Thursday, May 31, 2007

Weekend at Fenway

At this time last week the Yankees were enjoying taking a clean 2 of 3 from a very good team and their rival at home. Considering the way they hit Schilling in the rubber game, it looked like the Yankees might be turning it around. Not around like catching the Red Sox in a month around, but playing Yankees baseball.

Then they lost 5 of 6 while the Sox won 5 of 6. Yo. Now they head into the weekend trailing by 13.5 in the division, and nothing that happens this weekend is going to really make any sort of impact on the division. This series has little meaning for the Red Sox, unless you want to make the case that by sweeping the division will officially be over.

However, this series has huge meaning for the New York Yankees. Tomorrow will be the first day of June, and they trail the Wild Card by 7.5 games, a very manageable number. The Yankees are playing a tough team on the road with their three best pitchers going. 2 of 3 is a must, and it would be no matter who they were playing. The fact that it is a good team on the road makes it even more important. With Clemens going Monday in Chicago, this is where the momentum could start.

(As an aside, I know the media as well as a lot of people on this blog are questioning the Yankees decision not to pitch Clemens against the Sox, since his day to start based on his Monday start in the minors is Saturday. This is ridiculous. The most basic answer I can offer is that he is pitching Monday as oppossed to against the Red Sox because that is the next time the Yankees needed a starter. But further, even if Saturday is Clemens' scheduled day to take the mound, it is also Mike Mussina's. Sunday is Andy Pettitte. What are the Yankees suppossed to do, bump one of them? No pitcher in the AL has been better than Pettitte, so bumping him for Clemens is unecessary. And if you went with the other popular argument in the media, that Mussina hasn't been that good and Clemens is better, so why wouldn't you start Clemens (then of course insinuating it is because the Yankees are afraid Clemens will get shelled). Even if Clemens is better than Mussina, which I do believe to be the case, what would this say to Mussina, a fellow veteran pitcher who the Yankees need? You simply cannot do that. As badly as the Yankees need Clemens to be good, they need Mussina to be effective just as much, and you can't reshuffle a guy like that for Clemens. He starts Monday, not because the Yankees are scared to pitch him in Boston, but because that is where he fits into the rotation.)

Sorry for that rant. Anyway, great pitching matchups all weekend. Wang/Wakefield, Mussina/Schilling, Pettitte/Beckett. For the Red Sox, this is a win/win opportunity to bury the Yankees even more, but nothing can be lost no matter what happens. For the Yankees, they can't look at this as a Red Sox thing. For this one weekend, they have to treat it as it is just the team that they are playing, a very good team at their place. Nothing more. The Yankees need to win 2 of 3, start to feel good about themselves, and get some momentum as they try to fight back into the Wild Card, which isn't that far away.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where My Crusades Collide

It's accurate to say that this season, there are two major arguments I've tried to slide across the table to the hardcore Red Sox people reading this blog: Coco Crisp replacing Johnny Damon in 2006 and Nancy Drew replacing Trot Nixon in 2007. Both "replacements" have been highly scrutinized, but treated in different ways by the majority of Red Sox fans.

They've also been treated in different ways by me. And here's where I disspell the inevitable accusations that I'm being inconsistent or hypocritical. I thought that jettisoning Damon was a wise move. He asked for more money than he was worth. And his performance this year is a total "I told you so" for people like me and people like the Red Sox' front office. He was going to be overpaid compared to the way he was going to perform. Therefore, he's not worth keeping. As I wrote before, I don't think Coco Crisp was the best option, because he will keep Jacoby Ellsbury out of a job for the foreseeable future. But in theory, Crisp's value per dollar would be higher than Damon's.

People who still whine about "lolz i miss johny damon!!111," including the Boston Herald, including Channel 7 in Boston, and especially including Boston Dirt Dogs, don't understand that he would have been a waste of money.

This is where my other crusade comes in. JD Drew is a waste of money. As I have written since the day this blog opened, $14 million for this guy is absolutely asinine. Not once in his entire career has he played as if he deserved $14 million. The other part of this deal that is equally asinine is keeping him for five years! The days of "coolly rational moves" (Seth Mnookin wrote this) are way over. The Red Sox could have had someone with slightly inferior statistics for about 1/5 of the price.

That guy returned to Fenway Monday night, and his name is Trot Nixon. I have compared Nixon's statistics to Nancy's since the first day of this blog. I scoreboard-watch big time and I like to rub it in everyone's face when Nancy sucks and Nixon's hitting well. (Across the board, Nixon's statistics are better than Drew's.) And believe me, I've noticed that it's a lot like Boston Dirt Dogs saying "Where's Johnny?" every time Coco strikes out or every time Damon goes 4-5.

I'm going to contend that I am arguing consistently and fairly and non-hypocritically because I am arguing for higher value at lower prices. And meanwhile, the majority of Boston (the guys who think Coco sucks and can't stop talking about Johnny Damon's merits...and the guys who think it was Nixon's time to leave and that Nancy Drew was worth every penny for his Opening Day home run) are proponents on either keeping or acquiring over-the-hill outfielders for way too much bloody money.

Trot Nixon got great reception Monday, but few people are going to wonder why the hell he's not back this year. They'll all respect his time here, but the general consensus is that it was hit time to move on. Everyone thinks Boston upgraded big time by acquiring Nancy Drew. So far, it's clear that they have not.

And meanwhile, people are still hating on Coco Crisp because he's living in the shadow of Johnny Damon. He's stopped talking to the media--and as I told my family last night, I would too! The media is treating this guy like absolute crap. He's not the idiot who looked for way too much money, did the absolute unthinkable by joining New York, and has continued to run his mouth ever since. Coco was the better value. As was Trot Nixon.

It was time for the overvalued player, Damon, to move on. It was not time for the undervalued player, Nixon, to move on. Generally, Boston fans have it backwards. And the guy very unfairly bearing the brunt of it is #10 Coco Crisp.

Recap: Me whining about Nixon vs. Drew while telling Sox fans to stop whining about Damon vs. Crisp is not hypocritical. Nixon was the better value. Crisp is the better value.

A big test

...and Beckett passed it. Back from the DL after an "avulsion" (because it's not a blister), I had some reasonable fears that this is the point, like last year (and perhaps others), that Josh Beckett decides to start sucking. Last year, as the story goes, Beckett stopped throwing nearly as much breaking stuff because he didn't want to aggravate the blemish on his right middle finger that has caused all these blisters, cuts, avulsions, and injuries.

Last night, judging only by the highlights I saw and the final score, it looked like his breaking stuff was great. As Rob Neyer wrote a few weeks ago, it may be true that he can't throw 200 innings and still be an effective pitcher. At this point, you gotta think he's going to continue to be an effective pitcher, even if it occasionally lands you on the DL.

Honorable mention to Curt Schilling, who also had amazing breaking stuff in his outing on Monday night. His splitter was extremely deceptive, and this is why he had ten K's.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The State of the Yankees

I'm back in Jersey after graduating, and loving life...except for the way the Yankees are playing.

I want to start by laying out a few simplistics. I don't think the Yankees are a bad team. They are getting much better pitching than they got at any point last year, and are just not hitting. They have the same lineup as last year. Some of this can be attributed to guys aging at the same time, but most of it is flat out underperformance. Bobby Abreu isn't that old, and Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera are kids, and all three are shadows of what they were last year: monster contributors. Damon is aging faster than most, and Giambi is actually old, and neither is close to what they were last year: monster contributors.

Underperformance, both individual and team, for short and extended time periods, is a reality of baseball. The Cleveland Indians just missed the playoffs in '05, and are great again now in '07, with largely the same team in both of those years as well as in '06. But in '06 they just underperformed and had a bad record. That is the state of the Yankees right now. They have the potential to be great but are bad, much like last year's Clevleand club. There is absolutely no other way to explain it.

Let's deal with the reality of the remainder of this season. It is unrealistic as a Yankees fan to expect to win the division. I'm not saying it won't happen, but it is highly unlikely and nobody should be thinking about it. In terms of this season, the focus should be the Wild Card, and that is a great focus to have at this point.

How realistic is the Wild Card? It really depends on if they change the way they have been playing, and do so fast. Two wins against Toronto the next two nights to win this series is a good place to start. The All-Star break is six weeks away, and you have to get it to 4-5 games to really feel like you are in it. They are 8.5 games back right now. That means playing 4-5 games better than everybody else for 6 weeks, which means playing good baseball, something they haven't done yet. It all comes down to playing good instead of bad.

Good news and bad news. The good news is two-fold. One is that Roger Clemens couldn't be coming at a better time. And it isn't about his performance. It is about the emotional lift he could give a team playing with little competitive spirit outside of a few guys. But the performance won't hurt. I watched all of tonight's start, he looked Major League ready. Fastball was consistently 91, which is average, but it was only his third start. He still has time to get it to the 93 he wants it at. Even if it doesn't his off-speed stuff is still at a level to compete at 91 with the fastball. Split was off the table. He was dropping the curve for quality strikes. Slider was sharp, and he was getting good swings and misses on both it and the split. My guess is he starts Monday against the White Sox.

But now is not the time for Roger Clemens scouting reports. The second part of the good news is that the worst of the schedule is gone after this weekend with the Sox. With the exception of one viscious stretch in early August, the Yankees don't really have extended stretches against tough teams the way they have already had a couple of times this year. So what it boils down to is can they start playing up to their capability, and beat the Jays, Orioles, and Rays with consistency while the Central beats up on each other.

The bad news? Not only do they have quite a hole dug for themselves, but it won't be easy to just start playing better. Baseball is a game of momentum, fueled by consistency. When you play consistently you gain momentum, and you feel like you are going to win every night. The Red Sox this year are a perfect example. They are healthy and put the same guys out there every night. Nothing can make Johnny Damon not have calf tightness and not sit out every other night. Nothing can make Giambi swing like he did last year. Or Abreu or Cano or Melky. You just have to hope that at some point everyone gets healthy and starts playing consistently so they can get some momentum going and win 15 out of 20.

