Alex Rodriguez – the teammate

The evolution of Alex Rodriguez as a teammate has been somewhat startling to watch. This is a guy whose tenure as a Yankee started with a frosty relationship with Derek Jeter, a reputation as a guy who clanked in the big games and in the post season, and a teammate who provided as many tabloid, off-field headlines as on-field ones. Fast forward to 2012 and you now have a guy who is a bridge on the team between Hispanic players and the non-Hispanic ones. You have a guy who stands up before the first Spring Training game and tells the team that he is all in and wants them to be as well.  What a transformation!

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Oh for crying out loud!

I don’t know why I feel like subjecting myself to this, but holy moley was Andrew Marchand in rare form last night in pushing the “OMGZ Yankees can’t pitch!!!!!” narrative:

“But this is an overall staff problem, not a Nova issue. After 19 games, the Yankees’ starting ERA is 5.92. Now, that is a pretty good sample size, given a full-season starter makes about 30-35 starts.”

Got that? Because individual starters accumulate 30-35 starts in a season, 19 games as a team is a “pretty good sample size” from which to draw major conclusions about the starting rotation as a unit. The Yankees’ rotation will totally continue having the 6th best xFIP and 2nd worst ERA in baseball for the entire season now that we’re just over 10% of the way through the schedule. Goodness gracious.

Do they do this elsewhere? I mean, are the Detroit papers running with the story that the Tigers gave Justin Verlander six runs and still couldn’t win last night so now the season is pretty much over? More to the point, these are the days I’m legitimately embarrassed by other Yankee fans, knowing that there’s a market out there for this sort of perpetual panic. My goodness people, act like you’ve been through a baseball season before, would you?

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, the Yankees are now 4-2 over the past six games, all against Boston, Texas, and Detroit, are 11-8 on the season, a game and a half out of first place in the division. Wheeeeeee! Continue reading Oh for crying out loud!

Fun with getting it exactly wrong

I read Kevin Kernan so you don’t have to:

Eventually, the Yankees’ starting pitching will run this team smack into a brick wall.

It may not happen until late in the season. It may not happen until October, but the Yankees must clean up their rotation — and it’s going to take more than the return of Andy Pettitte.

The fun thing about this is that it’s completely, 110% backwards. The Yankees’ rotation has been shaky through the teams first 19 games, yes, but the underlying components suggest that they should turn it around in a pretty big way. In fact, the Yankees’ rotation has the second best xFIP in the American League (behind only the Angels), and the sixth best mark in all of baseball in that category. This suggests that, sometime over the 30 or so starts the starters have reamining in the season, the results should normalize in the direction of better production.

As for Pettitte, if he comes back as merely an average American League starter he’d slot in with C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Hiroki Kuroda, all of whom have been solid starters through the rotation’s first full turns, to account for a full 80% of the team’s starters. I guess in an age where it’s easy to look at some teams around the league and view that as an inadequate group, the only team in the division with a rotation that’s obviously more attractive than that one is Tampa Bay.

This might my favorite new Kernanism, however:

Ivan Nova, who usually finds a way to win, lasted just 5 1/3 innings, surrendered six runs on 11 hits and walked three batters. That is not going to get it done. It was the first time in 11 games the Tigers managed to score more than four runs.

A couple of points in response to this:

1.) Recent production notwithstanding, the Tigers obviously have a very talented offense that’s going to score a lot of runs this season. And, for what it’s worth, I must have missed Kernan’s praise of the Yankee starters for holding the Texxas Rangers to four and two runs in the first two games of their most series, respectively.

2.) Yes, Nova didn’t have a particularly good outing last night, but prior to that he’d been outstanding in his first three starts of the season. If one less than stellar start every four outings from your second/third starter is going to be used to define “rotation issues,” then pretty much every team in the league with the possible exception of the Phillies is probably going to meet that definition. Continue reading Fun with getting it exactly wrong

Yankees get to Verlander, come back for 7-6 victory

When the opposing starter is Justin Verlander, you don’t expect to get a lot of room for error from your own pitching staff. The Yankees’ lineup managed to get their licks in against the reigning American League MVP, however, it still took a wild walk off to win win this one.

The Yankees opened the scoring in the first inning, as Curtis Granderson pulled a ball inside the foul line in right field for a double, after which Alex Rodriguez flared a single over the glove of Tigers’ first baseman Prince Fielder to bring home Granderson and get the Bombers’ on the board. The Tigers got that run back in the second after Ivan Nova issued a leadoff walk to Don Kelly and then gave up a triple to Brad Eldred, but Nova would proceed to get the next three outs without allowing Eldred to score, keeping the game tied at one. The Tigers would get the lead in the very next inning, however, on back to back RBI singles by Miguel Cabrera and Fielder.

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The Farm Report: 4/27/2012

Empire State beat Lehigh Valley 3-1:

Dellin Betances finally completed five innings in a start, but he did it in typical Betances fashion, walking four batters in those five innings, and only striking out three Iron Pigs. On the other hand, he only gave up one hit and one run, so he was obviously able to limit the damage. Offensively it was Kevin Russo leading the way for the Yankees, picking up three of the nomadic team’s five total hits in four at bats with a double and an RBI. Craig Tatum drove in the other Yankee runs with a two run home run. Kevin Whelan picked up his sixth save of the season, striking out a couple in the ninth.

