Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Red Sox win thanks to Pedroia's glove.

It was one of those plays that will be replayed on NESN for the rest of the season. Dustin Pedroia ranged about five steps to his right and swallowed up a ball hit by Vernon Wells. The ball was hit so hard, it almost took Jonathan Papelbon's head off. Without that play by Pedroia, the Red Sox worst losing streak in 5 years may have continued. A single would've scored the runner from second and given the Jay's 1-0 advantage going into the bottom of the ninth. Instead the game remained scoreless, and the Sox got a walk by Papi and consecutive singles by Manny and Youkilis to win the game.

You have to feel good for Jon Lester. Out dueling one of the best in the AL in Roy Halladay must be a real confidence booster and something Lester can build from. Speaking of Halladay, he's now the possessor of an amazing stat; four straight complete games with the last three being loses.

On a personal note, due to my life being in flux with moving and so on, I've been listening to a lot of games on the radio. It's kind of nice. Baseball, unlike most other sports, lends itself quite well to radio broadcasts. It's almost poetic. In the hierarchy of sports on the radio, I would place baseball #1, football #2. Basketball and hockey are just a mess if you try to listen to a game.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hughes roughed up again

It may seem like I'm still making excuses for Phil Hughes, but he is not as bad as his numbers indicate. Just like no one is going to give up on C.C. Sabathia after a bad month, I am not willing to throw away the top pitching prospect in baseball from a year ago after a rough April.

Now if you got to watch any of Hughes's starts this season then you may have noticed that his stuff is right where it should be. The fastball is in the 92-95 range where it belongs, the curve ball has that nasty bite, and the command hasn't been terrible. But the one thing you might notice about all of his starts is the catcher. Phil hasn't had the benefit of the same catcher in back to back starts. If you watched tonight's game then you say him make his debut with new back up Chris Stewart and his 23 big league games of experience.

The night was consistently marred by crossed up signals that took their toll on Phil Franchise. Stewart is the fourth catcher for Hughes in his seven starts this year. It isn't the whole reason that he struggled, but it must make it more difficult. His leash is getting short, and I can't imagine that if he has another outing that ends in the fourth inning that the Yankees wont send him back to Scranton to re-tune and get right.

Nobody was helped by the fact that the Yanks loaded the bases on walks twice and only scored one run. That's just weak.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back home to Yankee Stadium

Part of the MLB season is about survival. You can't always be on a hot streak, and when you're down and the situation looks grim, sometimes the best course of action is to try and break even. That's just what the Yanks did during this long, long road trip. They still have to wait until May 5 for their second off day of the season, but playing 18 of their last 20 games on the road the Yanks have to be satisfied with going 9-9, especially since they did it against some difficult teams like Cleveland, Boston and a tough young Rays club.

Now the bats are still pretty dormant. That big rally for four runs in the sixth was the softest four run inning I have ever seen. The loss of Posada is going to hurt, but they are still in good shape. Mussina is doing enough to stick around, and that's all they need from him this year is to keep them in most games and eat about 180 innings. The bullpen, aside from some rough outings from Hawkins and the perennial disappointment that is Kyle Farnsworth, has been solid behind the dynamic duo that is Chamberlain and Rivera. The only hope is to find someone who can do a comparable job as a set up guy when they decide to slide Joba into the rotation. And they should put him there.

Hughes will try to build off of his two inning performance in Chicago against the Tigers who have been hot and cold offensively. I think Hughes has found some of what he was missing in his first few starts and is poised to turn it around. His outing in Baltimore was better than his line indicated and against the White Sox he carried over those improvements. We'll see if the rain disrupted that momentum or not.

Beckett's 13 K's an unlucky number.

The Sox just can't lose games like this. When your team is on a skid, you have to be able to turn to your ace to put a stop to it. Beckett delivered. The bats did not. I know folks will like to point out the throwing error by Beckett, but in the balance, the Red Sox must win a game when he goes seven innings, strikes out thirteen, and gives up two runs.

But like the man he is, Beckett took the blame. ''I basically lost the game for us. Throw away, and the home run to Longoria,'' he said. Pitchers often feel this way when they lose, even if they pitch well, but what else could he have done? They didn't score any runs. Do I need to take back what I said a week ago about that line up?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good news, bad news for Yankees

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Chien-Ming Wang is on his way to being an ace. This month has been ridiculous. He has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his six starts, and has hit the seventh inning in three of those six. He only got rocked the one time against the Red Sox when he saw them in back to back starts and they rocked him the second time around. He has 27 Ks in 39 innings giving him a healthy 6.23 K/9. I could keep reading you all of these impressive numbers , but all you really need to know is that the Yankees are 6-0 when CMW is on the mound and he has five of their 13 wins this season. He blew their shot in the playoffs last year, but like Arod a year ago, would the Yankees even be there if not for the consistent contributions of a stud like Wang? Oh yea, the Sox lost too. That's always good news.

