Friday, July 31, 2009

Deadline Deals

Well the trade deadline has come and gone and barring any Manny-esque post-deadline deal both the Yankees and the Red Sox are done... for now.

The Red Sox made the biggest splash this side of Cliff Lee, taking advantage of the Cleveland fire sale by getting swith-hitting C/1B/DH Victor Martinez. Martinez was probably the Sox third choice out of the triumvirate of Roy Halladay, Adrian Gonzalez and Martinez, but he was by far the most affordable and the most realistic. Halladay and Gonzalez would have cost them a boatload of prospects and Theo Epstein is not one to part with many of his prospects.

Martinez does make the Sox better since he can spell Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell via Youkilis playing third. He is a solid bat and the Red Sox have needed a bat more than an arm since their offense has hit the skids of late. The only piece the gave up that will immediately impact the team is Justin Masterson.

Masterson has been solid for the Red Sox, more so last year than this year, but nonetheless a solid hard thrower out of the pen who could spot start when the need arises. It's likely the Indians give him a shot at the rotation before the pen becomes his full-time livelihood. The other two arms are solid prospects but are far away from the majors. Bryan Price is a right-hander struggling at High A-ball right now and Nick Hagadone is a promising left-hander who has pitched well at High A, but only has 59 professional innings.

It's a solid deal for the Red Sox who will not give up Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard or Lars Anderson, three of Epstein's favorites.

The Yankees were much quieter than the Sox. Their only move before the deadline was for Jerry Hairston Jr. Far from a huge impact, Hairston will be on the bench for the Yankees where he might spell Melky Cabrera in center on occasion and can play just about any infield position. He is a better bat than say Cody Ransom and can be trusted to play second, short or third, which was something you couldn't do with Eric Hinske. Once Gardner comes back from his broken thumb, the Yankees bench will be deeper than it has been in years.

It's probably the best the Yankees could have done without giving up anything significant. They lose Single-A catcher Chase Weems, but that isn't very much. They still need a pitcher, but that wont come until teams start putting people on waivers. The Yankees could and will probably grab someone then.

Overall this was a pretty exciting deadline. Two big bats on the move (Martinez and Matt Holliday) and two former Cy Young winners have new homes (Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy). This year the deadline lived up to the hype.

And as a Yanks fan I have to say that I'm just glad the Sox just got Victor Martinez and not Halladay or Gonzo. The Yankees have a hole in the rotation, but if a fifth starter is your biggest problem then you are in pretty good shape.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Say it Ain't So Papi

Well it looks like were gonna see all those names eventually. First up, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

The New Joba Keeps the Yanks Moving Higher

It is clear that a new Joba Chamberlain has taken the mound for the Yankees since the All-Star break. The young right-hander has thrown 21 2/3 innings since the break and has an ERA of 0.83. Chamberlain is working faster on the mound and with far more conviction than he has at any other point this year. He mixed his pitches well and kept the Rays guessing all night. The result was the best start of Joba's young career.

These last three starts should quell the Joba to the bullpen debate. Well at least until Mike Francesa gets back from vacation.

The Yankee bats backed Chamberlain against Matt Garza. Garza pitched effectively but the Yanks chipped away for three runs against him and then jumped on the Rays bullpen for three more once he was out of the game.

The only problem to come out of Joba's fantastic start is that he probably has about 30 innings left before the Yankees will have to put him in the bullpen in order to keep him around his innings limit for the season. That leaves about five starts more for Joba, but if he continues to pitch this effectively then the Yankees may need to deal with his limit that much sooner.

Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi may have to start treating him like a pitcher in the minors who has an innings limit per start, pulling him after six innings or so. It's one of the reasons I would imagine he was not allowed to finish last night's game.

No matter the situation with Joba, the news in Yankeeland is good after the Sox fell again and the Rays are now at a distance eight games in the loss column. The Yankees will need to make a deal for another start but it wont have to be anything of the scale of Roy Halladay. They will need a fourth or fifth guy and Jarrod Washburn would be a perfect fit, though, it seems that Seattle fancies themselves buyers after their acquisition of Jack Wilson and Ian Snell from Pittsburgh.

Cashman will make a move, he always has something up his sleeve around the deadline. Hopefully the offense will keep covering for Sergio Mitre and Joba's eventual replacement.