Either way, you can't win every year. You simply can't. It may be the Yankees turn. The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that they don't do anything to ruin their future. Cashman has been doing a superb job of stocking the minors, to the point where they have the best pitching talent and depth on the farm of any team in baseball. One season is not worth jeapordizing this. If you get to late July, and the Yankees are rolling, and are 3-4 out in the Wild Card race, and something makes sense like Abreu last year? Then maybe a move, without giving up a top 10 type guy. Anything outside of this is ludicrous.

The expectation is that the Yankees will win every year. It is driven by the payroll, the media, the owner, and a fan base that has seen nothing but regular season excellence for the last 12 years. This puts a lot of pressure on Brian Cashman, and it is largely undue. Yes, he put together a terrible bench this year. Yes, he relied to much on Carl Pavano without justification. Yes, he was either wrong to think Igawa could be a part of the rotation now, or ever. But Wang, Pettitte, and Mussina have been great, which is more than enough to win with what should have been our offense. But to this end no, he cannot be blamed for Damon, Cano, Abreu, Giambi, or Melky's performance, all of whom put up All-Star caliber numbers last year with the exception of Melky. Sometimes players just underperform, for whatever reason, and when a lot of them do it at once it is not going to be pretty for the team. You can't point the finger at anybody for this, not Joe Torre, and not Brian Cashman.

If you're a Red Sox fan, enjoy what is going on. You have a great team that is playing even above how good they are. If you're a Yankees fan, you have to hope that over the last 4 months Pettitte, Clemens, Wang, and Mussina take a lot of good turns in June and July, with Hughes giving the staff even more punch in August and September. And all the while the offense has to hit, not just better than they are now, but like they are suppossed to hit. If this doesn't happen, it doesn't matter how they pitch, because they aren't going to go on the 2-3 big win streaks surrounded by consistent baseball it is going to take to make the playoffs.

We graduated!

It's been a rough few weeks for the blog, as we've been doing senior week and then graduation weekend and then commencement, and now we're moving back home to Massachusetts and New Jersey. Hopefully by this week, we'll be able to put more stuff back on How Youz Doin Baseball.

After all, the Sox keep on finding ways to win, the Yankees just got swept, and the lead in the AL East between our two teams is now 12.5 games. It's been a very unexpected start to the baseball season this year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Real Captain Intangible

Everybody talks about intangibles, and how you can't quantify them. Apparently Jason Varitek brings a lot of them to the Red Sox, and he somehow makes the rest of them better at baseball. Last month, I claimed that Julian Tavarez has more intangibles because he makes Manny happy. I wrote:

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.

Let's break it down. During Julian's starts, Manny is hitting .322 (10-31). His slugging percentage is .645 and his OPS is 1.045. During everyone else's starts, Manny's hitting .226 with an SLG of .343 (woof) and an OPS of .648. He has three out of his 7 home runs and 10 of his 28 RBI when Tavarez is pitching. So during Julian's starts, Manny is much, much better.

Let's break it down a bit more. Before Tavarez is taken out of the game, Manny's 7-19 (.368) and 7 out of his last 13. When Tavarez is out, Manny's 3-12 (.250). Funnily, 2 out of these 3 hits are home runs.

Obviously, this is a small sample size. But it's funny that Julian Tavarez, despite his astronomical ERA, is bringing something to the team by keeping Manny happy. It'll be funny to see if this trend continues.

Or this trend.

A Very "Sorry" Human Being

So Major League Baseball's poster boy for remorse, reconciliation, and sorrow, Jason GiamBALCO, might not have been quite as sorry as he said he was. He flunked an amphetamine test. This is absolutely incredible. How stupid can a guy be?

(This is a rhetorical question. If it wasn't, the answer would be "Rafael Palmeiro is as stupid as a guy can be. Period.")

Giambi apologized for something, we're not sure what it was, in February 2005. The amphetamine testing protocol started in 2006. So he was still doing speed, an illegal drug, after he said how sorry he was. I'd say the question of how sincere Giambi was with last week's USA Today apology for doing "stuff" is now answered. The initial "sorry" was followed up by another healthy dose of performance-enhancing drugs. As Mike Lupica writes, his credibility is finished. But who cares? He got his $20 million-per-year contract. The crook. (Lupica's stuff about the dropoff of power numbers is somewhere between dubious and bogus, but I'll take that article for what it's worth.)

Some other things that remind me how much I actually hate the Yankees:
>JOHNNY DAMON HAS TO SHUT UP. NO, SERIOUSLY. HE HAS TO SHUT UP. Here's the latest incident of him popping off about how happy he is with the Yankees and not with the Red Sox: “I do not regret anything. I’m enjoying wearing the ’stripes.”

We get it. We get it. We get it. Equal guilt goes to reporters like Michael Silverman, who keep on asking Damon this, ummmmm, stupid crap.

>In Sports Illustrated last September, April-Rod wondered out loud why everyone hates him: "When people write [bad things] about me, I don't know if it's [because] I'm good-looking, I'm biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team..." No. It's because you're a jerk. You did the ball-slapping thing. You try to elbow a 150-lb second baseman in the junk for no reason. You say stupid things. (I was looking back at the SI article and he said he can't help that he's really smart. Right. That quote in itself displays how much of a moron he is.) A-Rod is a scumbag and I hope Schilling knocks him on his ass tonight.

Last night's win was big. It's very big in the whole scheme of things that the Sox didn't get swept here. A series win tonight is one step closer to the nail in the coffin. Let's go Sox.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Senior Week Lit Review

Watched the Sox/Yanks from the bars in Portland last night, looked a lot like...well, the way it always looked. Good game by Wang, shaky game by Wakefield, all that stuff. I missed the subtleties, but you miss a lot of subtleties during senior week, period.

So I did some reading to pick up on the subtleties.

Let's start with Nancy Drew. Happy anniversary Nancy! Nancy hasn't hit a home run for one calendar month. He's one of three .244 hitters on the Red Sox right now, and though the key to winning the 2004 World Series was trading for two .246 hitters, I don't think it's the same situation. When the Red Sox Propaganda Machine (it's not a blister, it's not a blister) said he was acquired to improve the worst 5-hole in Major League Baseball in 2006, I don't think this is what they had in mind.

It is what Baseball Prospectus had in mind and it's what I had in mind.

The other two are Manny Ramirez and Julio Lugo. Manny's been a bit frustrating, but he's shown signs of getting it together. He's improved it from about .100 to .244, plus, he'll probably hit .500 in June. There are many years of evidence that point to that conclusion. The leadoff hitter is getting on base under 31% of the time. Though he's fast and might contend for the title of "fastest member of Red Sox Nation," you can't steal first base. Another big "I told you so."

Boston Dirt Dogs gives this headline: "Damon: Why can't we keep players like that?" You gotta be kidding me. He's been DEPLORABLE all year. I hope PF can just give me a comment or a new post talking about how asinine that headline is.

People rip me for being negative when the Red Sox are being 10 games up. Dirt Dogs is doing the same thing there. For the record, I am wholly impressed by this team. Especially Youkilis and Lowell. And Coco Crisp's newfound plate patience (2 more walks last night).

The Josh Beckett baseball-reference page, sponsored by NoMaas.org, now says "It's not a blister." In my opinion, the Red Sox are embarrassing themselves with this propaganda thing. It goes beyond Beckett's blister, but this is a prime example.

I'll finish with NoMaas. They rip Joe Torre for his bullpen management last night because in a 6-2 game, who do they bring in again on zero days' rest? Scott Proctor! Shocking. He's not going to get fired, because the Yankees will make it to the playoffs this year (I said it here first). But, as I've said, there's a reason he's more than 100 games under .500 before he went to NY.

I have mixed opinions about Giambi. He's sorry. He's more specific. He's sorry about "doing that stuff." Right. But I think NoMaas says it the best here:

"He's the only player to admit he did steroids and believes he was wrong for doing so. He also thinks an apology should be issued to the fans by Major League Baseball. MLB is looking to punish him for his comments. Why? Because he told the truth? Now, let's celebrate Barry Bonds!"

Enjoy senior week, folks. And remember: IT'S NOT A BLISTER!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This is getting comical

They hit when they don't pitch. They pitch when they don't hit. Pitchers routinely getting line drives smashed off them and breaking bones. I've never seen anything like this. I'd love to sit here and go nuts about how poorly they are playing in this, this, and this area, but a lot of this comes down to inconsistency and freak injuries. They are just snake-bitten right now. Hopefully they start catching a break, and by break, I mean playing a game without a batter firing a missle at a Yankee pitcher, before the division is totally lost, or more important, the wild card becomes very distant as well. Big game tomorrow, followed by the three biggest May games for the Yankees in this era, with their three best going against the Sox back end and Schilling. This week is just massive. If they don't start winning, a lot more things in my room are going to get broken. Go Yankees.

Chipper's Right: Interleague Play is Unfair!

I've had my fair share of qualms about interleague play ever since its inception in 1997. The Colby College-esque break with tradition, the diminished importance of the All-Star Game and World Series, the DH versus no DH thing, the list goes on and on.

The aforementioned Rob Neyer blog post from Monday also mentions Chipper Jones, who's having a pretty good night so far tonight. The blog refers to this FOX Sports article where Jones complains about the fairness of interleague play. The Braves play the Red Sox six times every year. The Mets play the Yankees (who are supposed to be good) six times every year. Meanwhile, their division rivals, the Phillies, play the Toronto White Flags six times.

What if the Phillies edge the Braves and Mets by a game? Is that fair? This aggregates year after year. How many games have the Sox lost against the perennial playoff contenders in Atlanta while rivals have played the Expos or Nationals? And when they switched the Red Sox' "natural rival" from Atlanta to Philadelphia, it was during the Phillies' glory days. I'll never forget the series four years ago when the Phillies swept when the Sox blew three saves in one game.

Plus, some of the "natural rivalries" are totally bogus. Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, Angels- Dodgers--sure. Red Sox vs. the former Boston Braves, Baltimore-Washington--okay. Arizona-Pittsburgh? St. Louis-Detroit? Yeah right.

Especially in the past, this has really screwed with the wild card races. What if the A's play against a sub-.500 NL West division while their Wild Card rival Boston plays the Mets, Braves, and Phillies? Is this fair?

