May 30, 2008

Joba to start Tuesday

It's official. Joba will make his ML debut as a starter Tuesday night in the Bronx against Toronto. We should not expect too much. I'm thinking 5 ip, 3 er, which I would be happy with - just something positive to build on.

- Didn't get to see tonight's game but Moose apparently pitched well - Shelley's error hurt him though (costing him 18 extra pitches). Edwar continues to excel: he came in in the 7th with a runner on and one out and got two quick outs on just five pitches. His ERA over 14.2 ip is 0.00. By the way, Mo pitched a scoreless 9th - his ERA is a robust 0.38.

May 28, 2008

The Stopper

Dandy Andy to the rescue. 6.2 ip, 2 er - that's what you need from your stopper. Despite allowing eight hits, Pettitte escaped many a jam. Joba relieved him with two outs in the 7th - he allowed a walk and a hit before striking out Kevin Millar (I don't know how that felt for Joba, but it felt great for me). His problem that inning was falling behind hitters, but he quickly corrected that in the 8th, striking out two in a perfect frame.

Unfortunately, it was only a two-run lead at the time so Girardi opted for Mo to close it out rather than keep Joba in for a 3rd inning. As a result, he threw just 28 pitches. When Mo came in, Joba jogged to bullpen to throw another 25 or so pitches in a simulated game.

I'm sure a lot of fans out there will look at these last two games as the perfect example of why Joba should remain a reliever. Not me though. What we saw last night was poor starting and middle relief pitching. That's why the Yanks lost, because they allowed 10 runs. The difference tonight was clearly the starting pitcher. As opposed to 3 ip, 3 er, they got 6.2 ip, 2 er. It allowed the 2-4 batters to go hitless (0-12) and still win.

By the way, is Mo not having the best season ever by a reliever? Come back later for an analysis.

Posting will be sparse for the next few days as my wife and I are going on vacation. Later.

A shitty all around game

It was a Lazy Susan of ineptitude last night. First it was Kennedy blowing a four run lead (with Arod's help), then it was Ohlendorf doing the same, followed by Jeter making two costly errors (one on the bases, one throwing), and finally Betemit being incapable of playing a mediocre first base.

This is the price we pay for converting Joba to a starter. Despite what Girardi says, it does weaken the team in the short-term. I think we can assume Joba would have pitched better than Hawkins did, probably closing out the game. Joba's scheduled to pitch in relief of Andy Pettitte tonight (about 55 pitches).

Considering Kennedy is now on the DL with a lateral strain (the same injury as Posada), Joba could be starting in his stead the next time through the rotation. That would mean a Sunday afternoon or Monday night start in Minnesota.

Chris Britton was called up to take Kennedy's spot on the roster. But here's hoping to Hawkins being released. He was signed to a one-year deal for flexibility (aka, he could be cut if he sucked).

And will someone please brush back Kevin Millar?

May 22, 2008

I was there

At the game when Joba began his transition to starter. I didn't get home until 1 a.m. (the reason for the lack of posts), so I'll now catch up.

I went with a few guys and sat in Row V of Tier section 10. Rasner looked sharp from the beginning (as much as one call from from Row V of Tier 10); he k'ed two in the first inning.

Anyway, I had a feeling that Joba would pitch the tailend of the game (partly because he needed work), despite the 8-0 score. Lo and behold, I saw him warming, and he came in for the 8th. I then began to wonder if he wouldn't be used again for the 9th - to stretch him out in a low-stress situation. And it happened too.

When I arrived home, I was fairly shocked to see how open Girardi was about Joba's conversion.

Meanwhile, it should be pretty evident how badly the team missed Arod: two doubles and a HR (should've been two). That second double was tough to read, so I could understand calling it a double (I couldn't tell definitively either). It didn't appear high enough to clear the wall - I kind of lost it when it passed the Modell's sign, the next thing I saw it was rolling back toward the right-fielder. The only conclusion was that it either hit the concrete above the wall or the very bottom of the outfield wall (where there's no padding). Does anyone out there still think baseball shouldn't use instant replay? What if Arod finishes his career with 761 homeruns (one less than Bonds)?

