Apr 30, 2008

The Giants' Draft

I haven't yet touched on the crop of players the Giants drafted over the weekend, but here goes -

Getting Kenny Phillips from the U with the last pick of the first round was fantastic. He's probably better than either James Butler or Michael Johnson right now, and I could see him starting at free safety as early as week one. It also gives us great safety depth: Butler was the starting FS for the Super Bowl champs (who will probably be the backup), and Johnson is capable of starting on some teams right now. I didn't watch many Miami games last year, but from watching highlights and reading up on him, Phillips is a tremendous talent who was projected to go in the top 15 heading into his junior year - he slipped to the bottom of the first round after an inconsistent year. It's hard to characterize his biggest strength because he is solid in every aspect: he has prototypical size (6'2", 208), runs a sub-4.5 40, is a good tackler and blitzer, and played in one of the toughest college football conferences. I'm very excited to watch him, especially with our incredible pass rush - it could be easy pickings in the secondary for the good safety tandem of Phillips and Sammy Knight. After all, the pass rush made a sub-par secondary look good last year; imagine what a good secondary would look like.

- Terrell Thomas, a cornerback from USC, was taken in round two, followed by Mario Manningham, a high-upside Michigan wide receiver in round three. This will create some interesting roster battles in training camp as the Giants have seven corners and seven receivers. At least one from each group will be either cut or assigned to the practice squad.

- The givens at WR are Plax, Toomer and Smith. Moss, Manningham, Tyree and Hixon will all compete for the last few spots. I'm pulling for Manningham mostly because I want to hear announcers say "Manning to Manningham!" Hixon has a lead over the others because he's a very good kick returner, while Tyree is an excellent gunner on special teams. Moss can also return kicks but has very limited experience in that area (10 kick returns in his pro career, the last coming in 2006). My best guess is that Hixon is assigned to the practice squad, allowing Moss and Bradshaw to return kicks. Don't get me wrong, Hixon is a very good kick returner, but Bradshaw is just as good and you can't cut Tyree (the team's best gunner).

The cornerback depth chart is a bit easier to predict. The givens are Ross, Webster and Madison. That leaves Thomas, McQuarters, Dockery and Pope to fight for spots. Pope was last on the depth chart in '07 so he's most likely to be cut/reassigned. McQuarters is old (32) but is still a serviceable corner and punt returner. Dockery is very solid as a 4th corner, and usually lines up against the opponent's small, speedy receiver. Thomas is big (6'1", 202) and at the very least should be an excellent special teams gunner and occasional blitzer. My guess is Pope gets assigned to the practice squad, allowing McQuarters or Ross to return punts.


That's how I'd classify Phil Hughes' start tonight. I was hoping and expecting a solid outing but got another disappointing game where he only lasted 3.2 innings.

Can someone tell me what happened to his fastball command, an area he excelled in throughout the minors and during his first start of 2008? It's completely disappeared. That's one problem.

The killer was walking Granderson to lead-off the game. You cannot walk the lead-off hitter, whether it's in the first inning or anything inning thereafter. A 55-foot wild pitch two batters later moved two runners into scoring position, which was followed by a two-run single. Side note: if Melky Cabrera is playing center (instead of getting a day off), he holds Detroit to just one run there.

Either Al Leiter or John Flaherty made the point that of Hughes 80+ pitches, only five were not a fastball or curve (meaning a slider or changeup). Those pitches aren't bad: the changeup has good deception and the slider Hughes can throw for strikes almost at will. Using just two pitches is essentially being a reliever, except that the hitters get to face him multiple times. Maybe it's a confidence thing, but that's another problem.

Peter Abraham makes a good point that Hughes has thrown to four different catchers already this year, which might be a reason that he can't seem to get into a groove. There were at least three cross-ups with him and newly-promoted catcher Chris Stewart. Hughes hasn't had the same catcher in consecutive starts all year. That's a third problem.

Ross Ohlendorf should get a ton of credit for keeping us close, going 3.1 scoreless innings in relief (with five Ks). And it wouldn't kill us to get a hit with runners in scoring position. The Yanks had runners on 2nd and 3rd in the first - out. We loaded the bases in the 3rd with two outs - out. The bases were loaded again in the 8th - a walk garnered one run, then an out. Overall, eight runners were left in scoring position to end an inning. Ugh.

