Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baby Yanks falter as the big boys down Twins

Didn't get to watch the Yanks play tonight. I had the pleasure of seeing some future bombers performing at the AA level against my hometown New Britain Rock Cats. I love watching the kids play, if you can't already tell from my unwavering support of Hughes, Chamberlain and IPK.

It's exciting to see what could be down the road even though the Yanks are pretty good right now.

Anyway I had the pleasure of seeing the Afredo Aceves pitch a solid game against the Cats suffering only one bad inning where he allowed two runs on three hits including a two run double that top rated prospect Jose Tabata sort of played into a triple in the right field corner.

Aceves still did well walking none while striking out five. Jose Tabata lined a single in four trips and Austin Jackson went 0-4, so I was disappointed by the bats. It was an exciting (and cheap) night at the ball park.

Minor league baseball is great. Though commercials are replaced by the annoying contests for kids in between innings, the food is cheap and every seat is a great seat. If you have a minor league team near you I would suggest giving them a chance it wont cost you too much and you might be pleasantly surprised at the quality of play. Plus you might get to see the next David Ortiz or Francisco Liriano.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Red Sox manage not to lose on the road

Today was the first day in awhile in which I woke up and saw that the Red Sox did not lose to an inferior team on the road. Obviously, they didn't play last night and they desperately needed that day off. With the injury bug hitting many of  the regulars, a day off is always welcome. I know every team in baseball plays better at home than on the road, but it seems like the Red Sox are two different teams. I can't begin to imagine a solution to this problem, but hopefully a four day trip to Baltimore is the answer. 

On another note,  it doesn't seem like Dice-K injury is that serious. He will probably miss a start maybe go on the DL for two weeks, then come back rested and ready to go. The bottom line is that the guy is throwing too many pitches because of all the walks. His innings count is not that high (64) but his pitch count is over 100 in 7 of 10 appearances. Now, Dice-K needs to throw strikes, but Francona needs to learn how to count. Dice-K has a lot of milage on his arm and Francona uses him, in my opinion, carelessly. Francona needs to protect this guy, because without him the Red Sox have a very average pitching staff.  The rest of the staff has been a bit inconsistent and injured so let's try to protect the health of the guy who is 8-o with a 2.53 ERA please.

Dice-DL and Random Notes

Dice-K is getting an MRI on his shoulder. Right now the problem is being called 'fatigue.' Ya think? That's what happens when you throw 200 pitches per start. I like a new moniker for him that I saw on the Pete Abraham blog the other day, Dice-BB.

The Rays somewhat unexpected success has been well documented this year, but no one in Tampa seems to care. The Rays are drawing about 17,000 per home game. That is worst in the AL. It's worse than the Royals for blog's sake.

Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens continue to play leap frog on the career strike out list. The Big Unit is tied with The Rocket after last night's start. Johnson has a 10.8 K's per nine innings ratio over the course of his 21 year career. That is just grotesque.

I think we'll have instant replay in baseball, at least to judge fair/foul calls, in about two years. It will be used on safe/out calls about a year after that. They won't be able to resist entreaties to use technology that just about all home viewers have available by that point.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I hate to think of how much he cried in little league

Wow. And I always thought the Red Sox were stupid for letting Orlando Cabrera walk in '04.

Kennedy out; Hawkins should follow

Well add IPK to the list of fallen pitchers. He and Hughes could be out a for quite some time, but with the way Rasner has been pitching it wont hurt that much. It also makes the Yank's decision on Joba that much easier. Now they don't have to worry about dropping anyone from the rotation, though, Kennedy was making that an easy choice even if he didn't get hurt.

After two bad outings that cost the Yanks last night's game and a shot at a comeback on Monday, Latroy Hawkins isn't doing much to keep himself in pinstripes. It's only a one year deal so the Yankees don't really have to grin and bare Hawkins in the pen. It would also allow them to continue the youth movement since they have a couple of arms tearing things up at both AA and AAA in J.B. Cox, Mark Melancon and Daniel McCutchen.

It would probably give the Yankees a better chance to win right now anyway considering that all of those arms have more talent than a lot of the arms out in the bullpen right now. But it wont really matter much if they don't start beating teams like the Orioles. Especially after they have two four run leads and a lead in extra innings.