Plus, the Sox see the Braves just as often as they see some American League teams. Whatever happened to the nine-day West Coast road trip? They only do that once or twice a year! This experience used to be an event back in the day before this interleague nonsense. The big challenge was the nine-day stretch when they were playing at 10:00 at night--and I'm sure the same thing happened in the West Coast, when teams had to play games at 10:00 in the morning (7:00 if you count the Patriots' Day game for the Angels). This whole challenge has been dampened down, and that's a shame. Wild-card battles are a lot less exciting with an interleague schedule and also the unbalanced "Let's Play The Yankees and D-Rays 19 Times" Schedule. I'd rather have a big Sox-A's battle in September. This stuff has to change.

Neyer writes that interleague baseball brings a 5% increase in box office receipts. It comes at the cost of balance and fairness.

MLB On FOX Running Diary

Just finished my last post, and seeing that my track season is 95% likely over, I'm going to spend the afternoon here continuing to watch Yankees/Mets on TV, listening to Buck and McCarver. I'm going to do a Bill Simmons-style "running diary," except I'll refrain to say anything nearly as stupid as the "5-year grace period" philosophizing.

4:51 PM: Buck just talked about Fat Bastard Mike Myers's life, and wondered aloud how Myers would talk about this game in a diary. "Dear Diary, Darrell Rasner got hurt and I pitched in the first inning. I gave up a hit, blah, blah, blah." I think it was a pathetic attempt at humor. I don't know how much I'll be able to handle this.

4:56: McCarver, commenting on Cano's second-inning error, once again used "blasé" to describe Cano's first-inning error. He said that the second one, on the other hand, was "hasty." McCarver pointed out that he's going to want to play defense somewhere in between.

4:58: After two minutes of listening to them talk about how fast Jose Reyes was in both stealing bases and putting on chains, they both came to the conclusion that players shouldn't wear jewelry on the field. They're now asking field reporter Ken Rosenthal, who was reporting about--holy crap--baseball--what he thought about jewelry on the field. At least when they drool about Jeter's Play Against Oakland, they're actually talking about baseball.

5:15: McCarver's first impression of David Wright's third-inning home run was that it would not have left the park if it hadn't gone off of Johnny Damon's glove. Repeated replays showed that McCarver was dead wrong. At least three times, McCarver STILL said that the first time he saw it, he thought it would have stayed in the park. Okay, you screwed up. We get it. It was one step below Giambi saying he was sorry for something over and over and over again.

("Uhhhh, the ball went off of my, ummmm, glove because, uhhhhh, Boston, ummmm, disrespected me. Ummmmm, they, uhhhhh, ruined my life, ummmmm, but, ummmm, I'm, uhhhhhh, happy in New York.")

5:24: A heartwarming story about Damian Easley the fact that in his 16-year career, he's never made it to the playoffs. He chose to warm the bench for the Mets over the Yankees this year because the Mets had a better chance to make it to the playoffs as one of the "2-3" best teams in the NL. They remark how it's been a good decision so far. Buck has the last word on this story, saying that you should pay attention to who Easley chooses to play for the next few seasons. What?

5:31: Buck just started referring to Jason Giambi's bone spurs in his foot. I can't wait for the inevitable McCarver Old Man and the Sea reference. Actually, yes I can. I'm going to dinner.

6:50 PM: Just got back from one of my last Colby College dinners and I got a montage of what I missed with "New York State of Mind" in the background. Cute. I suppose NESN doesn't do much better, with the Dunkin Donuts Musical Montage and all that crap. But apparently in the last ten minutes, the whole "feel" of the game has changed. The momentum has swung in the Yankees' favor after a Josh Phelps RBI double. Big test for Pedro Feliciano and the best the NL has to offer.

6:57: Huge face shot of Joe Torre. I'm watching this on a 16-inch Goldstar TV from 1988 and even I can see all of the scars on his face. I could only imagine what people are seeing on HDTV.

7:00: Another "we're back from the commercial" montage after a Mets pitching change. It started with the Joe Torre dugout interview, when he apparently said "there's a lot of fight in this ballclub." Then a half-dozen Yankee highlights. Before the break, they referenced Torre's "lot of fight" comment. I could imagine them mentioning it every five minutes while I was at dinner.

By the way, if I were a manager and a bunch of dimwits asked me questions in the middle of the game, I would blow them off. This includes NESN, by the way. Shut up. They're there to manage, everybody. Not to talk to Joe Buck. Go on with the chlorophyll.

7:06: The Yankees are putting in Farnsworthless. Apparently they've used everyone but Proctor and Rivera. It's understandable, but I don't understand why not to use Proctor. Proctor pitches everyday; why should this game be any different?

I saw a Boys & Girls Club commercial earlier starring April-Rod. He said that he spent a lot of time at the Boys & Girls Club when he was a kid, and he learned a lot about playing baseball, inferring how he's one of the best players who's ever played. Was the Boys & Girls Club closed in October?

7:16: Two more uncontested stolen bases. Can I get a scouting report on Jorge Posada's arm from PF? I'm shocked that Julio Franco's been at bat for four minutes and they haven't talked about how old he is. At this point, I'm thinking about stopping this running diary for lack of obnoxiousness.

7:17: Robinson Cano's having a bad day, throwing a ball off of his own foot. Two more runs. They're still talking about the four uncontested stolen bases. No more SAT words from McCarver though, unfortunately.

7:19: Loyal HYD Baseball fan Ross Kaplan just IMed me, venting his frustration about the Yanks and specifically Farnsworthless. He said he hopes Pat's no longer watching this game. Ross told me that Farnsworth is mad about Clemens not staying with the team. Perhaps Farnsworth could be more effective if he didn't show up to road games either.

7:24: FOX provided us with a flashback to a previous regular-season blown save for Billy Wagner against the Yankees. Thanks for that. For some reason, I don't think they'll have flashbacks to this game for every Subway Series game for the duration of Robinson Cano's career. Personally, I'm having flashbacks to 2004, when FOX showed about eleven replays of Aaron Boone's home run PER TELECAST! It could be like, "Derek Lowe's pitching great, the Sox are up 12-1, and, by the way, Aaron Boone hit a home run last year!" Relevance is optional on FOX.

7:28: Back-to-back singles, including one by Posada, who's hotter than Hansel right now. Joe Buck described him as "irreplacable." I know that the bottom of the 9th will feature a montage with Beyonce in the background.

7:29: Wagner just made an error, going to the plate after having trouble fielding a ball. He threw the ball way too far "to the left, to the left." No outs recorded, and it's a three run game.

7:31: Big strikeout for Wagner. A really bad day for Cano.

7:33: Mets win. Endy Chavez gets the Chevrolet player of the game (it just doesn't seem the same if Chevy doesn't give out scholarships) for breaking Darrell Rasner's hand. No honorable mention to Cano or Damon, who apparently missed another fly ball that landed for extra bases while I was at dinner. The Yankees are somehow five games under .500, and it's definitely time to start panicking.

They all seem way too blasé right now, and when you're ELEVEN games out of first place, it might be time to wake up.

38 Bitches (Volume 7)

Just answering a couple comments and stuff. Looks like I'm not going to nationals, so senior week might mean a lot of blogging for me.

1. Just answering a comment from Mendoza Line from my "Bench D.L. Pedroia" post. Mendoza claims that Pedroia might not be a major leaguer with his skill set. Though I will not disagree about the fact that he'll probably never be an all-star, scouting reports have compared him to Cardinals SS David Eckstein (also a product of the Sox' farm system). I think he's going to have to change his swing if he wants to become a more contact hitter, because face it: A guy who looks more like Rudy than he looks like more baseball players ain't gonna hit thirty home runs. He's a work in progress, and the "rebuilding" Red Sox ought to take a chance on him.

I know that sabermetricians look at a certain cluster of statistics that indicate a player's "luck" on well-placed pop-ups and weak liners (this is why everybody's predicting Dan Uggla to hit about .230 this season), and you may be right about that. But from what I've seen, he's hit a couple of balls pretty hard--but pretty hard right at people. Guy could go either way, and if he really starts struggling, I guess it does make sense to platoon him with Cora. My point, however, was that his numbers were better than Nancy's, but everyone's been giving him slack because he hit a home run on April 10. Gimme a break.

2. Speaking of the Mendoza Line, it's remaining painful to be the #1 Coco Crisp superfan. But it was nice to see his plate patience FINALLY improving, even if he's only hitting .240. As I wrote this, he just had an 11-pitch adventure that culminated in a 2-run double.

3. I will briefly touch base on Reyes vs. Jeter. Nobody's talking about it, but Jeter's having ANOTHER good season. His numbers so far are great; isn't he leading the league in batting average again? After review, I see that it's his teammate Jorge Posada doing that right now. As an aging catcher? You gotta be kidding me! Jeter's also on pace to approach his career high in walks. Another great season by another great player. And as people (I believe it was Pat) said, you can't really count on Reyes being healthy. Ticket, please refrain from calling Reyes "The King" until he proves more durable than Mark Prior.

4. Other sick starts that ought to be mentioned include Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis.

5. The Red Sox' media relations on Josh Beckett's finger problem are laughable. They're saying "it's not a blister" like Arnold Schwarzenegger said "it's not a tumor" in Kindergarten Cop. Honestly, I don't care whether it's an avulsion, a cut, a blister, or a case of finger herpes. Point is, it's the same problem he's has in the past, and it might prevent him from pitching well. That's a BIG problem.

6. I think Rob Neyer provided a better scouting report about Josh Beckett on his blog than the Red Sox GM-By-Committee ever got when they decided to part with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez: "As I've written many times, though, I think it's more likely that Beckett simply is not built to pitch effectively and give his team 200 innings. He can do one or the other. Not both."

7. Before Friday, Jason Giambi was sorry, for that thing that he did. Now he's sorry for the stuff that he did. Maybe by 2009, he will say he did steroids. Wimp. Buster Olney kinda praises him and kind of rips him for his USA Today comments. You really don't know what to say about it. It's like watching John Kerry on campaign issues.

8. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are absolutely pitiful announcers, even when they're not doing Red Sox games. I can't stomach listening to them talk complain about how long the bottom of the first is. I should open a new post and just post all the asinine things those guys say. Meanwhile, David Wright just drilled one off of Yankees post-Rasner-injury innings-eater Fat Bastard. You can't help it if your pitchers break their bones on comebackers. You can help it if your second baseman is making throwing errors.

9. McCarver is now talking French. He just used the word "blasé." If he can start remembering baseball players' names like he remembers vocabulary (Bill Wakefield, Brandon Arroyo, Mariano Mendoza), I'd be impressed. What a hack.

10. As Pat and I just talked about, the season is 1/4 over, but two years ago, the Yankees started 38-38. They finished 58-28. It could happen again this year, but it's just totally unfair and unreasonable to expect your team to finish the season 58-28. It is currently reasonable to start panicking or to continue speculating about Joe Torre's job, like PF's BOY Joel Sherman.

11. Glavine is looking like crap, and Fat Bastard is in for the Yankees before an out was recorded. It's probably gonna be an offensive struggle at Shea today. The Yankees REALLY have to come up with 9 where the Mets get 8, or it'll be the same old story of the 2007 season. Let's go Mets.

12. I have more to say, about interleague play, Matsuzaka's return to dominance, and the Mets using their B-team the other night. Expect those soon, because I'd rather write than pay full attention to Buck and McCarver.

Friday, May 18, 2007

3-2 Mets

I could have told you that was coming. Oliver Perez, who was 3-13 last year in the NL, held the Yankees to 2 runs, which both came on a Matsui homer. Oliver Perez, who was 3-13 last year in the NL, put up 7 0's in 7 2/3 innings. Oliver Perez, who was 3-13 last year in the NL, skipped off the mound like a hero in a game where Andy Pettitte gave up 3 runs in 7 innings. The Yankees will not be participating in October baseball this year. Deal with it.

Subway Series Preview

Sorry about the lack of posting...again. I turned in my last two college papers ever this morning, baseball is in full-swing, and I'm back.

I have never cared about the Subway Series, except for in 2000 when in counted. It might be a rivalry for the Mets, but it isn't for the Yankees. There is a team 200 miles to the north called the Red Sox that matters just a little, miniscule, tiny bit more. The Mets could be the Reds for all I care, they are just games.

It matters this time because they are games the Yankees need, and the Mets are a very good team. The Yankees have traditionally owned this inter-league matchup (32-22), but this year there is no question who the better team is coming into the series. As the back page of the most said this morning "The Mets are flyin' and the Yankees are dyin'". Per usual, the Yankees are struggling to start the season. As Ozzie Guillen said yesterday, "Doesn't this happen every year, and then you look up in August and the Yankees are in first?"

This is true. Just two years ago the Yankees were 38-38 after 76 games, and were as far as 11 games out of first place in May. They went 58-28 the rest of the way to win 96 games and the AL East. But 58-28 is playing near perfect baseball, and getting to 96 wins and into the playoffs that year was a nightmare. In a more competitive AL, with the Sox as good as they are, it is a near impossibililty to repeat that after playing .500 ball through almost 80 games. After only 39 games, there is time to turn it around, but it really has to start with these next two series against the Mets and Red Sox.

Here's a look at the position by position matchups for the Subway Series, Shea edition:

C: Lo Duca is having his typical solid season (.288 avg, .341 obp, 14 rbi, 16 r, 2 hr, 2 2b). Posada is having his typical top 3 catcher in the game season (.371 avg., .428 obp, 22 rbi, 25 r, 4 hr, 14 2b). He leads the AL in batting.
EDGE: Blowout City, Yankees.

1B: Delgado has probably been the Mets worst offensive player. It's too bad he doesn't play right so we could compare his hack job at the plate to Abreu. But he doesn't, and Giambi won't be playing with no DH, so that means the Yankees will be running the disaster that is the Minky/Phelps platoon out there.
EDGE: Mets.

2B: Cano is the third part of the Delgado/Abreu left-handed trifecta that can't be called hitters. He hasn't been able to adjust to not being a sidenote in the lineup anymore after hitting .341 last year. Damien Easley is apparently distantly related to Albert Pujols.
EDGE: Mets.

SS: I don't know if Reyes is playing or not, but I'm assuming he will. When healthy, they have both been amongst the top 10 players in the game this season, and are the best players on each of their respective teams. If one is injured, the edge goes the other way. But I'm going even here, just so that any Mets fan who reads this doesn't have an ulcer because someone said that a player outside of Babe Ruth himself was better than Reyes. I wish I was kidding.
EDGE: Even.

3B: Wright is surging a little bit after a tumultuous start. A-Rod is struggling a little bit after one of the best starts ever. But the numbers aren't close.
EDGE: Yankees.

LF: Alou is out, and Matsui has been sizzling of late. But Endy Chavez and Carloz Gomez (Who by the way looks very good. But not a single scouting publication has him rated higher than Jose Tabata, the Yankees top outfield prospect. I know Tabata is 3 years younger, but if Gomez can do it Tabata should get a shot.) bring an explosive energy to a team that feeds of that energy.
EDGE: Even.

CF: Umm, I, uhh, don't, uhhhhh know, uhhhhh, who, uhhhhh, the Yankees center fielder is, because the one getting $13 per to lead off and and roam center every day can only do it once a F'n week. I say play Melky, we saw last year what happens when he plays consistently. Either way, Beltran is a monster.
EDGE: Mets.

RF: Shawn Green is back (on the juice), and Abreu looks like a lost t-baller at the plate. He is starting to take more consistent at bats, and he is showing signs of kicking what got him in trouble, pulling off the ball on every freakin pitch. Green is still batting almost 100 points higher.
EDGE: Mets

Friday Pitching: Pettitte is one of the best pitchers in baseball to date, and his improved arsenal has allowed him to be totally unpredictable. Feeling comfortable throwing his cutter and curve in big AL left field parks has been a big plus. But the Mets hit lefties. Oliver Perez has been good, and the Yankees don't hit lefties, but we'll see if Ollie can get an AL lineup out with fastball-slider.
EDGE: Yankees.

Saturday Pitching: Glavine has enough deception on the change to keep the tough Yankee righties off him, and he'll mow the lefties down. Only way he gets into trouble is if he is out of the strike zone. Rasner has been getting by, albeit effectively, without any sort of bigtime stuff. He is due for a shell job, and the Mets could be it.
EDGE: Mets.

Sunday Pitching: The marquee matchup of the series. Even though the Yankees are running highly touted prospect Tyler Clippard out their for his first major league start, I think everyone who cares about baseball wants to see Maine against the Yankees. Until his last start Maine has been untouchable, but this is an AL lineup, and a struggling Yankee team who crushes right-handers and is ready to break out at that. Could go a number of ways. But it will be interesting. Clippard is the Yankees 6th ranked pitching prospect, but he is also one of the most seasoned, polished, and advanced in the system. In 8 games and 39.2 innings at AAA thus far this year the 22 year-old, 6-4, 200 pound, right-handed Clippard is 3-2 with a 2.72 era. He hs struck out 41 over only 17 walks, and has only given up two long balls. He is a strikeout pitcher who doesn't have electric stuff, which speaks to his pitchability. His fastball tops out at 92, and he sits 88-90. His curve and change are both quality pitches, and he is very comfortable getting them over. For this reason he often pitches backwards, throwing off-speed stuff for strike early, setting hitters up for his fastball. He has a tall, lanky body with long arms, which plays well for his mound presence.
EDGE: Definitely Mets. But even if Clippard gets shelled against a great offense in his first start, that is going to be overshadowed by what everyone is watching, John Maine against the Yankees.

The Yankees need to think about 4-2 over the next 6. It won't be easy. I'll be rooting in each of these games like it's Game 7 of the World Series, and the Yankees better play like it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bench D.L. Pedroia?

Last week, I was planning on ripping all those Red Sox fans talking about how it was about time to bench Dustin Luis (to explain the title) Pedroia for Alex Cora. It's very true that Pedroia hasn't exactly been a silver slugger there in the nine-hole, and even my girlfriend noticed that he was swinging a bat way too big for him. But has he been that bad?

Better question: Is there someone else who should be benched instead?

Pedroia's hitting .259 with an OBP of .351. His slugging percentage is .365. Out of the ninth spot of the order.

Meanwhile, everyone was talking about the Red Sox' deplorable production from the fifth slot, and how after Manny and Ortiz, there was nothing. The Sox' 5-hole in 2006 was the worst in the major leagues, and this is supposedly why they didn't make the playoffs.

The Red Sox' fifth hitter is hitting .250 with an OBP of .355. His slugging percentage is .358, which is seven points lower than that of the undersized second baseman with the oversized bat. The fifth hitter is hitting for extra bases with less success as the ninth hitter. Is there a problem here?

So should the Red Sox be thinking about benching D.L. Pedroia or D.L. (as in Disabled List) Drew?

It's pretty cool how hitting for the first eight days, including a home run during the home opener, will give a guy permanent immunity for hitting .191 for the next 27. He's 8 for his last 50. I got an obscenity-laced voicemail from three of my buddies sitting in the bleachers on April 10, the home opener. This voicemail happened after Nancy's home run which, on May 16, accounts for 50% of his home runs this season. Funnily, I haven't gotten a similar voicemail for a long time.

Drew has only recorded EIGHT extra-base hits in the entire season. At this pace, he's due to have 35 extra-base hits in 2007. (This is not counting the one to fifty games he might miss for his back injury suffered last night.) For those keeping score (and I am), that would be $400,000 per extra-base hit for a number-five hitter. Sweet move, Theo.

People are giving the Sox a lot of heat for not keeping Mark Loretta or acquiring another second baseman. Pedroia's not ready yet, apparently. But maybe the guy under scrutiny shouldn't be the nine-hitter.

Maybe it's time to pick on the five-hitter instead.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I don't have time for Statistical Anomalies

Sorry to bury DV's fantastic post below. If you haven't read it, read it. There is a lot more statistical information available to prove, or at least support, a lot of what he is saying. DV and I have talked about it many times, and have both done a lot of research on the subject, but I don't want to say too much about it now because A. as a Yankee fan I don't want to seem like a hater, especially on a guy that is 7-0 and B. I don't want to jinx Beckett into not having his usual summer tailoff, something he has had in almost every year of his career, because the Yankees badly need this to happen.