I really hope Hughes can get it together soon because the fans are turning ugly. They booed him was he walked off the mound - it was disgusting. The guy is the youngest pitcher in all MLB and is going through growing pains. Booing him will do anything but help.

Last but not least: who would replace Hughes right now? Igawa? Rasner? I'd much rather watch Hughes struggle and learn than watch guys with no future take starts away from promising pitchers. But if these poor starts continue (another 3-4 games), I wouldn't be totally averse to making him the long reliever and bringing up a Scranton starter. It would take a lot of pressure off and allow him to get his confidence back.

- The Yanks are down two of their best hitters, as Posada and Arod have been placed on the 15-day DL.

Apr 28, 2008

Oh, the mighty pen

This game was almost a pathetic excuse for one. The Yanks four-run rally in the 6th is one the weakest four-run outbursts you'll ever see: three infield hits, a line drive single, a hit batter, and two groundouts added up to four runs.

Aaron Laffey had held the Yankees hitless through the first five innings, and it seemed like another impotent night - only for Melky to start a rally with an innocent-looking well-placed bouncer.

Moose pitched another solid game, but the Cleveland hitters caught up to him in the 5th. And that's where the bullpen stepped up. Through the final four innings, Albaladejo, Farnsworth, Joba and Rivera allowed one walk, one hit, no runs and k'ed four.

Apr 25, 2008

A winnable one

According to Gameday, Hughes ranged from 92-95 tonight, so can we please stop talking about his (decreased) velocity now?

If Abreu’s double is a foot higher, the Yanks score 7 runs instead of 6. If there's no rain delay, Hughes probably goes at least five.

I had a very bad feeling when Giambi popped out with the bases juiced and was cursing at Jorge after his GDP in the 9th.

The 50-minute rain delay really sucked, because it forced Hughes out after just two innings. If he goes just 5 ip, 3 er, the team's in much better shape than what Ohlendorf put them in. In fairness to him, he pitched a great first inning, but to get through those great hitters (Thome, Konerko, Dye) it helps to have a 3rd pitch and he doesn’t have one (or doesn’t have confidence in it).

But I’ll try to be an optimist: better to lose the game in the 9th than to keep it tied well into extra innings, burning out the entire pen for the upcoming series. At least Mo is rested.

With any luck, Farnsy and Bruney will go on the DL (nothing against Bruney but he’s in a cast), and Ohlie and Moeller be sent down. That allows Shelley, along with three of Patterson, Edwar, Britton, Alby and Veras to come up to relieve the relievers.

By the way, that 1-2 fastball to Quentin in the 9th should’ve been strike 3.

PS: Another homer for Melky tonight. What a start for him (outside of some uncharacteristically below-average throws).

Apr 23, 2008

Will Robbie bounce back?

Yes, and here's why: his peripherals are all in line with his career averages. Although he's currently at .173/.212/.247, his line drive rate is 19.4% (up from his career of 19% flat), his groundball rate is 51.4% (exactly in line with his career), his flyball rate is 29.2% (down from 29.6%), although his infield fly rate is up considerably (19% compared to his career 9.3%). The problem is mostly luck: his BABIP is a measly .183, down nearly 150 points from his career average of .330.

He's also seeing more pitches per plate appearance (3.5, which has trended upward throughout his career), and being more selective at the plate (.44 bb/k compared to his career .36).

I just hope his resurrection starts sooner rather than later.

Apr 21, 2008

Totally random thoughts

- Hank seems to be losing his temper. He wants Joba to start now and criticizes Mike Mussina. Honestly, he's not far off base but he shouldn't worry, Joba will be a starter (in time) but there's something called 'inning caps' in place for his protection. On Moose, I find myself agreeing with Hank in that he should learn something from Jamie Moyer. Look at today's game for proof. Steve Trachsel is basically a poor-man's Mike Mussina yet had a very effective start against a great offense. And he did it by doing the opposite of how Moose has been going about pitching this season: using his fastball sparingly. Mussina still thinks his 85-88 mph fastball is an out-pitch, as evidenced by his five consecutive fastball at-bat against Manny the other night (who homered). Watching Trachsel work his magic, using a lot of change-ups and curves, it's evident Moose needs to follow suit to be an effective pitcher: he has to become a junk-baller, and he still has good enough off-speed stuff and command to do it. The fastball should be used exclusively as a show-me or get-ahead pitch.

