Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Winning Series

Well pitched game on both sides tonight. And when that happens there is usually a lot less that happens, which means a lot less to talk about. Lackey and Pettitte both worked around one of the worst strike zones in recent memory to turn in excellent first starts of the season. Lackey was sharp from the start, and Pettitte had to battle a bit early, but once he settled in he rolled too. Lackey is the kind of guy you have to really grind, because he's going to grind you. You have to take what he gives you and try to mount rallies base runner by base runner, which the Yankees did not do tonight. Which was odd, because they have had good success against Lackey largely doing exactly that. Pettitte is Pettitte. What he has done against Boston in his career is pretty impressive.

Have to give Ortiz credit where credit is due. There has been a total overreaction to his first two games, and Pettitte was showing him soft away, soft away and the Ortiz got to his inside fastball. Great piece of hitting and a huge hit in the game at the time with both pitchers dealing.

Same goes for Nick Swisher. Tremendous AB vs. Bard. Kid throws hard with absurd breaking balls (looks like two - slider and curve) and change up. Swisher stayed right on it and got to an inside fastball for an RBI single to tie the game. Biggest at bat of the game pre-Granderson.

What a first series for Curtis Granderson. You homer off Beckett in my first at bat, and you homer off Papelbon in extras to win the third game of the series. His bat speed is incredible. I knew he had power, and I'm not sure if these two homers are not indicative, but if they are he has more power than I knew. These have been absolutely downtown.

So much has been made by many (myself included) about the Yankees being able to replace the overall production of Matsui/Damon/Cabrera with Granderson/Johnson/Gardner but maybe not the ability in the biggest spots. So far so good. Nick Johnson gets the game winning RBI yesterday, Granderson today. Granderson in particular is tremendous to see early, because that was such a huge hit off a fop flight pitcher against your rival in the first series of the season on the road. That's a lot. Johnson playing his patient game in a big spot was great to see too though, as it also gets the job done. It's only three games, but good start.

Both Pettitte and Lackey let out big fist pumps after ending innings tonight. In April. In Game 3 of the season. This topic is already way too drawn out, but one of my favorite ideas is that athletes should alter their temperament based on how big the game is or what point in the season it is. Temperament is a big part of performance for many athletes, and they get paid to perform at the highest level every night. That means not adjusting temperament no matter what point in the season, as every pitch and every swing should be approached with the same level of intensity. Again, that's what they get paid huge amounts of money to do. Winning tonight is just as important as winning in August. If they approach this game differently than they would a World Series game, then that is how you ultimately end up coming up short in both situations and everything in between because you aren't being consistent. Consistency is important for athletes, which is why they should, and thankfully largely do, approach every game the same way. At least the great ones, or those that aspire to be great, do. For some it's going to mean being way more demonstrative than others, and so be it. Good job by Pettitte, Lackey, Joba, Pedroia, and everybody else doing a good job in this regard in this series.

All you want to do every series is win it. Good job by the Yankees coming back from losing a tough game Sunday night to take two close games on the road in a tough environment to close out and win this series. They have had a penchant for starting slowly as a team in recent years, and it would be nice to build off of this solid start in probably the toughest circumstances they face during the regular season (Red Sox in Fenway).

I love beating Jonathan Papelbon.

24 comments:

jason said...

i didnt know you were playing, other then that listening on weei they didnt mention the fist pumps i am very dissapointed the sox did not take advantage of the runners they had on early in the game, you figure the way lackey was pitching if they score early they probably win

PF said...

very good point jason. sox convert a few of those early opportunities in this one and this game probably theirs.

this is one of the more clever baseball related things i've seen in a while.

http://nomaas.org/2010/04/what-jonathan-papelbon-thinks-about-run-prevention/

from the bronx said...

great to see granderson get that HR. he's a tremendous player, always has been, and i'm glad that so far its worked out for him with the yankees. that is also the kind of HR that will buy him some time in the Bronx if he slumps on the first homestand, which can be important for guys adjusting to life as a yankee.

also, i have to add that gardner's AB/sequence in the 10th was terrific. working the walk, stealing 2nd after torturing paplebon on the mound for 10 minutes... he was clearly in paplebon's head. i'm also not sure that the sox infield doesn't try to throw home on the ground ball that scored gardner if it is anyone but gardner at 3B. the focus should be on granderson for his HR and HGH for his pitching, but gardner manufactured every bit of that insurance run by himself, which definitely helped the effort by giving rivera a bit of a cushion.

The Oz said...

Allow me to play the role of The GM for just a moment.

The Red Sox are going 1-161 this year.

End of The GM moment.

Obviously a disappointing first series for the Sox. It's early, so I'm not going to spell the doom of the season like Shaughnessy. However, you have to believe the first thing Beckett did after his 4.2 inning effort Sunday was sign that 4 year extension... like walk off the mound and right up to Theo to sign it.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go Bandi here and stir things up.

