2011 Season Wrap-Up

    Friday, October 7, 2011, 2:26 PM [General]

                    And so another offseason begins.  Another winter begins.  Seems like just yesterday I was at the beach listening to John and Suzyn on the radio.  In the heart of the summer, the baseball season seems endless.   The games start to blur together as they become part of our daily routines.  The playoffs seem like this elusive thing that we’ll worry about later.  And then out of nowhere, they’re upon us.  The season comes to a screeching halt.  Everything that we know about baseball – the stats, the analysis, the common sense – gets thrown out the window as we watch our team get tossed into the random chaos of the postseason.  The playoffs are beautifully terrifying.  Anything can happen and in the blink of an eye, your team is either celebrating with champagne or packing their bags. 

                    As the Yankees pack their bags today, my ultimate dejection is not with the loss last night itself but with the fact that I won’t see their faces on my television screen for the next five months.  I always get really dramatic at the start of the offseason.  You’d think I’d grow out of it since I’m weeks away from turning 27 years old, but I just can’t help it.  The idea of no baseball just really bums me out.  Watching baseball every day soothes me.  It becomes a part of me.  I’ll miss it terribly.  I’ll miss the lineups being announced every day, the hot streaks, and the instant classics.  I’ll even miss the overanalyzing, the narratives that get beaten into the ground, and the annoying media.  I complain about these things all season, but they too become part of my annual baseball story.  Simply put, I’ll just miss watching baseball.  It’s a void that cannot be filled. 

                     The loss itself last night makes this depressing offseason pill a bit harder to swallow.  The Yankees had so many chances.  So. Many. Chances.  I kept waiting for the big hit to come.  I’d convince myself that it would be the next inning… or the one after that… or the one after that.  I just kept waiting for it to happen.  I knew that it was going to happen eventually.  I was convinced of it.  I think I’m still picking my heart up off the floor from Jeter’s fly ball in the eighth.  Ultimately, the big hit never came.  It’s shocking, actually.  You’d think that it would have accidentally happened at some point (where were you when I needed you, BABIP luck dragon?)

                    Ultimately, the offense just didn’t come through last night and as a result, a short but frustrating Yankee postseason has come to an end.  I’ll analyze it in more detail when I’m in a more rational mood.  At the top of my head, I think one of the more overlooked factors of this NYY-DET match up was that the Tigers had all righty pitchers.  The Yankees have collectively done very well against lefties this year, and players like Jeter, Teixeira and Swisher would have especially benefited.   AND JESUS MONTERO COULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE AT-BATS! (I just had to gush about Montero for a second)  Not facing lefties was just one of the many factors that contributed to the ALDS loss, from the pitching to the injuries to even the rain.  It was a disappointing end to an otherwise very successful season. 

                    While I’m bummed that it’s over, the 2011 season as a whole was both entertaining and promising.  Small glimpses of Jesus Montero this past month alone have me pumped up for his first full season in the Majors.  Ivan Nova far exceeded expectations.  Curtis Granderson convinced everyone (except himself, apparently) that he is a home run hitter.  David Robertson just blew us all away.  There were ups and downs and there are certainly concerns that will be beaten to death over the offseason, but the 2011 Yankees were impressive.  They exceeded my expectations and it was a pleasure to spend my nights with them over the past six months.  Is it time for spring training yet?

                    It is not possible to wrap up the 2011 season without acknowledging that with its ending comes the end of an era for both Jorge Posada and Gene Monahan.  Both will be missed tremendously.  Both contributed to the Yankees over the years in more ways than we can even imagine.  Personally, it’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye to Jorge.  He was always a favorite of mine growing up.  His passion and fire drove me crazy at times but I loved him for it.  I’m really bad with endings, so I’m not sure exactly what to say.  I’ll miss seeing both of their faces in the dugout every day.  I wish them the same happiness that they brought us fans over the years in their future endeavors.  Thanks for everything, Jorge and Geno!  We love you.

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    Has Twitter Become A Danger To Journalistic Professionalism?

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 11:03 AM [General]

                    The emergence of Twitter has been revolutionary for me.  As an avid sports fanatic, I am someone who is open to talking sports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  However, aside from my father and brother, there are not too many fellow sports fans in my life.  Most of my friends and family members loosely follow sports or do not follow them at all.  Thankfully, Twitter has dramatically changed how I follow sports.  I can now interact daily with people just as fanatical about my teams.  I can even follow an assortment of media writers who provide the latest rumors and news via their Twitter accounts, keeping me as up-to-date as possible.  Twitter has virtually changed how sports are discussed and reported and my fandom is better for it. 

                    Of course, there is a negative side to this interaction as well.  The boundary-less Twitter world has lead to some ugly moments for the media.  While fans are often inclined to use Twitter to make jokes and be entertaining, some sports reporters seem to think that they should behave in the same way.  Is this a double standard?  Perhaps.  But members of the media are paid to professionally report on the teams they follow, not to partake in failed attempts at standup comedy routines.  It gets to a point where the fat jokes and name-calling from guys like Wallace Matthews (ESPN) and Jon Heyman (Sports Illustrated) and the attempts at armchair psychiatry with AJ Burnett from Joel Sherman (NY Post) get to be too much.  Yes, the beauty of Twitter is that I can choose not to follow such inappropriateness.  Unfortunately, this will not make their behavior any more professional. 

                    In particular, Wallace Matthews has become infatuated with trying to garner humor through name-calling.  Before even reading Wallace Matthews’ tweets, one is greeted with a avatar picture of the McDonald’s Hamburglar with Bartolo Colon’s  face photoshopped in.  Matthews especially loves to make fat jokes behind the backs of the New York Yankee players that he is he paid to cover.  He has even called Yankee ace, CC Sabathia, a hippopotamus in the past.  In addition to the fat jokes about Colon and Sabathia, other players get frequently picked on as well.  Nunez is now referred to almost exclusively on Twitter as “NUNEEEEEEE” to mock his poor defense this season.  Rafael Soriano is referred to as “that guy” or “the eighth-inning guy” more often than not because of post-game press conference comments that were blown out of proportion.  Even Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, is called “Joey Looseleafs” or “Binder Boy” more often than he is called by his actual name.  I encourage Mr. Matthews and his colleagues to use these insulting nicknames the next time that they interview one of the players or coaches that they so frequently mock from behind their computer screens.  

    A sample of tweets from Wallace Matthews over the last week:

    Tweets from Matthews’ account from the weekend:

    “Binder Boy looks like a genius as NunEEEEEEEEEEEEEE goes Monster, tie game in the fifth”

    “That Guy in This Game? Uh-oh”

    Matthews’ replies to fans who challenged his professionalism from the weekend:

     “@######  hahahahahaha looser” (this was later deleted by Matthews)

    “@#######  I have read some dumb Tweets before but this might be the dumbest”

     A simple search on Wallace Matthews’ name yields the following complaints from different Twitter users from the last week alone:

    “How Wally Matthews remains employed continues to astound me”

     “Is @ESPNNYYankees really Wally Matthews? For ESPN's sake, I certainly hope not” 

    “There's zero question that @ESPNNYYankees is Wally Matthews. Can't believe he got away with using that profile picture”

    @ESPN the fact that you have Wallace Matthews as an employee is a disgrace. Most unprofessional writer I have ever seen, bar none”

    “Worst thing about Twitter is it's always informing me of what Wally Matthews writes”

    “Why do you guys even read Wally Matthews articles?”

    “Wally Matthews writing a negative-slanting article about A-rod? Well, I never”

    Wallace Matthews has never met a half-sourced non-scandal about ARod he doesn't immediately lap up”

                    Look, I’m not trying to say that there is no place for comedy on Twitter.  There is nothing that I love more than a good sense of humor.  But the reality is that these writers are not being paid to name-call.  I wonder how my boss would like it if I were to make fun of our clients on Twitter.  The simple fact is that sports writers are being paid to comment on sports and fans are not.  This should ideally result in different levels of professionalism between writers and fans.  Unfortunately,  Twitter has blurred this boundary and some writers are both quick and willing to repeatedly cross the line in an attempt to get a few laughs.  As a result, fans are subjected to unfunny jokes being run into the ground at the expense of the players and teams that they love to root for.  Luckily, I can ignore it by unfollowing these tiresome writers and only following those in the media who get it right on a routine basis (THANK YOU TO PEOPLE LIKE JACK CURRY, MARC CARIG, AND KIM JONES).  Unfortunately, the less professional writers will continue to condescend and name-call until someone loses a job.  And someone will eventually lose their job over their Twitter account.  Luckily, there are thousands of knowledgeable sports followers who would gladly take their place without an agenda and without constant condescending and unentertaining attempts at comedy.    

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    Mid-Season Wrap-Up

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011, 3:30 PM [General]

    I can’t believe the All-Star break is already here.  It seems like just yesterday we were on Cliff Lee Watch, mourning the end of Andy Pettitte’s career (miss you, Andy), and endlessly refreshing our twitter feeds for all the latest hot stove updates.  The season started off on a strange note, with Tampa and Boston getting off to epically slow starts, but has turned into the AL East showdown that we all expected.  The Yankees finished the first half at a respectable 53-35 (.602) and 1 game behind Boston for first place (but tied in the loss column).  The first half of the season has been a fun ride and the Yankees are in a great position to make another exciting playoff run. 

    The Lineup:

    #2, Derek Jeter.  We all hoped that 2010 (.270/.340/.370) was an aberration for Derek and not a sign of aging regression.  Unfortunately, Derek has finished the first half of 2011 with very similar and discouraging numbers (.270/.330/.353).  These numbers are actually slightly elevated thanks to a recent 5 for 5 game (congrats on 3000 hits, Derek!) and as recently as last week, Derek was only batting .253.  We’ve all watched him continue to ground out (GB% = 65%) and struggle at the plate.  It’s never fun to watch reality set in as players age.  Is it the beginning of the end for Jeter?  Yes.  Is it the end?  No.  I still have some hope left.  His numbers since returning from the DL last week (.370/.393/.630) are extremely skewed because of the aforementioned  5 for 5 game, but he has been hitting the ball a bit better.  He had 4 doubles in the last week, which is more than he had in April (2) and June (3) and ties the amount he had in May.  

