Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny Traded; Yankees get Pudge, Nady, Marte

I'm back from Pittsburgh and so much has been happening since I've gone and now come back.

-Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Red Sox this weekend, an exciting 1-0 win on Fri with Joba outdueling Beckett, striking out 9 in a 7-inning shutout effort.
-Yankees struggled after their loss on Sunday tot he Red Sox, losing the first 2 games of the series to the lowly Orioles. They bounced back yesterday afternoon, however, with Abreu slamming 2 hrs, Nady finally coming through with a few RBIs and runs scored.
-The Yankees received Xavier Nady (Pirates OF) and Damaso Marte (LHP Reliever) for Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen, and Jose Tabata. A very good deal for the Yankees, minus Jose Tabata who had great potential to be a very good player. Nady has a .330 avg, .383 OBP, and 13 hr. He's a power hitter who can take over left field when Damon is DH'ing. Eventually he can take over Abreu's job in right field since this is his final year in his contract. Marte is a left-handed reliever...yay finally! He's done well and will hopefully fit well into the bullpen.
-Kyle Farnsworth was finally traded for Catcher Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez. I was surprised, angry, then satisfied with this trade. First off, thank god Farnsworth is gone. OK, he had done surprisingly well this season, but he can't be trusted in big spots, especially down the stretch and potentially the playoffs. I didn't think Pudge was doing well this season, but then again all you hear is how the Tigers suck and gradually started getting better. But he'll be a big offensive upgrade from Molina. He's an everyday catcher, while Molina is back-up. And he's great defensively. I wish him all the luck in his first start as a Yankee tonight @ Yankee stadium.
-Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the White Sox today. Mmm, interesting.
-Biggest news of all, of course, is that Manny Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers in return for OF Jason Bay of the Pirates. RHP Craig Hansen (Bos), OF Brandon Moss(Bos), INF Andy LaRoche(LA), and RHP Bryan Morris(LA) were sent to the Pirates. Also, the Red Sox will be paying the rest of Manny's contract ($7 million). Manny is in the NL where there is no DH, so he's going to have to play LF. You can tell the Red Sox just wanted to get rid of him, he wasn't trying and was a huge distraction for the Red Sox who got swept (again) by the Angels and almost no-hit, too. Jason Bay has good numbers, not a great avg, but a decent OBP. He's no manny, however, who is historically a Yankee killer. Do you know how different the line up is when a pitcher doesn't have to go from David Ortiz to Manny Ramirez? Bay is being thrust into the spotlight where a team is in the race for the postseason when he's spent his baseball career with the Pirates.

HUUUUUGE series starting tonight for the Yankees. They're playing the Angels who are 10-2 since the break (Yankees 9-3). They just came off a sweep of the Red Sox and have excellent pitching. I hope the Yankees can at least split the series with them. They need to prove themselves agaisnt a great team. 2 out of 3 from the Red Sox is good, 3 out of 4 from the Angels is even better.

Tonight: LHP Andy Pettite (12-7, 3.76) vs. RHP Jon Garland (9-6, 4.30) 7:05 ET
Tomorrow: RHP Sidney Ponson (6-2, 4.59) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (11-5, 3.57) 7:05 ET
Saturday: RHP Mike Mussina (13-7, 3.56) vs. LHP Jered Weaver (9-8, 4.11) 3:55 ET (I hope Moose is back on his game for this match-up, it's the only game I get to watch in this series!)
Sunday: RHP Darrell Rasner (5-8, 4.92) vs. RHP John Lackey (9-2, 2.93) 1:05 ET (Great, the guy who threw an almost no-hitter against the Red Sox)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yankees Sweep Twins Out of Town for Final Time

Well, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to do against the Twins, with a few lucky bounces going their way. The Twins made costly errors and when the pitcher made a mistake with a pitch, the Yankees made them pay for it.

