of business is going to be deciding what to do with Robinson Cano.  I’d like to see him back obviously, but not for the 10 years and $300 million he’s supposedly seeking.  Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his suspension should be finalized within the next month or two which will dictate how much money the Yankees may be willing to spend in the offseason.  My guess is he’ll end up getting something like 100 games, but WTF knows?  Odds are pretty good Derek Jeter will exercise his player option for 2014 but they still probably need a viable SS option in case he can’t take the field regularly or if his play just isn’g good enough to be out there every day. 

The Yankees can conceivably sign enough free agents to make themselves legitimate contenders next year, although the free agent market isn’t great.  But I don’t know if that’s the best course of action right now.  If someone like Hunter Pence is getting five years and $90M before he even hits free agency, how much is someone like Brian McCann or Shin-Soo Choo going to get?

No matter what the Yankees do as far as player acquisition, their fortunes are going to be heavily tied into how some of their returning players perform.  Can CC Sabathia return to being a good MLB starter?  Can Mark Teixeira come back from his wrist injury and be a 3 WAR 1B?  Can Michael Pineda give them a good season in the rotation?  These things are impossible to project and they’re going to make projecting the 2014 Yankees damn near impossible.  But you can bet I’ll be doing all I can to change the underlying assumptions to make the Yankees look better than they are.

--Posted at 8:21 am by SG / 60 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

USA Today: Did new-look Yankees’ surge come too late?

The New York Yankees can match their best 25-game stretch this season with a victory today.  They’ll have to repeat the feat —and maybe more—to return to the postseason.

“We need to win games.  We need to win series,” says Yankee manager Joe Girardi, whose team would be 17-8 since Aug 9 if they beat the Chicago White Sox today and clinch one of those treasured series victories.


Yes.  The Yankees’ surge did come too late.

--Posted at 8:34 am by SG / 32 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

TGS NY: Girardi: Yanks need 93 wins to get in

NEW YORK—It’s the question on everyone’s mind these days: “How many games do the Yankees need to win the rest of the way to get into the playoffs?”

That was what Michael Kay asked Joe Girardi on YES network’s “The Joe Girardi Show,” taped Saturday night after the Yankees had been fairly well trounced by the Detroit Tigers, 9-3, earlier in the day and before they rallied to overcome Mariano Rivera’s third straight blown save Sunday afternoon to win on Brett Gardner’s ninth-inning home run, 5-4.

“A lot,” Girardi said. “Thirty-five, maybe. It might take 35 to get in.”

The manager set his team a lofty goal; before Sunday’s win, 35 more victories would give the Yankees 93 on the season.

So now the number is 33.  By my estimates, the first wild card will be somewhere between 92-93 wins and the second at 90-91, so I think 93 is the target. 

Can they get there?  They could.  They need better starting pitching from CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes.  They need Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson to stay healthy and be productive.  They need Robinson Cano to go on a tear, they need to get Derek Jeter back and have him be better than Eduardo Nunez. 

Can all those things happen?  I guess they could.  It’d be a nice start to that if Sabathia can pitch a truly dominant game tonight, because right now the Angels starter of TBA seems to have the advantage.

--Posted at 8:11 am by SG / 18 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NY Times: In Team Meeting, the Yankees Vent and Face Reality

CHICAGO — With a nightmarish season lurching into its final two months, the Yankees were at a crossroad on Monday when Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi decided to address the team in a brief postgame meeting, according to several people in the room.

The Yankees have been playing substandard baseball in recent weeks, the kind of baseball almost unrecognizable to Yankees fans for the last two decades. Girardi would not discuss details of the meeting, saying, “If we had wanted you in there, we would have invited you.”

But one person in the room said, “There were some things that needed to be said.”

Bold prediction, this meeting won’t help at all.  (Lack of) talent is why this team has gone 27-37 over their last 64 games and is staring at .500 by Friday night.  Unless this meeting added about 20 wins worth of talent it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

--Posted at 10:08 am by SG / 33 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, May 25, 2013 Phelps escapes, Grandy doesn’t in Yanks win

The Yankees have excelled at playing with a short-handed roster this season, but there was a belief they were about to get most of their big stars back in the picture. Instead, there’s a new problem to handle.

Curtis Granderson suffered a left hand fracture and will miss a minimum of four weeks, a loss that soured the celebratory mood of the Yankees’ 9-4 victory over the Rays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

“I think our team has had a lot of practice at it this year, so they’re prepared for this, unfortunately,” manager Joe Girardi said. “These guys know how to deal with it. They know you have to come out and play every day.”

The Yankees have had 13 players on the disabled list this season, and Granderson will be back on the shelf by the time the club takes the field on Saturday afternoon. Robinson Cano said that even though the Yankees are in first place, they’d still like to feel whole again at some point.

“This is something that I don’t think that you’re ever going to be used to,” Cano said. “The last thing you want is to see your teammates go down, especially a guy like Grandy. He worked back here, missed Spring Training, and then to get hurt like that—you just feel bad.”

The Yankees survived another late injury scare as starter David Phelps, pitching a career-high 7 2/3 innings, hung a curveball and was smoked by a Ben Zobrist line drive on his 98th and final pitch of the game.

It really isn’t even funny anymore (okay, I’ll admit, it is still a little funny in the sort of “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” way). Thank goodness that David Phelps was just bruised. He’ll likely make his next start. Granderson, meanwhile, will be out for at least four weeks. The local community must have built a Granderson voodoo doll to keep Ben Francisco on the team. Can anyone believe that Ben Francisco is seriously going to make it into June (and possibly July) as a Yankee? I would imagine that there would at least be some consideration now with giving Mustelier a chance at some point with Francisco’s roster spot, now that the Yankees know that they’ll need another outfielder for another month. Or perhaps a more fungible player like Thomas Neal? Neal, by the way, is donating $20 for every hit to Oklahoma relief (until the All-Star Break). That’s a big gesture for a guy not making a ton of money.

As for tonight, the offense was on fire and Phelps picked a typical Phelpsian start (not great but good enough).

Tomorrow is Vidal Nuno against Matt Moore. Well, that’s not good.

Update(SG): I had to add this tidbit because it’s absolutely amazing.  Courtesy of Chad Jennings at Lohud:

Discussing a possible call-up postgame, Girardi actually forgot that Ben Francisco is on the roster (hard to blame him). Girardi mentioned having only three outfielders and being willing to use Jayson Nix in the outfield if necessary. Reminded of Francisco, Girardi reversed course. “Oh yeah, Francisco,” he said. “Four (outfielders). So disregard what I said. I don’t know what we’ll do. We have so many roster issues, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”

Anyway, get well soon Grandy.

--Posted at 12:08 am by Brian Cronin / 18 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Kuroda’s one mistake at Colorado one too many

DENVER—Yankees manager Joe Girardi played for the Rockies in 1995, the year Coors Field opened. Before Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss, he recalled an abundance of 11-10 games that have become far less frequent since a humidor was installed in 2002.

Girardi cited the Rockies’ 3.86 ERA at home entering Tuesday—virtually identical to their 3.88 road ERA—as proof that Coors Field now plays differently. Hours later, Girardi had hard proof as the Rockies took the series opener.

The humidor notwithstanding, a taut pitchers’ duel is still a rarity here. But Hiroki Kuroda and Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa matched zeros in a steady rain that was hard at times until Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the sixth.

Kuroda, who worked seven innings, had allowed two homers in 36 innings through his first six starts of the season. He yielded two hits and had retired nine straight batters before Josh Rutledge singled with two outs in the sixth. Gonzalez followed with his seventh home run, driving Kuroda’s 3-2 fastball into the Rockies’ bullpen in right-center. Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton followed with singles, but Nolan Arenado lined out to right to end the inning.

This game could have gone 18 innings and the Yankees would not have scored.  The lineup’s weakness is really exposed without Travis Hafner in there, but luckily there are only 5 more stupid National League games left on this trip.


--Posted at 10:31 pm by SG / 8 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 Suzuki’s hit off Rodney closes the door on Rays

ST. PETERSBURG—Ichiro Suzuki lined a two-run single to center field in the top of the ninth inning, and the Yankees toppled Fernando Rodney and posted a 4-3 victory on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees won for just the third time in their last 15 games at the Trop, taking advantage after Rodney couldn’t keep the score tied for David Price, who started the ninth and was saddled with the loss after permitting a leadoff single to Robinson Cano.

Cano stole second base on Rodney, moving up on a strikeout, and the Rays intentionally walked Travis Hafner. Rodney lost Lyle Overbay to a full-count walk and, after jamming Chris Stewart on a foulout, allowed the deciding hit to the slumping Ichiro.

Mariano Rivera allowed a leadoff homer to Evan Longoria in the ninth but recovered to log his sixth save.

David Robertson was credited with the victory in relief of Phil Hughes, who recovered from a shaky first inning to complete seven innings, picking up a no-decision after turning in his second straight solid outing.

Ichiro’s hit saved Joe Girardi from having to explain why he didn’t pinch-hit for Chris Stewart with the winning run on base and one out.  No, Brennan Boesch isn’t Ted Williams, but he’s a better hitter than Stewart and would have the platoon advantage.  Even if you apply the standard pinch-hitting penalty I’m fairly certain the right move there is sending up Boesch.

OK.  Complaints are done, and it was a good win.  This team still can’t hit lefties, although they were facing one of the best in baseball tonight.  But Hughes salvaged a very good start from an ugly first inning and kept them in it until they were able to pull it out.  That makes two strong starts in a row for Hughes, who probably shouldn’t have been making spring training starts in real games that count.  Maybe that will make him cheaper to re-sign…

Andy Pettitte goes for the series win tomorrow.  Alex Cobb’s a pretty good pitcher, but at least he’s not a lefty.

--Posted at 9:08 pm by SG / 38 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, April 21, 2013 Yanks denied sweep as bullpen can’t hold lead

TORONTO—The Yankees couldn’t complete a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, relinquishing the lead in Toronto’s four-run sixth inning in an 8-4 loss in front of 45,575 at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

With the Yankees ahead, 4-2, in the sixth, manager Joe Girardi elected to play the matchups after starter Ivan Nova allowed the first two runners to reach. Girardi brought in Boone Logan for the lefty-lefty matchup against Colby Rasmus.

The skipper did the same thing in Saturday’s game and it worked—Logan punched out Rasmus on eight pitches in the ninth—but on Sunday, Rasmus delivered. He hit an RBI single that cut New York’s lead to one run before Brett Lawrie followed with a two-run double off David Phelps to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 advantage.

Phelps allowed another run on an RBI single by Melky Cabrera and the Yankees left the inning down two after starting the frame up a pair of runs.

It was not a strong relief performance by Phelps, who also allowed a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia, his seventh of the year, in the seventh that pushed Toronto’s lead to 8-4.

Nope, it was not a strong relief performance by Phelps, who’s been pretty bad for most of his appearances this year. 

Nova continues to show flashes of great stuff but he was not good today either.  He allowed the lead off man to reach in all but one of his innings and again put the team in the position of needing four innings from their bullpen.  There doesn’t appear to be a ton of alternative to replacing him in the rotation at this moment so I don’t think his spot is in jeopardy, but a few more bad starts and the Yankees may decide to try Phelps or Adam Warren in his spot.

I suppose if you told me before the series the Yankees would take two of three I’d have been happy with that, but any time you have a chance at a sweep and blow it it feels like a letdown.  Now it’s on to Tampa Bay in a series where the Yankees will face two left-handed starters, something that’s been a serious problem for them so far this year.

--Posted at 3:49 pm by SG / 56 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, April 20, 2013 Wells paces offense as Yanks top Jays in 11

TORONTO—The Yankees withstood what manager Joe Girardi described as a hiccup in the eighth inning to win a game that should have never been as close as it was.

But a win is a win, and despite needing extra innings to finish the job, the Yankees have won five of six games and have a series sweep of Toronto on their minds.

Vernon Wells scored the go-ahead run as New York put a pair across the plate in the 11th inning on a throwing error by Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup to drop Toronto, 5-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 46,095 at Rogers Centre on Saturday.

After Wells and Francisco Cervelli started off the frame with back-to-back singles, Ichiro Suzuki laid down a sacrifice bunt that Loup fielded before throwing it away when trying to get the lead runner at third. The ball sailed into left field, allowing the Yankees to break open the tie game and take a two-run lead.

It would have been a shame to waste a brilliant outing by Kuroda, but fortunately the bullpen was able to recover from a rare David Robertson meltdown and the Jays messed up while Joe Girardi was trying to give them free outs and the Yankees pulled this one out. 

--Posted at 5:52 pm by SG / 8 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, April 14, 2013 Masterful Kuroda gets help from Gardner’s bat

NEW YORK—Hiroki Kuroda sailed through nine scoreless innings in a masterful performance, leading the Yankees to a 3-0 victory over the Orioles on Sunday evening at Yankee Stadium.

Brett Gardner clanged a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole to provide the biggest blast of the night and help the Yankees take the rubber game of the three-game set with the Orioles and secure their fifth victory in six games.

Kuroda erased any lingering concerns about the right finger he bruised in his first start of the season, as he was in command all night, scattering five hits and not permitting an Oriole to touch second base until the ninth.

Outstanding game by Kuroda tonight.  And kudos to Joe Girardi for letting him finish it off despite having the greatest closer of all time waiting in the wings in what was a save situation.

--Posted at 9:47 pm by SG / 5 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 Injury-plagued Yankees fall to Red Sox

NEW YORK—The last thing the injury-plagued Yankees need right now is another scare, but that was what they received when starter Hiroki Kuroda was forced to exit in the second inning after taking a line drive off his pitching hand.

The team announced that Kuroda suffered a bruised right middle finger, with further examinations to come. The Yankees never recovered from the early blow, suffering a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

With Kuroda heading for X-rays, reliever Cody Eppley was charged with four runs in 1 1/3 innings of work before Adam Warren restored order, limiting Boston to a run over 5 1/3 innings of long relief.

This game was basically lost when Joe Girardi allowed Eppley to face three lefty hitters, each of whom singled.  I don’t know that the Yankees would have won if Warren started the third, but they sure weren’t going to win after that top of the third.  I suppose if you’re looking at getting six innings from your bullpen trying to get through one with Eppley made some sense.  He probably should have been pulled after Victorino’s single, but he wasn’t.

Let’s hope Andy Pettitte can throw a shutout tomorrow.

--Posted at 10:02 pm by SG / 18 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Newsday: Joba Chamberlain says he can be a starter again, but Yankees laugh it off

In many ways, the topic was a moot point. Most interesting was the reaction of Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, who in separate meetings with reporters, wore pained, irritated looks when asked several questions about it, and ultimately responded with sarcasm, as if Chamberlain had expressed a fantasy akin to colonizing Mars.

“First I’ve heard of it,” Girardi said of Chamberlain expressing a desire to start. “I’d like to catch one more game, too.”

As the manager walked away and Cashman entered the media scrum, the 48-year-old Girardi said: “Cash, I told them, my answer was, I’d like to catch five innings, that’s it, one [more] time. You’ll get a kick out of it.”

Said Cashman: “We’re down an outfield bat right now, too. [We’ll] see if he can play center or not.”

Yeah, it’s the same topic as the last thread, but the Yankees’ reaction really irritates me.

Am I still a fan of the team if I hate the way they do almost everything?  Perhaps I should consult with Jeter is King?

--Posted at 9:04 am by SG / 45 Comments | - (0)

Monday, February 18, 2013

NYDN: Joe Girardi says Travis Hafner will be strictly DH for Yankees

The Yankees’ new lefthanded DH said he hasn’t taken part in defensive drills in roughly five years, and while he might have a couple of gloves in his locker during the season, they won’t see much action.

“Usually people that need first base mitts will usually call me because they know,” Hafner said Sunday. “I haven’t really thrown much over the last five years or so. It would be something that, I don’t know, maybe just try it out and see how it goes, but I’m not sure at this point.”

Joe Girardi ended any suspense over Hafner’s role, saying he considers the 35-year-old a DH and nothing else. Hafner is slated to play against righthanders, while Derek Jeter and others will likely rotate through the DH spot against lefties. He last played the field in 2007.

Thanks to Girardi for ending the suspense.

--Posted at 9:30 am by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Camden Depot: Measuring Bullpen Management: Bucking Up the Bullpen

A Hardball Times article suggested using WPA - WPA/LI as a measure of bullpen performance that would be useful in assessing bullpen management.  WPA is the acronym for Wins Probability Added.  This is calculated as the difference in win expectancy before and after an event. LI is the Leverage Index.  It is a measurement of how consequential a specific scenario is based on the inning, outs, score, baserunners, and baserunner position.  By using the two statistics in concert, you arguably have a measure that gives you a context neutral wins added metric.

Bob Melvin 3.75 0.83 2.92
Bruce Bochy 2.98 0.13 2.84
Joe Giraldi 7.37 4.88 2.49

Joe Girardi makes the top three, which confirms my belief that he manages his bullpen about as well as anyone in baseball and has done so since he’s come to the Yankees.  I mean, the man got useful innings from Jose Veras.


--Posted at 1:46 pm by SG / 8 Comments | - (0)

Monday, October 22, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Notes: Swisher, A-Rod, Cashman, Girardi

Earlier today we learned that the Yankees intend to exercise Curtis Granderson’s $15MM club option for 2013, and Jon Heyman of reports that the team is disinclined to explore a long-term extension for the slugger.

I think this is the right thing to do.  They may try and trade Granderson after picking up his option, although I’m not sure what kind of trade value he has right now.