    The discouraging numbers Jeter has put up from 2010-2011 have created a buzz around the media that Jeter should be dropped from the leadoff spot.  While there is undoubtedly lots of merit in this sentiment, I don’t think Girardi is ready to pull the trigger.  One interesting point is that Derek has quite the difference in numbers versus lefty and righty pitchers.  While Jeter has always preferred lefties, his 2010 numbers (.321 vs. lefties and .246 vs. righties) and his 2011 numbers (.329 vs. lefties and .251 vs. righties) are noticeably  much more separated than his career numbers (.336 vs. lefties and .298 vs. righties).  Sure, he has many more plate appearances versus righties, but the numbers are still significant.  Regardless, I doubt that Girardi would be open to some type of platoon yet.  It seems that, for this year anyway, Jeter will be the leadoff batter for the Yankees.  In the future, it will be interesting to watch how Derek handles the battle between his pride in his talent and what might be best for the team.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to hope for improvement. 

    #14, Curtis Granderson.  “The Grandy Man” has been  a pleasant surprise.  While Granderson has always been a respectable player, his career numbers versus lefties (.221/.281/.375) have been his bugaboo.  To say he has improved versus lefties this season would be an understatement.  His first half of 2011 against lefties has been a complete turnaround (.263/.327/.596).  It’s been fun to watch Curtis this year, especially as he swings to the short porch in right.  His 91 strikeouts and streakiness have been frustrating at times but his 25 homeruns and 63 RBIs have been impressive, as has his .402 wOBA, 155 wRC+ and 4.7 WAR.  He will represent the Yankee organization well in Arizona for the All-Star game.

    #25, Mark Teixeira.  I was a huge fan of the Teixeira signing.  I will never forget how shocked and excited I was when I heard the announcement driving home from work that December evening.  Mark has been a wonderful addition to the team, offensively, defensively, and off the field.  But since the 2009 signing, I have grown slightly frustrated with Mark’s consistency on offense.  Don’t get me wrong – His power numbers have been tremendous and have helped the team in many instances.  But the Teixeira the Yankees signed not only hit for power, but hit for also for average.  Mark just hasn’t done that these past two seasons.  In 2009, Mark had an impressive .292/.383/.565 with 39 homeruns and 122 RBIs.  In 2010, Teixeira’s numbers dropped substantially to .256/.365/.481 and in 2011 they have further dropped to .244/.352/.519.  I love the fact that Teixeira has hit 25 homeruns before the All-Star break this year, but I’d just like to see a bit more consistency from him.  His wOBA of .378 is higher than last year’s .367 wOBA but both are the lowest he’s had since 2006.  However, his 2011 BABIP is an extreme career low of .218 for the first half of 2011, so perhaps that will regress back to norm in the second half.  I just wish that Mark would hit consistently again, but I’m not sure what is causing such inconsistency.  Is he swinging for the fences too much?  At times, he appears to not be able to hit anything except a fastball.  And the Giambi-like shift teams play against Tex makes me want to see him bunt down the third base line but I just don’t see it happening.  Pretty frustrating, but he still helps the team tremendously on offense and defense. 

    #13, Alex Rodriguez.  Alex has had a strange year.  He came back from the offseason gushing about how great he felt physically for the first time since his hip surgery in 2009.  His spring training numbers certainly proved how great he felt (.388/.444/.898) and the media started pegging him for a MVP type of season.  While Alex certainly does not yet have MVP numbers, his consistency for the most part has been fine, as he has finished the first half of the season with a respectable .295 batting average.  However, his OPB and SLG numbers are down significantly.  With the exception of last year, his OBP of .366 is the lowest he’s had since 1999 with the Mariners.  Additionally, his SLG and ISO are the lowest he’s had since 1995 with the Mariners, in which he only played 48 games. 

    These drops in power have certainly been caused by Alex’s struggles to stay healthy this year.  He had an ailing shoulder earlier in the season and now has been diagnosed with a slight tear in his right meniscus in which he had surgery on yesterday (out 4-6 weeks).  I think this was the right decision for Alex rather than to wait until the end of the season to have the surgery.  While it has been impressive that Rodriguez has continued to hit for average despite these injuries, the Yankees will need the entire Alex Rodriguez package as the season progresses, and that includes the power that has been missing during these ailments. 

    I should mention quickly how impressive Alex’s defense has been this season so far.  He had the third best UZR in all of baseball (first is Brett Gardner) as of last week.  While defense is hard to quantify and UZR is not really a stat that should be used for such a small sample size, he really has made some incredible plays defensively this year.  It has been fun to watch him out there. 

    #24, Robinson Cano.  Cano had a tough May (.250/.305/.407) by his standards and consequently his average (.296) and OBP (.342) are the lowest they’ve been since 2008.  Ultimately, a strong June (.303/.367/.475) and July so far (.353/.395/.676) coupled with a strong April and his past consistency make me believe that Robbie will be around his career batting average (.308) before the season is over.  His 15 homeruns and 57 RBIs put him on a pace to match or beat his career high of 29 homeruns and 109 RBIs from 2010.  Robbie will have some big shoes to fill with A-Rod out until late August or early September.  Luckily for the Yankees, Cano has some impressive numbers batting cleanup.  Since 2008, Robbie is .324/.400/.569 in 102 at-bats in the #4 spot. 

    Sidebar:  I’ve never been one for the Homerun Derby but last night’s was much-watch TV.  Not only was Robbie’s performance was fantastic but the last two rounds were just really fun to watch.  And seeing Robbie and his father together was pretty moving.  It was also fun to watch D-Rob, Grandy, and Martin cheering him on.  CONGRATS ROBBIE!!!!  

    #33, Nick Swisher.  Let’s be honest – Swisher got off to an abysmal start.  Some fans were so frustrated that they were calling for AAA players like Dickerson and Maxwell to be called up.  While this was crazy talk, it’s no secret that Nick was just plain lousy during the first two months.  He under-performed in April (.225/.343/.288 with 1 HR) and May (.200/.330/.341 with 2 HR) but he recovered by over-performing in June (.326/.445/.651 with 7 HR).  Nick Swisher has never been an all-star but he’s been a solid player with a career .252 AVG, .358 OBP, .356 wOBA, and 20+ HR.  The Yankees don’t need Nick to be an all-star.  They just need him to be Nick Swisher. 

    #20, Jorge Posada.  Posada is one of my all-time favorite Yankees.  I loved his ability as much as I loved his fire and passion.  Unfortunately, such fire and passion is a double-edged sword.  The bad side of such passion reared its ugly head versus the Red Sox on May 14.  At the time, Posada was batting .196 and Girardi opted to move Jorge down to the #9 spot.  This unfortunately occurred on a nationwide Fox broadcast versus the Red Sox which lead to a never-ending tirade of opinions all over the country.  Luckily, I was at Yankee Stadium for the game and therefore missed most of the media speculation at the time.  Was Jorge wrong?  110% yes.  But I can understand making the wrong decision based on emotions.  We’ve all made these mistakes.  At the end of the day, Jorge apologized and I can respect that.  Since the drama, Posada has certainly done better.  His June numbers (.382/.419/.588) in 68 at-bats were clearly much more promising.  I don’t know what to expect from Jorge.  He’s nearly done, that’s for sure.  But just when I was about to say he’s absolutely done, he posted a .429 wOBA for June.  For the second half, I can only hope that Jorge can be competitive and end his career on as high a note as possible.  From a fan standpoint, it was difficult to watch him struggle so much in April and May.  From a team standpoint, his numbers were horribly low for a DH.  While his June numbers are too high to continue, I hope that Jorge doesn’t regress back to his April and May numbers.  I’m just not sure how much gas he has left in the tank.  

    #55, Russell Martin.  Everyone seemed to fall in love with Russell Martin right off the bat.  And who can blame them?  He’s been stronger defensively than the Yankees  have been accustomed to over the past couple of years  and he came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, posting impressive offensive numbers early on.  Yankee staff and fans knew the deal with Martin – He produces solid numbers and substantial ability if he can stay healthy.  In early June, Martin was sidelined with lower back ailments which forced him to miss 7 of 8 games.  Below are Martin’s splits by month so far this season:

    March:  .333/.333/.333
    April:     .292/.378/.597  // .423 wOBA
    May:      .200/.333/.347 // .322 wOBA
    June:     .185/.274/.241 // .242 wOBA
    July:       .143/.250/.214 // .207 wOBA

    He has consistently gone down in offensive performance with each passing month.  More alarmingly, his regression started prior to his early June back injuries.  He still provides the Yankees with a solid defensive catcher who has developed strong relationships with the pitching staff.  I only hope that he can become a stronger offensive threat as the season goes on.  Like Swisher, the Yankees don’t need Martin to be an all-star catcher (even though he technically is one this season), but they need him to at least provide a little spark offensively.  He doesn’t need to bat .300, but if he could get closer to his career .361 OBP and .336 wOBA, the Yankees would benefit a great deal.

    #11, Brett Gardner.  Gardner finished the first half of 2011 (.265/.348/.394) with almost identical numbers to his career (.267/.356/.374).  These numbers don’t tell the whole story though, in what has been a very streaky season for Brett.  Baseball is a game of slumps and Gardner has been no stranger to that this season.  After a horrible April (.194/.280/.403), he had a very good May (.301/.379/.373) and an outstanding June (.317/.404/.463).  He has been in a slump for the beginning of July (.200/.273/.264) and will hopefully benefit from some time off during the All-Star break this week.  I like Gardner a lot.  He brings something different to the Yankee lineup  with his speed and grittiness.  And his defense has been immeasurable.  As aforementioned, his UZR lead all of baseball last week.  The Yankees pretty much have two centerfielders in Granderson and Gardner. 

    Gardner’s speed is a weapon but sometimes he struggles to completely utilize it.  At times this year, he seemed unsure of himself, taking awhile to steal at all and getting caught stealing way too much.  The breakdown by month:

























    The good news is that his numbers have improved substantially with each month.  Hopefully this can continue. His speed is a tremendous asset and he needs to trust his ability. 

    The Starting Pitchers:

    #52, CC Sabathia.  CC benefited from some run support earlier in the season but, regardless, he again has been the leader and ace that the Yankees need from their pitching staff every year.  The current run he is on (In last 4 starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.28 ERA) is nothing short of remarkable.  CC is CC. He’s an ace and a workhorse.  He gives the Yankees a chance to win every time he pitches.  He’s a true leader and I expect nothing less from him in the second half.

