Monday, April 30, 2007

"Ummm, I, uhhh, suck."

What does $52 million over 4 years buy you?

A lot of soundbites about how disrespectful the Red Sox are and less than one hit per every four at-bats. That's right, folks. Johnny Damon, the guy who was so offended by Boston's 4-year, $40 million offer, is hitting .229. You can say it's only April 30, but that's almost a full 1/6 of a season. Nobody's hitting .500 or even .400 anymore, so I'd say percentage statistics are at least somewhat significant. Translation: It's fair game to start ripping hitters for sub-par performances.

First in line has to be Johnny Damon. It's very true that I don't like the guy at all and I think he has a big mouth. I agree with the Red Sox' decision to not offer him more than $40 million, and I think he's a scumbag because he said he went to the highest bidder, though there are reports that both the Dodgers and Orioles offered him more.

I also think that he's given Coco Crisp a bad deal because he hasn't ever shut the hell up. He's always in the forefront of Boston's consciousness. As I once wrote, Coco can't go to the convenience store and pick up his self-endorsed Hood milk without the guy behind the counter asking where Johnny Damon is. Every article about Crisp struggling has to remind everyone that Coco happens to be the Red Sox Center Fielder After Johnny Damon. F that.

Today is a good day because despite Coco's deplorable start (his average plummeted to .111 at one point), he has raised his batting average to .235--six points higher than Johnny Damon's. Since the day of the aforementioned Massarotti article, he has hit .375, getting a hit in every game he stepped up to the plate except for one. He's had multiple-hit games in 5 out of the 9 he's played in the last two weeks, and he had that huge triple against Rivera during the first Sox-Yanks showdown of the year. It's true that his plate patience is still bad (0 walks in the last two weeks), but nobody's perfect.

I just found this article yesterday, but this is what I'm talking about:

The Sox answered Damon's departure after the 2005 season by
signing Crisp to take his place -- in center field and in the
leadoff slot, though he's since been dropped to the eighth in the
order.

Damon, for one, said he would not be surprised if Crisp topped
his four-year stint with the team that reached legend-status in
2004 when the Red Sox won their first World Series win in 86 years.

"If you look back at my numbers here, they were all right,"
Damon said. "We're not talking about me with a deeper breath. I
don't think I set the standards high."

Shut up. Talk about feigning modesty. Your numbers suck now and you're proving the Red Sox 100% right. While Crisp has been on a tear, Damon has 4 singles in his last 30 at-bats. I've chronicled before how I don't think Coco was the right guy for the job until 2009, but what can I say? I like his laundry and he's gotten a raw deal here. Today's the first day I believe in the last two seasons where he's had numbers better than Johnny Damon's. Just another reason to revel in the Sox taking 5 out of 6, building a 6 1/2-game lead over their rivals, and the Yankees' absolute implosion.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yankeeeeees Stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Yaaaaaaank-EEEEEEEs STINK!!!

(In the John Sterling voice)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Everyone calm down (for now)

As my boy Pete Abraham pointed out over at his LoHud Yankees blog, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by 4 games on July 4 last year. They won the division by 10 games. So while I know it seems very bad for the Yankees and their fans right now, there are 141 games left. And hopefully each of them will be started by Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, and Phil Franchise. That could change things in a hurry.

That said they need to start playing better baseball, and as I have been saying all week, it needs to start this weekend. The next two games are huge. I don't want to call them must wins. But whatever the level right below that is, that is what the next two games are.

I'm holding that it isn't panic time yet, but like I have been saying, you have to keep it close. The Red Sox are healthy and playing GREAT baseball right now. The Yankees are a second half team (they are the only team in baseball to play .600 baseball or better after the All-Star break for the last FIVE years). So right now they just need to keep it from spinning completely out of control, giving them time to strike over the summer when they always do. Starts the next two games.

Go Yankees.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Passionless Baseball

The Yanks have lost six in a row. Last night was the worst loss of the season. Some nights you are going to get shut down by good pitching, and when A.J. Burnett is healthy and has it working he is filth. His fastball is electric, his curve is sharp, and his change dips late like a split. Throws both off-speed pitches for strikes. Just tough to hit when he's on like he was last night.

That said the at bats the Yankees were taking last night were inexcusable. Damon, Cano, and Abreu look lost right now. All just taking terrible at bats. Damon and Abreu aren't working counts, which is there game. Cano needs to realize that when you are a swing-at-everything hitter that batted .342 last year, pitchers are not going to throw you strikes until you show you are going to take walks. He struck out on three strait curveballs last night in one AB, all in the same spot...the dirt. He needs to make a major adjustment to his approach, and realize that when you have as good an offensive year as he had last year, you are not just a sidenote anymore, even in an ultra-talented offense. Pitchers are going attack your weaknesses.

Last nights' loss would not have been as bad if it wasn't the 6th strait. They have hit every game for almost 2 weeks, it isn't going to happen every night. The problem is they should have one more of those games when they did hit.

Phil Hughes was just okay. You can see how good he is going to be. The final line wasn't anything to write home about, but it was his first start against a good offensive team, especially at the top, which is where he got beat. He was jittery in the first inning, and his location was a little erratic. He learned quick that in the bigs you get punished for missed location. He also learned, when Frank Thomas poked a good outside fastball with a full count to right for the second run of the first inning, that big league hitters hit pitches that Triple A guys don't. He has to adjust to these two things.

That said, after the 2 run first (which shouldn't have happened, because he had Frank Thomas punched out on an inside fastball and didn't get the call, so it should have been one run) he pitched very well. Got 5 strikeouts. Both fastballs are powerful inside and out. The curve is filthy, and he showed that he can toss it for strikes and bury it for swings and misses. I thought the change was farther along than advertized. It really dances with tailing downward action and he can throw it in and out of the zone. I was suprised he waited until the second time through the lineup to use it. He is going to be much more effective with it. Saw one slider for a swing and miss, and while it is nothing above average, the rest of his stuff is so good that having a slider to show a few times per start can be effective.

The biggest thing that Hughes has to deal with is the fact that he will have to face tough situations on a regular basis in the majors. In his entire minor league career, spanning 3+ years, he only faced a bases loaded situation two times. He is going to have innings where he really has to wiggle and get out of big spots. That is what makes good pitchers great.

As I was writing this my father just called me. A huge baseball fan himself (it's difficult be as sick in the head as I am without having a father who is at least a big, if not huge fan), he said that he was very impressed by Hughes. He said it reminded him of when he watched young Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson pitch, that you could just tell that he had it regardless of results. Trust me, this is high praise.

The Yankees have now dug themselves an unecessary early season hole. A lot of people (check that, Red Sox fans) have asked me if I am nervous yet. The answer is no. The Yankees have trailed the Red Sox by 3 and 4 games at the All-Star break the last two years. They have 2 1/2 months to make up 1 1/2 games to get to that point this year. And they will certainly be aiming for better than that. The key right now is to not let this get to a point in the next two weeks where they are 8 games back. It starts with an absolute must, which is taking 2 out of 3 this weekend. After that they have a very easy month of May. They need to get healthy, and think about going on one of those patented streaks where they win 12 of 14 or something like that. But really, it starts tonight and they need a W.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Memo to C. Ray: Throw Breaking Balls

I was preparing for a Red Sox loss due to the lack of timely hitting tonight. A Drew pop-up and a Lowell one-run ground out effectively gave the Sox one run instead of more in the sixth inning. The fact that I got into the room when they were getting no-hit by Adam Loewen also wasn't going to help their cause tonight. But then Wily Mo Pena launched a fastball like nobody else in the majors can. Holy crap, did he launch one. The grand slam put the Sox up 5-2.

With Coco Crisp hurtin', Wily Mo has seen a lot more playing time the last few days, and he's been pretty bad. We'll leave his performances in the field to another day. The guy, as has been evident since he broke into the majors five years ago, can't hit a curveball. I believe it was Halladay on Tuesday who just fed him a steady diet of curveballs, refusing to pitch him anything else. He was 0-3 with two K's that night.

It's well established how well Pena can hit straight stuff: Even David Ortiz is astonished by how hard this guy hits the ball. He hits the ball harder than anyone else my dad has ever seen. So why do people pitch him the pitch that he can hit, instead of the pitch he can't hit? Chris Ray had trouble getting the ball over the plate tonight, but I really don't see any reason for anyone to pitch anything but curveballs to WMP unless it's bases loaded and a 3-0 count.

Now that I've said that, I encourage opposing pitchers to keep doing what they're doing. That was a great grand slam and a great win. Beckett pitched great again (zero walks), locating the ball better than I've ever seen him, and going deep into the game (AKA keeping Piniero et. al. on the bench). Big win, and the Yanks are currently getting shut down by Burnett.

38 Bitches (Volume 5)

This will hopefully be a shorter version. Maybe soon people will actually start commenting on my posts again.

1. Another big game for the Sox last night. Schilling, though he threw a lot of balls yesterday, pitched very well again. His curveball to Tejada was the prototypical "hanging curveball," but all pitchers make those mistakes every now and then. Considering the flack that I was giving him and that most people were giving him at the beginning of the season, especially regarding his weight and offseason priorities, he's really shut up the critics. He's really been an ace so far this year.

2. As for the controversy about the bloody sock in 2004, does it matter? The fact that they're thinking about DNA testing the sock while it's in the Hall of Fame is just another indicator that people need to do something better with their time. He was obviously injured. He obviously had surgery. It obviously screwed him up for a long time, evidenced by his last two lackluster seasons. Was it blood or paint? It doesn't matter. All that matters is:

Game 6, 2004 ALCS: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K (Sox win, tie series 3-3)
Game 7, 2004 ALCS: Red Sox win pennant
Game 2, 2004 World Series: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, o ER, 1 BB, 4 K (Sox win, lead series 2-0)
Game 4, 2004 World Series: Red Sox win World Series

3. Is Jake Peavy the real deal? Pat and I have had many conversations about this before, and I'd love to hear what you guys think about him (I know my boy Johnny loves him). Of course, he struck out 16 guys last night over 7 innings in his team's 3-2 loss to Arizona, and he's been lights out all year. He whiffed 8 during his last time out and he's now 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He's had flashes of brilliance so far in his career (5 games over 8Ks in 2003, logging 197 innings at age 22, 15-6 in his breakout 2004 campaign, over 200 IP and recording 216 Ks in 2005), but last year was a disappointment. His ERA ballooned from 2.27 in 2004 and 2.88 in 2005 to a whopping 4.09 in the NL last year.