Now for the bad news. Jorge was scratched from the game today. The reason? A muscle tear in his shoulder. Hard to believe since he gunned down speedster Grady Sizemore yesterday, but I guess he only made things worse. This is a big blow to the Yanks, but far from a knock out. Unlike Jason Varitek or Brad Ausmus who are known as good signal callers, Posada was always an offense first guy. I don't think he hurt the Yankees behind the plate, especially in recent years, but I think that if Jose Molina keeps producing solid at bats and Chad Moeller makes it though waivers the Yankees will survive long enough for Jorge to heal up.

My thought of the day: Can the Melkman deliver or what? I always liked Melky but thought he would never hit enough to be an everyday center fielder or even a corner guy. Melky is starting to become that everyday guy and though he doesn't have that prototypical home run swing, he will hit the ball hard and I think he will continue to develop into a hitter like Bernie who will perennially put up 20 homers and threaten 30 every once in a while. Put that with a great arm and solid defense and the Yanks have themselves a pretty good player.

IPK showing some signs of life

It was nice to see Kennedy settle down after that rough second inning. It was really the only time in the game that he deviated from his attacking of the hitters. This should help him in his case to stay in the rotation, giving him another start to show he belongs here. My biggest concern is still the Yanks batting average with runners in scoring position. They still look like they are only comfortable with nobody on base which of course as a fan makes me incredibly frustrated to watch them leave all those runs on base.

They can't lose games to the likes of Jeremy Sowers. He may be a good young pitcher, but he doesn't have overwhelming stuff and it seems like every time the Yanks see a pitcher they haven't seen a lot of throw junk at them in the strike zone, they shut down. They don't seem to know what to do if half of them aren't getting free passes to first.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bruney goes down; who's coming up?

Well of course of all the relievers on the Yankees staff to get injured, it has to be the one who finally seems to be putting it all together. Brian Bruney looks to be out for the season with a torn foot tendon and Chad Moeller is to be designated for assignment according to Pete Abraham's blog. It's a tough break for Bruney who had significantly trimmed down in the off season and had learned to consistently throw strikes. He was definitely working his way toward inheriting the set-up role once they plugged Joba back into the rotation. It's always the good ones who get hurt, never the Farnsworths.

They should look to bring up Edwar Ramirez. His K rate is just too ridiculous to ignore. I know he got tagged up last year in limited outings, but they have to give him a little bit more of a chance to succeed than 23.1 career innings that he has. Anyway with Moeller gone they can bring up Duncan who has been absolutely murdering Triple-A pitching to the tune of .309/.426/.745. I really think Duncan would be an excellent player for the Yanks if they can get him going in the first base platoon and off the bench. I think he will hit for power no matter what but that he will be better as an all-around hitter than anyone gives him credit for.

One last thing. It was nice to see Melky rip home run number four last night. If his power keeps progressing then maybe he does end up becoming Bernie Williams with a better arm. That always seemed to be a good comparison to make when you looked at their early careers, and Bernie didn't really break out until years 3-5 when his average and power really developed. And even though it was brief, it was a ray of hope from Hughes last night that he might have found himself.

No rest for the weary

Despite the fact that I am the one moving into a new house. I'm the only one who seems to want to post this week. Today I offer a few quick hits. Feel free to respond.

  • Apparently the flu doesn't just ravage poultry populations abroad but also the Red Sox. What a lame way to lose a couple of games. I think it's a legit problem, just a lame one.
  • I kind of feel bad for Francisco Liriano. Two years ago, he was a sensation. Now, he's 0-3 and an ERA over 13.00. He and Johan Santana could have been an unstoppable tandem in Minnesota if injuries and cheap ownership didn't get in the way.
  • I think John Smoltz should go into the Hall of Fame along with Maddox and Glavine from those Atlanta teams of the '90's. Does anyone else have an all-around resume like his: 210 wins, 154 saves, 3006 K's? Will being on the same team as Maddox and Glavine hurt his chances for the hall?
  • Isn't baseball a lot more fun without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? I don't care that much about their possible steroid use. I just don't think either one of them is that much fun.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Never out of it.

Last night's 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Angels was the Sox third such win in the past four games. That line up is just too tough for most starters (least of all a hairy Weaver brother) to get through three times. Once the starter gets knocked around, it's time to feast on the bullpen. The scary thing is that it doesn't matter who is in the line up or what the order is. Even Sean Casey is batting .340. When Mike Lowell comes back the line up will be even deeper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's simple Math

I am surprised Yankee fans haven't spoken up sooner. I hate to admit it, but Hank Steinbrenner is right. Joba is a starter. They should have him change to a starter this year, kiss the postseason goodbye and be better prepared for the future. With three guys in the rotation (Phil Franchise, IPK, and Joba the Hut) who have never thrown 200 innings and a weak bullpen the Yanks will not be able to keep pace with the rest of the AL this year. The future, on the other hand, will look much brighter for the Yanks and their Big 3.

This is the right decision for Joba. (I can't believe I am giving the Yankees advice.) It will take a year or two for him to develop into a starter and he will probably have to spend some time in Triple A. In the end, when you have a pitcher with that kind of potential which is better: Having him pitch 200+ innings a year or 70 innings? It is simple math. You can always spend some money and get a passable closer, but consistent starting pitching is hard to come by. Also, from all reports, Joba wants to be a starter. If you are the Yankees, you have to make this guy happy.