    #34, AJ Burnett.  Unlike CC, AJ has not always had the benefit of run support this year.  There’s an interesting analysis on The Yankee Analysts that breaks down AJ’s run support in Quality Starts and is worth a read (www.yankeeanalysts.com/2011/07/a-j-s-run...).  That said, AJ has certainly had his games that have left us frustrated, and his July 4 outing versus Cleveland that inspired the above TYA post was one of them.  AJ is going to have those games, but he’s been fine this year for the most part.  His 4.15 ERA (4.54 FIP) is fine.  His 100 K to 52 BB is encouraging.  One stat that is up from last year (and from his career average) is his HR/FB rate of 14.3%.  If this rate regresses back to normal or league average, it will have a positive effect on his ERA and FIP.  AJ is a big part of the Yankees playoff run since the second half performances of Colon/Garcia/Hughes are hard to predict.  Hopefully AJ can have a solid second half (and finally get some run support).

    #40, Bartolo Colon.  Raise your hand if you expected this first half performance from Colon.  No one did.  In fact, if Colon were to never pitch another game this season, the Yankees have already gotten more than expected out of him.  The job he’s done while taking over for Hughes as a starter has been absolutely captivating (Michael Kay’s word, but it’s appropriate).  His ERA (3.20) and FIP (3.56) are the lowest they’ve been since 2002 (!!!!!) and his 79 K to 22 BB is the lowest K/BB ratio he’s had since 2005.  Colon has become must-watch TV for fans, in my opinion.  I look forward to his starts.  Unfortunately, his last start was far from as superior as his others have been.  His fastball was off and his entire game suffered for it.  He walked more in his last start (4) than he did the entire month of June (3).  Bad games happen, especially coming off of the DL.  A player’s fastball isn’t always going to be there, and Colon relies heavily on it.  I won’t worry about one start, but I obviously do worry about him holding up health-wise through the second half.    

    #36, Freddy Garcia vs. #47 Ivan Nova.  When Nova was sent down on July 3 to make room for Phil Hughes on the roster, I was surprised by the uproar I saw online and heard on the radio.  I was especially surprised because people seemed to complain about Nova when he pitched but all of a sudden when he was sent down, these same people were enraged.  I was also surprised by how many people were misinformed about the situation.  To make room for Hughes, Nova was literally the only option unless Girardi decided to go with a six-man rotation.  Obviously, CC, AJ and Colon were untouchable so it was between Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.  First of all, Freddy *COULD NOT* be sent down because of options/contracts.  But even more importantly, Freddy Garcia has pitched better than Ivan Nova.  Garcia has a higher K/9 and WAR and a lower BB/9, ERA, and FIP than Nova.  The only thing that Nova has better Garcia is his record (8-4 to Garcia’s 7-6) and we know how misleading wins and losses can be.  Simply put, Nova being sent down was the right choice.  It’s not a knock on Nova.  He held his own for the most part this season and did a fine job.  He’ll be back as soon as someone gets injured or when the roster expands.  Until then, Nova can use his time back in AAA to work on his other pitches that he is less confident with.  In 2011, 84.6% of Nova’s pitches were his fastball (58.3%) and his curveball (26.3%).  He threw his changeup less than this season he did in 2010.  Hopefully Nova can grow more confident in this pitch while in AAA. 

     As for Freddy, he’s done a fine job this season.  He’s everything the Yankees could ask for from their #5 starter and even more than that.  Obviously his velocity has dropped with age but he has learned to pitch around it and make adjustments.  He’s not going to strike out a lot (5.58 K/9) but he gets the job done somehow.

    #65, Phil Hughes.  I really have no idea what to expect from Phil Hughes.  He’s certainly had a disappointing first half (0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in 4 games).  This was in large part due to a diminished velocity on his fastball, which averaged 93.6 MPH in 2009 and 92.5 MPH in 2010 but only 89.9 MPH so far in 2011.  The long DL stint seemed to help Hughes’ velocity based on scouting reports from his rehab and one MLB start over the last month, but the concern is that he has not yet been able to maintain that velocity.  Hopefully as he builds up his strength and stamina, he will be able to get his velocity back to normal on a consistent basis.  My main concern with Hughes in his struggle to put guys away with 2 strikes and especially with 2 outs.  His 2010 FIP on 3-2 counts was 10.36 and his 2011 FIP on 3-2 counts has been 9.46, both of which are extremely troubling.  He’s tried to rely on his changeup and his cutter increasingly more since 2009 and hopefully as he perfects these pitches, he’ll be able to keep batters on their toes.  There’s room to build with Hughes, and I think he will get there eventually.  However, from a short term point of view, I’m apprehensive as to how he will perform this season.

    The Bullpen:

    The bullpen has had a strange year.  Season-ending injuries to Joba and Feliciano and a substantial injury to Soriano has left the pen very short staffed.  Nice performances from players like Noesi, Ayala, and Wade have helped the Yankees in some big spots.  After kind of being jerked around early on, David Robertson has pitched his way to a remarkable first half and has deservedly been awarded for his impressive performance with his late selection to the All-Star game.  Robertson will sometimes make you nervous with base runners, but he somehow manages to get out of these jams, earning him the nickname of “Houdini” by some.  His 56 strikeouts in 35.1 innings pitched is all kinds of pretty.  He hasn’t given up a homerun yet (I’m sure I’ve just jinxed this) and has posted an impressive 1.27 ERA.  He’s just been really fun to watch. [Sidebar: You should go and donate to his www.highsocksforhope.com charity if you haven’t already!] To close the bullpen analysis, Mariano is Mariano.  His blown save against the Mets with no one on base and 2 outs stung, but he is human (believe it or not).  I’m concerned about his sore tricep and hope that he can benefit from the All-Star break.  If healthy, Mariano is still the best closer in baseball. 

    The Bench

    The bench has been underwhelming for the most part.  Eric Chavez had very solid numbers but got injured pretty early on and has suffered two setbacks while rehabbing.  Such is the story with Chavez’s career.  It’s really too bad.  Ramiro Pena was brought up in June and his bat is as dead as ever, posting numbers of .091/.167/.227 between June and July.  While Pena has never been known for his bat, his defense has always been the bright spot in his repertoire.  Unfortunately, this year has been a struggle for him defensively.  He’s had 5 errors in 14 games in 2011, matching his 5 errors total in 81 games in 2010.  As for Andruw Jones, I’ve been underwhelmed.  I thought he would be a decent bat off the bench with better defense than Marcus Thames.  Instead, his defense has looked shaky and his bat has been more or less dreadful post-April.  Girardi has incorporated a platoon situation versus LHP, more often than not playing Jones over Gardner with a lefty starter.  While I understand that Jones needs to get at-bats to keep loose, it should not always come at the expense of Gardner’s playing time.  Jones is batting an unimpressive .231/.315/.446 against lefties and the Yankees lose considerable defensive advantage when Jones replaces Gardner.  This argument held up much better in June when Gardner actually had a better average versus lefties than Jones did, but Gardner’s July slump changed these numbers a bit.  It’s not that I think Jones is an automatic out, it’s that I wish the Yankees had a better option for a powerful bat off the bench.  Jones’ .356 SLG and .161 ISO aren’t exactly intimidating numbers. 

     Eduardo Nunez deserves his own section since there has been a lot of hype surrounding him after his impressive offensive performance during Jeter’s DL stint.  Fans fell in love with Nunez’s July numbers (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT) of .600/.600/1.067 without seeing the big picture.  Nunez’s numbers in larger sample sizes in May (.225/.244/.375) and June (.226/.284/.306) paint a more accurate picture.  Nunez has been fun to watch lately and has pretty sweet numbers with RISP (.294/.368/.382) but he’s just not ready to be an everyday player.  Jeter’s regression is abundantly clear, but he’s still the more well-rounded player than Nunez.  And Nunez’s defense has been atrocious.  He has a shocking 10 (!!!!!) errors in 46 games.  Nunez will now get his chance at third with Alex out for the next 4-6 weeks.  I’d love his bat to stay hot, but I’m much more concerned with his defense over the next month-plus. 

     As for Cervelli, I don’t have much to say.  He’s not very good but he’s a backup and I’m not going to kill him for it…. Unless he keeps throwing the ball into centerfield.  But seriously, I don’t want any prospects up in the Majors solely to play once every 5 or so days, so it’s Cervelli or Gustavo Molina for now and Molina isn’t exactly tearing it up in AAA. 

    The Farm:

    It will be interesting to see who the Yankees call up and get production out of come September.  Will we finally get to see Montero get a chance with his bat?  He’s hitting for average in AAA this season but having an altogether underwhelming season, hitting for very little power and striking out too much.  There have been rumors of his frustration with a lack of promotion but the Yankees want him to continue to work on his below-average defense in addition to his plate discipline and approach.  With Martin on the team, there is no reason to bring up Montero only to have him sit on the bench many days a week.  But when it’s time for September call-ups, Montero could prove to be an interesting bat off the bench.  He could also back Martin up and DH if needed.  Banuelos and Betances are likely a year or so away, only in AA this season and having control issues at times.  I’m not sold on the AAA pitchers who have done well (Phelps, Mitchell, Warren) but they could be trade chips.  Jorge Vazquez could also potentially be a trade chip.  He’s posted an impressive 21 HR and 57 RBIs in the first half but his AVG has dropped consistently because of his awful plate approach – 102 K to only 19 BB.  Brandon Laird might see a call-up with A-Rod injured (although not likely) or in September.  His average is a bit low (.268) but he leads the team in hits and doubles  A fun farm guy to watch will be Tim Norton – if he can stay healthy.  He’s had a frustrating history with injuries throughout his minor league career but when healthy, his numbers are impressive.  He was called up to AAA recently but injured his shoulder after one game.  The injury was thought to be serious but the SWB Yankees announced yesterday that he could be back as early as next week. 

     The Team:

    The rainouts in the first half will come into play significantly in the second half, as the Yankees have very few off days to play around with.  It would be nice to improve their bench for that reason.  It’ll be interesting to follow the team as the trade deadline approaches quickly following the All-Star break.  The Yankees were thought to have needed a starting pitcher at the beginning of the year, but a bat might prove more important.  Cashman has been hesitant to pull the trigger with trading some of the organization’s top prospects (and rightfully so).  Cashman will hold onto these guys (Montero, Banuelos, Betances) unless someone elite is available.  To be honest, I don’t see anyone elite being available, but you never know.

