Apr 30, 2007

Still very busy

but trying to sum up everything -

The Yanks dropped two of three to Boston. I really don't even know that much right now, only that on Friday: Matsuzaka had control problems, Mo got lit up, and the Yanks blew the lead; Saturday: Jeff Karstens broke his leg on a line drive on the first pitch and was replaced by Kei Igawa who pitched a gem, and Mo finally saved a game; Sunday: Wang gave up two HRs and sometime during the game cracked a fingernail in half.

And I missed the whole NFL Draft! It's one of my favorite sporting events of the year. Unsuprisingly, Jamarcus Russell went first overall to Oakland. However, Detroit made an interesting choice by taking wide receiver Calvin Johnson second overall when they've selected receivers in three of the previous four drafts.

The Giants took Texas cornerback Aaron Ross with the 20th overall pick. I don't love the pick but he could turn into a steal. WR Dwayne Jarrett was available, as was DT Alan Branch and LB Paul Posluszny. I wouldn't have necessarily taken those guys ahead of Ross, but I wouldn't have minded those picks either. An added quality that Ross has is his kick return ability, an area in which the Jints desperately need an upgrade.

In round 2, a very good pick: Southern Cal wide receiver Steve Smith, who is a solid possession guy. Brian Leonard was also available then, which would have been another solid pick.

I'll add some of my own scouting reports sometime soon, after sifting through the countless video of Big Blue's picks.

Surprisingly, the Giants didn't take a running back until round 7. I guess management feels confident with Big J and Reuben Droughns. Also, no offensive lineman until late on day two. Expect Grey Ruegamer or Guy Whimper to start on the O-line this season (or a trade). Eli will have more weapons but less protection. An interesting year ahead...

Apr 29, 2007

Moving into the new home...

Trying to catch up on everything.

Back writing asap.

Apr 26, 2007

The good

Five k's, one walk and no HR in 4.1 innings. Debut over. The 'Huuuughes' chant when he left the game.

The bad -
Seven hits, four earned runs, and velocity that dropped to 91 tops in the 5th inning. Hughes' starts will rarely top six innings, so more stress on the bullpen.

Johan Santana's first year era? 6.49.
Bartolo Colon? 5.65.
Greg Maddux? 5.52.

Plus, Hughes always takes 2 to 5 starts at each new level before he adjusts - after that, watch out! Now that he's in the Bigs, I hope he gets the chance to pitch 4+ games so that he does adjust and can help this team the rest of the year. If his innings get too high, skip his starts when need be.

Whatever you do

Do NOT boo Phil Hughes if you attend tonight's game. I don't care if he gives up five homers in a row, no booing.

Thank you.

Needless to say

I'm psyched (do people still use that word?) about Phil Hughes' debut tomorrow night. I won't make a prediction because I don't want to jinx it.

Tonight's game was rained out, which was beneficial on several levels - it gave the pen a much needed day off, it allows Andy Pettitte to start Friday against Boston instead of Jeff Karstens, and it allowed me to drive from the Bronx to Queens at 8 p.m. without much traffic.

Apr 24, 2007

Myers blows it

Seventh inning, two outs, two strikes, up by one, bases loaded, homerun on a bad slider. Game over. Losing streak at five.

Great game by Wang wasted because the bullpen is exhausted - and Myers is just not good anymore. He's a lefty specialist who pitches worse against lefties...

Two things

- Decent read at the Times on Arod's hot start.

- And a quick word of advice about the team's poor start - don't fret, it's primarily due to injuries. Four-fifths (80%) of the starting rotation has missed time with injuries; there's not a team in baseball that wouldn't be weakened immensely by that kind of plague. Wang and Mussina are coming back this week, and if Phil Hughes comes even close to his hype (and/or expectations), the pitching will be not only be fine, but perhaps even good.

Apr 23, 2007

Another Arod masterpiece wasted

4-5, 2 HR, 3 rbi, and another loss because the pitching staff stinks. At least tonight it did. I know Tampa has a good offense, but 10 runs?!

And what the hell is with Torre pulling Igawa after just 4.1 innings? You want to further destroy the bullpen? Joe, let someone take a beating so the pen can rest. I don't care if it hurts their ego or they have to throw 110+ pitches, at this point, it HAS to be done.

Arod cannot be stopped. It's truly amazing. Even his teammates were in awe after his 9th inning HR that pulled the Yanks within two.

Joe Girardi commented that Giambi's baserunning mistake (not scoring on Cano's single) was huge - it wasn't, but it, combined with everything else, was huge: Melky failing to catch that ball that skipped off his glove for a double; Posada's line drive out with Arod on 3rd; Damon's pop-out into the first row of seats with the bases juiced; and mostly the FOUR double-plays grounded into. All were killers.

It's tough to win - even with this offense - without any pitching, and the only reliable guy right now is Andy Pettitte. Chien-Ming Wang is making his season debut tomorrow, which should (hopefully) stabilize the pitching.