A similar situation arose with the red sox and Papelbon a couple years ago. Papelbon wanted to be a closer (mainly because he is two olives short of a martini) and the Sox granted this request. It works for him and the Red Sox. The yankees should be the same with Joba. Make him happy. Make him a starter. He will have a longer and more productive career.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Possible Triple Crown ( and I ain't talking about Barbaro)

I would say nearly 75% of the posts on this blog thus far have started or at least contained the phrase " I know it's early, but...". So continuing in that vein, I know it's early, but I think Manny could actually win the Triple Crown this year. He already leads the league in RBI's and homers and is within striking distance in avg. Currently, Youk is batting .378 and Manny is at .338 and at this point in the season that is three hits. Manny has never looked this good this early in the season. He typically needs the weather to heat up before he starts banging doubles off the monster.

There are two main obstacles that could prevent this magical feat. The first is David Ortiz. If Papi starts clearing the bases in front of Manny the RBI opportunities will obviously diminish. The second obstacle is Manny himself. I have commented on how Manny seems more dedicated than ever this year. He is concerned with his legacy as a player and is trying to do everything he can to get into the hall including padding his stats. However, any Red Sox fan can tell you Manny's attitude can change on a dime for no good reason. In August, he may want a month off and fake a toe knuckle injury. You just don't know with this guy.

Personally, I hope he does it. It is entirely possible for Manny to finish with 46-148-.340. Now that's a great season and with a little luck that could be worthy of a Triple Crown. I want Manny to do it, if for no other reason than it would be cool to see. Of course he is a clown, but people sometimes forget what a monster at the plate this guy can be when he wants to be.

Arod Hits the Trainers Room

Hard to imagine a worse weekend for the Yanks after dropping two of three from the Orioles, but the loss of Arod is going to hurt...big time. It's not like they weren't having a hard enough time scoring runs after being shut out by Brian Burres and Jim Johnson who have a combined career ERA of 5.57, now they lose their best hitter. I know Kennedy was far from average but the Yanks need to stick with him and Hughes (who I think pitch better than his line indicated).

Youth is the future for this franchise and it's not like they have anybody waiting in the wings to step in and do any better of a job. Both of these pitchers are too good to stay down long. They each have talent and just need to find the rhythm that they had last season. I'm a big fan of Hughes and Yankee fans just need to find a way top get over this inconsistent rookie stuff that he is going to go through from time to time this season. The Yankees will correct the problem of Hughes and Kennedy back to back this week when the push IPK back for one day so they can slot in Pettitte to help protect the bullpen. With that solved maybe it takes a little pressure off of the both of them.

One more thing. What is up with these injuries happening in bunches? In 2006 it was wrists, when the Yanks lost Matsui and Sheffield for most of the season with wrist injuries. In '07 everyone from Wang to Hughes went down with hamstring injuries. I guess this is the Year of the Quad with Arod and Jeter already succumbing to the injury. Hopefully the pitching picks up in the next couple of weeks, because it looks like that bats will need a long time to find some consistency.

Two Headed Monster

Papi ties the game. Manny wins the game. It feels good. Hopefully this clutch RBI and grand slam from the other night means that Papi is out of his funk. Manny's home run was a no-doubter and one of the sweetest swings I've seen this season.

My posts may be a bit infrequent over the next week or so. Moving will do that. I guess you all will just have to be satisfied with Joe and Pete for a little while.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Battle of the Fatties

Manny is a beast. He seems more focused than ever. Imagine if he could face Moose every game, Manny would be batting around .550 and have about 200 homers a year. I know Ortiz has hit a cold spell and after Dennis's comment I had a thought: Who weighs more Papi or PAC-10 player of the year ( and probable top 5 draft pick) Kevin Love? I believe they are in the heavy weight class and I would love to see them step into the Octagon. UFC needs a high-profile match to attract the masses to such a fantastic sport. My money is on Papi because of his diet of mango salsa. Not only is it good, it's good for you too!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Banged Around

Both Clay Buchholtz and Chien-Ming Wang lasted less than five innings last night just one week after hooking up for a pitchers duel. If the Sox or Yanks see a pitcher twice in such a short period of time they will take advantage. Their line ups are too smart and too patient. Tonight we get another rematch in Beckett vs. Mussina, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of runs again. Although, I think the Sox have a distinct advantage in this game concerning starting pitching.

I can't figure out why David Ortiz has become such a hacker. He has some hits lately, and I hope that is a sign that he is coming out of his slump. However, he is failing at a lot of first pitches and therefore producing weak ground ball outs. This was the case a couple of times last night. If he shows more patience and can poke the ball the other way against those ridiculous shifts, he will be more successful and get back into a groove. I just hope the knee isn't a serious problem. If it is, he should just sit until it is 100%. The rest of the line up can hold up until he gets back.

Lay off me I'm Starving!

Dan you said it yourself in your "Hey Julian" article, Taverez is a feast or famine pitcher. Well, I spent about 2 hours last night on the phone with FEMA trying to see if GW could sent this dude a loaf of bread. Last night, your boy was famished. This is expected when the Sox and the Yanks get together in the Bronx. Another point about the game, the Sox sent out their no.5 starter, Clay Bucholz, a 23 year old rookie who makes $396,000. A few bumps in the road are expected, especially when you face a line-up like the Yankees. Conversely, the Yankees throw their ace, CMW, and they needed 5 innings of relief pitching, which was solid, to win the game.

