Phil Hughes Flirts with No-No

Last night was a great sports night filled with pure exuberation, due to the fact that my team allegiances are unorthodox to say the least. My Bruins beat the Sabres in double overtime and the Yankees took the A’s to task with a 3-1 win. Did I forget to mention that Phil Hughes threw 7 innings of no-hit ball? That was pretty exciting too!I must admit that the Bruin game did take precedence over the Yankees until the game was over, it is the playoffs afterall. However I was following the game on my phone and rushed home to make sure I could watch the end. In what I thought would be the ultimate jinx John Sterling made sure to mention that Hughes was throwing a no-hitter at the end of the 4th! I’m sure he mentioned it numerous times in the preceeding innings, luckily I was home and got to watch the game for myself.

To say Hughes was dominate would be a huge understatement, he was blowing these hitters away with his fastball and only going to his secondary pitches when necessary. If it wasn’t for an Eric Chavez, yes he still plays, single to start the 8th I truly believe Hughes would have finally gotten a no-hitter. Finally? Yes Finally, remember? He left a game against the Rangers after 6.1 innings due to pulling his hamstring on the mound.

In all seriousness, Phil Hughes looked amazing last night and we may have finally seen what is potential is. In ’08, I can say with confidence that, all Yankee fans were disappointed in what we saw out of Hughes. It was finally his time to shine after all the hype and all the stories of how dominate he was, of course we saw flashes in ’07, but injuries kept him in the dugout, and he was flat-out awful. 

’08 Stats: 8 Starts, 0-4 record, 6.62 ERA with a 1.71 WHIP and a very unimpressive 23k’s in 34 Innings Pitched

It was evident that either he wasn’t ready for the big leagues or he was still tentative to go full force because of the injury the year prior. We could see that there was something there he just hadn’t completed the puzzle yet.

’09 was anticipatory, with a revamped rotation everyone figured the “young guns”, Joba and Hughes, would hit their stride and pitch lights out. Joba ended up winning the battle for the 5th, or 4th?, rotation spot, which sent Hughes to the ‘pen and a role as the “8th inning guy”. Early struggles led to talks of Hughes being sent to the minors again to work out the kinks, a move that may have hurt him more than helped, but eventually Hughes got through his troubles and became, possible, the most dominant set-up man in the game.

After an appearance in a game against Boston where Hughes pitched 3.2 innings and gave up 2 runs he was lights out, going on a run of 16 straight appearances where he didn’t give up a run, lowering his bloated ERA from 5.26 to 3.43. Hughes carried on his confidence and great pitching through the rest of the year where his ’09 stats looked like this:

8-3 record, 3.03 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a dominate 96k’s over 86 innings pitched

Clearly a great turnaround from ’08, which threw Hughes back into the hunt for the 5th rotation spot this year. Hughes’ great spring training won him the job and sent Joba to the ‘pen, and in my opinion this is the way it should be. Hughes is off to a great start and is, again, looking like the phenom he was slated to be in the minors. He has great stuff that will carry him far and is economical with his pitches, because of this I can see 2010 being a career defining year for him and I am excited to see how it all unfolds.

New York Yankees – Game 2 Recap – Game 3 Preview

NYY 6, Bos 4 

W: Aceves (1-0) L: Okajima (1-1) S: Rivera (1) 

HR: NYY: Cano (1), Bos: Martinez (1) 

As far as thrilling games go, last night’s was a nail biter with the end result and winning run being scored because of a uncharicteristic error by Marco Scutaro followed by an even more baffling walk by Okajima to Nick Johnson (with the bases loaded). Through all the excitement and multiple lead changes one would want an ending suited for the game, but Cano’s Home Run came too late for that fairy tale to come true.

Cano’s blast in the 9th gives Mo some un-needed breathing room to close the door on the Yankees first win of the year

 

 

Last night’s game was an epic battle with the lead being changed 5 separate times, with the last coming in the top of the 8th on the bases loaded walk noted earlier. I was wrong with my prediction yesterday, however I was correct that the Yankees would win and in my opinion Burnett did not pitch all that bad last night. Giving up only 4 runs, 3 earned, to this Boston team is a feat of it’s own and if we compare AJ’s performance to those last year against the Yankees AL East foe it looks almost as good as a no-hitter, that is obviously a stretch. The starting matchup was not exactly what I had imagined, both pitchers have dominate stuff and can shut down any formidable lineup at any time, but they did what they had to do to keep their teams in the game. AJ made one big mistake on a pitch to V-Mart that landed in the Red Sox bullpen, otherwise he kept the Bo-Sox in check allowing only two other runs, one by way of a Youkilis sac fly and the other on a V-Mart double. The real story of the night, however, was the Yankee bullpen, which is a great sign considering Sunday night. 

Aceves came on in relief of Burnett in the 6th inning and shut down the Sox for 2 innings and earned himself a win in the process. A combination of 3 pitchers handled the 8th with Joba getting the final two outs and looking, somewhat, like his old self on the mound. Of course Aceves was great and I don’t want to take anything away from what he did, but the real talk of the bullpen should be Joba. Chamberlain came in with the tying run on 2nd and didn’t let either hitter he faced, Beltre & Drew, put the ball in play. His command was superb and he completely fooled Beltre and Drew, the latter being a very impressive feat, and struck both of them out to end the inning. Joba is finally throwing his curveball with authority and if he maintains his command he will be just as nasty as he was when he arrived in ’07, especially with that slider waiting for those two strike counts. I was extremely impressed with the entire bullpen last night, however I must say, as it should be obvious, that I was most impressed with Joba. His head seems to be in the right place and as he starts to let himself get into the 8th inning role again we should see shear dominance out of the ‘pen. 

