Sep 29, 2007

Game 1 Thursday at the Jake

C.C. Sabathia vs. Chien-Ming Wang

Sabathia's a lefty, and that got me thinking about what our lineup should be. Who hits lefties (and Sabathia in particular) best? I'll average out each hitter's OPS career against southpaws with their 2007 numbers, then look at how they've fared against Sabathia in their careers. Bear in mind though that the Yanks haven't faced Sabathia since 2004.

Damon .749 career, .706 season (vs. lefties) - .481 (14 pa) vs. Sabathia
Jeter .906 career, .856 season - 1.220 (24 pa)
Abreu .767 career, .679 season - .833 (4 pa)
Arod .975 career, .948 season - 1.062 (19 pa)
Posada .886 career, .948 season - 1.214 (18 pa)
Matsui .810 career, .814 season - .100 (10 pa)
Cano .754 career, .858 season - never faced him
DMint .772 career, .542 season - .619 (26 pa)
Melky .677 career, .637 season - never faced him

Giambi .855 career, .773 season - .515 (14 pa)
Duncan .984 career and season (minors: .913 season) - never faced him
Molina .743 career, .806 season - .000 (8 pa)
Betemit .625 career, .633 season - never faced him

Ok, there are some radical changes, but this is the lineup I'd go with:
1. Jeter SS
2. Abreu RF
3. Arod 3b
4. Posada C
5. Matsui LF
6. Duncan DH
7. Cano 2b
8. Damon CF
9. DMint 1b

Sep 28, 2007

Hughes looking sharp

Phil Hughes has a 2.73 era in September (in five starts): 29.2 ip, 9 er, 25 hits, 10 bb, 18 k. Tonight was his best start since the aborted no-hitter in May as he surrendered just one run in seven innings - a HR to Carlos Pena which is nothing to be ashamed of (he even homered yesterday off Wang). His era on the year is now down to a very respectable 4.46. With Hughes' recent success, Moose will be on a very short leash in any postseason start he makes.

Joba also pitched an inning (on back to back days for the first time) and looked... not quite right at first (his fastball was only 93 mph to the first batter), allowing a leadoff double, but came back to strike out two without allowing a run (eventually hitting 99 mph against the last batter).

Jose Veras closed out the game and actually has a chance to make the postseason roster. He sits 94-96 mph with a decent slider and if he can keep his control problems in check, could become a valuable addition to the bullpen.

Outfielder Bronson Sardinha (the Yanks 1st round draft pick in 2001) and shortstop Alberto Gonzalez (acquired from Arizona in the Unit trade) had their first ML hits tonight - both singles. Congrats!

Sep 27, 2007


The Yanks looked lost through the first three innings against JP Howell only to break out for two in the 4th, seven in the 5th and three in the 6th. The big blows included a bases-loaded single by Jorge and a three-run shot by Cano.

The Tigers are eliminated by the team that they eliminated last year (karma?). So the Yanks will probably win the wildcard and play Cleveland in the Division Series.

The celebration was unexpectedly wild, I suppose due to how far the Yanks came back from (eight games below .500) and the slew of rookies who are experiencing this for the first time.

PS: a good read on the aftermath of the Pats cheating scandal. Some very fishy stuff...

Sep 26, 2007

Not tonight

Igawa escaped jam after jam to give the Yanks five shutout innings only for Edwar, Bruney and Karstens to blow a five-run lead. The turning point was Bruney walking two batters before giving up a grand-slam. God he makes me sick. Meanwhile, Arod's 3rd inning slam was wasted. The magic number remains at one...

Sep 22, 2007

Four runs in one inning

Zero in the other 13.

So many ifs -
The Yanks may have won this game IF:
They scratch across one run in any inning besides the 9th.
Edwar doesn't serve up a HR to the third batter he faced.
Posada holds onto Abreu's tremendous throw.
Melky reaches base once instead of going 0-5.
The ump doesn't call a pitch in the lefty batter's box a strike to end the game.

