Archive for the 'NY Yankees' Category
Giants win the pennant!!!
Is there a more improbable World Series team in recent memory?
What a performance by the pen. 6-plus innings of no run ball, after Sanchez spit the bit. Really, just a simply unbelievable performance by the pitching staff since the beginning of September.
As for the team management, and in-game coaching, I am eating every bit of crow there is in my house. While accepting the NL trophy, Sabean looked and sounded humble and classy, as did Baer, Bochy, Neukom, and NLCS MVP Ross. (Sidebar: The NLCS MVP was probably Wilson, 3 saves and a win in as close a series as you are ever gonna see).
What is there left to say tonight? Did I doubt this team? You bet. Did I doubt Bochy? Absolutely. Did I question the signings, the trades and the free agent pick ups by Sabean. As often as I had the time to do so.
What am I supposed to say here?
On many counts, I have been proven wrong.
The Cody Ross pickup, which was clearly __and understood at the time to be– a blocking claim, worked out pretty well, wouldn’t you say? The Aubrey Huff signing? Anyone who predicted this kind of season from Huff –especially his defense– send me the link –the dated link– and I’ll make you a star. Freddie Sanchez? He sure came on late. I was wrong on him, no doubt. Bochy made enough mistakes in these playoffs to last a lifetime. In the post-season, it always comes down to pitching. In the end, at least so far in the NL, the Giants had more of it then everybody.
Ask Joe Girardi, the manager of the defending champion NY Yankees:
…. Girardi did not throw a pitch or swing a bat. His job was to put players in the best position to succeed. One of his greatest strengths is his preparation, and his choice to flip Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in the rotation, based on several relevant factors, seemed to make sense. Hughes went 0-2 with an 11.42 E.R.A. at Rangers Ballpark, and Pettitte, though he pitched well, worked only once, held back Friday in advance of a potential Game 7 start.
Once he makes a decision, Girardi says, he never second-guesses himself. He trusts his instincts — or the numbers — and accepts the outcome, for better or worse. By not bringing in Rivera to pitch the ninth inning of Game 3, with the Yankees trailing by two runs, Girardi left himself open to criticism when Texas hammered three other relievers for six runs. It put the Yankees at a 2-1 series deficit with Burnett scheduled to pitch a crucial Game 4.
Bochy swapped his pitchers, and it didn’t work, actually. Sanchez came in on a rush, cruising in his previous 80 or so innings. He failed to record a win against Philadelphia. He went 8 innings in the series, allowing 8 hits, 5 walks, 5 runs (4 earned), and failed to get out of the third inning in tonight’s penultimate game. He posted a 4.50 ERA in the series, and if it weren’t for the outrageous performance by every pitcher Bochy called upon, would have likely been the goat of the NLCS.
Instead, he was saved by his teammates. OK. Johnny like that.
Bochy used Wilson in an unusual fashion, and it worked some of the time, and it didn’t other times. He pinch hit, pinch ran, made double switches, moved his outfielders around….
Some of his moves worked, and some didn’t.
The Giants are in the World Series because of their otherwordly pitching staff. Simple as that.
Ask Joe Girardi what he would’ve given to have Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner as his two worst starters.
I’ll tell you what’s been a real pain…. The constant changing of the game times. Seems like every time I plan to watch one of the Giants playoff games, the time is different than what I read the day before. It’s worse than the weather reports I’ve been using to schedule my work.
I’ve turned on the game at least twice and found myself in the third inning. Never with the Yankees, of course.
Bill James is still the best. He has a new article up on his site (It’s a pay site, $3 bucks a month, and you should be going there), it’s not about baseball, per se, it’s sort of about himself, and his relationship to statistics. In fact, it’s the text of a speech he made to a group of statisticians. In the piece, he writes something that should be mailed to Brian Sabean:
…. Baseball teams play 162 games a year. I just realized last week that, sometime in the last 20 years, baseball experts have fallen into the habit of saying that a baseball team has about 50 games a year that you are just going to lose no matter what, 50 games a year that you’re going to win, and it is the other 62 games that determine what kind of season you’re going to have. This is not ancient knowledge; this is a fairly new one. A more inane analysis would be difficult to conceive of. First of all, baseball teams do not play one hundred non-competitive games a year, or anything remotely like that. Baseball teams play about forty non-competitive games in a season, more or less; I would be surprised if any team in the history of major league baseball ever had a hundred games in the season that were just wins or losses, and which the losing team never had a chance to win after the fourth or fifth inning. The outcome of most baseball games could be reversed by changing a very small number of events within the game.