Hot off the press: Hughes starting Thursday

The top pitching prospect in baseball, Phil Hughes, will make his long-awaited Bronx debut on Thursday night against Toronto.

Hughes has started three games for Triple-A Scranton, compiling a 3.94 era with 11 hits, four walks and 17 strikeouts in 16 innings. After getting shelled on April 12, he dominated his next (and last) start on April 18 - 6 ip, 2 h, 0 bb, 10 k.

This move seems panicky. Why not Ohlendorf, Desalvo or Clippard, who all, despite having inferior 'stuff,' have far more professional innings under their belt, i.e. experience. That trio has pitched an average of 454.2 innings in their minor league careers, while Hughes has pitched 200 fewer innings (253.1). (DeSalvo 453.1 ip, Ohlendorf 383.2 ip, Clippard 527.1 ip.)

Apr 22, 2007

Damn you baseball gods!

This was all on the pitching staff and those ever flip-flopping baseball gods. The Yanks hit at least three bullet line drives that would have resulted in runs - and all three were caught (two by Nieves and one by Phelps). If they fall in, the Yanks probably score nine runs instead of six.

Talk about easy fans - Boston gave Matsuzaka a standing ovation for allowing six runs in seven innings! Wow. And I thought standing O's were reserved for noteworthy performances...

Anyway, the good news is that we faced Boston's top three starters and hammered all of them (20.2 innings, 15 earned runs), despite missing Matsui and Posada for all but three at-bats. Boston only hammered the minor league Yankee starters (Karstens and Wright), while Pettitte pitched very strong on Friday night (six innings, two earned runs).

Luck just wasn't with us in this series. All three games could have gone either way. The Yanks could just have easily done the sweeping than been swept.

Fresh start tomorrow against Tampa Bay, and Wang is supposed to return for Tuesday's game.

Some positive thoughts

From MLB.com -

The trip to Boston hasn't been profitable for the Yankees, save perhaps for Rodriguez's individual statistics -- he became the first Bomber to hit safely in the team's first 16 games since Bobby Richardson did so in the first 17 contests of 1962 -- but maybe there was a silver lining in the pitching matchups the Red Sox used.

Coming into the series, the trio of Curt Schilling, Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka loomed as threatening, to say the least. But the Yankees have logged 10 runs (nine earned) and 17 hits in 13 2/3 innings against Boston starters over the first two games, with Matsuzaka's effort remaining as the weekend's great unknown.

"You've just got to keep going through it," Rodriguez said. "I think one positive is at least we get to see their best three right off the bat. It's always a great challenge going up against those guys, but I like what we're seeing with our young players. Hopefully those guys will help us down the road, too."

It's true. A somewhat depleted (no Matsui, mostly no Posada) lineup has faced (and is about to) Boston's top three pitchers. Through two games, they've hit them up for nine earned runs in 13.2 innings. Meanwhile, Boston is facing just one of the Yanks top pitchers (the rest being injured). At the very least, it makes the next meeting that much more comfortable for Yankee hitters, and less comfortable for Boston hitters (who will likely have to face Wang and maybe Mussina in the next series).

Apr 21, 2007

Phil Hughes profile

Before today's FOX game (whose presentation of sports and especially baseball I cannot stand (which results in a muted TV)), read up on the future of the rotation -

Many minor leaguers might consider the label "Top-ranked prospect" a glorious burden because of the extremely high expectations that accompany it. Not so with Phil Hughes, Scranton Wilkes-Barre's 20-year-old right-hander.

Hughes, a native of southern California, is not only the top pitching prospect in the Yankees' organization, but is widely considered the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

"I have high expectations for myself," he admits, dismissing any pressure. "There are thousands of other people who would want to be in my shoes. I'm fortunate to be blessed with the situation I'm in. High expectations happen to go along with it."

Continued here.

Apr 20, 2007

Bullpen blows it

What is with Mo? Another terrible outing. The at-bat against Varitek was the killer. I thought Mo was working on the changeup for exactly that kind of at-bat. He fouled off three pitches before lining a single - he obviously had the timing of the cutter down. That's when to throw the change!

Anyway, you can also place some blame on Melky for not getting a sac fly with a runner on 3rd and 1 out in the 8th inning.

Myers should also take some blame - he's only on the team to get out lefties, and he gave up a double to Ortiz. At that point, you might as well leave him in to pitch Ramirez carefully, and then face the lefty Drew.

I did have a problem bringing Mo in so early. He's just not a five out guy anymore. Why not leave Vizcaino in or call for Bruney?

However, I don't have a big problem letting Thompson hit in the 9th. The hitting combo of Thompson and Phelps is far better than Phelps and Nieves - plus Phelps would slide into the catching spot. The problem was taking Giambi out in the first place. Torre's been constantly doing that, and it's come back to hurt them almost every time.

But as my father-in-law says, 'If divisions were won in May, the Red Sox would be the Yankees.'

