Tanaka looks to rebound against the Red Sox

[caption id="attachment_73655" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Tanaka vs TOR 2015 Courtesy of the AP[/caption]

This early in the season, you want to find positives about the Yankees.

Yet this team has made it difficult with its blunders on defense, mistakes on the base paths and the poor hitting thus far. However, even after all that, one of the biggest topics that New York is going to face this year is the effectiveness of Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees signed Tanaka for $155 million for seven years. Last season, he suffered a partial tear of the UCL of his right elbow, and after his terrible first start of 2015 many have wondered why Tanaka didn’t just get Tommy John surgery since all the cool kids are doing it.

The Yankees have said that Tanaka is still working back and haven’t sounded the alarms just yet.

“This is not totally shocking,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters. “I think he’s still in the process of building arm strength and everything. His arm strength is not far off. It’s just locating it. It’s some small things. We went slow with him in Spring Training.”

Even though Sunday’s start against the Boston Red Sox will be just his second of this season, it will be telling. Tanaka’s velocity is down from last season, but he and Yankees manager have downplayed that angle. Tanaka told reporters after his last start that he plans to throw more off-speed pitches, so the numbers are going to show that his velocity is off.

However, those comments led Tanaka and Girardi to have a conversation this past week at just what Tanaka has planned, though neither would go into depth about their chat.

One thing that was noted was that Tanaka said he studied game film from his fateful home opener where he gave up four runs in four innings, and analyzed his mechanics. Tanaka tweaked them a bit, which should result in a better outcome.

As good as Toronto’s hitters are, the Boston Red Sox have a formidable lineup from top to bottom. They have veteran sluggers who can take the ball deep and fresh faces who don’t seem to show much fear regardless of who is pitching. The Red Sox will expose any flaws in Tanaka’s pitching.

The reality is we are all going to be watching Tanaka’s pitching tonight, analyzing every pitch, its speed, checking his facial expressions, seeing if he is wiggling his arm for signs of injury, and waiting on Pedro Martinez’s assessment. It doesn’t help that the game will be on ESPN, getting national attention for all to see if the Japanese hurler is back or if the collective baseball community is ready to send him back to Dr. James Andrews. Continue reading Tanaka looks to rebound against the Red Sox

New transfer rule interpretation goes against how players are taught

Has anything been more annoying in baseball this season than the new interpretation of the transfer rule? We’ve had pine tar issues, catchers can’t block the plate, and replays galore. However, the most universally hated “new rule” has been the interpretation of the transfer rule. Essentially, after a player catches a ball – whether it be turning a double play or catching a fly ball – when he takes it out of his glove to throw it, if he drops the ball, the play is safe. It goes against everything every single baseball player has ever been taught starting from Continue reading New transfer rule interpretation goes against how players are taught

Why players don’t care about Michael Pineda’s “dirt”

Bk6idBvIAAEsBRAMichael Pineda threw with the type of gusto through Thursday he had three years ago when the Yankees traded for him from Seattle.

His slider made batters look foolish. His fastball set up off-speed pitches. And he mixed in a cutter and changeup to keep the Boston Red Sox off-balance.

However, on Friday morning, no one seemed to be talking about Pineda’s pitching performance. Instead, it was about the substance on Pineda’s pitching hand. Television stills showed a brown substance on the base of the palm of his hand.

Pineda called it dirt. Others called it pine tar.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t know anything about it.

The Red Sox players said it didn’t matter.

There are reasons that it doesn’t matter to Boston – or most players asked around the league.

1. No one wants to be the team to point it out. If a manager does, he will set up his own team for the same kind of scrutiny. A manager may know some of his own players do it. Red Sox pitcher
Clay Buchholz was seen last year using sunscreen – under the dome in Toronto – to potentially doctor pitches. Boston manager John Farrell can’t exactly accuse another pitcher of doing something similar when Red Sox pitchers have been seen doing this more than once.

2. It’s happening in baseball whether fans like it or not.

Usually pitchers are a little more inconspicuous about it. The batters know about it, and publically haven’t come out against it.

David Ortiz told reporters on Thursday night: “Everybody uses pine tar in the league. It’s not a big deal. … I don’t pay any attention to it. Did he have a lot of pine tar? I didn’t get to see it. What can I tell you, I don’t know what pine tar does to the baseball – maybe better grip. Better be careful (laughs). But his velocity and his slider was good tonight. That’s all I can tell you. His pitching was good.”

3. It protects the hitters. On cold, cool nights where the ball could feel slippery, a pitcher may lose control and hit players unintentionally.

I don’t know if this true, but this is the company line. Players and pitchers asked about it on Thursday night went with this line of reasoning.

Perhaps we need another Mythbusters dedicated to baseball to see if this is actually the case.

These are reasons why players won’t say anything, or throw their colleagues under the bus when it comes to using a foreign substance when pitching – despite it clearly being against the rules. It seems to be one of those unwritten, unspoken rules.