Now it's Pettitte's turn to be the stopper and it's something he usually does well. The Yanks hit Guthrie reasonably well so hopefully the lefty gets some of that run support we saw wasted last night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red Sox Home Sick Again

Following my comments a few weeks ago regarding the Sox not doing too bad on the road, comparatively speaking, they lost five games in a row away from Fenway. Bartolo Colon had a solid outing Monday night to stop that streak. It got me to thinking, are the Red Sox a team that is too customized to win at Fenway Park? Obviously all teams try to take advantage of their particular ball parks. Half of a teams games are at home so it would be foolish not to. Teams fill their rosters to exploit a hitters' park or pitchers' park depending on a stadiums dimensions. In the Red Sox case, it's the Green Monster. Players like Youkilis and Lowell are constantly banging hits off of that left field wall. In many other parks those hits are fly outs. Does anyone else have any insights into this?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Matsui to the rescue

What a difference the worst team in baseball can make. One series after the Yankees got their first walk-off hit they get their first come from behind victory in the late innings. Now their back at .500 and hopefully that will keep the hounds at bay for awhile. Their luck is definitely turning though. Now they get to catch the Orioles as they are in the midst of a five game winning streak.

Who would have thought that the vaunted closer J.J. Putz would be done in by a slow roller from a pinch-hitting Hideki Matsui. Godzilla has always had a knack for coming through in the clutch.

It also helps that the Red Sox are on the road again which means victories will elude them until a return to the east coast or a trip to Seattle. Once again the Rays jump into first place and good for them. I hate seeing teams stay in the basement forever. They're good team and I like Joe Maddon as a manager (he brings that Angels winning style to Tampa which scares the crap out of me) but I don't see them surviving a September playoff race, but I also don't want to have to play them in a big spot in September.

The Yanks schedule isn't a killer one over the next couple of weeks and hopefully by the time I go to see them again in the middle of June they will be approaching ten games over .500. Here's hoping Rasner keeps doing his best Aaron Small impersonation today in Baltimore.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Yankees score again

Going into this weekend series with the Mariners the Yankees had scored more than ten runs once this season. Now they're 2-2 scoring a combined 25 runs in two games. It's a far cry from when they matched up against the Rays, Mets and O's and went 1-6. They scored as many runs Saturday as they had over the course of the seven games prior to this current win streak.

But I guess that's the way things go when you get to play the worst team in baseball. It is rather fascinating that a team could have Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn and be this bad. Though, to be fair Richie Sexson kinda cancels them all out.

It is finally nice to see Robbie Cano swing the bat well. I hated hearing people say that he needed someone to get on him and he was letting his new contract get to his head. His history has always shown him to be a slow starter it just so happens this year was slightly worse than previous ones. He'll probably still end up right around .300 by the season's end.

Now to more important matters. Jason Giambi needs to back away from the mustache bus and go shave. I know he is on a hot streak right now and doesn't want to mess with success, but I thought that was why he wore the gold thong. He has tried this stache thing before and at one point he even had most of the team sporting their creepiest facial hair. Let it go Giambino, let it go.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Red Sox Keep Rollin'

Now I know it was the KC Royals and they have been in the comfort of Fenway, but the Sox have quietly earned the best record in the majors. The pitching has fed off the Lester no-no. Everyone has been solid (I know Dice-K walked six but he got out of trouble when he needed to) and the bats have been heating up.

Now as promised, I would like to take a trip back to 2005, when the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell (a throw-in to dump salary) for shortstop Hanley Ramirez and some other prospects. Now I will never say this is a bad trade. The Red Sox got an Ace and a quality 3rd baseman for a couple of prospects, but it wasn't cheap. My thought is maybe they could have given up another quality prospect, perhaps even Ellsbury or Pedroia and kept Ramirez. (Think of the headline possibilities with the Ramirez twins) I don't know if Red Sox fans realize how good Hanley Ramirez is and how good he could be when all is said and done. Obviously, Florida is never on TV so I doubt anyone reading this has ever really see him play, but his numbers are sick. Think Nomar in his prime only better at the plate and a better arm at short. He makes Jose Reyes look like Mark Belhorn.