- Any 'Lost' fans out there? I just finished season 3 and [spoiler alert] couldn't believe how idiotic Charlie was. Ok, before we even get to that, how the fuck did Mikhail pull off his stunt? He had a spear embedded in his chest but managed to put on goggles, swim outside the underwater station right to the window where Charlie was and detonate a grenade. Anyway, the window imploded and Charlie drowned. But Jesus, did he not see the gaping hole that he could have easily swam out of to safety?

- Watched highlights from the Rangers-Devils game 5 and something jumped out at me. The Devils scored and were celebrating in front of the glass boards; all good and normal but right behind them a Ranger fan was furious and gave them the double middle-finger. It's clear as day on TV and funny as hell.

- Andy the Stopper.

- With tomorrow's off day, Joe Girardi is tweaking the rotation to keep Hughes and Kennedy apart so as to not overtax the bullpen. A smart and necessary move.

Apr 19, 2008

Before we delve into tonight's game

Let's look at Dellin Betances' start for Low-A Charleston. It was a very Daniel Cabrera-esque game: 5 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 5 bb, 5 k (with a wild pitch). If the 6'8" pitcher can ever learn control, he could be a right-handed Randy Johnson.

Just keep in mind

One interesting thing to remember about our rookie pitchers compared to Johan Santana is their homerun rate. He's definitely having a better season so far (and will probably have a better overall season - I don't think anyone would argue that), but don't get discouraged. Santana has given up five homeruns in 27.2 innings while the duo of Hughes and Kennedy hasn't allowed even one homerun in their combined 27.2 innings.

And in regards to Hughes' velocity, it was consistently 92-93 last night (for the whole 5.1 innings), so I think we can put the notion of his decreased velocity to rest. He just has to get back to his normal (excellent) command.

Apr 17, 2008

Here's wishing Joba replaces Mussina

That's Moose, the 2008 version. You just can't expect much from him, especially against an offense like Boston's. Hindsight is 20/20, so it's easy to say Moose shouldn't have pitched to Manny, but if you do, you're already putting a mediocre (or worse) pitcher at a disadvantage because it puts more runners on base and advances the current baserunners. Anyway, the peps at BPro studied the issue of intentional walks and determined that it's only worth it in very few situations and when the next batter is significantly worse than the current batter. However, it doesn't take into account a hitter's (or pitcher's) recent success or lack thereof.

The first at-bat I was resigned to walking him, especially after the count went 3-1. The second at-bat was just a poor plan by Moose and the coaching staff: they threw Manny four straight outside fastballs, followed by a fifth fastball on the inner half that was golfed into the stands. This ain't Joba we're talking about. Moose just doesn't have a good enough fastball to make a mistake like that (which he did).

It would be fantastic if Joba replaced Moose in the rotation come July (or sooner). Does anyone think he wouldn't do at least as good a job?

I'm predicting a solid game from Phil Hughes tomorrow night, something along the lines of 6 ip, 2 er.

- A scout got a firsthand look at Tampa Yankees Mark Melancon and Ryan Pope and reported everything on his website.

Wang sucks but bats prevail

Wang just didn't have anything tonight and it showed. He fell behind nearly every hitter (throwing only 54% strikes).

The offense exploded though, hammering highly-touted prospect Clay Buchholz for 7 runs in 3.2 innings.

- Meanwhile, guess who's the most valuable franchise in baseball? And by nearly $500 million!

- Not a single voter thought Wilson Betemit should replace Jeter at shortstop. The majority (63%) are in favor of Alberto Gonzalez while the rest prefer Arod.

- In the other poll, a slight plurality of voters (45%) thought Shelley Duncan's spring training slide into second base was right. The rest of the votes were split evenly between: wrong, not sure, and depends on the repercussions.

Apr 15, 2008

What a difference an umpire makes

The strike zones in the last two games have been immense compared to Sunday night's tight-ass zone. I have no doubt Phil Hughes would have looked considerably better in a 72 degree dome with a generous strike zone.

Anyway, the Yanks have been able to get by (barely) without Joba. The 8-7 game was very nearly a disaster (and it kind of was for us 'Jobe the starter' people), but Farnsworth and Rivera worked a scoreless 8th and 9th tonight to insure their second straight win.

Andy Pettitte escaped many an early jam: 12 baserunners in just 7 innings in fact, but Tampa only managed 3 runs. The key was preventing extra-base hits, as all nine Tampa hits were singles.

