Congratulations to the New York Yankees for their 13th consecutive playoff appearance. An amazing comeback from a dismal first half makes this very special. We will be a force in the post season. Believe me....no one wants to see the Yankees right now. Thank you A-Rod for persevering the rude reception in 2006 to show the world why you are the greatest living player and the 2007 AL Most Valuable Player. Go Yankees!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
I'm going to keep this short. Sweep TB and sweep Baltimore and we're going to win the division. Six games, six wins, one more Division Title. Boston will lose two. I guarantee it. Anything short of running the table and we're the wild card. Mark it down. Go to work fellas.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
So the Yankees win perhaps the ugliest and most painful game I've ever witnessed. The bad pitching spread from the Bronx all the way to Tampa apparently as Al Reyes blew a save that would have put the Yankees back within a game of the Red Sox. That's not an isolated incident either. Look at his last two appearances versus Boston:
1 hit (HR)
1 BLOWN SAVE
4 hits (2 doubles, 2 HRs)
1 BB (intentional: Ortiz)
Consider that those two D-Rays wins would have helped the Yankees by putting us in a tie in the loss column with the Red Sox and we should be sending a few "toughs" from Legends Field to Tropicana to make Reyes and offer he can't refuse.
Game still not over, but I can't resist posting again. The pen is shit. Farnsworth is the most egregiously awful of all the players on our roster. He's stealing money. If he's on the post-season roster (provided we are in the post-season) I will personally drive to the Stadium and clothesline him. Ugh.
Last night was unfortunate, but it was a very tough game. Great competition. One timely homer decided it. Tonight is 100%, undeniably, inexcusable. We've wrested the lead from Toronto with huge innings time and time again. We're talking 3 and 4 run innings. A-Rod has been magnificent. The pen comes in and throws ball one, ball two, line drive single one, line drive single two, walk three, etc.....
It's the top of the 4th now, and Hughes just gave up a 2-run single to the previously 0-23 Thigpen. He had Thigpen 0-2 and let him foul off 100 pitches before giving in with a weak, loopy curveball.
I've held off on posting this sentiment for a while, but I've almost typed it several times. I'm unimpressed with Phil Hughes. He's young. He's obviously got some gifts. He just doesn't have anything resembling a commanding presence on the mound. Make no mistake, I'm not saying he's bad. I'm not saying he isn't ready or that he doesn't belong, but I'm still unimpressed.
Considering he was named as the top pitching prospect in the sport, he hasn't lived up to his reputation yet. Joba and Ian Kennedy both look much more dominant and comfortable than Hughes, not to mention Yovani Gallardo. Fastball....okay. Curve....inconsistent. Other pitches?
A perfect example of Hughes' unimpressive outings is one at bat in today's game. Adam Lind's ground rule double to left scored the Jays first run. Lind entered the game hitting .230/.273/.381 and Hughes fell behind him 2-0. Both pitches were little dinky-dunky crap that should never come out of his hands, let alone to a bad hitter like Lind. It may be unfair considering the difference in velocity, but Joba doesn't ever throw like that. Strike one might be a 98-100 mph fastball or an 88 mph slider, but they usually are in for strike one. That's an effective way to pitch. Face it, if you throw strike one you get a huge advantage. They either hit it, make an out, or you're in a position to control the remainder of the at bat. If you throw ball one, you have to come back with a strike or risk really getting in trouble. That one pitch can make or break an at bat.
Hughes' key to success is trusting his stuff and challenging hitters with it. He's too good to be playing around on the mound. He's not Mike Mussina at the end of his career. He's not Tom Glavine. Until he decides he's going to do that he'll get Guidry out there with that now familiar stern visage lecturing him mid-inning. He'll get another dozen visits by Posada mid-at bat. Hopefully, he'll come out next season with a new attitude. He has to.
Friday, September 21, 2007
It's not over in the wild card folks. 4 games now. 2.5 behind the Sox. No reason to panic, but that was a completely anticlimactic 14 innings of baseball. After the 9th and after Mo, Joba, and Viz you just KNEW the Bombers were going to win it. Each creeping inning passed, and it became less and less likely. That magic feeling wore off and then there was Zaun. If Frank Thomas, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, or Joe Carter hit the game winner you'd tip your cap and remark at what a great game that was. Greg Zaun. Meh.
Wang versus Halladay.