So here are some questions: Which is the real Jake Peavy? The 2006 Jake Peavy or the 2004-6 Jake Peavy? Will he be a Josh Beckett-kinda guy who has flashes of absolute brilliance, then have some good games, and then some awful games? Like Beckett, he is a flamethrowing righty, and according to Baseball-Reference, Beckett's stats are the most like his over the course of their respective careers. Peavy, like Beckett, will be interesting to watch over the next few years.

Happy Philly Franchise Day

It is not everyday that you get to watch the #1 pitching prospect in baseball get his first Major League start. In fact it rarely every happens, and it definitely hasn't happened to the Yankees in a while. Tonight it is such for Phil Hughes, and every Yankee fan should be completely jacked up about it.

The Yankees have a history of being too cautious with whatever prospects they hold onto. Now that there is a plethora of them, there is no reason not to give the kids a shot when in appears they may be ready. Hughes going 6 shutout innings, giving up only two hits, striking out 10, and walking none in his last AAA start despite being on a pitch count hints at the notion that he might just be ready. So lets give him a shot. It might not be a totally smooth ride, but it isn't like his confidence is on the line. He's only 20 years old, but he's a professional. Prospects aren't so fragile that if they do struggle a little in their first call up that they are ruined. Plus, he is the #1, numero uno, on the cover of every propect publication, his own spread in Sports Illustrated, etc., so he isn't just your average prospect.

And for that reason there is added pressure, especially in the Bronx. Everyone has high expectations. Every team is going to want to light him up, give him a real introduction to the big leagues. Hopefully he stays realistic, isn't too jumpy, and just throws like he can.

Unlike many of the prospects I write about (and I love writing about prospects) I have actually seen Hughes pitch on TV a few different times, so I have my own scout on him. That, and I've read every scouting report you can find on him 1,752 times, because it is that exciting to read and re-read.

In his Minor League career before this year Hughes had thrown 237 innings over three seasons, the first of which was only 3 starts. Over that period he gave up only 150 hits and 54 walks. Thats only 204 baserunners in 237 innings. He had a 2.12 ERA. He held opponents to a .181 BAA. Finally, he gave up only 6 home runs. 6. Six. In 237 innings. You look at those numbers for just over his first 200 Minor League innings (which is a huge barometer for judging a pitching prospect) and you see why people are drooling over this guy. Even DV wouldn't give him a woof. PF gives him a yo.

Stuff-wise Philly Franchise is the total package. 4-seamer from 92-95 that he can dial up to 96. 2-seamer from 88-91. Like Clemens, Hughes' fastballs have real power. They explode out of his hand and have late jump. His go to off-sped pitch is his curve, which is a plus pitch with the potential to be lights out plus-plus. It has 1-7 break, and he throws it for quality strikes as well as burying it in the zone for strikeouts. He throws it as more of a hard/power curve, as it is usually in the low 80s. His change is also big, and has shown signs, especially in the last 2 months, of becoming a plus pitch as well. He also has a slider, which he uses sparingly and when he does it is only as a show pitch.

Hughes has the chance to really be special. What separates him is the impeccable control that he has. His stuff all plays as bigtime, but it isn't necessarily as electric as other young "big next things" we have seen in recent year. But it is power stuff with incredible command, and that gives Hughes the potential to reach that highest level of successful pitchers.

But he shouldn't get ahead of himself, and neither should the Yankees. Take it one start at a time, with no long term plans. At the end of the day I'd like to see him to do very well in his first call-up, but be sent back down to Scranton, where his pitch count can be more closely monitored and adhered to, until later in the season. After all, he only threw 146 innings last year. Usually you like to see prospects up their innings by 25-30 each year until they reach 200 in a single season. That means that, including postseason play, the Yankees wouldn't want him throwing anything over 175-180 innings max. If Joe Torre gets a hold of him for an entire season, where healthy starters cruise past 200 innings, Franchise could definitely go well above those totals, which is not smart now or for the future.. Let's please not have this happen.

I expect Hughes to show well tonight. Either way, it won't be indicative of how he is going to be long-term. I'm just going to enjoy watching the farm system that Cash-Money is developing go to work. Give it to em Philly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A good rain out

Usually rain outs ruin my day. It's so annoying to be looking forward to a game and having it postponed. But today was much needed. You can't get a win on a day off, but you can't get a loss either, which is the first step to stopping the bleeding. The bullpen gets rest. The regulars get rest. Everyone gets a chance to regroup after an 0-5 roadtrip.

This also pushes Pettitte from today to Friday against the Red Sox. The Yankees will now have Pettite and Wang going in two of the three games, which is a good thing. I'm tired of this JV stuff.

The biggest story right now is Philly Franchise Hughes, the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball, is on the mound for the Yankees tomorrow night against the Jays. I will get a full scouting report, analysis of the move, and where they go from here with Hughes and the rest of the rotation later tongiht or tomorrow. I am one page away from finishing my last paper of the year until finals, so there will be a lot of blogging for the next 2 1/2 weeks.

At Least He Keeps Manny Happy

Julian Tavarez sucks. I mean, he's a frank guy; he would say it himself. The guy got his chance as a starter, and he has proven to be barely more effective than Kyle Farnsworth and Fat Bastard Myers are to the Yankees. He can't get the ball over the plate (he threw 62% of his pitches for strikes last night, and walked five guys during his first start). He can't keep the ball from being hit hard. He eats innings about as effectively as Mark Prior eats innings. Honey, he can't pitch! I believe Danny Astricky from Gone in 60 Seconds once said that he can't swim, so he keeps his ass out the pool.

I'd be more harsh, but he's doing something out there. He's making Manny happy and he's telling Matsuzaka to pitch inside on idiots like April-Rod and Jeter.

Let's look at the numbers here: 0-2, 8.36 ERA, surrendering 19 hits and a misleadingly low 6 walks in 14 innings. Woof. This was not the starter the Red Sox saw last September. He looks more like the reliever the Red Sox saw from last April to last August who contributed directly to at least half a dozen Red Sox losses.

I'd say it's safe to project him to have an ERA somewhere above six, so as far as I'm concerned, he needs some big-time intangibles to balance this out. Manny With Tavarez has to hit 12 more home runs, get 40 more RBIs, make 2 fewer errors, and have an extra 30 points on his batting average than Manny Without Tavarez. Meanwhile, I think Matsuzaka With Tavarez has to win 2 more games than Matsuzaka Without Tavarez would win because Tavarez told him to pitch inside to big hitters. Matsuzaka putting either Jeter or April-Rod on the DL with some HBPs also counts for the Tavarez Intangible Factor.

I rip Captain Intangible for his futility on the field, but at least he's hitting .250, making him semi-worthwhile occasionally. Especially in the last week, he's gotten a few big hits. I'd say that Tavarez's futility is even stronger than Varitek's. Therefore, he needs to bring even more intangibles to the table than Varitek does.

If you can put a C on Varitek's jersey like a hockey player, is it okay to put an A on Julian's?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wanted: Relief Pitcher, 161st St. and River Ave., Bronx, NY

Mike Myers sucks. I don't care how many "good" innings he pitches. The only thing that matters is when he faces good lefties in tough spots. If he doesn't get results in those spots, he is worthless to the team.

So if there are bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the 7th, with your team leading 3-2 and a good lefty (Carl Crawford) at the plate, what is results? Not giving up a F#$%*N grand slam to go down 6-3, that's for sure!

Of course, this is Carl Crawford's first career grand slam. This stuff only happens to the Yankees. Just like how we lose 3 games in a row despite getting great offense due to terrible pitching, then when we finally get Wang back and get a good start, we are facing Scott Kazmir. Even when we do finally get to him and get the lead back, we blow it. Just no luck. Honestly, only happens to the Yankees.

Here comes another DV style list on tonight's game, there is too much anger inside to try to put paragraphs together.

1. Wang is our ace, so thankful he's back. Loss aside, he was terrific, looked like his usual self. Sinker was nasty as always. Slider looked good until...

2. B.J. Upton blasted one with one out and a runner on first in the 7th. Quick question. Who in their right mind called for that pitch? I know Wang missed his spot, and that is exactly why you don't throw it. Wang was cruising. Maybe 85 pitches. Maybe. Young righty at the plate. You think that might be a good spot for the best sinker in baseball? Get a DBP ball? IS that good? Nope, floating slider that gets belted. Can't stand getting beat on a second, maybe third best pitch. Wake the F#$K up.

3. Mike Myers has to go. He's a disaster. Vizcaino isn't exactly lighting the world on fire either. Neither is Proctor. Farnsworth is a mess in general. The best guys outside of Rivera (who we can never get a clean game to anyway), have been Bruney and Henn. What looked so good 10 days ago now looks awful. Need to either revert back to that form or Cashman needs to consider making serious changes. Getting a few more starts like Wang's tonight wouldn't hurt.

4. Two years ago the Yankees were 8-11. That turned into 11-19. They made moves to Cano and Wang that worked out, and they played at the best pace in baseball after July 1 to win 96 games and the division. However, to do so, they had to win 16 of their last 20 games before the Red Sox series to end the year. It was gut wrenching, and it won't be easy to do again. It is actually very unlikely. So if anybody out there thinks this little five game losing streak hasn't made the next two weeks absolutely significant for the Yankees, they are wrong.

5. Along those lines, I like the Hughes move. He is filth, so why not have him throw his innings in the majors. Struck out 10 in 6 innings in his last AAA start, so why wait? We need him at least until Mussina and/or Clemens arrive. Much, much more to come on my boy Philly Franchise Thursday. Wouldn't be an awful idea to see what T.J. Beam or Kevin Whelan can do in the pen either. Hope to get similar results they got from Wang and Cano.