But it really falls on Brian Bruney, who everyone knew would lose the game when he started the 14th. He was lucky to just give up one run - the first batter struck out on ball four.

Anyway, it ain't all bad because before that, Mo pitched great, Joba walked someone but that was the only baserunner he allowed in two innings (while k'ing four). And Wang pitched a helluva game, going pitch for pitch with Halladay until the 7th. Plus, Anaheim lost while Cleveland won, and I'd much rather play the Tribe without homefield advantage than have homefield against the Angels. And that's what the scenario would be if the playoffs started tomorrow.

Sep 19, 2007


Andy Pettitte won his 200th game tonight, Boston and Detroit both lost so the Yanks are 5.5 up in the wildcard and just 1.5 back in the division. The playoffs seem like a lock, but the division would be very nice.

Sep 16, 2007

Can I breathe yet?

After being away Friday and Saturday, I returned home tonight to catch an incredible ballgame. The Captain came through again with a huge three-run HR!

Joba allowed his first earned run of the year, rocketing his era up to .50. In his second inning of the night, Mike Lowell guessed first pitch fastball and hit it over the Monster. But Joba recovered well and struck out JD Drew to end the 8th inning. I can't wait until he's a starter and can show his full repertoire: we know how good the slider and fastball are, the curve was nasty tonight, and what I've seen of the changeup is very promising.

Sep 12, 2007

Various stuff

- Phil Hughes pitched well and won his 3rd game of the year. The YES gun had Hughes at 90-93 mph most of the game, with a few 94s (mostly in the earlier innings). Despite getting saved by some good defense in the 2nd (from Damon and Melky), he still pitched very well, and quite frankly, that good luck makes up for some of the bad luck he’s suffered through in a lot of previous starts. With more experience will come better command, and if he can go 6 ip, 1 er with inconsistent command, imagine when he has his terrific command - which from his minor league career we know can be truly exceptional.

- WCBS Radio in New York conducted a good interview with Cash Money. He talks about Ross Ohlendorf (among others), who made his ML debut tonight, pitching a perfect inning with a strikeout. His velocity was good, ranging from 90-95, and showed a sharp slider.

- The NFL will penalize the Patriots for 'spying' on the Jets during their 38-14 win on Sunday. It makes you wonder how long they've been doing this. They won three Super Bowls by an average of 3 points. Did spying occur in those games, and if it did, did it make the difference?... Hopefully they get hit hard, as in a loss of all their 2008 draft picks, a forfeit of last week's game, fines and suspensions.

Sep 10, 2007

As I've said before...

Umpires suck. And I refer you to a piece I wrote over a year ago on this very same subject. Baseball (and sports in general) is far behind the times in utilizing modern technology where it can, specifically to improve officiating.

Giant losses

Not surprisingly, last night's game was close, exciting, heartbeaking and riddled with injuries - in other words, a typical Giants game. They lost Brandon Jacobs, Osi Umenyiora and Eli Manning - can you think of any more important players? (Ok, maybe Plax and Shockey, but that's it.)

Per se my season preview, Eli had a great game but the secondary couldn't make any big stops. Neither defense was great; Dallas' was slightly better - the Jints D gave up way too many big plays and put hardly any pressure on Tony Romo (what happened to Spagnuolo's attacking D?). I could see a lot of games like last night's...

Sep 8, 2007

Can I breathe yet?

The Yanks edged the Royals in a 3-2 nailbiter. Arod and Posada jumped on Meche early with two solo shots in the 2nd, only for KC to come right back with two of their in the bottom half against Ian Kennedy.

Both pitchers escaped jams and had to pitch to an extremely inconsistent strike zone (remember that 3-2 pitch to Gathright in the 1st inning? It was called a ball yet there were numerous pitches worse than that called strikes). There was also Robbie Cano being called out on a 3-2 inside changeup that was clearly a ball. Just absolutely ridiculous. Marty Foster is a horrible umpire that shouldn't be anywhere near the postseason.