Now, it might not seem like a big deal because the Yanks got the win, and it's only April, but it begs the question: If the Yanks make the playoffs, which ace will show up? The CMW last night or the CMW of last weekend? CMW is too good to be considered a feast or famine guy, but there is some inconsistency.

Let's look at it one step closer. In the 2005 playoffs CMW had 1 start and was brilliant, allowing 1 run in 6.2 innings. In the 2007 playoffs, CMW had 2 starts, only pitched 5.2 innings in those 2 starts and allowed 12 runs which equals a staggering 19.06 ERA. So against stiff competition, the Red Sox or otherwise, can CMW get it done? It's a question that may resurface throughout the season, but one thing is certain, the Yanks don't stand a chance without their ace acting like an ace.

Yanks-Sox Part IV

Not the best start we've ever seen from CMW, actually one of his worst. But this is what Yankees vs. Red Sox are suppose to look: well over four hours long, a ton of runs and a ton of pitching changes. With all the hitting that went on though, the player of the game has to be Brian Bruney. He is by far the early season surprise for the Yankees is his 1.80 ERA in his first seven appearances. He is definitely the front runner to replace Joba as the eighth inning guy when, hopefully, Joba goes back into the rotation. The most important stat to me is his K/BB ratio. It has jumped to 2.75 from 1.36 for his career. Now I doubt it stays that high for the rest of the season, but he is pounding the strike zone with his superior stuff and the results are even better than his September showing in '06. It might be the weight he dropped in the off-season, but he just has a different presence on the mound.

It's also nice to see the Captain come back hot from his time off. He looked very old at the start of the season and now he is finally starting to look like classic Jeter. Hopefully tonight the Moose decides he should avoid pitching to Manny with a base open and uses some of that pitching IQ he supposedly has some much of.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What in the who now?

Can anyone explain the MLB schedule to me? The Red Sox and Yankees have just completed two games each against the Indians and Rays respectively. Starting tonight they will play a two game series against each other. Back to back two games series? What's next, a different team every night?

The Red Sox will not travel back to Cleveland for the rest of the season. Of course, they will play the Yankees about 50 more times. Interdivisional rivals should play each other more than they play other teams on the schedule. That makes sense, but the scheduling right now is far too unbalanced. How about this; the Yanks and Sox play each other 133 times each season. That way they will only have to deal with playing other MLB teams once a piece.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day

It was a good win for the Yankees tonight, and it felt good putting the Rays back in their place with a mini-sweep. Every year people love to say 'Watch out for the Rays. All those young players are bound to figure out how to play soon.' Each year, of course, they lack pitching and fall straight to the bottom, but this year they really do feel really close. They're going to be tough when Kazmir comes back.

I digress. Jackie Robinson Day is a great day for baseball. Though they have had their problems connecting with black youth in the past couple of decades, the contributions of African Americans have had a profound effect on the game. That doesn't even consider the role other minority groups played thanks to Jackie breaking down a wall of ignorance. I just have one problem with how Jackie is honored on the anniversary of his MLB debut. The wearing of his number.

Everyone who knows anything about baseball knows that Jackie's number 42 was retired across the board for every team on the 50th anniversary of the historic day. Then Ken Griffey Jr. requested to be allowed to wear the number in 2007. Commissioner Selig approved and encouraged others to wear it. Now many will argue that having whole teams or just four or five players on a team wearing it will cheapen the meaning of having it retired. Torii Hunter remarked to USA Today last season, "This is supposed to be an honor, and just a handful of guys wearing the number. Now you've got entire teams doing it. I think we're killing the meaning."

I respect Hunter's opinion and support it to a degree, but I think the better option would be to mandate everyone wearing it for the day. The number should not be arbitrarily passed out to only those who care enough to wear it. Everyone should don a piece of history for one day, to make sure it is an omnipresent thought at least for that one day of the season. I say everyone or no one is the way to go. And I definitely don't think just the Dodgers should get to wear the number. Something like that sort of portrays them as them as the moral bench mark in the baseball world and I just don't buy that.

Anyway that's enough ranting for right now. I'll have some thoughts about Yankees-Red Sox Part Deux tomorrow.

Hey Julian

Julian Tavarez is flawed pitcher. He is overly emotional. He is ill-suited to be a consistent starter or reliable closer. When he's off he's liable to get knocked all over the park. But I love this guy. He is a reliever in the true sense. They would've called him a fireman in the '70s. He is completely devoid of fear, regardless of the situation, and it is impossible to intimidate him.

Last night after Lester spotted the Indians with a three run lead. Julian came into the game a promptly struck out the first three batters he faced. The Sox are going to need him a lot with the young arms on which they are trying to rely. When Lester and Buchholz are dealing it's easy to think that the pitching staff will be dominant for the next ten years. However, at times they can't find the strike zone with sonar. I don't know how many innings they will be able to log this year. They are not yet accustomed to the grind of the full MLB season. When they do falter, Tavarez can come in for those log relief appearances.