Let's take a look at last season: .332, 81, 29 and he was 23 and making the league minimum. Let me say it again, your boy is sick. Think of it this way; Ramirez is A-rod if he got lazy and stopped going to the gym 10 hours a day in the off -season. Again, the Red Sox got two great players and there is no way they win the world series last year without those two guys. But in 10 years when Ramirez has three or four MVPs Red Sox fans should remember he could have been hitting the ball off the Monster all those years.

Sports or Politics?

The other day I was listening to John Kincade fill in for Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio and he purposed a very interesting question to his audience. If you could pick any of the three remaining presidential candidates to win the election this fall, but your favorite sports teams would be terrible for as long as they're in office. Would rather have the president of your choice or the good sports teams?

The response on the show was pretty much in favor of sacrificing the presidency for the good sports teams. There were a few patriots out there who would want their candidate in office but most felt the success of their favorite team would bring them greater joy and almost everyone had an excuse to justify their choice.

I would pick my teams to be honest. I just think that the success of the Yankees or the Eagles brings me greater joy on a day to day basis than any changes a president make. I know it isn't the "right" choice but hey Philly has never won a Super Bowl and the Yankees haven't won in seven years which is a Cub-like long time for Yankee fans. Plus, I couldn't stand seeing the Sox go unopposed for a four year, possible eight year period. It would just make me sick.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kennedy remembers how to pitch; Cano how to hit

Look out, here come the Yankees. Two in a row is a move in the right direction; not to mention that IPK finally had a solid start. He walked a few to many but he gave them six solid innings keeping them in the game, and that is all the Yankees need from him right now. It's also nice to see the Yankees coming back on a team and having a little late inning life. They've lacked that late inning magic all season.

With the Mariners coming to town you would think the Yankees will keep this momentum going especially since they beat both Bedard and Hernandez earlier in the year when they swept Seattle at the Stadium at the start of May. Personally, I don't like it when a team is playing poorly and they come in to play the Yankees. The Mariners have to win sometime and the odds are getting better that they'll run in to one soon, especially with their two aces on the mound.

I haven't weighed in on the Joba move yet either, but my stance is pretty simple: he belongs in the rotation. Period. You don't sacrifice 200+ good innings for 70+ great ones. Now Joba is in no position to give them that many innings this season or even next season, but with Pettitte struggling, Kennedy having an ERA north of seven and Mussina being such an uncertainty they have to give Joba a spot.

Anyone who argues otherwise just doesn't understand the dynamics of pitching in baseball today or who Joba Chamberlain is as a pitcher. First an foremost the Yankees have Rivera signed two more years after this year. Those who want Joba to close will not have the opportunity to see the benefits of him holding that position for a long time. You can find someone to pitch the eighth inning anywhere. All you have to do is play the hot hand and the Yankees have about three guys who could all fill the Joba role this season or next depending on how quickly they push the likes of Mark Melancon or J.B. Cox.

Radio personalities in New York seemed to be obsessed with keeping him in the set up role(most notably Mike and the Mad Dog). Everyone needs to understand that Joba is a starter. He was a starter in college and a dominate starter in the minors. He wasn't just a mediocre starter he was a filthy starter. He only went to the bullpen because the Yankees had a need and he had reached his innings limit. He was always going to be a top of the rotation guy.

If Detroit can go to the World Series with Todd Jones as their closer and the Indians can get one game away with Joe Borowski shutting the door then I'll take my chances in the eighth with the Yank's motley middle relief.

The Bartolo Colon Project

No, it's not a prog rock band from the 70's. It's Boston's low risk, high reward gamble on the former Angel's Cy Young winner. He looked solid last night, inducing ground balls and not laboring too much. The more arms, the better, I say. Even if he only ends up pitching around 100 innings this season, as long as his starts are decent, I think he will be well worth the investment. Who cares if he resembles a manatee and has his sideburns shaved off a la Don Mattingly on The Simpsons.