The Yankees are moving on to Chicago now to take on the White Sox for four games. It will be Andy Pettitte vs. Gavin Floyd tonight with Pettitte looking for redemption after a poor July that has seen him win one game in five starts. Pettitte will only become more important to the Yankees as the season progresses and the rotation weakens.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rice's Number Retirement Ruined

So much for being inspired by recently inducted HOFer Jim Rice. Paps blew it in the ninth and the hapless A's went on to complete their comeback in extras. The Sox squandered a golden opportunity to pick up a game on the Yanks. With the Yankees as hot as they've been, it was tough to see Boston not only lose, but snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Anyway, did anyone see how snippy Wade Boggs was to reporters during the Hall of Fame weekend? He was not to pleased when asked about Rice's number retirement. Bogg's number has not yet been retired by the Red Sox. I'm in the dark about this. Is there any acrimony between Boggs and ownership that I don't know about?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sloppy Defense Derails Yanks

It has been awhile since the Yankees have played a game this poorly, actually they haven't played this poorly since their trip to Anahiem. The defense, Nick Swisher in particular and the left side of the infield cost the Yankees all night long. It begs the question as to why the Yankees have yet to call up another outfielder in the wake of Brett Gardner's thumb injury.

Aside from the shotty defense, CC Sabathia was far from the top of his game. He hard trouble locating his fastball and when he did get ahead of hitters he failed to put them away.

Sabathia hasn't quite been the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they shelled out $160 million this off-season. While he hasn't been bad, he just hasn't been the same pitcher the Yankees saw in Cleveland never mind what they saw on the highlight reels from Milwaukee. The main culprit has to be his diminishing strikeout rate, which has fallen below his career of 7.47 k/9. They Yankees are banking on a strong second half from Sabathia and they need him to find his footing soon or hope that the offense will give him the support he needs to polish over his mistakes.

Sabathia, dare I say, needs to pitch a little bit more like A.J. Burnett who has been the Yankees ace for the past month and a half. Sabathia's performance will become even more crucial as Joba edges closer to his innings limit now that Wang is official done and Alfredo Aceves shoulder begins to act up as well.

It was gonna be a tough game for the Yanks considering what is at stake for the Rays in this series. A sweep would have devastated them and Scott Kazmir showed up big for Tampa Bay. Tomorrow brings about a match up of young hard throwing right-handers Matt Garza and Joba Chamberlain.

As an Eagles fan I would be remiss if I didn't offer my condolences to the family of Jim Johnson, the renowned defensive coordinator who kept the Eagles defense at the top of the NFL year after year. It was always exciting when the Eagles defense took the field. You never knew where the blitz was coming from, but you knew it was coming hard and fast. Johnson's defense was a joy to watch and he will be missed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Trip Could Boost Yanks

After a 9-1 homestand that vaulted them into first place, the Yankees now embark on a nine-game road trip that will take them through Tampa Bay, Chicago and Toronto. The Yankees are comfortably ahead of the Rays at the moment, but taking two of three or sweeping would do a good deal of damage to the Rays mentally as well as putting them almost ten games back in the loss column.

It is also vital for New York to come away with a winning road trip in general. Most teams have a difficult time on the road (i.e. the Red Sox and Rays) so the fact the Yankees are four games over .500 on the road could be the difference maker in the division race.

They have all their best arms lined up for the Rays and Matt Garza is the only starter they will face who has had recent success when he dueled with Roy Halladay for nine innings in Toronto. If the pitching can stay the course as they have for the first nine games in the second half then they can put some distant between themselves and the Red Sox and Rays.

Right now the staff ERA stands at 2.90 over the first 90 innings of the second half. That number is bound to go up but so to should the offense which right now isn't quite playing up to its potential. The Yanks are scoring 4.8 runs per game, which is respectable, but still short of the 5.6 they were averaging in the first half. If they can get the offense to click with this pitching hot streak then the Bombers could put together a serious run and maybe create some space before they take on the Sox in less than two weeks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lester's 9 K's Lead Boston to Win

A very strong outing from John Lester improved his record to 9-7 on the season. He got into a bit of trouble in the fourth, allowing two runs but cruised otherwise. Even in that inning, the Orioles basically cashed in on a couple of well placed, rinky-dink, infield hits. People have expressed concern about Lester's workload last year and the effect it would have on this season. I think Lester is proving that he is a horse in the mold of C.C. Sabathia, a power lefty with filthy off-speed stuff to compliment a dominating fast ball.

