Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Always Great To Get The First One

Always great to get the first win. Now both teams have it. Puts less pressure on tonight’s game, and I’m glad that four days into the season I don’t have to worry about a sweep.

Burnett and Lester pitched near identical games. Burnett (5 IP, 3 ER, 9 base runners) actually slightly bested Lester (5 IP, 4 ER, 10 base runners). When you consider relative expectations, it was an average performance for Burnett, and a pretty shaky one for Lester. I thought both pitchers had pretty good stuff, good knock on both fastballs, Burnett got his curveball going big later in the outing, and Lester was flashing some nasty off-speed as well. Issue was location, particularly fastballs, and neither of these teams are going to be forgiving in that particular situation. Lot of damage done on the old number one that both pitchers were leaving out, up, or both. Each team had a chance to do even more damage that was done, but never broke through, and I suppose that is a credit to both pitchers but also an indictment of neither team getting the hit to break the game open.

Speaking of rally killers, someone should tell the player wearing number 2 for each team that the season has indeed started. I know Jeter has 3 hits in 2 games and Ellsbury 2 in 2 (one of which was a gift), but it seems like these two have had a chance to do damage almost every time up and haven’t gotten it done. At least both are playing good D, though Jeter drives me nuts when he lollipops throws to first on routine grounders. I don’t understand why a guy with an arm strong enough to patent a jump throw in the hole can’t just plant and fire to first. He makes plays more difficult than they need to be for Teixeira fairly regularly, and sometimes like last night it catches up to him. Thankfully it didn’t burn the Yankees last night, but at some point it will, and it’s so unnecessary. I understand the mistakes that everyone is going to make, even on routine plays, but this particular issue seems to crop up for him more than it should for a player of his ability.

Been impressed with Curtis Granderson thus far. Weak at bat against Lester with the bases loaded and one out in the second (struck out), and he’s made some outs in some big spots with runner on third and less than two outs, but he’s rocketing the ball almost every time up. Only two hits to show for it so far, but if he keeps hitting the ball that hard they will come. I like the way he attacks. Great play by Youkilis on him to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring in the 6th.

Nick Swisher is 2-2 with two doubles and a hit by pitch. When Posada doubles to lead off the 8th in a tie game, Swisher tries to bunt. I like the unselfish play, but that’s not the right decision there, especially considering the lefty in Okajima on the mound and lefties in Gardner and Granderson hitting behind him. Not sure if that was from the dugout or Swisher on his own, but he has to swing the bat there. Plus, it’s not like it’s August against Joakim Soria. It’s April against Hideki Okajima, who can’t wait to give a game away. Granted he got unlucky with the Scutaro error, but we have a track record with this guy that says Swisher should be swinging the bat.

At first I liked the fist pumps, then I didn't, and now I like it again. If Joba Chamberlain needs to pump his fist to throw 96 to corners with an off the table slider like it’s 2007 all over again, I hope he does it after every pitch. That fastball he threw to Beltre was one of the best I can remember him throwing. You don’t get a swing like that unless it’s nasty, and the Yankees couldn’t get Beltre out all of the first two games with him pounding fastballs. When he struck out Drew and went to the fist pump, I got up and fist pumped too, not because of what it meant to the overall game but because of what it meant to Joba. One game does not mean he’s back, but that was as in the right direction as any step you can possibly take considering what we were saying after Sunday’s game. Importantly, he struck out Beltre on a 1-2 pitch and Drew on a 2-2 pitch. No three ball counts. Why? Because he was pounding his fastball. And when you have a fastball like he does, you're supposed to throw your fastball and get ahead in counts, not nibble and get into hitters counts. This is not rocket science, and is often a big part of the problem when he struggles in my opinion.

Great job by Girardi not making the same mistake two games in a row and getting Burnett out of there after five. However, he has to relax with playing bullpen matchups. I say it all the time, the more relievers you bring in, the greater the chances are that one of them is going to have a bad night. It worked last night, but it did not work Sunday night. If a righty looks good, you are better off leaving him in to face a lefty than brining in a lefty who you don’t know if he’ll look good or bad. At least in April. Plus, and I know this may seem like a wild notion, there are indeed righties that can get lefties out and vice versa. To end on a positive note after a win, I thought Girardi did an excellent job going right to Gardner for Thames when Lester was out of the game. A lot was made of starting Thames last night, but I didn’t have a problem with it. May as well figure out what you have in Thames early against one of the best lefties in the game. Gardner is going to get plenty of playing time, and isn’t going anywhere, so you want to try to figure out where and how guys like Thames fit in.

As far as starts go for my most important Yankees' hitter, it doesn't get much better than what Robinson Cano has done. 4 for 8 with a double, a homer, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. And he isn't missing.

Finally, last night is just another example of how important Alfredo Aceves is to this team. He can turn 4-5 inning starts by starters into 7-8 inning starts like he did last night. He can also keep tie games late/in extra innings tied for a while. Those are the two main ways he helps, but there are others. It's so big to have a versatile guy like him who can really be effective in the pen.

