Hollywood Stars: Dodgers’ Season of Discontent Has Had Bright Spots

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

In what has likely been the most dismal season in the 128-year history of the Dodgers’ franchise (some older Brooklyn residents might dispute that assertion), there have been a few stars shining out in Hollywood. Amid the dark clouds of financial distress, fan violence, and dwindling attendance, the Dodgers’ have managed to maintain respectability on the field thanks in large part to three men who could be in line for off-season recognition.

Although it seems as if the Cy Young is already being engraved with Roy Halladay’s name on it, Clayton Kershaw remains within striking distance of claiming the award. In fact, Kershaw actually enjoys a slight advantage over the Phillies’ ace in traditional statistics like wins, innings pitched and ERA in addition to striking out an extra batter per game. Although Halladay rates better in ERA+ and both calculations of WAR, the difference isn’t insurmountable, nor likely meaningful enough to resonate with what is still more of an “old school” voting bloc.… Click here to read the rest

Series Preview | Yankees vs. Mariners III: It's Felix's world

"This is more runs than the Yankees will score on me!" (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Mariners — who host the Yankees for a three-gamer starting tonight — are a surprising 3-3 on the season against the Yankees, thanks in part to two come-from-behind wins at the end of May in games that the Yankees took unexpected leads against both Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez. The M’s were 26-26 and just 1.5 games out of first after wrapping up that series with the Yankees, but, to the complete surprise of no one, their season went downhill a little over a month later. July 6th marked the start of a 17-game losing streak that didn’t come to an end until Felix Hernandez predictably beat the Yankees in the Bronx on July 27, and the Mariners currently once again find themselves in their customary cellar-dwelling position, playing out the string.

For the second straight year the Mariners boast the worst offense in the American League, with a .285 wOBA and 80 wRC+, though they’ve been slightly less bad of late.… Click here to read the rest

Baseball as a coping mechanism

The best thing about sports is that they are not necessarily a part of real life. While we devote real time and emotion almost every day–and real money on occasion–to our favorite teams, we generally have the sense to not let them affect our every day lives too much. We have highs and lows with the team, but they do not necessarily float or sink our days. Every so often, though, we need to bury ourselves in sport. We’ve seen countless articles about this as we’ve just passed the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and aboard Flight 93.

This Saturday, my cousin Jessica passed away. She, like I am, was 24 years old. When she was a baby, she developed a brain tumor that was removed. Soon after, though, a tumor developed on her brain stem and that was, unfortunately, inoperable. At the age of three, she had a stroke. She never walked and could only say a handful of words.… Click here to read the rest

A surprisingly meaningful series in Seattle

In all this excitement, the Yankees are still in a better position than anyone. The Bombers currently hold a 4 game lead in the loss column over Boston, and 7 games over the Rays, so they’re clearly in the driver’s seat of this pennant race. That said, given the way things are going now, and the remaining number of games left for the three contenders to play against one another, this race is far from over. Here’s the remaining opponents for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, with the number of games in parentheses:

Yankees: Mariners (3), Blue Jays (3), Twins (1), Rays (7), Red Sox (3)

Red Sox: Blue Jays (2), Rays (4), Orioles (7), Yankees (3)

Rays: Orioles (3), Red Sox (4), Yankees (7), Blue Jays (3)

In other words, each team plays seven games against clearly inferior opponents, and the remaining balance of the schedule against each other.

This makes the next seven games surprisingly critical for the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees capitalize on key error in 6-5 victory over Halos; win season series against Angels for first time since 2003

DERP (Kelvin Kuo/US Presswire)

In a game that started out all too familiarly with the Angels riding cheap hit after cheap hit to a 2-0 first inning, 3-1 third inning and 5-2 4th inning — although in fairness four of their five runs came via the home run, but in true Angels fashion even the home runs were annoying — the Yankee bats finally came to life, battling back and capitalizing on a huge error by Peter Bourjos in the 7th to win 6-5, snap their four-game skid and salvage the final game of the series. After mustering one lousy run over the first 18 innings of this series, it was delightful to see the team sextuple its series output in this game.

The comeback started in the fifth, after Curtis Granderson blasted a two-run shot with no outs into the right field seats, a more-than-welcome sign for the recently slumping Grandyman whose last home run had come on August 28 at Baltimore.… Click here to read the rest

First impressions of Montero’s defense

Some work to do

On Sunday, Yankee fans finally got to see Jesus start a game at Catcher for ourselves. We have long heard named and unnamed scouts refer to his ”big league ready bat” and poor defensive skills, some even saying he’s not a big league Catcher. We’ve seen that bat of his bat in recent days on glorious display, showing few holes in his offensive game (other than a mildly annoying tendency to be 0-2 seemingly every AB) and a wonderful ability to drive the ball to all fields, off varying types and locations of pitches. But the defensive questions persist, so on the occasion of Sunday’s debut behind the plate I wanted to see for myself if his catching liabilities were something you can live with, or if he is so bad back there that he will cost you runs. Here are my impressions of his initial game behind the dish:

Overall Technique-Doesn’t hide throwing hand much, if at all.… Click here to read the rest

First impressions of Montero's defense

Some work to do

On Sunday, Yankee fans finally got to see Jesus start a game at Catcher for ourselves. We have long heard named and unnamed scouts refer to his ”big league ready bat” and poor defensive skills, some even saying he’s not a big league Catcher. We’ve seen that bat of his bat in recent days on glorious display, showing few holes in his offensive game (other than a mildly annoying tendency to be 0-2 seemingly every AB) and a wonderful ability to drive the ball to all fields, off varying types and locations of pitches. But the defensive questions persist, so on the occasion of Sunday’s debut behind the plate I wanted to see for myself if his catching liabilities were something you can live with, or if he is so bad back there that he will cost you runs. Here are my impressions of his initial game behind the dish:

Overall Technique-Doesn’t hide throwing hand much, if at all.… Click here to read the rest

Game 145: Yankees 6, Angels 5

The Yankees got one run back in the top of the second, as Robinson Cano singled to left and moved to second on a wild pitch.  He scored on a single from Eric Chavez, giving the Yankees their first run of the day, but that was the only damage they could manage.  Montero flashed some defensive skills in the bottom of the second, when he threw out the first runner to try to steal, Alberto Callaspo.

Garcia continued to have trouble in the third, giving up a leadoff single to Bobby Wilson.  Aybar followed by laying down a bunt towards third base for a single.  Kendrick hit a sac bunt back to the mound, moving the runners over.  A wild pitch allowed Wilson to score and the Halos were up 3-1.

Cano hit a solo homer in the fourth to bring the Yankees within one run of the Angels, but Los Angeles responded in the bottom of the inning. … Click here to read the rest

Game Thread: Yankees vs. Angels, 9/11/2011 (3:35PM EST on YES)

Photo courtesy of the MLB.com

Special day today for a few reasons, some more important than others. Obviously its the 10 year anniversary of 9/11/2001 and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost a loved one on that day, and to the military families who lost a member in its aftermath. From the Yankee perspective, its a special day because super-prospect Jesus Montero gets his first start behind the plate. It’s a good day for it, veteran starter Freddy Garcia pretty much calls his own game and doesn’t throw overly hard, so even if Montero’s not up to speed defensively it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Expect base runners to test his arm, but also expect Garcia to pay more attention to men on first base. They’ll work it out for a few games.

In other news, the Yanks have called up Austin Romine to back up Montero, since Russel Martin will be out for at least a few days and Cervelli is out indefinitely.… Click here to read the rest