Archive

Archive for the ‘CC Sabathia’ Category

Nick Swisher’s Appeal Ranges Beyond His Baseball Skills

November 20, 2009 4 comments

Photo Courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Trading Nick Swisher would be a poor choice by the Yankees brass. Recent rumors about making Swisher available have been dismissed by the management but Swisher’s place on the Yankees is clearly not set in stone. He is not the greatest player but his positive externalities have a lot of impact. Clearly Economics 120 has taught me a lot. Swisher definitely had a positive impact on the Yankees this year and no one is denying that. Those who defend Swisher primarily point to his help off the field first and his abilities second. People who think Swisher is overrated are saying that his abilities, average by all accounts in the field, good at the plate, and his mythical clubhouse appeal, are not necessarily worth keeping if he is a part of a trade that might bring Curtis Granderson or Roy Halladay to the Yankees. In the end it comes down to determining just how important Swisher is to the Yankees. The only problem is that externalities are exceedingly difficult to measure. So while his talent alone might not justify keeping him, it depends on whether his positive impact on the team justifies keeping him. Since we will never know just how much he helps, it is not easy for management to make that determination.

For me, however, the choice is very clear. KEEP HIM. Does any Yankees fan remember the team ever being this upbeat or together? Make fun of the pool tournament and pies all you wish, those things are great to see. Could you ever imagine the 2007 team hitting each other with pies? I feel like they would have started fighting each other. Swisher played an integral role in changing the culture of the Yankees from a group of players to a team and that, in my mind, is the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the World Series (getting three of the best free agents doesn’t hurt either). The point is, Swisher might not be the best player in the world, but he is important to the Yankees in other ways than just on the field.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to club house morale, it’s important or it isn’t. Pundits absolutely crushed the 2004-2008 Yankee teams for being too business-like or a collection of 25 players rather than a team. But, as soon as the Yankees become a fun team rather than a bunch of stiffs with the additions of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, and most importantly Swisher, club house morale is suddenly overrated. I don’t quite see how this works.

I feel that the answer is that a happy club house helps but in the end talent is what determines a team’s success. In that case it would be a mistake to trade Swisher for anyone other than Halladay. He is the only person that the Yankees appear to be targeting that has the talent to justify the removal of Swisher’s swagger if talent is what wins out in the end. Is talent the key to winning and happiness overrated? Or is talent important for success and good team morale important as well? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

Advertisements

Plea to the Yankees: Tigers Edition

November 11, 2009 7 comments


There are reports coming out that the Detroit Tigers are considering trading Edwin Jackson and trading Curtis Granderson. If so, I plea, PLEA to the Yankees to trade for not one, but both of them.

Here is why:

Curtis Granderson would eliminate the Yankees need to re-sign Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui, and he would add pop to the lineup AND speed. Granderson, who hit .249 with 30 HR and 71 RBI, is only 28 years old. Granderson was signed to a five-year, $30.25 million deal with a club option for 2013 with the Tigers in February 2008. The Yankees could easily pay that contract.

Edwin Jackson was an all-star in 2009. He went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA. The Yankees could use Jackson as their 3rd starter, which would eliminate the need to sign a John Lackey, or Jason Marquis type of pitcher. Jackson is being paid about $2 Million a year.

So the question remains: What would it take to get BOTH in a trade?

Here is my offer:

CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

Kidding.

Here is my REAL offer:

Melky Cabrera, Reegie Corona, Josh Schmidt, and Austin Romine for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson.

Is that too much? Too little? Good trade? Bad trade? Explain in the comments!

UPDATE: 2:01 PM: Apparently I don’t know enough about prospects, as it seems like it will take either one of the Yankees big prospects (Hughes, Joba) and an additional prospect/OR a bunch of major prospects such as Zach McAllister, Ian Kennedy, etc.