The Yankees are still planning on making a qualifying offer of about $13.5MM to free agent Nick Swisher, writes Jon Heyman of However, the club will only do so in order to receive draft pick compensation and have no expectations of Swisher accepting the deal.

We’ve pretty much known this was the planned course of action all along.

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told Heyman that he has no plans to shop Alex Rodriguez this winter.

It’s tough to see a trade that makes sense for Rodriguez given what he’s owed.  Let’s hope an offseason spent making adjustments helps him continue to be a better than average 3B in 2013.

Yankees president Randy Levine confirmed to Jon Heyman of that both Cashman and manager Joe Girardi will return in 2013.

Not surprising.

Also from MLB Trade Rumors, Boras Hints That Soriano Will Opt-Out Of Contract

“There is a strong chance that he would have tremendous value as a free agent,” said Boras. Sherman notes that big market clubs like the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Giants, and Tigers could all be in the market for a high-end closer this winter.
Sherman says Soriano and Boras have until three days after the end of the World Series to exercise the opt-out clause, and the Yankees would likely make him a qualifying offer to ensure they receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

He’s owed about as much as a qualifying offer anyway, so it’s a no-brainer to offer him one.

I am starting to get the sense the 2013 Yankees are going to look a lot like the 2012 Yankees.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

--Posted at 7:58 am by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2012 Motown meltdown: Yanks eliminated in ALCS

DETROIT—The Yankees’ ice cold autumn will now give way to an uncertain winter, as their season concluded on Thursday with an 8-1 loss to the Tigers in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park.

CC Sabathia was rocked for six runs in 3 2/3 innings and the Yankees were held hitless into the sixth inning by Max Scherzer, as Detroit locked up the AL pennant and will advance to the World Series against either the Cardinals or Giants.

New York was swept for the first time in 36 consecutive postseason appearances; the last one came in 1980, when the Royals wiped out the Yankees in a best-of-five ALCS that led to the dismissal of manager Dick Howser.

The positions of manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman appear to be secure, but hitting coach Kevin Long will be asked to answer for an anemic offense that hung zeros on the scoreboard in 36 of 39 innings during the ALCS.

It’s hard to win a series when you don’t lead in a single inning in any of the games.  Detroit was probably the better team heading into this series, and they sure looked like it.

It was a frustrating end to a frustrating series.  It shouldn’t feel like a frustrating season because of that, although I’m sure we’ll be treated to some crap from Randy Levine about how the season was a failure.

We’ll have months to think about where they go from here.  The Yankees have some decisions to make on some players, and some players have decisions to make on whether or not they want to return.  I’m sure we won’t see Nick Swisher in pinstripes again.  I was certain we’d see Curtis Granderson back with his option picked up next year but I’m now thinking there’s a chance we won’t.  The whole Alex Rodriguez situation will dictate a lot of what the team decides to do.  I’m guessing Rafael Soriano will opt out, but that’s less of a concern than getting the offense shored up and stabilizing the rotation based on what happens with Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte.

Anyway, we have months to think about that.

--Posted at 6:40 pm by SG / 56 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Yankees vow to make adjustments in ALCS, but can they?

“Adjustments. Adjustments. Adjustments.” As in this Joe Girardi quote, verbatim from the Game 2 press conference, “We have to make adjustments. You have to make adjustments. We know what they are doing to us. You have to make adjustments.”

But a couple of American League scouts, who requested anonymity so they could speak candidly about what they’ve witnessed from the Yankee hitters during the regular season and the postseason, seemed skeptical that Girardi’s team is capable of such a thing.

“Making adjustments isn’t really something this Yankee lineup does,” said Scout A, who followed the Yankees throughout the final three weeks of the season. “Even the last nine or 10 games of the season when they were hitting the ball well, what I saw was a team that was beating up bad pitching from Minnesota, Toronto and Boston. There wasn’t much to adjust to against their Triple-A pitching. They basically destroyed fastballs.”

The infamous anonymous scouts speak.

--Posted at 7:50 am by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NorthJersey: Klapisch: Beginning of the end for A-Rod

The Yankees’ wealthiest and most coddled player was finally pushed out of Girardi’s protective cocoon, branded as a liability for the first time since coming to New York in 2004.

This is only the beginning, just watch: Rodriguez will likely be back in the lineup tonight, but only because the Orioles will start lefty Joe Saunders. But A-Rod’s hold on the No 3 spot in the lineup is over, particularly against right-handers. Rodriguez will move down in the batting order, possibly tonight, and by next year we’ll begin to see less of him – more days off, fewer at-bats, more instances of Girardi, “listening to my gut” as he did with the Division Series on the line.

Given the fact that he’s signed for the next five years I’m guessing the Yankees aren’t quite ready to pronounce Rodriguez finished just yet.  If he’s really lost his ability to hit, he’s surely going to spend the offseason working on adjustments to see if he can get it back.  Whether he’ll be able to do it is an uncertain proposition, but I don’t think him being pinch-hit for once is something that should be over-analyzed.

He’s still owed $114 million through 2017, although one person familiar with ownership’s thinking predicted, “there’s no way Alex is still here after 2015.).” The Yankees will have to swallow a major portion of the remaining salaries in order to trade him, but Rodriguez, already unpopular with the fans, won’t be missed. Not really.

This ownership thinks?  Color me shocked.

--Posted at 12:40 pm by SG / 36 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TGS NY: First Pitch: Dickey in the postseason?

But the truth is, Chris Dickerson—Dickey to his manager, who has a hockey-style nickname for everyone—is likely to be in a lot of NYC conversations over the next few days as the talk turns from the AL East race, which is moving close to a settlement, and on to the Yankees’ postseason roster.

On Wednesday, Dickerson, given a rare start against the Twins, had a big day, with two hits including an impressive line-drive home run that capped off the Yankees’ 8-2 victory.

Nice to see Joltin’ Joe Girardi being creative for a change with Dickerson’s nickname. 

Since the Yankees can probably afford to go with 11 pitchers in the postseason, there should be a spot for Dickerson on the bench.  While he’s probably not as good defensively or on the bases as Brett Gardner, he can at least go up to the plate.  Frankly, I’m not sure he’s not a better option for LF than the Shockmaster™ and/or Andruw Jones when you consider the whole package, assuming Mark Teixeira isn’t back and the Yankees are forced to play Nick Swisher at 1B.  But it’s highly unlikely that he’d be starting in any scenario.

--Posted at 9:00 am by SG / 23 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Bats back CC as Yanks edge closer to division title

MINNEAPOLIS—Never mind that Alex Rodriguez wasn’t in New York’s lineup on Wednesday. Never mind that Mark Teixeira has been out for most of the last month. And forget that Robinson Cano has struggled for most of September, because the Yankees’ lineup—no matter whom Joe Girardi seems to insert in it—continues to produce.

New York erupted for six runs in the third inning, backing up eight strong innings from CC Sabathia to secure an 8-2 series-clinching victory over Minnesota in front of 33,251 at Target Field.

The win pushes New York’s advantage over Baltimore in the American League East to two games, with the Orioles and Blue Jays playing tonight in Toronto.

The Yankees really should have swept this series.  I guess we should be happy that they did the bare minimum of what they were supposed to do though.

--Posted at 3:08 pm by SG / 63 Comments | - (0)

NorthJersey: Yankees’ Boone Logan can’t keep lead in loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS – A night’s worth of Phil Hughes’ good work had disintegrated in just a handful of poorly executed pitches by Boone Logan.

And the Yankees saw a valuable chance to extend their AL East lead slip away.

Entering Tuesday night’s seventh inning with two out and the bases loaded, Logan allowed all three of Hughes’ inherited runners to score – and one of his own.

That wiped out a two-run lead and lifted the Twins to a 5-4 victory before 33,346 fans at Target Field.

Despite the Orioles’ third loss in four games Tuesday, they remained just 1½ games behind the Yankees (89-65) in the AL East, and two back in the loss column with eight to play.

It was a frustrating way to lose a very important game against a team that frankly stinks.  That being said, I thought going to Logan there was the right move.  Hughes had thrown 28 pitches in the bottom of the seventh and the Twins lineup was about to get their fourth look at Hughes.  They also had four straight lefties stacked at the top of the lineup.

Joe Girardi made the right move.  Logan just didn’t do his job.

--Posted at 5:16 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 Ichiro’s fourth hit gives Yanks a lead they keep

NEW YORK—The “Ich-i-ro” chants started at Yankee Stadium before Ichiro Suzuki recorded his seventh hit of the day, but they reached a crescendo after the veteran outfielder drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of the Yankees’ 2-1 nightcap win over the Blue Jays, giving New York victories on both ends of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader.

Ichiro went 4-for-4 with four stolen bases in the nightcap, singling in Curtis Granderson against Aaron Loup to help the Yankees earn a win that ensured they would wake up on Thursday with at least a half-game lead in the American League East, regardless of the Orioles’ result against the Mariners at Seattle later Wednesday night.

Seven hits in one day for Ichiro.  As Michael Kay pointed out during the broadcast, Andruw Jones has nine hits in two months.  It was smart to start Ichiro in this game because Romero’s best pitch is a changeup, which means lefties have hit him better than righties in his career.  Girardi has been loading his lineups vs. Romero with righties and Romero’s pitched better against them than he has against any other team in the league.  So thankfully he tried something different tonight.  In his press conference Girardi just mentioned the fact that lefties have hit better than righties against Romero, which is encouraging.

David Phelps set his MLB career high in pitches and pitched pretty well, albeit against a team that looked more like the 2012 Red Sox than the 2011 Red Sox.  Still, with the doubleheader limiting the availability of the better relievers, getting into the seventh while holding the Jays to one run was really big.  He probably won’t make another start this year, but he’s got a chance to be a very important part of the late inning mix and he’s surely put himself into contention for a rotation spot in 2013.

We can fret about the offense, but at this point they just need to win.  The how is less important.

--Posted at 9:22 pm by SG / 57 Comments | - (0) Back from DL, Pettitte keeps Yanks in first

NEW YORK—Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in advance of Andy Pettitte’s return from nearly three months on the disabled list that he was hopeful he would receive five innings and 70 pitches from the left-hander.

In the first leg of a day-night doubleheader against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, Girardi got five scoreless frames, 75 pitches and a 4-2 win that snapped the Yankees’ tie atop the American League East with the Orioles, who will wrap up their three-game series at Seattle at 10:10 p.m. ET. The second game of New York’s doubleheader will begin at 7:05 p.m. and pit David Phelps against Ricky Romero.

Making his first appearance since a comebacker on June 27 fractured his left fibula, Pettitte appeared to be finished after four innings, with the 40-year-old at 68 pitches and Derek Lowe warming in the Yankees’ bullpen. But Pettitte returned for one more frame, retiring the side in order for the first time all day, needing only seven pitches to do so and leaving to applause from a sparse crowd a day after inclement weather forced the postponement of the lefty’s anticipated return.

Pettitte’s return went about as well as I could have hoped for.  The offense in the first inning was great.  The rest of the game, not so much.  The pen was strong too aside from David Robertson, and the Yankees have moved back into sole possession of first place for at least the next six hours or so.

--Posted at 2:55 pm by SG / 5 Comments | - (0)

Monday, September 17, 2012

WSJ: Martin, Yankees hold of Rays, keep AL East edge

NEW YORK — Nick Swisher drew a nice cheer for his rare bunt, Eduardo Nunez energized the crowd with three steals and Russell Martin earned the biggest ovation for his home run.

The New York Yankees mixed and matched against Tampa Bay — at the plate and on the mound — and emerged with a 6-4 win Sunday that kept them ahead in the AL East and ended a most damaging road trip for the Rays.

Now, the Yankees can relax. For a bit, anyway.

“We have a day off. Guys are going to rest tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s their last one of the year and they’d better rest because we still have a grind left.”

Martin’s three-run shot highlighted an eventful early burst as New York won with small ball and a longball.

Martin’s brutal start masks that he’s been pretty solid since the All Star break.  He’s hit .246/.326/.437 since July 13.  I still forget that offense is down in baseball so when I look at that line by itself I am still underwhelmed.  But when I look at it in the proper context (it’s in a league where the average hitter is hitting .255/.320/.412 and the average catcher has hit .242/.310/.398) it looks better, even if you discount him some for the farcical place he plays a good chunk of his games (Fenway park of course).  He’s hitting .293/.396/.561 in 48 September PA.

I thought he’d cost himself a lot of money this year, and if he cools off he probably has.  But if he can continue hitting like this through the end of the season and the postseason (if by some miracle the Yankees make it) I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come reasonably close to the offer he turned down last offseason (3 years, $21M). 

Baseball Reference has him at 1.1 WAR right now and he’d have to be worth somewhere in the area of 4 WAR over three years to be worth that much.  If you believe his BABIP has been unluckily low this year, he’s probably got a good chance to be worth that much, but I’m not sure I like the idea of committing to him for three years.  I think the Yankees will try and bring him back for one year on a make-good deal, particularly since it wouldn’t affect the 2014 payroll. 

It’s tough to make a case that the Yankees should offer him a qualifying offer in the $13-14M range because it’s highly unlikely he’ll be worth it.  But we can worry about all that later.  He’s been a boost for an offense that hasn’t been good lately at a time when they really needed it, and after three months of being a target of our ire he deserves some credit for that.

--Posted at 9:20 am by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, September 13, 2012 Jeter hurts ankle, expects to play Thursday

BOSTON—Derek Jeter grimaced and was hobbled after lunging for first base during the Yankees’ 5-4 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, unable to persuade manager Joe Girardi to keep him in the game.

The play forced the Yankees to reveal that Jeter has been quietly battling a bone bruise in his left ankle, and of course, Jeter expects to be in the lineup on Thursday. What else would you expect?

“I don’t talk about injuries,” Jeter said. “Either you play or you don’t. I’m playing, so it’s not an issue. At this point in the season, I’m sure there are a lot of guys that have some things bothering them. I’m really never one to talk about them.”

Girardi may decide to be cautious and sit Jeter out today, or he may DH him since Boston will have LHP Felix Doubront going.  Might we get a rare Nun-E sighting?  Either way, it thankfully doesn’t seem like a serious problem, as opposed to the multitude of serious problems this team has.

In other injury news:
SB Nation NY: Ivan Nova Set To Start Saturday, Andy Pettitte Throws Bullpen Session At Fenway

The New York Yankees pitching rotation could add some much needed depth in the upcoming days, as reports are saying Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte could possibly return to the rotation soon. According to manager Joe Girardi, Nova is going to replace veteran Freddy Garcia and will start Saturday, while Pettitte could return to the rotation next week if he gets clearance from his doctors.

For the past few weeks, Nova (11-7, 4.92 ERA) has been out because of shoulder soreness, while Pettitte (3-3, 3.22 ERA) has been recovering from a broken left ankle since June 27.

According to reports, Pettitte tossed “60, 65 pitches” in a simulated game at Fenway Park before Wednesday night’s showdown between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. After the session, Pettitte said he’d like to return and help the Yankees win the AL East.

Nova’s had a disappointing season, but the bar for him being an asset at this point is to be better than Freddy Garcia.  Since Garcia’s got an RA of 7.64 and a FIP of 5.94 and has averaged 4.4 innings a game over his last four starts, that’s not a particularly high bar.

As for Pettitte, we just won’t know what’s up with him until he’s pitching full speed in a real game.  With 20 games left in the regular season, his runway is short.  But I’m hopeful we’ll see him back and pitching in the rotation.

Nova bumping Garcia to the pen is probably an upgrade in both areas, since I think Garcia is a better option for long relief than Derek Lowe.  Then again, you could probably say that about every pitcher in the Yankee organization and Nick Swisher too.  You’d assume Pettitte would move David Phelps back to the bullpen as well, which gives the Yankees a better option than Cody Eppley in those crucial sixth innings.  The Yankees have gotten a lot more than I expected out of Eppley and he’s been a net plus this year, but he hasn’t been as good of late and his peripherals scream fluke.

A pen of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Phelps, Clay Rapada, Garcia, Eppley and maybe Cory Wade (I still think he can be useful) should help the Yankees push through the end of the regular season without overworking their key relievers too much.

Now if only they’d win a second game in a row for once.

--Posted at 8:22 am by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)

Monday, September 3, 2012 Yankees’ grip on East lead looser after loss

“It’s not a good feeling,” the Yankees’ Robinson Cano said. “You lose some games, and you just want to win games. You don’t want to put your head down. We’ve just got to turn the page; just be ready for tomorrow.”

That may be more difficult for Cano than others; the second baseman felt discomfort in his left hip trying to flag down the go-ahead hit, Chris Gimenez’s soft eighth-inning dribbler off losing pitcher David Robertson, as it scooted through the right side of the infield.

The Yankees do not expect Cano’s injury to force him to miss more than a day, but now that they’ve seen what was once a 10-game lead in the AL East trimmed to a single contest by virtue of the Orioles’ win over the Blue Jays, off-days are a luxury the Yankees can’t afford.

“I would love to keep the lead,” manager Joe Girardi said. “When you win the division, you don’t really care what you win by. You’d just love to keep the lead. That’s important.”

Scoring runs is also important. Staying healthy too. The Yankees seem to suck at both lately.

--Posted at 8:50 pm by Jonathan / 24 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, August 26, 2012 Soriano saves face, then a win for Yanks

CLEVELAND—Rafael Soriano had only a fraction of a second to preserve his health, relying on his instincts to get a glove and bare hand in the way of a hot line drive in the ninth inning on Sunday.