Game 3: Pettitte vs Lackey 

A very interesting matchup that can really go either way. Lackey has the ability to pitch lights out, but has had problems at Fenway in the past and, if you remember from last year’s Championship series, has the propensity to be smacked around by this deep Yankee lineup. Pettitte is also apt to get smacked around and has to be crafty when dealing with the Red Sox. They have a deep lineup with tons of power and hitters who have had success against him in the past, and being a pitcher who has lost a couple MPH’s on his fastball we might see balls fly over the Green Monster if he isn’t careful. The Yankees have to strike early to win this game and can not let Lackey get into a groove. If they rattle him out of the gate he comes unraveled and the Yankees can walk all over him, if they are not aggressive enough they could easily lose this game 3-0. There is no doubt in my mind that the Sox will score on Pettitte so the Yankee lineup must provide support in the early going if they want to win this game and get out of Boston with a 2-1 record. 

Let’s Go Yankees!

Youkilis Charges the Mound

I feel compelled to talk about what happened in the Red Sox game last night against the Tigers. I understand things get heated and no one likes getting hit by a pitch, and I am not even saying that Youkilis was unjust in charging the mound, however I do have a HUGE problem with what he did when he got to Porcello.

I don’t mind seeing players heated and getting into a scuffle, but I do have a problem when someone uses an object to either hurt or distract someone else. When Youkilis, for those who missed it check here, threw his helmet at Rick Porcello I was disgusted by that action. I will get back to why in a second, but I am even more disgusted by the fact that during my drive in to work today no one was talking about it and at one point they (Mike and Mike on ESPN radio) pushed it aside, as if throwing a helmet is okay.

There are a few reason why throwing a helmet (or any other object) is not okay with me:

  1. No matter what there is intent to hurt that person, not just distract them. When you throw a solid, hard plastic, object at someone you are looking to hurt them. I don’t care what the excuse is on why they did it, it is disgusting and Youkilis should get a huge fine and suspension for doing so.
  2. When distracting somone in a fight there is a conscious effort to hurt them. I hope no one can defend someone blind siding someone else and that is what throwing an object does. When something is flying toward you the reaction is to move or avoid said object and in turn giving the person, in this case Youkilis, an opening to blind side them. When Youkilis threw his helmet his hope was that Porcello would avoid the object and give him an opening to hit him or bring him to the ground. Granted the helmet was thrown at his legs, it is still a horrible act, and if there is some short of gamemanship or sportmanship in a fight, clearly Youkilis doesn’t posses such qualities.
  3. With no outrage on this event it opens the door for other players to act accordingly. Major League baseball players are obviously grown men and they shouldn’t have a childish mentality of, if he did it, I can, but when there is an opening for an advantage you better believe they will take it. If nothing is done of Youkilis throwing his helmet, on top of his charging the mound, we can only expect worse the next time. If the role was reversed and Porcello threw a ball when Youkilis was charging him, you better believe there would be a public outcry and a call for Porcello’s head.

Those are only a few reasons, in my opinion, on why throwing an object is a heinous act. I hope Selig reviews what occurred last night and gives Youkilis time to think about it which includes a huge fine. It’s hard to say whether there was intent to hit Youkilis with that pitch, the ball could’ve gotten away from the young righty, but the location of the hit makes it seem like it had purpose to it. Again I am not saying that Youkilis was wrong to charge the mound, but I am saying that he was wrong to throw his helmet when charging.

To me it is a deplorable act that needs to be brought to light and become a punishable offense before this happens again. As soon as an object is thrown there is intent to hurt.

Selig please address this and punish Youkilis for what he did, this is coming from a baseball fans perspective, not just a Yankees fans.

Yankees fall to Chi Sox in bottom of 9th

Hey all! I’m back! Finally a quick reprieve from work and a chance to talk about the Yankees again. I assure you I am not going to go back and talk about all the happenings of the past week, because this post will probably be long enough as is. But let’s get down to business.

The Yankees have been on a role since the All-Star break and have everyone talking and dreaming about what will happen this postseason, with good reason. Since the break the Yankees are 11-3 (including last night’s game) and have won all 4 series, 2 of which were against tough opponents (Tigers, Rays). The AL East leading Yanks (2.5 games up to be exact) are flexing their muscles and have Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s jumping for joy due to the fact that all their off-season purchases are paying big dividends. Their pitching is showing up and their bats are punishing the opposition with an offensive onslaught that everyone loves and expects from the Bronx Bombers. Their are playing their best ball right now and are taking advantage of a faltering Red Sox team, who can’t seem to get things right and now are in the midst of a PR scandal that has ruined Big Papi’s (David Ortiz) reputation. When controversy strikes it shouldn’t effect a team, but Ortiz is to Boston what Derek Jeter is to New York. He is larger than life and you can hear the collective wind getting knocked out of the Red Sox Nation. The biggest question is how will they respond? But that’s for them to worry about.

Let’s get back on track.

Last night’s game was a very interesting one that ended in an anti-climatic way for all Yankee fans. Who is DeWayne Wise anyway?! This kid has to be the talk of the town in Chicago and a soon to be fan favorite, he did save Mark Buehrle’s perfect game with an incredible catch in the bottom of the 9th that kept a ball from reaching the seats, and won the game with a walk off hit last night off Phil Coke.

Phil Hughes Watch: All good things have to come to an end and Hughes’ run streak came to a halt at 22.2 innings of scoreless ball. After putting two men on in the bottom of the 9th, Hughes was relieved b Phil Coke who got his first batter out then gave up the walk off hit one batter after. That run was charged to Hughes and so was the loss, but how can you complain he has been great out of the pen and it’s his only blemish since June 10th against the Red Sox.

It was a well faught game last night that had a ton of up and down moments, but it was still a great game none-the-less. A costly error by Robinson Canoin the 7th gave the ChiSox a one run lead going into the top of the 9th, after 2 quick outs Nick Swisher put a charge into one and flew the ball over the left field wall to tie the game. Unfortunately the Yanks couldn’t bring the game to extra innings (as noted before) and therefore lost a hard faught game, but you can’t really be down on it, the Yanks are playing great ball and there were some bright spots.