Adam LaRoche hit a homer in his Red Sox debut, not a bad way to endear yourself to the fans. It came with the Red Sox leading 5-2 in the seventh, but it put the game out of reach for Baltimore. I am curious to see how this move pans out. I have no feeling really for what kind of a player LaRoche is, but another lefty bat, this one with power the opposite way, is a nice option to have. If he can help spell Mike Lowell so he is fresh later in the season, great. I think the only way Lowell can remain an effective player at this point in his career is if he gets regular rest.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Joba Keeps the Yanks Rolling

Joba Chamberlain continued where he left off against the Tigers, dominating the hapless Oakland A's who were without Matt Holliday after his recent move to St. Louis. Joba had a rough start, but he settled down and pitched effectively after the first, only getting into trouble in the fifth before he struck out Mark Ellis and Eric Patterson with runner son second and third.

It's the first time all season that Joba has pitched this well in back-to-back starts and the first time in his career that he pitched into the seventh inning in consecutive starts.

It took a few innings, but eventually he got the support from the bats against an electric Brett Anderson. Like Vin Mazzaro on Thursday night, Anderson was filthy in the early going, striking out four of the first six Yankees to come to the plate. The Yanks persevered though, and eventually tagged the 21-year-old for four runs. They tacked on four more against the A's bullpen.

Phil Coke bailed out Joba in the eighth and after the Yankees put the game away in the bottom half Dave Robertson ended the game.

The only concern to come out of the game is that if Joba keeps pitching this well what are the Yankees gonna do with his innings limit, which in all likelihood sits around 160 innings. It may take some outside-the-box thinking and hopefully I will having something on that by Monday.

Little bit of history in the game as well as Derek Jeter passed Ted Williams on the all-time hits list. I know, I know Williams missed a ton of years in his prime because he was off winning a World War and killin' commies, but it's still cool to see the Captain pass that kind of a legend.

Tomorrow brings Gio Gonzalez vs. Andy Pettitte. The Yanks would do themselves well to continue this beatdown of the lowly A's, especially considering their pitiful hitting and their newfound lack of Matt Holliday. A sweep would seem to be on the menu.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Red Sox Avoid 6th Straight Loss

Ok, ok. So they didn't play last night. Boy, do they need the rest. Again, the cure for road loser-itis seems to be returning to Fenway. And again, the competition over the next week is not the '27 Yankees. So hopefully, the Sox will get off the skids. They picked a devil of a time to fall into their worst slump of the season. Of course, it coincides with a seven game Yankee win streak.

The Sox added even more depth this week. I especially like the move to get Adam LaRoche. (Who needs Pawtucket when you have the Pirates for your AAAA farm team?) No, they didn't pick up any game changers, but the more capable bats you have, the better you can weather injuries and slumps. Mike Lowell is bound to go cold or get injured again. When that happens it will be nice to get a little pop at 1st base from LaRoche as Youkilis moves to 3rd. That may be the Sox best option going forward anyway. I hate to say it, but Lowell looks done in spite of some good moments this year. In any event LaRoche is a much better option than Kotsay or anyone else that might play first other than Youk.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Burnett Keeps the Yanks Rolling

This was a game the Yankees should have won. In fact they should be winning every game they play against the Orioles. A.J. Burnett regained his first half form, striking out six and keeping the O's off the board for the first six frames while the Yankees built a comfortable lead.

There isn't much to say about the game. The Yankees jumped out in front early and the rest of the game felt like a formality. Brian Bruney attempted to make it interesting in the ninth, but before he could really get Girardi's heart pumping, the skipper came and got him in favor of Rivera who promptly struck Aubrey Huff out on six pitches.

There was no particular standout performer among the hitters and aside from Nick Swisher botching and subsequently making two amazing grabs in the outfield most innings moved by quickly. What today's victory does is ensure the Yankees will stay in first place for another day. Tomorrow the A's roll into the city. They are currently thrashing the Twins 16-1 in Oakland.