6. What is Joe Torre doing right now? Is he ok? Never seen anything like this. He is getting burned on every move he makes. Biggest thing tonight is as follows, and I might jump out the window after writing the following sentences. Wang gives up the double with one out in the 7th. 2nd and 3rd. Torre goes to Vizcaino, and calls for an intentional walk to load them and get the DBP in order. If you are going to do that, why are you taking the pitcher who had the highest groundball per out ratio in baseball out of the game at 85 pitches??? I know he is just coming off an injury, but it was a leg injury, not an arm injury. 85 pitches, gets groundballs, has been cruisng all night. Great idea, take him out. Vizcanio gave up a rope for an out to short (Cairo made a great play), and then Myers gave up the grand slam. F. This is exact proof of the uneccesary jumpiness Torre has been showing lately. Let a pitcher work out of his own jam. Especially your ace, who tied for the Major League lead in wins last year, who is at 85 pitches. If it isn't Rivera, and Wang isn't tired, would you really rather have someone else work out of it? Probably wouldn't have been in this spot in the first place if we call for a sinker to Upton. So stupid.

Pettitte and Hughes the next two days at home against the Jays before the Sox come to town. This can't go to 11-19. If it does it is trouble. Have to stop the bleeding tomorrow.

Make it Stop

The Yankees were made very aware again last night of the biggest reality in the East: every team is stacked offensively. The league is by so far and away the best in baseball offensively (and maybe it total) that it isn't fair. Just look at the hitters in the league: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Frank Thomas, Troy Glaus, Nick Markakis, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Aubrey Huff, Derek Jeter, J.D. Drew, Melvin Mora, Hideki Matsui, Brain Roberts, Vernon Wells, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Alex Rios, Elijah Dukes, B.J. Upton, Johnny Damon, Rocco Baldelli, Akinori Iwamura, Ramon Hernandez, Reed Johnson, Lyle Overbay. That is just stream of consciousness, the list goes on. I am sure I missed some guys.

That is a lot of offense. There are no breaks. If you want to win, you have to pitch. It doesn't matter that your offense happens to be the best of the bunch, you have to get pitching to win. The Yankees are finding that out in a brutally painful way right now, with another high scoring, no pitching, 10-8 loss to the Devil Rays last night. I can't get a feel for Igawa. He has been bad, good, great, and awful in his four starts, very up and down. He doesn't have good enough stuff to be good every time out, but he has the pitchability and sneakiness to be good sometimes. Could be frustrating. Last night was very much so.

It has been very frustrating to watch this team the last four days. There is one reason for this. The pitchers don't throw strikes. I get on Torre for his pitching management, but I share his frustration with the pitchers, both starters and relievers, not throwing strikes. Why not throw the ball over? With the Yankees offense behind you, you should be prepared, as a pitcher, to give up 7 solo home runs and still have a chance to win the ballgame. And no matter how bad you are (and the Yankees have some bad ones) you probably aren't giving up seven solo homers. But when you walk guys, put runners on, and allow the wheels to start turning, that is when extended innings and long rallies occur, keeping the offense in the field playing defense, which is not where we want them. Throw strikes, and even if you do give up a few hits and a couple of runs, keep the innings short and get the offense back out there. If you give up 3-4 runs over 5-6 innings, you are probably winning every night. It isn't that complicated.

Wanger gets his first start of the season tonight. It will be nice to have a pitcher out there who not only is 27-11 over 1 1/2 seasons with the Yanks, but averages nearly 7 innings per start. 7 innings from a starter? That's allowed? Need one Wanger, don't let this puppy spin out of control.

More Thoughts from Scott Proctor

Two-hour shift today on a very slow Eustis day. Gotta love Eric Wilbur's new blog post. I feel like it might be directed specifically towards me. It started with a Rich Garces/Nashua Pride reference, ripped Sox Appeal, and accused the Red Sox of making their green jersey/Red Auerbach tribute "a way to sell more green jerseys." The Red Sox aren't green, no matter how Irish you are.

He also ripped ESPN and Tim McCarver in the same paragraph.

Recently, Wilbur wrote a "don't get too excited" post before the Yankees series and an "I'm wicked excited" post after the Yankees series. The latter praised the bullpen, specifically Okajima, and the rotation for keeping the other relievers in the bullpen instead of on the mound. He described Julio Lugo's start as "nifty," but I wouldn't call .246 as "nifty" for a leadoff hitter by any stretch of the imagination. Especially if you're making nine million dollars a year. But this guy really describes the roller coaster ride that is the Red Sox season well. He writes probably as much as me or Pat, so it's hard to keep up with everything he writes. But when you can keep up with it, it's worth it.

Hopefully this link to the Manny New Yorker article works for my boy JB. I promised it earlier but I screwed up the link part.

Mailbag submitters on yankees.com are saying the Yankees aren't gonna make the playoffs. Though it may be true that they're letting A-Rod's start go to waste, I agree with beat writer Brian Hoch, saying the guy ought to "step away from the ledge." The Yankees will win the East. They might win 13 in a row against Texas and Seattle at the beginning of May, even if the Trenton Thunder provides the entire starting rotation. If you score ten runs a game, you will beat bad pitching.

In other "news," Rich Harden went on the DL and Mark Prior's getting surgery. I'd rag on ESPN for making the latter a top story, but another top story is the fact that the Yankees are calling up a minor leaguer (Phil Hughes) on Thursday.

It's been 16 months: Shut the hell up

The Johnny Damon "The Red Sox Ruined My Life, I Wanted To Stay In Boston, But I'm On The Yankees Now, Ha-Ha" tour has been going nonstop since the day he signed with the Yankees in December 2005. You'd think that by now he would get over it and stop talking to the media about it. He played against the Red Sox nineteen times last year and three times this year. So maybe the story became an old one. Wrong.

He talked about it in the Boston Herald on Monday, talking about being booed and how it obviously still gets under his skin:

I try to have fun (with the booing). A lot of times I look at people and they just keep yelling at me. What are they going to tell their friends when they get home? ‘You should have seen it, I was just yelling everything at Johnny Damon.’ That’s a good way to spend your night.

If they boo me I know they would pretty much love to be in my shoes. I’m living a childhood dream. All and all, I’m in a much better place. I’m on the East Coast. I get to live at home (in Tampa) during spring training. I get to play on a great team with a lot of history. I get to walk down the streets and not be bombarded.

Good job by Stephen Harris of the Herald to edit out all the "ummmm"s and "uhhhhh"s. But seriously, how many times is this guy going to talk about how he notices the boos and how "the Red Sox wanted to go a different way?" (You could ask why reporters still ask him about this crap, also.)

In my first real post on this blog, I referenced many times where he threw the Red Sox front office under the bus for disrespecting him. I missed this time when he gave his opinion on the Bronson Arroyo trade last spring and his 10-minute interview this spring (15 months after the fact) on Yahoo! Sports talking nonstop about his departure from the Red Sox. It would really be comical if it didn't piss me off so much. But a guy shouldn't still be talking several months (and now, years) after he signed with another team about every move his old team makes, about the reception he gets in his old city. The guy's got a big mouth, and maybe he's just not smart enough to decline comment about topics that ought to be considered irrelevant.

A-Rod doesn't talk about how he was almost traded to the Red Sox before he was traded to the Yankees. Fat Bastard Mike Myers doesn't talk about what the Red Sox do. With the exception of the "job security" fiasco of this March (note that it was within two months, not two years, of his acquisition), Nancy Drew or Julio Lugo don't talk about the Dodgers. Nobody* has provided as many obnoxious quotes about his old team as Johnny Damon. He just needs to shut the hell up and start playing baseball. By this point, nobody cares about how you bought a home in Boston and how the front office ruined your life. You're an aging center fielder hitting .250, proving the point that you probably aren't worth any more than what Boston offered. Shut up and play ball.

*By "nobody," I mean nobody in baseball. Across other sports, the only person I can think of is Terrell Owens. And at least T.O. can rap without fifty "ummm"s and "uhhhh"s. And unlike Damon, T.O. knows how to say "no comment."

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Have a Lot to Say (and a lot of it isn't positive)

First, congratulations to DV and all of the Sox fans on this blog on the clean sweep this weekend.

There are a lot of things to cover. Yanks/Sox the weekend, Yanks/Sox in general, Phil Hughes first start on Thursday, A-Rod, etc. I am just going to talk about Yanks/Sox the weekend (albeit without as much depth as I would like) and a little Yanks/Sox in general.

I have so much to say I am just going to make a list, DV style.

1. I do not like getting swept, ever, especially by the Red Sox. Usually I would be irate. But because of the circumstances, I am just not happy. A few reasons for this. First, it is April and there is a lot of baseball left. Second, if Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright were going to combine for 30 starts this year, I'd be a lot more concerned. If Matsui and Posada were out for 4 months (they are both playing right now against TB) I'd be a lot more concerned. The Sox best beat our JV. No excuses, and no reason for the Sox to be any less excited about their weekend. But Yankees fans have to be realistic here. After Friday's disaster, were we suppossed to win either of the next two games? If this had been Pettitte/Schilling, Wang/Beckett, and Mussina/Matsuzaka with Posda and Matsui in the lineup, I'd be raising serious eyebrows. Right now I can't get too crazy.

2. I'd like to be the first to welcome Mike Lowell to the official "Jason Varitek/Kevin Youkilis I could be 0 for my last 30 but if the next series is against the Yankees, I'm getting 7 hits" club. F.

3. I had not seen a lot of J.D. Drew before he came to Boston. The MO on him hasn't changed. When he is healthy, he is good. And he is very good. Beautiful stroke. Probably better than any of us thought just because we knew how injury prone he is, and we let that take over. I know I did. Now we will see if he can stay healthy, and keep Wily Mo off lineup cards.

4. There are a lot of similarities between the Yankees bullpen and the Red Sox rotation. Prior to this series (against largely weaker teams), both had feasted. Then both struggled against each other. The Yankees bullpen blew two games. As bad Mr. Back-Back-Back-Back was (I never wanted to get out of a stadium more), the Yankees win the game if Proctor doesn't blow up in the 7th. At the same time, the Sox "Big 3" was anything but spectacular. The Yanks got Schilling for 5, Beckett for 5, and Matsuzaka for 6. Thats 16 runs of Sox starters in 3 games. No Matsui or Posada either. The Yankees also did not get pitching, but we weren't running our 1-3 out there. The Yankees did run their best bullpen out there Friday and late Sunday with a lead, and were also bad. This is what I am taking away from this series the most.