I have made it pretty clear throughout the year that Andy Pettittehas scared me when he takes he mound. You don’t really know what you are going to get, he can be just as dominate as last night or can have a horrific game where he gives up 5 or 6 runs in 4 innings. Pettitte can also trick you into thinking that he is pitching well, then the next thing you know he has given up 4 runs and is in line for the loss. Pettittelooked great last night and hopefully he can build off this performance, he will have a heavy workload down the stretch and might have to be the stop gap if the Yankees go on a skid. The Yankees cannot afford an on again off again pitcher, especially with Joba Chamberlainmost likely heading to the bullpen in the near future. Pettitte will be a huge factor in the playoff race and he needs to pitch well enough to keep the Yankees in the game every time he takes the mound, if he can’t provide that, the Yankees need to get someone by the deadline today.

Tonight’s Game: Sergio Mitre (1-0, 5.91 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65 ERA)

I have to say all signs point to a high scoring game, but we know how the Yankees react to pitcher in peril. I can’t say that I am confident with Mitre on the mound but if he can hold the White Sox offense to 3 or 4 runs in 5 innings I think the Yankees will have a good shot at winning this game. Clayton Richard is one of those no success against anyone but the Yankees type of pitchers. He has good stuff but definitely has the ability to get knocked around. The Yankee bats fell silent last night, so I would expect them to be in full swing tonight. Like I said if Mitre can hold the ChiSox to 3 or 4 runs the Yankees have a great shot at winning tonight, if he gets knocked around early? I think it will be a long night for the Bronx Bombers…LET’S GO YANKEES!

Other Notes: Trade Deadline

Roy Halladay: There are rumors of the Rangers making a big push for the oft considered best pitcher in the game, but they aren’t expected to land him. They need to put a package together that “WOWS” the Jays and reports are saying that they don’t really have it. My Opinion: 60% chance he stays in Toronto. Expect the big players to come through around 1 pm to talk trade. Best options: Red Sox (only if they don’t land V-Mart) Angels, Rangers, Yankees (only if the Sox make a push) and Phillies (I know they got Cliff Leebut early reports said they are still interested and they didn’t give away the best prospect in Drabek)

Brian Bannister: It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the Royals are selling and the young righty is having a great season, despite the horrible team he is on. Expect him to get moved. My Opinion: 80% chance he gets traded (Royals have to sell and are probably not asking anything ridiculous for him) Best Options: Yankees and Marlins (according to Buster Olney) Bothteams need an extra push, the Yankees need it more though with Wang officially out and Joba’s innings coming up. Don’t be surprised to see Bannister in a Yankee uniform tomorrow morning.

Victor Martinez: Only one team actively shopping him and that is the Red Sox. Adding a player of this caliber makes this team that much more dangerous and will help them snap their offensive woes. My Opinion: V-Mart becomes a Red Sox by the deadline in a huge deal that send Bucholz to the Indians.

Adrian Gonzalez: The Saux are also looking to acquire Gonzalez, who is probably more excited than Epstein at the chance to play in a hitters ball park for once. My Opinion: If this three way trade goes down that sends Gonzo and Vmart to the Saux it would be a huge surprise. My money is on VMart if they get both they may give the Yanks a run for their money. Epstein is a good GM who has a ton of prospects but they might have to give up Bard, and that is something they really don’t want to do.

A few more minor trades are in talks too…Heath Bell, Orlando Cabrera, Jarrod Washburn…will be a very interesting deadline today…I can’t wait!

Where Could the Yankees Shop for Pitching?

Well, it’s been
a long, kinda weird journey for the Yankees this year but they have
finally made it to the top of the standings in the AL East alone. This,
of course, did not go without it’s struggles and low points; from the
A-Rod scandal/DL stint, to the newly refurbished starting rotation
woes, to the Wang debacle and of course how could we forget the series
loss to the Washington Nationals!

But it all came full circle and, although extremely early, the Yanks
have finally reached the pinnacle and are playing the best ball they
have been all year. I predicted, in the early stages of this blog, that
the Red Sox would have their usual struggles after the all-star break
and the Yankees must take advantage when that happens. This team
stepped up to the challenge and are winning at the right time. I have
to say I was nervous after they dropped 3 to the Angels before the
All-Star break, could they hang with the big boys? Once again my
question was answered by a much needed sweep of the Tigers and proof
that this team is much more than ‘very good’; they are a truly among
the MLB’s best.

The bats came back to life last night after 3 consecutive games
where they won by a score of 2 to 1, but unfortunately (even though
they still won) Sergio Mitre gave up 4 earned of his own, but still got
the win when the Yankees put 6 runs in his back pocket. Mitre might be
a good 5th starter for a short stint but the prognosis of Wang isn’t
looking too good as he reported discomfort in his shoulder during his
first throwing session since going on the DL  July 5th. We might see
the Yankees go after another pitcher (most likely not Roy Halladay) to
be their 5th starter, especially if Wang still reports problems during
his session coming up on Friday. Mitre does have Major League
experience, however he hasn’t had much success and the bullpen will be
needed for the push into the playoffs. Mitre was never intended to be a
permanent replacement for Wang but now it’s looking like they might
rely on him. If yesterday’s start was any indication of what kind of
performances we can expect, the Yankees need to go shopping real soon.

Mitre, as I said, is good for a spot start here and there and he did
his job well last night. He kept the Yankees in the lead the whole way
out, but is this really what we need right now? Are the Yankees willing
give a game every 5th start? With, what promises to be, a very tight AL
East/Wildcard race the Yankees can’t afford to give any games to Boston
or Tampa Bay, no matter how the race breaks down.

I wanted to talk about last night/today’s game more but work got in
the way again…plus I am kinda on a roll with this topic so I am going
to continue to talk about it. Please add your feedback in.