-Robbie Cano has been awesome since the start of the second half. If he keeps up this hitting, he can really help the team out down the stretch. The rest of the offense is finally clicking, too, but the bottom of the lineup still worries me. Jose Molina? Melky Cabrera?
-The bullpen has been solid, combining for a 1.60 ERA over the last few weeks. Hey, even Farnsworth has thrown nine consecutive hitless and scoreless innings! Way to go. He gets a gold star.
-The starting pitching has been solid as well, thanks to Moose leading the way. He threw 8 shutout innings today with 7 k's. There's been talk about a possible trade for Jarrod Washburn which doesn't seem like too bad of an idea, but what would we have to give up to get him?

The Yankees have won 10 straight at the Stadium and are 6-0 since the start of the second half. They outscored the Twins 25-7 in the series (13-5 against the A's). Up next is a 3-game series against Boston at Fenway Park. I'm of course nervous for this series. The Yankees offense is finally clicking, but I hope they don't get shut down by the likes of Beckett, Wakefield, and Lester. After traveling to Fenway they'll be back at home to face the Orioles and then the Angels, which will be a very tough series.

7/25-7/27 @ Boston:

RHP Joba Chamberlain (2-3, 2.52) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (9-6, 3.98) 7:05 ET - This will be a very interesting matchup. Joba will be in Boston, with their rowdy fans, pitching as a starter for the first time there. So far he has had trouble keeping his pitch count down and I don't think the Red Sox lineup will be any help. David Ortiz is predicted to return on Friday, which is not good news for the Yankees. Manny, however, might sit out with an injured knee. If the Yankees can get to Josh Beckett and give Joba a lead to work with, there's potential for a win here. The Yankees have not given Joba much run support at all which needs to change and hopefully with two sweeps behind them, they'll have much more confidence offensively.

LHP Andy Pettite (11-7, 3.86) vs. RHP Tim Wakefield (6-7, 3.69) 3:55 ET - If Andy pitched as well as he did last start, the Yankees should be all set. But once again it comes down to the offense. Often Wakefield makes batters look foolish with his knuckleball, Yankees included. If they can work the count against him and make him make the mistake of leaving one up, the Yankees can get something going against him and give Andy some support. Andy's a grinder, let's hope he gets through the intimidating Red Sox lineup.

RHP Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.37) vs. LHP Jon Lester (8-3, 3.20) 8:05 ET - If my memory serves me correctly (and damn that memory) Jon Lester pitched a complete game shutout against the Yankees in the last series. Sidney Ponson has been notorious for giving up a ton of hits, but escaping with limited damage. I'm most nervous for this game. If he keeps giving up hits, the Red Sox will make him pay. Generally, however, the Yankees have given Ponson a ton of run support. We'll have to see how this game turns out.

Keys to the Series:
-Offense, offense, offense yankees!
-Get to the Red Sox bullpen early - they've lately blown the lead (aka: the angels series). And will be more likely to give up runs rather than the strong starting pitchers the Red Sox have.
-Strong starting pitching will hopefully get the offense going, rather than playing catch-up the entire game.

7/28 - 7/30 vs. Orioles ; Home
7/31 - 8/3 vs. Angels ; Home

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sweep-tastic; Twins-Yankees Series

Well, couldn't have asked for a better start to the beginning of the second half of the baseball season from the Yankees. A sweep of the A's was very nice. We got great pitching and enough offense to allow us to survive the games. The first game, Moose was amazing. I watched a few highlights on Baseball Tonight and Molina's glove didn't even move when he caught his pitches. Plus, the Yankees were able to score with RISP, what a grand concept! Richie Sexson, the newest Yankee, proved himself against the lefty Smith when he came through with an RBI single with 2 outs. Robbie Cano also hit a 3-run hr, that's what we like to see from him. The second game was a little more crazy. Joba pitched well, but Veras blew that for him and let the game be tied. Mo came in for the 9th inning, in a tie game, and of course gave up the go-ahead run for the A's. However, it was so surprising when, with 2 outs, Wilson Betemit came through in the bottom 9th to tie the game up! It ended in the 12th inning with Molina getting HBP with the bases loaded. The last game featured Andy Pettite and Justin Duchscherer (lowest ERA in MLB). Pettite was solid through all 8 innings he pitched. The announcers were commenting on how he was putting on a clinic show for any young pitchers watching. He was working with a 1-0 lead, after an Arod sac fly, but he allowed the tying run in. But the next inning Giambi came through with his 20th homerun of the season and that proved to be the winning run.