The Yankees were understandably concerned about any possible injury to their fill-in closer, but Soriano quickly waved them off and finished the job, sealing New York’s 4-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

“I knew it’d be sore a little bit,” Soriano said. “I said, ‘Let me try to finish, and we’ll see the trainer after the game.’”

Soriano flagged down the threatening Jason Kipnis shot and threw a strike to first base for the second out of the ninth inning, then retired Asdrubal Cabrera and furiously untucked his jersey for his 33rd save in 35 chances this season.

The Yankees really should have swept this series given the number of chances they blew yesterday.  Hopefully that doesn’t come back to haunt them.

This game had some interesting bullpen management by Joe Girardi, using Boone Logan, David Robertson and Alfonso Soriano for more than an inning.  With some of the other relievers in the pen crashing back down to earth it was understandable.  It’ll be interesting to see how Girardi handles the pen over the rest of the season if he no longer feels comfortable using the other relievers.

--Posted at 6:15 pm by SG / 18 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Newsday: Yankees put Ivan Nova on DL, try to regroup after tough stretch

Nova was sent home Wednesday night after feeling what Joe Girardi described as “tightness” in his right shoulder. Nova, who is 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break, was evaluated Thursday by team physician Christopher Ahmad, who prescribed “medicine and rest.”
David Phelps, who was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Rangers and Red Sox while filling in for CC Sabathia—who is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Friday night against the Indians—will take Nova’s rotation spot.

The Yankees have mostly responded with indifference to the slew of injuries they’ve sustained this season—“everyone goes through them” is the common refrain—and that feeling permeated the clubhouse Wednesday regarding the suddenly tight race.

Nova’s exam supposedly showed inflammation in his rotator cuff, which isn’t something you ever want to hear with a pitcher.  In the short-term, it probably doesn’t hurt the team much since Nova hasn’t been pitching well.  Hopefully it won’t affect Nova in the long-term.

--Posted at 7:32 pm by SG / 30 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 Grandy fuels Yanks, who fend off fierce Tigers

DETROIT—Curtis Granderson enjoyed immediate results from a drop in the batting order, homering and driving in four runs, but the Yankees still had to fight late to hold off the Tigers for a 12-8 victory on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

Dropped to the No. 6 spot in New York’s lineup after a recent slump, Granderson responded with a run-scoring single in the first inning, a three-run homer in the third inning and also scored a run after a seventh-inning double.

The night wasn’t as breezy as the Yankees might have expected when they wielded a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning. Detroit batted around for four runs in a sloppy seventh, forcing the Yankees to sweat for just their seventh win in 19 games.

After nearly blowing a 7-0 lead with their ace on the mound, this game felt less like a win and more like a non-loss, if that makes sense.  I suppose as fans of the worst team of all time we should take whatever we can get. 

I didn’t have a problem with Joe GIrardi pulling CC after 93 pitches.  He was laboring over the last few innings and I’ve often felt his workload should be managed a bit better to keep him fresher in October, not that it matters this year.  If the Yankee defense and David Robertson had done their jobs, the game probably would have remained a laugher.

Can the Yankees do the unthinkable and split the series tomorrow?

--Posted at 9:55 pm by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012  Yankees’ big first topped by barrage off Nova

“I had a bad day, but I don’t feel that way,” Nova said. “I felt really good in that inning, too. I just got hit. I left a hanging curveball, and he hit a homer. I think overall, it was a tough night for me. I feel like I had command of my pitches; I just got hit.”

Girardi didn’t mince words in analyzing the performance, in which the Yankees wasted their five-run first inning against Chris Tillman and lost for the ninth time in 12 games. It looked like the Bombers might cruise to a victory, but Nova’s second inning quickly flushed those hopes.

“He had no fastball command, inconsistent slider, inconsistent curveball,” Girardi said. “He worked his tail end off after he gave up two singles in a row in the second inning to get two outs and two strikes, then threw a slider [to Mark Reynolds] that didn’t break. It just kind of snowballed after that.”

Nova’s second inning was like a train wreck unfolding in slow motion.  After allowing the first two runners to reach he got two outs and got to two strikes on Mark Reynolds and it seemed like he’d get out of the mess.  Then came seven runs.

You figure when your team scores five runs in the first inning they’ll cruise to victory.  I guess not. 

Remember how I said yesterday that I was not concerned about the Yankees collapsing?  My position on that has officially changed. 

--Posted at 2:24 am by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

Monday, July 30, 2012 Homers aren’t enough as Yanks fall to Orioles

NEW YORK—The Yankees hit three home runs off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, but that power display wasn’t enough to avert a 5-4 defeat on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, marking the Bronx Bombers’ third consecutive loss.

Yankees starter Freddy Garcia permitted three runs over six innings, but the Orioles added two key runs in the seventh charged to reliever Boone Logan, winning for the third time in their four games played in the Bronx this season.

Back-to-back seventh-inning homers by Eric Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki off Gonzalez—Ichiro’s first home run in pinstripes, and the 100th of his career—closed the deficit, but the Yankees couldn’t push a final run across.

Homers aren’t enough should be the theme song of the 2012 Yankees.  I suppose it would help if it was a song and not a headline. 

Mark Teixeira left the game with a hand injury after a fielding play and obviously that’s the bigger concern than yet another one run loss.  There’s no official word on the extent of the injury, with tests planned for tomorrow. 

The nice thing about losing a bunch of one run games is it generally means you’ve been a bit unlucky and aren’t really as bad as you’ve looked.  While the logical part of me can use that to somewhat mollify the annoyance of the Yankees dropping eight of their last 11 games, the fan in me is pretty freaking annoyed these days.

In happier news, Joe Girardi says there was no setback for Andy Pettitte in recovery from a leg fracture..

Girardi said that the Yankees continue to expect Pettitte to return to their rotation in September, and that this recent update doesn’t constitute a change in that thinking. Doctors have been encouraged by Pettitte’s healing thus far.

Also, Joba Chamberlain is excited about his looming return to the majors.

“I feel like Usain Bolt right now, just not quite that fast,” said Chamberlain when asked if he sees a finish line. “Just to know it’s there and the hard work’s paid off, and to know there is an end in sight, is awesome.”

Chad Qualls is probably a bit less enthusiastic about said return.

And if you’re hoping for a magic deal coming down to save the day, according to Brian Cashman, stop hoping.

Cashman said that the trade landscape has “gotten quiet all of a sudden,” and though he wouldn’t completely rule out the chances of the Yankees making a trade before 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, Cashman said he is “not at all” optimistic because prices have been too high.

“There are some very motivated buyers that you’ve seen, and some very reluctant sellers,” Cashman said. “It’s always difficult to agree on price regardless. I’m very comfortable that I know we’re getting our guys back from the DL. It’s just trying to maintain health, stay healthy and get healthy, and keep going with what you’ve got.”

Translation, I’m about to trade Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez for Brandon Beachy.

--Posted at 9:25 pm by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 Nix opens floodgates late as Yanks top M’s

SEATTLE—Jayson Nix cleared the bases with a pinch-hit three-run double off Shawn Kelley, helping the Yankees salvage the final game of a difficult West Coast road trip with a 5-2 victory over the Mariners on Wednesday at Safeco Field.

Nix’s clutch delivery from New York’s bench supplemented Derek Jeter’s first-inning home run as the Yankees headed for home with two victories to show for their Seattle stay, which came after the club lost four straight to the Athletics in Oakland.

Good for Nix, and good for Girardi for pinch-hitting for Raul Ibanez against a lefty after refusing to do it yesterday.

And thankfully this nightmare road trip is over.  To soon be replaced by a nightmare home stand, but whatever.

--Posted at 6:11 pm by SG / 24 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Joe Girardi Thinks Platooning is Important, except when his Team is Hitting

You don’t expect to win a Freddy Garcia/Felix Hernandez matchup, but the Yankees could have won this game.  They blew a few chances to put some runs on the board against Hernandez, but I think the key moment in the game came in the top of the eighth.  With two outs and the tying run on second base, Joe Girardi chose to stay with Raul Ibanez against the lefty Lucas Luetge despite having Andruw Jones available on the bench.  That’s the Ibanez who’s hit .182/.206/.273 against LHP this season against the Luetge who’s held lefties to a line of .143/.271/.143.  While it’s likely that pinch-hitting Jones would have brought a righty into the game, it’s tough to think of a worse matchup than the one Girardi willingly chose.

Girardi obviously understands the importance of platooning, or he wouldn’t have proceeded to use five different pitchers to get through the bottom of the eighth inning.  So why would he ignore it on offense? 

This isn’t the first time this season that Girardi has allowed Ibanez to stay in a game vs. a LHP with the predictable result of him failing to come through.  Maybe it’ll finally be the last time.

As if this wasn’t enough, Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game.  No word on what the extent of the injury to his left hand was, but it did not look good.

--Posted at 11:59 pm by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

Monday, July 23, 2012 Yanks’ skid hits four after being stunned by A’s

“It’s tough. It’s tough to lose four games regardless of how it looks,” said shortstop Derek Jeter, who couldn’t handle the single that put the winning run on base with one out in the 12th. “You know, we were playing pretty good coming in here. Those guys have been playing good. They beat us four games, that’s all you can say. They’ve been playing well, they continue to play well, and they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

Right-hander Cody Eppley was again on the mound for the Yankees when the A’s notched their 11th walk-off of the season, just like Friday night when the A’s rattled off No. 10. The Yanks on Sunday also had a rare blown save from Rafael Soriano to blame. He let up a solo home run to Seth Smith that tied the game at 4 in the ninth.

I saw maybe three innings of these four games, which is probably why this sweep doesn’t bother me as much as it should.  Even the best closers blow saves, so I’m not going to crap on Rafael Soriano for last night.  I guess if I was going to quibble about anything, it’d be why Cody Eppley is pitching with the game on the line.  Joe Girardi used his “long” reliever (David Phelps) for 1.2 innings and 19 pitches in an extra inning game where his team had shown no interest in scoring.  When you leave yourself with Eppley , Clay Rapada and Chad Qualls as your only options in a game where the first run you allow likely loses it, you’re really just waving the white flag.

I wonder how often a team loses all four games of a four game series by one run?

The luxury of building a big lead is you can handle something like this.  The Yankees have lost four games to Baltimore in four days, but luckily for them the rest of the AL East contenders weren’t much better than them so the impact hasn’t been as bad as it could have been.  They really need to sweep Seattle to make up for this though.

--Posted at 8:09 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 Yankees await Brett Gardner’s MRI results amid reports that he’ll miss rest of season

It has been more than three months since Gardner has played a game for the Yankees, a time frame which has included a few serious setbacks. Girardi revealed before Monday night’s game against Toronto that Gardner had to be shut down again due to the elbow flaring up after a simulated game on Sunday.

At this point I think Gardner’s done for the year, at least as the starting LF.  Girardi mentions him possibly playing a role on the team as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement in September if they can’t get him healthy enough to hit, which I guess is better than nothing.

Girardi was asked about Mariano Rivera’s recent comments, which included the closer’s hope of returning from a torn ACL this season, and was cautiously optimistic.

“He would have to pitch in some games before the regular season ended, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “He usually gets about six or seven (innings) over the course of 18-20 days (in spring training), but I don’t think you could throw him out there without having somewhat of a spring training.

I wonder how late Mo could return and still be a viable option for the postseason?  I’m guessing mid-September at the latest.  Two weeks would give him the chance to pitch in four or five games, which may be enough.

After another strong minor-league outing from Joba Chamberlain Monday, Girardi said he expects the reliever to rejoin the team sooner rather than later.
“We’re very encouraged by what he’s doing right now, he’ll have another couple days off, probably throw again, and then eventually we’ll have to get him to back-to-back days,” Girardi said.

I hope Chad Qualls is renting.

--Posted at 9:42 am by SG / 6 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, July 15, 2012 Nova, Yanks unable to finish off sweep of Angels

NEW YORK—Ivan Nova was hit for six runs, including three homers, in a six-plus-inning outing as the Angels defeated the Yankees, 10-8, on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Curtis Granderson had a terrific afternoon, homering and making two catches in center field to take away likely extra-base hits, but his showing wasn’t enough for the Yankees to complete a series sweep of the Halos.

You can’t help but wonder why Nova started the seventh on a day where he didn’t have his best stuff.  He allowed the first two runners to reach before being pulled which got the Angels a run.  Then you have to wonder why Chad Qualls was left in the game to start the eighth after getting out of the seventh.  Then you wonder why it took four hits and two runs allowed by Qualls before Girardi decided to replace him.  Qualls has pitched in 577 games in his career, and in only 41 of them was he asked to face 8 or more hitters.  #41 was today, and as we can see it was a bad idea.

You also have to wonder why this team did such a piss poor job of running the bases on a day where they hit Jered Weaver pretty well but didn’t capitalize on it.

They should have won this game, but I guess taking two out of three from the Angels is good enough.

--Posted at 4:07 pm by SG / 8 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 Yankee Relief Pitcher Projections vs. Actuals at the All Star Break

Wrapping up my All Star Break look at the Yankees performance compared to projections is the bullpen.

Freddy Garcia started the year in the rotation but had awful results and was moved to the bullpen.  With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte out of action, Garcia was moved back into the rotation where he’s had two solid starts against the teams that are probably the Yankees’ biggest rivals this year, Tampa Bay and Boston.

cairo 43 47 22 20 5 12 27 4.55 4.28 4.28 6 0.6
davenport 43 46 24 24 6 13 24 5.12 4.96 4.73 3 0.3
marcel 43 45 21 19 5 13 28 4.36 4.06 4.19 7 0.7
oliver 43 48 23 22 5 12 25 4.84 4.50 4.31 4 0.4
pecota 43 48 25 23 6 13 28 5.13 4.78 4.40 3 0.3
steamer 43 46 23 22 6 11 26 4.88 4.54 4.41 4 0.4
zips 43 48 25 23 6 13 25 5.20 4.85 4.64 3 0.3
average 43 47 23 22 6 13 26 4.87 4.57 4.42 4 0.4
2012 43 48 27 25 6 10 32 5.65 5.23 4.09 0 0.0
diff 1 4 3 0 -3 6 0.78 0.67 -0.33 -4 -0.4

Garcia’s actually got a better walk rate and strike out rate than projected although that’s likely due to pitching out of the bullpen for much of the season.  According to FIP, Garcia’s actually pitched about as well overall as he did last year when he was a surprisingly effective starter for most of the season.  Again, the fact that the most of his 2012 innings are out of the pen means he’d probably be a bit less effective as a full-time starter, but I think I’m comfortable in saying he isn’t nearly as bad as he looked in April and can probably keep the Yankees in most games as a starter if needed.  I’d assume he’ll be the one to stay in the rotation over David Phelps when CC comes back, with Phelps going back to AAA to remain stretched out as a starter.  That could obviously change if he starts to pitch poorly again.

Speaking of David Phelps, here is how he’s done compared to his projections so far.

cairo 41 50 25 24 6 14 24 5.58 5.16 4.77 1 0.1
oliver 41 46 22 21 5 12 28 4.91 4.54 4.16 4 0.4
pecota 41 48 25 24 6 16 26 5.58 5.16 4.65 4 0.4
steamer 41 43 22 21 5 13 27 4.87 4.50 4.11 7 0.7
zips 41 50 26 25 6 13 25 5.77 5.40 4.63 6 0.6
average 41 47 24 23 5 13 26 5.34 4.95 4.46 4 0.4
average relief 41 40 20 19 5 13 30 4.49 4.16 4.00 9 0.9
2012 41 37 15 14 6 17 42 3.29 3.07 4.32 11 1.1
diff Starter -10 -9 -9 1 4 16 -2.05 -1.88 -0.15 7 0.7
diff Reliever -8 -4 -4 -1 0 4 -0.85 -0.79 -0.46 5 0.5

Phelps was originally projected as a starter, so I’ve done a conversion of his average 2012 projection to relief.  He’s still been more effective than projected looking at that, although his FIP is a bit worse thanks to one extra HR allowed.  He’s probably heading for a regression in his BABIP, but if he can keep his FIP in the 4.3-4.5 range he’s probably a viable back-end starter for the Yankees.  Because of that, I’d assume he’ll go back to the minors to start regularly when CC comes back, with an eye on bringing him back whenever the rotation needs him.

Cody Eppley wasn’t expected to be part of the Yankee bullpen when the season started, but he’s now thrown 23 mostly good innings.

cairo 23 25 13 12 3 11 17 5.20 4.85 4.61 1 0.1
marcel 23 22 12 11 3 9 18 4.55 4.25 4.41 3 0.3
oliver 23 23 12 11 2 10 20 4.68 4.37 4.10 3 0.3
pecota 23 24 13 12 3 10 19 4.98 4.65 4.25 2 0.2
steamer 23 24 13 12 2 11 16 4.90 4.57 4.22 2 0.2
zips 23 24 12 12 2 11 17 4.80 4.52 4.47 2 0.2
average 23 24 12 12 3 10 18 4.85 4.53 4.22 2 0.2
2012 23 20 7 7 1 11 14 2.74 2.74 3.78 8 0.8
diff -4 -5 -5 -2 1 -4 -2.11 -1.80 -0.44 5 0.5

His peripherals are lackluster and his FIP is buoyed by pretty low HR rate.  I don’t think he’s as good as his RA/ERA so far this year, but he’s fine as a middle reliever.