5. Sort of on the same point. I don't remember what kind of reception Schilling got Friday. But my boy Pete Abraham pointed out on his blog the huge ovation Beckett got after 6 1/3 IP and 5 R. Then Matsuzaka got a massive ovation after 7 IP and 5 R, on the hook for number 6 which he got. So I'd like to ask the Fenway Faithful the same question Pete had, which is what happens when these guys pitch well? Do you storm the field? I'm not suggesting not cheering, and certainly not boos, but eruption on the scale of 7 IP 2 R? All three guys could have left down 5/6-0. Do they still get an ovation then? Or do they get booed? Are you really applauding the offense? I know this could go down the "Yankees fans boo, Red Sox fans don't", but let's not, because it has been well documented how frequently Ted Williams was booed in Fenway. I would just like an honest answer to these questions (and I know I was slightly mocking, so please excuse that, but don't you think there is a point here?).


6. The Sox offense is better than we thought.

7. The Sox bullpen is MUCH better than we thought. Papelbon back there changes everything. Who knows if The Sidekick, Donnelly, and Timlin can keep it up, but so far so good. It definitely won't be a disaster unless all three after Papelbon blow up.

8. The Yankees offense is better than we thought. There are no limitations, especially with A-Rod playing like A-Rod.

9. Couldn't be more impressed with Papelbon. Everyone got the matchup they wanted with JP vs. A-Rod in the 9th last night with 2 outs. I was so impressed, that after going two strait days of 80% fastball, 20% splitter, JP started him out with a strike one slider (swinging) knowing A-Rod would be trying to hit a fastball 450 ft. (like any hitter of his stature would). That changed the whole AB. That's pitching. Great spot JP. On this note, I am hoping that this season takes a similar course as last, when JP was lights out for the first 3 months, then blew more saves than anybody in baseball July 1 on.

10. Both of these teams are good, and I can't see it not being a race either way. The Red Sox showed how for real they were this weekend. Some people might think the Yankees showed some weaknesses/issues. I don't really think so. I have caught some heat telling this to a few Sox fans today, saying I am not being hard enough on a team that did not play well. But did they really not play well? They have a lot of injuries. They got bad pitching from guys they don't expect to get good pitching from and lost two games they would have had no business winning. Friday night was a disaster but the Red Sox are a good team, and have a way of getting to Rivera (although it is not as often as some might think). But they hit in a big way off good pitchers every night, and were in every game despite being at a disadvantage. The only way the Yankees showed signs of weakness is if they are going to have a year of being a semi-aging team has prolonged-health issues with key players, of which they have none right now (Carl Pavano does not count as "key", obviously). If this happens, then they have serious, serious issues. But for now, it only hurt them for one weekend against a good team. Everyone but Mussina is back by Tuesday, and even Mussina is expected back mid-next week. Plus Phil Hughes. More on that to come.

IMPORTANT ANNEX: I love Joe Torre, but he might be the worst pitching manager in the game. I don't care that we might get swept, there is no need, in April, with 145 games left, to bring Andy Pettitte into a game out of the pen inbetween starts. He did this 2 weeks ago against the Orioles as well, in April, with something like 157 games left. I'd rather lose 10 in a row than have this happen. Honestly. You think we might need Pettitte for 35 starts? You think he might be our only consistent starter right now? You think he might be important? So why are we risking this for a game in April, that we might not even win (and didn't)? The risks and potential ramifications far exceed the potential rewards. We know how bad Torre absuses the pen, and that already drives me crazy. But can we please, please not extend this practice to the starting rotaton. Thank you.

Prospect Theory 102: The Now Period

Ohka's on the mound again and I don't have class tomorrow: Two reasons to continue to explore what I like to call Prospect Theory. This installment centers mostly on a guy named Frankie Rodriguez.

Not Francisco Rodriguez, the Angels reliever. Francisco Rodriguez, the Next Big Thing for the Red Sox circa 1994. I didn't really care about the Red Sox farm system back then because, well, I was 9 years old. But back in 1994 I knew three guys: Scott Hatteberg (because I had a Topps Gold rookie card of him), Frankie Rodriguez (because he was gonna be huge) and some guy with a really long last name. Garcia-something.

I remember people waiting for Frankie Rodriguez to mature enough to be part of the hapless Sox rotation that included Roger Clemens, Danny Darwin, Frank Viola, and Aaron Sele. It seemed to take forever, just like waiting for Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen is taking forever now. They finally called the guy up in 1995, and soon he went back to Pawtucket.

About 9% of current Red Sox fans remember the surprise 1995 season, when the Sox found themselves in the pennant race and won the AL East. In the beginning of the season, their closer responsibilities were shared by Stan Belinda, Ken Ryan, and Mike Maddux. Not quite Tavaranez, but not quite Papelbon either. At the end of July, the Red Sox decided they needed a more solid option in the closer position. So they traded for Twins closer Rick Aguilera.

This is a logical move. The Red Sox were in a pennant race, it looked like they were one or two pieces away from winning the World Series, and they went out and acquired one of those last pieces of the puzzle. The year 1995 was part of a "now period." This is a period when the team is close to winning a championship and it is worth mortgaging part of the future to make it more likely to win it all. Especially if you haven't won for 77 years. They traded away Rodriguez and Aguilera did a great job. He closed a bunch of games for Boston, and then left in November via free agency. He returned to the Twins.

The Now Period is a period that a team ought to access trades and the free agent market to find those missing pieces, even if it's for a short period of time. You can't do this every year. If you try to do this every year, you have a terrible farm system and you continue to spend an exorbitant amount, becoming dependent on the free agent market.

Translation: You become the 2001-2006 New York Yankees. This franchise spent in a wasteful fashion and went nowhere, because they tried to make every year a Now Year. Same thing happened in the early 80s with the Yankees. And I am afraid the current Red Sox are doing the same thing. (More on this in a later installment.)

The years of 2003 and 2004 were Now Periods for the Red Sox. This is why: They were anticipating losing a lot of their core guys via free agency after the 2004 season (Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, etc.) and other guys were about to get either old (Manny Ramirez) or very old (Mike Timlin, who's getting clobbered as I write this). In 2003 and 2004, the team had a very good chance to win it all with what they had, and had a significantly smaller chance with what they were guaranteed to have for 2005 and beyond. Those two years were where a team has to put all the eggs in one basket.

So the Red Sox made a lot of moves. They added a lot via free agency (Keith Foulke, David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Jeremy Giamb...nevermind) and added more via trades (Curt Schilling before 2004, almost A-Rod before 2004). They went out and got the missing pieces.

In 2003, they needed a closer again. They traded for Byung-Hyun Kim. Bad move. They traded for Scott Williamson: a better move. They also traded for Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck. During one of these trades, they gave away a guy named Freddy Sanchez.

I will never complain about this trade, because it was a prudent trade: They traded a borderline prospect for a piece of the puzzle that may help them win the World Series during a Now Period.

Trading for Schilling and spending money on him was also a good call, because it added another element to a winning team. Signing Foulke goes the same way. I hate to admit it, but even trading Nomar away for Mientkiewicz and Cabrera was a move made to improve THAT YEAR's team.

In 2003, the Red Sox came a Grady Little bullpen call away from winning the pennant. In 2004, they won it all. That's because they effectively traded for guys at the deadline and trading away prospects. After all, the prospects could have ended up like Freddy Sanchez or they could have ended up a total flop like Frankie Rodriguez. During a Now Period, you trade an unsure thing for a sure thing: trade a question mark for the future for something that will help your team in the present. It makes perfect sense.

For Prospect Theory 201, I will discuss the Rebuilding Period. It is a 200-level class because it seems like a lot of people, including George Steinbrenner and perhaps Theo Epstein, don't understand it.

You tryin to see my dough, you gonna see this fo'

The series was great. What a weekend. Not for Pat, but for the Red Sox readers of HYD Baseball, I'd say you agree.

There's not much to say, really. Sunday night was a big test for Matsuzaka, and he did not pitch particularly well. I want to see him as sharp as he was for either the KC or the Toronto game against the Yankees: that would be a good barometer for how he will fare this year. Last night, he was not particularly sharp, but (obviously) the offense showed up in a big way.

Mike Lowell's first home run was the hardest-hit ball I have ever seen off of his bat. And this includes the days when he was hitting 30 a year. Rough night for Chase Wright, and good for Torre for pulling him. If Captain Intangible is taking you as deep as Captain Intangible took him, it might be traumatizing for a rookie. Having Pettitte eat innings might not be the best way to keep the healthy part of the rotation intact, though. I want to hear what Pat has to say about that.

Farnsworth is awful, and I love it.

After this weekend, I'd say the Sidekick is stealing the spotlight from the National Treasure. Okajima has impressed me more than anyone else on this team so far. Lights out--and lights out when it counts. I want an Okajima t-shirt for my birthday next weekend.

Papelbon is so intense on the mound, but he overthrew a bit last night. I don't blame him; I'd get excited too if I were 3 outs away from sweeping the Yankees. He was a bit wild, and if you walk Yankees with a one-run lead, you frequently pay for it. I'm just glad he didn't last night.

Speaking of walking Yankees, I can't remember a guy whose eye is better than Bobby Abreu. No wonder he draws more than 100 walks every season. It's unbelievable. I'm okay with not trading for him last year though, because the Red Sox were in rebuilding back then. (Though I will continue to refrain from ragging on Nancy, because he's still hitting quite well.)

Just read a Herald article that made me a little bit mad. It's going to warrant another post later this evening. So stay tuned.

Also stay tuned for Pat's recap. He was at the game last night, and I have a feeling he's going to even top his "F" article.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

F

When Kevin Thompson struck out to end the game, I threw two empty cans at the TV, kicked a box, and walked to my room and slammed the door. It's the worst way to lose, and it drives me crazy when it happens.

But it happens. It wouldn't be so bad if Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright weren't pitching the next two days and I didn't feel like we are going to get swept.

The Yankees dominated the first 7 1/2 innings behind Pettitte, who continues to be superlative. Giving up the homer the Hockey Captain on a good cutter away was it, and if you look closely enough it looked like Varitek swung with his eyes closed. He won't be going oppo very often. Pettitte is throwing the ball beautifully right now, especially the cut fastball (which was a key at the start of his career but something he moved away from in Hoston. It is key for him in the AL.). He deserves better than what he got his last two starts.