But setting that aside, this relatively new cliché assumes that it is the outcome of the most competitive games that decides whether a team has a great season or a poor season. In reality, the opposite is true. The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team. If the Royals play the Yankees and the score of the game is 12 to 1, it is extremely likely that the Yankees won. If the score is 4 to 3, it’s pretty much a tossup. The reasons why this is true will be intuitively obvious to those of you who work with statistics for a living. It is the non-competitive games—the blowouts—that play the largest role in determining what kind of season a team has. Misinformation about baseball continues to propagate, and will continue to propagate forever more, without regard to the fact that there is now a community of researchers that studies these things.
In reference to the Giants, this Giants team, the pitching-dependent, offensively challenged team we’ve been ranting and raving about for the last two and a half seasons, these paragraphs explain what we’ve been experiencing. It’s like a light in a dark closet.
Of course we’re frustrated, being in nail-biters game after game, week after week. It’s because we can sense that something’s not right. There’s something about a team that wins by being perfect that fails to inspire confidence. Of course it doesn’t. As James explains so clearly, it shouldn’t. Winning teams dominate. Winning teams consistently win big. Winning teams are not built upon winning one-run games. Winning teams don’t win because they always win the close ones. They win because they blow teams out. Close games are far too often decided by one single mistake, on missed play, one error, one walk, just like Monday’s game. Teams dancing along that fine line are simply far too dependent upon luck to win enough of the time to be a real contender. And we can see that, even though the Giants are winning right now, they are not really a contending team.
“The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team.”
Great teams blow you out, and it’s the games in which they don’t that you have a chance against them. The Giants are not a great team. They have great pitching. They are one dimensional. They rely on making your offense look as bad on this day as theirs is regularly. That is no way to win a championship. It simply isn’t. You cannot bet on being able to hold down a great offensive team game after game after game. Eventually, a great offense is gonna get you, and if that great offense has some pitching, well, then you’re in real trouble.
Look at these eight games with the Padres. These two teams are exactly the same. So you get eight games of one-run baseball, each team doing everything it can to prevent the other team from running away with the game, tons of bunts, lots of runners left in scoring position. Eight games of let’s see who blinks first. Each team is playing the same way, so, on the surface, the games seem exciting.
But, in fact, they are anything but. They are frustrating. They are exasperating. They are, to me, anyway. Going back and forth between the Giants/Padres and the Yankees/Red Sox games is illuminating. Those Yankee games are exciting. Those games feature game-winning home runs, (something so rare as to have become pretty much a once a year event in San Francisco) and when a pitcher strikes out a guy with men on base, it’s an actual accomplishment. When you watch the Giants bat with men on, the exact opposite is true, it’s an accomplishment when the Giants get the runner home.
Don’t be fooled. Look closely at what’s happening with this team. They are gonna tease you all season long, but, in the end, it will take a miracle for them to make the playoffs. They simply do not have enough hitting to get it done, no matter how many shutouts they throw.
UPDATE: Really!?! 32 total bases, 6 home runs, and 8 walks allowed? Wow.
Grant over at McCovey Chronicles wrote a simply outstanding article about the McGwire situation, and the whole steroids and baseball issue, and comes away with a doozy of a piece:
…. This isn’t to imply that it was just fine that a large percentage of the players were using. It’s not something that’s inconsequential, and it isn’t something that can be laughed off because a lot of players were using. But, good gravy, please stop the good vs. evil, hobbits vs. orcs, black and white discussion. Stop the false dichotomy of players from THE STEROID ERA vs. the OLD-TIMERS who did things the right way and who, if offered a way to extend their careers and improve their numbers with some chemicals, would have said “No way! I’m an old-timer who does things the right way!” I’m not sure if Rod Carew, Robin Yount, or Paul Molitor would have used steroids if they played in an era saturated in chemical enhancements, but the odds are that one of them would have. I say we kick them all out using the “Fallibility of Man” clause, just to be sure.
So when I hear or read that McGwire shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t apologize the right way, it makes me stabby. Apologize to whom? To me? I had an idea he was using at the time, and I didn’t really care.
Makes me stabby? Nice. Very nice.
Go over there, and read the whole thing.
History made tonight. Matsui becomes the first Japanese-born player to win a World Series MVP, and a World Series, period.
Congratulations to the Yankees.