Maybe next time, Pineda should be a little more subtle about it. Continue reading Why players don’t care about Michael Pineda’s “dirt”

Home Run Derby

“Just meet the ball.” Age-old advice that you will likely hear at every Little League field in America. Making contact is the way to go when providing guidance to a hitter. I will never disagree with this statement. Who is the most watched and well-known baseball team in the world though? That would of course be none other than the New York Yankees, who play on national television multiple times a week. The Bronx Bombers aren’t exactly living by the commonly used expression of “Just meeting the ball” and they seem to be doing fine. Sorry kids. For the Yankees, home runs are the way to go.

Heading into play yesterday, the New York Yankees had smashed an astonishing 186 home runs. This was 26 more than any other team in baseball. In other words, all 29 other teams in the MLB are at least an Albert Pujols short of the New York Yankees in terms of round-trippers (Pujols had 26 home runs going into last night). In terms of batting average, the New York Yankees rank sixth in the MLB, at .267. Next, they rank eight in baseball in terms of total hits (heading into play yesterday), despite having Derek Jeter on the roster, who leads the MLB in total hits. Lastly, they are not exactly known as being a clutch hitting team with runners in scoring position. Ironically though, the Yankees rank second in the MLB in terms of runs scored. They also sport the top record in the American League.

On Friday night, the Yankees defeated their arch-rival 6 to 4. Yes, the Yankees/Red Sox is still a rivalry as demonstrated yesterday afternoon regardless of the current 12.5 game disparity in the standings. In the series opener, five of the Yankees nine hits were home runs. This has become a common winning formula for the pinstripes. After tying a franchise-record on Friday night with ten different players having blasted ten or more home runs (also had this many in 1998) on the year, it is safe to say that the Yankees are not exactly winning games via small ball. Amazingly, leadoff hitter Derek Jeter passed Babe Ruth with a 16th consecutive season with ten or more home runs as a member of the Yankees on Friday. Sure the Yankee pitching this year has been very good at times, but it is no secret how the New York Yankees are thriving: The long ball.

Ignore the fact that the Bombers have great power lefties that thrive on a short porch to right field. Also, ignore the fact that the New York Yankees have turned the game of baseball into a home run derby on a nightly basis. I can guarantee that you will still here coaches across the country telling kids to just “Meet the ball.” But the lesson is simple really. “Just meet the ball kids.” Unless of course you play for the New York Yankees. Continue reading Home Run Derby

Game Thread: Sunday July 29th, Red Sox vs. Yankees

The Yankees fought their way out of a 6 – 1 deficit Saturday night only to see victory slip away after Curtis Granderson misread a fly ball in the top of the ninth inning. It was a disappointing ending to what at one point seemed like a vintage Yankee come back in the making. Sunday’s game is an opportunity to turn the page. The Yankees look to take the series with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. The Red Sox will counter with Felix Doubront. Enjoy.

Centerfielder Factor

What is the best rivalry in all of baseball? Without hesitation, 99% of baseball fans across the country would immediately say Yankees/Red Sox regardless of their fan allegiance. After Friday’s merciless massacre, fans were reminded of how fun this matchup can be with a thriller yesterday. Despite the very unusual current predicament in the AL East (Yankees in first, Red Sox in last), it is still the best rivalry in the game, and arguably in all of sports. Sure there are many reasons why one team finds themselves sitting atop the division, while the other rests in the cellar at this time, but one that comes to mind revolves around the 8 spot (centerfield).

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Centerfielder Factor

Is history on New York’s side?

The good guys head into play today with the best record in all of baseball. They also find themselves making a mockery of baseball’s very best division, the AL East (currently up by 8 games). The second-half of the season started with a bang on Friday. Now the Yankees look to put the pedal to the medal as they try to claim number 28. Fortunately for the team out of the Bronx, history is on their side. Or is it? One would think so considering they possess the best record in all of baseball to date.

Here is a little history tutorial. The Yankees have been a member of the mighty American League East since 1969 (year of the Miracle Mets). During that time, the Bombers have captured seven World Series titles and eleven pennants. Not too shabby for most franchises. New York not only wants to win every year, but they expect to win every year. The AL East took its current form (with the current five teams) back in 1998. Since 1998, the Yankees have made the playoffs 13 of 14 years, won six pennants, and four World Series. Oddly enough, in two of those four most recent World Series seasons (2000 and 2009), the Yankees did not enter July 15th in sole possession of first place in the AL East. In 2000, they were tied with the Toronto Blue Jays (crazy I know) and in 2009 they were three games behind that team who must not be named.

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Yanks end regular season swept on road for first time all year following Rays' dramatic late-inning comeback to clinch Wild Card

The Yankees capped off the 2011 regular season by getting swept on the road for the first time all year — and swept for only the third time all season — as the Tampa Bay Rays came storming back from a 7-0 deficit to win 8-7 in extra innings. The loss was the Yankees’ fourth in a row, and dropped their record in extra-inning games to a fluky 4-12 on the season. Additionally, the sweep was Tampa’s second-ever sweep of the Yankees, both of which came at Tropicana Field, and it was the first time the Yanks had been swept Continue reading Yanks end regular season swept on road for first time all year following Rays' dramatic late-inning comeback to clinch Wild Card