    It’s funny because looking back on the blog I’ve just written, I’ve noticed many alarming stats.  Players have been injured, have underperformed, and have aged.  And yet, the Yankees can boast the third best record in all of Major League Baseball.  Players have stepped up and carried others when necessary.  The team finds a way to win more often than not.  The fact that they’ve had such a successful season despite these inconsistencies and underperformances makes for a promising second half of the 2011 season.  If the team starts to fire on all cylinders, they’ll give anyone a run for their money. 

    Sources: FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, SWB Yankees, ESPN


    0 (0 Ratings)

    Opening Day Predictions

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 1:10 PM [General]

    Offseason over.  Spring training over.  We’ve spent the last five months overanalyzing trades, waiting on Cliff Lee’s decision, shedding tears after Andy’s retirement announcement, debating the Gardner versus Jeter leadoff spot discussion, arguing over who deserves the #4 and #5 pitching spots, and just generally feeding our baseball withdrawal any way possible.  Now, it’s finally time. The official 2011 Major League Baseball season starts in 24 hours.  Warm weather is (allegedly) on the way and it’s time for another crazy summer of baseball drama.  After being deprived (and cold) all winter, we will finally be able to watch our favorite sport more or less every day for the next six to seven months.  It’ll be a wild ride, like always.  There will be moments of pure bliss and moments where irrational rants will be unavoidable (I apologize in advance for those).  The season is long and the inevitable ups and downs are always fun to look back on once the season is over and we know how everything plays out.  But for now, tomorrow is best day of the year – Opening Day.  The promise of warm weather and daily baseball is enough to make anyone giddy.  There are no ups and downs here – Just blind (often biased) predictions and high hopes.  So I’ve decided to join in and post my (admittedly possibly somewhat biased) 2011 American League predictions:

    AL East: Yankees

    AL Central: Tigers*

    AL West: Angels

    Wild Card: Red Sox

    *I’m really back and forth on the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox in the Central.  It should be a fun race.

    Okay, okay… Maybe I might reverse the AL East and Wild Card predictions.  The Red Sox are healthy, have added some intimidating pieces, and  have (less) pitching questions than the Yanks do.  But they still have their questions.  Ultimately, I think this race is going to be a lot closer than many seem to think.  Those who have already counted out the Yankees are crazy.  People seem to forget that the Yanks won 95 games last year with questionable pitching (Vazquez, Burnett, Hughes in the second half, Pettitte’s injury). To me, the Yanks’ pitching is more of a concern in the playoffs than it is now.  Their offense and strong bullpen can hopefully carry them on days where the pitching is less than stellar.  This most likely won’t hold as well in the playoffs where pitching almost always wins, but I won’t even begin to analyze October since we all know how much teams can change in six months. 

    As for specific Yankees, I’m really excited that Nova will have the chance to make an impression during his (hopefully) first full season in the Majors.  No, he doesn’t have lights out stuff that makes him a flashy top prospect.  But from what I’ve seen, he has very good potential.  I was impressed by his last spring training start this past Friday in Tampa.  I was at the game and it was clear that Nova didn’t really have his best stuff.  Regardless, he battled and held the Astros to 2 runs.  As a #4 starter, that is much more than you can ask for.  I think poise is something that is often overanalyzed, but Nova has shown that he’s not easily intimidated (just ask Jose Bautista).  Ultimately, I think Nova has some promise.  Yes, he had his trouble after the fifth inning last year but that’s something he can improve upon as he gets acclimated in the Majors.  I look forward to watching him grow this season.

    I also look forward to Alex Rodriguez’s season.  This is a pretty trendy thought right now, but if he can stay healthy, he’s going to have a monster year.  The last couple of seasons, Alex has finally seemed to have found peace with himself.  His personal transformation (in my opinion) has been endearing.  But, these last couple of seasons, he hasn’t been 100% healthy.  He seems to be in much better shape this season after having finally been given the green light by his Doctors to work out at full-strength this offseason.  And while obviously spring training means nothing, WOW HAS HE BEEN IMPRESSIVE.  Damn.

    I’m so excited for the 2011 NYY season.  I look forward to falling in love with new players (like Russell Martin).  I’m excited to follow the prospects in the minors and anticipate their futures.  I’m pumped up for the Yankees to prove the media wrong – For Jeter to have a bounce back season, for AJ to find his confidence again, for the pitching in general to work itself out, and for everyone to start to take the Yankees seriously as a threat for the AL East division.  My hopes are high. Baseball is back.  It feels like it’s been forever.   From the last play in October, I start my countdowns – to when pitchers and catchers report, to when spring training games start, and finally to Opening Day.  I can’t believe it’s finally here.  GO YANKEES!

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Thank you, Andy

    Thursday, February 3, 2011, 3:57 PM [General]

                   I remember watching Andy Pettitte pitch this summer against the Blue Jays.  It was July 3, 2010 and unbeknownst to me at the moment, it would be the last time I saw Andy take the mound in person.  It was a beautiful summer day and fans were still living off the high of the 2009 season as Andy pitched to his tenth win – a solid two weeks before the All-Star break.  Everything was perfect.  There was no way I could have known walking out of the stadium that day that I’d never sit in the stands and watch Andy pitch live again.  If I had, I certainly would have taken a moment to take it all in – to watch Pettitte and smile, knowing that pitchers like him are few and far between. 

                   When the rumors of Andy’s impending retirement were confirmed today, I instantly regretted not seeing him pitch live one more time. Or twenty more times.  In fact, when the news broke, I immediately got irrationally annoyed with myself for not personally witnessing every single pitch that Andy Pettitte has ever made.  But as I’ve had time to calm down and drag myself off the ledge, I have come to realize that this game on July 3, 2010 was the perfect ending to my Andy Pettitte story because the game embodied everything that made Andy so great.

                   I remember it being a beautiful day for a game.  I was excited to be at Yankee Stadium --  something my schedule does not allow as much as I would like -- and even more excited that I was seeing Andy pitch for the first time that year.  Decked out in my Pettitte jersey, I took the elevator all the way up to Section 420 and got ready for a great afternoon of baseball.   However, my great afternoon took a slight detour in the top of the first inning. 

    Play by play:

    -  Nick Green singles, none out.

    -  Alex Gonzalez pops up to second, one out.

    -  Jose Bautista homers (21), Nick Green scores, one out.

    -  Vernon Wells walks, one out.

    -  (Coaching visit to mound)

    -  John Buck singles, Vernon Wells to second, one out.

    -  Aaron Hill flies out, Vernon Wells to third, two out.

    -  Lyle Overbay pops out, three out. 

                    I remember my friend wondering what was wrong with Andy during the inning.  Was he tired?  Hurting?  Just didn’t have it today?  I considered these questions too.  He was having such a terrific start to the season, so he was “due” a bad game, as they say.  If anyone else was on the mound, I would have been concerned that I was in for a long afternoon.  But it was Andy Pettitte.  I think only Yankee fans can know what that means.  You never got too nervous with Andy on the mound.  Sure, he had his bad days – He *is* human (I think).  But Andy always, always battled.  Even when he didn’t have his best stuff, he always competed.  As fans, that was all we could ever ask for. 

                    As I mentioned earlier, Andy ended up pitching to his tenth win of the season that day.  After a shaky first inning, he settled down nicely, not allowing another earned run until the sixth inning.  By that time, the game was out of hand – The Yankees had knocked Ricky Romero off the mound with an 11-run third inning.  But lost in big hits and theatrics of the third inning was the fact that Andy had battled yet again.  When he came out in the second inning, you would have had no idea how bad he looked in the first if you hadn’t been watching.  He actually pitched 4 innings of no-hit ball before surrendering one earned run on two hits in the sixth.  His turnaround was nothing short of remarkable, but it was also expected.  That was Andy Pettitte. 

                    The thing I will miss most about having Andy on the mound is the sense of security he gave me.  I knew that he’d show up and get it done, no matter what he had with him that day.  I’ll never forget his interview with Kimberly Jones after Game 6 of the 2009 World Series.  Kim congratulated Andy to which Andy proceeded to tell her he was glad that he got through the game because he didn’t have anything.  I remember laughing out loud as Andy was telling Kim how “bad” he was that game.  He was being modest, of course, but he was certainly exhausted and running on empty.  It was the first time Andy had pitched on 3-days rest since 2006, and many critics questioned Girardi’s decision to even go to Pettitte on short rest.  But it was Andy Pettitte.  His coaches and teammates knew that he would battle and give them a chance to win, as did his fans.  It’s what he always did.

                    So, as much as it pains me to write this, I must say goodbye to Andy Pettitte. It’s the end of an era.  It was a wild ride and I’m beyond grateful that I was a part of it in my small way. Andy has absolutely no idea who I am and yet I am so indebted to him. In a sports world sometimes tainted with greed, selfishness, and flashiness, Andy taught me to be gritty and to always give my 100% even when I didn’t have my best stuff.  He’s a class act, a team player, and a true New York Yankee.  To say he will be missed is a tremendous understatement. 

                    Thank you, #46.  We love you. 


    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Cashman, Yankees

    Friday, January 21, 2011, 3:13 PM [General]

    If you’re smart, you’ve avoided social media this winter and went about your business as usual.  The offseason can be long enough without daily tirades from fans that do nothing but complain.  Unfortunately, chances are you’re a lot like me – immersed in this new social media world where everyone is a self-proclaimed sports expert.  If that’s the case, then my condolences to you, your ears, and your blood pressure. 

    I find myself refreshing Twitter more during the offseason than the actual baseball season – Looking for updates, analyzing rumors, waiting for news to break.  During this time, I’ve seen a lot of crazy -- Beat writers relying on questionable “sources,” nonsensical proposed trades (Cervelli and Joba for Felix Hernandez… really?) and pathetic wannabe media “insiders” like Incarcerated Bob who contradict themselves on an hourly basis.  But of all the crazy I’ve witnessed this offseason, I only find one area unforgiveable – the daily, ludicrous hatred for Brian Cashman.