Enjoy the game tonight.

24 comments:

The GM said...

Pat,

I got up and fist pumped too, not because of what it meant to the overall game, but because of what it meant to Joba.

Heartwarming.

I do agree with you about Alfredo Aceves. Part of the dominance of the good Yankee teams in the 90s was Ramiro Mendoza. And I know you're sick of hearing the comparisons, but good teams have guys like that.

I did not see Number Two's two hits, but the at-bats I have seen have been awful. I don't like watching guys strike out looking at balls right down the middle.

The GM said...

Hitters worth a crap foul off anything close.

Patrick said...
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Patrick said...

not heartwarming. i was just fired up. the yankees need him to pitch like that. not only for the good of the 2010 team, but because you don't want to see a talent like that flop.

i don't think i'll ever get tired of that comparison. and that is a good comparison right now. aceves is important to this club, just as mendoza was to those teams. and i agree with you, it can be very important for any club. very underrated role.

TimC said...

When Joba struck out Drew and went to the fist pump, I got up and fist pumped too, not because of what it meant to Joba but because I am so disgusted with the concept of JD Drew that I am now openly rooting against him. Nothing ground breaking here, especially since DV is one-half of the blog, but Drew makes rooting for the Sox less fun.

Patrick said...

not heartwarming. i was just fired up. the yankees need him to pitch like that. not only for the good of the 2010 team, but because you don't want to see a talent like that flop.

i don't think i'll ever get tired of that comparison. and that is a good comparison right now. aceves is important to this club, just as mendoza was to those teams. and i agree with you, it can be very important for any club. very underrated role.

Patrick said...

haahahahahhahahaahhahaha. well played timc.

Anonymous said...

Can we get a scoreboard on the side of the blog that records the Yankees record with Brett Gardner starting and without Brett Gardner

Patrick said...

hhaahahha also well played bandi. people are fired up today. now we just need to get gunn and kaplan to jack a few things up for us.

the gm at work said...

If we were all dreamers and we all slept in, we'd all be full of energy.

After the seventh or eighth time Chamberlain threw at Youkilis, I started rooting for the talent to flop.

Tim, nobody will remember that heinous Drew at-bat last night, but he'll hit a double to put the team up two runs in the seventh some time in May and everyone will remember that. I thought you were gonna ask me about JD Drew having the second-highest OPS of all AL outfielders.

Bandi, as Jason would attest to, I don't even get the chance to update my fantasy team. It is hard enough for me to look at Drew's box scores on a daily basis. I am not keeping track of the Yankees' record when the guy starts or doesn't start. If you want that scoreboard, you might want to ask the dreamer who sleeps in to learn how to use a computer.

from the bronx said...

gardner's presence in the game last night was instrumental in the victory, and he was hardly at fault for the loss the other night.

last night, in the first inning, ellsbury scored a run that probably should have been charged to joe girardi because he reached on a lazy pop fly to left that gardner could have caught easily but marcus thames was too lazy/slow to reach. later, when he came in the game, he made a productive out advancing a runner to third with less than two outs and then came up in the 8th and extended the inning where the yankees took the lead.

so far, so good for gardner in 2010. lets just hope he gets the at bats he deserves.

jason said...

lol @ dv
its rosters like this that don't make me feel bad about having the minimum innings rule in place

the gm at work said...

What is this, Twitter? Speak English and bring something to the table.

from the bronx said...

also, completely disagree with everyone who is excited that joba is doing twirls and pumping his fists on the mound. it is the second game of the regular season... he needs to grow up and stop acting like such a classless slob. he could be so talented and have such a great career, but he is such a jackass and it bothers me that people don't tell him to stop it.

jason said...

twitter uses the pound symbol, and i believe that ragging on someone is just as good as bringing something to the table.. or am i wrong?

Patrick said...

let's all play sports like robots, not show any emotion, and most importantly be more concerned with how we are perceived on the field than how we produce on the field. bandi i know you agree with this so i look forward to your concurrence.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

I do agree with you on the issue of displaying emotion in sports and I don't really have an issue with Joba fist pumping, just like I don't have a problem with Kaplan fist pumping in response to the completion of mundane daily tasks.

Having said that, I also understand where the Bronx is coming from in that I think one of the things he is saying is that it's not just the fist pump, but the totality of Joba Chamberlain that becomes obnoxious. Joba is a jackass, and not just because of the fist pump.

Joba you want to all intense? Fine. Show up in shape and don't be constantly running your mouth.