Hughes, Sanchez & Forbes

- After Phil Hughes' poor outing last week, he bounced back with a stellar performance against Syracuse, striking out 10 in six innings with two hits and no walks.

Ross Ohlendorf also had a great six inning (one run) stint yesterday. Scranton's pitching rotation is definitely improving, and I expect at least a few of the pitchers to be "major-league ready" by May or June. So look forward to that!

- Unfortunately, another ML hopeful, Humberto Sanchez, the top prospect in the Gary Sheffield trade, underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Even though Cash Money knew about Sanchez's injuries, he must not have thought they would be this bad. Of course, guys can come back from TJ surgery throwing harder than they did before, e.g. Kerry Wood, Tom Gordon and Billy Koch.

- Forbes Magazine estimated the value of the Yankees at $1.2 billion. Damn. And that's not even counting the YES Network.

Apr 19, 2007

Fun Series

I've been extremely busy the last few days, so I'm just catching up on the DVR'ed games now.

First off: Arod does it again! I was away from a TV for the latter half of today's game, and after checking Gameday, saw the Yanks were trailing 6-3 in the 9th. I thought, Damn, it's over, we're two games behind Boston. Alas, when my wife and I got home, she told me the Yanks had won. I asked if she was sure. She said she saw the score on the internet. I flipped on YES and Joe was talking about pitching. They went back to the main guy at the desk (forgot his name), and he said it was Arod's second walkoff homer of the year. Get the fuck outta here I thought. And I checked the internet: 8-6 Yankees. Awesome.

Anyway, going back to Tuesday's game, Chase Wright pitched just all right. His best pitch was his changeup, and it kept Cleveland hitters just enough off balance to allow him to last five innings. Wright allowed one HR in 120 innings in Single-A last year, and in his third inning of his major league career, allowed a HR. Of course, there's a difference between Single-A hitters and Travis Hafner.

Fortunately, the offense exploded in the second inning, jumping all over Jake Westbrook for seven runs, including Minky's first HR, Arod's eighth, and Posada's second. The bullpen held on for a comfortable win.

Wednesday's game featured Kei Igawa's third start, and he has improved every start this year. Yesterday, six innings, five hits, just one walk, and two runs.

Another offensive explosion, including HRs from Arod and Giambi, three hits from Jeter, and two each from Abreu and Josh Phelps. The pen pitched three hitless innings.

Today's game seemed like a sure loss after Victor Martinez smacked a 3-run shot off Luis Vizcaino - who had his first poor outing of the season.

The Yanks trailed by four runs going into the bottom of the ninth, only to mount a six-run rally capped off by Arod's two-out 3-run HR for the win.

For fun, if Arod continues to hit like he has, his final stats will look as such: 116 HR, 636 TB, 301 rbi, 197 r, 174 k, 81 bb.

Elias says:

Sean Henn was the winning pitcher on Thursday against the Indians, earning the first victory of his major league career -- just as Chase Wright and Kei Igawa did in the first two games of the series. The Yankees became the first team in major league history to sweep a series of three of more games with all three winning pitchers recording their first major league victories.

Apr 16, 2007

Jose Tabata tearing up A-ball

Through 11 games, the Yanks outfield prospect is hitting .400/.468/.600. Yes, he's batting .400 (and even has four steals without being caught once). He does have 13 strikeouts though, which needs to be kept in check. Regardless, he's tearing up a notorious pitcher's league and ballpark. Baseball America's #2 Yankee prospect may jump to Double-A Trenton after the All-Star break (even with a probable regression in the coming months). From there, it's just a hop, skip and jump to the Bronx. His year will have a major impact on whether the Yanks exercise their 2008 option on right-fielder Bobby Abreu (Tabata's position).

Meanwhile, Jeff Karstens made a great rehab start for Tampa tonight (4 ip, 0 r, 3 h, 5 k, 1 bb). He may pitch Saturday's game in Boston.

Review Time

'The Gangs of New York'
Novel - by Herbert Asbury (1928)

I recently finished this graphic tale of 19th century gang life in Manhattan. It's epic yet intimate at the same time. Better than the Scorsese movie in many ways, and if you're at all interested in the history of crime or New York, check it out. Did you know that executions occurred on (what would become) Liberty Island? Or what it means to 'shanghai' someone? That thieves actually held skeletons ransom (successfully)? That there used to be a large lake in lower Manhattan? That there were two rival police forces who often fought each other? Or that one of the most notorious gangsters in American history became a celebrated soldier in World War I? Anyway, I love stuff like this. If you do also, pick up a copy today (or buy my copy - give me your best offer).