UPDATE: As I said yesterday, today’s game was all about Pettitte commanding the strike zone, and even though he walked five tonight, in the actual game situations, he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to. Joe West was a bit inconsistent with his ball and strike calls, but Pettite refused to give in, and, in the end, with the early three-run lead, he was able to make sure that the pitches the Phillies swung at, the pitches that the Phillies hit, were the pitches he wanted them to swing at, the pitches he wanted them to hit. The pitches he wanted to them to hit, were thrown to the hitters he wanted to allow to have a chance to hit. All in all, the difference in the game was that Andy Pettitte commanded the strike zone, and by doing so, he won his 18th postseason game.
By the way, any talk about the Hall of Fame for Andy Pettitte (229-135 regular season record) must now consider the 40 postseason starts ( a whole extra seasons worth of work), and the 18-9 postseason record –which would raise his overall record to 257-144– was compiled at the highest, most demanding, pressure-filled level. Andy Pettitte has now won 5 postseason series clinching games. He’s now won 3 World Series clinching games. To suggest that he is the same pitcher as Jack Morris, as I read several times this week, is absurd. He’s had more than three times as many postseason wins as Morris, and he’s now won five –FIVE– World Series Championships.
Andy Pettitte did, in fact, command the strike zone, and, as I predicted, the Yankees did get to Pedro Martinez; and, as I predicted, if a Yankee hitter had an otherwordly game, he would steal the MVP from Mariano Rivera; and, as I predicted, if those things happened, the Yankees would be World Champions. And, they are.
Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.
Just writing that gives me bad mojo…..
Apparently, Girardi doesn’t want to swap A-Rod and Texeira in the lineup, not one article or report has mentioned the possibility. The NY Daily News says that Tex has been taking extra batting practice. It was also noted that most of the switch hitters in the Series are doing poorly, suggesting that the long delays between games, as well as the constant switching back and forth may be making it hard for the switchies to get in a rhythm. Makes sense to me.
So, starting with that, Girardi ought to switch the two hitters, to ensure that A-Rod gets as many at-bats as possible. I noticed it Monday night in the first inning, when Texeira failed to even advance Damon, let alone get a hit. I thought that the situation would arise later in the game when an inning would be extended or ended in Texeira’s hands. I didn’t think it would be the ninth, as the tying run, but it was, and Texeira looked terrible in failing to get the game into A-Rod’s hands. The time has come to make the change.
As for Pettitte going tonight, well, that decision was made when the Yankees went with Sabathia in Game Four. Once you do that, there’s no going back. They messed with Chamberlain until he completely lost command of his pitches, they have no trust whatsoever in Gaudin, and there’s nobody else. I think the Yanks get to Martinez tonight, but the game is in Pettitte’s hands. If he can’t keep the Phillies at bay, we’re gonna see a Game Seven.
The first two innings will be key. If Pettitte cannot command the strike zone, the Yankees are in trouble, because, other than the three starters and Rivera, there’s no one Girardi trusts anymore.
….for the Yankees.
Bad game for AJ Burnett. Didn’t anyone on the Yankees think the Phillies would swing earlier in the count, after Burnett went 22 for 25 first pitch strikes?
Bad game for Girardi. What the hell was he doing having Texeira in the third spot batting .063? Why didn’t he pinch run for Matsui in the ninth?
Bad game for the relievers. How many home runs can these guys give up?
Terrible postseason for Texeira. Easily the goat if the Yankees don’t close these guys out. Easily.
Well, except for Robinson Cano, who looks so lost at the plate, he might as well be playing for the Giants.
Great game/series/postseason for Alex Rodriguez. Need I say more?
Great game for Johnny Damon. Moving into series MVP conversation.
GREAT game for Chase Utley. Does he do anything other than hit the ball hard and far?
Back to the Bronx.
The Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series championship. They’ll send AJ Burnett tonight to face Cliff Lee, who has dominated like few in history this post season. Odds are likely the series heads back to the Bronx for at least one more game, but should it end tonight, it seems like a tough choice for MVP. It seems like Damon has been involved in a lot of the scoring in Philadelphia, (but in reality, he’s been hot the last game and a half) Derek Jeter has the best batting average and the most hits in the Series, and A-Rod has made the most of his two safeties.
I think it’s gonna end up being Rivera. There’s no chance Burnett goes the distance, so without question, if the Yankees win tonight, Rivera will be getting the last three outs. If that happens, he’ll have three saves, allowed no runs, and basically saved the season with his two inning save in Game 2. Unless one of the two superstars singlehandedly wins the game, it’s gonna be the Sandman.