Tomorrow's match up puts Vin Mazzaro on the mound against CC Sabathia. Mazzaro began his major league career by throwing 18 scoreless innings and winning his first two starts. After those first two victories, though, he has learned how difficult the majors can be. The New Jersey native is 0-6 in his last seven starts, posting a 5.59 ERA. The Yankees have never seen Mazzaro so this game can go either way. Let's just hope Sabathia is on his game.

But I'm honestly more interested in seeing Friday's match up of Brett Anderson vs. Joba Chamberlain. Anderson was part of the Dan Haren trade back in 2007. He had a rocky start to his MLB career and the Yankees rocked him for three home runs when they faced him back in April. Anderson has gotten a lot better since then and he has yet to allow a run in July. Hopefully the game is a dual between two young pitchers on their way up and Joba keeps his new approach from last start.

Mitre Pitches the Yanks Into First

Mitre gave the Yankees exactly what they needed last night. The 28 year old pitched into the sixth inning while only allowing three earned runs on eight hits. He limited the damage by only walking one and by throwing two double play balls. It wasn't the prettiest start, but it is better than Chien-Ming Wang of April and better than watching someone like Sidney Ponson.

The offense finally came alive after scoring just six runs in the previous three games. They scored six last night and they managed to score them in almost every conceivable fashion. First they manufactured a run when A-Rod walked, stole second and then scored on two consecutive fly balls. They followed that up by scoring on a walk, a hit and run single by Jeter, another walk then a bases loaded single by A-Rod. Cano added the mandatory home run the following inning.

The only negative for the offense is Melky Cabrera who has hit his normal mid-summer swoon. After giving Yankee fans false hope with a solid May, he has completely fallen off. Hopefully Brett Gardner can step up for the time being. Girardi hasn't been giving him enough at bats recently, but he should start getting plenty.

It's an early start today as the Yanks go for their second consecutive sweep and look to stay undefeated in the second half. A.J. Burnett pitched effectively against the Tigers, but could stand to limit his walks (as always) and get a few more strike outs. Here's hoping he has the feel for his curve ball today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2-1 is the Magic Score

For the third consecutive game the Yankees won by a score of 2-1. It has never happened in the history of the New York Yankees and I would imagine that the fact that the last two games all three runs were scored via the solo home run.

Aside from the jacks by both Eric Hinske (who has turned into a beast for the Yankees with four jacks in five games, hopefully that shuts up anyone who thought this a throw away deal) and Hideki Matsui, the Yankees won this game on stellar pitching and even more exceptional defense. Mark Teixeira is proving that the Yankees were more than justified in paying him the $180 million. The guy is slick with the glove and has the arm of a shortstop, as shown by his throw to nail Cesar Izturis at the plate and keep the game tied. It's not hard to envision a season ago when Jason Giambi would throw that ball into the concourse behind the third base line allowing both runs to score.

Beside being bailed out by the defense, the pitching was solid yet again. Andy Pettitte bounced back after several dismal starts before the break, much like Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves did a good job of giving the offense the time it needed to win the game.

These games illustrate the difference between last season and the present. Last year these four games could all have been lost and the Yankees would have fallen back further from the Rays and Red Sox. Tonight we see the debut of Sergio Mitre in pinstripes. Mitre doesn't have to be great, just effective. That's asking a lot for a guy with a career record of 10-23, but with Wang possibly laid up for the rest of the season, he is the best option that the Yankees have. This is what Phil Hughes was going to prevent at the beginning of the season, but Cashman and Girardi put too much faith in Wang coming back to full strength before his rehab was complete.

I was hoping the Yankees would send Hughes down over the All-Star to begin stretching him out, but alas the Yankees believe he is more valuable in the pen. We'll see if they still feel that way if Mitre fails and the next best option for the Yanks is Kei Igawa. I don't think we'll have to wait long to see Hughes stretched out in the same fashion as Joba was a year ago.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What the Future will Bring us

1)Albert Pujols will win the triple crown in the National League. He is far and away the best hitter in the NL and soon teams will start pitching around him which will only make him dial in more when pitchers are stupid enough to challenge him. He has comfortable leads in RBIs and home runs and the walks will only improve his average.