May 20, 2008

The Next Pitching Wave

We now have four quality pitchers one bus ride from the Bronx. Two starters (Horne and McCutchen) and two relievers (Cox and Robertson). They all have a good chance to join the Bronx bullpen this year and improve it. When Joba moves to the rotation, it will open a spot most likely for one of these guys. And if more of the Scranton bunch force their way to the Bronx, it would probably mean the demotion of Veras, Ohlendorf and/or Edwar, and perhaps the DFA of Hawkins.

JB Cox
16.1 ip
12 h
3 er
5 bb
8 k
0 HR
2.38 ground outs/air outs

50 ip
38 h
14 er
15 bb
46 k
4 HR
1.26 GO/AO

8 ip
9 h
3 er
2 bb
8 k
0 HR
1.83 GO/AO

28 ip
14 h
5 er
13 bb
36 k
0 HR
.92 GO/AO

That's a combined -
102.1 ip
73 h
25 er
35 bb
98 k
2 HR

2.20 ERA
1.06 whip
8.6 k/9 ip
3.08 bb/9
2.8 k/bb
.18 HR/9
1.6 GO/AO

Those are very good numbers...
but you know what sticks in my craw when I see those (or any pitcher's good minor league stats)? They pretty much always pale in comparison to those of Phil Hughes (who did it all at the ages of 18-20!). I'm very confident Hughes will be at least a quality major league pitcher. He completely dominated the minors, a lot more so than other successful pitchers. It's just a matter of time.

Yankee Prospects

I'm divided

But not about one thing - this was (hopefully) the nadir of the season.

What I'm divided about is Latroy Hawkins. I like that he threw at Baltimore's Luke Scott, but I dislike that the pitch was near his head. I don't think he meant to throw it near his head, but he's got to be more careful. On the other hand, Cabrera has to be more careful throwing inside to Yankees; we're lucky Jeter's hand wasn't broken. I'm sure he is sick (I know I am) of constantly getting hit. Sure, pitchers throw inside to him which is fine, but that particular pitch was unavoidable. It was shoulder high, tailing in, at 92 mph.

And how the hell does Kevin Millar (who came in hitting .234/.318/.348) somehow hit like Albert Pujols whenever our pitchers face him?... Well, now that I checked the numbers, he doens't hit that well against us: a career 112 OPS+ against the Yanks compared to 114 overall. But doesn't it just seem like he kills us? Hmmm... Now I found it: his OPS against our current pitchers is 1.062, much higher than his career OPS of .825.

- Dan McCutchen is (finally) going to Scranton. The Yanks pen in the second half has a chance to be very nasty. Not even counting any current relievers, they'll have the opportunity to utilize David Robertson, JB Cox, Alan Horne and Dan McCutchen. Four very strong arms. And that's not even counting the possibility of others top prospects like Mark Melancon and Humberto Sanchez.

May 15, 2008

Moose shines

Moose came through again with another stellar outing: 6.1 ip, 1 er. It saved the series and gives the team a chance to once again reach .500. A win today would go a long way toward making the fans and players feel good about the next stretch.

- Hat tip to Pete Abe - Dan McCutchen will be promoted to Triple-A Scranton. The Yanks will have a lot of pitching options in the latter half of the year.

May 13, 2008

I must admit

I stopped watching last night's game in the 5th inning (when Tampa scored 4 off Andy). The offense looked inept, the pitching was declining as the game progressed; in other words, it was both exhausting and painful.

- However, there's good news today, as JB Cox was promoted to Triple-A Scranton and Mark Melancon was promoted to Double-A Trenton. I'll be attending tonight's Thunder game (as Dan McCutchen is starting), and with any luck I'll also get to see Melancon. If they both continue their early season success, Joba will be moving to the rotation soon to make room for one (or both) of them in the Bronx bullpen.

- Goose Gossage really needs to shut up. Unfortunately, he's (much like Hank) an instant quote, so whenever a media member wants something interesting, they know where to go.