Beckett versus Kazmir.
Could you start the final push with a pair of more dramatic matchups? I'll give you my take on both games and perhaps offer a prediction for what we might see in what promises to be the best drama of the year for a one night stand.
First, I will look at the two pitchers going in the other matchup. Career versus Tampa Josh Beckett hasn't been all that good. A small 4 game sample shows the following numbers for Beckett:
This year Beckett is probably going to walk away with the Cy Young though. He's a bit different in 2007, and has only really faced Tampa once. He dominated them to the tune of 6 innings, 9 hits, a walk, 3 runs, and 9 strikeouts. The Red Sox won that game 15-4. They scores 6 in the first, 3 in the second, and 4 in the third. Hardly a tough day at the park for the Boston boys.
Beckett's opponent tonight is Scott Kazmir, who seems to kill Boston. His career numbers against the Beantown Boys are:
This season Kazmir has started 5 games against Boston and has 30.2 innings pitched, 28 hits, 13 walks, 1 home run, 40 Ks, and a 2.64 ERA. It's hard to argue that Kazmir doesn't have Boston's number. What's more the Red Sox come in on a 4 game losing streak in which they've only managed 8 total runs. They were shut out 1-0 by Kazmir on the 10th of the month and are without Manny, and possibly Youkilis, Crisp, and Ortiz. All are ailing in one way or the other. I expect to see two of the three play, but Manny is definitely out. With the troubles the Sox are having the pen also is without Okajima for the next 5 days, and I have a hard time seeing them win if several of the regulars miss the game. My prediction:
Tampa 4, Red Sox 3
On to the Yanks and Jays. Halladay is a flat out monster. That is, when he's healthy. He's up to 210 innings now, but all signs point to a very tough ace heading into town. Halladay has had very little in the way of bumpy roads in recent weeks and months and looks every bit the Cy Young caliber pitcher we all know and hate. Against the Yankees his numbers are outstanding, with a 3.10 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .247 BAA in his career. He's been good against the Bombers again this season and I expect him to be lights out again.
Wang has been very good lately. He didn't pitch well in his last start in Boston, but really hit his stride after some early August struggles. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Wang's worst outing of the year came in a 15-4 loss to Toronto when he only went 2.2 innings and allowed 9 hits, 2 walks, and 8 runs. Ouch. His career numbers aren't very good against Toronto either, with an ERA approaching 5.00, so I don't see things going our way tonight. Unlike the Red Sox, however, the Yankees are on a goofy roll, winning 12 of 14. Of those two losses, one was lopsided in Boston and the other was an Ian Kennedy masterpiece that unfortunately ended in a tough 2-1 walk off loss thanks to Chris Britton. That means that we were really close to winning 13 out of 14, and in my book that means we're nuclear hot. I still can't see it tonight. My prediction:
Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3
If my predictions hold, we'll stay 1.5 back and the race will continue. I'm just hoping that all the numbers that we've seen are moot with the recent explosion by the Bombers and we'll pull out some whooping sticks against Halladay. If we can do that, look out. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
2.5 games back? How did this happen? Are the Bombers just playing games with us, or are they actually about to catch the Red Sox? The wild card seems all but sewed up now with Detroit staring at winning all 10 of their remaining games to even have a shot. I've been saying that the Yankees should only worry about the wild card until they get it, which I think is now. Who knew that we'd be in the division picture at this point, as well?
The Sox are still without Manny and Youkilis and they play at Tampa and home against both Minnesota and Oakland. The Yankees are home for Toronto and away for both Tampa and Baltimore to finish things out. If we can close things out with a win tomorrow and then an 8-2 run to finish the season, the Red Sox would need to finish 7-3 to take the division, thanks to our win in the tie breaker (the season series). Basically, counting on a win tomorrow, we need to beat the Red Sox by 2 games over the final 10. Don't you think that's doable people? I do.
I'm going to say the Sox close things out at 6-4. Here we go....
Thursday, September 13, 2007
A lot has happened this season, some of it eye-gougingly frustrating and some of it worthy of celebration. At the All Star Break the Yankees were a dismal 42-43 for the season. That's a winning percentage of .494 and a 162 game pace of 80 wins and 82 losses. Ouch. The last Yankee club that was that bad is found way back in Buck Showalter's first year with the club, 1992. That Yankee team went 76-86 and finished 4th in the division. I'm willing to bet that more than a few blog readers are either too young to remember those days and can't envision what that means in the Bronx.