Much like Eppley, Clay Rapada wasn’t really expected to be a major part of the Yankee bullpen but he’s thrown 24 innings. 

cairo 24 24 12 12 3 11 19 4.63 4.35 4.25 3 0.3
davenport 24 23 12 12 3 10 19 4.63 4.63 4.17 3 0.3
marcel 24 23 12 11 3 9 20 4.50 4.24 4.12 3 0.3
oliver 24 23 12 11 2 10 19 4.43 4.17 3.84 4 0.4
pecota 24 23 12 11 2 11 21 4.31 4.06 3.92 4 0.4
steamer 24 25 13 13 3 10 17 4.97 4.68 4.44 2 0.2
zips 24 24 12 12 3 10 19 4.60 4.40 4.18 3 0.3
average 24 24 12 12 3 10 19 4.58 4.36 4.13 3 0.3
2012 24 14 9 7 1 14 23 3.37 2.62 3.37 6 0.6
diff -10 -3 -5 -2 4 4 -1.22 -1.74 -0.76 3 0.3

Regular numbers like RA/ERA/FIP for someone like Rapada aren’t all that useful because he’s more of a tactical option to use for facing a specific batter or two and his value is heavily dependent on the base/out situations he’s used in.  Rapada’s faced 70 LHB and has held them to a line of .150/.246/.217.  It’d be cool if he walked fewer of them, but it’s tough to quibble with that overall performance.  If only he’d made that double play…

Cory Wade came out of nowhere to have a strong 2011 and he started 2012 out the same way after an ugly spring training.  Then the wheels came off.

cairo 33 33 16 15 5 9 23 4.44 4.08 4.31 5 0.5
davenport 33 32 16 16 4 8 23 4.42 4.42 4.01 5 0.5
marcel 33 31 14 12 4 10 26 3.80 3.40 3.89 7 0.7
oliver 33 34 17 15 4 8 23 4.57 4.09 4.05 4 0.4
pecota 33 32 16 14 4 9 24 4.31 3.86 4.16 5 0.5
steamer 33 34 18 16 4 10 22 4.91 4.39 4.35 3 0.3
zips 33 36 18 17 5 8 22 4.92 4.61 4.37 3 0.3
average 33 33 16 15 4 9 23 4.48 4.12 4.16 5 0.5
2012 33 42 25 24 6 8 34 6.81 6.54 4.12 -4 -0.4
diff 9 9 9 2 -1 11 2.33 2.42 -0.04 -9 -0.9

I have no idea what’s up with Wade, and I have no idea if he’s lost his ability to be an effective pitcher in MLB.  His FIP is fine, his walk rate and K rate are good, but he’s getting hit hard.  While we generally expect FIP to be a better predictor going forward, it’s entirely possible Wade has lost the ability to limit hits on balls in play to some extent.  He’ll probably be pitching in AAA trying to figure things out and won’t be called up again if he doesn’t.  I hope he does because I like watching him pitch when he’s effective.

Boone Logan’s been mostly good this year, but has struggled a bit recently.

cairo 31 32 15 13 3 12 30 4.29 3.76 3.71 5 0.5
davenport 31 28 14 14 3 12 27 3.93 3.93 3.70 6 0.6
marcel 31 30 14 12 3 11 28 4.14 3.60 3.70 6 0.6
oliver 31 30 16 14 2 12 26 4.68 4.07 3.58 4 0.4
pecota 31 32 18 15 3 12 28 5.09 4.43 3.92 2 0.2
steamer 31 28 15 13 3 13 29 4.40 3.83 3.81 5 0.5
zips 31 30 14 13 3 11 31 4.10 3.91 3.75 6 0.6
average 31 30 15 14 3 12 28 4.38 3.93 3.74 5 0.5
2012 31 28 13 13 4 14 41 3.77 3.77 3.48 7 0.7
diff -2 -2 -1 1 2 13 -0.60 -0.16 -0.25 2 0.2

He’s still outpitching his projections, notably the big jump in strikeout rate.  He’s still a bit of an adventure at times, but I am comfortable he’ll be mostly good over the rest of the year.

Expecting a repeat of 2011 for David Robertson was not realistic.  Robertson’s been fine, although we’re now hearing he doesn’t have a closer’s mentality because of two blown saves.

cairo 24 20 8 7 1 12 31 2.96 2.77 2.84 6 0.6
davenport 24 19 11 10 2 12 27 4.02 3.88 3.60 3 0.3
marcel 24 20 9 8 2 10 28 3.20 2.92 3.11 5 0.5
oliver 24 19 10 9 2 12 29 3.72 3.40 2.98 4 0.4
pecota 24 19 9 8 2 12 31 3.43 3.13 3.08 5 0.5
steamer 24 19 9 8 2 11 29 3.40 3.11 3.24 5 0.5
zips 24 18 9 8 2 13 32 3.34 3.06 3.01 5 0.5
average 24 19 9 9 2 12 29 3.44 3.18 3.12 5 0.5
2012 24 19 8 7 2 12 40 2.99 2.62 2.25 6 0.6
diff 0 -1 -2 0 0 11 -0.45 -0.56 -0.87 1 0.1

Robertson’s outpitched his projections, and his FIP indicates he’s actually been more effective than his RA/ERA show.  I still think he’s the best reliever in the non-Mo Yankee bullpen, whether he’s the anointed closer or not.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned how I felt about the Rafael Soriano signing.  Anyway, with Mariano Rivera likely out for the rest of 2012, Soriano’s become the closer.

cairo 33 27 14 13 4 12 31 3.82 3.60 3.64 5 0.5
davenport 33 29 14 13 4 11 31 3.75 3.60 3.71 5 0.5
marcel 33 28 14 12 3 12 30 3.71 3.35 3.59 5 0.5
oliver 33 29 14 13 4 11 31 3.86 3.49 3.57 5 0.5
pecota 33 26 12 11 4 10 35 3.26 2.94 3.34 7 0.7
steamer 33 31 15 14 4 11 30 4.16 3.77 4.02 4 0.4
zips 33 26 13 12 3 11 39 3.43 3.14 3.04 6 0.6
average 33 28 14 13 4 11 32 3.71 3.41 3.56 5 0.5
2012 33 30 6 6 0 15 34 1.63 1.63 2.30 13 1.3
diff 2 -8 -7 -4 4 2 -2.08 -1.78 -1.25 8 0.8

Soriano’s been rock solid as the closer, putting up a Rivera-like ERA.  He’s allowing a lot more base runners than Mo does, but so far that hasn’t hurt him.  I’d prefer not to see him allowing two base runners to reach every inning, but aside from that I have no qualms with his work so far.  I’d expect him to be closer to that 2.30 FIP going forward, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

A few odds calls aside, Joe Girardi’s managed his bullpen very well this year in my opinion.  Just like he’s done in every year since he became the Yankee manager.  Because of that, I think the bullpen will continue to be a strength going forward.

--Posted at 9:04 am by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, July 5, 2012 Yanks grind out late rally to push Rays aside

It looked like the Rays were well on their way to making it 10 straight losses for the Yankees at The Trop when Carlos Pena launched a two-run homer off Boone Logan into the right-field stands, putting Tampa Bay ahead, 3-1, in the seventh—especially after New York missed a prime scoring opportunity in the top half of the inning.

But David Robertson pitched a clean eighth inning—a welcome experience for him after admittedly blowing Monday’s game, a 4-3 loss—and Tampa Bay relieved Price with Farnsworth, a righty.

Farnsworth walked leadoff batter Eric Chavez and struck out Derek Jeter, then issued free passes to Curtis Granderson and Teixeira to load the bases. Alex Rodriguez then walked on six pitches, bringing in Chavez and trimming the Rays’ lead to one run.

“I wasn’t getting ahead of them, first off, on strike one, which obviously was huge,” Farnsworth said. “They’re going to sit on their one pitch, and they’re not going to swing. ... It’s all on me for not throwing strikes.”

Girardi added that it’s not always easy for hitters to leave the bat on their shoulder when a pitcher is throwing so many balls, especially when they could just as easily hit their way back into the game.

“We’ve got guys who can change the complexion of the game with one swing,” Girardi said. “But they remained patient, and I give them a lot of credit.”

Robinson Cano took care of things from there, knocking a two-run single to center field off left-hander Jake McGee—who relieved Farnsworth—to give the Yankees the lead. The hit also gave Cano eight straight games with at least one RBI.

“Every win’s a big win, but it’s good to get that monkey off your back,” Cano said. “You want to be able to win one and get over it. You don’t want to go to Boston losing three games.”

No, you certainly don’t want that, Robinson.

In other somewhat odd news, the Yankees claimed Darnell McDonald off waivers.  This likely means we won’t be seeing Brett Gardner before Labor Day. Of 2013.

--Posted at 12:09 am by Jonathan / 10 Comments | - (0)

Friday, June 29, 2012

NY Times: Yankees’ Bullpen Falters in the Ninth

“I did my job as a pitcher,” Rapada said. “I just didn’t do my job as a fielder. I really let my team down tonight.”

Yes, you did.

Robertson, who was initially named to replace Mariano Rivera after Rivera was injured May 3, was warming up for the ninth, thinking that with Soriano unavailable, he might start the inning.

“I thought I would,” he said, but he added that he had been summoned many times in similar situations in the past and usually escaped them. Not this time.

I still can’t understand the idea that you would be willing to use Robertson in the ninth, but wouldn’t have him start the inning. 

Sure, if Rapada makes the play he should have made the outcome is probably different.  It still doesn’t make sense to start the ninth with two pitchers that are inferior to Robertson when he was available.  With their two best starters out, this team can’t afford to lose games they should be winning.  Yes, Robertson gave up the HR, but coming into an inherited mess may have made him pitch differently than he would have if he’d started the inning.

Oh well.  Maybe they’ll win today.

--Posted at 8:11 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, June 28, 2012 Girardi Hands the White Sox a Win

I’ve often said that Joe Girardi’s bullpen management is his biggest strength, but tonight he really managed it horribly.  Let’s run through the transgressions.

- With the tying run on third and two outs in the 8th, he used Cody Eppley against Paul Konerko.  That was a situation that really called for David Robertson.
- After Eppley got out of the inning, Robertson should have started the ninth.  Instead Eppley was left in.
- Once Alex Rios singled against Eppley to start the ninth, he went to Clay Rapada with the tying run in the batter’s box.  I suppose you can say Rapada made his pitches, but he threw a potential double play grounder into CF.

By the time Girardi finally decided to go to Robertson, the damage had effectively been done.

This feels like the worst loss of the year to me.  Unbelievable.  Really.

--Posted at 8:54 pm by SG / 19 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 Carig: Brett Gardner believes he’ll play this year

ATLANTA — The Yankees refused to fully divulge what doctors have learned about Brett Gardner’s troublesome right elbow.
However, manager Joe Girardi offered a glimpse into the findings Tuesday, revealing that Gardner’s issues have nothing to do with his elbow ligaments. That fact alone rules out the possibility of Tommy John surgery, which would have cost the outfielder the rest of his season.

I’m not sure I like the way this story line is unfolding.

In better news, AP: Yankees’ Rivera says knee surgery ‘went perfectly’

Girardi said the surgery clears the path for Rivera’s comeback in 2013.
“I think we’re all expecting to see Mo pitch next year,” Girardi said. “I really don’t think we’re going to see any issues.”

--Posted at 9:05 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 A-Rod swings momentum to keep Yanks hot

ATLANTA—Considering the way he’s had to manage the Yankees’ bullpen of late, Joe Girardi needed a deep start from ace left-hander CC Sabathia against the Braves at Turner Field on Tuesday night.

Girardi got just that, but not without some tense moments before Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher turned a four-run deficit into a satisfying 6-4 win. It was the Yankees’ fifth win in a row and their 10th in a span of 12 games, leaving New York alone in first place in the American League East and at 36-25, the best record in the AL.

Rodriguez hit his 23rd career grand slam with one out in the eighth inning, tying legendary Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig atop the all-time list. Rodriguez’s 10th homer of the season and 639th lifetime knotted the score at 4. Moments later, Swisher launched a two-run shot, also his 10th, off Cory Gearrin to give the Yankees a lead they would keep.

When I turned the game on the Yankees were already down 3-0 in the bottom of the first after going 0 for 2 with RISP in the top of the first.  Mike Minor made the offense look horrible through seven innings, but then came the furious rally in the eighth.  The Yankees’ ineptitude with the bases loaded this year has been painful to watch.  In his previous 10 PA with the bases loaded this year Rodriguez had one hit and three double plays.  The grand slam was better.

It’s amazing how much more fun this team has been to watch lately, isn’t it?

--Posted at 9:23 pm by SG / 22 Comments | - (0)

Monday, June 11, 2012 Nova’s eighth win lifts Yanks into first-place tie

Ivan Nova pitched seven strong innings, holding the Braves to five singles in leading the Yanks to their fourth straight win, which followed a three-game weekend sweep of the Mets at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees scored one run in each of the first three innings against Braves starter Randall Delgado.

Instead of starting the ninth inning with Rafael Soriano, who blew a save opportunity in Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Mets, manager Joe Girardi turned to Cory Wade for the inning’s first out, then got the final two outs of the game from Boone Logan.

The Yanks have now won nine of their last 11 games and pulled into a first-place tie with the Rays in the AL East, leading Girardi to agree before the game that the defending division champs are now hitting on all cylinders, despite some notable missing parts: Brett Gardner, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera.

It seems like after every Nova start this year I’ve said some variation of Nova pitching better than his final line.  Today I’m going to go with the opposite sentiment.  I’ll take seven shutout innings any time, but Nova didn’t look shutout great to me.  His command seemed off, although he probably should have ended the game with 0 walks and 8 Ks but he caught the home plate ump napping on an 0-2 curve that cut through the center of the strike zone.  The batter ended up working a walk to lead off the seventh, but Nova carved through the next three hitters to end a solid night and move his season ERA under 5.00.  Nick Swisher also made a great catch earlier in the game that may have robbed Brian McCann of a two run homer that would have made Nova’s line look worse than it did.  That being said, I’ve felt all year that Nova’s pitched in bad luck so he’s probably due for a bit of good luck.

Because of Nova and two perfect innings by the closer-less bullpen, we can ignore the fact that once again the Yankees were putrid with runners on base.  I lost count around 27 LOB. 

Despite that ineptitude continuing, the Yankees won again and with Tampa Bay idle, the Yankees have moved into a tie for first place in the AL East.  They should try and stay there.

--Posted at 9:24 pm by SG / 24 Comments | - (0)

Friday, May 25, 2012 Yankees’ bullpen benefits from a pair of sidearm relievers

It translated into a comfortable niche Eppley has created for himself as a frustrating matchup for right-handed hitters.  In the minor leagues this year, he elicited a ground ball against 82 percent of the batters he faced.

Here’s a brief look at how Cory Eppley became a side-arming reliever instead of a failed starter.  With all the injuries the Yankees have had in the bullpen he’s survived a lot longer than I’d expected him to.  At first I though, wow, 82% of the batters he’s faced in the minors hit ground balls against him?  Then I realized he’s faced a grand total of 31 batters in the minors this year. 

He does have a 66.7% GB rate in MLB this year as well though, which is a good thing in DNYS.  He’s not really someone I want to see in high leverage situations, but he can probably continue to help the team in the correct spots, which plays into what I think is Joe Girardi’s biggest strength (using his middle relievers well).

--Posted at 9:37 am by SG / 15 Comments | - (0)

Monday, May 14, 2012 Snapping late tie, Teixeira finishes O’s

BALTIMORE—The Yankees have come to accept Mark Teixeira’s slow starts as par for the course, but the slumping switch-hitter delivered a big blow at a most opportune time.

Teixeira blasted a two-run homer in the seventh inning to put his club ahead and the Yankees made it hold up, posting an 8-5 victory over the Orioles on Monday at Camden Yards.

What a bizarre night.  The Yankees 3-4-5 hitters combined for 7 hits and Rafael Soriano almost pitched his first 1-2-3 inning of the year, sabotaged by an Eric Chavez error.

Ivan Nova left the game in the sixth with a bruised right foot and sprained right ankle which sounds like a crappy night for his lower right leg.  He’ll probably miss a start or two, but hopefully not much more than that.

Since I complain about Joe Girardi a lot, I’ll commend him for how he managed the bullpen tonight.  I much prefer choosing pitchers based on match-ups to choosing pitchers based on the inning, and Clay Rapada, David Phelps Boone Logan and Cory Wade made it work.  Losing Mo is a big blow, but since Girardi became Yankee manager they’ve had the best relief ERA in the majors so I think he’ll be able to handle it about as well as anyone could.

--Posted at 10:06 pm by SG / 9 Comments | - (0)

Friday, May 4, 2012 CC wins fourth straight after Yanks erupt late

KANSAS CITY—Eduardo Nunez’s go-ahead RBI triple opened the floodgates in a four-run seventh inning as the Yankees rallied to top the Royals, 6-2, on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter also homered as New York snapped its three-game losing skid behind eight strong innings from ace CC Sabathia, who won his fourth straight start.

That was a much needed win, more to regain sanity than anything else.

Also, For now, Robertson, Soriano will split ninth.

This seems like a good idea if it means using Robertson in the higher leverage situations.

--Posted at 10:30 pm by Jonathan / 41 Comments | - (0)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crashing the Party

I decided to make use of my field pass during Yankees' batting practice on Friday afternoon. I figured that I should make the most of it before somebody wised up and revoked it.

Trying to remain as incognito as possible, I snapped off a few pictures using my phone (hence the poor picture quality). Click on any of them to enlarge.

I took this shot just as the Red Sox were finishing up their BP - all the Yankees were still in the dugout getting ready to come out and stretch.

Papelbon is right, Mo has a great smile.