How Things End

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

When my wife and I got married, we’d only known each other for two and a half months. There were many skeptics. When I told my father the news, he said something that has stayed with me to this day: “these things,” he said “are not measured by how they begin, they are measure by how they end”. I think this is an appropriate criteria for the 2009 New York Yankees. To say that we had an inauspicious beginning is an understatement, I’m not much for hyperbole but consider the following:

  • Before the first pitch of spring training The Yankees had to deal with Alex Rodriguez’ steroid circus, the accusation, the mea culpa press conference, and concerns over A-Rod’s mental fortitude to deal with it all.
  • Then it seems that the universe was piling it on to A-Rod, books by Selena Roberts and Joe Torre painted an even dimer view of Rodriguez in and out of the locker room. He pulls out of the World Baseball Classic with a hip injury, has surgery, and misses the first few weeks of the year.
  • CC Sabathia labored during his first few outings
  • Teixeira had his infamous slow start in April
  • Going 0-for-8 against the Red Sox to start the season, were criticism of Girardi’s over-managing gained momentum
  • Chien-Ming Wang goes 1-for-6 with a 9.64 ERA, hurts his shoulder, then his foot

The Yankees were 8 back of the Red Sox before getting it together in June and turning their season around in a hurry to get to their 27th Championship. Everything came together for this team, the pitching solidified, the offense became more consistent, the defense was sharp, all things that can be attributed to talent and execution. But then we began to notice other aspects of their game develop, the kinds of things that make a team special or at least poised for something great.

Things that we notice which excite us a fans and makes us wonder aloud: this could be the year. Two-out rallies, numerous comeback wins, consistent contributions from the bottom of the lineup, scoring almost 1/2 of their runs after the 6th inning, poise at the plate, working the count, no desperation when loosing by a few runs, bullpen contributions. These characteristics are the result of more than talent and execution, they are the tangible result of team character and chemistry.

Even after winning 103 games, the most in the league, there were questions about the way that Girardi was setting up the pitching rotation, the Joba experiment, would A-Rod finally come through in the postseason, can Sabathia improve his postseason record specially when asked to pitch with 3 days rest, how can the Yankees loose Posada’s bat in order to accommodate AJ Burnett with Molina behind the plate, which Burnett would show up…but this team embraced a blue collar approach and was determined to work through any obstacles to be victorious at the end.

The Yankees did not hesitate in their approach to the job at hand, they did not shy away from challenges, they didn’t get too high or too low, and they did not allow for doubt to permeate their thoughts. They were clear in their purpose and continued to do what was necessary to become World Champions. No one in sports is under more pressure to finish the job than the New York Yankees, to whom much is given much is expected, and finish the job they did. This is how things end, not with a whimper, but with the bang of fireworks and the loud proclamation that the 2009 New York Yankees are World Champions.