Jacoby Ellsbury had a monster game going 3-for-4. He led off the first with a home run and scored three runs. He is well on his way to becoming the premiere lead off hitter in the majors. Manny on the other hand has been ice cold after his torrid start. So much for MVP and triple crown talk. After going 0-for-3 last night, his average has fallen to .287. There is nothing wrong with that if that's where he ends up for the year, but his average has dropped about 70 points in the past month. Could the pressure of trying to reach 500 home runs be getting to Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky? Manny's game is predicated on being the most relaxed guy on the field. He looks really stiff in the batter's box at the moment.

I finally have cable and internet in the house and can rejoin the civilized world. I can at last make posts during my off hours and not on company time. But what fun would that be?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Arod to the rescue; sort of

Well at least one good thing came out of last night's game. Arod is back and his swing looked pretty good and he made all the routine plays at third. But of course the Captain's error and Mussina's inability to put away any of the five hitters that got two strike hits off him made Arod's homecoming a nightmare.

I still have faith that the Yanks will play better than they have and hopefully Darrel Rasner will be able to produce another solid start and maybe save the bullpen some innings.

What hurts the most is that when the Yanks were floundering initially the Red Sox were slow to get on a roll, but now they have found their stride if the Yanks don't right the ship soon then they will be in the same predicament they were last year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lester is a Stud

Well, everyone in Minnesota ate two Red Sox for dinner last night when John Lester got his no-no. As I am sure you all remember, the Red Sox were offering John Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jed Lowrie for Johan Santana this past winter. So, the Twins could have had a solid #2 or 3 in Lester, and two potential all-stars in Lowrie and Ellsbury. I thank the baseball gods everyday that the Red Sox didn't make that move. I knew I liked Ellsbury. I thought Lester had the potential to be a stud, (I didn't think he had a no-no in him) and Jed Lowrie is just waiting in Triple AAA for Julio Lugo to start throwing the ball into the right field stands. Could you ever justify giving up those three guys for Santana? Now, Santana is an ace, but the Sox would have had to pay him a lot, like $25 million/six years. So, I am glad they stood by their young guys and didn't sell the farm for one guy.

Check out a post later this week when I will examine if Hanley Ramirez was worth Josh Beckett.

Lester's No-No

I guess the baseball gods read my last post and decided to punish me for having no cable. I watched the first three innings or so of the game at my parents' place and went back to my TV-less house. I fell asleep with a 5-0 Sox lead dancing in my head. It was so early in the game I didn't even notice that Lester had a no hitter working. It's the second time in 12 months I missed a no hitter since I fell asleep before the end of the Buchholz no-no. I, of course, got to see the end of Curt Schilling's game when he allowed his first hit with two out in the ninth inning.

In the sports world where everything is drenched in hyperbole, Jon Lester's no hitter is a story so sappy it would've been rejected by most Hollywood studios. In the two years since receiving treatment for cancer, Lester has pitched a World Series clincher and a no hitter. When I watch him I think of my late cousin, Louie, who battled Hodgkin's Disease and was an avid baseball fan and coach. But even if you don't have a personal connection to Lester's situation, you would have to be made of stone not to feel ecstatic for the guy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bronx Bombing the Season

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. With the college school year wrapping up it's been hard to find time to watch the Yankees never mind write about their dismal performances. But school is over now meaning I will be able to waste most nights watching this so far very disappointing team.

The offense is just terrible right now. You would expect the Yankees to fall into more runs just by pure happenstance, but it has just been a struggle to watch them bat. The Yankees have only had one game this season where the scored more than 10 runs. That has to be a giant red flag. I understand that a team shouldn't have to score ten runs to win, and right now the Yankees can't even score five runs, but that shows that the Yankees have lacked any explosive games or innings.

Much like the game against Santana they can only piece together a few random home runs. No one is getting on base as evidenced by them hitting four home runs in the series and only scoring six runs. A big reason the Bombers can't score any runs is their uncharacteristic inability to get on-base or get a big hit with runners on.

The are in the bottom half of all of baseball in team OBP, Avg with runners in scoring position and Avg with runners on. Right now you can only hope that Arod coming back tomorrow does something to spark this team because right now they are just awful to watch at the plate.

Weekend Notes

It always feels good to get three wins in two days. The Sox got a quality start from Dice-K on Saturday, and Beckett pitched well enough to win on Sunday. These are both encouraging signs. Papi's two home runs yesterday is also a reason to celebrate. Let's hope the Sox don't follow this sweep with a 4 game losing streak as has been their MO at other points in the season.