UPDATE: So much for that. It looks like Cliff Lee could be the MVP, whether the Phillies come all the way back or not. As for the Yankees, this is the first game of the postseason that they had a starter get knocked out early.
Rebecca Glass wonders whether Joe Girardi should have gone to Mariano Rivera in the seventh inning last night:
…. Here’s the leverage argument:
Because of the importance of the situation, with the tying runs on base and the Angels’ best hitters (Hunter-Guerrerro-Morales) due up, Girardi should have gone to Mariano Rivera.
It’s a claim that much of the MSM and their readers/viewers will brush off as being too reactionary, but it’s based on the single, simple premise discussed above:
Teams should use their very best relievers in the highest leveraged situations.
At the time, there is utterly no way to predict that the ninth inning will matter or how much it will matter. What you know, however, is that at the time, the two potential tying runs on base are the two most important runs you want to prevent from scoring if you are the Yankees.
She is absolutely right. Watching the game, I was aghast when I saw Burnett come out for the seventh. In my view, the hitters had just gotten him off the hook for his horrible start to the game, the bullpen was fully rested after Sabbathia went eight innings and then they had a day off…. I mean, no matter how you slice it, there was no reason whatsoever to allow Burnett to continue in that game. Not to mention, as Don Zimmer used to say to Joe Torre –when Girardi was his catcher, by the way– “it gets late early in the postseason.” For Girardi and the Yankees, it’s late now. Girardi’s error could cost his team everything, and his error was clear the minute it was happening. If you were in the Yankees dugout, how did you not wonder what the hell was going on? What do you think Derek Jeter was thinking as he watched Burnett sweat his way through the 8th and 9th place hitters on the Angels?
The Yankees were nine outs from the World Series, with a two run lead, a shaky all season long starter who had already been raked, and every reliever in his bullpen was available. And in case you are still wondering if I am over reacting, let me make it even clearer:
GIRARDI HAD RIVERA AVAILABLE FOR SIX OUTS IF THE YANKEES DIDN’T SCORE ANY MORE RUNS
That means that all Girardi had to do was get three outs without allowing a run, in an inning in which the lineup was #8 hitter, #9 hitter, and Chone Figgins, who was 2 for 31 to that point in the postseason. To get that job done, he used the aforementioned shaky AJ Burnett, who allowed two base-runners in about ten seconds, and then –with the tying runs on base and nobody out in a game in which the Yankees were nine outs from going to the Serious– Girardi went to Damaso Marte, easily the worst pitcher on the Yankees playoff roster, if not the worst pitcher in the entire playoff universe. Damaso Marte. The same Damaso Marte who appeared in 21 games in 2009, threw 13 innings, allowed 14 earned runs and posted a 9.45 ERA.
How is that sequence even remotely defensible? I’ve been looking all day, and am still waiting for the dozens of articles questioning the choices Girardi made in that inning. Here’s one, from Jesse Spector, of the NY Daily News:
…. the burden of a collapse in this series would fall squarely on Girardi, who has made decisions in both losses that are indefensible. In both Games 3 and 5 in Anaheim, Girardi’s management of the Yankees’ pitching staff left fans saying to themselves, “What the hell is he thinking?” And that was before Alfredo Aceves coughed up Game 3, and before A.J. Burnett let the tying runs get on base in Game 5. From the time that Aceves came in, and from the time that Burnett stayed in after a long top of the frame, Girardi’s decisions had “mistake” written all over them. Both proved catastrophic.
Is that it? The umpires are getting raked for their mistakes. They’re writing about how Nick Swisher made the first and the last outs in that fateful seventh. They’re talking about the lousy broadcast coverage, the lack of insight, how Scoscia misused Brian Fuentes, how Fuentes shouldn’t have thrown that fastball to A-Rod. Girardi’s complete mishandling of the bottom of the seventh inning seems to have happened in a vacuum. I was screaming at the television, from the minute he sent Burnett out there, I mean, that was a farce. Here’s the heat Girardi has taken for it, the MLB page for Sports Illustrated has the following headlines:
Breathless ninth drains emotion from all
Angels’ aggressive approach pays dividends
Game 6 critical for Yanks’ Series rotation
From ESPN’s MLB page:
Managing their thoughts
Here’s what I would’ve chosen:
Loss falls on manager