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”

Game Thread: Yankees at Red Sox, September 15th

A colleague of mine and I agreed on Friday that this was the most important series of the Yankee season. The Bombers had clawed their way to within one game of a Wild Card berth and they were taking their hot play into Fenway, to face the first place Red Sox, a team that has owned just about the entire American League in 2013. Two of three wins were essential, we agreed. We meant two of three wins for the Yankees. That’s not how things have turned out. The Yankee beatings at the hands of the Red Sox have continued, Continue reading Game Thread: Yankees at Red Sox, September 15th

Nova’s Curveball Key To Third Win

As the Highlanders squared off against the Red Sox this afternoon, Ivan Nova did his best impression of Smoky Joe Wood. His final line was 6.0 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Out of 3 starts, he has now won 3 games, thanks to a continuous barrage of run support for the pitcher. Let’s take a look at the PITCHF/x numbers to see how he went about one of the most potent offenses in baseball. Nova threw the four-seamer, two-seamer, changeup, slider, and curveball tonight. The four-seamer sat at the new standard 92.6 mph, and topped out at Continue reading Nova’s Curveball Key To Third Win

PITCHF/x Scouting Report: Clay Buchholz

This afternoon the Yankees will make the trip to Fenway to celebrate 100 years of the historical stadium. The Red Sox will send right handed pitcher Clay Buchholz to the mound. Aside from his health, Buchholz has always been somewhat “lucky”, showing mediocre advanced stats, but an impressive ERA. In 2009 he posted a 4.21 ERA behind a 4.69 FIP, .279 BABIP, and 76.7% LOB in 92.0 innings. In 2010 the numbers were particularly glaring, a 2.33 ERA in 173.2 innings with a 3.61 FIP, .261 BABIP, 79.0% LOB, and 5.6 HR/FB%. Last year was all too similar, a 3.48 Continue reading PITCHF/x Scouting Report: Clay Buchholz

Offensive malaise continues as Yanks drop third straight

For the second straight game the Yankees were kept hitless for the first three innings, setting the tone for a masterful start by Clay Buchholz, who threw seven strong innings, striking out seven, walking just one and giving up two runs as Boston took the first game if this three-game set, 5-4. Adrian Gonzalez paced Boston’s offensive attack (speaking of offensive attacks, it must be delightful when your team actually has one), blasting a solo shot to put the Sox up 1-0 in the 4th and also adding the go-ahead sac fly in the 7th, breaking a 2-2 tie. For Continue reading Offensive malaise continues as Yanks drop third straight

Do the Yankees need to rethink their organizational philosophy regarding developing starting pitchers?

In the wake of Boston extending Clay Buchholz, I couldn’t help but think about the healthy number of young, good-to-excellent starting pitchers across baseball that have seen their teams jump to extend them prior to hitting free agency these last few years, and that the Yankees have remained noticeably absent from this practice. The Yankees’ AL East rivals in particular have been quite active in this arena, with the Sox wisely extending Jon Lester back in 2009; the Blue Jays locking up Ricky Romero; and three-fifths of the Rays’ rotation — James Shields, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann — having Continue reading Do the Yankees need to rethink their organizational philosophy regarding developing starting pitchers?

Martin's two blasts pace home run barrage as Yanks dump Sox 9-4

What looked to be yet another classic Fenway Park lead-exchanging back-and-forth turned into a no-doubter thanks to the bottom third of the Yankee lineup and the bullpen, as Curtis Granderson, Eric Chavez and Russell Martin combined to go 6-12 with two walks, three home runs — two by Martin, the first time a non-Jorge Posada Yankee catcher went yard twice in the same game since John Flaherty in 2003 — and seven RBI, and David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Luis Ayala tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, as the Yankees topped the Red Sox 9-4 in the FOX Saturday Continue reading Martin's two blasts pace home run barrage as Yanks dump Sox 9-4

Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox I: Another April, another series at Fenway

It seems like the Yankees have to make the trek up to Fenway Park in April every season, and indeed, the Bombers have had a tilt at Fenway in April during six of the last eight years. This is rather unfortunate, as for whatever reason they have a tendency to play some of their worst baseball when forced to go to Boston during the first month of the season, having tallied a 5-14 record at the Fens in April since 2003. As you’ll recall, the Bombers began their 2010 season up in Boston, and after losing the first game of Continue reading Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox I: Another April, another series at Fenway

Players to Watch: A.L. East

NL West-AL Central can be found here At long last, I’ll be done with this series of posts. And, fittingly, we end it with the Yankees’ division: The American League East. Without question, this is the best division in baseball. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are three of the top teams in either league. The Blue Jays would appear much better if they weren’t in this hellacious division, and I’m sure rebuilding would’ve been easier for the Orioles. Anyway, let’s get to it. Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson. Rated the #18 prospect before 2010, Hellickson has put together a Continue reading Players to Watch: A.L. East