Forgive me if I'm talking out of turn, but the Yankees look bad. I know the slow start has been a part of how they operate for the past few years, but this team looks different. Last year, I never believed that they would stay down. I always thought they would eventually make a run. I think this season is the season when they finally miss the playoffs. They're too young and too old all at the same time. They have a lot of money coming off the payroll at the end of the year, and should be able to reload for 2009. The question is, will they be smart with that pile of cash?

I will finally be getting cable and internet in my house this week. I hope it increases the quality of my posts, as I will be able to watch more games and post more often. Why did it take so long? I'm a procrastinator.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Streaky Sox

I am not enjoying this streaky version of the Red Sox. Two nights ago Josh Beckett failed again to put the skids on a Boston losing streak. And last night they couldn't hold a lead against the Orioles for the second game in a row.

Fortunately the road trip is over. Tomorrow they will be back in Fenway to face... the Brewers? I just find it odd that they play Milwaukee on Friday when the bulk of their interleague schedule doesn't start for another month. I will rant more about interleague play when the time is right.

Matsuzaka will get the start and attempt to put the breaks on the four game losing streak. He will face Jeff Suppan, most famous to Sox fans for his base running gaffe in the 2004 World Series. When I look at the stats and then I watch Dice-K and Beckett pitch something doesn't make sense to me. Dice-K is 6-0 with an ERA of 2.45. Beckett is 4-3 with an ERA of 4.21. Matsuzaka seems to walk every other batter he faces, and he's walked 30 this season to Beckett's 10. Most of the time, Beckett appears to be the superior pitcher, but the stats tell a different story. In this case, the stats and my eyes disagree with one another. I'm not sure what that means yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leave Joba alone

I know the media likes to persistently hound teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, but this is getting to the point of absurdity. Joba likes to pump his fist when he does something well. He doesn't point at the hitter and swing his fist around like Dennis Eckersley. He doesn't throw at hitters heads when they rough him up like Vincente Padilla or Pedro Martinez (though Kevin Youkilis probably thinks he does it just for fun) and he doesn't throw bats at people like Roger Clemens. By most reports he is a good guy who is gregarious and as of yet he hasn't committed any crimes or killed any small animals, at least that we know of.

Apparently Goose Goosage feels that Joba's behavior is unacceptable. It really irks me that they have to dig this deep to find something wrong with Joba. Yes, Mo never reacts to anything good or bad. But that is who Mariano is, a very pious and deeply religious individual. It is his style of play and it is what allows him to be so good. Now let's look at two other elite closers. Francisco Rodriguez is constantly screaming and jumping around when he closes out the most insignificant games. Jonathon Papelbon does the same when he finishes an important game.

These pitchers use their emotions to fuel themselves. I'll be the first to admit that it gets me mad when I see one of these two pitchers finish a game against the Yankees and have to watch them celebrate, but I think that anger is directed more toward my team losing than the their celebrations. Plus Papelbon sucks at dancing.

Hitters pose at the plate all the time and little is done to stop their celebrating. Let the kid be who he is. Joba uses his emotions to pitch well and that shouldn't be taken away from him because someone who pitched 40 years ago thinks he should or some old guys on the radio think it isn't classy. These aren't the business like teams of the late '90s and no matter how badly some people want to live in the past, this is a different team with different players who are younger and more energetic. Times change Goose. Kids these days are just different and so is baseball.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Is K. Cash MONEY?

Rough game for the Sox last night. It is becoming more and more obvious the Red Sox are almost unbeatable at Fenway (14-5) and average on the road (10-11). Maybe its the Fenway faithful or the Monster, but they need to figure out how to improve on the road especially for the playoffs. Last year's playoffs were a perfect example; do they comeback against the Indians without going back to Fenway? I say probably not. I know most teams are better at home then on the road, but the Sox seem to get homesick to a greater degree than other teams. Does anyone have any insights on this?

Also, is Kevin Cash ready to catch Wakefield every fifth day? He seemed to struggle last night and his nervousness rubbed off on a frustrated Wakefield. It is not an easy job, but I would rather see Cash struggle a bit then have Veritek catch everyday.