They were all over 38Cheeseburgers.com from the start, and it should have been a lot worse than 5 earned runs for the fatboy, as it seemed like every out was on the warning track. He was getting squeezed a little, but so was Pettitte. He had decent stuff, but the Yankees can hit, and they can definitely hit him.

Then everything blew up. The key here is not Rivera. A pop to right center, a ground ball (why is Minky not on the line? The Sox lefties try to open their stance against Rivera to pull the ball. WHY IS HE NOT ON THE LINE?), and a fister right at where the shortstop would be if the infield isn't in is not the end of the world.

What is the end of the world is this. Mike Myers cannot get Papi out, so why is he on the team? If Kyle Farnsworth can't come in the 8th inning with a 6-2 lead, why is he on the team? Proctor should have stayed in for the 8th. And Rivera should not be asked for a 5 out save with runners on the corners. F. F. F.

The A-Rod thing is unreal. I thought The Sidekick made a good pitch. Don't know if he swung like a girl. Important note to DV. In order to pitch to A-Rod in October, you have to make the playoffs. That involves not finishing in 3rd place in the division. While it is April statistically, it is also April in the standings.

Heading down to Boston now for the game tomorrow. Need the Yanks to get one.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I feel like a kid again

Sure, the 2006-7 offseason was traumatizing for me as a Red Sox fan, and the first 7 and a half innings tonight were just an invitation for me to start writing more negative things in this blog. Let me just get them off my chest.

>Schilling...two A-Rod homers...good thing I was at my pre-meet meal. I'm thinking that with those results, he wasn't locating the pitches well. But then again, look at the calendar. It's April, so you shouldn't throw to A-Rod in the first place. I'd much rather pitch to April-Rod in October.
>Not a good night for the bullpen. When you're facing a team like NY, or any team with few holes, you can much more easily see how shaky this bullpen really is. Romero. Snyder. He didn't pitch today, but Joel Piniero. Woof. I really don't want to see anyone come out of that bullpen except for The Sidekick (Okajima, for those who haven't been reading every word) or Papelbon. Maybe Donnelly, especially seeing that he might throw one behind A-Rod after he pretended that a clear strike almost hit him. He got the call. Wuss.

Now, on to the things that went well (I'm writing in the 9th as the Sidekick faces the heart of the order. Things might--and probably will--go wrong.). I have said here before, in reference to Varitek, that you can't intangible first base. Home runs are something tangible, and they show up on the scoreboard. That's very nice to see, and that wasn't his only hit tonight.

It was also great to see Coco Crisp hit that triple. But I'll get to that later.

I was going to stay off the blog until the game was over, but then Rivera blew up. It reminded me of the "crap out" predictions I've had for Mariano for years and years. It's hard to close tight games if your team scores 10-12 runs a game. Not to say that one blown save means he's crapping out. But wow.

It was awesome to see Coco come through and 1) get a hit and 2) get a big hit. It was great to see Boston string together a bunch of good hits before that. And I felt like a kid again when everyone started chanting Yankees Suck. It was like '98 or '99 again, back before the Sox were the popular thing in town.

Then Rivera threw one over Lugo's head and I wanted retaliation. It was a feeling I haven't had for a long time.

And then A-Rod lined out. It may have felt like October again with a high-drama Sox/Yanks matchup. That's my explanation for why he hit the ball like a girl.

(I waited one more pitch to write this paragraph:)
Okajima's stuff is nasty. He's the best. Sox win. There are few feelings better than this.

Going for the school record in the 10,000 meter tomorrow. Wish me luck. Enjoy Pat's inevitable rant. Goodnight, readers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mr. Go To Guy

All game, with the Yankees getting nothing off Fausto Carmona, I am thinking about how I am going to stop writing posts about praising an aspect of of the Yankees team, because it seems like every time I do, that part of the team (in this case the offense) doesn't show up the next game.

But I don't believe in that stuff (sort of).

A-Rod does it again with a 3-run walk off homer in the bottom of the 9th. Big ups to Phelps, Posada, Damon, Jeter, and Abreu in front of him. I mean down 6-2 with TWO outs. Thats grinding it, as Posada always says.

Then A-Rod caps it off with the walk-off. With the tying and winning run on second and third, all he needed was a single. But he is that locked in. The guy is unbelievable. I just start laughing when I see the next one sailing out. Even in as pressure packed a spot as today, its almost surreal how good he is right now. And you just have the feeling every time he gets up that he is going to do something good.

At the end of the day, A-Rod's lack of clutchness is overblown. I was as frustrated as anyone with him the last two postseasons. But a lot of other guys didn't hit in either of those series. And as I've said many times, it is totally unfair how his failures are so magnified while others aren't, because he doesn't fail more than anybody else. The problem is that he wasn't spectacular in the clutch, he was just okay. People expect what he is doing now out of him all the time (the media, Yankees fans, other teams fans, etc.) and that isn't fair or possible.

But he is doing it now. I, for one, am enjoying the ride.

Big series coming up in Boston. I'll be down in the above average sized country town for the weekend, and at Fenway for the game Sunday night. I will try to blog, and I'm sure DV will as well. With the state of the pitching rotation, I said at the beginning of the week I would be happy with 3-3 this week. I was hoping to take 2 of 3 from the Tribe and 1 of 3 from the Sox. Even after the sweep, I still want one in Boston. Don't want to get swept, and love 4-2 for the week. Hopefully, we'll see.

A-Rod is the thing.

Solid starting pitching and flexing offensive muscle

The Yankees hung another big offensive game last night on the Tribe. It isn't going to happen every night. But 8-10 runs is within range more nights for the Yankees than any other team. It is attack 1-8 (+ the Melk Man off the bench), and just too much for even really good pitchers some games, like Sowers last night.

The Yankees offense has scored runs for a long time now though. But even when they were scoring runs '02-'05, and last year to an extent, I had a major complaint that the lineup lacked definition and versatility, preventing it from being championship caliber. Too much station to station and reliance on the long ball crap. You can hit as many homers and score as many runs as you want during the regular season, but that doesn't win big games or championships, and it definitely wasn't how the Yankees won '96-'00.

It started to change two years ago with Cano. Then Damon. Then Abreu. But what was still missing was the go to guy. Every great offense, no matter how many future Hall of Famers are in it, needs that monster that everybody can look to as the guy.

This year they have it in A-Rod. The offense is finally more than just a collection of All-Star sluggers who bring little else to the table besides their station to station power. It has definition. It has versatility. It has a true leadoff guy. And it has a go to guy. It is more complete than ever, and is the kind that can win big games and has championship potential. It has been on display the last two nights. I love it.

Igawa was very good last night. 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 K. He kind of flirts with being too wild and just wild enough. In that respect he has shown so far to have the pitchability that was advertized. Makes the pitches to get you out despite not having overwhelming stuff.

The pitching staff as a whole should not be overlooked. We know about the bullpen. But no starter has given up more than 3 earned runs or gone less than 5 innings since the first turn through the rotation (Mussina got injured early, but Henn came in and did the trick in Game 8 so we'll count it). That is 8 strait games, and is being done without Wang or Moose, who are both back next week. There is a lot of hoopla about the Yankees rotation, but the bottom line is they are going to get good pitching if they can stay healthy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Price Goes Up

Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox pitched a no-hitter tonight against the Rangers. As you may remember, I predicted a few weeks ago that he's the mid-season acquisition the supposedly-rebuilding Boston Red Sox will inevitably pick up. He's a lefty with (at least tonight) impeccable command and he's in a contract year. The White Sox may fall out of contention early this year if some things don't go right and Cleveland gets it together. Meanwhile, something will go wrong with one of the Sox starters (Lester not ready, Tavarez continuing to suck, injuries, etc).

I predicted that Buehrle would be traded in exchange for top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury, who everyone is drooling over, especially myself and PF. But with Coco Crisp and Wily Mo Pena on the roster for a long time, there's no roster spot for Ellsbury until the end of the decade--at the earliest. Despite the fact that he might be better than Coco TODAY, that makes him expendable.

But now that the no-hitter has happened, you gotta think Buehrle's value has skyrocketed a bit. Who are they gonna trade in that desperation move to 1) keep him from the Yankees and 2) try to win another wild card before being shelled in the first round again? Bard? Hansen? Buchholz? Delcarmen? Only time will tell.

P.S. To satisfy some reader comments, here's a link to the Manny article in the New Yorker for JB. I appreciate the Samuel Beckett reference in the title there.

And to John, I have been thinking about your comment that asks me why I rag on Nancy Drew for the $14 million while he's hitting better than Ortiz, who makes $13 million. Ortiz has performed in such a way since 2003 (that first year, he was making $1 million or so. He was worth slightly more than that, I'd say) that makes him deserve a $13-million contract, just as Mike Lowell's pre-2005 production dictated that he deserved a $9-million-per-year contract. Nothing Drew has done in any season of his career has dictated that he deserved the $11 million per year that he opted out of, nevermind the $70 million he's getting from Boston.

That said, you can't take away from the great start he's off to. Not even I can say his April is anything less than excellent. I will say less than spectacular, and $70 million over 5 years to an injury-prone outfielder is reserved specifically for "spectacular."

P.P.S. Speaking of Drew, I stumbled across this when I was researching prospect theory. Looks like the Red Sox were ga-ga over him for a little bit longer than we all remember.

Prospect Theory 101

There's no better day to talk about prospect theory than the day Tomo Ohka comes to town. Actually, I take that back, as I can't talk about those two gentlemen in Florida due to Josh Beckett's performance in which he won and only surrendered one walk and one home run.

If you aren't wearing a pink hat, you may remember Tomo Ohka as a highly-touted Red Sox prospect right around the turn of the century. He pitched a perfect game in Pawtucket in June 2000 and for a while, was kind of a big deal. He was eventually traded for Ugueth Urbina, but we'd be opening up a whole new can of gasoline if we started talking about him.

A great resource when you want to start talking about prospect theory would be this web page, last updated in the year 2000, before blogs or YouTube or anything like that. (I suggest you open it in a new window.)