Sometimes, like last night, he's at his fearless best. Once in a while it's like he's throwing batting practice. Most often, he will eat up some innings and keep the Sox in the game. He's the biggest reason they pulled out the 6-4 win last night and the most underrated member of their pitching staff.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rivera to the Rescue

It is amazing what one person can do for a team. I'll admit it, Yankee fans have been spoiled for the past 13 seasons. To have someone as trustworthy as Rivera is at the end of the game is ridiculous. It is easy to see what the world would look like if the Yankees had to settle for any of the pitchers they have been forced to use during the middle innings of the past two games. It looked like Bruney might have been someone who found a rhythm in the early going and could work the seventh or the eighth if need be. Alas he faltered and with no Joba to bail him out the Yankees had to get a clutch homer from Cano off the bench after he has got off to one of his typical slow starts.

At least the Yanks finally showed they could score a few runs. Although it is disconcerting to only see it through the first four innings. I mean it is the Rays bullpen. It will be a tough one tomorrow against Edwin Jackson who has finally decided to pitch like the top prospect he once was. Hopefully Pettitte has gained some momentum from his solid start against the Royals. Also, when is Cleveland going to give in and throw either Rafael Betancourt or even Rafael Perez the closer. Like Joe said, they'll never win a series with a washed up Joe Borowski giving games back to the Sox or the Yankees.

Some kind words

Well, the Sox got what they needed this weekend. They are far from running on all cylinders, but when you can continue to win with injuries and not playing your best, usually you will be ok. To flip the page I will pay a compliment to a Yankee. Is there a more important player to their team than Derek Jeter? The Yanks looked uninspired without their captain. It made me think, if Jeter had not been with the yankees for the past 12 years would I get nervous when the Sox play the Yanks? If the Sox had a 3 game lead in August would I be afraid the Yanks would catch the Sox? The answer to both those questions is a definitive no. With Jeter it isn't the .317 avg., 82 rbi, 120 runs and the countless gold gloves that wins championships, it's the fearless leadership. Even with the payroll, without Jeter the yanks win maybe 83 games and finish 10 games behind the red Sox. With him they are a world series contender. With that in mind, Jete take the rest of the week off.

As I write this I'm watching the Red Sox rape Joe Borowski. He has to be the worst closer in baseball hands down. If people think the indians can win, well anything, with him as their closer think again.

Don't be sad...

cuz two out of three ain't bad. This is what you want, two out of three in a home series. There were even some good signs in the Red Sox lone loss. The pitches were there for Buchholz. The key is when he's able to throw that nasty curve for strikes. That was the first time the Yanks saw him so that makes a difference, but it was an encouraging outing nevertheless.

This is not going to be the Red Sox offense to which we've grown accustomed. Even last season, there was really only one power bat in the line up that produced regularly, and that was Papi. The Sox have now built a team that is more about consistency, guile, defense, and speed. Although he's been playing extremely well, don't expect 40 home runs from Manny this season. No one knows how the rest of Ortiz's year is going to pan out either. But all of that is OK, because top to bottom the Sox have a line up of scrappy hitters who will be a nuisance to their opponents. Not only that, but opponents have to account for their speed on the bases as well, which is something that teams had not had to do before. If they could only do something about that bullpen. Timlin!!!

Hughes not quite there yet

Well it was far from a quality outing for the Franchise. Those two plus innings were tough to watch. Mostly my problem isn't with Hughes, it's with whoever is calling the game for him. More often then not he is attacking hitters with his fastball. Not that he shouldn't attack hitters with his fastball but he pitches as if he is a reliever, primarily using only his curve and fastball. The Yankees need to utilize both his slider and his change which are both quality pitches. This is a problem I have noticed since they first called Hughes up last season. Aside from his near no-hitter his patterns are very predictable and when he gets ahead of hitters he will continually pump fastballs to them. Good hitters keep fouling these pitches off until they finally smack one or work a walk.

He needs to use his other pitches, it is just that simple. Keep your opponent off-balance. If it's Hughes deciding the pitches then they need to take that responsibility away from him because he doesn't seem ready for it yet. If it is not him that someone needs to reevaluate whoever is employed in that position and if they still deserve a job. He has the stuff, he just doesn't have the know how yet.

Besides that the only other gripes I have with the Sunday night affair was 1) Kyle Farnsworth giving up an extra run in the bottom of the eighth to make the lead that much bigger (what's new) and 2) Melky Cabrera running into the tag on the Johnny Damon double play. Someone needs to give him a base running clinic. It's bad enough he still thinks diving gets you to first base faster. Anyway that's enough for tonight. Let's see what my Sox counterparts have to say tomorrow. They should enjoy these April victories, they tend to not win many of these encounters later in the season when they matter most(The Yanks are 17-7 against the Sox after the All-Star break since '05). I love that fact.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crisis Averted

Sorry Sox fans but you'll have to think of a different way to curse the Yankees. A few loyal subjects of the Empire turned on the rebel scum that thought it a good idea to try and bury a Sox t-shirt in the foundation of the New Yankee Stadium. Perhaps the rebels need a reminder of the power of the Empire. Maybe the destruction of one of their smaller satellite planets like Providence or Springfield will remind them of their place. Though I suppose I could settle for the annihilation of Matsuzaka.