What I wanted to quickly vent about was statistical anomalies. As DV pointed out in a recent comment, what has happened to the Yankees so far this year from a runs scored/runs allowed standpoint and the translation to wins and losses is a statistical anomoly. This is in fact true, and has been getting a lot of press in the media/blog world in the last few days. Normally, I am all over this stuff. It is all sabermetrically based, and that is my thing.

With the Yankees current situation, I have no time for this. I'd love to sit here and say what I believe, which is that baseball always evens itself out, and that the numbers point to this happening. I know that the Yankees minimum projected record based on runs scored/runs against and various other things is 20-16, and that this bodes well for the remaining 126 games. I don't care. They are 8 games back with a brutal 12 game stretch coming up. It is only May, but .500 baseball over the next two weeks and they are most likely looking at a double digit deficit going into June. Yikes.

The Yankees need to start winning games in reality instead of on paper. And it needs to start tomorrow. Because if and when the Sox do finally go from 110 degrees to 85, the Yankees have to be within striking distance in order to give themselves the chance to really get back in. I'd say that they are about at the limit of reasonable striking distance. Assuming that the Sox have no injuries, picking up more than two games a month on average over a team that pitches as well as the they do is a daunting task. Two games a month on average won't be easy, but it is at least manageable, especially considering the Yanks inexplicable ability to turn it on after the All-Star Break. But if they don't start finding a way to consistently pitch and hit on the same days right now, none of this will matter, because they will be too far back to "even themselves out".

F the statistical anomaly. Win baseball games.

Giving the finger

(Updated 7:39 PM: Sorry, for some reason it wasn't open for comments)

Okay, here we go. Sorry for the long layaway. I had some racing to do this weekend and, well, I dunno what Pat was doing, but it may have had something to do with being a senior. This is the end of the posting drought. There's been a reasonably long baseball-watching drought for this guy too, but now that classes are over--forever--there should be a lot more opportunity to write. Expect a 38 Bitches coming tonight or tomorrow. I hope I can cover another great Wakefield performance and the Red Sox' 6-run ninth yesterday (which I did see).

We gotta start with what an "avulsion" is. Because it apparently isn't a blister, but it's another problem that Josh Beckett had with the imperfection on his right middle finger. Maybe this is the same thing as the "cut" on his middle finger last August when he was unstoppable for the majority of the game before being taken out. I missed the beginning of the game, so I don't know how he was pitching before going down with the finger avulsion. But I'm assuming it was pretty good, considering he struck out seven guys in four innings.

This Beckett thing is nothing new. I mean, there is absolutely no argument that he's been terrific all year. Unlike last year's record, the 7-0 start hasn't been at all misleading. He's been spectacular. But you gotta start thinking about this. Obviously, as a traditional Josh Beckett player-hater, I remember this:

a) The blisters that landed him on the DL something like 9 times in five years (he put up good numbers when healthy),
b) The day he "didn't" have the blister against Baltimore (and pitched really well)
c) The day he had a "cut" on his finger against the Angels (and pitched really well), and
d) Yesterday, when he got this "avulsion" on his finger (and struck out seven guys in four innings).

This is not new stuff. Jackie MacMullan of the Globe wrote this in an article from November 2005:

"This is serious. A persistent blemish on Beckett's finger has almost derailed his promising career. Last season, he missed 15 days in June with a blister. In 2004, he went on the disabled list in May and again in July with the malady. In 2002, he landed on the DL in April, June, and August with the exact same problem: blister on the middle finger."

He's been terrific this season, and when he's healthy and is throwing his curveball, it's been unbelievable. But how often are we going to have to expect this guy to go on the DL and be replaced by Devern Hansack? Or, maybe worse, will we have to worry about what happened last year?

The May 15 incident marked the 1/4 mark for Beckett as far as innings pitched. In these starts, he was 5-1 with an ERA of 4.24. He gave up a lot of home runs (8, or 1.4 per 9 innings), but only walked 16 (2.82 per nine innings). After this incident (that wasn't a blister...of course), he was 11-10 with an ERA over a run higher (5.27). His HR/9IP figure rose to 1.64 and his walks skyrocketed to 3.4 per 9 IP. I wish I had pitch breakdown, but I don't. However, the Providence Journal this spring said that he was reliant on his fastball instead of his curve. The night that I particularly saw a lot of curveball use was the game against the Angels--and he went down with a "cut" on his finger.

It's a big question mark whether Josh Beckett will ever be able to throw breaking stuff correctly and consistently without eventually hurting himself. It sucks and it's unfair, but neither is life. A team's responsibility is to figure out if a guy can play baseball without his body breaking down. And if he can't, the team probably shouldn't give up a boatload of prospects or $70 million to have him.

Lots of Stuff

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. End of senior year for both DV and I. Lot of work. Lot of partying.

There is a lot I could talk about after the weekend, but right now it all comes down to one simple thing. The Red Sox are winning, even when they shouldn't be, and the Yankees are losing, even when they shouldn't be.

Yesterday's games were a perfect example. The Sox go into the bottom of the 9th down 5-0 after getting 2 hit through 8. They hang 6 on the O's in that inning, getting the final 3 runs of closer Chris Ray (who by the way is atrocious). Unbelievable.

The Yankees get yet another phenomenal start out of Andy Pettitte, who went 7 1/3 and gave up only 2 runs. With Horacio Ramirez on the mound for Seattle, this should be a W every time even if the Yankees have their Triple A lineup out there. The problem is that right now Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Robinson Cano are swinging like they never played T-Ball.

For two weeks everyone around Yankeeland was panicking about the state of the pitching staff. But that was pre Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, and now even Matt DeSalvo, who looks like a stud. Add them to Andy Pettitte, who continues to be one of the top starters in the AL, and even Darrel Rasner, who is finding a way to get outs despite not having a whole lot of stuff, and the pitching has been absolutely fine over the last 13 games since the Yanks last played the Sox, even without Roger Clemens.

I had a feeling this would be the case. What I didn't anticipate was that the offense, despite leading the majors in runs scored, would be underperforming on such an incredible level. Eight teams are within 20 runs scored of the Yankees. This should not be the case. An even bigger concern is that the timely hitting has been so poor. They don't get hits in spots and games that they need to.

The Red Sox aren't just winning fluke games either. They win games like yesterday, and then the rest of the time they are soundly beating teams with great pitching and suprisingly consistent hitting for what their lineup looked like in March. They are by far the best team in baseball right now.

My mental state has been officially upgraded to concerned in the last two weeks. At the end of the Sox series two weeks ago, despite the Yankees having a worse winning percentage than they do now, I was writing it off as the Yankees typical slow start and the Sox typical fast start. Now two more weeks have gone by, and the Sox continue to play very well, and the Yanks continue to play very mediocre baseball.

I'm not in panic mode yet. I'm not ready to hand the AL East over yet. But the Yankees have 12 consecutive games coming up at White Sox, at Mets, vs. Red Sox, and vs. Angels. Brutal. If the Yankees don't start hitting like they are suppossed to right now, and generally sustain that level for the majority of the remaining 4 1/2 months, it won't matter when Clemens shows up. Because he isn't going to give them anything more than they got for most of the last two weeks.

The Red Sox can't stay this hot forever. But if the Yankees don't hit, and the Red Sox continue to play consistently well, it isn't going to be easy to get back into this divisional race.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pitching Wins

It is an old cliche, but nothing could be more accurate in the game of baseball. Despite the fact that the Yankees lead the majors in runs scored, in 12 of their 15 wins they have held opponents to three runs or less. Shows that you can't slug your way to wins. Despite scoring almost a run less per game than the Yankees (a lot) the Red Sox have 6 more wins. This is because they allow 1.5 less runs per game than the Yankees (a real lot). It is a real simple equation. Having a tremendous offense can only come into play when you at least get some pitching, which the Yankees have finally been getting. The Sox have had it all season.

Josh Beckett improved to 7-0 last night. He has a 2.52 ERA, has allowed only 2 homers, and has struck out 40 compared to only 10 walks, an incredible ratio. DV has hated on him a lot. I have talked a lot about his trends of starting strong and then blowing up because of a loss of his curveball. Dry summer whether is not good for people with exima (spelling?), and almost all of his blister problems have occurred in the summer. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that his April/May/Sept. career ERA's are much better than his June/July/Aug. ERA's.

But at some point he may buck this trend, and we may be seeing that in action right now. I didn't catch the game live, but saw a lot of it on Red Sox in 2 or whatever NESN calls it. For the first time in his career he is pitching instead of throwing, and you can see this in his pitch sequences, location, and finish. He is spotting his fastball, and throwing his curve in any count, getting it over and burying it. He has struggled with all of these things in each year of his career prior to '07. But this year he has it all workig. No matter what he does you can never take away from what he has done in the first 6 weeks of the season. But if he can carry even 2/3 of what he is doing now into the summer, stay healthy, and put together his first complete year of his career, he is going to be dangerous, and DV and I will be eating a lot of words. Time will tell.

Andy Pettitte continues to be everything the Yankees had hoped for and then some, turning in 7 innings of 1 run ball last night. Unlike Beckett, he only has 2 wins, but with a 2.72 ERA, this is almost totally attributed to the bullpen blowing 3 saves for him. Lack of run support notwithstanding, he should be minimum 5-1. He doesn't have the gaudy K/BB numbers that Beckett has, but he is keeping hitters in the park (2 HR allowed), and has given the yankees 43 innings, 7 more than Beckett, 5 of which came in starts. This is not to knock Beckett, just to show how impressive Pettitte has been in terms of quality and length of his starts despite the low win total.

As I talked about a lot prior to the season, Pettitte was really going to benefit to coming back to the Yankees, even though he would be in a much tougher division. Pettitte had to re-teach himself how to pitch in Houston, which is not friendly to left-handers. He really developed his 2-seamer/sinker and change, in order to keep the ball away from right-handed hitters and try to force them to the big right field in Houston. This is a change from the predominantly 4-seam/cutter/curve/slider pitcher he was in lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium. That was an already impressive arsenal. But now he has confidence in the two other pitches, giving him 6 pitches he is throwing with regularity and effectiveness. Hitters have not been able to square him up to date because they are often guessing and off-balance, and I hope it continues.