    I often wonder why some people bother being fans of a team that they basically hate.  It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.  There are some Yankee fans that just love to complain.  I swear some of them hate the entire team.  And while there are fans like this for every team in sports, it’s especially ridiculous behavior for "fans" of the Yankees because of their success.  For the past 15+ years, the Yankees have been competitive and successful.  What more can us fans ask for?  The front office is obviously doing something right.  Regardless of this success, every year some “fans” find something to complain about. Unfortunately, social media has made these “fans” even more intolerable by giving them a voice. 

    Many times a day when I refresh my Twitter, I see an unjustified rant about Brian Cashman.  Clearly, I need to do a bit of un-following on Twitter, but that’s not the point here.  Tweets have rendered Cashman “clueless,” and have even called for his job.  Every offseason move by the Yankees has been followed by an onslaught of tweets saying what a “horrible” move Cashman has made.  They’ve held him accountable for not getting Cliff Lee, for not getting Crawford, for not trading for a starting pitcher, and even for signing Andruw Jones.  Point blank, I don’t understand what is wrong with some people.  So let’s break down the 2011 offseason and see what really happened. 

    Side note: I’m not going to sit here and write a quantitative analysis with facts, figures, and sabermetrics.  Anyone can look up these stats on the internet.  I’m just going to qualitatively put my two cents in. 

    Cliff Lee:  Let me preface this by saying that I’m bummed we didn’t get Lee -- Not because I think the Yankees are doomed without him, but because I’m a Cliff Lee fan.  I genuinely enjoy watching him pitch, and I would have loved to see him in pinstripes.  At the end of the day, he decided Philly was where he wanted to be.  There was nothing that Cashman could have done here.  The Yankees offered Lee the most money/years that they could.  They actually offered him too much.  It didn’t work, which means there was nothing else they could have offered.  He simply preferred Philly.  End of story.

    Carl Crawford:  The media constantly reported that Carl Crawford was the Yankees’ “Plan B.”  If the Yankees didn’t get Cliff Lee, they would sign Crawford and trade for a starting pitcher.  That backfired when Crawford signed before Lee.  Now “fans” are irate that Cashman didn’t anticipate this and sign Crawford beforehand.  The thing is, I’m not sure that Crawford was right for the Yankees, with our without Cliff Lee.  Admittedly, the signing stings because the Red Sox got him, but that’s another story.  The thing about Crawford is that the Yankees didn’t need him.  Brett Gardner’s salary for 2010 was $452,500. Carl Crawford’s new contract with the Sox has him making approximately $20.2 million a season.  Is Crawford better than Gardner?  Yes.  Is he more than 20 times better than Gardner? No way.  Also, the argument that the Yankees would sign Crawford and then trade Gardner or Swisher for a starting pitcher seems unlikely because there aren’t really starting pitchers available.  Plus, the Yankees have a very strong farm system – If a starting pitcher becomes available, they will still be able to make a good offer.  Prospects like Montero, Romine, Banuelos, Nunez, etc. have already made a buzz around the big leagues.  If and when a good trade opportunity comes along, Cashman will make it.   

    Starting Pitching:  It’s no secret that the Yankees starting pitching is an issue.  Their lineup is aging but still formidable.  Their bullpen is tremendous.  Their starting pitching is slightly alarming… at the moment.  My beloved Andy is still undecided, so it looks like the Yankees will be starting 2011 with a rotation of CC, Hughes, Burnett, Nova, and Mitre.  I will be shocked if this the season ends with this rotation.  Regardless, it’s what we have right now.  Clearly, the back-end of the rotation is questionable at best.  It’s so questionable that even I’m not as outwardly against Joba starting as I once was.  However, I think it’s more important for the Yankees to continue to develop their strong farm system rather than make a panic trade for a mediocre starter.  Of course, for an elite pitcher, I’d gladly part with our top prospects.  I’d drive them to the airport myself for a Felix Hernandez or a Josh Johnson.  But these players AREN’T ON THE TRADING BLOCK.  Brian Cashman is a powerful man, but he cannot force teams to trade their stars to us.  If the Yankees have to bide their time with a questionable back-end rotation until their prospects are ready for the Majors or until a good pitcher is available, then they should.  Patience will pay off.

    Rafael Soriano:  Despite the front office drama, Soriano is a Yankee.  Yes, I would have liked to have kept the draft picks.  No, I’m not thrilled about the front office battle, the opt-out clauses, or the number of years he was given.  But everyone needs to move on.  It’s over and Soriano is a Yankee.  And guess what?  The Yankees bullpen is sick.  Let’s enjoy.

    Russell Martin:  I’m not going to get into the Martin signing because I didn’t see too much backlash about this one.  Ultimately, I’m okay with this pick-up.  Posada absolutely cannot be a full-time catcher and neither can Cervelli.  Martin has a lot more upside than Cervelli.  Ideally, I’d like to see Montero get a fair shot.  I’ve heard all about his horrendous defense, but I like the idea of him learning with Posada as a mentor.  And let’s be honest, Cervelli and Posada’s defense last season was not exactly gold glove worthy.  Either way, Martin – if healthy – provides a little more stability to the Yankees catching. 

    Andruw Jones:  I wasn’t even going to mention the acquisition of Jones since he’s a bench player, but the ridiculous outcry on Twitter yesterday made me change my mind.  Within minutes of the official announcement that the Yankees had signed Jones, Twitter went crazy.  I can’t even tell you how many “another bad move by Cashman” tweets I saw.  Apparently, the Yankees should not sign bench players any more, only all-stars.  Here’s the thing, the Yankees needed a RIGHTY bat with power who could be the fourth outfielder.  Jones is an upgrade from Thames… And he can actually play defense!  (On a side note, what exactly are the Dodgers thinking with their Thames signing? Poor Donnie) Anyway, there’s basically no reason to get too annoyed or too excited about the Andruw Jones pick-up.  He’s going to be the 4th outfielder.  It’s a good bench pick up.  End of story. 

    Johnny Damon:  Just a side bar about Johnny Damon (who, as I write this, is apparently close to signing with the Rays) – The Johnny Damon ship has sailed.  The Yankees have their outfield and they don’t need Damon.  They could have used Johnny as a 4th outfielder, but Johnny doesn’t want to be a bench player.  Also, his defense is sketchy.  Everyone just needs to collectively get over Johnny Damon.  I like the guy, but it is time to move on.  Most of us moved on last year.  The ship has sailed.  I wish Johnny the best of luck. 

    Brian Cashman:  I’ve been told by “fans” that Brian Cashman should be held accountable because he has done nothing to improve the team.  I’d like to point out that a 95 win team does not need too much improving.  Furthermore, I disagree that the team hasn’t improved.  Regardless, for “fans” to turn their backs on Cashman and call for his job is nothing short of outrageous.  Cash has made his bad signings – What GM hasn’t?  But he has made some great ones too.  And most importantly, he has built up a great farm system.  The aging Yankees are going to need young bats like Montero and young fielders like Nunez.  And their pitching prospects could help them as early as this year if all goes right.  These prospects provide promise for the future of the Yankees.  Whether they are traded for future pick-ups or brought up to the big leagues, many of these guys will directly impact the New York Yankees in a positive way.  And Brian Cashman is to thank for that.   I hope that these negative “fans” remember Cashman when they are headed to the Stadium in the coming years wearing these prospects names on the backs of their jerseys. 

    Ultimately, I think fans need to stop being so fickle and relax.  The Yankees are one year removed from a World Series.  Remember when they won in 2009 and people were talking about a potential dynasty?  Furthermore, the Yankees won 95 games last season with very questionable starting pitching from Burnett and Javy, an injury to Pettitte, and a somewhat shaky second half from Phil Hughes.  Undoubtedly, the Yankees will be okay in 2011. They (almost) always are. 

    Fans who are always complaining need to look themselves in the mirror and decide if they are truly fans or just pathetic frontrunners.  The reality is that the Yankees are the most successful team in the history of sports because they’ve won a World Championship 27 times since they officially became the “Yankees” in 1913. That’s 27 championships in 98 years (meaning there were 71 years when someone else won).  My point is, even with the great success of the New York Yankees and their yearly mission statement of Win-Word-Series-Or-Bust, they can’t win every year.  If you are going to be a true sports fan, you need to learn patience and understanding.  I’m going to enjoy the hell out of the Yankees’ 2011 season, World Series or not.  I love this team with all of my heart.  I miss them so much right now.  I can’t wait for Opening Day (68 days!) and for this crazy ride to start all over again.  And guess what – the Yankees are going to have a great 2011 season, so quit your whining!

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Rant about the payroll complaints.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010, 4:10 PM [General]

    Sports Illustrated writer, Jon Heyman, just tweeted one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen so I’ve decided to take to my blog about perhaps the ultimate hot-button issue in Major League Baseball: the New York Yankees’ payroll.

    Sidebar: Heyman basically said Yankee fans have no right suggesting/complaining that Cliff Lee might be cheating with his dirty hat because the Yankees payroll is so high.  How does this even make sense?  And also, I think I speak for most Yankee fans when I say that no one gives a crap about Lee’s dirty hat.  95% of radio callers are insane.  “Fans” who call the radios get on for things that have shock value.  The average fan never gets on the radio.  I personally have never even tried to.  What’s the point?

    Anyway, back to my original point…..

    My friend dated this @$$%*%# for years who was perhaps the biggest loser I’ve ever encountered (for more reasons than one).  For starters, he was a Mets AND Red Sox fan.  I don’t have time to get into how ridiculous Met-Sox fans are.  You’re not baseball fans, you’re Yankee haters.  Stop sweating us and get over it.  Anyway, my friend’s boyfriend used to constantly say things like “Yankee fans are selfish” and was always quick to bring payroll into any and every baseball argument.  Out of respect for her, I never completely flipped out on this guy (but I really wanted to).  He represents what is wrong with sports.  People are too focused on hating teams than on what brought us all here – the love of the game.  I have another friend who’s a real, genuine Mets fan.  We talk objectively about baseball all the time and I love it.  But unfortunately, fans like him are few and far between.  Everyone else is too busy whining about the big, bad Yankees.  I’m so beyond sick of this payroll crap that I need to get it off my chest once and for all….