Manny being Manny

How ironic that the Red Sox and the Yankees were engaged in a pitcher's duel and yet the game still took over five hours to complete. Red Sox and Yankee fans are used to marathon games but these games usually end with scores similar to Giant-Patriot games. And bravo to Fox who went to Nascar with two outs and a 3-2 count in the top of the 9th and Papelbon on the mound. Next week I hear they are going to show the "Departed" and switch to American Idol before you see Matt Damon get his. Once again bravo to the fuckers at Fox.

I was happy to see Beckett back in 2007 form. His fastball had the velocity and location we have come to expect and he was throwing the breaking ball for strikes. When he can do that he is hard to beat. The offense continues to be passable and hopefully David Ortiz will find his stroke as the weather warms up. This continues to support the fact that Manny Ramirez is a huge part of the dynamic duo. He was involved in all four runs, scoring two and more importantly cleaning up the mess Papi left on the bases in the 6th. Imagine what Ortiz's numbers would be without the protection of Ramirez. Epstein should pick up that option right now. Tonight we see Big Phil and Dice-K should be interesting and hopefully the Sox can take two of three at home.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cy Wang

I guess Chien-Ming Wang didn't like what he was hearing this winter. Wang is looking like a serious Cy Young candidate at the moment. Now obviously it is April so I know that anything can happen over the next six months, but it is hard to ignore what Wang has done in his first three starts. Tonight's start is by far the most impressive. Throwing a complete game with only 93 pitches is very Greg Maddux like and CMW has improved a lot of his peripheral numbers which show that he might be on his way to being the ace no one thought he could be.

Don't believe me? Well look at the numbers. Wang never strikes out a lot of batters, but last year his K/9 rate shot up by more than 1.50; from 3.14 in 2006 to 4.70 in '07 . This has also led to an increase in his strike out to walk ratio. His K/9 this year sits at 4.50 and with the development and increased usage of both his change up and slider he looks to have more options to get batters out rather than just making them pound the ball into the ground. CMW is an adaptive pitcher who didn't have a sinker ball until he came to America. It is entirely in the realm of possibility that he has evolved again into a more dynamic pitcher.

That of course is a question that will be answered over the course of the rest of the season, but for right now Wang is shutting the critics up and it's pretty nice to see it happen against the Sox in Fenway where he's had so much trouble. I really can't think of a better way to start off another year of Yanks vs. Sox. Can you?

Damn you, Comcast!

I finally had a opportunity to sit, relax, and catch a bit of a Sox game last night. So I turn on NESN and I see the freakin' Bruins. Where's the game? ESPN? The Deuce? Fox Sports? No, it's on CN8, which is Comcast's very own network. But can anyone answer me this? Why is it that the channel that the cable company runs itself is the only station that doesn't come in on my TV? This has pretty much been the case anywhere I've lived and had Comcast service. IT'S THE CABLE COMPANY'S OWN STATION! It looks more like the scrambled up reception you get when you try to watch Cinemax and you don't have a subscription. Sox and Stanks starts tonight. I'm sure I will be able to watch some of this series. There shouldn't be anything standing in my way... shouldn't be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

At a French Bank the Yankees Still Suck

So this is the first year in the past three that I will be in the United States for the entire baseball season. I am excited I won't be subject to weekly updates on for my Red Sox fix. In Italy, I must have looked like a crack addict going through withdrawl. I would stumble into an internet cafe, dripping in sweat after a long day at work and jump on the closest computer. I would not talk to my family and friends but check how my Red Sox were doing.

However, the grass is not always greener on the other side of Central Park. My only hope to see a Red Sox game this year is a national broadcast on Fox or ESPN as NESN is unavailable in the city. So what do you think happened on the first Saturday of Fox's Saturday Baseball? I got a METS/BRAVES game. This is wrong for two reasons. One, the Mets are on everyday on SNY. Two, its a national league game, so honestly who cares? Is it too much to ask to see the defending World Series Champs besides at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday? (Don't get me started on that!)

Obviously, I am a bit down about this and today I got another kick in the balls. I started a new job at the French bank, Calyon, and my most immediate colleague is a huge Met fan. So I get to stare at his Met coffee cup for the next six months. And come August I get to hear "Wait for the playoffs, man. With Johan and Pedro coming back soon (no doubt from his 8th stint on the DL) and that line-up we'll be having a parade in November." As we continued to talk more baseball today, we both smiled and said "at least you aren't a Yankee fan." We were both thankful for that.

Let the Bidding Begin

So it came out today that Fausto Carmona just signed a huge new contract extension with the Indians for four years and possibly $48 million. This is great news for the Yankees. It essentially means that the Indians are going to let C.C. walk since they're blowing all their chips on Fausto.

Now the bidding war can begin and there is little to no possibility that the Yankees allow C.C. to go elsewhere. They have a ton of money coming off the books this year and they would hard pressed to not drop it all on C.C. to replace Pettitte and on Mark Teixeira to replace everyone who has played first since 2003. That is probably reason two that Cashman let Santana go. That and Hughes is going to be nasty in spite of people over-rating to his rough second start.