'Ali, the fighter (The Fighters)'
DVD - directed by William Greaves (1971)

A documentary recounting the historic first battle between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, it shows footage of the men training, trash-talking, praying, addressing the media and each other, fans reactions, and finally, the full 15-round fight itself. Frazier is one of my all-time favorite boxers, and is sorely underrated when discussing the greats of boxing. He defeated Ali the first time, and lost on a decision and a TKO their next two fights. Frazier lost only four fights in his career (twice each to Ali and George Foreman, not exactly slouches). In others eras, he would have reigned the sport for years. It's a shame what's happened to boxing over the last decade. Because of bullshit pay-per-view, Mike Tyson's insanity, and the lack of great heavyweight fighters, boxing has become such a niche sport that you almost never hear or read about it anymore. 'The Fighters' shows boxing at the height of its popularity, and give us a glimpse of how electrifying it can be.

And I thought I was being optimistic

when I predicted Chase Wright would make his first major league appearance in 2008. He's now set to start tomorrow night's game against Cleveland. Of course, it's due mostly to injuries, but he's also the hot hand, being named the Double-A Eastern League 'Pitcher of the Week' after dominating two starts (14 ip, 0 r, 19 k, 1 bb, 4 h) for the Trenton Thunder.

He's certainly not overpowering - his repertoire includes an 88-91 mph fastball, a good changeup, and a developing slurve, but his best asset is that he's left-handed. You can find a more detailed scouting report here.

Apr 15, 2007

Didn't happen...

now what can I destroy?

I just want to fast forward to the Yanks clinching the division in mid-September so I can look back at this game and say it didn't matter...

Tuesday's game can't get here fast enough.

Pavano and Mussinga DL'ed

Just happened according to Pete Abe. Chris Britton will be called up, but the Yanks need a starter for Tuesday's game vs. Cleveland. It could be Trenton's Chase Wright, or Scranton's Steven Jackson or Tyler Clippard.

For today's game, they'll be a man short on the roster (not counting Vizcaino, Bruney and Farnsworth, who are considered unavailable after pitching each of the last two nights).

Time for the Baby Bombers to take over.

24 innings of baseball

over the last 28 hours. I'm too tired to write much now, but let's see what comes out:

Very well pitched game by Darrell Rasner, who went 5.1 innings and allowed no earned runs. A Jeter throwing error in the first enabled Oakland to score three times that inning, but all the runs were unearned. After that, Rasner buckled down, pitching another 4.1 scoreless innings. His fastball topped out at 89 mph with pinpoint control, and he showed solid command of his curve and changeup.

The bullpen came through in fine form - 7.2 innings of scoreless, two-hit ball. In order, Henn, Proctor, Myers, Vizcaino, Farnsworth, Mo and finally Bruney (again). Yes, every single reliever on the team was used, and they were the true heroes tonight.

On the offensive side, Robbie Cano had a stellar game - it wasn't just the three hits, but that he actually drew two walks (again) tonight. After not walking in the first eight games, he's drawn four in the last two! Is it new found discipline, or is it just poor Oakland pitching? We'll see...

I personally would have pinch-hit Posada for Nieves in the fifth when the Yanks were down by one with two on and two out. Nieves popped out. Posada was inserted in the seventh with Cano on first and lined a curve into the right field corner that tied the game.

Horrible defense (again). Four errors (two by Jeter, and one by Abreu and Cano). They're lucky to win this game with defense like that.

On the flip side, Melky has been playing a spectacular left field in Matsui's absence. He gunned down Bobby Crosby at home in the first inning (which turned out to be a huge play - that run would have won the game for Oakland had he scored).

On the postgame show, Bruney said he enjoyed striking out Travis Buck to end the game because he had slammed his helmet down after scoring the winning run the previous night. He specifically said 'it wasn't classy.' Personally, I didn't have a big problem with it. He's just a rookie who was excited - but hey, if it makes Bruney pitch better, then I hope he takes offense to everything.

I can't believe there's another game in 14 hours, and I can't believe I was able to write this much (a lot of incidental 'agains').

4-3 Yanks (much needed)

Apr 14, 2007

Where's the luck?

The Yanks had the bases full with one out and lined hard to first-base. No runs. The A's had the bases loaded with one out and grounded softly to first-base. One run. Game over. And it happens to be Friday the 13th (or was when the game started). But the Yanks were the only ones who broke mirrors, walked under ladders and in front of black cats.

Cano drew his first walk of the season - on four pitches with the bases loaded. And then drew another one (albeit intentional) later in the game. No walks through eight games, and two tonight... funny.

Igawa pitched a very good game, and had just one bad inning (his last). For some reason, he threw four consecutive fastballs to Mike Piazza who drilled the fourth one into left-center for a double. The HR that followed by Chavez wasn't that bad a pitch (it was high and inside), he just guessed fastball and was right.

Kyle Farnsworth is single-handedly sucking the life from this team. He's blown each of the last two games. He pitched one inning tonight and fell behind the first three hitters, until he finally had to give in on 2-0 to Nick Swisher who drilled his (low 90s) inside fastball over the wall to tie the game. The only reason Farnsworth is in the majors is his velocity, not his control (which is often piss poor). If he continues to pitch in the low 90s, he's got to be demoted or traded.