The source starts with Izzy Alcantara, who was a decent-level prospect. He got a cup of coffee in the majors but then pissed off Jimy Williams by doggin' it in the outfield some afternoon against the White Sox. He was benched, got sent back to the minors, and eventually ended up traded to the Indians organization. And yes, if you have a good memory, he is the guy who kicked the catcher.

It goes on to list guys like Rick Assadoorian, a first-round pick outfielder--just like Jacoby Ellsbury. This guy never amounted to much, and last time I heard about him he was kicking around the minors in the Reds organization. I remember well that my boy John Martin was in love with this guy the way guys like me and Pat are in love with current prospects.

Other guys include perpetual 4-A player Morgan Burkhart, pitching flop Jin Ho Cho, power hitter Michael Coleman, and a guy who earned some recent notoriety, Paxton Crawford. (Seems like nobody really talks about how he fell off of his bed and landed on a glass, landing him on the DL and ending his big-league career anymore.) Catcher Steve Lomasney was listed as the Red Sox' top prospect at the time. There are also guys like Wilton Veras (the first Lowell Spinner in the majors--he played for the New Jersey Jackals last season), Donny Sadler (who was wicked fast, but you can't steal first base), and Dernell Stenson (who was first placed on waivers and tragically got murdered after 37 major league games in 2003).

Also on the list were Freddy Sanchez, Shea Hillenbrand, Justin Duchscherer, David Eckstein, Lew Ford, and Casey Fossum.

Red Sox fans (I'm sorry I'm sticking with one organization, but it's the one I know best) may remember the terrific tandem of Papelbon and Lester circa 2005 and recall the terrific tandem of Brian Rose and Carl Pavano several years earlier. Boston Dirt Dogs linked those two guys together.

My point? There will be the occasional Jeff Bagwell or the occasional two guys who play in Florida right now who will be traded away. Discarded guys like Eckstein or Freddy Sanchez might win World Series or batting titles. Hillenbrand turned into a decent player for the Sox before he was traded for Byung-Hyun Kim. He's been a scumbag ever since. But there are a lot more guys like Veras, Sadler, Crawford, and Assadoorian than there are like the two guys in Florida.

So why are guys like me and Pat buggin' about trading away prospects? Stay tuned for Prospect Theory 102.

Rivalry Pitching Tidbits (Volume 2)

DV and reader/regular commentor JB talked recently about Matsuzaka and his pitch count, and it is definitely worth conversation. I can see where any Sox fan is coming from wanting Daisuke to stay in a game longer than he has been, or at least wondering why he isn't. This is especially considering how effective he has been to date, and how shaky the bullpen has been outside of Papelbon and The Sidekick.

I think the Sox have it right here though, keeping him just a little over 100 pitches per start (like any starter), and I'll tell you why.

During the Matsuzaka sweepstakes I did A LOT of research about this guy. Too much, and DV and numerous others can attest to this. I really wanted the Yankees to get him. But I did acknowledge that there were concerns, and I think that it is because of these concerns that Matsuzaka is being treated more cautiously by Boston than he was in Japan. Here are the key issues:

1. Five man rotation. There is a big difference between pitching every fifth day and every sixth/seventh day over a 162 game season. He was getting about 25 starts per year in Japan. If he stays healthy he will get somewhere near 35 here. That is 10 extra games, and at 100 pitches per game, thats 1,000 extra pitches, at the very least. It is not like this guy is superhuman. 1,000 extra Major League pitches is going to take its toll, if not on his health, on his effectiveness.

2. Feeding off the end of that last point, Major League pitches are more stressful, both mentally and physically, than pitches in Japan, the minors, etc. You always hear people talk about how much more taxing it is to make the same number of quality pitches in the Majors than at any other level. Makes perfect sense. Hitters are so much better, take more pitches, foul off more pitches, more pressure, etc. That can wear on a new pitcher over the long haul.

3. MOST IMPORTANT. There is a sabermetric statistic becoming popularized called Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP). It is calculated using all of the data available dating back to high school (outings, innings pitched, pitches thrown, etc.) to attempt to quantify how much abuse pitchers arms' have had in total, as well as creating a means by which to compare this abuse amongst pitchers. I told DV during the sweepstakes that the thing that scared me the most about Matsuzaka was that his PIP for a 26 year old was DOUBLE what the average American professional pitcher's was at the same age. So take Johan Santana or Chien-Ming Wang, who are the same age as Matsuzaka, and double the amount of abuse their arms' have taken and that is where Matsuzaka is at. Not a good thing.

I think the point is that the Sox know that Matsuzaka is not necessarily abnormal in terms of what his arm can take. There are a lot of guys who could throw as much as he did in Japan. It is just that American club's are not going to do that to their pitchers here, knowing that it will not help them now or in the future.

Matsuzaka is human. He obviously has a very strong and durable arm, but that could change in a heartbeat. The Sox have a lot riding on him, because he can help there ballclub both now and in the future. But there are concerns, and they don't want to ruin anything by treating him differently than they would any other talented pitcher. Just because he was able to have ridiculous pitch counts in Japan doesn't mean that he can or should be doing it here. The Sox have it right by being careful with him. The real issue for the Sox and Matsuzaka is their lineup.

On the Yankees side of things, Chase Wright showed me something last night, not just in terms of his performance, but that the depth and quality of the Yankees' Minor League pitching is real. You can't take too much from a guy's first start, but it can tell you something about the organization. Seeing Wright's solid stuff increases my confidence that from the guys rated ahead of Wright...starters Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, Dellin Betances, Jobba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Marquez, Chris Garcia, Alan Horne, and Angel Reyes, as well as relievers, J.B. Cox, Kevin Whelan, and Mark Melancon...something very real can materialize that can help the Yankees' rotation/pen for a long time. That is 10 starters and 3 relievers, and if only a few pan out it could be something special. If Cashman continues to shun the FA market in favor of stockpiling the farm like this through the draft and the International FA market, its a scary thing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A-Rod and the O get an effective Wright first W

Good win for the Yanks tonight, as it always nice to get a W behind a rookie spot starter.

Offense absolutely exploded. A-Rod continues to be as locked in as anyone can be (8 HR and 21 RBI in 12 games. I don't care that it's April), and Posada is not too far behind. Minky getting a hit, let alone a yatzee, is exciting.

The story tonight is Chase Wright, who gets his first Major League win in his first Major League start. Has to be an unbelievable feeling. He was a little shaky early, but overall very effective. At 5 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, he gave the Yankees exactly what they needed. I think Paul O'Niell said it best on the YES broadcast (it makes my night when I get the YES broadcast on MLB.TV) when he said that Wright got into some spots where he could have given up big hits, but he made big pitches and got out of it, which is the sign of a good pitcher.

Wright came a little different than advertised in the scouting reports, at least stuff wise based on tonight. His fastball doesn't have huge movement, but had a nice little dip action on it tonight. The breaking ball, which is more slurve or sweeping curve than true 12-6 or 11-5, was effective but is certainly no more than an average pitch for him. He did throw it for strikes, which makes it play a little above what it is. He also had what looked to be a little cut fastball, and although he didn't locate it well tonight and got beat bad on it once, it was good to see that he had another pitch. The real story tonight was his change. He won't be able to throw it as much as he did tonight to any other team now that people have seen him, but I can see why he wanted to throw it so much. It has the potential, if it isn't already, to be a plus pitch at the Major League level. He had righties (most importantly) and lefties out in front all night. If he can combine his change with a more consistent fastball, that might be enough right there to be a back-end starter in a big league rotation.

Not overlooked is the fact that the Yankees won big the first game after a tough loss. Important attribute that good teams have, have to get the bad taste out of your mouth.

38 Bitches (Volume 4)

Thoughts from the weekend. Unfortunately, I have had very little baseball watching, so this will be a shorter version of 38 Bitches.

1. It's very nice to see the Red Sox make some major adjustments. Friday was the Wakefield/John Lackey game. Lackey didn't really get shelled (3 runs, 9 hits), but he threw 108 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. That's a lot of pitches for a guy who didn't pitch too terribly. They exploded offensively later on, but what really impressed me was their patience at the plate. It was a major adjustment compared Wakefield's start against Robinson Tejeda and the Rangers, where, despite three walks, the historically wild Tejeda only threw 77 pitches over seven innings.

Boston lost the Tejeda game. They won the Lackey game when they worked the count.

2. Papelbon is so intense on the mound. His outing was incredible on Friday, and let me be one of the many who give Francona credit for putting him in during the 8th inning and Papelbon credit for not whining about the fact that he didn't get the save. You've heard it all before. Just count me on the "it's not about saves, it's about winning" bandwagon.

3. I didn't see much of Schilling's game on Saturday because of the track meet, but I was around for long enough to see him pitch well and enough to see Tim McCarver suck at broadcasting. I can't believe the other guy said that Buck and McCarver do such an excellent job when they broadcast Red Sox/Yankees. Also, the Red Sox drew six walks that game, so chalk up another point for plate patience.

4. I'm getting the heat at Eustis for ragging on Josh Beckett. I missed Monday's game because I was at the Marathon, but it sounds like everything went well again. He won and only walked one guy, so I have another few days without talking about those two guys on the Marlins. Plus, Ortiz is starting to hit. Too bad his ESPN commercial got more press than his home run did yesterday.

5. Sox Appeal. I don't even know where to start. I might have a brand new volume of 38 Bitches all about how much Sox Appeal sucks.

6. I'm still not done ranting about Aaron Boone. I didn't see the Oakland Athletics' antics this weekend; all I know is what Pat wrote. Let me just say that including the home run, Boone hit .170 during the 2003 playoffs. He was almost going to be benched for Game 7. It could be said that NY won the ALCS despite Aaron Boone. Just airing out some old grudges.

7. Long day at track today, so I missed Matsuzaka. I just read that he struck out 10 guys in six innings. Holy crap. Of course, the Sox again have failed to give him run support against an okay (but not good) Gustavo Chacin. The big series will happen, and games like this will happen. I will dwell on games like this and it's going to drive me crazy all season long.