With the biggest name being Halladay waiting to be traded there
isn’t much talk about other pitchers that are on failing ball clubs
that could also be moved by the deadline. I truly don’t see the Yankees
making a big push for him unless Boston comes flying in, which also
isn’t expected. It is almost locked up that he is going to the NL, but
he does have a no-trade clause so there is also the possibility that he
won’t be moved by July 31st. I have to put it out there that I would be
floored if he ended up in the AL East, but they do have the most money
and they will always be in the race. But I really wouldn’t be surprised
if he ended up in Texas or Seattle, both teams need one more push to be
a true contender and possibly take on Anaheim.

Here are a few possibilities, in my opinion of where the Yankees could look.

Seattle: Even though I just said they might be in
the Halladay bidding, I really don’t see them making a push, they just
don’t have the depth, but they do have the talent to trade away for
Halladay. I can’t imagine them getting him so expect them to shop
Washburn and Bedard to release some money. The Yankees would most
likely go for Washburn, they have had rumors in the past of being
interested in him, plus he wouldn’t expect a huge contract and a ton of
money. Plus it wouldn’t cost the Yankees even close to that much, a few
prospects and some money…Good Possibility.

Washington: It would never happen…but it’s fun to
think about. If Washington was looking for prospects they could
potentially shop John Lannan. If this kid had any luck he would have 10
or 11 wins right now and be on a winning ball club. If something tasty
was put under their nose I could see them dealing him to a contender. I
would take him in a heartbeat plus he is a local boy from Oceanside.
The problem? Might lose Austin Jackson and a starter like McAllister,
who I think will be a great pitcher in the majors, and one that should
be making moves in the minors soon…Low Possibility, not likely to
happen.

Cincinnati: Could Arroyo end up being back in the
AL East? The Reds are trying to make a point in the Central but they
are going to be huge sellers in the coming weeks, especially as that
deadline nears. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arroyo or Harang go…who
would I prefer? Harang. He is one of the best 2nd half pitchers over
the past couple of years and could really help a team in the race to
the playoffs. But to be honest I would take Arroyo he has been there
before and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad…Fair
Possibility

Arizona: Dan Haren could be the best choice
here…HAHAHAH just kidding…that would never happen…but Garland and Davis
could be potential targets that wouldn’t cost the Yankees a lot. The
Diamondbacks would probably take low level prospects and cash to
release the contracts of these two pitchers. I can only see the Yanks
going after Garland, they don’t need another aging lefty in their
rotation. Garland has potential to be great, but is a decent pitcher
most of the time who can keep you in the game…Good Possibility.

Don’t be surprised if the Yankees make a move at the deadline
especailly if Wang is out for the year. Oh and one more thing, will
Milwaukee make a big move for Halladay like they did Sabathia last
year? You never know, they have the track record.

Great game today, Burnett is still on fire, Mo got another save, 6 games in a row…LET’S GO YANKEES!

End of Year Predictions

I was going to do a 1st half review/2nd half preview but I just don’t have the time today :-( …sorry everyone…here are a few quick hits

Cy Young (AL): Josh Beckett: Tied
for MLB lead in wins and is pitching at a very high level right now.
100 ks through 121 IP 3.35 ERA and his team is poised to make a run at
the World Series again. If the Saux win the AL East and Beckett wins 19
games he should be the hands down favorite to win it. Final Numbers: 20-6, 3.42 ERA, 205 ks (All
numbers are based on guesses and where I think he should be around, no
mathematical equations or anything like that used at all)

Cy Young (NL): Tim Lincecum: “The Freak” is
pitching unbelievably well right now and shows no sign of slowing down.
The only other person in the NL that I think might beat him out is Dan
Haren, but the D-Backs aren’t going anywhere this year so he will get
hurt by that. Lincecum is 1 off the MLB lead for wins at 10 has 149 ks
in 127.2 IP and holds down a very impressive 2.33 ERA. If the Giants
make the playoffs there is no doubt in my mind Lincecum wins it, if
they don’t Haren is waiting in the wings. Final Numbers: 21-4, 2.65 ERA, 234 ks

MVP (AL): Mark Teixeira: Now I am going out on a
huge limb right now and I understand that. Teixeira usually puts up
monster numbers in the 2nd half of a season and with Arod finally
coming around he will only get more pitches to hit and drive out. Right
now Tex is in a slump but I expect him to break out of it in a big way.
If the Yankees win the AL East he is a lock but look out for Mauer if
the Twins make a run, what he is doing is unbelievable. Final Numbers: .295 AVG, 38 HR, 125 RBI

MVP (NL): Albert Pujols: Well, let’s be honest, he
is the best player in the game and his team is currently holding a 2.5
game lead in the NL Central. Every team is still in the race but I can
see most of them falling off because they don’t have the pitching,
which means Albert has to continue to do what he does best, and mash
the ball in the 2nd half. If he keeps up the numbers he is a definite
winner, if the Brewers make a run watch for Prince Fielder. Final Numbers: .348 AVG, 57 HR, 162 RBI (Pujols
will make the strongest run at the triple crown that we have seen in a
while, Manny will beat him out for AVG but Albert will lead the other
categories)

Comeback Player of the Year (AL): Russel Branyan: He
is having the best year of his career by far, and no one is really
making splashes in those terms like he is. If he continues to do what
he is doing right now I can’t think of someone else who can make a run
at it. No not Greinke people, he didn’t go anywhere! Watch out for
Scott Rolen too!

Comeback Player of the Year (NL): Jason Marquis: I
can’t believe he is having the best year of his career in Colorado of
all places. Jason is showing why he can be an asset to any team and how
valuable a vet is on a young team and pitching staff. Another player
making a strong bid…Nick Johnson, who would probably get the award over
Marquis because he is coming off a horrific year in ’08 and fits the
bill more…but I am pulling for Marquis. Watch out for Street and
Franklin too!