Bruney had another stellar outing. Despite taking the loss, he was mostly dominant. Oakland hit the ball hard just once off him; how long before he takes the ball in close and late innings instead of Farns? It can't be too soon.

I'm also taking exception to Torre's blunder of inserting Kevin Thompson to pinch-run for Jason Giambi in the 8th inning. He represented the second go-ahead run. Arod on 3rd was the actual go-ahead run. That second run means almost nothing, especially when you're removing a great hitter like Giambi (when Thompson came around to hit for Giambi in the 10th, he struck out).

On the bright side, Igawa was much improved and Robbie Cano walked twice and stole a base. Perhaps signs of his all-around game maturing.

5-4 Oakland (a fuckin heartbreaker, with quaruple-A star Darrell Rasner going tomorrow. Not looking good for this series.)

Apr 11, 2007

King Felix and Chase Wright

Both utterly dominant (albeit on two very different levels) last night.

Seattle's Felix Hernandez vs. Boston, 9 innings, 0 r, 1 h, 2 bb, 6 k

Trenton Thunder's Chase Wright vs. Double-A Harrisburg, 7 innings, 0 r, 1 h, 1 bb, 10 k

Hernandez is in the majors at 21, whereas Wright is in AA at 24. Wright should hit the Bronx sometime next season.

Farnsworth melts down

How do you walk the leadoff hitter and fastest runner on the opposing team in the 8th inning of a tie game? It wasn't even close - four straight pitches! And then Torre took him out after he'd already given up four runs... the game was basically over then, why not let Farns just finish the inning instead of using another bullpen arm? Either take him out after he gave up the first run or let him (struggle through and) get all three outs. Anyway, he walked Luis Castillo, who promptly stole 2nd on the next pitch (credit to Posada who almost nailed him), and then scored on a Joe Mauer single.

Farnsworth's velocity was barely hitting 92 (perhaps his arm still isn't 'there' yet), but Bruney has a good shot to overtake him as the 8th inning guy very soon (as in Friday night in Oakland).

Our vaunted lineup somehow made Ramon Ortiz (of the career 4.84 era and 93 era+) look like Johan Santana. Abreu could've easily had a three-hit night (he hit three bullets right at defenders), and Cano and Giambi looked lost (0-7 combined).

The worst part is that a well-pitched game from Mussina (who left with an injured hamstring) and Henn was wasted by the anemic offense and Farns' meltdown.

This team has become the walking wounded: Wang, Karstens, Matsui, and now Moose. Who's not injured? Igawa, Pettitte, Pavano - that's it from the spring rotation. Fortunately, no fifth starter is needed this time through the rotation, but who will take over Mussina's spot? If Karstens is healthy (he's scheduled to come off the DL on Monday) he'll probably make Moose's start (Tuesday vs. Cleveland) - the other contenders being Darrell Rasner (4.1 ip, 10.38 era) and Sean Henn, who pitched 3.1 innings tonight and has a season era of 1.12 (over 8 innings).

5-1 Minnesota

3*: Pitchers except Farnsworth, 7.2 ip, 1 er
1: Damon, 2-4, r, sb
1: Arod, 1-3, 2b, rbi

Pettitte pitches six

Six scoreless innings from Pettitte tonight was more than enough for the Yankee offense. He had better velocity and command than his first outing. His fastball reached 91 mph, and he threw strikes with all his pitches.

Arod homered (again!) in the first inning, setting the tone for the game. Melky's bat finally came alive, garnering him three hits on the night. And Johnny Damon blasted a 3-run HR in the fifth inning that sealed the game; during that at-bat, the Yanks had runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs, and for the first pitch I though perhaps Damon should bunt to get two runners into scoring position, then I remember what 'Baseball Between the Numbers' (my current book) said, that most of the time, sac-bunts are wasted outs, so let Damon swing away, maybe we'll put the game away here. Sure enough, he crushed the next pitch over the right-field baggie and did indeed seal the win.

Nice to see Kevin Thompson get a bases-loaded double in the ninth. (Tell me he doesn't look like a black Arnie.)

10-1 Yanks

Apr 10, 2007

Pavano vs. Ponson

Two Yankee disappointments took the hill last night, with the mighty Carl Pavano triumphing in Minnesota. While the White Knight (Pavano) cruised through seven relatively easy frames, it was the evil ogre (Ponson) who barely made it out of the first two frames (allowing five runs).

8-2 Yanks

3*: Pavano, 7 ip, 2 er, 0 bb, 2 k
2: Abreu, 3-5, HR, 3 r, 4 rbi
1: Jeter, 3-4, 2 r
1: Arod, 1-4, bb, HR, 2 rbi

Apr 9, 2007

Cano's plate discipline

Comments from 'mlb1996' got me thinking about Robbie Cano's plate discipline. Using BR's phenomenal library of stats, we can determine how disciplined (or undisciplined) Cano is at the plate, and whether he's improving or not. I believe several stats tell us how disciplined a hitter is: pitchers per plate appearance, total pitches swung at, 1st pitch swung at, plate appearances per walk, and contact rate - although this is more a stat of hitting ability, not necessarily discipline, there's definitely some discipline involved (it allows a hitter to foul off those borderline two-strike pitches that can't be hit well).