Apr 14, 2008

Lots of roster moves

- Chad Moeller was called up from Scranton to replace Jose Molina, who strained his hamstring last night.

- Joba Chamberlain is taking bereavement leave to attend his ailing father in Nebraska. Jon Albaladejo was recalled to take his spot.

- Wilson Betemit was put on the 15-day DL with pink eye (probably to clear room for Moeller).


In a way, I preferred Hughes' start tonight (looked great, struggled with control) to a game where he looked merely good while pitching a little better. We all saw the future ace: the 90-94 mph fastball, the knee buckling curve and a solid changeup. I prefer a glimpse of that to a slightly better pitched game. After all, it's just one game in a career we hope will last 15+ years.

The problem stemmed from the first batter, when the ump squeezed Hughes into a walk. A poor throw by Molina (on a steal) allowed Ellsbury to advance to 3rd. That seemed to rattle Hughes, who walked three and allowed six hits in 3+ innings. His fastball command was inconsistent (his problem in KC too), although his curve was phenomenal. It's a matter of consistency and getting used to cold weather, ML hitters, foreign mounds and last but not least: maturing mentally - he's barely old enough to drink.

His biggest problem is trying to be too fine. He's trying to make a perfect pitch every time - he just has to let it fly sometimes. Maybe it gets hit, maybe it doesn't, but don't walk the guy. He actually k'ed more guys than Matsuzaka, despite pitching 3 fewer innings: two on the curve, one on a 93-mph heater. It was the great curve that I haven't seen since his no-hitter last May 1.

And talk about a poor return. Matsuzaka threw 116 pitches in just 5 innings while allowing 11 baserunners. $100+ million for that guy?! I know, Igawa sucks too, but he costs half as much. Both have been disappointing to say the least.

It would be very nice to see Ian Kennedy pitch a good game tomorrow night. We need it to restore faith in our youngsters that some 'fans' have already lost. Patience please - Hughes is the youngest pitcher in all MLB and the youngest player in the AL. And Kennedy is just 23.

Update 1:10 a.m.: Shit. Jose Molina strained his hammy in the 4th inning and his status for tomorrow is TBD but the Yanks are going to add a catcher to the roster.

Apr 12, 2008

The good news

1. The Yanks didn't have to use either Joba or Rivera while Boston used their best relievers; Papelbon will likely be unavailable tomorrow.

2. The matchup was our 4th (or 5th) starter against their #1 starter and it turned into a very winnable game. A pitch here or a hit there...

- Down in Charleston, Zach McAllister pitched a stellar game: 7 ip, 5 h, 2 er, 0 bb, 7 k, 13 groundouts, 2 flyouts. The 20-year-old's ERA on the season is 1.50.

Trenton and Charleston are where it's at

in terms of top Yankee prospects. Of the youngest players in professional baseball (by level), the Yankees have six (two more than any other team) - a very good sign for the future. Of those six, two are in the Bigs, two are in Double-A Trenton, and two are in Low-A Charleston. (For some reason, Project Prospect thinks Michael Stanton is on Charleston when he's actually part of the Marlins organization.)

Be sure to also check out PP's Top 25 pitchers under 25. Three Yankees made the list. Y'all know who they are.


A wonderful one from Wang; an absolute gem, rivaling the best games he's ever pitched. The one run scored off him was definitely hit well but still playable. The only other hit he allowed was a 9th inning bunt single. A complete game 2-hitter against a lineup as tough as Boston's is incredibly rare, and he did it with just 93 pitches.

Wang is 3-0 with a 1.23 era. He's off to the best start of his career and best I can remember from a Yankee pitcher.

The last Yankee to pitch a complete game against Boston was Mike Mussina, way back in 2002. The last complete game by a Yankee was done last June (against Chicago) by the man of the moment.

- I don't often touch on prospects, but I have to because two guys in Charleston are off to absolutely torrid starts: Justin Snyder and Jesus Montero. They went a combined 5-7 tonight, with a HR, a double and 3 walks. Snyder is hitting an otherwordly .516/.568/.803 on the year, while Montero ain't too far behind at .368/.400/.605. Snyder is a 22-year-old second-baseman who will almost certainly move to Tampa sometime this year (with an outside shot at Trenton). Montero is an 18-year-old catcher, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him ranked as one of baseball's top prospects after the season.