CHB asked asked A-Rod about his favorite Fenway moments. I believe A-Rod mentioned his first major league game in July of 1994.

One of the funnier moments I witnessed was when Nick Swisher came into the dugout before taking BP. Russell Martin was just about to sit down with a reporter from a Canadian news outlet, and Swisher started yelling out, "French time? Time for French!?"

Another interesting thing I caught was Swisher talking to Ibanez about the difference between Yankee Stadium's short porch and the wall in left at Fenway. He said something about how if you get jammed at Yankee Stadium, you won't be able to muscle it out; but you can get jammed and still go deep over the monster. Or maybe it was the other way around. The funny thing was that it almost looked like he got jammed in his first plate appearance on Friday and he actually took it the other way for a HR over the monster.

Kuroda sitting down for an interview with Japanese TV. I only caught one word: Ichiro.

Every time I get an assignment for a Yankee game, I hope to see Mariano Rivera take the mound. So when Cody Eppley came in with a four run lead in the bottom of the ninth, I was a bit disconcerted. However, it only took one single off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Girardi to make the inevitable call to the bullpen, and I once again got to see my absolute favorite player in action. Two strike outs and a ground out was all the Red Sox could muster against the greatest closer in baseball history, and the Yankees took the first game of the season series 6-2.

Happy Birthday Fenway.

--Posted at 10:28 pm by Jonathan / 30 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 Yankees’ hot start fizzles in loss to Twins

NEW YORK—Joe Girardi offered up a prophecy Monday afternoon that he’d rather have not seen come true.

Just hours before his club took the field for the series opener against the visiting Twins—who have had remarkably little success at Yankee Stadium over the last 10 years—Girardi noted how formidable the heart of Minnesota’s order is again, with the resurgent health of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and the addition of outfielder Josh Willingham.

As formidable as the heart of the Yankees’ order?

Losing to the Twins at home is not something that can be spun.  They stink, and now the Yankees have to try and make up for it.  Taking the next three games would be a start to that.

--Posted at 2:24 am by SG / 30 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012; Ibanez ends drama as Yanks prevail in 12

BALTIMORE—Raul Ibanez provided the Yankees with the big hit that they’d been searching for all night, delivering a go-ahead ground-rule double that powered a 5-4 victory over the Orioles in 12 innings on Tuesday at Camden Yards.

I didn’t think Joe Girardi managed this game all that well, but I’m glad the team won.  I didn’t really have a problem with using Boone Logan to start the ninth, particularly since he was on a short leash and got pulled as soon as the first batter reached.  My primary beef was the whole sequence in the top of the 11th.  After Russell Martin walked to lead off the inning, Girardi pinch-ran for him with Eduardo Nunez.  The benefit to this is getting a stolen base threat into the game.  Instead, Girardi had left-handed hitting Brett Gardner bunt Nunez to second against a RHP so that Derek Jeter could try to drive him in with the platoon disadvantage.  This also meant that the next time Martin’s spot came up, it’d be Chris Stewart in his spot.  It turned out to not matter, but I think Girardi would be better off not trying to be so active when an opportunity presents itself. 

Of course if one of the Yankees #4 or #5 or #6 hitters could have gotten a hit in the fifty times they came up with a chance to drive in a runner it would have been a non-issue.

On the plus side, David Phelps was nails after a crappy outing by Freddy Garcia, as was Cory Wade.  Raul Ibanez’s big hit was obviously cool, and Mariano Rivera closed it out with a perfect 12th inning, lowering his ERA to 7.71.  The Yankees have a chance to head home at .500 if they can win tomorrow behind CC Sabathia, and after starting out 0-3 you can’t ask for more than that.

--Posted at 10:54 pm by SG / 17 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Was Intentionally Walking Sean Rodriguez to Pitch to Carlos Pena in the First Inning Defensible?

After sleeping off my annoyance about how the season opener went, I thought I’d look at the statistical implications of Joe Girardi’s tactical decision to walk Sean Rodriguez to get to Carlos Pena with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the first inning yesterday.

The first thing I’ll say is that previous batter/pitcher matchup statistics are generally not predictive, as shown in The Book.  So to me, the most relevant statistics are these CAIRO wOBA projections.

Rodriguez: .305 overall wOBA, .322 vs. LHP and .295 vs. RHP
Pena: .340 overall wOBA, .308 vs. LHP and .353 vs. RHP

The next thing I’d look at is run expectancy.

Using the run expectancy numbers from 1993-2010 we see that a team with two outs and runners on 2nd/3rd is expected to score 0.280 runs.  With two outs and the bases loaded, they’re expected to score 0.334 runs.

So is it better to face a .322 wOBA hitter (Rodriguez vs. a lefty) with a run expectancy of .280 or a .308 wOBA hitter (Pena vs. LHP) with a run expectancy of 0.334?

Actually, forget wOBA.  Let’s use linear weights instead.

Here are the linear weights values for the primary offensive events with runners on second/third and the bases loaded.

MOB 1b 2b 3b hr bb k out
-xx 1.17 1.46 1.62 2.07 0.23 0 0
xxx 1.38 2 2.4 2.86 1 0 0

I don’t know why the RE for the HR isn’t equal to base runners plus batter, although I’m guessing Jorge Posada’s base ruining is involved in some way.

And here are the percentages of times Rodriguez and Pena would project to do each of those things vs. LHP.

split vs. lhp 1b 2b 3b hr bb out
Rodriguez .129 .059 .005 .016 .116 .646
Pena .102 .030 .003 .039 .117 .689

Multiplying those percentages times the run expectancy for that situation gives us this.

split vs. lhp 1b x RE 2b x RE 3b x RE hr x RE bb x RE out x RE RE
Rodriguez .151 .086 .009 .033 .027 0 .305
Pena .141 .060 .008 .110 .117 0 .436

Add it all up and you see that the RE for pitching to Rodriguez with runners on second and third is lower than the RE for pitching to Pena with the bases loaded.

These REs for the values of a single, double and triple don’t factor in the outs, which means that we should probably expect a higher percentage of runners to score from second and third with two outs since they’ll be running on contact.  That probably closes the gap some.  But this shows me that it was likely not the right move to walk Rodriguez to get to Pena.

--Posted at 9:25 am by SG / 61 Comments | - (0)

Friday, April 6, 2012 Mo proves human, as Rays deny Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG—What could well turn out to be Mariano Rivera’s final Major League season began with an Opening Day blown save, as the Rays toppled the game’s all-time saves leader to post a 7-6 victory on Friday at Tropicana Field.

Joe Girardi should get at least half of the blame for his loss.  His asinine decision to intentionally walk Sean Rodriguez in the first inning probably was as big of a reason for this loss as Mo’s blown save.

--Posted at 6:39 pm by SG / 31 Comments | - (0)

Friday, March 30, 2012

NY Times: Yankees Still Aren’t Certain About Rotation

“I know these guys are anxious to find out what we believe their schedules are going to be and when they’re going to pitch,” Girardi said Thursday before the Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles. “We’re just not quite there yet.”

Girardi said the issue would be discussed over the next few days in meetings with him, members of his staff and General Manager Brian Cashman and his staff. The hope, Girardi said, is to come up with a final five by Monday, but they are still collecting information as the pitchers make their final spring starts.

I’m pretty sure they’ve made their decision, and they’re just figuring out how to tell the one who’s not in it.  I hope they’re not considering a six man rotation, but considering how frequently this team chooses the sub-optimal option it wouldn’t surprise me.

--Posted at 9:33 am by SG / 69 Comments | - (0)

Monday, March 26, 2012

NYDN: Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez hit by 95-mph pitch by Detroit Tigers’ Brian Villareal

TAMPA - The Yankees got a brief jolt Sunday when Alex Rodriguez was drilled in the rib cage by a 95-mph fastball thrown by Detroit’s Brayan Villareal. A-Rod grimaced and crumpled to the ground, clutching his side.

He was up quickly and, neither he nor Joe Girardi was worried afterward.

“Everything good,” Rodriguez said. “Ready to go.”

“He’s OK, the doctor checked him out and he’s fine,” Girardi said. “I expect him back in there on Tuesday.”

Although it seems like Rodriguez is fine, this was a reminder of the biggest problem facing the Yankees this year.  An injury to one of their starting eight position players would expose just how thin they are behind the starters.

In other assorted crap.

NY Times: Pineda Hits the Gas, and His Fastball’s Speed Jumps

I only watched a couple of innings from yesterday’s game and I didn’t see anything over 91.  I’m still not going to worry about Pineda’s velocity until the games start to count.

NY Post: Joba leaves hospital; Yankees manager confident in comeback

If the Yankees can put together a sixth by committee until Joba’s return, they may be able to weather this blow.  Seriously though, this sounds encouraging considering where things were right after the injury.  I still doubt we’ll see him back this year, but I hope he’s able to make a full recovery.

--Posted at 9:05 am by SG / 51 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NYDailyNews: Yankees’ Freddy Garcia a hit again in return to mound vs. Detroit Tigers

Garcia has a 2.91 ERA in four spring starts, allowing 10 hits in 12.1 innings while striking out 11 and walking four. Girardi said he probably won’t decide on the back end of the Yankee rotation until April 3 or 4, meaning there is still time for Garcia to impress.

Garcia says he doesn’t mind the competition for a job, noting that “it’s making my thinking straight you concentrate better on what you’re doing.” But he did admit, “The way I pitched (Saturday), I needed it. I’m glad I pitched good.

“I’m glad I could come back and pitch. That’s really important, because we’re in competition. I don’t want to lose any starts.”

It’s nice to see Freddy Garcia pitching well after getting hit in the hand by a comebacker a couple weeks ago.  The Yankees may not have 16 aces, but Freddy and Phil have so far shown they could be in the starting rotation of almost any team outside of New England.

--Posted at 9:51 am by Jonathan / 15 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, March 24, 2012 Valentine blasts Girardi

When the inning was over, the Red Sox took the field but were waved off by the umpires. Valentine had righthander Clayton Mortensen warmed up and coming in from the bullpen.

“It was regretful that [Clayton] Mortensen warmed up though and then we were told that they weren’t going to play extra innings. I didn’t think that that was very courteous,’’ Valentine said.

“The umpire came over and said we couldn’t play. I don’t care about not playing. Why do I have to warm up my pitcher who’s trying to make a team? Come in in a tie game against the Yankees and maybe help him make a team, and instead he has to walk off the mound and take a shower. That’s just not very courteous.’’

According to their travel roster, the Yankees had seven pitchers available. One of them, D.J. Mitchell, threw in the bullpen during the game and could not have pitched. But the others could have.

“Usually there’s communication between the umpires and the manager and it didn’t happen tonight for whatever reason,’’ Girardi said. “I didn’t know they had another guy.’’

Valentine expected that message to come from Girardi.

“Usually you go over and say, ‘Hey, I don’t have any more.’ I don’t know. I haven’t been around in a long time,’’ he said. “Joe knows better than I. I guess you just walk off the field.

“I’m sure [Girardi] didn’t do anything deliberate. It’s just I have to answer a pitcher who’s trying to make the team. That’s why you use that bullpen.’’

If getting Mortensen in the game was so important to Valentine, perhaps he could have used him in one of the nine official innings, perhaps in one of the seven thrown by Aaron Cook and Ross Ohlendorf?  And if giving Mortensen a fair chance to make the team is so important to Valentine, is there any reason he’s pitched a grand total of three times this spring?

--Posted at 7:01 am by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NY Post: Yankees see ‘night and day’ improvment from Hughes

“Night and day,” manager Joe Girardi said, comparing this year’s Hughes to a year ago. “He looks like the guy we had two years ago ... with an improved changeup.”

Hughes hopes that’s enough to get him back to where he was when he won 18 games. His spring ERA is 2.02 after he gave up two runs — when Matt Joyce launched a cutter over the center-field fence in the second — over five innings in a 5-2 Yankees win.

“There’s always a need for good pitching and as long as I go out and pitch well and am one of those guys, there’s gonna be a spot,” Hughes said. “Andy Pettitte [coming back], I don’t think about that. Six starters for five spots, I don’t think about that.”

That’s easier this year than last, when it appeared his arm was about to fall off. And while his velocity still hasn’t returned to the pre-2011 levels, he did hit 93 mph and also featured an effective changeup, which was consistently 10 mph slower than his fastball.

“I really hadn’t gotten a chance to throw as many changeups as I wanted to,” Hughes said of this spring.

But yesterday, he finished off two of his three strikeouts with the pitch.

“I took a step forward today,” Hughes said. “I haven’t had a great feel of it, ever.”

Last year, Phil Hughes ranked in the bottom 5% in wOBA and bottom 8% in swing-and-miss percentage in two-strike counts. It’s too early to know whether his change is going to be an effective pitch in 2012.  But if it is, maybe we won’t be such Negative Nancies when Phil gets to two strikes this year.

--Posted at 11:53 am by Jonathan / 81 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NYDN: Girardi Throws Down the Gauntlet

For Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova, Pettitte’s arrival will be a wakeup call.

That’s what Joe Girardi is hoping for anyway. He’s looking for Pettitte’s return to inspire the rest of his staff.

“If you don’t want somebody to take your job, pitch that way; it’s really simple,” Girardi said. “Let’s say the job was given to you and you were struggling; they’re going to look for someone to give the job to. You have to produce. That’s the world we live in in New York. It’s not like, ‘You’re this guy and we’re going to give you 20 starts no mater what happens.’ We don’t live in that world here.”

Is that really ‘the Gauntlet?’

--Posted at 12:24 pm by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

NY Post: Girardi says Yankees need some more offense

“I think it will be helpful,” Girardi said of potentially adding another hitter. “I think we’ve had a good offseason, [but] I think it’s important to our club that you add that other bat.”

General manager Brian Cashman is looking for a designated hitter to replace recently traded Jesus Montero. Former Yankees Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are among the free-agent possibilities.

“Johnny has been a great player for a long time,” Girardi said. “There’s been a bunch of names talked about, and they’re all good players. [Raul] Ibanez, he’s had a great career, and Matsui has had a great career. Obviously, we know what Johnny and [Matsui] have meant to this organization and Ibanez has had success wherever he’s been. ...”

Well, except when he started out in Seattle.  But that was like 12 years ago - he’s just hitting his stride now.

--Posted at 8:17 pm by Jonathan / 41 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NYDN: Yankees’ Mark Teixeira is set to lay it down this year like never before

The switch-hitter batted a career-worst .224 from the left side of the plate in 2011, often pulling the ball into the pronounced shift most opposing teams employ against him.

And he’s ready to try something drastic.

“When no one’s on base, if they’re playing a big shift, I might lay down some bunts this year,” Teixeira said before he was among the honorees at Tuesday night’s Thurman Munson dinner in Midtown. “I’ve been so against it my entire career. But I might lay down a few bunts. If I can beat the shift that way, that’s important.”

Joe Girardi approves.  Binder™ was strangely silent when asked.

--Posted at 8:47 am by SG / 69 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NY Post: Yankees GM hopes to trade ‘excess pitching’ for bat

And GM Brian Cashman reiterated that he likely isn’t done tinkering with the roster, since the Yankees have seven viable starting pitchers.

“I think we’re going to look at our excess pitching,” Cashman said when asked about acquiring a bat. Girardi is confident it will work out.

Let me see if I get this.

1) Trade your best hitting prospect for a pitcher
2) Talk about how you now have an excess of pitching and would like to trade it for a bat

Is that right?

--Posted at 8:14 pm by SG / 54 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NYDN: Every Yankees pitcher, from CC Sabathia to Mariano Rivera, ready for Game 5

With young Ivan Nova getting the ball, it is Girardi’s hope that he will be able to follow his usual winning formula of Rafael Soriano in the seventh and David Robertson in the eighth with Mariano Rivera closing things out in the ninth and advancing to Saturday’s ALCS Game 1 against the Rangers.

Girardi also said that, if needed, Rivera would pitch more than one inning.

“He’s the one-plus guy (Thursday night), yes,” Girardi said.

Hopefully Luis Ayala is not available.

--Posted at 10:23 am by SG / 33 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WSJ: The Yankees Have Many Postseason Roster Decisions

Even with the season ending Wednesday, the Yankee postseason roster is still not set—as a number of decisions could come down to whether the Yankees play Texas or Detroit in the first round.

A few things are set in stone: CC Sabathia will start Game 1 on Friday, and Ivan Nova will start the second game on Saturday. Freddy Garcia looks like the most likely option for Game 3 on Monday, but manager Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit. Meanwhile, it seems likely that Bartolo Colon would not make the roster for the first round.

It’s probably much ado about nothing to think about what the best postseason roster might be since the Yankees are going to do whatever they’re going to do.  Then again, blogging by nature is much ado about nothing, so why not?

As the excerpt says, we know CC and Nova are going in 1 and 2.  We also know that Girardi intends to start CC on short rest in Game 4, if necessary.  That would allow Nova to pitch Game 5 on normal rest.  So they probably only need one more starter.  It sounds like that will be Freddy Garcia. 

Catcher is one area where things get interesting.  We know Russell Martin is a lock.  Francisco Cervelli is out for the postseason.  The only true backup catcher in the organization right now (according to their thought process) is Austin Romine.  Romine is not a major league caliber offensive player right now, and may never be one.  In an ideal series, he’d never play.  So I think I’d rather see the Yankees take just Martin, with Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero available in an emergency.  Should Martin get hurt, the Yankees would have the option to add Romine to the roster.  They would also have the option to add him to the roster in the ALCS if they made it there by some miracle.