Rookie of the Year (AL): Andrew Bailey: It’s hard
to argue with this one. There are no dominate performances by any other
rookies right now. Price has fizzled out and Wieters is not showing up
to his expected potential, of course there is a whole 2nd half of the
season. But Bailey is putting together a typical Oakland A rookie
performance and he is matching, if not, exceeding what Huston Street
did in ’05 when he won. Watch out for Price and Wieters in the 2nd half
though, especially Wieters if he gets acquainted with MLB pitching.
Could be fun to watch.

Rookie of the Year (NL): Andrew McCutchen: When he
got called up he hit the ground running, figuratively and literally, if
he continues performing like this he is the odds on favorite. I can’t
really think of anyone else that can give him a run for his money. Is
Pablo Sandoval eligible? I couldn’t get a clear answer on that rule. If
he is eligible forget McCutchen.

Manager of the Year (AL): Jim Leyland: You can
argue all you want that Ron Washington should get this honor but I am
putting my bid in for Leyland. He turned the entire team around from
last year’s debacle and it’s pretty much the same team.

Manager of the Year (NL): Bruce Bochy: Hands down Bruce Bochy, just look at what he did with this Giants team.

AL Playoffs: Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York (Wild Card)

NL Playoffs: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco (Wild Card)

Didn’t go out on a limb because all these teams have won before and don’t see them faltering.

American League Champions: New York Yankees: I have
been saying this all year and I really think they have something
special going on. They will show their true muscle in the 2nd half and
let the rest of the Majors know they are for real. Other Team? Detroit – seems like their year

National League Champions: San Fransisco Giants: They
have a tough starting rotation, that seems to be getting better by the
day, and their team has a great mix of young and old players, the right
mix for a team making a bid at a championship. Other Team? Los Angeles – Torre in the playoffs? We know how that goes.

There is the limb you wanted me to go on…two Wild Card teams!

World Series Champions: New York Yankees: Look for
them to make a big move by the deadline if they start to fall in the
standings, which would then turn them around and make them the
favorites for the World Series win. I doubt they will go after him, but
if the Saux make a bid at Halladay watch for the Yankees to go over the
top…bye, bye Joba. Yankees have the most talent and potential in
baseball right now, they just have to click at the right times, it has
happened already during the season, can it happen in the playoffs?
Trust me I am not just being a bull headed Yankee fan I am being 100%
honest in my assessment.

Hope you enjoyed…Voice your opinions!

All Star Game Review

It’s been 13 years now since the NL can say they won the All-Star game, but should that even matter? Should the All-Star Game, still considered an exhibition match-up, determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series? Is that a fair solution? Put aside all the reasons the MLB made this game “count” and think about how unjust this determination is. Should a team that wins 100+ games and wins their division by 15 games not be rewarded? Should they potentially have to give home field advantage to a team that is in a horrible division and gets 81 wins? I, for one, don’t think this is a correct assessment to determine home field advantage, and now the fun is coming out of the All-Star Game. The mid-summer classic is becoming a “real” game, is that what the MLB really wanted? Of course they wanted a competitive game that gave back to the fans, but is that drawing more viewers? I don’t think so, people aren’t tuning in to see V-Mart (Victor Martinez) get intentionally walked, plus imagine how he feels. Really? Strategic baseball in the All-Star Game? Is that what it is coming to? And you can’t blame the managers either because if their teams are in contention they want to win the game. To keep this short and sweet…Bud, please! from someone who loves baseball and wants to protect the integrity of the game make it worth something else, like the host city of the next All-Star Game will be in the winning teams league (I know they are determined years in advance, but is that necessary?) don’t make this a game where all the fun gets sucked out of it, no more intentional walks in an All-Star Game!

Last night’s All-Star Game was not at all what, I think, most people would expect. Lincecum got smacked around in the first innings, Halladay actually swung his bat, and there were no home runs!

Overall I thought it was a good baseball game, but not a good All-Star game. It’s not really fair to judge it that way, only because you want to see crazy things happen when the best players in baseball get together. But when you break it down that’s what the All-Star Game is, a glorified baseball game, that just so happens to feature the best of the best.

The game was a low scoring affair that hardly had anyone sitting on the edge of their seat after the first 2 innings. Nothing spectacular happened nothing that will make you sit back and think about the ’09 All-Star Game in St. Louis, except for one play.

In the bottom of the 7th, with Papelbon on the mound, Hawpe steps up to the plate and gets an offering that he takes to left field, if it has the height it’s gone and it breaks the 3-3 stalemate the two teams have been in for the previous 2 innings. As the ball is sailing Carl Crawford has a good read on it, as the ball approaches the fence he leaps and steals the go ahead run from the National League. The play of the game by far, and the one that would earn him the MVP award for ’09.

Not to take away from Crawford, that was a spectacular catch, but it says a lot about the game itself. With just a glance it is easy to see that the MVP of the game is usually a position player and one who usually earns the award with his bat instead of his glove. In a game that usually features at least one clutch at-bat or one breath taking home run, to break a tie ,we see the game won on a sacrifice fly. The 8th inning got an exciting start with a Granderson triple, but then V-Mart got intentionally walked, you know my feelings on that, and was then finished off with an Adam Jones Sac Fly to drive in Granderson, who was the eventual game winning run.

The ONLY late inning edge of your seat moment was when Howard came to the plate in the bottom half of the 8th. When I saw him walk his way into the box I truthfully expected fireworks, I thought he was going to get at least a double in the gap to score 2 runs and steal the MVP from Crawford, like I thought yesterday. But that didn’t happen, Howard was plagued by his usual flaw, the Strikeout! And that was the last chance for fireworks.

Mo came in and closed the game out sitting down the NL 1,2,3 and solidifying his place in All-Star Game lore by becoming the all time All-Star Game saves leader.