    The Yankees have money and they are going to spend it (unlike some owners who pocket it).  What are they supposed to do with it?  Should they say, “Let’s not sign _________.”  We’ve won a lot lately.  Let’s give someone else a chance”?!?!? I mean, really.  I have a question for Yankee haters: WHAT DO YOU WANT THE YANKEES TO DO WITH THEIR MONEY? Because I am under the impression that the point of sports is to WIN. What exactly are the Yankees doing wrong here?  Are they breaking the rules? No. In fact, they pay a luxury tax to your inferior teams every year.  So what’s the problem?  The problem is that you’re jealous.  You wish your team had the money that the Yankees do.  And if they did, you’d want them to sign every Free Agent available.  You’d be such a hypocrite.  So get off your soapbox and put down the violins because the Yankees aren’t going to stop putting the best team they possibly can out on the field every season, nor should they.  The goal is to WIN, not to let everyone have an equal chance. 

    I’m not going to sit here and list all the Yankees’ home grown talent (which is a lot) or all the free agents on other teams who have won (especially the Red Sox).  And I really won’t mention the teams who overpay free agents and STILL lose miserably (like the Mets).  It’s a tired argument.  Every time a Yankee hater runs out of things to say, they immediately whine about the Yankees payroll and they will continue to do so forever.  Like I mentioned before, most of those “fans” are more obsessed with hating the Yankees than rooting for their actual team.  This guy I went to high school with writes 10 anti-Yankee things on his Facebook for every 1 pro-Mets thing he writes.  That’s not a fan.  Worry about your own team. 

    The argument is never going to go away, but I just needed to rant for a minute.  And what’s a blog for if not to do so every now and again?


    GO YANKEES!!!!

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    2010 Postseason Picks

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 8:07 PM [General]

    Well, it’s that time of year again the Bronx.  The reason the players put on the pinstripes every day.  The reason fans proudly proclaim their love for the Yankees.  It’s October.  The temperature is getting cooler.  The days are getting shorter.  The MLB postseason is here and the Yankees are contestants again. 

    “Mission 28” starts tomorrow night (Wednesday, October 6, 2010) so I’ve decided to make my playoff comments and predictions now (so we can all laugh at how wrong they are later).  Here goes nothing….



    Yankees vs Twins

    As the season ended, I started to read many quotes from fans and media sources stating that maybe the Yankees getting the wild card wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  While the wild card meant they wouldn’t have homefield advantage, it also meant that they’d face the Twins instead of the Rangers.  I agree that the idea of facing the Rangers (specifically Cliff Lee) in a short series is a very scary thought.  But you shouldn’t count out the Twins based on the Yankees’ past success against them.  The Yankees’ past – particularly the 2009 team – should not be confused with the present team.  Their pitching issues, their health, and their sometimes inability to get hits with runners in scoring position have all alarmed me over the past two months.  That said, I think the Yankees are the best team in the American League when they have their act together, and I think they have the ability to do some real damage this postseason if they can play to their capabilities.  Plus the Twins are (again) without Morneau and their pitching simply does not impress me.  Despite my earlier spiel, I think the Yankees will continue their domination over the Twins this postseason. 

    PICK: Yankees in 4

    *On a side note, I look forward to the Yankees knocking around Carl Pavano (and his moustache) in Game 2. 

    Rangers vs Rays

    As I mentioned earlier, I think facing Cliff Lee twice in a short series is a very scary thought for any team.  But I think this is a particularly bad matchup for the Rays, whose offense hasn’t impressed me all year.  Between the no-hitters and the low batting averages, I’m not sure this is a team that can score enough in the ALDS.  And while I do believe that pitching is what wins in the postseason, I’m not sure the *current* Rays pitching has enough.  Price matches up against Cliff Lee, so his good starts have the potential to be wasted if the Rays can’t hit Lee.  To be honest, I don’t even see this series going long enough for Lee (or Price) to pitch twice.  The Rays announced today that “Big Game” James Shields is pitching Game 2.  Shields has only won 3 of his last 10 starts and had an ERA over 7.00 in the month of September.  Garza and Davis pitch games 3 and 4 (if necessary) respectively.  I’m not taking the Rays’ very successful season away from them, but I think this is a very bad matchup for them.  If they’re down 0-1 with Shields on the mound, they can easily be down 0-2 in the blink of an eye.  It’s very hard to recover from that in a 5 game series.

    PICK: Rangers in 4


    Braves vs Giants

    I think the Giants’ pitching rotation will be too much for the Braves to handle in a short series.  Plus the Braves have really been struggling of late.  I just don’t see this one being much of a contest.  Although, the Braves have one thing on their side – Eric Hinske.  He’s been in the World Series 3 years in a row on 3 different teams.  Those are some pretty good odds!  But seriously, it would take a very special team to beat the Giants’ pitching staff in such a short series, and the Braves are just not that special.  They pretty much kept first place warm for the Phillies until they were ready to take it over. 

    PICK: Giants in 4

    Reds and Phillies

    Short and sweet – The Phillies are the best (and most well rounded) team in the National League.  No one is beating them. 

    PICK: Phillies in 3



    Yankees vs Rangers

    While I don’t particularly like anyone’s chances against the Rangers in a short series, I think they are much less formidable in a seven-game series.  The Yankees have every capability of beating the Rangers here and returning to the World Series.  The only thing that can hurt the Yankees here is the Yankees – particularly the pitching.  They’ll have to go with a 4 man rotation here (so yes, AJ has to pitch).  Hughes and AJ leave the Yankees very susceptible if CC’s outings are canceled out by great performances by Cliff Lee (God, I hope he’s a Yankee next year!).  I do think that the fact that the Yankees do not have homefield advantage hurts them here.  If these games are as close as the last series between these teams, last licks will be a major advantage for Texas.  However, ultimately, I think the Yankees are the better team.  It’s important to note that A-Rod and Swisher didn’t play in the last series vs the Rangers.  2/3 of these games were won by the Rangers in walkoff fashion and we all know how deadly Alex Rodriguez is in the late innings of close games.  He was definitely missed in that series but he will most certainly be in the playoffs. 

    PICK: Yankees in 6



    Giants vs Phillies

    I said before that it’ll take a special team to beat the Giants’ pitching staff.  Well, the Phillies are that special team.  The Phillies’ rotation of Halladay-Hamels-Oswalt cancels out the good pitching that the Giants have and their offense will be too much for the Giants to compete with.  I think the Phillies win easy (although I will be rooting for the Giants!)

    PICK: Phillies in 3

    World Series

    Yankees vs Phillies

    I’m sure Mets fans will be horrified if this happens, but I think it’s time for another Yankees vs Phillies showdown.  As a Yankee fan, I hope that I’m wrong here.  The Phillies scare me much more this year than they did last year.  Let’s not forget how badly Halladay owns the Yankees.  Also, Hamels has returned to form (despite not receiving much run support this year) and Oswalt has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the Phillies.  I actually think that the Phillies sealed their ticket to the world series when they traded for Oswalt.  So the question is, (a) Can the Roys plus Hamels contain the Yankee offense and (b) Can the Yankees’ somewhat shaky pitching contain the Phillies’ offense?  I’m not sure about either.  I think the Yankees are at a disadvantage by not having homefield advantage and therefore losing the DH (thanks, Girardi… just kidding… or am I?).  And I think the Yankees are at a huge disadvantage with pitching.  But then again, it’s not every day that these Phillies pitchers (except Halladay) face the potent Yankees lineup.  And the Yankees are always capable of greatness at any given moment.  This would be the best postseason matchup.  I honestly have no idea what would happen.

    PICK (based on nothing but biasness): Yankees in 7

    On a side note, I need to comment on a quote that came out from “Big Game” James Shields this morning:

    "As far as I'm concerned we're the team to beat," Shields told reporters Tuesday, "and I think those other teams in the playoffs, they know that." (Source: www.fanhouse.com)

    Personally, I think the DEFENDING CHAMPIONS are the team to beat, James.  LETS GO YANKEES!!!!!

    0 (0 Ratings)

    About the losing streak.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 7:21 PM [General]

    The Yankees did a complete 360 this week, going from winning 7 in a row to losing 7 of 8.  Actually, if it wasn’t for Nick Swisher’s walkoff homerun, the Yanks would be looking at an 8 game losing streak.  The fact that these losses have been against potential playoff matchups and division rivals has made it even tougher to swallow.  Many of my Twitter followers have entered into full crisis mode.  My “tweeps” are venting, arguing, and even fighting with each other.  Actually, I haven’t been above a few heated discussions myself and I’ve certainly done my fair share of venting.  However, I think Twitter’s character limit has hindered me in getting my full point across, so I’ve decided to get my thoughts together in a blog piece.

    Warning: I’m pretty sure that this won’t make much sense because my feelings on the Yankees right now are jumbled.  I just want to give my opinion on the hot button issues without a character limit.  So basically, I’m going to comment on the hot topics I’ve seen popping up on my timeline constantly over the last 24 hours. 

    1.     “Girardi should be fired.”

    This is way too extreme.  That’s not to say that Girardi doesn’t annoy me.  In fact, sometimes I think it would be fun to light his match-up binder on fire.  He’s definitely made some eccentric decisions during this losing streak, but calling for him to be fired is taking it too far.  I even saw blog posts and tweets earlier today insinuating that Girardi has lost the clubhouse and that nobody wants to win for him.  I’m not even going to comment on how ludicrous that is. 

    Sometimes I feel like Joe manages too much with his head and not with his gut.  He manages 100% on statistics.  I think you need to manage 99% of the time with statistics and 1% with your gut.  This probably sounds ridiculous and I have no facts, fancy charts or figures to back it up.  Basically, I just think he falls in love with match-ups and statistics a bit too much.  There’s a human element to the game that he misses. 

    Girardi has gotten on my nerves more than usual lately.  He makes some really strange decisions.  He made them last year too.  The World Series win took the spotlight off his sketchy use of the bullpen at times in the playoffs.  Had the Yankees lost last year, people really would have been calling for his head.  Girardi is not going to change, and I’m not always going to love his bullpen moves or lineups.  But with the good, comes the bad.  Things about Torre bothered me too.  No one’s perfect.  Girardi has done a lot of good for this team too, and calling for him to be fired is ridiculous.

    Bottom line on Joe:  I wouldn’t be devastated if he went to the Cubs next year.

    2.     “The Boss Would Have Fired Girardi.”