2) The Giants will make the playoffs. Look out NL if the Giants make a move and get a bat. They will be a dangerous team. No one wants any part of Lincecum and Cain. They will probably get in, if nothing else, because the rest of the NL stinks. The Giants are a tough first round series and they could handle the Phillies or the Cardinals easily in 5 games.

3)Halladay stays in Toronto. Nobody has the stones to pony up the prospects require to gain one of the best pitchers in baseball. I will continue to petition Theo Epstein to make it happen. Yesterday is a perfect example of why the Sox would be unstoppable if they could acquire Halladay. They would not only gain the 15-20 wins he brings every year, but they wouldn't lose the 4 starts Halladay makes against them in a year. For the Sox, that is 10 more wins a year which puts them over the century mark with an untouchable playoff rotation. For my money, I take 2-5 years of being basically unbeatable for Clay Buchholz, Manny Del Carmen, Lars Anderson, and any other pitching prospect Toronto wants. (Ex. Look at the Beckett trade) Halladay is a class guy by all accounts and a proven horse. Why aren't teams making "Godfather" offers. I just don't get it. In the end, no one gets it done Halladay stays north of the border and everyone loses.

4)Lou Piniella finally gets the axe. The cubs are done, but more importantly, they have quit on Sweet Lou. He is dated in managerial style and haircut. Do you think Aramis Ramirez, who is due almost $17 million this year, is going to play hard for a guy who is constantly screaming at him and bad mouthing him to the press? If I was Tom Ricketts I would hire the Zen master Phil Jackson and give him a big chair to sit in. That is the style of managing that works.

4 of the 6 divisions are separated by 3 games or less, which should make things interesting down the stretch. In most cases it is the difference between average and 'averager'. The writing is on the wall and the cream has already risen to the top. Let's hope the Sox can stay healthy to survive the brutal AL East until the playoffs.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Look at the 1st Half

With the season just over halfway finished, I thought it would be a good time to analyze the first half and look ahead to see how the season will play out. The AL East is just as tough as everyone thought it would be. The Sox are in 1st place and have done it with solid pitching, timely hitting, and playing well at Fenway. Also, it doesn't hurt that they have taken the first 8 games against the Yankees.

The Yankees are not far behind and have been the best team in baseball since Alex Rodriguez rejoined the team in May. Jeter is having a renaissance season at 35 while Mark Texiera is proving he is worth every penny. If the Sox had managed to sign Texiera last winter, I have no doubt that the Sox would be running away not only from the Yankees, but the entire American League. Their pitching is starting to become more consistent and Phil Hughes and the timeless Mariano Rivera have anchored the bullpen.

The Rays are still within striking distance of both teams and will remain close until October. They have, arguably, the most potent offense in the AL and Carlos Pena is having a career year. They are still a very dangerous team.

Looking forward, the Sox and the Yankees both have the money and prospects to make some needed additions before the July 31st deadline. The yankees could use another reliable arm in the bullpen and the Sox could use another bat. Though it is unlikely, if either team can put together an offer to pry Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays the rest of baseball should pack it in. Personally, if I was Theo Epstein, I would sell the farm to the Jays for Doc Halladay. If you have Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, and John Lester you are basically guaranteed the next two world series. I think that is worth any 3 or 4 prospects you have. If the yankees manage to get him I will probably stop following baseball all together.

The Rays could probably add a small piece like an extra arm or a bench guy, but nothing major. Here is where the Rays have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to competing with the Sox and Yankees. I see this race staying close to the end and a series in Tampa with Yankees on the last week on the season might be the deciding factor of who get the last playoff spot. I have a feeling those 8 games against the Sox will come back to hurt the Yankees, but I find it hard to image them not making the playoffs. The Sox have the best pitching so I think even with injuries to Mike Lowell and an inconsistent David Ortiz the Sox still get into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Rays will most likely win 94 games and not get into the playoffs while the Tigers or the White Sox will win 85 and get swept in the 1st round.

Tomorrow I will submit Part II of this monster post. We will examine the rest of baseball and see what story lines we can all look forward to following.