Finally, I watched the game last night without sound because of random circumstances and it was fantastic. I think ESPN, YES, NESN, and FOX should save themselves some money in this struggling economy, get rid of all their clowns in the broadcast booth, and broadcast in silence. Because silence is golden.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Igawa Incident

I don't fault Brian Cashman for most of the mistakes that people try to pile on him. Things like Kevin Brown and Jose Contreras are products of the Big Stein's influence. He can't really be blamed for Carl Pavano either since Pavano was targeted by every team that was in contention at the time including the Red Sox. But one mistake is now out shining his Jaret Wright signing.

Kei Igawa is a complete diaster. I used to think he had a chance to be reasonably successful at the big league level because he could strike people out, but he has thoroughly proven that he will never be successful in the hyper competitive AL East. Hopefully the Padres still want to give him a shot in that massive ball park of theirs or else Cashman will look like a fool for pulling him off waivers last season. Right now I would take some peanuts and crackerjacks for him and hope he never comes back.

These last four games have been awful to watch. The Yanks are a shell of themselves at the plate without Arod and Posada. Hopefully Darrell Rasner has some magic left and the Yankees get to Bonderman early. The Tigers bullpen is nothing without Zumaya and Todd Jones is a joke of a closer as evidenced by last night's three run ninth. Get the starters out early, say by the fifth or six, and the Yankees should be able to open up for some runs. In 37 games they have only scored 10 runs once compared to five times last season and six times in '06.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Youkilis Remains Red Hot

Kevin Youkilis hit his fourth home run in the series, and Josh Beckett had another solid outing for Boston as they took 3 of 4 from the Tigers as my brother, Joey, predicted. This is not a bad way to start off the road trip.

I don't think it would be far fetched to see Kevin hit 30 homers and get to 100 RBI this season. He only continues to improve, and his versatility in the field makes him invaluable. Certainly he gets more accolades by playing in Boston, but luckily for Sox fans he isn't toiling in anonymity in Kansas City or Pittsburgh.

The Red Sox were able to knock around Justin Verlander and should have scored more than five runs off of him. No one is really sure what his issue is. I haven't seen him pitch much this year, but there is no question that his velocity is down. Still, even if his fast ball is around 93 mph instead of 96, he should be able to find a way to be effective. He just hasn't been able to reach back and throw in the triple digits when he needs to. The media has speculated that he may be hiding some kind of injury. Verlander has denied this, but it wouldn't be the first time a player has tried to dismiss injury rumors only to confirm the injury later.

On a side note, Josh Beckett recorded his 1,000th career strike out last night. He'll likely get to 100 wins sometime next season.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tough Night in Detroit for Sox

In 162 games there are bound to be games like last night. The Sox didn't get the best start from Clay Buchholz. (4 innings, 5 runs, and 82 pitches) They were down and then they came back only to lose in the bottom of the ninth. Two unearned runs were the difference. Shortstop Julio Lugo had a costly error when he mishandled a slow ground ball. Papelbon wasn't lights out, but threw fairly well. He was hit, but not hit hard and lost the game on a cheap looper into shallow left field.

When you fight back in a game and have an opportunity to win then lose, it can sting a little. Luckily, in baseball you play nearly everyday. If this was football, the Sox would have to hear about this in the Globe for a week. Not to mention all the crazy dreams Papelbon will have about this game. You hear it all the time from players, "we need to shake it off and play well tomorrow." That should be easy considering the ACE is going tomorrow, and they should be able to leave Detroit taking 3 of 4.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Joba the human?

It has been hard to imagine the Yankees losing games once they reach the seventh or eighth with the lead. Closing out games has been about the only thing the Yankees have been able to do well and obviously most of that success or failure falls on Joba and Mo. My reaction was the same as most of the fans you saw on YES during the last inning and a half. Shock. Not anger or frustration, just shock. He has been so automatic in his first 36 innings that we forget that he's just a rookie and that he will get hit and give up some runs. It's inevitable.

At least a couple of older Yankees got back on track last night. Giambi might be showing some signs of life with that opposite field double that tied the game and Pettitte was finally solid after two rough starts in a row. He went 6.1, striking out six while only walking one.