Soggy Baseball

You would think the Yankee offense thinks that its October all over again. Only the hapless Tigers have scored fewer runs than the Yanks and though the Yankee pitching staff is good, it is not good enough to constantly hold teams to less than three runs.

It seems like bad weather constantly throws the Yanks off their game. Now the game should have been called or at the very least delayed at some point yesterday. MLB would have none of it though as their horrible scheduling leaves no room for rain outs and postponements.

Now they'll hit, it's almost impossible for them not to end up as one of the best offensives in the game. But it seems their bats only heat up with the weather. It is a good explanation for their bad starts and awful finishes. A lot of players would have to suddenly realize they are not major league caliber players anymore. It is disconcerting that this is the fourth straight season that the Bombers will have gotten off to a substandard start even though each year they managed to bounce back. But if you look at the teams in front of them right now it wont be as easy as prior years allowed.

Let's take a quick look at their competition this year. Baltimore may sit on top of the division right now but they are the one team that shouldn't be worried about. Every team has hot streaks, it's just a shame that Baltimore is getting theirs out of the this early in the season. Toronto has been living on the potential to be a threat in the East for years but this year feels different. Dustin McGowan is a far better number three than Gustavo Chacin could have ever been and if Burnett stays healthy then that Blue Jay staff is pretty sick. Tampa Bay changes its name and now they really are playing like a different franchise. The Rays won't win the division or even stay in the playoff race but they can definitely keep some teams from getting there. The Sox are the Sox they'll be as good as expected.

Now I still have full confidence that the Yankees will rebound. Like each of the past three seasons they are simply to good to be this bad all year. But if you thought last season was a nail biter then start fitting yourself for a nice new prosthetic hand.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I'm in a New York State of Mind (Kinda)

Greetings, Greetings, Greetings! I am happy to be making my first post on the blog. I will be able to give you the unique perspective of being a Red Sox fan living in New York City.  I have to deal with Met and Yankee headlines on a daily basis. It's like there is  a contest between the jerks that work for the Post and Daily News  to see how many "clever" ways they can put David Wright's name in a headline.  With the Knicks sucking about as bad as a pro team can suck, you would have swore the baseball season started 3 months ago.  The Red Sox got another solid performance from Dice-K yesterday and the big, bad scary Tigers are now 0-7. I know its only the first week of the season, but with the line-up the tigers have (some have predicted they will score a 1,000 runs this year) Dice-K looked like the money pitcher the sox paid for two winters ago. 


It felt good to see Bill Buckner throw out the first pitch before the Sox first home game. I have always maintained that the way he was treated by Bostonians following his famous error in the '86 World Series was classless at best. During the 1986 Series I was only 8 years old. I barely have any recollection of it, and at the time, I certainly had no perspective on what it meant for the Sox to lose that game and the series. I'm just glad that after all he and his family went through that he was able to put it all behind him and make an appearance in Boston again. If the Sox didn't have two titles at this point, I'm not so sure Bill would be back. I'm sorry if this makes you question my fanhood, but it is the truth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exclusive shots of the New Yankee Stadium

I figured I would give everyone some shots of the new Stadium and all its semi-constructed glory that I took on my journey to the holy land. Being a history enthusiast I'm always partial to the classic look and I've never been in love with that 1970s look that they threw on the Stadium. I know there are many who are upset with the tearing down of the old and the bringing of the new, but the Yankees are not totally selling out. Yes, there are fewer seats and yes, I will probably have to take out a small loan to afford tickets next season but at least they aren't adding a corporate name and the design has the original facade. Plus I am tired of wasting an inning and a half just to get a couple of dogs and some beer. Its just ridiculous.
As an added bonus here is a shot of Mo schooling Cliff Floyd to end the game. Pretty sweet huh?

The bats most be frozen

I'll was cold at the stadium. But it wasn't cold enough to freeze wood and the way the Yanks have been hitting you would think they were playing with blocks of ice. At least the Yankees all the sudden have a shut down pitching staff. Two starts by Wang and two wins. I wonder what all those naysayers are preaching now after they jumped all over him after his poor playoff performance? He was great at the stadium today, mixing in his slider and change with devasting effectiveness. He has done an amazing job at developing beyond his nasty sinker and each start he looks more and more like a true ace. Something I thought he would never be.

If only he were a little more economical and Cano used his head a little more he probably could have gone deeper into the game. But Robbie did make the game saving play in the seventh and that's what makes you forget about those Manny-esque moments in the field.

But hey, I'm never opposed to watching Joba trot out the 101 mph fastball(according to the Stadium radar gun) to make Willy Aybar look stupid. That's what makes going to the Stadium so much fun.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I have heard pundits speculate in recent days as to why Jacoby Ellsbury is not the Sox everyday center fielder right now. This speculation is bound to get more rampant following Jacoby's home run today in a losing cause verse Toronto. Rest assured that he will be the everyday CF before too long. Coco Crisp unfortunately has become expendable. However, he will lack any value if he's been sitting on the bench for the whole year previous to the trading deadline. He is essentially auditioning for other clubs at this point. What the Sox will get for him, I don't know. Perhaps some bullpen help. It appears as though they need it. Despite his struggles at the plate, I think there are a lot of teams who will like Coco's speed and defense. I kind of wish the Sox could hang on to him instead of JD Poo, but no one will want to take on that stupid contract.

