In Praise of Phil Hughes

[image title=”Hughes in Boston” size=”full” id=”17502″ align=”center” linkto=”full” ]

So, about last night.  Let’s see, Nick Johnson went down with a wrist injury.  Josh Beckett beaned Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter and brushed back Francisco Cervelli two separate times.  Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia both screamed at Beckett from the dugout, and then Sabathia called out Dallas Braden in his postgame interview.  Somewhere in the midst of all the crazy was Phil Hughes, who pitched a gem.  Facing the Red Sox in Boston, Hughes straight dominant.  Over 7 innings, Hughes threw 101 pitches, 70 of which were strikes.  He allowed seven hits and two earned runs, striking out seven and walking only one.  Hughes was also able to keep his head about him in a hostile environment, while Josh Beckett folded like a cheap tent before our eyes.

One of the most fascinating aspects to Hughes’ start was his velocity.  According to Brooks Baseball, Hughes threw 60 fastballs, averaging 94.29 mph and maxing out at 96 mph.  … Click here to read the rest

Thankfully there are only two of these this year

Loyal readers will recall the analysis we did just before the season began of how the Yankees have fared at Fenway Park since 2003. And even loyaler (probably not a word) readers will remember that I despise having to watch the Yankees play the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoons. Not only are the 4pm start times (although today’s is at 3pm for some reason) mildly annoying, but to add insult to injury the game is ALWAYS on Fox, which means we are treated to the absolute horror show that is a Joe Buck/Tim McCarver baseball broadcast.

But of course, the biggest problem with the Goddamn Saturday afternoon game at Fenway Park is that it seems like the Yankees lose every single time. While this isn’t technically the case, they do hold a 6-10 record in Saturday afternoon games at Fenway Park since 2003; certainly nothing to hang one’s hat on.

In any event, the baseball gods appear to have taken mercy on us this year, as the Yankees only have one more Saturday afternoon game at Fenway Park after today and it isn’t until the last weekend of the season.… Click here to read the rest

Yankee Injury Situation Should Be Expected

After finishing the semester from hell, I will now be returning to 1-2 posts per day. And I’d like to start with something that I’ve been thinking about for some time.

The Yankees have had a bad week on the injury front. To recap, they are:

  • Curtis Granderson is to miss about a month with a groin pull.
  • Nick Johnson to miss an undetermined amount of time with a wrist injury.
  • Andy Pettitte to miss at least one start with elbow inflammation.
  • Jorge Posada has missed several games with a knee issue, and may miss more going forward.
  • Alex Rodriguez is dealing with a knee issue, has missed some time, and may be slumping as a result.
  • Robinson Cano may miss a few days after being hit in the knee with a Josh Beckett pitch.
  • Chan Ho Park is still on the 15-day DL with a hamstring pull.
  • Mariano Rivera has been unavailable for several days (though could have pitched yesterday) with tightness in his right side.
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And two of the opposition would go down

When I was in elementary school my dad came home from a business trip with a video that Dave Winfield gave a colleague of his. Once I was finally finished hyperventilating about my dad meeting Dave Winfield, I fell in love with the video. It was called “Grand Slam” and it was a beautiful, well produced, propaganda documentary about the entire history of baseball, until 1987, which was the present, back then.

I could talk about that entire movie from start to finish. It embodies so much of why I love baseball, but right now I remember the segment on Don Drysdale. The producers interviewed Hank Aaron about him. The Hammer clearly respected Drysdale. He explained that he was tall — 6’5″, 6’6″ — and “thew sidearm, a real intimidator.”