Now the Yankees have to face the Twins. I'm a little nervous because we don't have our best pitchers facing them (aka: ponson and rasner). I hope they pitch well against them and don't allow the Twins to get hits with 2 outs and RISP. Mussina pitches the final game of the series. I also hope our offense decides to show up and be clutch once again when it's needed. The Twins have a surprisingly strong rotation, despite them being so young. The Yankees need to work the counts because many of their pitchers have gone deep into the games they've pitched and they need to get to their weaker bullpen. If the pitchers can hold down the Twins offense, it will give the rest of the team a chance to win it.

Tonight: RHP Sidney Ponson (5-1, 3.96) vs. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-6, 3.65) 6:05 CT
Tomorrow: RHP Darrell Rasner (5-7, 4.97) vs. RHP Kevin Slowey (6-6, 4.36) 6:05 CT
Wednesday: RHP Mike Mussina (12-6, 3.49) vs. LHP Glen Perkins (7-2, 3.84) 12:05 CT

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All-Star Game; A Look Ahead

The final All-star game at Yankee Stadium was last night. The pre-game ceremony was awesome. It was really funny when they called out Papelbon's name and all you could hear were boo's. And then of course a standing ovation for Mariano Rivera - how it should be. Then they had HOFers all stand at their positions and then the All-star starter was called out - really, really cool. They interviewed Yogi Berra during the game and he seems like the coolest dude ever.

The game itself started out well - it was pretty much a pitcher's duel with only a few players getting on base. Then Ervin Santana gave up a solo homer to Matt Holliday. Later, in the 8th inning Papelbon gave up a single, Navarro screwed up a throw to 2nd to try to catch a runner and they made it to 3rd. After that they scored on a sac fly. It was hilarious listening to the Bleacher Creatures shout out "mariano!" and "overrated!" Serves the asshole right. Later, JD Drew hit a game-tying 2 run hr. Out of all of the Red Sox, I am glad it was him who hit it. I know I, as well as all of the other Yankee fans, were very angry when we saw K-Rod in for the 9th. He gave up a lead-off walk then got 1 out and was taken out for Mo :D. Mo was great, as usual. He even got out of a jam in the 10th with runners on 1st and 3rd. The game continued...and continued...and continued. There was one point where the AL had the bases loaded and got 0 runs in. It was so sad. But it finally ended in the 15th when Michael Young hit a walk-off sac fly.

Credit: Lohud Blogs

Overall, the ASG was really great, especially at Yankee Stadium. The game obviously went on way too long. If it ended in the 10th, as it should have giving Mo the win, that would've been fine. Terry Francona did a good job managing (though he got people off the bench early so our entire bullpen and players were pretty depleted by the end of the night) and acted very classy regarding the Yankees. He took ARod and Jeter out in the middle of the innings so the fans could give them an ovation. Jeter got his "Der-ek Je-ter!" chant :). And bringing in Mo for 1 2/3 inning was nice as well :).