8. I did get to see Hideki Okajima, and The Sidekick is looking pretty good. Except for that home run on his first pitch, he's been pretty solid. Probably the best bullpen option not named Papelbon. Matsuzaka was pulled after 105 pitches. Is this the best option for the guy who doesn't care in the least about pitch counts? I'm up in the air about this: I'd love to hear your comments.

9. Coco Crisp was put in the two-spot tonight, as discussed last week by WEEI and later this blog. It seems to have worked out, as he's gotten two hits. But what a disaster so far. Hitting .111 with three times as many strikeouts as he has RBIs isn't the best way to make people forget Johnny Damon. I really feel bad for this guy, but as my boy J. Lester says, how long will it be until Wily Mo Pena (also two hits tonight) replaces him permanently? J. Lester also points to this interesting Tony Massarotti article for some supplemental reading. Of course, the inevitable Johnny Damon reference is present there.

10. Schilling praises Felix Hernandez in his blog and discusses his last start. I wish I had been on this earlier. It's going to take some time to catch up after a long marathon weekend. I've already been told four different times how much I have to read the Manny Ramirez article in the New Yorker.

11. Jason Frasor closed it out tonight, so another tough-luck loss for Matsuzaka. His stat line is starting to look like one of the A's stat lines: 1-2, 2.70 ERA. Infuriating. The Jays will struggle a bit if BJ Ryan did indeed throw his elbow out, but I think their bullpen may be one of the best in the AL. I've said this for years.

12. Tomo Ohka is pitching against the Red Sox tomorrow. If I have a slow day (probably at Eustis), this will give me an opportunity to FINALLY discuss Prospect Theory a bit. OG Red Sox fans may remember this guy as a guy hyped up like Lester and Buchholz are hyped up right now.

13. I remember seeing an ESPN.com poll last week about whether there should be Opening Week games in cold-weather cities (such as Boston, Cleveland, New York). When I voted, 52% said yes. WHAT?!?!? Who are the people voting in these polls? Watching baseball in April in Boston is miserable. The quality of play is not good. It's not fun to be outside. It's not fun to have so many damn games rained out snowed out. So why not minimize these effects by trying hard to avoid northern games until at least the middle of April? Must be overzealous season ticket holders or people from Florida that don't know what's going on here voting in this poll.

14. On the bright side, all these rain- and snow-outs are preventing Julian Tavarez from getting starts. As far as I'm concerned, this is instrumental in the Red Sox' early success. The entire Yankee staff could go on the DL and the situation would be better than having Julian as the #5.

Re: Scutaro, light-hitting infielders, and walkoff showboating

Pat, wow, you had a very productive weekend.

But kid, kid. When I think about classless walkoff antics, look no further than that fateful day in October 2003. I believe there was a certain third baseman who hit a walkoff off of Tim Wakefield to win the ALCS.

Aaron Boone showboated, did the airplane thing that went out of style of European soccer around 2001, had his hands outstretched like "that's right, I did it, what did you expect? I'm Aaron F'ing Boone, baby. I'm not living in the shadow of my brother, pops, or granddad, because I'm the freakin man."

Aaron Boone, if memory serves me right, hit .119 during either the ALCS or the playoffs outright before that home run off of an errant knuckleball. Congratulations. You were futile throughout the playoffs. Why don't you get traded and cry your eyes out during another press conference, you friggin fraud?

Those antics made me want to see him spend the offseason blowing his knee out during a basketball game, in direct violation of his contract. Whoa, wait a second...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chase Wright gets his first ML start

The only good thing that comes from putting an established starter on the DL is that sometimes you get a glimpse of a young guy. Sometimes its a stud, sometimes its a filler, sometimes its great, sometimes its attrocious. You can rarely judge anyone based on their first big league start anyway. But at least you get to see someone new, and that is always interesting.

Chase Wright, a 24-year old lefty and a third round draft pick in 2001 by the Yankees, gets the chance to be something new tomorrow for the Yankees.

Despite this being his 7th year in the organization, he did not come into his own until last year in the Florida State league for the High A Tampa Yankees, where he went 12-3 with a 1.88 and was named the league's pitcher of the year. The sucess, albeit coming very late at age 23 and against A ball hitters, can be attributed to him getting his command issues under control. After a strong spring in the big league camp, he landed in Trenton's rotation, where he has been lights out. In two starts he has pitched 14 innings, given up only 4 hits and 1 walk, yielded 0 runs and struck out 14. Impressive against AA hitters, but definitely a small sample size, and still defintiely not against major leaguers.

I have never seen Chase Wright pitch, but being a Minor League junky, have more than a few scouting reports on him. He throws a 2-seam fastball that sits at 88-90, a curve, and a change. He was never a strikeout pitcher until his first two starts in Trenton. Gets groundballs, and has a great ability to keep hitters in the park (only one HR allowed in 120 IP last year, yikes). His ball moves, but command has been an issue. Curve and change are just solid.

Cleveland's two best hitters (Sizemore and Hafner) are lefties, so if Wright can neutralize those lefty/lefty matchups he will immediately give himself a better chance to have success tomorrow. I just hope he doesn't get shelled.

A lot has been made of how impressive the Yankees minor league pitching talent and depth is. And it is. But it is all unproven outside of Wang. So for what it is worth, Chase Wright is ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees' 19th best prospect. Of the 18 players ranked ahead of him, 14 are pitchers, and 11 of those are starters. So if Wright is the 12th best starter, seeing him could show us a lot about where the organization's pitching really is.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Marco Scutaro gets his own post for his lack of class

I realize that hitting a walk-off home run off of Mariano Rivera and beating the Yankees is a career highlight, if not the career highlight, for a lot of players, especially one of Marco Scutaro's offensive prowess (limited).

A big celebration is expected. The feeling winning like that has to be jubilation. Scutaro and the whole team should go nuts.

But there is no need to show up a player of Mariano's caliber not just in terms of talent, but class. Scutaro took about 20 seconds to get to first, hopping around, POINTING back to his teamates coming to home plate. On his way to FIRST. So he he was backpedaling. You have to be kidding me.

Run around the bases. Hands in the air. Clapping. Whatever. Just do it quickly and don't show anybody up.

The A's didn't impress me at all in the same way, but to a lesser extent, on Friday. They won in the 11th on a single, also an exciting game. Rooke Travis Buck, the runner scoring from third, slammed his helmet down right after he touched home plate. Didn't throw it. Didn't toss it. Didn't flick it off. Slammed it. Brian Bruney, the losing pitcher in the game, talked about the lack of class he thought was displayed. Again excitment is expected. Just show some class.

That one wouldn't have been as bad if it stood by itself. But today was absolutely ridiculous. The A's are showing themselves to be the least classy team in baseball right now. What a joke.

Pain

In Mariano Rivera's 11 years as a reliever, he has never yeilded more than 5 home runs in a season. He hasn't given up more than 3 since 2001. But like any closer, when he gives them up, it usually hurts. And it was painful today. But you can never fault him. Any time you want to blame him for anything, think about what it would have been like to have anybody else in baseball history closing for the last 10 years, and it wouldn't have been as good. It's always tough to get beat in the 9th, but it is a 162 game season, and if the last five years is any indication, this will probably happen no more than 4-6 times total. Not a lot.

But today was really tough to take. It was the best game the Yankees had played so far. Incredible start out of Pettitte after the pen was taxed in back to back extra inning games (7 IP, 1 earned run. His acquisition was so critical for so many reasons, I cannot say this enough). Situational hitting on display on multiple occasions (a key hit and run by Jeter/Damon in the 8th, 3 sac flies), which never happens. Great stuff from Proctor in the 8th, mowing down the 2-3-4 part of the order with 2 Ks. With a win they would have taken back to back series on the road from playoff teams last year. Winning series is always great, but there are few things more gratifying in baseball than going 4-2 on a tough road trip. It was the getaway day. There were 2 outs. It was an 0-2 pitch. F and ouch all around.

Now they have to think about this the entire flight home, and don't get to play again until Tuesday at the earliest with the weather. Not an easy week either with the Tribe coming to the Bronx for 3 followed by a 3 game set in Boston. What would have been such a feel good win turns into a tough loss. Instead of feeling like they are playing great baseball with a lot of momentum, now you have to worry about a hangover. That is the main concern. Mo will be Mo.

Minor League left-hander Chase Wright, who has been lights out at AA Trenton in two starts and is the best lefty in the system, gets the start on Tuesday. Back tomorrow with a scout on him.

Rivalry Pitching Tidbits

Caught a lot of the Sox game yesterday. Schilling was dominant, even better than last Sunday against the Rangers. In both games the split was off the table, haven't seen it like that since '04. With the way he pounds the strike zone and continues to locate his fastball with good velocity, an average splitter can be devastating. When he has it working like he did yesterday, it is unhittable. I have said all off-season that I don't think Schilling is anywhere near done. He is old, but if healthy is good for a minimum of 15 wins. Same for Matsuzaka. I know some people will get all over me for saying this, but I really think that it is Beckett that the Sox have to really worry about, especially from a consistency standpoint.

For the Yankees, Mussina and Pavano were just placed on the 15-day DL. Mussina is not as much of a concern, as he has had little pulls and strains the last few years. He is just not ready to take his turn, so may as well get it taken care of 100% and open a roster spot up to get another arm while he is out.

Pavano is a huge concern. This is so typical. He gets your hopes up with a great start, throwing power fastballs and looking like he did in '04 when he was 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for Florida. Then he gets soreness in his forearm. It is always something, and usually something new. I have never seen anything like this. The sad part is that when healthy, he is an above average starter who can really help the Yankees. He is just never healthy. I won't even think about projecting when we will see him on a Major League mound again. It is probably going to be another summer of "Pavano to throw a bullpen". F.

Look for a Roger Clemens press conference in the Bronx before the end of the week. 1 year, $5 million more than whatever the Red Sox and Astros are offering, pro-rated.

The rest of the Yankees bullpen is getting it done

Kyle Farnsworth's struggles have been the center of attention in the Yankees bullpen so far this season. The sad part about that is that the rest of the pen has been absolutely lights out, and last nights 7 2/3 inning of shutout baseball, helping the Yanks to a 4-3 win in 13 innings, was the biggest example yet.