    This is just silly – What’s the point of this argument?  Yes, the Boss was known for his theatrics (more so before I was born – he definitely mellowed).  He HATED losing to Tampa and he never wanted to settle for the wild card.  So yes, he would have been FURIOUS about the game last night.  But I really don’t think Joe would have been fired for it.  The Yankees have suffered far more disappointments and heartbreakers than that.  Let’s not get crazy.

    One thing I do have to say is that some of the Yankees and their coaches seem to be okay with settling for the wild card.  Some of the quotes that have leaked these past few days would not have made the Boss happy.  He wanted to win the division every year.  I’m not saying that the Yankees don’t want to win the division, but some just seem a little too complacent with the wild card.

    Bottom line on the Boss:  Enough with these ridiculous comments.  The Boss’ era is over and has been for several years.  Get used to it and let the man rest in peace!

    3.     “The Yankees aren’t making the playoffs.”

    It would take a complete meltdown for this to happen, and even then they'd probably still get in.  The Red Sox and White Sox are too far back for this to be a realistic possibility.  The Yankees will make the playoffs one way or the other.  If the Red Sox were healthy and had a better record, my nerves would be shot by now.  But the Yankees have a pretty safe lead, so they’re all but in.  Get the champagne ready.

    I will say this – The Yankees (and the Rays) should be wary of the Minnesota Twins.  Don’t look now but the Twins are only 2 games back from the best record in baseball.  Who wants it more?      

    Bottom line on the playoffs:  The Yankees are in, but can they win the division?

    My concerns:

    1.  Injuries – The Yankees are really banged up.  Swisher can barely run, Gardner’s wrist has been barking for awhile now, A-Rod isn’t 100%, and now I just found out that Tex is playing with a broken toe.  This isn’t counting all the ailments that aren’t made public.  They need to get healthy for the playoffs, and Girardi certainly isn’t hesitant to give players rest.  So their health might forfeit them the division.  But I’m concerned the guys need more than a day off here and there to get healthy and that there isn’t enough time to get better before the playoffs start.

    2.  Exhaustion – Besides the injuries, the Yankees just look exhausted.  The team seems really, really sluggish.  And the bullpen is apparently so tired that Girardi had to use Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre last night in a big game.  Can they wake up for another month?

    3.  Pettitte – We have no idea how Pettitte is going to be when he gets back.  I assume that he’ll be great (or at least good) because he’s a true competitor.  But, he’s not a spring chicken and he missed a lot of time.  Because of their pitching concerns, I’m not sure the Yankees can win without him this year.

    4.  Pitching – Lately, the Yankees pitching staff has been CC and pray for rain!  Nova and Moseley have made some decent to good starts, but the legitimate playoff pitching possibilities are a concern.  Vazquez has been demoted yet again to the bullpen (by the way, you can really tell that he doesn’t love Girardi).  AJ is capable of a dominant performance but these performances are few and far between (this year even more so).  AJ is also capable of giving up 6 runs in the first inning.  Hughes has come back down to earth.  He can’t finish – whether it be 2 strikes or 2 outs.  He lacks experience and I think he’s tired.  I’m excited for the future of Phil Hughes, but he scares me for the 2010 playoffs.  Ultimately, pitching wins in the playoffs and unfortunately this is the Yankees’ biggest weakness. 

    5.  Offense – The Yankees are in a team wide slump (with the exception of a few).  To be honest, at times this year the Yankees’ offense has looked pathetic.  Don’t get me started on their performances against pitchers they’ve never seen before.  They leave too many men on base and they strike out way too much.  Compared to other teams, their offensive stats aren’t alarming.  However, when you look at the names on this lineup, quite a few should be hitting better.  Hopefully any day now, they wake up!

    6.  Streakiness – Baseball is a game of streaks and all teams and players slump.  I get that.  But lately, the Yanks have been polar opposites.  To go from a 7 game winning streak to an (almost) 8 game losing streak is a complete 360.  Which team is going to show up in the postseason?  

    Bottom line on the Yankees:  Anything can happen in the playoffs, and the Yankees definitely have a shot to repeat as world champions.  But something in my gut is telling me that this season might not end well.  I’ve watched this team for the last 5 months.  I’ve seen the good, bad, and downright ugly.  Throughout it all, they’ve maintained the best record in baseball.  But for the past couple of months, this nagging bad feeling in my gut has grown bigger and bigger.  I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with this team, but something is definitely wrong.  They just don’t gel or something.  They’re still one of the best teams in baseball, but they definitely have their flaws.  Last night I wrote that I saw this coming (and a couple of people took it the wrong way).  I’m not proud that I saw this coming -- I’m WORRIED.  Because if I saw this coming, does that mean it’s not just a bad losing streak but an actual problem?

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    About Joe Torre

    Friday, June 25, 2010, 12:53 PM [General]

    If you told me 10 years ago that I would one day watch a game where Joe Torre was the opposing manager for a team that had Manny Ramirez on it, I would have seriously considered the fact that you might be on drugs.   That’s not to say I was naïve enough to think Torre would be around forever.   I understand how business works and baseball is a business at the end of the day.  I braced myself for the Yankee-Torre break-up.  I was upset when it happened.  I was even more upset when I saw him for the first time in another uniform.  Watching him manage Manny Ramirez still makes my skin crawl.  Ultimately, I got over it.  Now that the time has come for the Yankees to reunite with Torre for the first time, I find that I’ll always have love for Joe Torre but I don’t miss him anymore.  The Yankees are a completely different team now and the Torre era is over.     

    While I will still adamantly say that I love Joe Torre, I have to admit that his book “The Yankee Years” tainted my memory of him.  Torre is almost like an ex-boyfriend to the Yankees.  They were in a long, monogamous relationship filled with love and then it ended poorly.  Who hasn’t been there?  Of course there were bitter feelings.  It’s hard to gracefully leave a relationship with all of your pride intact.  In my opinion, Torre lost a lot of dignity by releasing a tell-all book one year after his break-up with the Yankees. 

    “The Yankee Years” came out in February 2009, approximately one year after Torre’s departure.  To make a long story short, I didn’t love the book.  I don’t want to go into a book review here.  There were parts I genuinely loved and parts I genuinely hated.   Ultimately, I think it’s a hard read for Yankee fans.  A large portion of the book focuses on the disappointing seasons from 2001-2007.  There were many games during that seven year period that I don’t like to be reminded of (see chapters 10 [“End of the Curse”] and 15 [“Attack of the Midges”] for more details).  Non-Yankee fans always argue how spoiled Yankee fans are.  I don’t care what anyone says.  Those seasons were tough to watch (particularly 2004, which I still can’t talk about without getting nauseous).  To lose repeatedly in the playoffs – often getting eliminated in the first round – was beyond frustrating.   And don’t even get me started on those damn midges!   What I’m trying to say is, reading a book about those years was difficult.

    The toughest part in reading about those years was that they were so recent.  The wounds were still fresh.  The players I was reading about were still on the team I was rooting for.  It was too soon for Torre to write this book.  He was bitter.  The players were still teammates.  In my opinion, it just wasn’t right to publically call out your former players and former organization while most of these people were still working together.  Simply put, it wasn’t a classy move.

    The book almost felt like it was Torre’s way of dishing out the blame for those disappointing last 7 years.  He bashed many of his former players, including Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield and Javier Vazquez.  Don’t get me wrong – I can’t stand a couple of those players (Brown & Sheffield).  Regardless, Torre just shouldn’t have gone there.  Torre claims that everything he wrote was public knowledge around the clubhouse.  That’s a copout.  He published things that were told to him in confidentiality.  He called his own players out.  The things he wrote about Alex Rodriguez were particularly cruel.  His words publically embarrassed A-Rod (then again, batting him 8th in the playoffs did that too).  Obviously Torre wasn’t A-Rod’s biggest fan.  However, Torre didn’t just bash Alex.  Torre even went as far as calling out Mariano Rivera in the book, more or less blaming him for the 2004 ALCS loss to the Red Sox.  At the time, Mariano told the Daily News, “I don't know the reason Joe wrote the book. I don't like things that talk about teammates. But I still respect Joe as a manager. Something happened here. This isn't the Joe Torre I know."  Johnny Damon also shared his feelings with the Daily News.  He too didn’t understand the motive of the book.  He explained, “I’m not sure what Joe’s motives were for writing the book.  His legacy here was assured.”  Ultimately, Torre just didn’t need to go there.  It seemed like such a tactless move from such a classy guy.  He declined the Yankees’ contract offer and left with class and dignity.  Then he wrote this book.  It tainted his memory for me.   

    As to Torre declining the Yankees’ 2008 contract offer, I wasn’t surprised.  He found it insulting.  I didn’t blame him.  I think most Americans are appalled by how much money professional athletes and coaches make.  But these sports figures equate money with pride.  So, Torre felt he was insulted by his colleagues and friends in their $5 million + incentives  one-year offer.  That’s fine.  I actually think it was the best way that Torre could leave, short of him just retiring.  He wasn’t fired and he left on his own terms.  I’ll always remember where I was when I heard that Torre declined the offer and realized that he wouldn’t be coming back.  I couldn’t imagine someone else sitting in that dugout managing my team every day.  It seemed impossible to picture it.  It was difficult to hear that he signed with the Dodgers.  I guess I hoped that he would retire as a Yankee.  I couldn’t believe Torre was gone.  I wanted another chance to win with him.  I wanted things to end on a happy note.  They didn’t.  I was even annoyed that they didn’t offer him more money.  I didn’t understand why they wanted him to go.  Looking back, I think it was the perfect time for his tenure to end.  

    The fact that the Yankees are now fresh off a championship doesn’t change what I’m about to talk about.  Hindsight is always 50/50.  I get that.  But even if the Yankees hadn’t won last year, I’d still stand by my opinion on this.  Taking my heart out of the equation, I knew Torre wasn’t the greatest manager of all time and that the Yankees would find someone very capable to fill his shoes. 