Cano, for his career:
P/pa - 3.14
Total pitch swings - 52%
1st pitch swings - 37%
Contact rate - 87%
Pa/bb - 32

P/pa - 3.41
Total pitch swings - 49%
1st pitch swings - 23%
Contact rate - 86%
pa/bb - inf (0 walks so far)

The most promising increases are seen in p/pa (up .27) and 1st pitch swings (down 14%), and he's still maintaining about the same high contact rate. Unfortunately, he has yet to take a walk this season, but it will happen, and I predict more often than last year.

For comparison, who are perceived as disciplined hitters? Off the top of my head: Bobby Abreu, Kevin Youkilis, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas.

Abreu career:
P/pa - 4.28
Total pitch swings - 36%
1st pitch swings - 13%
Contact rate - 80%
pa/bb - 6.3

Great discipline. No question there.

Youkilis career:
P/pa - 4.46
Total pitch swings - 36%
1st pitch swings - 10%
Contact rate - 85%
pa/bb - 7.3

Another extremely disciplined hitter, maybe more so than Abreu. He's not taking as many walks probably because pitchers aren't scared of him.

Bonds career:
P/pa - 3.88
Total pitch swings - 37%
1st pitch swings - 26%
Contact rate - 85%
pa/bb - 5

He takes a shitload of walks, but doesn't necessarily have stellar discipline. His walks are more a product of pitching around him rather than his actual discipline.

Thomas career:
P/pa - 4.1
Total pitch swings - 37%
1st pitch swings - 19%
Contact rate - 85%
pa/bb - 6

Good discipline, but not as good as Abreu or Youkilis.

And who's known for being undisciplined? Jose Valentin, Adam Dunn, Delmon Young, Vlad Guerrero.

Valentin career:
P/pa - 3.94
Total pitch swings - 46%
1st pitch swings - 28%
Contact rate - 78%
pa/bb - 10

Dunn career:
P/pa - 4.25
Total pitch swings - 39%
1st pitch swings - 26%
Contact rate - 72%
pa/bb - 6

Both are more disciplined than I expected, but had fairly low contact rates (as expected).

D. Young career:
P/pa - 2.91
Total pitch swings - 67%
1st pitch swings - 63%
Contact rate - 75%
pa/bb - 76

Wow, even less disciplined than Cano. By a lot too.

Guerrero career:
P/pa - 3.23
Total pitch swings - 56%
1st pitch swings - 47%
Contact rate - 80%
pa/bb - 11.3

So far in his career, Cano has poor discipline (although not as poor as Young or Guerrero), but his most promising attribute is his contact rate, which is higher than anyone on this list. Therefore, he should be more inclined to take pitches, knowing that he is unlikely to strike out due to his incredible contact ability.

Now comes the search for the game's highest contact rate (minimum 1000 pa).
J. Pierre 94%
Eckstein 93%
P. Polanco 91%
L. Castillo 91%
Lofton 90%
B. Giles 90%
Kendall 89%
M. Cairo 89%
Ichiro 89%
C. Counsell 89%
Dmint 88%
Cano 87%
Melky 87% (only 563 pa)
Damon 87%
Mauer 87%
Helton 87%
Furcal 87%

Melky's still young

Melky has taken a lot of criticism so far this year due to his poor hitting (.118/.211/.118). Not only is the sample size too small (20 pa), but y'all have to remember, he's still very young - in fact, he's the third youngest player in the whole AL (behind Delmon Young and B.J. Upton - scroll to the bottom to see their ages). Matsui going down is unfortunate for the present success of the team, but giving Melky more playing time will benefit the long-term success of the Yankees.

Apr 8, 2007

Number 40, where are you?...

Five games, 21.2 innings, 9.97 era. That's the starters' line for the Yankees this season. They are actually lucky to be just 2-3. The bullpen, meanwhile, has been superb: 23.1 innings, 1.21 era. Not only have the relievers prevented far fewer runs, but they've actually pitched more innings. That's a major problem; at this point, I'll blame the weather (but why haven't Tampa and Baltimore fared as poorly?).

I know I said this last year, but I'm sick of Cano nonchalanting on defense. It ended up not really costing the Yanks today, but it forced Everyday Scottie to throw another 15-20 pitches. I'm actually more relieved they lost by two than by one. If Cano's error (which led to an unearned run) was the difference in the game, I'd be fuming. But since they never got within one, it ultimately didn't matter.

Phelps had a terrible at-bat against John Parrish. Bottom of the 8th, bases loaded, down by two, two outs - he swung and missed at two pitches out of the zone, and ended up flying out to center. I understand being aggressive, but c'mon, the pitcher threw one strike the whole at-bat.