Pitching wins. These two have been the staff leaders to date.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Meanwhile, in Toronto...

I love watching Victor Zambrano pitch against the Red Sox. 8 hits, 8 runs, 8 earned runs, 4 home runs tonight. Great night for the future salaries of current Red Sox. Every time he takes the mound, the more their stats get padded.

Just turned the game on, so I haven't seen Beckett yet. But they did show that he's one of the league leaders in run support. It really doesn't make much sense to me how some guys get support and others (Wakefield, Matsuzaka, Pedro in his heyday) don't. He did get good run support in his last season, too, explaining why he got 16 wins despite a 5.01 ERA.

One of the interesting things I've learned through my research for this paper is that wins are a totally misleading stat. Just a thought. But 7-0 still looks good, and at this point, it looks pretty likely. This year, however, Beckett deserves it.

Back to "The Bad" Zambrano, I'd say every time this guy pitches is an "ouch babe" for every Mets fan. This is who Jim Duquette traded Scott Kazmir for. I whine about the two guys in Florida I can't mention until Beckett either gives up one more homer or one more walk tonight. Those guys are no Scott Kazmir. Drew, can I get some thoughts out of you about this?

I lied, more Roger Clemens

Call me Joe Torre managing my bullpen. I said one thing earlier in the day and did another. I said no more Clemens, but avid reader and poster Tommy Gunn and I have had a good back and forth going about him, and his postseason, big-game, clutch performances.

You can go back and read The Gunn's two comments (under two different posts) to see his arguments. Its very worth reading. He said a lot, and I am going to try to take him point by point. I'm putting this in a new post because I think it is worth publicizing/opening up for argument to everybody else.

The Gunn listed 8 ''monumental" playoff games in which Clemens lost, and said that the true greats don't need anybody's help to win the big games. I have a problem with some of these games. Game 6 of the '86 Series? Clemens goes 7 strong, giving up 4 hits and only one earned run, striking out 8. Was he suppossed to come out of the dugout and back Buckner up? I don't see how that type of individual meltdown on a sure thing groundball has anything to do with Clemens. Game 7 of the '01 World Series? Clemens goes 6.1 innings, gives up one earned run, strikes out TEN, and again leaves with a lead. What is he suppossed to do, go all 9 innings, not give the ball to Stanton/Rivera, as good a set-up/closer combo in baseball that year? Game 4 of the '03 Series? He gives up a 3 spot in the first, then puts up 7 consecutive 0's to let his team get back in the game, which they did, sending it to extras. Jeff Weaver gives up a homer to lose the game. Not dominant, but not some sort of collossal collapse. If anything, he gave his team a chance to win.

So of the 8 games The Gunn listed, a list which he said was exhaustive, we can see that in one of them he pitched phenomenal, one he pitched great, and one he pitched well. Yes his team lost, but he had little to NOTHING to do with it. Got bad breaks from the rest of his team, and everyone needs help from their team, even "the great ones". No starter pitches 9 innings in every playoff game, or plays first base, or never gives up a run. They can just control what they do, which is get outs and give up as few runs as possible. Clemens was pretty good at that in those 3 games.

So that leaves us with five games, the '99 ALCS, where he got shelled, but his team won the series. Can we call this a "monumental" game, when his team wins the series 4-1? Not good, a bad game, it happens. Game 7 of the '04 NLCS. Agreed, that isn't stepping up in a big spot. Then we have his only starts in the '88 ALCS (Clemens goes 7, gives up 3, strikes out 8) where his team got swept by a better team, '90 ALCS (a legitimate bad performance, 1.2 innings and 3 runs) where his team again got swept by a better team, and '95 ALDS (Clemens goes 7, gives up 3, strikes out 5) where his team gets swept yet again! So he pitched very well in two of these games. We have to remember that he played in Boston during these series pre-2004, when the Sox could have run out a front three of Lefty Grove, Juan Marichal, and Cy Young himself and they wouldn't have been winning playoff series. So you can't just blame Clemens for pitching well and losing on inferior teams that were in a huge drought.

Yes, he started all 8 of these games where his team lost. Again, he had little to nothing to do with 5 of them, pitching very well to great. And if we focus on the games his team lost, even if he pitched well, of course he is going to look bad. But what about all the big wins?

Game 3 of the '01 series. The Yankees come home to New York down 0-2, after Mussina and Pettitte got spanked and out-pitched by Johnson and Schilling. Clemens in Game 3 with the chance to go down 3-love? How about 7 innings, 3 hits, one earned run, and nine strikeouts. Got the game right to Rivera, who went two scoreless, and the Yankees win 2-1. Clemens is anything other than spectacular and they lose. But he was spectacular.

Game 2 of the '00 World Series. Up 1-0, Yanks don't win and the Mets get a split, going back to Shea for 3 strait games. Clemens? 8 innings pitched, 2 hits, 0 runs, 9 strikeouts. How ya doin. How ya been. Hows everything.

Game 4 of the '99 Series. Sure the Yanks are up 3-love. But its the WORLD SERIES and he is going against Smoltz, so if The Gunn's ALDS and ALCS games are big, so is this. Clemens? 7.2 IP, 4 hits, one earned run.

The Gunn also talked about Clemens not having "the heart or guts" to pitch late into games in Oct. Look at the length of his starts above. Pretty impressive all around. Also remember that in '01, in the wake of 9/11, no team has ever meant more to a city in the history of sports than the Yankees to New York that year, especially once they reached the World Series. The city needed a diversion, something to REALLY root for and have fun with, and the Yankees were it. I don't need to say anything more about that. What does Mr. "no heart or guts" do in the World Series? In two starts, 13.1 IP, 2 ER, 19 SO. If that isn't heart and guts, I don't know what is, and I don't want it anyway.

My man The Gunn also talked about Boston preferring Pedro to Clemens in '04. That is legitimate, and a matter of opinion. But the year before, in the ALCS, each team's ace went head to head twice, once in a pivotal Game 3 after the Sox stole homefield, and the deciding Game 7. Clemens' team won both. Admittedly he was good in Game 3 and awful in Game 7 (his second legitimate choke we have covered), but if he is gonna get killed for losing all those games where he pitched great, then he is getting credit for winning games where he didn't pitch that well. The Yankees will take Clemens.

Finally, The Gunn mentioned that Yankees fans would be crazy to not want Pettitte, or Mussina, or Wang on the mound for a pivotal game instead of Clemens. I disagree. Same massive '01 World Series? Pettitte loses Game 2, and gets crushed in Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead. Is that a knock on Pettitte? Yup, and I love Pettitte. It just goes to show that even pitchers who are perceived as "clutch" are not sometimes, especially in the playoffs.

Clemens is a career 12-8 with a 3.66 in his postseason career. Considering he has been in 23 series, with multiple starts in many of them, that is very good, but not great. But he is 3-0 with a 2.37 in the World Series, the biggest of stages, and that is great. To put his "clutchness" in perspective, even if you aren't wowed by those numbers, consider that Greg Maddux, another top 5 pitcher of Clemens' era, is a career 11-14 in the postseason. So to answer the Gunn's question "Can I think of anyone less clutch? Not a one.", there is one right there, and there are many, many more.

This whole argument really has little to do with Clemens being with the Yankees this year. In fact it has nothing to do with it, he is better than Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright in the regular and postseasons, and that is all that matters. I just enjoy doing this stuff, and I know DV, Tommy Gunn, and many others do too. My point with Clemens in the postseason is that the only argument could be if it was great, or just good. But clutch, or disaster, or not a big-game pitcher? No way. We could go back and forth all day on good games vs. bad games, because everyone has both, but in the postseasn Clemens has had way more good than bad. I'll take the aformentiond games, even the ones he lost, all day because even if he wasn't dominant (which he was in many) he was giving his team a chance to win, and that is all you can ask for. If the greatest closer of all-time blows it, or a groundball goes through someone's legs, I'll deal with that. But that's not on Clemens.

I will let the Gunn and anybody else reply and get their argument in, but I will try not to keep replying, because as The Gunn and I have already talked about, we may have to agree to disagree. But numbers aside, if Clemens wasn't at least a very good big game pitcher, we would have heard about it a lot, we'd be hearing about it now, and I would be going nuts about it. For proof see: Rodriguez, Alex.

Poor Pat, Poor NY: The Umpires Hate You

This post is probably a direct correlation with the fact that I've been reading way too much of the wise-ass comments from guys like the Tank and Bandi.

But yes, how could you not feel bad for Pat and his beloved Yankees? They got absolutely screwed by the umpire last night. I read Pat's away message this morning and it showed me this picture Pretty obvious that the guy was out. The umps blew it big time, and it's just not fair. This kind of stuff always goes against the Yankees; they're the only victims!




Give me a break. According to a recent Washington Post article (from last year, right after that scumbag graduated from Wesleyan), Baltimore natives still "hate" Jeffrey Maier after the 1996 ALCS.




Pat, you want to talk about bad calls? Let's talk about Rick Reed blowing Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS, claiming that Chuck Knoblauch caught Jeter's throw instead of just bungling it. He lost the ball during the transfer to his throwing hand, right?

(Of course, most Red Sox fans didn't watch that game, or any Red Sox game until the 2003 ALCS. They were watching MTV and the Red Sox didn't have pink lines of clothing yet. Sweet.)

How about Knoblauch's "tag" on Jose Offerman in Game 4, killing another late-inning Red Sox rally? The tag that he missed by about four feet, but close personal friend of Knoblauch Tim Tschida determined he wouldn't defer the call to any of his boys with a better angle? How about when Tschida referred to his buddy as "Knobby" and Offerman as "the runner" during his post-game "I screwed up" press conference?

In other news...Dear Tim McCarver: Shut up. Jeremy Giambi was safe.

Conclusion: Pat, the Yankees have been more than fortunate during the past 11 years. The umpires might screw them once in a while during the regular season. (It balances out the balls right down the pipe that are called balls when Jeter dives out of the way like a drama queen and the balls right down the pipe that Jason Giambi leans into for HBPs.) Plus, any call that goes against the Yankees during the regular season is balanced by every call going in their favor during the playoffs. So shut up.