This is where the Yankee financial advantage really plays itself out:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/baseball/mlb/04/08/forbes.list.ap/index.html?eref=sihp.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

oz -

good point on beckett.

gunn -

we all know the yankees make more money than everyone else, and that's ultimately the driving factor in net worth. but how much does that really tell us, outside of knowing that they have the most money? because the reality is there are mid-small market teams out there that "have" a ton of money, and aren't spending it on payroll for whatever reason.

and that's really what we have to look at, what are teams spending? none of us know what these teams' business looks like, and why they spend what they spend. we just know what they spend. in that sense, for whatever the business reason, the yankees' payroll has been in the same range for the last 7 seasons. in the last 8 years, the red sox payroll has gone up by nearly 60% (along with the mets, cubs, and phillies). and this does not include money spent in the draft and on international free agents, where the red sox are spending as much if not more than everybody, and that money is just as significant as money spent on payroll. a dollar for a snickers and a dollar for a reeses is the same thing, and i don't know why we largely ignore that in baseball.

add all it up and these teams still aren't in the yankees' "range". fine. in the verducci book team officials from around the league do everything short of laugh at the notion that the red sox aren't grouped with the yankees as opposed to being grouped with everyone else. fans of the red sox seem very concerned with making sure they do in fact separate themselves from the yankees, and that's acceptable because for the time being that's the case when just looking at the two teams (and ignoring the massive financial advantage the sox have over most of the rest of baseball all considered).

but the red sox and a few other teams are closing the gap. that is where my question lies, and it is the same one i pose to my buddies who root for the mets and are always talking about the yankees' money: where is the line? and i mean that on two different fronts, which are related. first, at what point are these other teams' spending just as massive as the yankees? i know my met fan buddies have been complaining about the yankee payroll since back in the early 2000s, and the met payroll has now vastly surpassed that number they were complaining about with the yankees (as has the red sox). second, at what point are these teams in the same group as the yankees on paper? we group other teams that are at least $20 million or so apart in the same group, probably more. we certainly don't look at a team with a $135 million payroll and one with a $110 million payroll and say those teams are on different financial stratospheres (again without factoring in how much they do or don't spend in other places, which is a key). i just want to know what this number is. the red sox are $40 mil away now, up from $80 last year. is it $20? $10? where do you draw the line?

Patrick said...

case in point, the highest operating profit in baseball was the marlins (!) at $46.1 mil. following them was the boston red sox at $40 mil.

the only other thing i'd add is that i think all of this is a great thing for baseball. i think it's great so many other teams are having financial success and plugging it back into their teams, especially in these tough economic times. it makes for a better game.

my question is, why is everyone so sensitive to separating themselves from the yankees' spending, like it's a bad thing? isn't it a good thing to be moving towards them, both from a business and baseball perspective?

Anonymous said...

Pat,

I personally don't care if the Red Sox are grouped with the Yankees (i like being the bad guy), however you'd be hard pressed to argue that the Yankees having twice the net worth of the Red Sox doesn't help them significantly. You haven't really refuted that point, and I think that's the main point the Gunn was making.

Whatever "grouping" we put the Yankees and Red Sox into is irrelevant. The truth is that the Yankees have a significant financial advantage over the Red Sox and and so we are going to bring that up.

Do the Sox spend more money than most other teams? Yes, and for that very reason I am fine with other fans looking at the Red Sox with resentment and wishing they had our kind of payroll.

In the end, what we are talking about is not the overall equity of the game, and where the Red Sox stand in relation to every other team. We are talking about Red Sox vs. Yankees, and them meeting head to head, disregarding every other team. Because of the advantage the Yankees have, they should never lose a series to the Red Sox at home or on the road. If they do, it's a huge upset.

Finally, the fact that the Red Sox payroll is growing, and the gap is shrinking, doesn't mean that there isn't still a significant gap.

bandi

Patrick said...

bandi,

i'm not refuting that point because it's irrefutable. what gunn is saying is 100% accurate and i'm not sure it can be argued against. nor do i really care to. i hope the yankees continue to have and expand upon their financial advantage.

what i am saying is that it's possible net worth is misleading relative to what we all care about, which is what happens on the baseball field. your point (and gunn's), that a near twice as much edge in net worth is so large that you don't need to dive into a more micro analysis to see that the yankees have an edge. and i agree with that. my question is how much? i don't think it's as much as the big gap in net worth would lead you to believe. because if it was, as the yankees' net worth has grown by nearly half a million, why has their payroll remained unchanged? there is a business side of baseball that has to be considered, not just what is spent on the 25 man roster, or even on all of baseball operations. i'm looking to make that distinction and raise some questions rather than refute anything.