Tonight we have CMW on the mound again. This time he'll be taking on Cliff Lee who has been disgusting this year with a 5-0 record and a minuscule 0.96 ERA. The scary thing is that he gave up three runs over six innings against Seattle in his last start and his ERA is still under 1.00. It also means his hot streak might be coming to an end, which would make sense since his career ERA against the Yanks is 6.28. It still has the makings of a pitchers duel and Wang will probably need to be as solid as he was against Sabathia 10 days ago.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Manny's Gun and other Sox Observations

I see this several times a season. An ill-fated opposing runner thinks that he can catch Manny Ramirez day dreaming only to find himself gunned down. Saturday's game provided another example of why you can't sleep on Manny's arm, and it came at a critical point in Saturday's 12-4 victory over the Rays.

The Sox were trying to hang on to a 5-3 lead in the top of the fourth. Josh Beckett looked like he was sucking wind as he proceeded to load the bases with one out. Nathan Haynes lined out to Manny. Carlos Pena tagged and tried to score, but Manny's quick release one hopped the ball perfectly to the third base side of home plate. Pena was out by at least two steps. Inning over. The first two pitches in the Sox half of the fourth resulted in a double for Pedroia and a double for Ortiz scoring Dustin. Those hits completed just about the best sequence of events I've witnessed this season. After that Josh settled down, and the Red Sox outscored the Rays 6-1 over the next 5 innings.

Sunday's game completed the sweep and a pretty great weekend for the Sox. Jon Lester put together his second solid start in a row. I think he will come along a lot faster than the other young pitchers in the Sawks/Yanks mix. He has more experience, and if not for being derailed by cancer treatment, he would already be a firmly entrenched starter.

It will be curious to see what Curt Schilling's possible return later in the year will do. I guess the more arms, the better. He can mentor Buchholz and Lester. But I don't want the Sox to flinch in their commitment to the young pitching. I also wouldn't want Curt's presence to disrupt any good chemistry the team may have going at that point. Although, he could help bolster the bullpen later in the year as he's done in the past. I'm looking at you Manny Delcarmen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Three down, three up

How quickly things can change. At the end of the Detroit series the Yankees were down trodden and defeated. They were hurt and it looked like they wouldn't be able to right the ship. Oh what one series can do. The Mariners aren't exactly a juggernaut, but they did throw the top of their rotation at the Yanks and thanks to some awful Seattle defense they dropped Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva in succession.

Now the Yankees defeating Silva is nothing special. He has a career ERA over eight against them. But defeating a lefty as good as Bedard and knocking off King Felix is pretty impressive no matter how badly the Seattle defense was. The starting pitching was solid from the Yankees and that's all they need. We also saw some good work from the bullpen. Farnsworth has actually been decent. Not spectacular, but there are good signs in what he is doing like his strike outs, which are up from last year. Edwar has been solid so far and Joba and Mo have been filthy as usual.

And who would have thought that on May 4, Melky Cabrera would be leading the Yankees in home runs and be second in slugging percentage to Johnny Damon of all people. Thank the gods the Yanks never moved him for Mike Gonzalez.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Moose is Loose

Looks like Mike Mussina has found a new formula for success at the big league level. Throw that 85 mph fastball on the inner half and drop those off speed pitches below the speed limit. Some of those curve balls came in at a Casey Fossum like 63 mph. This is probably going to be the standard results from Mussina for the rest of the season. He'll get shelled in some starts and he'll have some hot streaks that even things out. If he can provide the team with 10-12 wins for the season I think the Yankees will be ecstatic.

Moose has used this new strategy before, but it seems now he is getting enough confidence to throw the ball inside again. He has to challenge hitters on the inner half because his breaking stuff is just to easy to hit when it is over the outside half and the batter doesn't have to look anywhere else. It was good to see the bullpen come through too. Edwar was a little shaky in the eighth but he battled through and if they can find him more consistent playing time then he will an asset and possibly even Joba's successor.

Hopefully Darrell Rasner can channel some of the Moose's success tomorrow. I was glad when the Yankees managed to get him back on a minor league deal last off season after they had let him hit the free agent market. I will also glad him he brings some of that 0.87 ERA he had in five starts at Scranton to the majors.