Apr 11, 2008

Hughes' velocity remix

Following are snippets from a few scouting reports on Phil Hughes (specifically on his velocity) coming up through the minors in chronological order -

January 11, 2006:
First and foremost, the Californian has a big pitcher's frame that should only add more velocity over time. Right now, his fastball consistently sits in the low 90s, but we can maybe expect two or three more ticks soon.
by the reputable Bryan Smith at Baseball Analysts.

May 4, 2006:

He was throwing 92-93 on the fastball, 82 on the change, and 75 on the curve with sliders about 80.
His fastball, though not as fast as I expected, was very live and hitters were having trouble getting around on him all night.

Then on May 17, 2006:
I saw Phil pitch vs Portland yesterday and he was hitting 95 consistently.
by Moderator 'mcmagic' at NY Yankee Fans.

May 18, 2006:
His fastball can hit 96 MPH and is consistent at 91-93, though his velocity has reportedly increased a bit this year.
by the professional John Sickels at Minor League Ball.

September 11, 2006:
I'm generally sitting between 92 and 94 (mph) with it, and I'll touch 95-96. I'm mostly going with 4-seamers, although I'll throw a few 2-seamers that are closer to 91-92.
by the man himself (courtesy of Baseball America).

December 29, 2006:
Hughes would be an effective pitcher with a 90 mph fastball. That said, Phil Hughes is going to be more than an effective pitcher. He is capable of throwing 96-97 mph, but prefers to sit comfortably at 93-94 or 94-95 on a good day in order to command it better. That said, he is capable of reaching back and throwing a located fastball at 97 if the situation commands it.
by the respected EJ Fagan at Pinstripe Potentials.

April 26, 2007:

Hughes boasts a good fastball that works comfortably in the mid-90s. His four-seamer has good movement and he’s able to locate it very well. All of Hughes’ pitching is based off his ability to locate pitches. He does that very well with his four-seamer. Hughes also throws a plus two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s.
by Koby Schellenger at Moundtalk.

Nowhere did anyone write he'd be in the sub 90s range, but he has. His last start had him 88-92. How much does the cold weather affect his velocity? I don't know, but pitchers' velocities in general seem to increase as the temperature does.

Another question is: how often is he throwing 2-seamers vs. 4-seamers? From what I can tell, it's looked primarily like the 4-seam kind this year.

Going back to 2007, he threw one (recorded) fastball over 96 mph (96.35) and none under 88. He threw 3 fastballs under 89 and 3 above 95. That says to me his normal range was 90-94, which really is what Hughes' scouting reports said: low 90s heat. One must also bear in mind that he missed the warmest months of the season (May, June, July) and finally came back from a leg injury in August.

Only time will tell.

- As for last night's game, thank goodness for Andy Pettitte, who went 6.2 strong innings. The offense was jolted awake by none other than Melky Cabrera (2-5, HR, 2 rbi) who started the scoring with a 3rd inning homer. If you don't already know, Girardi put Arod in the three-hole, something I'm a huge fan of - unfortunately, he still kept Damon in the leadoff spot. If it was up to me, the lineup would go as such: Jeter, Abreu, Arod, Giambi (if healthy), Posada, Matsui, Cano, Melky, Damon (with Ensberg, Shelley and/or Molina taking ABs against lefties).

Apr 10, 2008

Freudian slip

Take a listen to last night's commentary by David Cone... notice anything awry?

(thanks to RAB and NYY Stadium Insider)

Apr 9, 2008

Sure, I'll take a shot

at the reasoning for Phil Hughes' apparent drop in velocity, similar to what Saber Scouting did: I don't think there is a drop to talk about.

What we're basing all this talk of lost velocity on are two things: 1) Hughes one inning appearance in the 2006 Futures Game, when he consistently hit 95 mph, and 2) the scouting reports that said he sat 91-95 mph.

Let's take those one at a time.

- In the Futures Game, Hughes came in knowing he would pitch just one inning. Many (if not all) pitchers can increase their velocity if they know they'll be pitching just one or two innings. Ross Ohlendorf and Joba are prime examples: they throw at least three mph faster in the bullpen because they can 'let it go' without worrying about maintaining velocity through six innings.

And don't forget that despite that increased velocity, Hughes gave up 4 hits and 3 runs in that inning.