May 11, 2008

Foul balls, rainouts and bad pitchers

Attended today's Wilmington Blue Rocks game (High-A affiliate of Kansas City) and (drum-roll please)... caught my first ever foul ball! Well, not exactly 'caught' - it more bounced and rolled right to me. We were sitting behind the first base dugout and a liner careened into my row, rolling toward me - I reached down and snagged it before it could get away. I was proud of my prize and I held it high for all to see.

Anyway, the Yanks were rained out which is a blessing in disguise: they can now push Kei Igawa back to Friday, when another pitcher could potentially take his spot. when his turn comes up on Friday. The other options are Ian Kennedy and Steven White, both of whom I would prefer to see take the mound.

May 9, 2008

Moose and the pen

Moose for five, the pen for four. An equation that worked well yesterday afternoon. Mussina was cruising through four (giving up just one hit), but it fell apart in the 5th, when he surrendered three runs (and the lead).

Fortunately, the Yanks found their power stroke and finally started hitting the way they're capable of. (Always make me think 'At Harvard, we don't end our sentences with prepositions.') Damon, Betemit and Giambi homered, Cano doubled and homered and Matsui had two hits.

Ross Ohlendorf is proving his worth, giving the team another multi-inning stint (2 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 1 k). Joba bounced back from his worth outing ever with a perfect, 1 k, fist-pumping inning. Rivera gave up a hit (!), but proceeded to shut the door. Even the hit was on a perfectly placed 0-2 cutter that the hitter took the other way.

The $46-million-man goes tonight against an offense that might literally kill him.

May 8, 2008

Cliff Lee?

I just don't get it. How is he getting by? Guys like Burnett, Sabathia, Beckett, Santana, Felix I understand. They have plus-plus fastballs and plus-plus offspeed pitches. Lee has an 88-92 mph fastball, a good curve and decent slider (and passable changeup) - he does have plus command, but still! Does being a lefty add that much? What the hell is so difficult about hitting him? His delivery is not particularly deceptive. He's not very tall (6'3"), and has a career ERA+ of just 98! They've faced much better pitchers in the past, future Hall of Famers in fact, and Lee made them look silly tonight...

Against southpaws, you really see how sorely the Yanks miss Arod and Posada, their best right-handed power threats.

May 6, 2008

Off days are strange

It feels like the Yanks haven't played in a month. In their past six games, they've swept and been swept. They faced three medicore Detroit pitchers (Rogers, Bonderman, Robertson), and were swept; yet when they faced two excellent Seattle pitchers (Bedard, Felix) and one mediocre pitcher (Silva), they did the sweeping. Baseball's a funny game.

Hopefully Andy can rebound from a poor start against Cleveland, the team that beat him up last time.

- Elsewhere, Phil Hughes has (again) had to explain his 'drop' in velocity. It's not really a drop at all. To paraphrase, he generally tops out at 94 in a game, but it's mostly below that. "I maybe touched 95 three times the whole year," he said. His command went awry sometime in April - that was his biggest problem. If he can get it back to his norm, he'll be fine.

- Ian Kennedy is starting tonight for Triple-A Scranton. Hopefully he too will iron out his command (he's had more walks than Ks this year).

May 2, 2008

Who else?

Chien Ming-Wang produced another gem, stopping the Yanks three-game skid. It's kind of sad that he's the only reliable starter right now. He might be the frontrunner for the Cy Young (not that it matters much in early May): 6-0, 3.00 era, 1.13 whip, 32 k, 13 bb, 1 HR.

The batters didn't help much, scratching across three runs in the first seven innings (with the Yanks only extra-base hit by Melky), until the 8th when they tacked on two more.

The pen though came through again with three shutout innings: Farnsy to Joba to Mo - 3 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 3 k.

- Elsewhere, Phil Hughes, already on the 15-day DL, found out he needs eye-glasses. He also thinks a mechanical flaw led to his fractured rib. Hopefully fixing both will improve his pitching (I'm really hoping). He probably won't be back in the Bronx until July.

May 1, 2008

Money talks

Especially to morons.