Before him, Arod and Giambi had great at-bats, both going 3-2 before working walks to load the bases.

But most importantly, this team is banged up: Matsui and Damon (two starting outfielders) didn't start, and Wang (our best pitcher) and Karstens are on the DL. Man, how we need Wang and his seven 'easy' innings soon. Word is he'll be back in the rotation the next time a 5th starter is needed.

6-4 Baltimore

2*: Arod, 1-3, bb, HR, 2 rbi
1: Bullpen, 4.2 ip, 0 h, 5 bb, 3 k, 0 r

Tomorrow night, Pavano goes against Sidney Ponson in Minnesota. I'll go out on a limb and chalk up a W.

6:24 pm update: Matsui is officially on the 15-day DL. Kevin Thompson was called up from Triple-A Scranton.

Apr 7, 2007


Did Arod just win the game with a walk-off grand slam? I still find it hard to believe an hour later. My in-laws computer wouldn't let me log on to my blog, so we drove to Panera's (a cafe with free wi-fi) so I could get all my thoughts out (using my wife's laptop) as soon as possible.

Arod's defining moment as a Yankee? Probably not, but it's close. I came into the game in the 6th inning, Yanks trailing 7-3. They squandered several opportunities with men on base until the 8th inning when Giambi hit a 3-run shot to bring the Yanks 'to within 7-6' (as Michael Kay said, somehow thinking that was correct grammar). Mo pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, and Dmint led off the bottom half with a line drive right into the first-baseman's glove (I was cursing the poor luck), then Melky struck out. Robbie Cano came through with a 2-strike single, followed by a close 3-2 pitch that walked Jeter. Up came Abreu, and I knew he'd get on base somehow without tying the game (walk, infield single, hbp), therefore putting the onus on Arod. Lo and behold, he's hit in the leg on the first pitch. Up comes Arod, 2 outs, bases loaded, down by 1 - he falls behind 1-2 swinging through a 95 mph fastball. Considering Ray couldn't throw his off-speed stuff for strikes (and Arod's miss on the previous pitch), he had to come back with another heater. Arod had it timed perfectly and launched it (seemingly hit well, but I couldn't tell how well until I saw CF Corey Patterson sprinting toward the fence) just to the right of dead center, into the first row of the black seats. Game over. Yankees win 10-7.

I'll admit, I did not think Arod would come through. I didn't even want to watch but forced myself. Am I ever glad I did.

Arod has shown a renewed talent for hitting mid-90s (and inside) fastballs that he lacked for much of 2006. I'll assume it's due to the 15 pounds he intentionally lost during the winter to regain (his formerly excellent) bat speed. No reason to think the ability won't go away, unless of course he falls victim to the Sidney Ponson/Chris Britton diet.

Another splendid job by the bullpen: 4 ip, 0 r. One inning each from Bruney, Myers, Vizcaino and Rivera. They deserve almost as much credit for the win as Arod.

I can't comment on Igawa because of the tardiness of my watching (starting in the 6th after a 5-hour drive upstate). My thoughts on him will be here early next week after I return home to see the DVR'ed version of the game. Apparently he had no control of his breaking pitches, but at least went 5 innings - more than any other starter can say so far.

In other bad (and Japanese related) news, Hideki Matsui left the game after one at-bat with a strained hamstring. However, Damon was able to pinch-hit and even take over in CF after Matsui left, so he's clearly on the mend. And Melky had his first hit of the season - he's looking better at the plate every day, and still playing solid defense. Matsui's return - who knows? Hopefully it will be just a few days.

10-7 Yanks (a much needed win)

4*: Arod, 3-4, bb, 2b, HR, 3 r, 6 rbi
2: Bullpen, 4 ip, 1 h, 1 bb, 5 k (3 for Bruney), 0 r
2: Giambi, 1-3, bb, HR, 3 rbi
1: Abreu, 0-2, 2 bb, 3 r

Three pathetic starts

Three games so far, and the starters have pitched a total of 12.1 innings! When did the whole staff turn into Jaret Wright? I'll assume Mussina's 85 mph fastball is mostly a product of the cold weather (so that I can rest easier).

Giambi’s 0-5 with 6 runners stranded was a killer.

Who'd have thunk Kei Igawa would have a realistic shot at making the first start of 5+ innings (not withstanding Wang's injury)? Not me.

At least Sean Henn looked solid. And Phil Hughes pitched well in his first AAA game: 5 ip, 2 er, 6 k, 2 bb.

6-4 Baltimore

2*: Henn, 3 ip, 0 r
1: Matsui, 1-3, 2 r, rbi, bb

Apr 5, 2007

Pettitte's first game

Live game blog -
Nice opposite field double by Arod. Those are the hits we all want to see him getting (and know he can). May it continue for the rest of his Yankee career.

Pettitte escaped big time trouble in the 2nd - Upton tried to score from 3rd on a wild pitch, but made a poor decision as the ball got away only a few feet from Posada, who flipped to a sprinting Pettitte who tagged Upton for the third out.