Finishing up Clemens and a Tough L

After 48 hours, and despite my happiness over the Clemens signing, I am already tired of the hoopla. He won't be throwing a big league pitch for 3-4 weeks, but nobody is going to stop talking about it. The Yankees have to play 20-25 games before he arrives, and they have to play well. They have a 6 game deficit to deal with, and they have to start winning with the good team with an already good rotation (when healthy) that they have. Clemens isn't going to work miracles, but miracles shouldn't have to be worked when you have a front three that combined to win 47 games last year.

On that note, I am going to say my last little bit about Clemens until he at least pitches a minor league game, but even then I'd rather hold off until he gets to the big league club. We had some great back and forth going in the comments section for the last two days, and thanks to everyone who contributed.

I am not in the camp that thinks Clemens is going to come over and be Johan Santana. This is not going to happen. I am in the camp that Roger Clemens is not that different of a pitcher at 44 than he was at 41. I think this is reasonable, and the numbers are there to back this. At age 41 in '03, he went 17-9 for the Yankees with a 3.91 in 33 starts. He is going to get 20-24 starts this year, depending on when he gets back. 10-12 wins with a 3.80-4.00 is what I predict. But it is just my personal prediction, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

But no matter what he is, he is better than Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright. And this is the reason I am so pleased with this signing. Last year the Yankees won 97 games with Johnson and Wright as the #3 and #4 starters. Now they are replacing those two places in the rotation with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. Bodes well for the Yankees for the next five months. Further, if they make the playoffs, games 3-4 won't be started by last year's twosome who went 0-2 in those critical games, but by Yankee playoff stud Andy Pettitte and Clemens. Even if Clemens lost every big game he's ever pitched in, I still want him on the mound more than Jaret Wright. And I think anybody would.

Yankees had one of those terrible losses last night that you lose sleep over. Rookie Matt DeSalvo, who the Yankees are high on again this year after he suffered a multitude of issues last year, was phenomenal. 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run. His fastball is only 88-90, but he spots it in and out, and has a solid curve with a bigtime plus circle change. He throws the change over 10 mph slower than the fastball, and it has nasty movement, so it allows his fastball to play better than it is.

But this all went to you know what for three reasons.
1. The offense was 1-10 with RISP and left 10 men on.
2. The second base umpire called Bloomquist safe at second on an attempted steal when he was out by 3 feet. One of the worst blown calls I've ever seen. There were 2 outs, would have ended the inning. Instead the inning stays alive, Jojima bloops a single to right, Bloomquist scores, tie game. This also allows #3 to happen.
3. Mariano Rivera's control is not right. With two outs in the 9th, he gave up a first pitch home-run to Adrian Beltre. There has been a lot of talk about Mo's stuff fading. Loss of velocity. Cutter not cutting. Well, he struck out Richie Sexon to start the inning on a 96 mph cutter that was there and then it wasn't. Stuff isn't Mo's problem, control is. He threw a high first pitch fastball to hitter who really turns fastballs around. This isn't Mo-like, his control is as big a part of his game as his cutter. If it continues, this is a big problem.

But Mo should never have had to face Beltre, and he shouldn't have been in with the game tied and less pressure on. He should have been in protecting a 2-1 lead to get the kid his first Major League win and bring the Yanks back to .500. But the ump butchered that call as bad as you can butcher a call, and that is ridiculous. I am always one to point out that bad calls happen, umpires are human, and over the course of the season it goes both ways. But in this case, the Yankees are going to have a tough time ever getting a call to go their way that was this bad in this big of a spot.

Ganar (38 Bitches Volume 6)

(Note: I started this on Monday and finished on Tuesday.)

1. On a personal note, I love how David Ortiz croaked one on Friday night against the Twins. The Twins released him after 2002, giving up on him. Then he was picked up by Boston for like 1.25 million dollars in 2003. Poor Terry Ryan will never live that down.

2. It's been a while since I wrote extensively on this blog. I haven't been able to write about "Dice-BB's" first-inning implosion on Thursday against Seattle. He has been quite wild so far this season, especially on the days where he's not on (AKA his last three starts). His last three starts have produced an ERA of 8.50 though the Red Sox still won all three games. Ever since his first start, we have not seen the dominant, "holy crap"-type pitcher advertised. Guys who predicted him to be a flop (like my boy Jeff) have cited his last three games as an example of how he's overrated. Big supporters, like myself, Pat, and J. Lester, have either been shocked or just silent. I want to know what these two guys think: Is he still a potential 15-18-game winner?

3. People don't fret about Manny Ramirez sucking in April. Ever. The last few days are why. 9-21, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 4 RBIs. There will be a time where everyone will take a vacation and Manny will carry the team on his back. It's just never in April.

4. Great to see Coco Crisp kinda getting it together. Kinda. The Herald article from Thursday was nice to see. Again, it's been a busy last few days, so I haven't linked it yet. Rob Bradford, an ultimate professional, doesn't even mention Johnny Damon's name.

5. I went to the Portland Sea Dogs game last night. When I bought the tickets a month ago, I thought I was going to see Jacoby Ellsbury play. But he got promoted after hitting about .450 in AA.

6. Josh Hancock got into an accident when he was drunk 3 days before his fatal accident. His fatal accident happened when he was double the legal limit and talking on his cell phone. You hear stories about people getting killed by drunk drivers all the time. But people keep on doing it. Makes no sense.

7. I am actually surprised for how LITTLE the Yankees paid for Clemens. It was very obvious that he was going to sign with New York. They were desperate (or at least they think they were), whereas the Red Sox (solid pitching so far) and Astros (not exactly in an arms race) aren't nearly as desperate. As Pat pointed out in his comment, the Yankees were playing .500 ball without Wang and Mussina. Put those guys back into the equation, move the inconsistent Igawa into the bullpen, put some of the minor leaguers back to the minor leagues, and the Yankees are once again the best team in the AL East. Now with Clemens, even if he's just slightly better than average at the age of 44 (and 45 in August), it will be enough to stabilize this rotation. Good news for the Yankees.

8. Not accounted for in this bill, also not accounted for in any of the research I've done about determining how much ballplayers are worth, is how valuable Clemens is to the Yankees because he's not pitching for Boston. Who would the Red Sox rather have: Tavarez/Lester or Clemens? That's what I thought.

9. This is one way to keep Scott Proctor from pitching every game and blowing his arm out. Have him throw at Yuniesky Betancourt and get him suspended for four games.

10. Don't expect too too much out of me for the rest of the week. I have a research paper due about the marginal revenue product of ballplayers (AKA how much a player is worth to a team, and, therefore, how much they would pay for a guy). I might recap it on this blog. It's probably better here than it is in my professor's hands.

Pasion (DV on Clemens)

Just responding to the 19 comments left on Pat's last two posts. Greatly appreciated. I'm glad to see how loyal of a fan base we have here at HYDB.

I'm here, at least to some extent. I gotta write a 15-page paper on the marginal revenue product of ballplayers, and if you really want my current state of mind, I have lots to say about the MRP of Clemens for the rest of this year.

Lots of great comments the last couple days. I gotta point out to Gunn that Jack Morris, though he turned in a very heroic performance in the 1991 World Series, is far from a "great" pitcher.

Donny's point about Clemens only lasting six innings is extremely legit. If Clemens only pitches six innings, that's two innings between Clemens and Rivera. Could be filled by Farnsworthless or Fat Bastard. Then again, I'd say Scott Proctor would fill both of those innings. Every time Roger pitches.

I'll agree with the player haters who think Clemens's ERA will be over 4 in the American League East. As long as he keeps it under five, though, I think the Yankees' offense will give him enough run support to minimize the damage.

As I may have written yesterday, the Yankees have already corrected themselves. It's a long season and it all evens itself out, even that eight-game losing streak. Yeah, the Yankees are still six games back, but they were one bad call away from being back at .500. I think they still would have won the division without Clemens, but the front four of Wang, Mussina, Clemens, and Pettitte, paired with the offense that will feast off of bad pitching, I won't be surprised if the Yankees run away with it.

I understand that Schilling, Beckett, and Wakefield have had great starts, but I'd say a few bad stretches are inevitable. Matsuzaka has to get the ball over the plate again also. But with an offense that, honestly, has and will encounter a couple of power outages, they can't afford to have a few bad stretches as much as the Yankees' staff can.

Should be an interesting few months. I have a new version of 38 Bitches saved as a draft; I will have that up this afternoon.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Weighing In on Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens signing with the Yankees for one year and $28 million, pro-rated, yesterday has dominated the sports media for the last 24 hours, and will continue to do so on some level until he throws his first pitch for the Yankees sometime in late May or early June. A lot of opinons, especially from the Yankees/Red Sox perspective, and many of them varied. I am sure, and hope, that DV will get in on the action soon. Here is my take.

Roger Clemens makes the Yankees a much better baseball team. It isn't even close. Yes, he is 44 and will turn 45 before the season is out. I don't care. For me it is about two things: the numbers and the presnece. I would rather have a 45 year old that has been hanging the unworldy numbers he has been (even if it is in the NL) and has the influence on an organization that he does, that a 25 year old that does not. He is in great shape. There has been no tail off in statistical performane. There has been no loss of stuff. He still throws hard, 93-94 consistently and 95 when he needs it. He still has a devastating splitter that gets groundballs and keeps hitters in the park. He hasn't lost his breaking ball, a hard slider. He still pounds the strikezone, walking few and getting a lot of strikeouts. All of the numbers are there to prove it.

I am one of the biggest advocates of how much more difficult it is to pitch in the AL than the NL. It drives me crazy that Chris Carpenter can be 49-49 for his career in Toronto with an ERA somewhere in the high 4's, and go to the NL and not only become a stud, but win a Cy Young. So the same has to be applied for Clemens' last three years in Houston. The difference with him is that the numbers have been so incredible in Houston (as oppossed to, say, a Carpenter), that even after you run multiple NL-AL conversions, Clemens still looks great on paper.