Patrick said...

*grown by half a billion

Patrick said...

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/yankees/driving_it_home_T1TycVPEgqKeA00zpiuQHM

not surprising joel sherman and i are on the same page about the importance of cano for similar reasons, i literally agree with almost everything this guy writes. i also don't know if it's possible for another baseball player to do a 180 in my book the way rodriguez has. i freaking love this guy. i may have to buy a #13 "CLUTCHROD" t-shirt this week.

the gm at work said...

My thoughts on the game:

Papelbon is so intense on the mound, but unfortunately he can't be effective with one pitch, especially if he sucks at locating his pitches. The bullpen blew their first save of the season (how does my 37.5 look?) JD hit two weak ground balls to the right side, including a 4-6-3 double play. This is what A LOT of Red Sox games are going to look like this season. An anemic offense, stellar starting pitching ruined by mediocre (but not disastrous) bullpen performance, including that of the closer who is just flat-out not that good anymore.

The payroll stuff, as I've said, is the fault of the commissioner and his hideous negotiating skills against the MLBPA. There should be harsher penalties both for spending too little (hello Florida!) and spending too much. They look at major league payroll like Theo Epstein looks at OPS--there are other ways teams can spend to exploit administrative inefficiencies (i.e. the draft, international free agench), but those are going ignored. Look, I'm into capitalism as much as the next guy (as long as the "next guy" isn't Obama), but a level playing field is good for both small-market teams and large-market teams.

Anonymous said...

PF/Bandi

Never have I posted so few words and gotten so much of a response. I might start doing more of this.

As for the substance of that article I agree with Bandi (that's partially why I posted the link in the first place) in that the Yankees really do have as much or more of a financial advantage as the average person perceives. When you look at the value of the Yankees being twice as much as the next most valuable team you really can't compare them to any other team. You can compare the Sox and the Dodgers and Cubs and Angels to one another. But just like you can't compare the Sox and Cubs to the Pirates and A's, you can't compare the Yankees to anyone. They are in their own world.

That being said--this is America. And I know that everywhere kids at liberal arts colleges are beyond furious that someone should have a capitalist approach to life, but in the real world (or at least the real world before the current administration's attempts to make America communist/socialist) nobody cares about why you finish first or last, but just that you finished first or last. And as we've mentioned many times before, nobody in the Yankee organization is cheating. They aren't breaking any rules, and in fact, they have every right to be annoyed with the teams that complain about their spending, because after all, the Yankees, like all wealthy people in America, pay a heavy share of taxes (in their case, luxury and revenue sharing) that help keep those other teams afloat. Those other teams can't have it both ways, just like lower income individuals can't have it both ways--you can't bitch and moan about the wealthy and then at the same time benefit immensely from the social programs created with the tax money gleaned from their incomes.

With all that in mind, it doesn't change the fact that the Yankees are in their own league. It's not a reason to complain for sure, but it's a legitimate point to make and as such the surprise should not be that the Yankees win the division eight out of every ten years--the surprise should be that they don't win it EVERY year.

Lastly and to change subjects, I may be in the minority here, but so far I like this Red Sox team. They are going to win a lot of games this year. Some things aren't going to change--David Ortiz isn't going to be 2007 David Ortiz ever again. JD Drew is still going to be frustrating, still won't get hits in big situations, will still strike out looking or ground into double-plays in big spots, and Josh Beckett will continue his Jekyll and Hyde existence. That said, I like Mike Cameron, I like Beltre, and I think Lackey will emerge as the ace this year. Those are good things to build around guys like Pedroia, Youkilis, Martinez, and Lester. I expect to see the Sox playing baseball in October.... as the wild card, nine games behind the division winning Yankees.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

"But in the real world nobody cares about why you finish first or last, but just that you finished first or last."

Gunn, I don't know if you stole that line from someone or thought of it yourself, but that just got posted in my cube. That's the kind of stuff I need on this blog.

Bandi

Anonymous said...

Bandi

I don't steal anything from anyone and I don't give myself nicknames. I'm glad you enjoyed that. I'll do my best to keep it coming.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Interesting Gunn, because I didn't bring up the nickname issue. I think we are all generally willing to take you at your word but we have to ask questions when you continuously raise the issue without provocation.