Overall Grade: C…no real excitement the AL put away 22 of the NL’s last 24 batters…I guess it was a pitcher’s day…which, for most people, equals a boring game and something you do not want to see at an All-Star Game.

My MVP predictions were not even close, who would’ve though Crawford? But my game prediction was correct and the AL won with their bench and speed.

Check out tomorrow as a break down the first half and discuss what to expect from the second.

All Star Game Preview: Home Run Derby Review

I have to admit I am disappointed by two things last night:

1. Joe Mauer was my sleeper pick…that didn’t work out too well

2. Albert Pujols didn’t win, didn’t even make the finals

Now, I didn’t have a clear cut favorite last night but I have an admitted man-crush on Pujols so I would have loved to see him win it, especially at home. But I was really pulling for Mauer, don’t ask me why because I really don’t have a reason…maybe it was just the thought of a hit-for-average guy out slugging the big boys. Either way the 2 guys I was pulling for didn’t come through.

I was extremely impressed with Cruz and Fielder…wow those guys can hit. As soon as Cruz asked for his pitcher to throw it a little harder he started blasting shots that rivaled McGwire’s performance at Fenway in ’99. Prince is a beast though and he hit some shots that I still can’t believe, when he gets into a ball he really gets into it. 503 feet is all I have to say. I hate to dwell on the Pujols thing but…if he told his pitcher to throw it probably 7-12 mph faster, he would have won it all.

To wrap up the preface to the All-Star Game Preview I have to say I enjoyed last night’s Derby, even though there were no Hamilton esque performances or towering numbers put up (in terms of homers) there were plenty of moonshots hit that made me and every fan stand up and yell as soon as they came off the bat.

Overall Grade: B+ Not the best I have ever seen but not the worst. Brandon Inge being in it drops the grade, I can’t believe another AL hitter wouldn’t enter it. The Cruz, Fielder extravaganza is the only saving grace for the event even though the Celebrity All-Star Game was a pleasure to watch too.

It’s tough to really say who has the better team when you are breaking down the line-ups for the All-Star game, after all these players are the cream of the crop for their respective leagues. I am going to be ridiculously tedious with the lineups but don’t worry I won’t do the same for the benches.

1. Ichrio vs Hanley: For traditional “lead-off” hitters the AL has the advantage here. Both players are incredibly skilled batters who have game changing ability when they are in the box, one with his speed and at-bat presence the other with power. However you have to give the edge to Ichiro he has more patience at the plate and will wait for lincecum to come to him in deeper counts, plus he knows how to be a lead-off hitter and the importance of having the first batter of the inning on base.

2. Jeter vs. Utley: As you all know I am a die-hard Yankee fan and you will probably think my opinion of these hitter skewed but I am giving the edge to Utley here. I love Jeter and his ability at the plate but Utley is a machine, although prone to the strike-out, and he drives the ball deep to all fields. He has the speed advantage and more game-changing ability than Jeterplus he will see more pitches to drive with Pujols batting behind him.

3. Mauer vs. Pujols: Mauer is right up there with the best hit-for-average players in the bigs, but then again so is Pujols. Pujols is the best player in the game right now plus he is at home and probably wants revenge after his lackluster performance in the derby, sorry Mauer, your great but Pujols is better.

4. Teixeira vs. Braun: Great match-up here. I have to give the advantage to Teixeira though, he has more patience at the plate and knows situational hitting better than Braun. Braun is a great hitter but strikes out a lot, Teixeira will draw more walks plus he is batting lefty against a righty, a luxury that Braun doesn’t have.

5. Bay vs. Ibanez: This is where the line-ups start to get interesting. Bay is batting way below Ibanez (in terms of average) but has better power numbers than him, tough to argue because of Ibanez’s injury though. I have to give the advantage to Ibanez here, lefty against a righty plus he is so locked in right now. And with Hamilton and his struggles batting behind Bay, Jason may see some pitches that don’t come near the plate, same can be said with Wright batting behind Ibanez, although Wright is only struggling in the power department.

6. Hamilton vs. Wright: Hmmmmm…this is very intriguing. Although I love Hamilton and his power I have to, and I hate to do it, give the advantage to Wright. Even though his power numbers are down he is on fire at bat and isn’t battling back from injury like Hamilton is. Both hitters strike out from time to time but Hamilton hasn’t hit his stride yet and Wright is among the league leaders in average, hate to say it but advantage Wright.

7. Longoria vs. Victorino: I am not trying to take away from Victorino and his abilities but he isn’t really supposed to be in the starting lineup, I know it was voted on but he doesn’t compare to Longoria. Victorino is a scrappy hitter that can be a nuisance once on base, but he has to get there first, Longoria is one of the best hitters in the game and can take any pitch out of the park. The only advantage that Victorino has in this matchup is that he is a switch hitter, but that won’t mean anything during the course of the game. You can’t deny how great Longoria is and how dangerous he is at-bat, Victorino doesn’t scare anyone when he is in the box…except maybe CC Sabathia.

8. Hill vs. Molina: Well the Molina brothers aren’t really in the game for the offensive prowess, except for Bengie and that is debatable. So the advantage easily goes to Hill here, I know Molina is having a good year at the plate but nothing near what Hill has done. Neither batters are feared by any stretch of the imagination but at least Hill can run down the base paths and make a ground ball interesting. Hill gets the advantage by a landslide.

9. Lincecum vs. Halladay: Lincecum gets the advantage, both probably won’t bat in this game making this position in the batting order useless but hey it’s still fun to talk about. Halladay hates hitting so if he does bat don’t expect him to swing, therefore Lincecum gets the advantage any way.