Friday, July 17, 2009

First Start for Buchholz

So the second half began in kind of a funny way for the Red Sox. The Red Sox in their alternate Friday night away unis (the ones with the navy shirt) faced the Jays wearing their throwback powder blues. And a player we haven't seen all season took the mound in the form of Clay Buchholz. He's spent the past year and a half "recovering" from that no hitter he threw in 2007. His record in AAA this year is undeniable though (7-2, 2.42 ERA). It's time to give him a shot this year.

Tonight he pitched 5 2/3 giving up only one run. He had some base runners and had to pitch around some things, but over all he looked pretty good. The breaking pitches were biting and he was locating his fast ball well. You can't complain about that, especially since he left the game in line for a win with a 4-1 lead.

Another kid held down the fort with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Daniel Bard continued to pitch well. Some pitchers really look like their trying to throw hard. Bard on the other hand has a super smooth delivery, but the ball just jumps out of his hand. 98 mph is never a problem. Sixteen of the last twenty three outs he's recorded have been K's.

Okajima and Paps pitched the 8th and 9th like clockwork and just like that the Sox have their first win of the second half. The icing on top is that the Sox designated Julio "The Domestic Abuser" Lugo for assignment. Hooray!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why I Hate the All-Star Break by Dan

And so it begins. The lamest, most soporific time of the summer sports schedule, the All-Star break. It was boring enough when it was a simple, inane show case for the big names of baseball to parade around for a night. Then came that faithful tie a few years ago that worked everyone up into a lather. For some reason, this actually angered people.

How dare you allow this completely meaningless game end in a tie! We must have a winner. Don't you know how much is a stake? Wait... there's nothing at stake? Well there ought to be!

Whereas before I didn't watch the game simply out of disinterest, now I don't watch out of spite. Dustin Pedroia is missing the game due to the impending birth of his first child. The rest of the Sox All-Stars should be so lucky. I just hope no one gets hurt. Worse than the NFL's ProBowl, which happens at the end of the season, the MLB All-Star game happens in the middle of the year when one key injury can knock your team out of the pennant race.

The only thing I do like about the All-Star Break this year is that it allows me a couple of extra days to revel in the evaporation of the Yanks first place tie with the Sox. The sky was falling last week when the Yankees managed to get into a first place tie with Sox in spite of an 0-8 record head to head. Over the weekend the Sox took it to the Royals and the Yanks couldn't vanquish their old nemesis the Angels. Life is good...for now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lester Remains Hot

John Lester pitched 8 scoreless innings and Dustin Pedroia's RBI double in the bottom of the 8th allowed the Sox to eek out a 1-0 win vs. the Royals, who apparently had Bob Gibson pitching for them last night. I will refrain from complaining about the Sox bats any further and focus on their pitching. They did, after all, manage to get hits at a crucial time and push across the winning run.

In Lester's last eight starts he is 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA. During that stretch he also has two complete games, more than making up for his sluggish start. It's nice to see a young pitcher getting stronger as the season progresses instead of getting weaker. I just hope that he isn't peaking just prior to a let down.

We also got an encouraging sign from Jonathan Papelbon last night. He was starting to look like Jeff Reardon out there. Last night he had a very dominating ninth, the first 1,2,3 ninth inning I can remember in a long time. The fast ball topped out at 97. We haven't seen that in a while either.

Friday, July 10, 2009


How do you blow a 4-0 to the freakin' Royals? Anyone? Just asking.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Burnett Survives Wildness

I knew A.J. Burnett had a wild streak in him but three wild pitches and four walks is pretty impressive. But Burnett battled and managed to pitch into the seventh to get the win. Aside from Burnett the bullpen did a decent job. Joe Mauer touching up Phil Coke for a home run was something you could see coming. Coke has been good in the pen, but you knew the Yankees couldn't hold Mauer down for and entire series.

After that Phil Hughes and Mariano continued the dominance from the Yankee bullpen throwing 2.1 scoreless innings. It was more in of the same from the bullpen, which has become one of the Yankees strengths since May.

Today the Yankees go for the season sweep of the Twins. They will face Francisco Liriano. Liriano, of course, was to be the next Johan Santana and he would ease the lose of Santana to the trade market and a huge contract. But midway through 2006 Liriano went down and after Tommy John surgery he missed all of 2007. Since then he hasn't been the same. He can still strike out batters at a good rate, but he has lost some control and he has become a little more hittable.