The fact is, the Yankees are the highest payrolled club in American sports. Finishing out of the playoffs for a team with this kind of budget and the kind of resumes that its players boast is unthinkable. A disaster of incalculable proportions. The beauty of baseball is, the end of the season almost always meets expectations, be they individual statistics, team goals, or concessions sales. These Yankees are finding their late season correction just at the right time and have put up the best record in baseball since the break. Since early July, the Yankees are now 41-19, which is a .683 winning percentage and a 162 game pace for about 111 wins. I think it might be interesting to look at the batting and pitching lines for the key Yankee regulars to identify just how well they have played.
Jorge Posada - .359/.465/.647
Robinson Cano - .341/.400/.559
Derek Jeter - .281/.354/.376
Alex Rodriguez - .320/.441/.675
Hideki Matsui - .312/.375/.525
Melky Cabrera - .308/.355/.460
Bobby Abreu - .321/.389/.578
Johnny Damon - .279/.363/.421
I left out the rotating cast of first basemen because Phillips, Duncan, Giambi, and now Mientkiewicz simply don't have enough of a sample size to be worth examining individually. Collectively, I'd be willing to bet that the numbers are very nice, but I don't have the time or patience to sort them out. One interesting note is that Derek Jeter is by far the worst Yankee regular since the All Star Break. The average and on base percentage are substandard for Jeter, but the lack of power is startling. He's not a power guy by any stretch of the imagination, but .376 slugging is Juan Pierre territory. You know that the sluggish numbers are a product of the Captain playing through injuries for the team, but they are awful nonetheless. The notable improvements on this list are obvious. Cano and Abreu have been smoking hot and have joined Jorge and A-Rod to present a frightening combination of hitters scattered throughout the lineup. There is no safe stretch of innings for opposing pitchers. One of those guys is going to get his turn at bat every single time you take the mound.
The pitching should be interesting as well.
Chien Min Wang - 4.13 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and more hits than IP
Andy Pettitte - 3.14 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, reduced walk totals but more hits than IP
Roger Clemens - 5.06 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and more hits than IP (.299 BAA)
Mike Mussina - 6.22 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, more hits than IP (.359 BAA!!!!!)
Phil Hughes - 5.28 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, fewer hits than IP (.237 BAA)
Clearly, Pettitte and Wang have carried this club from a pitching perspective. Clemens and Mussina have been downright awful. At their prices, one might argue criminally awful. Phil Hughes' numbers have been deceptive. He's pitched very well for the most part. His trouble has been with walks followed by XBHs. The BAA is very nice and he's kept the ball from falling in more often than not. Ian Kennedy seems to have sorted out a spot in the rotation that covers Clemens and Mussina given any injury or ineffective pitching concerns. I wonder if he'll be carried on the post-season roster.
The concern for the Yankees in 2007 looks about the same as the end of 2006. As we appear to creep closer to a playoff spot, the offense is carrying the load, while the pitching is barely adequate most nights. In the playoffs, that mix has exposed us the last few seasons with last season's ALDS standing out above the rest. The names are there. Clemens is prime among those famous surnames. The question now will be, "Can he give us 3 more lights out starts before calling it quits?" Those starts are, of course, big games in the ALDS, ALCS, and WS. Moose is almost a guy to write off as a loss at this point, but I'm encouraged by the prospect of having Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain in the pen for the playoffs to enter at the first sign of trouble.
The pen is a mess really. Who is included on a post-season roster? Bruney? Britton? Igawa? Farnsworth? Villone? Edwar? The last three names on that list would probably have to be penciled in as "yeses" based on our knowledge of Torre. The first three would qualify as "nos", with Chamberlain, Hughes, and possibly Kennedy in the mix. I wonder what you think.
Here's to a fun last couple of weeks. Go Yankees!!!
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Hey fans of COH.....what's left of you. I've moved back to New York from Japan, at least temporarily, and I'm getting my life set up. At the moment I'm struggling with internet access so the blogging is a bit thin. To bad. Things are just getting interesting and I enjoyed the final game of the Yankees sweep of Boston at the Stadium.
Please don't give up on me. I will be back in a matter of either hours or days, so keep the faith and continue supporting COH as you have been all along. Back in the NYC mix again folks.....