Starting Pitchers: Lincecum vs. Halladay: Probably the match-up everyone wanted. Both are electric pitchers who are fun to watch and must be devastating to try to hit, which means more fun for the viewers. I will keep this short and sweet, I think the advantage goes to Halladay. Halladay has been here before and he is one of the best if not, the best pitcher in the MLB right now, plus he has seen most of these guys at least once over his career. He knows when and how to throw pitches in certain situations and can get a strikeout when necessary. Don’t get me wrong I love Lincecum and think he is amazing but I have to take the vet in this one, he won’t be nervous about getting the start and he might be auditioning for his new ball club and fans when he takes the mound.

Reserves: Both are pretty evenly matched except that the AL definitely has less power on the bench but a whole lot more speed and guys who can get on base and cause havoc. The NL has tons of power, they probably have more power in their 3 back up 1st basemen (Howard, Fielder, Gonzalez) than the AL has on their whole bench. After carefully studying the reserves I have to give the advantage to the AL, not just because I want them to win, I will assure you of that. They may lack traditional power but don’t be fooled they have guys who can put the ball out, but what really sells me is the amount of hitters they have that hit for average. Many of these guys are contact hitters who will get the ball in play and make the NL defenders rush to get them out. The NL lacks speed and power doesn’t always win, the AL has a deeper set of reserves and also many role players who can be shifted around if necessary. If it comes down to a battle of the benches, and the AL pitchers can keep the power bats guessing, I believe the AL has the distinct advantage in this game.

Bullpen: Haren and Santana…that’s all I really have to say. Both of these guys have had success in both leagues and will be coming out of the bullpen tonight in relief of Lincecum. If the NLcan pitch to their ability and keep the AL bats at bay they win. If this game becomes a pitching contest, which it rarely does, I don’t see the AL keeping up with the shear dominance of the NL pitchers. Haren and Santana out of the bullpen that’s really scary and that’s what gives the NL the edge here.

ASG Winner: Shouldn’t be a surprise but I am picking the AL. The NLwants a win badly this year but the AL has too much depth off the bench and guys that are role players. I really don’t see the NL winning this one unless they jump out to a decent lead early on in the game.

AL MVP: Justin Morneau:Power hitter than has long ball ability but can also shoot a double down the gap to drive in 1 or 2 runs. With him coming off the bench after they take out Teixeira he is a huge asset and a great candidate for the AL MVP.

NL MVP: Ryan Howard:Charlie Manuel knows how to use this guy and when to put him in at the perfect situation. If the NL is losing in the 8th or 9th inning expect Manuel to save him for that opportunity especially if Mo comes in for a save or to keep the game tied. Howard’s long ball ability and clutch hitting make him an ideal candidate for the NL MVP.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Busy doing stuff now…if I made mistakes please make fun of me for it…THANKS!!!

Long Weekend for Yanks as they Drop All 3 to Angels

Needless to say
it was a painful weekend for the Yankees in all facets, except for the
bats, well more like scoring if that makes any sense. In clutch
situations the bats tried to battle back somewhat but came up short,
the pitching, both starting and relieving, was despicable and the
defense was deplorable. Overall the only word that comes to mind for
the performance of the Yankees during this weekend series…HORRIFIC.We
all know the Yanks have had their troubles with the Angels in the past,
and they put themselves in a good position going to Anaheim with a
sweep of the Twins, a mediocre at best team right now, but are the
Yankees in trouble? Are they really just beating up weak opponents?

I know I am sounding like a sore loser right now but…I don’t think I
really have to talk about how bad the Yankees were this weekend. The
hitting was there and the pitching was flat out the problem the whole
series. There was no execution from any of the starters and the bullpen
faltered in every appearance, well almost every. Let’s be honest though
it was bound to happen, I just wish it would’ve with big leads where
they can afford to spot runs.

To break it down the bullpen gave up 4 earned runs in 3.2 innings on
during Friday’s game. And to put that in perspective the Yankees were
up 5 -1 going into the 5th inning. I think I am speaking for the entire
Yankee fan community when I say it’s time to put the kabash on the Joba
experiment or at least hold off until next year. It is a complete
failure and we can’t afford to trot someone out there who is gunna get
smashed every start and even if he keeps the team in the game, have to
leave after 5 innings, it’s not working at all!

On to Saturday, Pettitte’s struggles continued. Side Track: Sorry, I
know the Yankees have been playing good ball but championship teams
don’t lose games where they are winning by 3 or more runs on a
consistent basis. The streak was bound to end and they are going to
lose games but c’mon this weekend was inexcusable. I said I wouldn’t
talk about this weekend but I am going to a little bit. Sorry to go
back to the older format but I have to get this off my chest.

Saturday was just as bad. Pettitte was spotted a 4 run lead going
into the 4th then a 3 run lead going into the 5th, and that’s where the
troubles began. Pettitte gave up 5 earned in the 5th inning, losing the
lead and giving up 6 for the game, a horrible performance against a
team who has two of their best players on the DL. The bullpen came in
and looked just as bad giving up 8 earned in 3.2 with Phil Coke, my
boy, giving up 4 of them in one inning. They lost the game 14-8…and the
Yankee bats were on that day pulling within 2 runs after back to back
homers by Arod and Matsui in the 8th.

Sunday…horrible through out…some clutch hitting but whever the Yanks
were within striking distance everything went wrong…CC was horrible and
couldn’t hit his spots…he looked good early then fell apart…not
good…play of the game goes to Darren Oliver who got the luckiest grab I
have every seen…what a joke.

Sorry but I had to get that all off my chest…the Yanks are still
only 3 games out…this team needs to man up and beat tough teams
otherwise they will have no shot at all in the playoff…if they make
it…I am being a little dramatic I know but this weekend was really
bad…but I guess it was bound to happen.

I am sorry for the short…horrible blog today but that’s all I really
have to say…these guys need to regroup during the all star break and
get back on track…they have another tough opponent coming this weekend
in the Tigers and they have to show up and prove they are worth of me
calling them an Elite team.