Kennedy escaped trouble in the first two innings but settled down after that, pitching to just two over the minimum in innings three through five.

Bobby Abreu had the clutch hit of the night, scoring Jeter from first one a double to left center (off a lefty no less).

But perhaps the biggest story was one fan in attendance, Joba Chamberlain's father Harlan. He had polio as a kid and is wheelchair bound. Joba grew up in Nebraska (not too far from KC) so Harlan and the Chamberlain family drove up to attend the game. Joba nearly gave up the lead on a deep fly ball (off the bat of Billy Butler) which would have been heartbreaking, but it stayed in park and Damon made a nice running catch on the warning track.

The unsung hero was Kyle Farnsworth, who pitched a perfect two-strikeout inning and got the win. Mo pitched a dominant 9th - a weak groundout, an infield popup and a strikeout.

Sep 7, 2007

Informative read on Eli

at Football Outsiders, the NFL equivalent of Baseball Prospectus. The gist of it is that Eli can't (or couldn't on this occasion) read zone blitzes. Bear in mind that this writer only looked at two plays from one game, so take the conclusion with a grain (or several) of salt.

Sep 6, 2007

2007 Giants season preview

2006 Recap
The 2006 season ended in disappointment as the G-Men lost in the wildcard round (to Philadelphia) on a last second field goal. Tiki Barber had a great game that night (28 touches, 152 total yds), but the Giants D couldn't stop the Eagles rushing attack, especially on the last drive when they marched down the field to make an easy field goal.

Tiki retired after the season to pursue a television career (which is making headlines of its own).

The Giants had a fairly uneventful offseason. No major splashes in the free agent market or in the draft. Steve Spagnuolo was promoted from Eagles linebacker coach to Giants defensive coordinator. Michael Strahan threatened to retire, but then showed up Monday (possibly in a bid to simply skip training camp). Will Demps is out for the year with an elbow injury, and Mathias Kiwanuka was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker.

Key losses

RB Tiki Barber
K Jay Feely
S Will Demps
LT Luke Petitgout

Tiki will be missed the most of these four players. He carried the Giant offense at times last year, and accounted for over 40 % of their offense the last three years. Brandon Jacobs has been an excellent backup, but now he's the star - will he be able to carry the ball 20+ times a game when he's never carried it more than 11 in a single game yet? I think the answer is yes. He's a big, strong guy (6'4", 265 lbs., which is as big as some defensive ends and bigger than most linebackers), and with the depth the Giants have at RB (Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw, Reuben Droughns), he won't have to carry as much of the load as was initially feared after Tiki's retirement.

I won't cry over losing Jay Feely. He was a good but not great kicker that often missed in important, close games. Lawrence Tynes won the kicking job - he has made 78.2 % of field goals in his career, a decent percentage (and just a hair under Feely's career of 79.6 %).

Will Demps was one of the big free agent acquisitions heading into last year, but had a disappointing first year with the Jints after coming over from Baltimore. James Butler, however, played very well in limited time so I don't mind him becoming the starting free safety in 2007.

Losing Luke Petitgout might have a bigger impact any other loss, even Tiki. When he was healthy, he was a very solid left tackle (a premium position in the NFL), and his injury in the Chicago game last year was essentially the turning point of the whole season - they were winning that game and could've gone 7-2, but with Luke out Eli was mauled the rest of the game; the Jints lost and they finished the season going just 2-6.

Key additions
CB Aaron Ross
WR Steve Smith
LB Kawika Mitchell
RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Aaron Ross was selected with the 20th overall pick in the April draft. He was a top CB out of U-Texas and secondary help is what the Giants needed (and still need) desperately. I like what I've seen from him in the preseason despite getting picked on - he's made some nice tackles, has shown good speed and change-of-direction ability, and despite allowing some long catches has been in good position (but the throws were perfect). He should be the starting nickelback, and could take over starting by mid-season (he also returns punts). The only downside is that he'll turn 25 this month, quite old for a rookie CB.