At this point Joba is basically the Yankees version of Papelbon, only not as good at baseball. He could be so much more which is the frustration.

bandi

Patrick said...
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Patrick said...

correct, but what i'm saying is that they are two separate points. what i am talking about here is strictly showing emotion relative to on field performance. i think that is separate from other things that may potentially be holding someone back from reaching their potential. everyone on here knows i don't like papelbon, but if he needs to do whatever you would describe him as doing (it's certainly not a fist pump) to get himself amped up to perform, then so be it. he's not hurting anyone. same goes for joba. i really am a believer that certain guys need to be geeked up to perform, others need to be emotionless, and about a million different permutations in between. every athlete is different.

the other stuff you are saying is totally accurate. i just think that being an emotional athlete on the field, if it relates to performance, is separate from other kinds of obnoxiousness/not fulfilling potential, like showing up out of shape. i do not think the two are related. one thing i have been very pleased with this year is that joba seems more in touch with reality. he often seemed to have some IPK difficulties with how he was actually performing last year, and that's not good. this year he took what has to be a pretty big slap in the face - losing a spot in the rotation that he held last year to someone not in the rotation - and has handled it with class, talking about how the results were based on performance and he didn't win and now has another job to do to help the team win. he even sought out john smoltz to discuss how a pitcher can successfully deal with going back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. i'm not saying any of this is going to definitively have a positive impact on his performance and/or his career, but it is signaling a level of maturity from joba that did not seem to be on display in 08/09 (he was fine in 07, saying all the right things as a rookie).

maybe i'm being an optimist, but i believe in giving people a chance. i think so many fans are quick to take someone who is brazen and makes some mistakes and just decide that everything he does makes him a bad person and/or player. i think that gets taken way too far. joba is a baseball player, and a 24 year old one at that, and i think we need to keep that more in mind when rushing t o judgments/conclusions. i like to needle certain red sox players as much as any, but when we boil it down i would say the same about them. if joba is on any team but your own, are you going to like him? of course not. but you could say that about a million athletes. i just think there needs to be some separation between being someone who needs to be amped up to perform, and someone who does so in a contrived fashion that may be more related to off the field immaturity. for joba i think the issues are indeed separate.

the gm at work said...

Pat,

Now THAT is bringing something to the table. I think you're right about most of the above. Although the Bronx is fair and accurate when he basically says Chamberlain should act as if he's been there before. Doing the bull dance like Happy Gilmore if you're up three in the eighth is a good way to look like a complete ass. But if the other extreme is to look like JD out there and play like JD out there, I'd want a player on my team to do the Chamberlain thing.

The Smoltz stuff is valuable content.

And the part about how the emotion is real and not contrived is probably your best piece. Not only because I can contrast it to both of your corner infielders, but also because I think you're right about that. It's like telling Tiger Woods to not celebrate after he hits a putt.

Patrick said...

thanks, gm. and i really do believe that to be true. do you ever see joba or papelbon go wild in the middle of an inning? no. but you can see in their face how fired up they are. last night when joba struck out beltre it looked like he was going to explode. and i'm not saying this in the "JoBa's a FireBreAthIng BulL!!!11!!!" kind of way. i'm saying legitimately, he looked that revved up. it's possible that he and papelbon need to get themselves to the brink on the mound in order to succeed, and then they let it all out right after it's over. i don't know if that's the case, but it's possible. just like your excellent analogy to woods letting it go after a big putt, when the hole is over. do you ever see that after a big drive? i don't think so. and i just don't see the big deal with that. again, i'm not trying to protect anyone from being needled for that type of behavior. if you want to be that exuberant, you better be prepared for teams and fans alike to shove it in your face. that's totally fair. but in terms of actually thinking that type of behavior is a problem or a sign of someone being a less than stellar person/athlete, i just don't get it. it's sports, it would be boring if we didn't have a little bit of emotion. but that's not the most important thing. some guys may actually need that emotion, which brings us back to the whole contrived thing. if they need it, i'd rather they use it and perform, than not use it and not perform. last year, i didn't see a lot of the look that joba had on his face after he struck out beltre last night. i'm not a believer that correlation equals causation, but i'm also not the only one who things we might have causation here, including people in the yankees' organization

Anonymous said...

Pat,

You are an optimist. That's why I refer to you as Sunshine Patty.

I agree with what you are saying overall but you have to admit that what you do both on and off the field contributes to your overall image. It might be appropriate for Joba to care about what his image is given the tradition and glory of the Yankee empire that you often reference.

bandi

Patrick said...

oh please. give me 2007 production and i don't care what his image is. at least on the field. off the field it's important to do the right thing. but i could care less about any of that crap when we are talking about on the field performance, like playing a certain way. it's about producing and winning.

from the bronx said...

gm, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. joba should act like he's been there before. this is his 4th year of service time in the majors, and as much as i want the yankees to focus on the game in the division (against the red sox in particular) it is the second game of the season and the first week of April. there is no reason to be acting like that because you got a guy to swing and miss. if it were a big out in the playoffs or world series, or if it was late september and the yankees were fighting to make the post season, i am much more okay with it. but in the first week of april, it is behaving like a jackass and showing up the other team. further, there is a lot of territory to inhabit between "emotionless robot" and "complete jackass." no one is ever going to accuse jeter of playing the game without emotion, but he never shows up the other team. joba is an immature kid, and he is needs to get put in his place before he really comes off the rails - personally and professionally.