- The scouting reports that said Hughes threw 91-95 (aka 'low 90s') are actually correct (for the most part). Hughes average fastball velocity in 2007 was 92.3 mph, almost the definition of low 90s. Hughes has also been known to touch 95-96 mph, and also drop down to 89. That certainly seems like a pitcher who sits in the low 90s.

Fine, but why was his velocity down in yesterday's game? First off, 'down' in this case means 88-92, not exactly Doug Davis. But I would say the biggest reason was the weather. In his last Spring Training game the temperature was a very Florida-like 76 degrees. You can take the Gameday velocity for what it's worth, but he was consistently hitting 93-94 mph, even in innings 3-5. Yesterday in Kansas City, it was 53 and windy. When the temperature warms up, I'm sure his velocity will also.

And most of all, he's pitched just nine innings. Let's give him at least 50 before we jump to any conclusions.

Apr 8, 2008

Posada hurt now too

His arm feels 'dead'. Not good. Chad Moeller from Scranton might be called up if/when Posada's placed on the DL.

And it seems Jeter's injury was more serious than previously thought. Alberto Gonzalez was pulled in the 7th inning of tonight's Scranton game and might be replacing Jeter as soon as tomorrow. His defense is exceptional (although he's booted a few easy plays here and there), but his bat is lacking. For a shortstop, defense is of utmost importance and hitting comes second. If he defends as well as he's known to and hits just .250, the team should be fine.

- Not surprisingly, a vast majority of voters (91%) felt the Mets won the Santana trade. Only 7% thought the Twins won the trade and one voter felt it was even.


That perfectly sums up today's game. Horrible defense, inconsistent pitching, no clutch hitting: just general poor execution.

First off, the homeplate ump was atrocious. His strikezone wandered and changed throughout the game, which didn't help either pitcher. Phil Hughes was off his game: he fell behind too often and couldn't locate his fastball consistently. One particular pitch (3-2, 2 outs to Tony Pena) was a no-doubt strike (called a ball) - Pena didn't score but it caused Hughes to throw another 15-20 pitches that inning. Meanwhile, a called third strike to Arod the next inning was a no-doubt ball. So very frustrating. (By the way, how can anyone not advocate using some kind of computer strike calling system in MLB? It would insure a fair, totally unbiased and unchanging strike zone. What's not to like?)

The Royals ran all over us, and although they were caght stealing just once, it should have been three times: Betemit dropped a great throw from Posada and Giambi couldn't even throw to 2nd on a pickoff (how can a ML first-baseman be so bad at that?).

The offense was again non-existent, scratching across two runs in the 2nd inning, then nothing after that. They stranded nine baserunners; Arod and Betemit went a combined 1-8 with 7 Ks, yes seven strikeouts. Brian Bannister, displaying an 87-88 mph fastball, walked five and allowed four hits, yet made pitches when it counted: he K'ed Cano with the bases loaded (an 87 mph fb right down Broadway), and stranded two others Yankees in scoring position.

I don't know if it was getting in around 4 a.m., but this offense has to wake up. 25 runs in eight games (a hair over three a game) is 2nd worst in the AL (just ahead of Detroit).

Yanks win, Jeter hurt

Mike Mussina pitched a stellar game, allowing just two hits and a run in 6 innings. An absolutely fantastic outing from the 5th starter: he mixed in a lot of curves and kept the ball low, resulting in 11 ground outs and four fly outs. The offense finally broke through for six runs, helped along by Bobby Abreu's 3-3 (with a HR and a triple).

The bullpen shut down the Rays: 3 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 2 k. Not just that but look at the strike percentage from the Wild Men (Bruney and Farnsworth): 24 pitches, 19 strikes.

Derek Jeter strained his quad running out a grounder in the 1st. Apparently, he could've remained in the game but was removed as a precaution.

My question for Joe G is: who's starting at 3b tomorrow, Arod, Ensberg or Betemit? I'd go with Betemit, it's his natural position (and they're facing a RHP), as is SS for Arod, simple as that.

Apr 5, 2008

Scranton offense does damage, Bronx version does not

Another inept day by Yankee hitters as they scratched across three runs.

Down in Scranton, however, Brett Gardner (of all people) homered to help Alan Horne win his first game of the year.

Apr 4, 2008

What happened?

Kennedy never had his customary plus command and got hammered (the umpire's amazing shrinking strike zone didn't help either).