The Yankees start the 2nd half on Friday against the Oakland A's. This is, unfortunately, my last day of free MLB.TV :(. Booo. I really hope the Yankees pick it up. They may have ended better than last season's first half with a record of 50-45 but I don't feel like the team is playing with any real purpose or passion for the game. Andy Pettite bluntly put it: "We stink right now for the most part. As a team we've kind of stunk it up lately" Derek Jeter has the best quote as saying the Yankees are consistently inconsistent. It sums up the entire team. The only players who have been consistent for us are Johnny Damon, Arod, Giambi, and Mussina. Damon's out with a shoulder injury (and will hopefully be back next week!!!). Arod hasn't been spectacular but he's been effective, even with the whole Madonna drama. Giambi has been great this year. Mussina has really shone this year. The pitching hasn't been terrible this year. I feel comfortable with Mussina, Pettite, and Joba pitching. The 4 and 5 starters? Er, not so much. Hey Darrell Rasner, you kind of stink lately (minus his last start - he battled through that game). Sidney Ponson, you're not seriously going to be on our team the rest of the year. We need someone to fill those spots.

The offense sucks...pretty much. With our line-up we should be scoring a ton more runs. Nobody really cares though, that's the sad part. Robbie Cano is finally heating up though. Melky's breaking out of his slump..a little bit. Brett Gardner is trying - he's gotten quality at-bats in and they're starting to pay off. Hey even Jose Molina is hitting singles and doubles and recently he's had some long at-bats of 5 or more pitches. But if they're going to get anywhere their offense needs to wake up and get going, along with some more solid pitching.

Upcoming Schedule:
7/18-7/20 vs. Oakland A's ; Home
7/21-7/23 vs. Minnesota Twins ; Home
7/25-7/27 vs. Boston Red Sox ; Away
7/28-7/30 vs. Baltimore Orioles ; Home

Monday, July 7, 2008

Yankees Red Sox Rivalry; Opinion on the ASG

Last night's game is too good not to write about. It started out very well. Joba was awesome last night, right from the start, you could tell he was focused. It was the first time I'd seen him pitch live, tho not in person unfortunately, so it was sweet to see what he could do. I was impressed, he wasn't just constantly blowing fastballs by everyone, as sweet as that was to see. He ran into trouble during the 5th inning when there were two runners on, and Youkilis scored on a wild pitch by Joba to tie the game (after an ARod homerun to left field). After that, there were 2 outs, with 2 runners on, and Joba got bitchslapped by the umpires when they called a no-swing on Ellsbury. That was fucking bullshit to the max, he swung through the zone, it was so fucking obvious. That pissed me off because it would have ended the inning, instead it loaded the bases and then Pedroia came up and hit a dinky two-run single. If there's any player I can't stand on the Red Sox, it's a three way tie between Pedroia, Manny, and Youkilis. He's such a bitchy little player, I can't stand him. What makes it worse is that he can hit, too.

Anyway, so it was 3-1 at this point and I felt the despair creeping in. It was already the 5th inning and the Yankees were hopelessly flailing at Wakefield's knuckleballs. They had managed 1 hit off of him, an Arod blast off a pitch that was left up. But then in the 6th inning Giradi came out and bitched out the awful home plate umpire, Laz Diaz. It was about damn time, his strike zone was complete BS. He called an awful pitch for a strike on Molina that looked way up and in. Molina just stared at him like he was crazy. Then he called a strike on Gardner that was way out of the zone. IT was awesome seeing Giradi get so close to Laz Diaz and he was so angry, too. Throughout the game the players just glared at the umpire on some of his BS calls. Even yesterday, Moose was so pissed at the other home plate umpire for some of his calls on him. So Giradi obviously got ejected. After he got ejected, Gardner hit the next pitch he saw right up the middle. Jeter singled after that, allowing Gardner to race home and bring the score to within one. Then in the 7th, we got the offense rolling again. Arod hit a leadoff single (it was funny cuz he just reached out to get it and popped it into right field..not something you see too often from him). Then with 1 out, Hip Hip got a hit as well. After that Robbie was up and hit a game-tying triple!!!!!! It was SO AWESOME. There was some debate about Hip Hip touching third base, but he did, tho just barely. It sucked when Melky hit a high chopper back towards second base and Robbie was called out at home with 1 out. It was a pretty bad play there.