In his three years in Houston he posted ERA's of 2.98, 1.87, and 2.30. K/9's of 9.15, 7.88, and 8.10. HR against totals of 15, 11, and 7. Oppenents AVG.'s of .217, .198, and .216. Opponents OBP's of .292, .261, and .274. Most impressively, opponent's SLG's of .329, .284, and .323. The primary numbers are there. The perriferal numbers are there. These aren't NL fluke numbers. These are "I'm the best pitcher in the NL numbers". So at the very least, the Yankees are getting the best pitcher in the NL last year. The most encouraging part about it is that his dominant numbers in the NL played well to AL-NL conversions based on his five just very good, with one dominant, years with the Yankees. Once again, it indicates that Clemens hasn't had any loss of performance with age, which seems to be the critics biggest concern.

So forget the idea that maybe Clemens is over the hill. It could happen this year, and it will happen at some point, but it hasn't happened yet. And there is nothing pointing to it happening soon. He is going to help the Yankees, weather he has a spectacular year or just a good year. In his 19 stars with the Astros last year, he gave up 2 earned runs or less in 16 of them, led the majors in ERA from the time he started on, and averaged a shade under 6 IP per start. The numbers just go on.

You can also forget the idea that maybe he is just going to slide somewhere into the middle of the Yankees rotation, or that Boston didn't want him because he was going to be their #4. He is an ace in stuff and mentality, and would be such forboth teams, even if Beckett is lighting the world on fire. Clemens is still as good or better than every pitcher on each staff. Would Wang, Schilling, Mussina, or Matsuzaka have put up better numbers had they been in the NL? No. Maybe Schilling and Wang could have been near as good, but not better. Why? Because Pettitte and Beckett, both pitchers who are fairing very well in the AL this year, were in the NL for all or part of the same time period, and didn't have numbers anywhere near Clemens'. All of these guys (except Matsuzaka, who is new and hasn't really settled in yet) have been very good in the AL in recent years. Clemens has done nothing to show he won't be as good or better than all of them.

True, the Yankees needed Clemens far more than Boston, esecially considering the injuries to the rotation in the first month. But there was a reason Boston had Clemens and his agents in Fenway this past Tuesday night, and extended an initial offer of $18 million for one year. They knew he could help, and they knew that if he didn't help them, he'd be helping the Yankees. The Yankees need was great enough that they blew $18 million out of the water, and the Sox had no reason to follow. Much the way the Red Sox need for Matsuzaka was great, and the blew everyone else out of the water, and no one else had a reason to follow. This is what the two richest teams in baseball can, and should do.

The Red Sox have been healthy, have pitched, have hit, and have been the best team in baseball over the first five weeks. But the Yankees got to 14-15, essentially without Wang, Mussina, and now Clemens. They lead the majors in runs scored, and now with just Wang and Mussina back, they have won five of six. In 3-4 weeks, one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, with 348 wins, and the best ERA in baseball last year is on the way as well. That is going to make a big difference.

So that's my take. Looking forward to DV's. To close who would you rather have:

1. Wang
2. Clemens
3. Pettitte
4. Mussina

or

1. Schilling
2. Beckett
3. Matsuzaka
4. Wakefield

Thoughts? DV?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Roger Clemens is a Yankee again

The Yankees just beat the Mariners 5-0, making it 5 of their last 6 with a chance to get right back to .500 tomorrow. That is a week ahead of my schedule, but the pitching has to continue. Igawa showed again that he is feast or complete and total famine on Friday. Wang was nearly perfect yesterday, and showed why he won 19 games and finished second in Cy Young voting last year. Rasner was very good today, giving up no runs through 5 2/3, and continues to show that he could at least be a solid #5/long relief guy. The offense has been good all three games in the series so far. Very happy with the situation hitting and defense.

But the real story here is that Roger Clemens is at the Stadium for the game, and has just been announced as the newest member of the Yankees. There is too much to say, and this will be the hottest topic in sports for the next month, and especially the next few days. Everyone will be chirping, this blog included.

But I will just say one thing. Chien-Ming Wang, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina with Phil Hughes in late July. That rotation will go toe to toe with anybody. Clemens is a Hall of Famer and one of the best of all time. Who knows if he is going to be a 2.80 or a 4.20. Either way he is obviously a huge, massive, enormous upgrade over whoever he bumps from the rotation. However, the most important thing is that no matter what he does production-wise, he is a warrior on the mound with a lot of fire and energy every fifth day, a guy that has been there and done everything, and that is the type of thing a team can really get behind. Everyone's job, from Torre to Cashman to Jeter to Guidry to A-Rod to Mariano to Pettitte, just got a lot easier. Bigtime.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A lot of good signs in the Texas Sweep

At 12-14 the Yankees certainly havn't turned it around yet. But you can only take it one game at a time, and in the last three games, the Yankees probably couldn't have done anything more.

Swept Texas on the road (always big getting a sweep on the road, I don't care who you are playing), and the most important part was that they played very good baseball in all three games. Hughes, Pettitte, and Mussina combined to give up THREE runs in 17 1/3 innings on the trip. And Mussina was cruising, and easily could have gone more than 5 if not on a strict pitch count in his first game back. We can now officially welcome Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Hideki Matsui to the 2007 baseball season. Now only Bobby Abreu is in a coma. Bottom line is that the offense is producing again, and is doing it both through single inning explosions and timely hitting/good situational baseball. Even the bullpen only gave up 3 runs in 9 2/3 innings of work. They looked more like their first two week form, and that has a lot to do with the starters working deeper into games. Solid baseball all around, hopefully it continues. They look like the team they were constructed to be.

Quick note. Can we talk about Derek Jeter? Not only does he have a 20 game hitting streak, but has hit safely in 59 of his last 61 game and reached base safely in 68 of his last 69. I have been looking into it, and as of yet I have not found anyone outside of Joe D who has hit safely in more games with only two games without a hit. Incredible. He has the most hits in baseball since 1998, and currently has more hits at this age than Pete Rose, the All-Time leader in career hits. People love to knock Jete because they say "he doesn't do anything spectacular", especially in the age of Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and Jimmy Rollins, who all thrill with speed. First of all, there is something to be said for the fact that Jeter does pretty much everything well. His only weakness is going to his left on defense. But even this is partially made up for by how well he goes to the hole, probably better than any SS in baseball. Also, I think that his ability to hit the baseball (a pretty fundamental part of the game) is pretty spectacular. Just look at the numbers above. Not to mention he hit .391 w/ RISP last year, best in baseball. That is spectacular in the all important clutch department.

Yanks have 4 coming up against Seattle at home, followed by 3 against Texas at home, followed by 3 at Seattle. I said earlier that over the 13 game stretch that started Tuesday 9-4 would be ideal. They are 3-0. That means 6-4 over this next 10 is what they need to get to. If they get the pitching and timely hitting they got in Texas, I don't see what it has to stop there.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tradicion

I figure that my next few posts can be titled after this year's "Papelbon is so intense on the mound" commercial. NESN can be obnoxious; so can I.

First off, my boy J. Lester asked me this morning what I think about the Red Sox one month through. What can I say, it's been a good month. As far as I'm concerned, the staff has pitched 100% to potential. It's unfair to expect that they're going to repeat that. Injuries or at least aches and pains are inevitable, and one of these days one (or several) of these guys will have a bad game or a bad stretch of games. That's how baseball is. I hope people don't go into panic mode when that happens. But except for Tavarez, the rotation has done exactly what it's been asked to do.

The Sidekick, named AL Rookie of the Month for April, has headlined the success of the Red Sox' bullpen. It's scary to see a lot of those guys take the mound (Snyder, Romero, Piniero, Timlin), but even Piniero and Snyder have somehow posted an ERA of under 3.

Papelbon is so intense on the mound, but he blew his first save Tuesday night. Quit buggin, it's gonna happen. As the guys at Eustis say, they'd take 8 perfect saves for one blown save. The Sox were the last team in baseball to blow a save this year. So chill out.

While I'm on that, I remember last year before Papelbon blew one, all of PF's Red Sox friends (probably many of the people who have now become regulars on HYD Baseball) said that he'll probably never blow one, and that Pat can't wait until the day it happened. I remember the universal shock when it happened last year, and yesterday felt the same way. People were all like, "what just happened?" But the guy's human. Don't worry about him. He's still one of the best in the business.

That said, he shouldn't talk to the media about his contract. That business is a good 18 months into the future. And even if you do feel this way (which most ballplayers, Eustis student workers, and employees for any firm do), don't say stuff like this, as quoted by Rob Bradford of the Herald:

"My main priority is to stay healthy and be able to make money, not to go out and try and hurry up and win a championship this year (at the risk of injury). It’s not like I’m hurrying up and going back to the closer’s role because we have a good team this year and I’m going to blow (my arm) out and try and win as many games as we can (at any cost). No, it’s not going to happen. I’ve got a lot of money to be made in this game, whether it’s with Boston or not."
The offense lost a few games for the Red Sox in April, especially ones pitched by Matsuzaka and Wakefield. This is going to happen. Nancy Drew hit .419 in the first nine games; since he's hit .189. But on the flip side, Coco Crisp is really starting to play some good baseball: He's riding an eight-game hitting streak and his defense has been unbelievable lately. His arm still sucks, but that's life.

This kind of Boston Dirt Dogs headline is also life: "Johnny on the Spot." Just another example of Coco Crisp's raw deal in Boston. Coco Crisp is not Johnny Damon. This is life, but sometimes life is total B.S. By the way, after two more hits last night, his batting average is now 21 points higher than Damon's.

Lastly, it is appropriate to say that J. Lester (not my friend, the pitcher) is going to return to the Boston rotation shortly, replacing Tavarez. Speaking of unreasonable expectations, I am afraid that everyone will expect this guy to pitch like Papelbon or like Beckett has so far this season. Cancer or no cancer, that's also not fair. It's true that he won his first five decisions, yes, but his last seven outings were much less impressive.

He went 2-2 with a 7.75 ERA and 1.92 WHIP. That's not impressive by any stretch of the imagination. He'll be an upgrade from Tavarez (and Tavarez would likely be an upgrade over whom the Red Sox decide is the least common denominator in the bullpen), but don't expect Lester to be a Cy Young Award winner.

That's all for now, I'll have more to add later. This is our country.