I was out last night and missed the game, my first of the year, but was getting regular updates. There wasn't much to see, as it seemed to be a pretty well pitched game with flat offense. Rasner was obviously very good, giving up only the 3 unearned runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. I like Rasner's stuff a lot, and have since he first pitched for the Yanks in Detroit early last year. His fastball really moves, and he can both tail it and sink it to keep hitters off of it. Big tight curve. For his role and expectations he is very valueable and has the stuff to succeed. Jeff Karstens in in the same boat, and should be ready in a few weeks. These guys protect the organizations' pitching jewels (Hughes, Sanchez, Clippard) that are close to ready but cannot be rushed, and keep Cashman from being in a position to deal with that dilemma when the Yankees need spot starters. Just very valueable.

A-Rod continues to swing a blistering bat, best I've ever seen him in a Yankee uniform, I don't care what month it is. This is A-Rod being A-Rod, which is all I have been asking for since he got here. Jason Giambi could be in the biggest slump of his career, (and he is in a big one right now) but if he gets a hit, its going to be when it counts. Hence last night's game winning solo shot. He and Damon just play bigger than they are because of how timely they can be.

Bullpen ERA's: Rivera 0.00, Vizcaino 1.08, Proctor 3.68, Bruney 1.29, Henn 1.04, and Myers 0.00. Only Farsny has struggled at 8.44. But outside of him it is really very impressive. I know it is only a 10 game sample, but due to the starters' inability to go deep in games the first week, and the extra inning games this week, they have thrown a lot of innings. And I am more concerned with their stuff than the results at this point anyway. We know what Rivera, Vizcaino, and Proctor can do. But I could not be more impressed with Bruney and Henn stuff-wise. Bruney has a power fastball and filthy breaking stuff. I honestly don't know how Arizona got rid of him, and the Yankees picking him up is just another example of Cashman having his eyes and ears open. Henn is in his first months as a reliever, and it looks like it suits him much better than starting. He is a big young lefty who can go multiple innings, and he isn't afraid to go after hitters with his fastball which I love. These two can take our pen from being good to amongst the best in baseball. Teams already have to play 8 inning games against the Yankees because of Rivera, and it looks like more often than not innings 6-8 could be very uncomfortable for teams as well.

Farnswoth threw a scoreless inning last night. I just wanted to write that sentence to see how it felt.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Kyle Farnsworth not getting it done

Tough 5-4 loss for the Bombers last night in extras. A terrible Bobby Abreu error that lead to an unearned run didn't help. But the real blame has to go, once again, to Kyle Farnsworth.

Kei Igawa was very good. The A's are not a good offensive team, but still, this was night and day from his first start, and he was in line to win after 5 1/3 of only 2 earned runs. Location on all of his pitches was much better. Spotted his fastball in and out, and was able to get both the breaking ball and change over for strikes. The breaking ball (he throws what can most accurately be described as a slurve) was the biggest difference. He was rolling it in his first start, and was consequently all over the place. Last night he was snapping it off with good tight rotation, throwing it over for a strike and burying it late in counts. He really didn't make any mistakes, and the only damage done was the Chavez homer to chase him with one out in the 6th. It was a fastball up and in that Chavez got his hands in on and lined it out to right. Good piece of hitting, especially considering it was a lefty/lefty matchup.

The offense didn't explode, but really worked a good pitcher in Dan Haren and the 4 runs should have been good enough to win. It was a classic example of what the Yankees offense is, in that they can get you even when they aren't getting you. Haren had to throw 107 pitches to get through 5 innings of 1 run ball. Thats work. Then they did their damage in the 6th off a combination of Haren and Alan Embree. They had more chances when they got into the pen as well, just didn't capitalize, and that is going to happen. But like I said, a 4-3 lead in the 7th, 8th, and 9th should be safe for the Yankees.

It isn't though, and that is because Kyle Farnsworth just isn't the thing. He doesn't throw strikes. He is prone to the long ball. He is inconsistent. Just way to all over the place, and that is the last thing you want in a late inning reliever. You want guys who are flat out solid. And that is what Luis Vizcaino, Scott Proctor, and now, Brian Bruney appear to be. Even Sean Henn and Mike Myers have looked 10 times better than Farnsworth this year. Torre met with him before the game yesterday, supposedly about attacking the strike zone more. I don't think that is going to work, because I think it is not a matter of Farnsy choosing to attack the strike zone or not, I just think a lot of days he is incapable of doing so. Also, he was blatantly demoted yesterday (he pitched the 7th, Viz the 8th), so you have to think that was discussed. I agree that Viz should be the 8th inning guy, and as I said two days ago, I think Torre and Cashman need to take it a step further, putting Proctor ahead of Farnsworth as well. They are more effective relievers.

The Yankees have a lot of great righty bullpen arms both on the Major League roster and in the system right now. Way too many to keeping joking around with Farnsworth if these results, last year included, persist. I don't care how much they pay him. Find a spot for him where he is actually going to be able to get outs without giving up runs.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I love track!

I have a track meet tomorrow at MIT, which means right now I'm blogging from home.

It also means that I will be missing FOX's coverage of the Red Sox game tomorrow against the Angels. Tim McCarver is slated to do the color commentary of the game. No word as to whether Scooter the Animated Baseball will make a cameo. You'd think that I would be sad about missing a Red Sox game, especially after the delight it was to watch the game on HD here in Wilmington. (My TV at Colby is a 1988 Goldstar 12-inch dirt-dog of a TV.) But I'm actually thrilled that I'm missing tomorrow's game.

FOX has rights to Red Sox games for each of the next three weeks, and I'm glad to say I will be missing all three of them due to track meets. I'm also missing Sox/Yanks on FOX on May 26th for graduation-type crap. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are so nauseating that I once spent three innings looking for my TV's SAP button. (Not on the Colby TV; the Goldstar Dirt Dog was made before anybody north of the Mason-Dixon Line spoke Spanish.) If the options are 1) Buck, McCarver, or any combination involving either of them, 2) the delightful Joe Castiglione and friends on an un-delightful seven-second delay, or 3) Spanish broadcasting where I only understand half of the words...

I'd go for the Spanish.

Great win for Boston tonight. Wakefield pitched great, Dougie went deep, Nancy continued his torrid pace, and Ortiz seems to be hitting again. Papelbon is a pleasure to watch night in and night out, and even Timlin got the job done.

Buenas noches, amigos.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Run Support a HUGE problem in Oak Town

Was checking up on the Hot Stuff on the Side a few days ago (AKA my other favorite team, the A's), and I found some alarming stuff on Athletics Nation: They make the Red Sox' run support problem look like a walk in the park. Dan Haren, for example, is 0-2 with a 0.69 ERA. Rich Harden is 1-1 with an ERA under 1.4. Why is this?

Because the A's have scored 28 RUNS IN TEN GAMES! Not counting the 9-0 win on the third game of the season, that's 19 runs in 9 games, averaging a paltry 2.1111 runs per game. Sure, the A's have a terrific front end of the pitching staff. Even Chad Gaudin and Joe Kennedy, neither of whom are superstars, have been pulling their weight at the back end. But if these guys aren't brilliant every night, the A's are gonna lose!

This team once prided themselves on their plate patience, but that's not really happening. They've drawn 27 walks this season, with Nick Swisher drawing 10 of them. Mike Piazza, who is trying to fill Frank Thomas's role as "1990s throwback with a second wind," is hitting .350, but nobody else is hitting above .300. Beyond Piazza and Swisher, there's not much to write home about.

Shannon Stewart is struggling so far, and so are shortstops Bobby Crosby and Marco Scutaro. Their catcher situation is similar to Boston's, as Jason Kendall started off the season at .175. He's not as old as Boston's Jason, but this will be his 12th full season as a catcher compared to Varitek's 10th. You gotta worry about how much this guy has left in his body.

Alex Rodriguez has three times as many home runs as the A's do.

The front three of the A's rotation is going to be incredible, and hopefully (for them) the streaky Esteban Loaiza comes back strong and Rich Harden doesn't get injured...again. The solidity of this rotation is the reason this team's not 1-9 so far. But this offense has to start hitting or it's gonna be a long season for the A's and a regular-season cakewalk for the Angels.

DV Beat Me Too It: Farnsworthless

Let me start with saying the only positive thing I want to say about last night: the Yanks took 2 of 3 on the road, and I love taking 2 of 3 on the road. Hopefully they can do it again in Oakland and have a solid road trip.

Now let me say how furious I was about last night's loss, too furious to blog. I know it is only April. And I know they took 2 of 3 (I'm big on superstition and karma, so I don't want to complain too much after taking 2 of 3). But Kyle Farnsworth makes me want to jump out a window sometimes. How do you walk the leadoff batter, Luis Castillo no less, on four pitches to start an inning in a 1-1 game? How do you let up 4 runs while only recording 1 out on a team that has only mustered 4 runs in the entire series before that point? Does he throw in the bullpen before he comes in? If he can't take care of business in the 8th in a tie game in April, when can he be expected to protect a lead? He throws 100 mph. He had big movement. Who cares. 1. It's harder to locate that kind of power stuff. 2. When someone manages to make contact, it is easier to get some pop on it. I wish he would come down to 94-95 and try to locate. I can't stand watching him pitch. He's never in the middle, just plain getting outs. It is either lights out or lit up.

But the thing that I REALLY cannot handle is that he continues to be viewed by Torre or Cashman or whoever as "the 8th inning guy". Why? It is only because he is paid to be the set-up guy. I'm out the window again here. Proctor has clearly been a better reliever for two years. Vizcaino is in the same boat, albeit with other teams, and has only proven it so far this year. So why not have those guys be the 7th and 8th inning guys, and Farnsworth the 6th or in more of a roaming/less-pressure role? Because it would look bad, because Farnsworth gets paid $6 mil per year to walk Luis Castillo to lead of an inning on 4 pitches. In April. Against the Twins juggernaut of an offense. In a tie game. &%&^$*%&$*

Not too concerned about the injuries, as it is nothing major, and these things happen. It is just happening to the Yanks all at once, kind of freakish. But what I would like to know is what this new strength and conditioning coach is doing? And why the old one isn't here anymore? Seems like he was doing a good job. I know that some of the guys talked about how different this new guys stretching and conditioning program is. Interesting thing to monitor now, but if it continues to be a problem, this guy is going to be under fire.