    The Yankees weren’t losing because of Joe Torre.  They needed better pitching and better defense.  They needed gritty, tough, get dirty, give-it-your all guys.  They needed clutch guys.  And they needed personality and spunk.   Simply put, they needed some new players and they needed a new man to manage them.  While they didn’t get that right away for Girardi (2008 was a rough year), I think it was for the best that Torre was gone when the 2009 players game in.  Let’s be honest – Torre played favorites.  Whether he meant to or not, he did.  I think Torre would have loved CC and Tex but I think players like Swisher and Burnett would have been hard for him to manage.  I’m not sure that the fun and quirkiness that Swish and AJ have brought would have translated well in Torre’s locker room.  I’ll never know what it was like behind closed doors during the Torre era, but from the outside it looked very stiff.  CC, Tex, Swish, and AJ all brought tangible baseball talent to the Yankees but they also brought intangible things.  I remember reading that Swisher came into the locker room during Spring Training, decided it was way too stuffy and quiet, and cranked up some music to lighten the mood.  I knew instantly that I would love him.  And I knew that was what the Yankees needed.  The spring training pool tourney and the walk-off pies added to my excitement.  It was fun to watch the Yankees have fun.  I know they could have won last year based on talent alone but I think it helped that they were having fun doing it. 

    This blog has been difficult to write because my feelings on Torre are so jumbled.  Looking back, I think that everything worked out.  I will always have a place in my heart for Torre and the great years we shared during his tenure with the Yankees.  But his book will always remind me of the bad times too.  Ultimately, I’m happy with where the Yankees are now.  They are a completely different team than they were back then.  It’s kind of weird facing Torre now because his tenure seems like a lifetime ago.  Maybe it would have been more dramatic if the Yankees faced him in 2008 when they essentially had the same team that Torre managed.  Maybe it would have been more exciting if the Yankees were reuniting with Torre at home.  Tonight, the Yankees are facing Joe Torre for the first time since he left but only 4 out of the 9 starters remember the Torre years.  A lot of east coasters will be in their PJs by the time the game starts at 10:10 PM (EST).  At the end of the day, it’s just another game. 

    Quotes from www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yank...

    0 (0 Ratings)

    About Andy Pettitte

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 12:11 PM [General]

    Michael Kay brought up an interesting point during the Subway Series broadcast this past weekend.  He asked Paul O’Neill which Yankees’ starting pitcher he would want to pitch in a game that his life depended on.   Paul went with our ace – CC Sabathia.  Paul then asked Michael the same question.  Kay quickly and simply answered, “Andy Pettitte.”  I couldn’t agree more. 

    Before I go any further, I have to mention that this is NOT a knock on Sabathia.  I absolutely love CC!  He has proven time and time again that he is capable of completely shutting opponents down in big spots.  He is indisputably the ace of the Yankees’ staff and I love watching him pitch.  He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.  My love for and faith in Andy has nothing to do with how I think he stacks up against CC.  In my heart, Andy Pettitte is in a league of his own.  

    Most Yankee fans know all about Pettitte’s greatness -- both in the regular season and the postseason.  Andy is the only active pitcher (besides Pedro Martinez who really isn’t “active”) with at least 200 wins, 2,000 strikeouts, and a winning percentage above .600.  He holds the all-time record for postseason wins (18) and postseason series clinching wins (6).  Simply put, Pettitte is a gamer.  I’ve lost count of the times that Pettitte has stopped a losing streak or gotten the Yankees a much needed win.  He always shows up and battles.  He doesn’t get flustered with men on base or if he doesn’t have his stuff that night.  He gives his all every single time he pitches.  He has never had a losing season.  He is a true competitor.

    Andy has had an outstanding career.  He has made his mark on Major League Baseball and on the New York Yankees.  Each year he gets a little older and each season fans wonder if it’ll be his last.  At the 2009 World Series Parade, fans all around me chanted “ONE MORE YEAR!” as Andy’s float road by.   We all hoped Andy would come back, both because we wanted him to and because we needed him to.  We knew he had it in him.  We just didn’t realize what a season it would be.

    The first three months of the 2010 season have been nothing short of remarkable for Andy Pettitte.  He had a slight injury scare in early May which forced him to miss a start.  Everyone held their breath.  But he came back and hasn’t skipped a beat.  Andy is 9-2 with a 2.48 ERA.  If the season ended now, he would be in Cy Young contention.  In the American League, he is tied for second in wins with 9 (Hughes, Buchholz, and Price are tied for first with 10 wins) and he has the third best ERA (Price leads with a 2.45 ERA, Buchholz in second with a 2.47 ERA).  He has 69 strikeouts to 27 walks and he has only given up 8 homeruns in 94.1 innings.   Opponents are batting .233 against him.  Basically, he is having a standout season in an already fantastic career.  It is truly remarkable.

    Andy continues to impress me more and more each start.  I’m really excited about the season he’s having and I look forward to watching the rest of it unfold.  I’m also really excited to finally see him back at the All-Star game this year.  He truly deserves it.

    I have a special place in my heart for Andy Pettitte.  Even prior to his particuarly outstanding 2010 season, I would have answered “Andy Pettitte” to Michael Kay's question.  Yankee fans that watch him every start know how consistently he gets the job done each year.  Sure there are younger guys out there with more electric stuff, but I don’t care about that.  Andy is a true competitor in every sense of the word.  There is no one I would trust my life with more on the mound than Andy Pettitte. 

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    About the Subway Series

    Friday, June 18, 2010, 12:30 PM [General]

    Okay, so I HATE the Subway Series.  Yes, it’s exciting and fun (at times) but it’s really just obnoxious.  It’s a lose-lose for the Yankees.  If they win, they were supposed to.  If they lose, they never hear the end of it -- The Mets are painted as this poor little engine-that-could that beat the big, bad Yankees.  Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees are superior to the Mets in all ways.  But let’s not act like the Mets are the Pirates here.  They have the fifth highest payroll in all of baseball.  It all just gets very intense/overhyped and almost has a postseason feel to it.  In the scheme of things, it’s only 6 games out of 162.  I just think it's a bit excessive for something that happens so early in the season.  By the time it counts, these games will be long over.  Regardless, despite my hatred, I’ll add to the hype by putting my two cents in because the first game of round 2 is tonight.

    First of all, I went to 2/3 of the Subway Series games at CitiField back in May.  The fans drove me up a wall with their RIDICULOUS comments.  [[like their CONSTANT yelling at Brett Gardner to go back to the minors, meanwhile his batting average is higher than EVERY SINGLE METS PLAYER]]  Bottom line, the games were just ugly.   The Yankees had trouble hitting Takahashi (allowed 0 ER), Pelfrey (allowed 1 ER), and Santana (allowed 1 ER) which their hindered line-up played a part in.  Aside from losing the DH in a National League park, the Yankees had Granderson and Posada out with injuries.  Needless to say, it was a rotten weekend.  Keep in mind that I only went to 2/3 games that weekend, and they were the 2 games the Yankees lost.  [[they have lost every game I have gone to this season which is particularly pathetic when you consider that they have a .621 winning percentage]]  Basically, the Yankees played poorly and the fans were unbearable.  [[why am I always sitting near the guy with the LOUDEST mouth who knows the LEAST about baseball but thinks he knows EVERYTHING?]]   The games were particularly frustrating after a miserable week against the Red Sox and Rays where the Yanks saw themselves quickly dropping in the AL East.  Since those games, both teams have clawed their way back in their respective leagues, the Yankees tied for first in the AL East and the Mets a half a game back in the NL East.  The Yankees – despite losing 2/3 to the Phillies – are 7-3 in their last 10 and the Mets are 9-1.  Should make for an interesting match-up. 

    Friday (Vazquez v Takahashi) – I am going to be really irritated if the Yankees’ offense doesn’t hit Takahashi this time.  Their bats have abruptly cooled down in the last two games, and hopefully this tiny slump does not carry over.  Vazquez has been much better of late and he handled the Mets well the first time around, so hopefully he can do the same tonight.  Can the Yankees actually give Vazquez some run support 2 games in a row?  That remains to be seen.  Aside from his last outing against the Astros, Vazquez has gotten VERY little run support.  I’d argue that he could actually have 1-2 more wins if the Yankees had scored for him in some of his past outings.  [[then again, I guess his one-at-bat win against the Red Sox makes things even]]  Regardless, if Vazquez can keep them in the game, then I like the Yankees’ chances at home against the Mets’ bullpen.  As I always say, the Yankees just need Vazquez to keep the games competitive and within striking distance.  I think he’ll do that tonight.    

    Saturday (Hughes v Pelfrey) – This is a great match-up between two young pitchers who are both 9-1 going into the game.  The Yankees need to be patient with Pelfrey and take advantages of scoring opportunities.  Last time they faced Pelfrey, they were 3-14 with runners in scoring position.  As for Hughes, I hope this outing gives the Mets a taste of the real Phil Hughes.  He suffered his only loss of the season against them, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks.  I lost count of how many Mets fans were shouting about Hughes being overrated.  He’s absolutely NOT overrated, and I’m hoping he can show them just that on Saturday. 

    Sunday (Sabathia v Santana) – Let’s be honest, CC needs to start stepping it up a bit.  He’s struggled a bit of late, and this could be a really good win for him.  I always talk about how I love that CC battles and doesn’t implode. [[unlike AJ but don’t get me started on him again]]  However, his last outing against the Mets was just plain ugly by CC standards.  He only went 5 and gave up 6 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks.  Not exactly the CC we know and love.  But, that was rare for CC so I certainly don’t expect it to happen twice.  Sunday could be a big day for him and I hope he rises to the occasion.  As for Santana, I like the Yankees’ chances against him.  This is not a knock against Santana at all – I think he’s a fantastic pitcher.  But, the Yankees have seen him enough and hit him around enough for me not to panic when they face him.  He was lights out against the Yanks in his last outing, but he has struggled a bit lately, losing his last 2 outings and giving up 4 earned runs in each of them.  Hopefully the Yankees can take advantage. 

    All in all, I like the Yankees’ chances against the Mets this weekend.  They’ve got their line-up back for the most part and they’re playing them at home this time. [[so we don’t have to hold our breath as the pitchers run the bases – I still haven’t recovered from the Wang incident]]  I think there’s a big home advantage in this series because (a) the Yankees are more or less unstoppable at home, (b) I think the Yankees will be able to get to the Mets bullpen late in games if the games are close, (c) the Mets are abysmal on the road [[and don’t tell me they just won 6 in a row on the road – they played the Orioles and the Indians]], and (d) I don’t foresee the Yankees losing two home series in a row.  So, even though I truly despise the Subway Series, it should be an interesting weekend.  The Yankees need to remind everyone about who will always be number one in this city.  GO YANKEES!

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