LaTroy Hawkins is the goat of the bullpen so far, after allowing six earned runs in just .2 innings, raising his ERA to 31.50.

- A great scout's take on the problems with Kei Igawa.

- Mark Melancon made a solid post-Tommy John debut, one day after scaring Yankee fans and management.

Great start

from Phil Hughes, not just for the 6 ip, 2 er last night, but a great way to start the season. His fastball was lively, although it didn't show in the YES gun readings (which ranged from 88-91, and one 95er in the 6th), and he complemented it with a sharp but relatively inconsistent curve. If he showed better command of the curve, I believe we're looking at a 6 ip, 0 er performance. But that will only improve with experience - after all, he's (again) the youngest pitcher in all MLB (21). He also threw at least two changeups, inducing Matt Stairs to groundout. To be honest, only one ball was hit well: Rios' RBI single. Eckstein's double was a blooper, and Arod allowed a grounder to bounce off his glove for a single.

Dustin McGowan has pretty nasty stuff, although he struggled to control it at times. If Toronto's rotation stays healthy, they actually have a chance to do some damage - the problem is going to be their offense: outside of Rios, no one scares me in that lineup.

Billy Traber and Brian Bruney made their season debuts, looking rather impressive. Traber k'ed Overbay (his only batter), and Bruney induced a groundout and a pop out after falling behind 2-0 (of course) on his first batter. Joba pitched a 1 K, 1 hit 8th (hitting 98 on the gun), and Rivera gave us all a heart attack as he let the leadoff hitter reach 3rd before striking out Aaron Hill to end it.

It's probably too early for a 'turning point' game, but if not, this is a candidate. The Yankee offense was dead through five, and it looked like they would drop the series to a good division rival. The hitters finally woke up just enough to scratch across two runs in the 6th, and then a third in the 8th. Arod had another strikeout in a key situation: 6th inning, 2nd and 3rd, no outs, down by one (Wednesday's game it was bottom of the 9th, 1st and 2nd, no outs, down by three).

Apr 2, 2008

Burnett is better than Moose

Simple as that. Mussina gave up a two-run shot to Vernon Wells and that was all she wrote. The Yanks had two respectful rallies, the first started by Arod's two-run HR that knocked Burnett out in the 7th. However, the rally stopped there as Toronto's big southpaw Brian Tallet came in and cruised through two perfect innings.

The second rally nearly tied the game. In the 9th, Jeter and Abreu reached, only to be followed by an Arod strikeout, a warning track fly from Giambi (that died in Death Valley) and a poor Cano at-bat (popping out on the first pitch). In fact, Cano had such a poor game (0-4, 2 Ks), that Girardi may consider switching him with Matsui tomorrow.

Not even Mussina inducing five double-plays was enough to beat Burnett tonight. The bullpen didn't help much either: Hawkins and Farnsworth combined for 2.1 innings, allowing four hits, two inherited runners to score, and one earned run. Hawkins was lucky it wasn't more as Molina nailed a runner trying to steal second. Ohlendorf looked solid though (after he drilled the lead-off hitter with a fastball), inducing two ground outs and a strikeout. We shouldn't jump to conclusions, but if Farnsworth can be dealt for a bag of balls, do it - I'm confident Patterson, Britton, and eventually Horne and Marquez can do at least as good a job for a fraction of the cost.

Considering the pitching match-up (and Molina instead of Posada ('stiff shoulder')), I wasn't expecting to win the game, and if Moose is ultimately our fifth starter, he's an excellent one at that.

PS: If anyone needs evidence of why Joba should be a starter, look at tonight's game. Joba has the potential to be better than Burnett, who went 6 innings and allowed just two runs against (probably) baseball's best offense. That's what a mid-90s fastball and consistent breaking ball can do.

Nice win

A 3-2 nailbiter over the Jays for the Yanks 11th straight home-opener win, a ML record. Girardi made a characteristically anti-Torre move, leaving Wang in to finish the 7th, even with the go-ahead runner in scoring position. Wang escaped, Joba pitched a scoreless eighth (topping out at 97 mph), and Rivera closed the door with a perfect 9th.

Melky made two great plays in the 4th inning, preventing two extra-base hits. He did, however, misplay another liner into a double. He then made up for it with a game-tying HR in the 6th.

It was the Yanks first win against Halladay since 2004!

Moose goes agains AJ Burnett tomorrow night.