Sheesh. Today's game against the Jays was painful. If the Sox can't get past this hex the Blue Jays have over them, it will most certainly cause problems when it comes to challenging for the division. The loss today was made doubly vexing by the fact that Pete was at Yankee Stadium today watching his beloved Stanks beat up on the Deviled Eggs. Oh, wait... they dropped the 'Devil' part from their moniker this year.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Where have all the bats gone?

Rough outings for IPK and Pettitte. The Yanks need to avoid these slow starts. It seems that ever since 2004 the Yanks take two months to realize the season has started. Maybe when Girardi gets over the flu he can kick a little ass and get them started, we'll see. Though the pitching has been poor these past to games, it's obvious that the hitting is what is really hurting them. Arod looks like he need to relax a little and not swing from his heels. Same goes for Robbie and though it is a fact that he is a second half hitter, his plate discipline has been atrocious even for him. They will hit eventually but playing catch-up is a bad way to go about business when inning limits come into play in September.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Game #4

That's what everyone wanted out of Phil Hughes last night. Solid outing where he keeps the Yanks in the game and lets the offense do its thing are what will make or break this season and possible Cashman's job career with the Yankees. Tonight we see the third part of the Big Three. Ian Kennedy gets the call and if the rain doesn't ruin this one we might have reason number two why not trading for Johan Santana was the best move the Yankees didn't make. By the way the Captain did bounce into another double play last night. I'm just saying. I notice these things.

Off Topic

If I may diverge off the baseball path and talk football for a moment (as I often do), I'd like to offer some words on the latest NFL rule change. In previous seasons if a receiver who catches a pass was forced out of bounds by a defender prior to landing in the field of play with both feet in bounds, and the referee felt that the receiver would have landed in bounds had he not been forced out, that referee could rule that the pass was complete. (Grammar police, is that a run on sentence?) That rule is no more. Now if a receiver is out of bounds, he is out of bounds, period. I love this rule change. I hope it starts a trend of the NFL simplifying the rules of game. In recent years, I think that NFL games have started taking on the feel of game shows. (Don't even get me started on replay challenges.) Before you know it, the 4th quarter will be known as the "bonus round" that renders the rest of the game meaningless. The simpler the better. Anything that takes referee judgment calls out of the game is a good thing. (Sorry, I'll never use parentheses again.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not bad, just passable

I guess we'll just have to settle for 161-1. That seems to be right around what Mike Mussina is going to produce this year. Some nights will be better, some worse, but as long as he can be consistent and offer the Yanks six innings and four runs per start they'll win a majority of his starts. That's all they need from him is consistency. Can some one explain to me the Captain's new found affection for the double play? Last season he grounds into a career high 21 plus three more rally killers in the Division Series and now last night he already chalks one up. I know it's a bit of an overreaction, but he is getting old and it just shows a little more now than two or three years ago. Things like that or his base running blunder in the fourth inning are just not typical Jeter mistakes.

Anyway, game #3 today with the Phil Franchise getting the call against Toronto's version of the future Dustin McGowan. Hopefully Hughes will get a little vengeance for his MLB debut against the Jays last April.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

While You Were Sleeping

Unfortunately, I wasn't awake to see the Sox triumph in their real opener. Such is life when you are a new father who works full time and just spent the last two and a half hours working on the house you hope to move into in just a few short weeks. But I digress.

It was good to see Dice-K regain his control during last night's 2-1 win. When he's not sponsoring a walk-a-thon, the strike outs come with ease. Still the Sox can never seem to put their hitting together when Dice-K is dealing. Yes, the bats bailed him out of a number of poor outings last season. However, I counted at least five other starts when he gave up 2 or fewer runs and lost or had a no decision. In any event, I hope that Dice-K has turned the corner much like Josh Beckett did last season. When Josh learned to pitch, cut down on walks, and stopped trying to throw it through the back stop, he took it to the next level. I know Matsuzaka can do the same.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

1-0: The Perfect Season?

One down, 161 to go. For the Yanks and Girardi the season opener could not have been more formulaic. Wang looked strong and when he did struggle he was bailed out by some solid defense from the Melk man and, of all people, Giambi at first base. Girardi went down the check list tonight; Wang for seven, Joba in the 8th and Mo for the save. The Yanks didn't make Halladay work as much as they could have but give credit to the Doc for pounding the the strike zone. It was nice to see Cabrera sneak a home run inside the foul pole. Melky is going to need to show some kind of progress with his power numbers for the Yanks to keep their eyes on him and not towards the fast rising prospects Austin Jackson or Jose Tabata. But anyway baseball is here and it couldn't have been better or faster. 2:31 might be the fastest game the Yanks play all season.

Wipe Out

Of course it only seems fitting that after waiting six months to finally tune into a baseball game with meaning, it gets rained out. It makes you wonder even more about the intelligent members of the commissioners office who decide it is a good idea to start the season in the soggy northeast and to finish in Boston away from the historic confines of the House that Ruth Built. Anyway, here's hoping there is baseball tonight.