Post game -
Ugly, ugly, ugly. Message for Joe: Minky is not fast enough to bunt him to 2nd.

Another poor starting performance. In two games so far, the starters have gone a combined 8.1 ip. Pitiful. Not even a full game! And Luis Vizcaino, grooving a 2-0 fastball to Iwamura, and eventually giving up the lead before retiring a single hitter?

How could Abreu not get a sac-fly in that situation (bases full, 1 out, down by 1)? And Arod was just a hair late on a 95 mph heater that would probably have been a grand slam had the pitch been only 92 mph.

7-6 Tampa

2*: Cano, 3-5, r, rbi
1: Matsui, 2-5, r, 2 rbi

New Stadium progress - April 2007

You can really see the stands progressing.

Shots from the actual game coming soon. That roll is still in the camera with a few shots left.

Here I've been...

planning a move to Philadelphia (work related), looking only for places where I could attach a satellite dish to get the Yankee games on Extra Innings (because DirecTV was going to be the sole carrier). MLB announced they have also reached an agreement with iN Demand, which is carried by most cable companies (including Philly's big one, Comcast).

The housing search would have been much easier without having to ask every seller if a dish could be attached to their house/condo. Oh well, the more options the better. I do have to give some credit to MLB on this one - I never thought they'd get a deal done with the cable companies. Now what about the NFL and Time-Warner?

PS: We don't have a house yet, but an offer is being made soon. Even without the benefit of adding a dish to this (specific) place, it's still our favorite in Philly (in our price range).

Apr 2, 2007

Opening Day - 161 to go

My wife and I attended yesterday’s game, sitting in the second row of the upper deck in left field. We arrived an hour early so that I could take some photos of the new Stadium (which will be posted soon). The video honoring Cory Lidle was moving (Arod crossed himself at its conclusion).

Johnny Damon is a character. When he got his roll call, he pointed with both hands to the bleachers - he knows how to fire the crowd up. After the roll call, the Bleacher Creatures chanted ‘We want Bernie.’ I, for one, certainly do not. He can’t play defense, can hardly run, and can only hit against lefties. Melky, Kevin Thompson and even Kevin Reese would be more valuable (and versatile) to this team. I love Bernie but there’s just no room anymore.

Arod’s dropped pop-up in the first inning was dreadful - just the worst way to start the season (not to mention the strikeout with two runners on). He was bailed out when Pavano induced a weak grounder. We never booed him but this idiot in front of us did, and he thought he was being hilarious. Then when Arod homered in the 8th, I was hoping he wouldn't get a curtain call (how fickle can fans be?), but he did. I felt embarrassed that he got booed terribly in the 1st, only to get a curtain call in the 8th. In my opinion, neither were warranted.

Josh Phelps looked fine (with the bat at least). Two plate appearances, two walks - OBP of 1.000. He was pulled in the 6th for Dmint when the Rays brought in a righty. But a good start to the season for Phelps.

Pavano pitched good enough, and should have lasted through five, but the Yanks defense let him down. Arod’s dropped pop-up, Jeter’s poor throw, and Phelps' poor toss on a fielder’s choice forced about 15 additional pitches. It was clear he was tiring in the 5th when he allowed a HR to Elijah Dukes and a hard single to B.J. Upton. The pen came to life and won the game for the Yanks: 4.2 ip, 0 er.

Rivera absolutely dominated. One perfect inning, three strikeouts. Dukes had the worst swing of the day against an inside cutter. I was waiting for the changeup, but the cutter was working so well (topping out at 97 mph!), and with a four-run lead with no baserunners, it was totally unnecessary.

A great way to start the season - big hits from Jeter, Giambi and Abreu. Big pitching from Vizcaino and Farnsworth, and even Henn looked good (albeit from the upper deck).

Tuesday update:
A few things I forgot to mention.
- During every Tampa pitching change, their three outfielders congregated in CF to talk - this is nothing out of the ordinary but I noticed they were all black Americans (Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young). It’s becoming more of a rarity in modern baseball to see any black Americans, never mind a whole outfield. And the Yanks don’t have a single one on the current roster! Sheffield was, Tom Gordon was, Charlie Hayes was, but none now. Is it the draw of basketball and football? Is baseball not getting enough exposure in black communities?
- Toward the end of the game, the sun finally cut through the clouds, creating a kind of misty, hazy look to the game. It made the stadium appear old-fashioned and almost ghost-like. A very awe-inspiring moment at the second to last opening day at Yankee Stadium.

9-5 Yanks

3*: Bullpen, 4.2 ip, 0 er
2: Giambi, 2-5, 3 rbi
1: Posada, 2-4, HR, 2 runs, rbi
1: Jeter, 1-4, HBP, game-tying two-out, two-run single
1: Arod, 2-5, HR, 2 runs, 2 rbi, sb
1: Abreu, 2-5, 2 runs, 1 rbi, sb