The thing with Posada and Montero is that they’re likely to be DH’ing if they’re in the lineup.  So if one of them has to switch to catcher while already in the lineup as DH, the Yankees will lose the DH.  For that reason I think you need both of them on the roster.

On the infield, the question is what combination of Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena the Yankees will use to backup Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. 

For the outfield, I think you’ll see Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and Andruw Jones.  Chris Dickerson’s probably a long-shot.

In my mind, these are the locks.

Starting Pitchers (3)

Relievers (6)

Catchers (1)

Infield (4)

Outfield (4)

That’s 18 players, which leaves seven spots which can be filled by some of the following players.

Other pitchers

Other catchers

Other infielders

Other outfielders

I think/hope the Yankees will take Posada/Montero in lieu of Romine.  I hope that they’re not going to employ a strict platoon at DH, since it basically means Montero will sit on the bench for the entire series with Detroit.  I was hoping they could get by with one backup IF, but given A-Rod’s health issues I’d imagine they’ll take both Chavez and Nunez.That would leave them three more spots for pitchers, but I don’t see carrying 12 pitchers in a 5 game series.  So that opens up a spot for someone like Dickerson or Pena or Romine I suppose.

--Posted at 9:52 am by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)

Monday, September 26, 2011 Homer lifts cloud in Boston locker room

The Red Sox’s 7-4 triumph over the New York Yankees on Sunday night didn’t save their season. Three games this week against Baltimore allow them that opportunity. No, this reminded the Red Sox of who they are, a concept lost upon them during a September in which they’ve gone 6-18 and seen a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild-card race whittle to one.

Everything has gone wrong in that stretch, and to see so many things go right edified everyone in a Red Sox uniform but Lackey. Hours after he exited the game following one of his best performances with Boston, he was still steaming about a text message from a media member “talking about personal stuff” he alleges he received 30 minutes before the game.

Although most of us won’t admit it today, last night’s game was not meaningless.  If we were being realistic, we’d admit that Boston is probably the biggest obstacle in the American League for any team trying to advance to the World Series.  We can pretend that Boston’s only as good as their September record, but that is delusional.  For four months they have been the best or second best team in baseball, and they were predicted to be the best team in baseball by many coming into the year.  Four bad weeks don’t change those things.

The Yankees could not have prevented Boston from making the postseason by winning last night, but they could have made it a fair amount harder.  Should Boston qualify and end up being the reason the Yankees don’t make it out of the American League playoffs, we can remember that Joe Girardi felt Greg Golson, Ramiro Pena, Austin Romine and Scott Proctor were the guys to be playing in some of the situations that may have possibly won the team the game.

--Posted at 9:03 am by SG / 88 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Posada’s clutch hit delivers AL East title

NEW YORK—The New York Yankees captured their 12th American League East championship in 16 years Wednesday at Yankee Stadium with a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada leveled the final blow in the eighth inning, a two-out, bases-loaded single that broke a 2-2 tie and put New York ahead for good.

The win gave the Yankees a sweep of a day-night doubleheader and, combined with Boston’s loss to Baltimore, mathematically eliminated the Red Sox from contention for first place in the division.

It’s obviously been a frustrating season for Posada, who’s been a hugely important part of the Yankees over the last 15 seasons.  So in that sense it was cool for Joe Girardi to give him a shot in what is very possibly going to be the last meaningful PA of his Yankee career, and even cooler to see him come through.

If you assumed the two games of this double-header were 50/50 shots and the odds of Baltimore beating Josh Beckett in Fenway were about 25%, the odds of today’s events were about 6.25%.

But they happened, and because of that the Yankees are the champions of the AL East! 

A fact that I’m sure is shocking to 45 of 45 ESPN “experts”.

And the 1927 Yankees can rest easy for one more season.

--Posted at 10:08 pm by SG / 39 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011 Swisher provides only offense in walk-off loss

It was another one-run loss for the Yankees, who managed just four hits all night and had their three-game winning streak snapped.

“We’ve had three tough ones on this road trip, lost three games by one run,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s a tough one, because you figure your offense is usually going to score more than one run.”

Despite the loss, the Yankees maintained a four-game lead in the American League East thanks to Toronto’s 5-4 win over second-place Boston. New York’s magic number is now 11 and the Yankees will enjoy an off-day Thursday before heading to Toronto for a three-game set starting Friday.

Losing a game against a crappy team when your starter gives up 1 run over 7 1/3 innings is somewhat annoying, isn’t it?

I turned off the game when I saw Rafael Soriano warming up to come in, but it doesn’t seem like I missed much.  My chief issue with last night was the way Girardi handled the 8th inning on offense.  After Andruw Jones was hit by a pitch, Girardi pinch-ran for him with Brett Gardner.  Miguel Olivo is a fairly good catcher in terms of stealing bases, but Girardi didn’t even bother trying to let Gardner steal, opting instead to give Seattle a free out by having Russell Martin bunt Gardner to second.  I’ll grant that the bunt in and of itself is probably defensible if you look at things like run expectancy and win probability although it’s probably not optimal.

What was not defensible was what happened after the bunt.

Jamey Wright is a RHP who’s bounced around MLB for 16 seasons.  He’s been about average for a reliever over the last three years (ERA+ of 104).  He has the type of platoon split you’d expect from a RHP in his career, although it’s worth noting he’s been better vs. LHB over the last three season.

Still, there was no reason to let Eduardo Nunez hit after the Martin bunt.  You have a fully stocked bench to avoid that from happening.  When I saw Nunez coming up my first thought was “WTF?”  Then I thought, “well maybe Girardi wants to be cautious with Eric Chavez and rest him.”  That thought then melded into, “WTF?”  He could pinch-hit for Nunez with Jorge Posada or Chris Dickerson and then use Ramiro Pena for defense if he didn’t want to use Chavez.”  The defensive upgrade alone by replacing Nunez with a warm body makes it the smart move.  Instead, Nunez, who’s hit .236/.288/.312 since the All Star Break over 172 PA,  grounded out on the second pitch of his PA, shocking probably one person on the planet.  Maybe two if you count Binder™ as a sentient being, and the Yankees didn’t score.

It gets better though.

In Nunez’s very next PA, Girardi PINCH HIT FOR HIM WITH ERIC CHAVEZ. If you were willing to do it in the 10th inning with two outs and the bases empty, why wouldn’t you have done it in the eighth inning with the go-ahead run on 2B and one out?

Anyway, it was a crappy game and a tough one to lose given the fact that both Tampa Bay and Boston had lost earlier.  So I guess in that sense it was a fitting ending to a crappy road trip that saw the Yankees lose 4 of 7 games when they could probably have put away Boston in the AL East for good. 

--Posted at 9:32 am by SG / 24 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 Carig: Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez may be out of lineup for a few more days

Banged-up third baseman Alex Rodriguez may not return to the starting lineup until week’s end, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

With an off-day on Thursday, Girardi said before tonight’s game against the Seattle Mariners that he may wait to play Rodriguez, who is feeling the effects of a lingering thumb injury.

Since rushing him back into the lineup hasn’t worked, how about erring on the side of caution this time?  At least we’ve got Eric Chavez and Nun-E in lieu of Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa this year.

--Posted at 8:30 am by SG / 50 Comments | - (0) Yankees figure out Felix in rout

SEATTLE—The box score will tell you that the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 9-3, Monday night at Safeco Field.

But this was more than just a win to move New York further ahead in the American League East race. This was a win against Felix Hernandez.

For over three years, the defending American League Cy Young winner had New York’s number, going 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last six starts against the Bombers. But the Seattle ace finally cracked, as the Yankees bats went off in a five-run fourth inning to help New York finally bring down King Felix.

Behind the big cushion, starter Phil Hughes kept the struggling Seattle offense in check. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning and was done after that, hurling 99 pitches and giving up just one run on five Seattle hits. Hughes has held opponents to two earned runs or less in six of his last eight starts.

It was nice to see an offensive outburst against one of the best pitchers in baseball after a pretty crappy stretch over the past week.  I thought Hughes pitched okay.  Not great, but decently.

Now it’s complaint time.  You’d have thought that a 9-1 lead with three innings to go would have been a good time to perhaps take a look at someone like Andrew Brackman or Dellin Betances.  Or, you know, you could run Scott Proctor out there for two innings and Luis Ayala for one.

Yay win, anyway.

--Posted at 12:05 am by SG / 14 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, September 11, 2011 Carig: Yankees vs. Angels: Jesus Montero may start for catching-short Yankees

Manager Joe Girardi doesn’t expect Cervelli to return on the Yankees’ road trip, perhaps a sign of the severity of the injury.

“He was fine yesterday,” Girardi said. “For whatever reasons, the symptoms came today.”

Meanwhile, the Yankees are so short on catchers that they may call-up prospect Austin Romine to add depth. Starter Russell Martin left last night’s 6-0 loss to the Angels after he took a foul ball off his right hand. Veteran Jorge Posada caught for the first time all season, picking up for Martin in the third inning, but Girardi said he will likely not catch tomorrow.

Instead, rookie Jesus Montero catch in the big leagues for the first time, even though Girardi has said repeatedly that he didn’t intend to start him at catcher. Montero put on his gear just in case he was summoned to replace Martin.

“I don’t know,” said Montero, who has waited for an opportunity to catch. “I haven’t heard any decisions. I don’t know anything yet. I might catch. I might not.”

Since I am done watching the Yankees vs. the Angels, let me know how it goes.

--Posted at 9:25 am by SG / 198 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2011 Yanks muster little at plate in loss to Halos

ANAHEIM—Maicer Izturis’ game-winning drive landed in Curtis Granderson’s glove, too deep in center field to attempt a throw, and all Derek Jeter thought about was the toss he should have made.

Izturis connected for a bases-loaded sacrifice fly facing Luis Ayala in the ninth inning on Friday night, lifting the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Yankees that made Jeter’s hurried fifth-inning throwing error loom even larger.

“It boils down to giving them extra outs,” Jeter said. “I gave them an extra out throwing that ball away.”

More importantly, Jeter added, the Yankees couldn’t afford to cough up runs facing a stellar Jered Weaver, who limited the Bombers to just Jesus Montero’s homer over eight innings, striking out 11.

I’ll give Jeter a pass, since it was Jeff Mathis busting it down the line.  It’s pretty hard to throw out a backup catcher on a routine grounder.

I didn’t get to see the game, but reading the recap and the game chatter here’s what I have to say about it.

1) Jered Weaver is a good pitcher, and from what I can glean he pitched well.  Sometimes you face a good pitcher and he shuts you down.

2) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost the ability to “hate” players.  Frankly, if I was the absolute worst player in MLB history, I’d bat or pitch every time a team kept giving me a chance to do it.  So I don’t hate players who aren’t particularly good.  If their team puts them in a position to fail, that’s the team’s fault, not theirs.  So with regards to using Aaron Laffey last night (or Scott Proctor the day before) in the absolute highest leverage a team can be in at the start of an inning, I won’t blame Laffey (Proctor) for that.  I’ll blame Joe Girardi.  If you think this game is unimportant enough to use Laffey in that spot, you shouldn’t have wasted David Robertson in the eighth, since now you probably won’t be able to use him in a game you may actually try to win tonight.  If you think these games are unimportant, why not audition some of the people who have upside and may have a meaningful role with this team in the years to come?  Perhaps they’ll surprise you and show that they’re ready now?  Does anyone think Buck Showalter would have used Jack McDowell to replace Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning of the fifth game of the 1995 ALDS if he knew how good Rivera was?  If Hector Noesi didn’t get a shot against Baltimore in extra innings in his MLB debut, would the Yankees ever have made him a useful part of their bullpen?

3) As I said, the Yankees always find a way to lose to the Angels, and it’s really infuriating.  Your pitcher’s pitching brilliantly against them?  Make an error that gives them the run that ends up costing you the win.

4) The Yankees are probably exhausted right now given the way their last three games have unfolded.  A four hour rain delay in New York resulting in a game that ended around 2:00 am followed by a trip for a day game to Baltimore followed by a flight to the West Coast to play a game at 10:00 pm Eastern time.  So maybe we’re seeing some effect from that.

5) Any schadenfreude from the Red Sox’s recent tailspin is pretty much gone with the fact that the Yankees haven’t been able to gain even one iota from it, aside from shortening the amount of time the Red Sox might have to catch them.

It’s still really unlikely that the Yankees miss the playoffs, and with Detroit and Texas in a near dead heat record-wise there’s not necessarily going to be a huge advantage from winning the division.  So I can at least be happy that Bartolo Colon pitched well, something he hasn’t done as much of since his return from the DL.  I can also appreciate the fact that Jesus Montero pulled a HR off one of the best pitchers in the league and helped make his case for full-time play.  Also, the Angels are just two games back of Texas in the loss column and it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world if they forced Texas to go all out down the stretch.  It can only benefit whomever faces the AL West winner if the race goes down to the wire.

I seriously expect the Yankees to lose every game they play against the Angels.  Because of that, I just can’t get that worked up about it anymore.  As a card-carrying stat-nerd, I really have a tough time reconciling the fact that what’s happened in the past has no bearing on what happens now when these two teams play and that the talent on the field that given day should be the primary factor in who wins or loses with the way the Yankees constantly roll over for Anaheim.

--Posted at 9:42 am by SG / 10 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 Gritty CC helps Yanks close gap on Red Sox

BOSTON—CC Sabathia had no worries about his inability to beat the Red Sox in four previous starts against them this year, noting that he’d done it before and promised to do it again.

The ace left-hander made good on that, firing a season-high 128 pitches and striking out 10 batters as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 5-2, on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

It’s rarely pretty when the Yankees and Red Sox play, but I’ll take a win every time.

CC really had to labor tonight, although he didn’t have the greatest strike zone to work with, but he was good enough to hold Boston to two runs over six innings.  I thought Girardi should have pulled Sabathia after five, but it worked out I guess.  That doesn’t mean it was the right decision, but whatever.

That plus three scoreless out of the pen was enough for the Yankees to pick up their third win in 13 tries against Boston this year.  The Yankee offense was mostly from Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez, who combined for seven of the nine Yankee hits on the evening, with an assist from Francisco Cervelli, who hit his second HR of the season, after setting a record last year for the highest OPS by a player in 300+ PA who failed to homer.

--Posted at 10:17 pm by SG / 19 Comments | - (0)

Monday, August 29, 2011

NY Post: Yankees plan to cut to five-man rotation

Speaking before yesterday’s 2-0 loss in the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards, Girardi said he will attempt to shave his suspect rotation from six to five arms following Thursday night’s game against the Red Sox in Boston.

“I’m not going to base it on one outing,” Girardi said of judging Bartolo Colon (yesterday’s starter), Freddy Garcia (tonight’s starter) or Burnett (who starts Thursday). “I don’t think it’s fair. The bottom line is that we need to pitch well. If we’re going to win the [AL East], we need to pitch better.”

Don’t worry Joe, I’m pretty sure the decision will be made for you on Thursday.

What I find interesting is the possibility that the people on the bubble are/were Colon, Garcia and Burnett.  I don’t know if the author is inferring this or if I’m reading too much into this, but it does seem to indicate faith in Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. 

If I had to pick a four man rotation entering the postseason today, I’d probably go CC/Colon/Nova/one of Hughes or Garcia.  Actually, I’d let CC opt out and then go Colon/Nova/Garcia/Hughes.

We’ll see how that looks a month from now if by some miracle the Yankees win the wild card.

--Posted at 11:02 am by SG / 58 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

NY Times: One Lost Day Follows Another

BALTIMORE — In the wake of another disastrous outing by A. J. Burnett on Friday night, and with a compressed schedule of games coming up because of Hurricane Irene, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was asked if Burnett would still make his next scheduled start against the hard-hitting Boston Red Sox next week.

After surrendering nine runs in five innings during Friday’s 12-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Burnett is now the undisputed worst starter in the six-man rotation. Ordinarily the Yankees would be looking to whittle that rotation from six to five men, but with games piling up over the next few days and weeks, even Burnett will get more chances, Girardi said.

“With all these doubleheaders, we’ve got to play games,” he said. “So we need a six-man.”

If Burnett does get a start against Boston, it wouldn’t shock me to see him allow 10 runs without retiring a batter.

Since 1919, there have been 6,853 seasons where a pitcher made at least 25 starts in a season.

Of those 6853 seasons, there have been 66 where a pitcher made 8 quality starts or less.  Assuming Burnett doesn’t make another quality start this year(an assumption I’d bet a lot of money on), he’ll be the 67th.

In Burnett’s defense, here’s a list of pitchers who I’d rather see Burnett starting a game over.

2009 Chien-Ming Wang.
2011 Pre-DL Phil Hughes.

I seriously would prefer to see Kei Igawa pitching over Burnett right now.

I’m generally not one who likes to blame the pitcher for the play behind him, but I don’t see how the team can’t be frustrated when they’re down by six runs in the second inning to a crappy team.  I don’t know if that frustration is to blame for their subsequent sloppy play, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Let’s make this as simple as possible.

A.J. Burnett Yankees 347.2 1538 364 219 204 5.28 4.81
John Lackey Red Sox 344.1 1525 393 203 191 4.99 4.17
James Shields Rays 404.1 1689 407 199 183 4.07 3.80
Joe Saunders - - - 368.1 1563 397 197 174 4.25 4.66
Ryan Dempster Cubs 375.2 1605 360 195 174 4.17 3.87
Carl Pavano Twins 395.1 1655 432 192 180 4.1 4.07
Nick Blackburn Twins 309.1 1362 377 192 171 4.98 4.95
Bronson Arroyo Reds 377 1572 370 191 183 4.37 4.97
Paul Maholm Pirates 347.2 1527 388 191 171 4.43 3.99
Jason Hammel Rockies 325.2 1425 362 191 180 4.97 4.26

A pitcher’s job is to prevent the other team from scoring.  Burnett has allowed more runs than every other pitcher in MLB over the past two seasons.