Again sorry for the biggest rant ever and I’ll be back tomorrow to preview the all-star game…lates

Yankees Beat Twins 8-6, Sweep Season Series

Unfortunately
the Aceves test was a failure. It was clear that he was nervous and had
no control over his pitches, or his throws to first base, as seen in
the bottom of the 2nd when he threw away a pickoff attempt to first
base when Cuddyer was sleeping while taking a lead. It wasn’t a
complete failure though, this kid clearly has good stuff he just has to
finish the transition into a starter, if the Yankees choose to go down
that route. Overall he kept the team in the game only giving up 3
earned, however the Yankees expected a lot more than just 3.1 innings
pitched, especially with such a big series coming up in Anaheim against
the Angels, and a struggling Joba on the mound tonight, they would have
liked to get the bullpen some more rest.

As I said yesterday
I expected the Yankee bats to have to bail out the pitching and I was
right. All the scoring in the game came in the first 5 innings, for
both teams, and thankfully the Yankee bullpen showed up and took care
of mess that was the first 4 innings.

The bullpen is still on fire and came in the game with 5.2 innings
left in the game sending Robertson out on the mound first. Robertson
also showed control issues as he walked in 2 Twins batters scoring 2
runners, he came in the game with the bases loaded, but then settled
down to get the final out of the 4th with a ground out from the best
hitter, right now, in the AL Joe Mauer. Next in the gauntlet, and the
eventual winner of the game, was Jonathan Albaladejo, who has been
pitching great recently and pitched 1.2 innings striking out 2 and only
putting one runner on. The new tandem in Coke, Hughes, Rivera, which
seems to be the new QUANGORMO, came in to
close out the game allowing only 2 runners in the last 3 innings and
striking out 3. A shaky bullpen earlier in the year is formulating into
one that dominates opposing hitters and gets the job done when called
upon. If the bullpen continues to perform at this level it only makes
the Yankees more of a threat and solidifies their stance as an elite
team in the AL.

Hughes Watch: Scoreless streak is up to 10 games,
11.1 innings, and his ERA is down to 4.01 and he added 2 more k’s in
yesterday’s appearance. Everyone should be on board with the fact that
this kid is one of the best pitchers out of the bullpen in the majors
and continues to get better in his role. He is also slowly being
transformed into the set-up man in the 8th for Mo.

Teixeira finally ended his homerless streak, the longest in his
career at 23 games, with a monster shot that flew some 420 feet into
the left field stands. The Yankees took care of Liriano, who continues
to confuse everyone around baseball with his terrible pitching
performances to date, by putting up a 6 spot on him (3 earned) capped
off by Teixeira’s homer in the 5th. The power in this Yankee lineup was
gone in Minnesota, which has me scratching my head although it doesn’t
really matter because they are still winning games, and Tex’s homer was
the only one in the 3 game series. The good news is that the Bronx
Bombers are getting victories with small ball and situational hitting,
the role players are doing their part and coming through when they need
to. A fielder’s choice that scores a run may not be fun for fans to
watch but that’s sound, fundamental baseball that wins games in the
long run. I am very impressed by this sweep and the way this team
played, they are already an elite team and are getting stronger and
because of that are tied for the AL East lead with the Red Sox. The
Yankees head off to California to face the Angels and the Saux face the
Royals at home, Boston has the advantage in their match-up this weekend
so the Yankees series in Anaheim is extremely important because I don’t
see Boston losing more than one game in this series and that already
happened last night.

Another note that is worth mentioning is that AGAIN all the Yankee
starters, besides Swisher, had at least one hit in the game last night,
this lineup is clicking and performing at an extremely high level right
now and is a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully they carry this momentum
into this weekend’s series as they Angels throw good pitchers on the
mound to face them, should be fun.

Yankee Player of the Game:

Two players get this honor, Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom. Both guys
are bench players who got starts last night and were key to the Yankee
victory last night. Both batters drove in 2 runners a piece and came
through in situations where you expect superstars to flourish. Great
game by 2 role players who don’t see a lot of starting time, another
reason why the Yankees are becoming stronger…a great bench to go to.

Twins Player of the Game:

I am giving this to the entire bullpen who came into the game and
stifled the Yankee lineup. They came in to a tight game and did their
job, the only problem for them is that the Yankee bullpen did exactly
the same thing creating a stalemate through the last 4 innings of the
game. The Twins bullpen allowed only 2 runners in the 3.2 innings they
had to cover, striking out 4 batters over that period.

W: Albaladejo (4-1 5.04 ERA)

L: Liriano (4-9 5.47 ERA)

S: Rivera (23)

MISTAKE!!! I don’t admit these a lot but I have to,
mostly because I was called out on it…Aceves didn’t make his first
career start last night he actually4 starts at the end of the ’08
season for the Yankees…bad research on my part…I apologize.

Tonight’s Game: Chamberlain (4-2 4.04 ERA) vs. Saunders (8-5 4.44 ERA)

I say this a lot but again this is an interesting match-up that can
really go either way. Both pitchers have the ability to shut down
opposing lineups and both also get smashed around every now and then,
note their slightly high ERAs above. Joba is in the middle of a stretch
of “decent” performances but no where near where he should be in terms
of his pitching ability and talent. His ERA is bloated, and not really
true to the amount of runs he is giving up because of his inability to
go deep into games, he is averaging just above 5 innings per start this
year, not what you want from a kid who is considered a phenom. I keep
hoping Joba will have a start where he is dominate and goes deep into
the game, I don’t see it happening tonight due to the depth the Angels
have in their lineup. Like I said before this game is too close to call
and is really a toss up, if the Yankees can hit Saunders they will win
the game as long as Joba can pitch at least 6 innings, our bullpen is
great but eventually they are going to get hit around it’s only a
matter of time…The Yankee bats will play a big role in tonight’s game,
let’s hope they show up…LET’S GO YANKEES!