Trenton lost to New Hampshire 2-1:

It was a rough night at the plate for the Thunder, who managed to collect just three hits in the game, though they did draw a total of eight walks as a team. Abraham Almonte, Walter Ibarra, and Ronnier Mustelier picked up the hits for Trenton, and each drew a walk as well. Starter Shaeffer Hall went six innings, giving up New Hampshire’s two runs on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Tampa lost to Brevard County 3-2:

It was a pitching showcase in this Florida State League game, with both starters going 7+ innings. For the Yankees, Nik Turley pitched eight full innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts. Manatee starter Jimmy Nelson wasn’t quite so sharp, walking three batters while also giving up two runs (one earned) in 7.2 innings, but he kept the Yankees out of the hit column for the most part, allowing just two Tampa players to reach base via a base hit on his watch. On the whole, the Yankees collected three hits with two of them (including a double, the team’s only extra base hit of the night) coming from the bat of Rob Segedin (the third went to J.R. Murphy.) Brevard County would pick up the win on a one out bases loaded single off of Branden Pinder in the bottom of the ninth after an inning that included two intentional walks and a wild pitch.

Charleston got shut out by Lexington 7-0:

On a brutal night for offense in the minor league system, it was the most talented lineup of all that turned in the worst performance. Like Trenton and Tampa, the Riverdogs were held to just three hits in the game (one each from Benjamin Gamel, Gary Sanchez, and Kelvin De Leon), and they also drew just one walk (Sanchez) to boot. Starter William Oliver had a pretty rough night as well, as he gave up five runs on five walks and six hits, including a home run, in just 2.2 innings. Continue reading The Farm Report: 4/27/2012

Game 19: Beat Verlander

The last time the Tigers met up with the Yankees was last year’s American League Division Series, and things didn’t end up so well. Now the Yankees are stuck in a 2 game losing streak where they’ve only scored 3 runs, and they have the grandiose task of taking on one of the best pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander. In his career, he’s held the team to a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts. Pitching against the Tigers is perhaps the Yankees most reliable starting pitcher, Ivan Nova. The right handed pitcher has been successful against the Tigers in the Continue reading Game 19: Beat Verlander

Game 19: Rematch!

The Yankees are back at the Stadium tonight, welcoming in the Detroit Tigers, the team that knocked them out of the 2011 ALDS in five games. What’s more, they’ll be getting the Tigers’ ace, and reigning A.L. Cy Young and MVP awards winner in Justin Verlander straight off the bat. There’s not a lot to say about Verlander at this point, he’s got arguably the best stuff in all of baseball and he’s the epitome of a workhorse on the mound. There’s no working the pitch count when he’s on the mound, you just have to hope that he makes some mistakes and that you can hit them hard when he does. Opposing him will be Ivan Nova, who has somewhat surprisingly emerged as the Yankees’ most consistent start in the first month of the season, and is coming off of another solid six inning effort last Friday in Boston. Here are the lineups for both teams:

Tigers (10-9):

Austin Jackson CF
Brennan Boesch RF
Miguel Cabrera 3B
Prince Fielder 1B
Don Kelly LF
Brad Eldred DH
Alex Avila C
Jhonny Peralta SS
Ryan Raburn 2B

Justin Verlander RHP

Yankees (10-8):

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Russell Martin C

Ivan Nova RHP

Not sure about Delmon Young for the Tigers, but as far as I know he’s still in jail. So…fun! First pitch is at 7:05 and you can watch the game on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy! Continue reading Game 19: Rematch!

Bill “Moose” Skowron, dead at 81

Moose Skowron, long-time Yankee, has passed away at the age of 81. Bill “Moose” Skowron played for the New York Yankees for nine years from 1954 to 1962. He was an All-Star for five of those nine seasons and six seasons total in his fourteen year career. Skowron was a right-handed first baseman who was good with the glove and compiled a 129 OPS+ at the plate as a Yankee (119 overall for his career). During his nine Yankee seasons, the team went to the World Series seven times, winning four of them. His eighth and last World Series appearance was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963, the year after he was traded and the Dodgers won that series giving Skowron five total rings. The Yankees had traded him to that team for Stan Williams.

The linked article gives much more information on the life and career of Moose Skowron. Suffice it to say that the Yankees and their fans have lost another member of the family. Continue reading Bill “Moose” Skowron, dead at 81

Hughes Too Predictable With Two Strikes

In his four starts of the 2012 season, Phil Hughes‘ best offspeed pitch has been his changeup, yet with 89 two strike counts in his favor, he’s thrown only 3 changeups. It feels like it’s happening more and more, and it’s something we’ve uttered his entire career, but the pitcher gives up too many hits two strikes. Looking at selection and location, there’s no reason to wonder, he’s predictable. Take a look for yourself. Four-seam Cutter Curveball Changeup 0-2 62% (13) 19% (4) 14% (3) 5% (1) 1-2 70% (23) 15% (5) 12% (4) 3% (1) 2-2 69% (24) 20% Continue reading Hughes Too Predictable With Two Strikes