Steve Smith (out of USC) was selected in the 2nd round and has excelled in camp and in the preseason (8 catches, 78 yds, 1 TD). He has probably taken the #3 WR spot over Sinorice Moss. Along with Shockey, Plax, Toomer, Moss and Mix, the Giants (could) have a one of the best passing attacks in football (a lot of which still rests on Eli).

LB Kawika Mitchell was the only impact free agent that rookie GM Jerry Reese signed. He's 27 and to this point played his entire career with the Chiefs where he amassed 302 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13 pass deflections and 3 picks. Reese signed him to a nice, low risk contract (one year, $1 million). He'll be the starting weak side linebacker.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw could turn into the steal of the 2007 draft. He was taken in the 7th round out of Marshall and has excelled in the preseason - 26 carries for 177 yards (6.8 per carry), 4 catches for 31 yards. He looks like a bigger version of Tiki: quick, agile, a little small - and he's the starting kick returner. The offense for the 2007 Giants should be very strong, which brings me to...

Keys to the season
Eli's progression
This will be Eli's 4th season in the league, and if the team is going anywhere he needs to step up from his previous three. If the preseason is any indication (69% completion rate, 3 TD, 0 INT, 107 rating), he's going to have a breakout year. QB coach Chris Palmer came over from Dallas where he finished molding Tony Romo into (seemingly) a very solid QB.

Steve Spagnuolo's new D
The new defensive coordinator that came over from Philly has brought a blitzing, attacking defense that is part of the reason Mathias Kiwanuka moved from DE to OLB. His kind of style is high-risk/high-reward. It will be susceptible to screen passes, draws and hot routes, and if the blitzers do not get to the QB, it will leave the weak secondary very exposed. If they can get to the passer, it will hide a lot of problems with the DBs. If nothing else, it will be exciting to watch.

Because of the weak NFC East, the Giants actually have a decent shot at the division title. They'll win anywhere from six to nine games. This may sound horrible, but I would rather have the team suck badly than be simply mediocre (which is probably what will happen) - I'd rather draft Darren McFadden (or another top player) and get a new head coach in here than continue plugging along as just another mediocre NFL team. Final prediction: 8-8 (wildcard team), Eli has a very good year (QB rating over 90), but the secondary kills them too often to win consistently.

For what it's worth (not all that much), Football Outsiders think the Jints have a great shot at the #1 draft pick in 2008, and that they'll select OT Jake Long from Michigan.

sources:, Wikipedia, ESPN

Sep 5, 2007

Phil and Joba combine to shut down M's

Phil Hughes pitched his best home game of the year (where previously he had stunk): 6 ip, 5 h, 2 er, 2 bb, 6 k, 97 pitches (61 for strikes), and perhaps most encouragingly 6 groundouts to 4 flyouts. His fastball ranged from 87 to 94 mph, he had average command of a nasty curve and below average command of a slider and changeup. Despite that, he was able to throw all of them for strikes (at times) and got burned by just one bad inning (the 2nd): he had 2 outs and had Guillen down 0-2 before throwing four straight balls. He then fell behind 2-0 on Ibanez and grooved a fastball that was crushed for a HR. Outside of those seven straight pitches, Hughes was downright dominant (even dealing with a very inconsistent strike zone). Not wanting to stretch him too far (and pulling on a high note), he was pulled after 97 pitches and K to the final batter. A turning point may have been in the 4th when Ibanez led off with what appeared to be a clear double down the right field line - Shelley Duncan fielded it quickly a fired an absolute bullet to nail him at 2nd. Shelley had a huge grin following the play, and it's awesome to see that kind of joy and enthusiasm from players (that you often only see from rookies).

Joba pitched the top of the 7th, utterly dominating the three batters he faced: two weak groundouts and a shallow pop out.