So the game ended up tied at 4-4 (Dave Robertson gave up a run in the 7th). Krazy Kyle came out to pitch the 8th and did awesome, I was happy about that. I'll admit I was nervous as hell when he came out in a tie game. He did his job, getting the 3-4-5 hitters out. Then in the 8th inning, Gardner hit a pitch that squirted over 3rd base and TOTALLY BOUNCED IN FAIR TERRITORY, but it was called foul. That was fucking BS as well, it clearly bounced in the line, it looked like it might've hit Lowell's glove, too. It would've been a lead-off single, or maybe even a double. Instead, we failed. In the 9th, Mo came in. I was scared, I'll admit. Mo tends to do worse in tie games, instead of a game he's trying to save. Casey led off with a single, so I was like shit. Crisp hit a sac bunt to advance Casey to second. Then Varitek came in as a pinch-hitter...yea uh right? He sucks. Idk if he was meant to, but he got Casey to third. So now there's a runner on 3rd, with 2 outs. Then Manny comes in, oh boy. He struck out looking on THREE PITCHES. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. All of Mo's pitches were just placed perfectly. He came in a pitched a perfect 10th, too, after we failed to score in the 9th. Then, bottom 10, Robbie Cano led off with a nice single. Melky sac bunted him to 2nd (he was really close to being safe at 1st, too). Betemit came in to pinch-hit for Molina and failed, swinging at the last pitch. So now, with 2 outs, Brett Gardner comes up. OK, not exactly the guy you'd want in a tie game in extra innings with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd. I had faith though, I like this guy a lot. He showed he is patient at the plate, not swinging at every pitch he sees, or hitting the first pitch. He got robbed of a few hits, and when he did get on base, he stole 2nd (and once 3rd). It was funny because at this point, he had more steals than hits in the Majors. He was facing Papelbon, ugh, right. He was patient though, and fouled off a ton of fastballs. Then in the 8th pitch of the at-bat, he hit a dribbler up the middle. Cora got there just in time. He was on the ground, so he would have had to get up and throw it hard to 1st, which he could've possibly gotten Gardner out, but he is quite speedy. Instead it bounced off Cora's glove and Pedroia couldn't recover it and Gardner, for the second game in a row, delivered the game-winning RBI!!!! I was so happy for him!

The All-Star Teams were announced yesterday. Um, I'm just a slight bit irritated that there are SEVEN Red Sox players on the team. That's a bit much. They have Manny, Pedroia, and Youkilis starting. I don't think Manny is deserving just because of his terrible defense, but of course his offense is good. He has been in a bit of a slump lately. Pedroia did not deserve it over Ian Kinsler. The stats prove it. Just because Pedroia has a high batting avg since June, doesn't mean anything.

Batting Avg (86 games): .332
OBP: .391
SLG: .545
He has 23 stolen bases, 14 hr, 53 rbis, and 79 runs.

Batting Avg (89 games): .312
OBP: .355
SLG: .458
He has 9 stolen bases, 9 hr, 41 rbis, and 60 runs.

The stats prove Kinsler is much better at 2nd base. People counter with, well then why did Jeter make it over Young? I'll admit, Jeter's stats aren't as good compared with Young, but can anyone honestly imagine the final ASG at Yankee Stadium without Jeter starting? It's a poor excuse, but it's not like the Yankee players won every single position. They have three guys on the team..THREE. I am hoping Giambi makes it in for the final vote. He's been awesome this season. Tho, unfortunately, Jermaine Dye might make it, or Evan Longoria (haha can't get over that name). I think it was a disgrace that the players voted Varitek into the ASG. He's been downright terrible offensively this season. I saw a stat last night that since May? I believe he's had an avg of .130! I think, if anything, it's for his presence, not his offensive capabilities. Anyway, it should be a good ASG..I've always liked it just because you're able to see the best players in the AL and the NL face off in the same stadium. It's rare to see something like that, which is why I enjoy it. This post is super long, so I'm going to stop blabbing.