Put that in your objective pipe and smoke it.

We’re not just talking about a couple of bad months.  We’re talking about running the guy who’s been the worst starting in pitcher in MLB(who’s managed to keep his job) over the last two years out there every fifth day with little evidence that it’s ever going to change.

--Posted at 8:17 am by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

TGS NY: Yanks, O’s watch hurricane

NEW YORK—Worried about Hurricane Irene possibly affecting games this weekend, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles discussed playing a doubleheader Friday, but the Orioles said that isn’t going to happen.

The teams are currently scheduled to play five games from Friday to Monday, with a doubleheader on Saturday.

“Just business as usual and you hope for the best,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said following his team’s 22-9 win against Oakland. “Hopefully our game times don’t coincide with the hurricane but I’m not so sure how it’s not going to. Make the best of it, that’s all you can do.”

While the Friday forecast calls for partly cloudy conditions, according to, the hurricane is supposed to dump rain on Baltimore Saturday and Sunday, which could affect three of the five scheduled games.

A spokesperson for the Orioles said that the teams will not play a doubleheader Friday.

This could get ugly.  Nice to see the Orioles being considerate, but there’s a pretty good chance any further postponed games won’t need to be made up at all, so they’re really just spiting themselves.

--Posted at 10:19 pm by SG / 18 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYDN: Joe Girardi asks Yankee captain Derek Jeter to bunt despite hot night at the plate against A’s

Derek Jeter already had reached base four times, including three more hits to boost his average this season to .295 while tying Rod Carew for 22nd place on baseball’s all-time hit list with 3,053.

But with the tying runs aboard with none out and facing a two-run deficit in the ninth, Joe Girardi called for the Yankee captain to bunt, giving up an out against shaky Oakland closer Andrew Bailey. Jeter dropped down a perfect sacrifice, but the Yanks scored only once more in falling short, 6-5, to the A’s at the Stadium.

The minute I saw that Jeter was squaring to bunt, I knew the Yankees weren’t going to win the game.  I just can’t understand why you’d give a struggling closer his first out on a silver effing platter.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

--Posted at 9:56 am by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, August 21, 2011 Nova stellar as Yanks end trip with win

“I feel really confident in my slider,” Nova said. “We worked on it, we got it back, and it’s a pitch that, in situations, I can throw to left-handed hitters and get the out.”

Nova remained in control the rest of his day, but had to get out of jams with runners on in each of the next two innings.

After giving up a leadoff single to Jim Thome in the fifth, Nova allowed what was ruled a double to Danny Valencia, though it should have been caught. Valencia’s fly ball dropped between Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in right-center field. Two strikeouts and a groundout later, Nova escaped with the shutout intact.

“That game was won for us, to me, in the fifth inning,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “He’s got second and third, nobody out, and he gets out of the inning. That was the ballgame. When you look at that inning, you try to tell yourself, ‘It’s OK to give them one, let’s try not to give them two.’

I agree with Girardi, that spot was huge, and it was nice to see Nova getting some Ks again after a couple of games where he didn’t do so hot in that regard.

--Posted at 6:36 pm by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Friday, August 19, 2011

NY Times: Girardi Trusted Umpire in Opting Not to Protest

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Girardi came away with a one-run loss and a feeling of helplessness after an umpiring gaffe in Kansas City on Wednesday night. But he also learned a valuable lesson when he declined to play the rest of the game under protest. From now on, Girardi said Thursday, he will take a more cynical approach.

“From now on, I’m protesting everything,” he said with only slight exaggeration.

--Posted at 9:34 am by SG / 74 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gant Daily: Knee improving: A-Rod could be ready for return to Yanks Thursday

The slugger is scheduled to play two games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and Wednesday, and could re-join his major league teammates as early as Thursday.

“The timetable is still the same,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees were rained out of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays. “He’ll return sometime in Minnesota. I can’t tell you Thursday [with certainty], but I expect to see him sometime in Minnesota.”

A Thursday return means Rodriguez would have 41 games left to try and extend his meaningless but fun 13 year streak of 30 HR/100 RBI seasons.  It’s a safe bet that he’ll be rested some over the rest of the season, so even if he remains healthy it’s almost impossible to see him getting the 17 HRs and 48 RBI he needs to keep it alive, but for the hell of it, here are the best 40 game stretches for HR and RBI in each season of his career.

6/24/02-9/11/02 178 22 48
6/2/07-4/19/07 181 21 52
7/5/99-8/27/99 183 16 35
9/30/01-4/15/01 190 16 48
7/5/03-4/29/03 183 16 46
10/14/00-4/29/00 181 15 40
4/13/05-4/27/05 173 15 38
4/16/08-7/30/08 171 15 38
5/16/09-8/9/09 175 15 28
8/27/98-4/21/98 192 14 33
6/11/06-9/13/06 167 14 42
5/17/97-8/27/97 175 13 34
5/11/96-8/12/96 184 12 31
10/17/04-7/15/04 191 12 29
8/14/10-7/1/10 169 12 40
6/8/95-7/21/95 139 5 19

2007 wasn’t that long ago, was it?

--Posted at 12:21 pm by SG / 29 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CBS New York: With Ivan Nova’s Spot Secured, Who’s The Odd Man Out In Yankees’ Rotation?

“I think he took it as a challenge and said, ‘This is going to be the last time you send me down,’” said Girardi.

But who’s the odd man out? CC Sabathia admitted recently that he’s no fan of the six-man rotation, and Girardi said last night that the team has to “eventually get down to five.”

“Sometimes it’s not easy to just move one piece and say, ‘That’s it.’ Because you’ve got to worry about how it affects everything you do,” Girardi said. “Some guys are maybe a little more suited, if you do decide to move someone to the ‘pen, than others. Those are all things we have to take into account.”

The best move might be to put erratic starter A.J. Burnett in the bullpen. Or Phil Hughes, no stranger to relief duty, who is coming off an early-season “dead arm” period.

How the Yankees handle this will be pretty interesting.  It’s a tossup as to whether Hughes or Burnett is the better choice for fifth starter right now, but I think the Yankees need to look beyond that and think about what will benefit them more in the long-term.  To me that says put Hughes in the rotation.  Even if he may be worse than Burnett right now over the rest of the season, he’s the better bet to be a valuable starter to the Yankees in 2012 and 2013. 

Maybe Burnett would thrive in a role where he could come in and throw gas for an inning or two. 

--Posted at 8:56 am by SG / 12 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sporting News: Jeter’s leadoff spot could be in jeopardy

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi hinted that shortstop Derek Jeter’s days as the team’s leadoff hitter could be numbered.

Jeter hit leadoff Wednesday, while the surging Brett Gardner remained in the No. 9 hole. With the way he has been hitting and the speed he brings, Gardner might be better suited for the top spot.

“He’s going so well, it’s something I’ll definitely consider,” Girardi told the New York Daily News. “We’ll just wait and see what happens.”

Jeter, who has slumped since getting career hit No. 3,000 on July 9, has a .323 on-base percentage. Gardner’s .370 mark, meanwhile, is tops among the team’s regulars.

If Gardner really is the best OBP guy on the team now, getting him more PAs seems like something that should have happened sooner.  Here are the # of PA for the Yankees by batting order slot so far this season.

Split PA
Batting 1st 450
Batting 2nd 437
Batting 3rd 428
Batting 4th 420
Batting 5th 409
Batting 6th 401
Batting 7th 389
Batting 8th 377
Batting 9th 362

The Yankees have played 97 games and the leadoff hitter has had 88 more PA than the ninth hitter.  Moving Jeter to second still means he’s getting more PA than he deserves, but I think we need to view this potential move as a reward to Gardner instead of as punitive to Jeter.  Gardner’s earned more PA, so hopefully he gets them.

Speaking of Jeter, since going 5 for 5 on the day he got his 3000th hit, he has been beyond terrible.

Dates PA H 2B 3B HR BB SO GDP avg obp slg woba
7/10-7/20 31 6 0 0 0 1 9 1 .200 .226 .200 .197
Dates isoD isoP babip FB GB LD IFH fb% gb% ld% bb/pa k/pa
7/10-7/20 .026 .000 .286 0 18 2 1 0.0% 90.0% 10.0% 3.2% 29.0%

FB: fly balls
GB: ground balls
LD: line drives
IFH: infield hits
woba: weighted on-base average
isoD: Isolated plate discipline (obp - avg)
isoP: Isolated power (slg - avg)
babip: batting average on balls in play

Yes.  He’s hit 20 balls into play, and 18 of them were on the ground.  Yes, he’s struck out almost one-third of the time. On the plus side, he’s only hit into one double play.  So there’s that.

--Posted at 9:18 am by SG / 82 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Is David Robertson being Used Less Optimally As TEIG?

For the most part in his Yankee tenure, Joe Girardi has done a good job of putting together a bullpen.  The primary thing he’s managed to do is identify players’s strengths and weaknesses and use them in situations that they are best suited for. 

Unfortunately for whatever reason, the Yankee “brain” trust felt they should ignore this strength and hand him an official eighth inning guy.  Thus came the unbeleivably foolish Rafael Soriano signing.

In doing so, they took what was one of Girardi’s main strengths and effectively lobotomized it.  Now, the situation and matchups don’t matter.  The only thing that matters is the inning and the score.  This was painfully obvious to me when Girardi “officially anointed” Joba Chamberlain as his 7th inning guy.  Think about what that says.  The only benefit that comes from that is reducing managing a bullpen to an if->then->else strategy.  If you’re going to do that, you may as well program a freaking Apple IIc to manage your pen.

This was not really as much of an issue when the Yankees theoretically had three good to very good relievers who were all capable of pitching well near the end of the game in Chamberlain, Soriano and David Robertson.  However, now that the Yankees have lost Chamberlain for the season and with Soriano out indefinitely, things have changed.

From the start of the season through June 11th, Robertson entered games in:

The fifth inning twice.

The sixth inning six times.

The seventh inning 13 times.

The eight inning 7 times.

The ninth inning or later 8 times.

His average leverage index for those appearances was 1.50. Leverage index tries to measure the importance of a situation that a player is facing.  So coming in with runners on in a close game is a higher leverage situation than starting an inning in a blowout would be.  His win probability added was 0.79 over 114 batters faced.  Win probability just compares how much a player’s performance based on the leverage improved or decreased their team’s chances of winning compared to an average performance.  I don’t like WPA as a tool for comparing different players, but I think it has its uses.  Since I’m trying to see if Robertson’s change in usage has changed his impact to his team, I think it works here.

Since June 13th, Robertson entered games in:

The fifth inning 0 times.

The sixth inning 0 times.

The seventh inning 0 times.

The eighth inning 8 times.

The ninth inning or later 0 times.

His average leverage index for those appearances was 1.49. His win probability added was 0.10 over 34 batters faced. 

So before becoming the official eighth inning guy, his WPA per batter faced was 0.007.  Since then it’s 0.003. 

I guess we should hope for a solid recovery from Rafael Soriano.  I sure as hell don’t want to see the Yankees trading for a Francisco Rodriguez/Heath Bell type.

--Posted at 9:03 am by SG / 42 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 Yankees’ Mariano Rivera sits out, leaving A.J. Burnett to go long

Girardi said he would have considered leaving Burnett in the game as late as the eighth inning. Set-up man David Robertson would have been the Yankees’ closer had they taken a lead into the ninth.

I fortunately didn’t get to see most of the game, but all this blaming of Burnett seems misplaced to me.  I’d blame Gardner for not calling off A-Rod on the foul pop up that would have likely let Burnett escape the inning unscathed, and Girardi for his steadfast insistence on getting “length” from Burnett.  Burnett was put in a position to fail by Girardi, and Girardi’s the one to blame for that.

--Posted at 8:05 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Monday, June 13, 2011

NY Times: With 18 Hits, the Yankees Are Humming Again

There was no meeting, no pep talk, no nothing after the Yankees were embarrassed by Boston last week. “Report at 4 o’clock the next day, that was it,” Curtis Granderson said. Every series has its own pace, its own rhythm. And at Yankee Stadium the thump-thump-thump of the Red Sox has given way to the off-key stylings of the Cleveland Indians..

The Boston series pissed me off to the point where I haven’t watched an inning of baseball since.  I suppose I should be happy that the Yankees are beating up on a slumping Indians team, but if anything it’s just a reminder to me about how pathetic they were against Boston.  Maybe I’d feel differently I’d watched the games.

I realize it’s not rational, but who said being a sports fan is rational?

--Posted at 9:34 am by SG / 76 Comments | - (0)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

TGS NY: Joe’s handling of ‘pen not so mighty

David Robertson got out of a bed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at 4:30 a.m. Eastern time Friday morning. Nearly 20 hours later, he was on the mound at Safeco Field, doing his job to perfection, pitching an overpowering eighth inning against the Mariners.

Trouble was, the game had already been lost two innings earlier.

But that’s what happens when a manager sticks to a game plan even if the game no longer fits his plan.

Robertson, back from a mission of mercy to his tornado-ravaged hometown, was no doubt the most tired man in the Yankee bullpen. He was also the only one able to do his job. Unfortunately, by the time he was asked to do it, it was too late. At the time, the Yankees trailed 4-3, and that’s the way it would stay.

I didn’t get to watch the game, so I’d be interested in everyone else’s take, but here’s how I see the situation.  With Burnett at 97 pitches with five walks through five innings, I don’t think anyone would quibble with the fact that he was pulled prior to the sixth inning.  So the question then is who should have started the bottom of the sixth.  With Adam Kennedy (LHB), Miguel Olivo (RHB) and Carlos Peguero (LHB) due up, I can understand the thought process behind starting the sixth inning with Boone Logan.  You need to get four innings out of your bullpen, so unless you want one of Robertson, Joba Chamberlain or Mariano Rivera to pitch two innings you needed to get some outs from someone other than those three.

Logan allowed a leadoff single to Kennedy.  So now with a RHB up and with the likelihood of a pinch-hitter for Peguero to re-gain the platoon advantage, going to the bullpen for a RHP made sense as well.  Unfortunately, Girardi opted for Luis Ayala instead of Robertson and that’s when the game was lost.

Ayala probably would have pitched an inning at some point in the game, so the real problem is that he and Logan didn’t do their jobs.  However, once Kennedy reached Girardi should have used a better pitcher due to the leverage of the situation, and not the pitcher who’s ordinal spot in the bullpen hierarchy was now due.  If you intended to pitch Robertson or Chamberlain if necessary anyway, they’d have been the better choices in that spot.  If they extended themselves to get out of the inning, you could then go to Ayala to begin the seventh with whichever of Robertson or Chamberlain wasn’t used as a safety net to get the game to Rivera.

Again, the real issue is that Logan and Ayala didn’t execute.  But it’s fair to say that Girardi’s deployment of the bullpen after Logan is also culpable. 

The Yankees really don’t have much margin for error on this road trip if you look at the schedule for the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays over the rest of this West Coast swing.

Date Yankee xW xL Red Sox xW xL Rays xW xL
5/28/2011 @ Mariners .58 .42 @ Tigers .53 .47 vs Indians .58 .42
5/29/2011 @ Mariners .58 .42 @ Tigers .53 .47 vs Indians .58 .42
5/30/2011 @ Athletics .51 .49 vs White Sox .62 .38 vs Rangers .54 .46
5/31/2011 @ Athletics .51 .49 vs White Sox .62 .38 vs Rangers .54 .46
6/1/2011 @ Athletics .51 .49 vs White Sox .62 .38 vs Rangers .54 .46
6/2/2011 @Mariners .54 .46
6/3/2011 @ Angels .54 .46 vs Athletics .59 .41 @Mariners .54 .46
6/4/2011 @ Angels .54 .46 vs Athletics .59 .41 @Mariners .54 .46
6/5/2011 @ Angels .54 .46 vs Athletics .59 .41 @Mariners .54 .46
4.32 3.68 4.72 3.28 4.95 4.05

At this point Boston and the Rays have around a one game advantage over the Yankees over the next nine days, at which point the Yankees will return home to face Boston, Cleveland and Texas on a nine game home stand.  It’s not inconceivable that the Yankees could be trailing Boston and/or Tampa Bay by three or four games by then.  And that’s not exactly the kind of home stand that would allow the Yankees to catch up if they falter on the rest of this trip. 

Right now I’ve got Boston projected to finish around 93-69, the Yankees around 91-71 and Tampa Bay around 88-74.  If that’s how things still look by the end of this road trip I’d happily take it.

--Posted at 8:34 am by SG / 21 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 Andruw homers twice as long ball lifts Yankees

NEW YORK—A day removed from his team’s second walk-off win of the season, a flashback to the fun of his title-winning team of two years ago, manager Joe Girardi offered a caveat when discussing the boost it could give the Yankees.

“As we know, momentum starts and stops with your starting pitcher,” Girardi said, “and Freddy’s throwing the ball well for us, and we need him to do it again.”

Freddy Garcia threw the ball well, allowing three runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. But it was the long ball that helped the Yankees take the rubber match of their three-game series with the Blue Jays on Wednesday with a 7-3 win.

I keep waiting for Garcia to get shelled.  I hope I’m waiting for another six months.

In other news, the worst signing ever continues to get even worse.

Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano has an inflamed ligament in his right elbow that could keep the former All-Star out up to two months.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Soriano was examined Wednesday by orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Andrews recommended that Soriano rest the elbow for about two weeks before beginning a light throwing program.  Cashman doesn’t think Soriano will be able to face hitters for at least six weeks.

So the draft pick the Yankees gave away will be used before Soriano’s pitching again.  I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever the Rays draft with that pick ends up providing more value over the next three years than Soriano, even ignoring contracts.  In fact, I’d bet on it.

--Posted at 3:23 pm by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NY Post: Yankees’ Soriano to test elbow in bullpen session

Rafael Soriano could get back on a mound today or tomorrow as he tries to recover from inflammation in his right elbow…..

Soriano’s absence has forced Girardi to juggle his bullpen arms, using Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson in the eighth inning.

The Shutdown Bullpen™ is nothing without Soriano….

--Posted at 11:41 am by Jonathan / 42 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Bunt Happy is Joe Girardi?

I found out Baseball Reference tracks sacrifice bunt attempts, so let’s see if Joe Girardi bunts more than most other managers.

I’m only looking at AL teams, since the silly rule that makes pitchers bat in the National League means they have a higher percentage of bunt attempts in general.

First, here’s how the AL looks over the four seasons that Joe Girardi has been Yankee manager.

 Year Tm  Att Suc  % Att/Gm
 2008  LgAvg 53   34  65%  0.33 
 2009  LgAvg 52   36  68%  0.32 
 2010  LgAvg 58   38  67%  0.36 
 2011  LgAvg 16   10  65%  0.38 
 Total LgAvg  179  118  66%  1.10 

This data does not include foul bunts or missed bunts.  It’s only for bunts that were fielded, so any PA where a batter attempted a bunt then reverted to swinging away is not included here.

Here’s the same data for the Yankees.

 Year Tm  Att Suc  % Att/Gm
 2008  NYY 39   31  79%  0.24 
 2009  NYY 48   31  65%  0.30 
 2010  NYY 48   33  69%  0.30 
 2011  NYY 18   10  56%  0.44 
 Total NYY  153  105  69%  0.94 

In this case, it’s safe to say perception doesn’t really match reality.  Since you should bunt at times even if it’s not optimal to make it something the opponent needs to at least think about for game theory purposes, it’s tough to say that Girardi is bunting too much.  Especially when 10 of the 18 attempts in 2011 have been with Brett Gardner, who has a very good chance of reaching safely when he does bunt.  Granted, that’s just a prelude until he gets caught stealing, but still…

I guess we have to find something else to complain about.  Does anyone have any thoughts on the Rafael Soriano contract?  How about Joba Chamberlain possibly getting another chance as a starter?

--Posted at 1:55 pm by SG / 16 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011  Yanks’ jolt better late than never (aka Joe Girardi is a Dummy)

Mariano Rivera blew his third save, but Robinson Cano drove in two of the Yanks’ three 15th-inning runs. .

Bartolo Colon pitched about as well as a pitcher can pitch tonight, throwing mainly two and four seam fastballs on the edges of the strike zone over eight scoreless innings and needing just 87 pitches.  This of course makes the decision to pull Colon after the eighth something that was questionable.

I was fine with it. Almost all the evidence we have about pitchers shows that they are less effective on each pass through the batting order.  It’s part of the reason why bad starters can be good relievers.  With the top of the Orioles lineup coming up in what would be their fourth look at Colon, pulling him was a defensible move.  That’s particularly true when you’re going to Mariano Rivera to try and preserve the lead. 

That it didn’t work out tonight doesn’t change that.

That doesn’t absolve Joe Girardi of some of the blame for this game almost being a loss though.

I don’t think I can overstate how stupid it was to bunt with Brett Gardner in the top of the 12th inning.  Consider this:

A right-handed pitcher was on the mound.

Due up after Gardner (who bats left-handed) were Eduardo Nunez, Russell Martin and possibly Derek Jeter, all of whom hit right-handed.

Gardner was the best hitter due up out of that group given the platoon advantage.  Instead, Girardi gave away an out which was far more important to his team’s chances of scoring a run than advancing a runner by one base so one of the three weaker hitters due up next could try to drive him in.

It’s even more egregious since it was the second time in the game that Girardi pissed away an out, although bunting with Eduardo Nunez was a bit more defensible.

Fortunately for us, the Orioles weren’t able to take advantage of Girardi’s generosity and Hector Noesi pitched four scoreless innings in his MLB debut despite allowing eight baserunners and the Yankees miraculously scored three runs in the top of the fifteenth inning and held on to win.  Maybe one they didn’t deserve, but a win regardless.

--Posted at 11:06 pm by SG / 106 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Pigs Fly

ST. PETERSBURG—Alex Rodriguez homered twice and David Robertson pinned the bases loaded in a big spot, as the Yankees finally exhaled with a 6-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday, snapping a six-game losing streak.

Rodriguez’s second home run off James Shields was a sixth-inning laser that cleared the center-field fence, providing a slim lead, but there could be no guarantees during a stretch when nothing seems to have gone right.

Figures Rodriguez would pick a blowout to finally get a couple of hits.  Jorge Posada also got a couple of hits and has moved his average up to .179.  Yay!  In less good news, Derek Jeter’s OBP is down to .309.

I thought Girardi walking Joyce to bring in Robertson with the bases loaded was dumb, but it worked out this time.  Unfortunately that means positive reinforcement for more stupidity down the road when it won’t work.  I don’t know if Girardi’s love of the sac bunt is more damaging than his love of the intentional walk, but at some point both are going to come back and bite the Yankees in the posterior.

In even better news than an exceedingly rare but ultimately meaningless Yankee victory, Rafael Soriano is no longer using up a roster spot while providing no value or negative value.

The Yankees put reliever Rafael Soriano on the disabled list Tuesday, but, befitting their fortunes recently, they also dealt with a matter unrelated to his ailing right elbow.

Soriano, who had pitched once in the Yankees’ last seven games, will miss at least another two weeks after magnetic resonance imaging revealed inflammation in his elbow. But also problematic were comments he made after the Yankees’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, their sixth in a row.

Soriano heaped blame on the offense, not the bullpen, for the Yankees’ skid.

I find it hard to believe that the fact that the Yankees won for the first time in a week on the day they DL’ed Soriano is a coincidence.

--Posted at 9:04 pm by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Meet The New A.J.  Same as the Old A.J.

A.J. Burnett entered last night’s game with a fine 3.38 ERA.  After blowing a 5-1 lead by surrendering five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning that’s now up to 3.99.

I was optimistic about Burnett after his spring training, primarily because he appeared to have much better control.  To this point in the season that hasn’t really been the case.

Here’s how Burnett’s peripheral stats looked heading into last night’s game and his average projected peripherals pro-rated to the same # of innings.

Player Team Lg Role Type IP H R ER HR BB HBP SO
A.J. Burnett Yankees AL SP Actual 51 39 23 19 6 18 3 39
A.J. Burnett Yankees AL SP Projected 51 51 28 26 6 21 3 44

The primary difference here was the 12 hit difference.  While there are certainly pitchers who show the ability to induce weak contact and get fewer hits allowed than average, Burnett’s not someone who’s ever demonstrated that.  Because of that, expecting him to continue to pitch as effectively as he has prior to last night was not realistic unless he improved his walk rate or strike out rate.

Instead, Burnett decided to start his correction.  Here’s how his actual performance and projections compare now.

Player Team Lg Role Type IP H R ER HR BB HBP SO
A.J. Burnett Yankees AL SP Actual 56 47 29 25 9 19 3 42
A.J. Burnett Yankees AL SP Projected 56 57 31 29 7 23 4 49

Burnett’s really not the reason the Yankees lost last night.  Although he was only around 80 pitches when he lost it, Joe Girardi was probably still to slow to go to the bullpen.  He probably should have had someone warming after the first two hitters in the sixth doubled and homered so that Burnett wasn’t left in to face another five hitters.

Girardi’s really not the reason the Yankees lost last night either. 

When the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano, I figured it was a stupid move because it was an overpay for someone who was good, but not really necessary.  Instead, what’s happened is the Yankees are paying a ridiculous amount of money and gave up a draft pick for a high-maintenance player who has made them worse.  In addition to his own horrible pitching, he’s held a roster spot despite not being able to pitch more often than not.  This has necessitated the Yankees using their other relievers more frequently, which then restricts their availability.  This has too often put the team in a position where they’re playing with a 22 or 23 man roster. 

It’s meant trying to extend starters a bit longer than they should have been, and using weaker relievers in high leverage spots.

I don’t know how many games it’s cost them, but I’m pretty sure it’s cost them some.  It almost certainly cost them last night’s game, as Girardi sat on his hands while watching Burnett give up the lead because he didn’t want to go to a short bullpen.

Truth be told though, the real reason I have been so against the Soriano signing is that I bought this set of knee pads in anticipation of the time when I’d be kneeling before him, and now I can’t return them.  Does anyone want to buy a pair of un-usued knee pads?

The Yankees need to stop dicking around with Soriano and either put him on the DL or pitch him.  As it is now he’s actively hurting the team even when he’s not able to blow the leads himself.

Whoever was behind the Soriano signing should be fired.

--Posted at 7:42 am by SG / 50 Comments | - (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011 Fans question bunting in Yankees’ 4-3 loss to Royals

In the eighth inning and the game tied 2-2, Derek Jeter popped up a bunt with Brett Gardner on first base. And then in the 10th, down 3-2, Gardner bunted Russell Martin over to second despite a three-ball count with no outs. Jeter’s bunt didn’t work out, but Gardner’s did as the Yankees tied the game later in the inning.

I realize part of the calculus in bunting with Gardner is that he has a better than average chance to reach safely, but I still can’t justify Girardi’s constant willingness to give away outs.  It’s become more irritating than his love of the intentional walk and I see no evidence it will change.

Bunting with Gardner ahead 3-0 was so exceedingly stupid that it defies words.  You had three pitches to see if the pitcher would advance the runner for you without costing yourself an out, and instead you willingly gave them a free out.  Yeah, they tied the game, but who’s to say they don’t score more runs if Gardner reached safely.

Bunting with Jeter was not as dumb, but still dumb.  Moving a runner into scoring position in front of hitters who hit a lot of singles and don’t walk much or hit for power makes sense.  Moving a runner into scoring position in front of hitters who walk a lot and hit for power has less impact.  What category do Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez fall into?

I think I’m ready for a new manager.

--Posted at 10:15 am by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2011 Nova’s stamina key in Yankees’ win

NEW YORK—The seventh inning used to be uncharted territory for Ivan Nova. Through the first 10 starts of his career, the Yankees right-hander did not throw a single pitch after the sixth inning and often needed to be removed well before that. But his last two starts have been a different story.

Nova pitched into the seventh for the second time in as many starts—and picked up a win for his efforts—in the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday. Unlike on Tuesday, when New York’s bullpen and offense wasted Nova’s start against the White Sox, the Yankees rewarded Nova with some run support to take the three-game series from the Blue Jays and finish their seven-game homestand with a 4-3 record.

I didn’t think Nova would make it out of the fourth with the way he started, but he finished up pretty well.  I find a 4-3 homestand a bit of a letdown, especially when you consider the fact that the White Sox have gone 1-14 (soon to be 1-15) in their games vs. teams other than the Yankees since April 13, and 2-2 vs. the Yankees at DNYS.  I know they’re not as bad at that record, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.  The Yankees are going to be heading out on the road for a pretty long trip now and I just feel like they didn’t take the full advantage that they could have in this home stand.

Anyway, back to today’s game.  The big hit was Curtis Granderson’s three run HR that broke a 2-2 tie, and I was happy to see Girardi using matchups to navigate out of the seventh in lieu of his standard push-button formula.  He let Nova start the inning, and after an out and a walk he pulled him for David Robertson, who got one out but also allowed a walk, then went to Boone Logan vs. lefty Adam Lind for the final out.

In other news, Robinson Cano has a bruised hand and is day to day, and Kevin Millwood has opted out of his deal with the Yankees. 

He will be missed. 

Cano, not Millwood.  Hopefully it’s a short-term thing.

--Posted at 3:24 pm by SG / 47 Comments | - (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 Rafael Soriano Stinks

Homers by Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner supported Ivan Nova, who worked 6 1/3 innings and handed a lead to his bullpen, but Rafael Soriano surrendered two late runs.

Soriano is now directly responsible for two of the team’s eight losses so far this year.  Good thing he’s signed for the bargain price of $12M per year.

The Yankees had a chance to win it in the ninth despite Soriano, but after a leadoff infield single by Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi thought it would be smart to give away one of the last three outs the team had by bunting with his team leader in HRs.  I don’t like bunting in general, but it’s especially foolish when you’re doing it in front of power hitters who walk a fair amount, because the difference in run expectancy for a runner on first vs. a runner on second in front of those types of hitters isn’t really worth the value of the out. 

So after Girardi stupidly had Curtis Granderson bunt Jeter to second, Mark Teixeira walked, and Alex Rodriguez lined a pitch to the wall in RF where Brent Lillibridge made a nice catch to preserve the lead.  Robinson Cano followed up with a line drive towards the RF corner and Lillibridge made a game-ending diving catch.  Either one of those plays would have probably won the game for the Yankees if they weren’t made, but they were.

It’s pretty frustrating seeing the Yankees wasting good starting pitching.  And I’m really starting to find Girardi’s decision-making annoying.

--Posted at 9:03 pm by SG / 46 Comments | - (0)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 Colon gives Yanks more than enough to win

TORONTO—Bartolo Colon struck out seven and pitched into the seventh inning in his first Major League start in more than a year, leading the Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.

One of the most impressive stories of the Yankees’ young season, Colon came to camp as a curiosity to the coaching staff, but he quickly convinced the team that he had something left to offer in his 37-year-old arm.

Sliding into the rotation in place of Phil Hughes, who has suffered from a lack of velocity, Colon proved that his three previous effective relief outings for New York were no fluke.

IMO, Colon’s pitching has looked very good every time out this season.  Even in the games where he gave up runs I thought he was solid, and tonight he was great.  He started off a bit slowly, but after allowing a homer to J.P. Arenciba in the second inning he retired 12 straight Blue Jays, 7 via strikeout.  Unfortunately, his track record of late indicates that relying on him to be part of the rotation over the course of a full season is probably foolish, but the Yankees may as well keep running him out there as long as they can.

Some other quick thoughts about tonight:
- I thought Girardi did well with the bullpen tonight.  He may have left Colon in for one batter too long, but I liked that he kept Robertson in to pitch the 8th instead of replacing him since he’s not “the eighth inning guy.’  I also was fine with starting the 9th with Pendleton.  A four run lead with three outs to go is actually a pretty low leverage situation.  That he ended up having to relieve Pendleton with Rafael Soriano doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right call initially.
- My hunch that Curtis Granderson was going to have a big year is starting to feel a bit more realistic
- In his career prior to 2011, David Robertson had thrown about 61.5% of his pitches for strikes.  Including tonight, he’s thrown 71.0% for strikes so far this year.  If that’s sustainable, he might be the second best reliever in the Yankee bullpen.

--Posted at 9:51 pm by SG / 108 Comments | - (0)  Mo shoulders blame after Yanks fall in 10th

“It wasn’t a good night tonight,” Rivera said. “I didn’t make good pitches. I think the guys did tremendous today. It’s my fault.”

Rivera had been perfect in seven previous opportunities, but it was easy to see he wasn’t sharp this time out.

“It happens. Mo is as close to perfect in these situations as you can be, but as we know, no one is perfect,” manager Joe Girardi said.

#### happens.  Girardi tried to blow this game in the sixth by leaving in A.J. Burnett for at least two batters too long, only to be bailed out by David Robertson who came in with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second with one out and struck out Yunel Escobar and Travis Snider to preserve a 4-3 lead.  From there, the auto-manager took over and did what it always does in this situation.  If inning = 7, then pitcher = Joba Chamberlain.  If inning = 8, then Rafael, Soriano.  If inning=9, then Mariano Rivera.  Chamberlain and Soriano did their jobs, and Rivera didn’t.

I think the Yankees are one of only two teams that has yet to lose two games in a row this season.  Their hopes for extending that will fall on Bartolo Colon tonight.

--Posted at 8:46 am by SG / 35 Comments | - (0)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wall Street Journal: Yankees Juggle Bullpen

In the space of a few days, the bullpen the Yankees had invested so much in during the offseason—the bullpen that was not so long ago regarded among the best in baseball—suddenly included a pair of rookies in Hector Noesi and Lance Pendleton.

Girardi can take solace, however, in the knowledge that his intimidating plans for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings remain intact. Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and the evergreen Mariano Rivera have all proven themselves healthy and effective.

Chamberlain, in particular, has provided comforting news for Girardi. Showing signs that he is recapturing the blazing speed that made him such an exciting prospect in 2008—before his failed experiment in the rotation—his fastball has touched the high 90s, leading Girardi to believe that he is routinely throwing harder than he was last season.

I keep hearing about how Chamberlain has regained his velocity and is throwing well, but it seems like a load of crap to me. 

2010: Average fastball velocity: 94.6
2011: Average fastball velocity: 93.6

He really looks like the same guy to me that he was last year and while that’s serviceable, it’s not exactly worth the plaudits he’s been getting.  I’d still rather see David Robertson pitching over him in most high-leverage situations, because I feel Robertson’s a more effective pitcher, even if Joba beats him in FIP.

--Posted at 8:18 am by SG / 44 Comments | - (0)

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