At that point, the Yanks were down 2-1 only thanks to a solo shot from Jose Molina (who had crushed the previous pitch foul - perhaps from catching him all those years in Anaheim he knew how to hit him). Seattle's bullpen is very good, so I hoped the Yanks would score a quick run (preferably a HR) off Washburn before their relievers were called into action. Arod delivered with a solo HR (can a guy have more big hits than he's had this year?). Robbie Cano reached on an error, forcing Washburn out of the game. But the vaunted relief core tanked, allowing seven more runs that inning including another HR by Arod, becoming the first Yankee to homer twice in one inning since 1977! Joba wasn't used for the 8th, but his scoreless 7th was enough to give Joba his first major league win!

In Seattle's defense, the umps blew two calls against them. Ichiro was called out stealing 2nd, but replays showed Jeter never tagged him. Later, Ichiro was again called out but replays showed he beat Jeter's throw. Tough night for him. And someone please tell John McLaren to stop changing pitchers - it was insufferable watching that shit (thank god for DVR).

An off day tomorrow (fitting because it's the start of football season), and Ian Kennedy goes friday in Kansas City.

Look for a Giants season preview coming soon!

Sep 4, 2007

Betemit's starting against a lefty?

Has Joe Torre lost his mind? Betemit (the starting first-baseman) can't hit lefties for his life. A .630 OPS against LHP for his career (214 pa).

Update 12:22 a.m.: Whoops. These are the kinds of moves that used to work for Joe every single night, even when the matchup didn't make sense (like tonight). Betemit went 2-2 (as a righty) with an rbi.

Sep 2, 2007

A series loss to the lowly Rays

After an 8-2 blowout.

Watching Jason Hammel actually made me think of Phil Hughes. Today is what we can expect (and hope) Phil Hughes becomes in time. A 91-94 mph fastball located with great precision, and good command of a curve, slider and changeup. That enabled Hammel to dominate through five innings (despite a high pitch count and five hits) - he shut down the Yanks when they got runners on and struck out seven without a single walk.

Clemens goes tomorrow afternoon in game one of a big series against Seattle, who is currently two games behind us (after losing again today) in the wildcard.

Sep 1, 2007

Kennedy shines

I will not be able to watch today's game until it's archived on, but having 'watched' on Gameday, Kennedy pitched better than anyone could have expected: 7 ip, 5 h, 3 r, 1 er, 2 bb, 6 k, 96 pitches, 66 strikes. As of 5:50 pm, I've only watched highlights and Gameday, but what I saw was impressive. Kennedy's fastball was consistently at 91, even hitting 93 a couple times (whereas scouting reports had him sitting 88-92 mph). The vertical movement looked like a four-seamer, but it moved in (a lot) to righties, so perhaps it was a two-seamer. If it was a two-seamer, it's even more impressive because he threw it in the low 90s.

The hitters jumped on Edwin Jackson for seven runs (six earned) in 3.1 innings. Arod provided most of the offense, going 3-4 with a HR and double.

Since Seattle lost to Toronto, 2-1, the Yanks now have a two game lead in the wildcard. Nice!

I have to admit I was disappointed in Hughes last night

And I've felt that way since he came off the DL (save for the Cleveland game). I do however, see the greatness that was heaped upon him in the minors. Last night, if that 4th pitch (curveball) to Iwamura rolls fair (instead of just foul) and they get the easy out, I think he goes on to have a very good game. I have no evidence for that, just a feeling, because those first 4 pitches looked outstanding. Unfortunately, his next pitch was a hanging curve that Iwamura lined for a double.

The good news is that his velocity was better last night, seeming to average 91-92, topping out at 94. He just didn't have great command (again) which is strange because that was his forte in the minors. And that's really been his biggest problem so far, command - he's walking too many guys and falling behind often in counts.

But I feel it's mostly a matter of adjusting to the Bigs, being the youngest pitcher in MLB, and having all the injuries this season. I wouldnt be surprised if Hughes didn't have a truly great year until 2009-10. I do think he'll be fine (whether it's next year or in '09), but this year seems unlikely. In short, I see flashes of greatness, but not the consistency to match it yet.