Another W for Wang

There isn't really much to say about last night's game. Chien-Ming Wang was dominate yet again and for the seventh time this season the Yankees won when he took the mound. He struck out five in six innings. He has 32 Ks in 45 innings for a very respectable 6.4 K/9. His slider has really developed into a formidable weapon and if he stays this consistent then he could definitely add some hardware to his mantle.

It's disconcerting that almost half of the Yankee wins come when he takes the mound. I start getting flashbacks to 1972 when Steve Carlton won 27 of the Phillies 59 games. I don't think the Yankees will be that bad but I am starting to think this might be the year they need to take a step back in order to go forward. Youth movements are tricky things. It is foolhardy for Yankee fans and ownership to want to move toward youth and expect to win the Series at the same time.

Cashman has the Yankees moving in the right direction and if you look across the way to the Red Sox, it is easy to see how successful you can be if you recognize what has to be done to rebuild. Theo Epstein rebuilt the infrastructure of the Red Sox minor league system and it seems like everyday they can call up a new prospect when they need too. The Yankees are on that path right now, but right now they appear to be about two years behind the Sox circa 2006. It was a rough year for they Sox but the moves to focus on the development of the younger players paid off immediately.

It's not fair to assume that the Yankees will achieve success at the same rate. The Sox also helped the young kids by spending $100 million on a fancy Japanese import. The Steinbrenners shouldn't panic. If they want to develop the kids this is the time to do it. They will be competitive even if they aren't the best and they are going to sell tickets no matter what for the rest of this year and the first year at the new stadium. If the Yanks win, great, but if they falter a little, at least we know that every five days we will be entertained.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Red S 0 X

1,0,1,2,0... No that's not the number of times that President Bush told the truth in each of his first five years in office. It's the number of runs the Sox have scored in each of their last five games. Four runs in five games! Hopefully they will get some vengence tonight against the Rays. Can their success really last? It's like being in an alternate dimension.

Looks like I spoke too soon about Roger Clemens being out of our lives (see post 'No Rest for the Weary' from April 25th). In fact, it's just gotten worse. But my guess is that we haven't seen the worst of it. Just wait until he's Hall of Fame eligible.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sox Pitching Stellar Again

When you think of the Red Sox you think of them smacking balls off the monster, but that has not been the case over the past five games. In those games, the bats have gone dormant, but the pitching, unbelievable. (I know they are only 2-3 in that stretch but I am still impressed by the starters)  

Each member of the rotation has shown exactly what they can do when they are making their pitches. #1-4 could easily shutdown a line-up on a given night. #5 Wakefield, can keep the Sox in most games and can throw about 500 innings a year. At this point, it seems Epstein made the right call in keeping Lester instead of pulling the tigger on the Santana deal.

Now, I can't think of many teams who are that strong #1-4, have a solid closer and a catcher to keep everything together. Can you? The bats will come around. No one can score 7-10 runs every game, but with good starting pitching the Red Sox may not have to.

Mystery Yankees Theater

So I guess the Yankees are going to use the DL for extra roster spaces now. Today the newest piece added to the injury pile was Phil Hughes. Far be it from me to accuse the Yankees of dishonest practices, but it seems like every time they need to make a move but don't want to demote the player who is on the fence, they take the easy way out and slide the player onto the disabled list with a fabricated or exaggerated injury.

Wilson Betemit went on the DL as soon as they needed an extra catcher the first time Posada went down and when they needed Alberto Gonzalez to come up for the injured Derek Jeter. Now far be it from me to call the Yankees or Betemit liars, but he has been on the disabled list with conjunctivitis since April 14. Now I'm no medical expert but as someone who has had the misfortune of experiencing pink eye, I can tell you that it takes far less that 17 days for it to clear up. I suppose the Yankees are not the first team to use the DL as a glorified holding place for spare parts but I still think it's pretty lame how often they have used it this year.

I don't expect the Yankees to give full disclosure about every player all the time. I just don't expect a Bill Belichick hostility towards telling reporters about injured players.
I guess Girardi took George Constanza's words of wisdom to heart when he told Jerry that, "It's not I lie, if you believe it."