Here's hoping Alfredo Aceves continues his dominating ways back in the starting rotation. Aceves has proven to be quite adapt at throwing all his pitches for stikes in just about any count. Hopefully that no fear attitude comes in handy against Mauer and Morneau.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boston Spanking A's

J.D. Drew and David Ortiz have just gone yard and have chased the A's rookie starter from the game. Order is restored to the universe. Tim Wakefield is pitching well and continuing his fine season. A couple of those knuckle balls really dove into the dirt as the A's light-hitting line up flailed at them helplessly. They better keep this lead and take the rubber match in the series tonight.

Oops, I spoke too soon. As Wakefield came out for the start of the seventh he promptly gave up two base hits. Francona just came out to get him. It was a very good effort anyway. The bullpen had better shut things down. Manny Delcarmen is heading out of the bullpen.

Anything less than taking three of four from the Royals in the next series would be completely unacceptable to me. If the Sox can pull that off, that would make the Sox 6-4 in this stretch of facing cupcakes before the dreaded All-Star break (more on that in a day or two). In my mind 7-3 would have been the minimum goal, but we'll take it.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Before I get into the pathetic performance by the Sox against the Mariners over the weekend. I have to comment on the return of Nomar Garciaparra to Boston as a member of the A's. As I type, Nomar is receiving a standing ovation. He has tipped his hat several times to the four corners of the stadium and the ovation has gone on now for a couple of minutes.

You have to feel for a guy like Nomar. He's a guy who started his career on fire. For a few years there he was good for 25-30 HR, 40 2B, and 100 RBI. He won the batting title two years in a row and even has a Rookie of the Year to his credit. Everyone figured he would be a Boston fixture for years to come. Then it all came apart. He got traded right before Boston broke the curse and injuries have ensured that the rest of his career will be spent as a journeyman. I wouldn't feel as bad if he were able to maintain a high level of play after he left Boston, but he's put together only one productive season (in my estimation) since the trade. Anyhow, the salute is finally over, but it was certainly well deserved.

Now... as soon as I open my big mouth and talk about how the Sox should easily lay waste to their next three opponents, the Sox drop two of three to one of the worst offensive teams in base ball. (Damn you, Lugo! He just airmailed a routine throw.) I know their pitching is good but c'mon. You have to win games against bottom feeders at home. The next three games are against the A's, the worst offensive team in the AL. Throw me a bone would ya!

Interesting: I didn't know this until today, but Nomar's replacement in 2004, Orlando Cabrera, is now his teammate.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bad Day for CC and the Yanks

Well ever starter has a clunker every once and a while so it is hard to get down on CC when he was 6-1 in his previous 10 starts. Hopefully A.J. Burnett, who spoke of being inspired by CC pitching in front of him, doesn't talk this effort with him to the mound against the Jays.

The Blue Jays may be fading from the divisional race, but they are still a division rival. The Yanks need these games and they especially need to step up in those games when Roy Halladay is not the opposing starter. Those games don't tend to go well for the Yankees, so best they take advantage of the Jays pitching when he isn't out there.

Don't have much else for you since I haven't been able to watch much of the past two games, but hopefully I'm able to catch Burnett going for win number seven (which would put him one ahead of our dearly departed Carl Pavano) against his former mates.

Anyway just caught this interesting piece from Outside the Lines on about Lou Gehrig's final days. Good Stuff.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sox Have Comeback of Their Own

After giving up an 8 run lead in last night's wacky rain delayed game, the Sox came back from 5-1 down and took two of three from Baltimore this afternoon. This win should assuage some of the bitter taste from last night's debacle. Josh Beckett didn't pitch great, but he gave Boston seven innings and didn't let things get too out of hand.

Jonathan Papelbon made amends for his blown save yesterday and in the process became the Red Sox all time saves leader. Now with 133 career saves, he's only 467 behind Mariano Rivera.

Disturbing observation of the week: Jason Bay seems to be striking out a ton lately. He struck out 5 times today and his average has fallen from around .280 to .262. This is not completely unlike him. He's struck out an average of 141 times a season since 2004. It just seems like recently he's been struggling mightily and punching out at inopportune times.