The highlight of the segment, which focused on headhunters, was an interview with Drysdale himself. Don explained that he wasn’t a headhunter, but he had a motto. He explained that if one of his would go down, then two of the opposition would have to go down.… Click here to read the rest

Be careful about reading Josh Beckett’s mind

On last night’s YES broadcast, much was made by Michael Kay in the 6th inning about how Josh Beckett seemed “disinterested” after the Gardner walk. That he was hitting batters intentionally to force Tito Francona’s hand and get him out of a game that he no longer wanted to compete in. This sentiment was echoed by many fans around the message boards and blogosphere. Folks, be careful about trying to read Josh Beckett’s mind. The claim that he intentionally was throwing at batters last night will never be proven one way or the other, without an admission from Josh himself. Were he to do that, a suspension from Bed Selig would swiftly follow. If Kay had done his homework, he would know that Beckett has been struggling all year. He’s 1-1 with a 7.46 ERA and has given up 52 Hits in just 41 IP and his BB/9 are the highest they’ve been since his miserable 06 campaign. Boston papers are speculating about the pitcher’s ‘ sudden demise’ from last night, but that strikes me as premature.… Click here to read the rest

Be careful about reading Josh Beckett's mind

On last night’s YES broadcast, much was made by Michael Kay in the 6th inning about how Josh Beckett seemed “disinterested” after the Gardner walk. That he was hitting batters intentionally to force Tito Francona’s hand and get him out of a game that he no longer wanted to compete in. This sentiment was echoed by many fans around the message boards and blogosphere. Folks, be careful about trying to read Josh Beckett’s mind. The claim that he intentionally was throwing at batters last night will never be proven one way or the other, without an admission from Josh himself. Were he to do that, a suspension from Bed Selig would swiftly follow. If Kay had done his homework, he would know that Beckett has been struggling all year. He’s 1-1 with a 7.46 ERA and has given up 52 Hits in just 41 IP and his BB/9 are the highest they’ve been since his miserable 06 campaign. Boston papers are speculating about the pitcher’s ‘ sudden demise’ from last night, but that strikes me as premature.… Click here to read the rest

Yanks thump Sox 10-3 as Hughes improves to 4-0

Well, that was a strange game.

The Yankees beat the Red Sox 10-3 on Friday night, although it certainly didn’t look like a game that would end up with a stereotypical Fenway Park final score after the first three innings. Josh Beckett came out of the gate like a man possessed, firing 96-mph and 95-mph cheese while striking out five of the first six batters he faced. Phil Hughes wasn’t quite that overpowering but still matched Beckett, holding the Red Sox hitless through the first three frames.

The Yankees finally got to Beckett in the fourth, as a Mark Teixeira walk and A-Rod single set the stage for a big Nick Swisher three-run home run to dead center. Beckett settled down in the 5th, but the wheels came off in the sixth inning, as Beckett pitched one of the strangest half-innings of baseball I’ve ever seen. Rather than try to put into words what happened, I’ll let Gameday recap the action:

1) Alex Rodriguez doubles (7) on a line drive to center fielder Darnell McDonald.
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Johnson leaves game with sore wrist

In the 5th inning of today’s game, which is still underway, Marcus Thames pinch-hit for the Yankees’ designated hitter, Nick Johnson. In the 6th inning, we learned that Johnson had been pulled due to a “sore right wrist.” Now, this could be a big problem for the Yankees given that Johnson played in 38 games in 2008, only to miss the rest of the season after tearing a tendon in the same right wrist (I’ve written about it before). Johnson has also missed some time earlier in his career – 2003 and 2002 – with similar right wrist issues. We’ll have more info on this as it becomes available.… Click here to read the rest

Has Johnson’s mechanical changes hurt him?

Here’s an interesting bit of text via Bryan Hoch from early March:

The goal is to cut out the movement of Johnson’s back foot in the box, which should help him generate power.

“I’m just trying not to drift, trying to be more direct,” Johnson said. “I’m working on turning my back foot. When I don’t do it, I slide. That’s what I’ve done pretty much my whole career.”

The flaw was something that [Kevin] Long identified shortly after the Yankees signed Johnson to a one-year, $5.75 million contract to serve as their designated hitter, replacing World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. Clearly, there was something that could be done to make Johnson operate more efficiently.

“When I watched his film and the video, it was striking that his back foot was slipping out and collapsing,” Long said. “I thought that was one of the first areas that we’d address.”

So Johnson bunked up with Long at his Arizona home for two days over the offseason, going through the paces of a mini-hitting clinic that could open him up to the inside pitch more often.

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