Patrick said...

gm/gunn/bandi -

really great stuff today. one of the most interesting comments sections in a while.

i think we are slightly talking about two separate things. in terms of pure financial might, i don't think any of us are going to dispute that the yankees are by far and away the most powerful in baseball.

what i'm slightly distinguishing here is finances just as it relates to the baseball field. major league roster, money spent in the draft, money spent on the international FA market. you can even throw in salaries of front office executives and managers, etc. because no matter how much money you have, there may be reasons why only a certain amount gets spent. the yankees are a perfect example here, as they have basically topped out around $200 million. could they go higher? i'm sure. but they don't, for whatever the reason. maybe a business decision. maybe a baseball decision, because remember with huge dollars usually becomes huge years, and as i discussed this winter it is the years more than the dollars that can be a problem for a baseball roster.

so looking at it from a pure dollars spent on baseball perspective, where is the line? teams like the red sox, mets, phillies, and cubs are creeping up on the yankees. if it reaches the point where the yankees are at $200 million, the red sox are at $190, and the mets are at $185, are they in the same league? does it have to be even? where does the line get drawn? because no matter how much money you have, in terms of financial advantage on the baseball field, it's really about what you choose to spend. the marlins could spend a lot more money, but choose not to, and we still group them as one of the cheapest teams in the league despite the fact that they could spend more, because we base it on how much they actually spend. i think the same should largely be true, for baseball purposes, of all teams. and looking at in that light, i'm wondering where the line gets drawn that other teams would - not saying they ever will - get grouped in with the yankees. because it seems unfair to me that teams like the red sox and mets, or at least their fan bases, can do as much bellyaching as they do about the yankees, while they continue to blow away payroll barriers, creep closer to the yankees, and exert the same financial advantage over 75% of the teams in baseball that the yankees do over them. again, i think all of this is a good thing. i just want to know where that line gets drawn. because i have mets buddies who were complaining about the yankees $150 million payroll seven years ago, but don't seem to have a problem with their same payroll now. and that's what i'm looking to eliminate. at what point are these other teams' payrolls "unfair" to the rest of baseball as well.

Patrick said...

agree with bandi that line from gunn was amazing. i love that stuff.

as for the red sox, i agree with gunn, i think this is a really good baseball team, one of the five best in baseball. the one concern i have after these three games - and i'm basing this of not only that small sample but the larger one of each individual's career performance - is are the red sox a team that can consistently grind you offensively? i think they'll get plenty of pitching from lester and lackey at the top with the remaining three spots in the rotation giving the ups and downs that will ultimately result in good overall production. i don't think the bullpen will be spectacular but i also don't think it will be a problem, though bard and papelbon both have to be really good, and last night was not a good start. i also think that there will be periods, especially at home, when the offense is really clicking and they are scoring tons of runs. they certainly have hitters that can get hot like that. i think the concern is when they aren't all clicking at once, or when there is really good pitching on the mound, are there enough guys who can really grind it. sometimes you have to put 14 base runners on to score the 3 runs you need to win, stuff like that. outside of pedroia, martinez, and youkilis i see a lot of guys going very hot and cold, and when it's cold i see too many potential easy outs 5-1 in the order. going hot and cold like this is something every team deals with, and the longer lineups are usually the ones that persevere. just look at the yankees this series. tex and rodriguez went 2-28 but they got so much from the bottom that they got plenty of offense, even in a game last night, the real grind it kind of game i'm talking about. i'm not comparing the sox lineup to the yanks, just stating i think that they in particular have a lot of boom or bust kind of players, and that could make for some prolonged hot and cold streaks. the ability to minimize those cold streaks is what i'm talking about as a concern here. i'm not saying it will happen, but i could see it being an issue.

the gm at work said...

Similar to the MLB draft and the inefficiencies that are hideously exploited by the large-market teams, it's a case of "don't hate the player, hate the game" for me. Can't hate the Yankees for doing what's within the bounds of the rules. You blame the administration that makes the rules that are so easily exploited.

the gm at work said...

And on the subject of the Red Sox, as I think I said, I predict last night to be a microcosm of the whole season. Opportunities quenched on the offensive side. Few runs scored. Lots of GIDPs. Stellar starting pitching. And the bullpen coughing up small leads--leads that may have been bigger leads (and therefore not coughed up) if the team could hit. Last night is exactly why the "run prevention" experiment will be largely unsuccessful.

Patrick said...

if we're being fair, last night's game was, to a T, the type GM predicted would be happening a lot to the red sox. dynamite starting pitching, not much offense but what offense they got was enough for a 1 run lead thanks to the starting pitching, and then a bullpen good enough to hold 3 run leads but not 1 run leads coughs up the 1 run lead. that's only one game, and the GM will need more to be correct, but that's a good start for his prediction.

the gm at work said...

38 blown saves. You heard it here first. Also, Drew is on pace for 216 weak ground balls to the right side.

Anonymous said...

DV's comments raise on obvious question: are you a real fan if you root against your own team just to prove a prediction correct? DV has done this on numerous occasions since the founding of this blog, almost hoping the Red Sox fail just so he can be proved correct.

Interesting.

Bandi

the gm at work said...

Bandi,

Find an example outside of Drew. I am not rooting for this to happen, I am just predicting strongly.

You are not a real fan until you pay your Red Sox Nation membership dues.