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 4

November 2, 2009 2 comments

Johnny Damon steals Philadelphia’s momentum and ARod delivers in the 9th

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 7 PHILLIES 4 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 1st: Derek Jeter singles, Johnny Damon doubles to right field, Jeter to 3rd. Mark Teixeira grounds out to first base. Jeter scores, Damon to 3rd (NYY 1, PHI 0)
  • Top of the 1st: Jorge Posada sacrifice to left field, Johnny Damon scores (NYY 2, PHI 0)
  • Bottom of the 1st: Shane Victorino doubles to enter field. Chase Utley doubles to right field, Victorino scores (NYY 2, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 4th: Ryan Howard singles to center field. Howard steals 2nd base. Pedro Feliz singles to left field, Howard scores (NYY 2, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Nick Swisher walks on 4 balls. Melky Cabrera singles on a ground ball to 2nd base. Derek Jeter singles, Swisher scores and Cabrera to 2nd (NYY 3, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Johnny Damon singles to right field, Cabrera scores (NYY 4, PHI 2)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Chase Utley homers to right field of Sabathia (NYY 4, PHI 3)
  • Bottom of the 8th: Pedro Feliz homers to left field of Chamberlain (NYY 4, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Johnny Damon works a 2 out single. Damon steals 2nd and 3rd base. Mark Teixeira is hit by pitch. Alex Rodriguez doubles to left field, Damon scores and Teixeira to 3rd (NYY 5, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Jorge Posada singles to left field. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira scores (NYY 7, PHI 4)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • CC Sabathia: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 3 BB, 1 HR, 6 SO, 3.29 ERA
  • Joe Blanton: 6 innings, 5 hits allowed, 4 earned runs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 6.00 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: Johnny Damon went 3-for-5 with 1 RBI. He had the best at-bat of the night in the top of the 8th with 2-outs and behind 1-and-2 on the count, and topped it off with 2 stolen bases. Alex Rodriguez working on an 0-fer came through in the 9th with a 2-out double that scored Damon and the Yankees regained their lead.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • For the second time in this World Series Sabathia did not look as dominant as he was in the ALCS. The Yankees gave CC a 2 run cushion to start the game, and he gave 1 right back to the Phillies on two consecutive doubles in the bottom of the 1st where he threw 24 pitches. Sabathia was getting behind on the count and had to work for every precious out. Having said that CC’s ability to grind it out, limiting the Phillies’ opportunities with men in scoring position, may make this outing more impressive than his dominance against the Angels. The bottom of the 5th was as impressive a performance by a pitcher as you will see in the World Series stage. Sabathia put men on 1st and 2nd without recording an out and he’d yet to face Utley, Howard and Werth. CC, and let’s give credit to Posada in this situation, gets Utley and Howard to pop-up before striking out Jayson Werth. Inning over.
  • Alex Rodriguez got hit by a pitch at the top of the 1st. It is his 3rd HBP in this series. A-Rod could not hide his displeasure at being hit again, and one can make the argument that it affected his at-bats throughout the night. He went 0-for-3 with 1 strikeout before a huge clutch hit in the bottom of the 9th propelled the Yankees to victory.
  • Damaso Marte was solid once again. Joba Chamberlain was dealing, but he made a mistake to Feliz (who was hot last night) and he made him pay for it. This may be a great learning experience for Joba and may only make him better next time around.
  • Come on chant with me: Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap, Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap. There is nothing more gratifying to a baseball purist, a fan of the fundamentals of the game, than a heads up play that shows a player’s awareness on the field and his keen instinct. Damon’s base running exploits in the bottom of the 9th has to be in your highlight reel for years to come.
  • The “Comeback Kids” did it again. 3 down…1 to go.

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 1

October 29, 2009 1 comment

The Cliff Lee & Chase Utley show derails the Yanks in Game 1

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 1 PHILLIES 6 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 3rd: Chase Utley homers to right field (NYY 0, PHI 1)
  • Top of the 6th: Chase Utley homers to right field (NYY 0, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 8th: Phil Hughes walks Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino to begin the inning. Damaso Marte in for Hughes. Affter striking out Chase Utley, Ryan Howard flies out to right field moving Jimmy Rollins to 3rd base. David Robertson replaces Damaso Marte. Jayson Werth walks to load the bases and a ground ball to right field by Raul Ibanez brings Rollins and Victorino to the plate (NYY 0, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Brian Bruney starts the inning on the mound. Carlos Ruiz hits a 1-out double to center field. Jimmy Rollins gets an infield single moving Ruiz to 3rd. Shane Victorino singles to right field, Carlos Ruiz scores (NYY 0, PHI 5)
  • Top of the 9th: Philo Coke in for Brian Bruney. Chase Utley flies out to center field, Rollins moves to 3rd base. Ryan Howard doubles to right field, Jimmy Rollins score, Victorino out at home. (NYY 0, PHI 6)
  • Bottom of the 9th: Back to back singles by Jeter and Damon begins the bottom half of the inning. Mark Teixeira gounds into a force out, Derek Jeter scores (NYY 1, PHI 6)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • CC Sabathia: 7 innings, 4 hits allowed, 2 earned run, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2 HR, 2.57 ERA
  • Cliff Lee: 9 innings, 6 hits allowed, 0 earned runs, 0 BB, 10 SO, 0.00 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: Cliff Lee became the first pitcher in major league baseball history to record double digit strikeouts without issuing a walk, and no earned runs. Chase Utley hit 2 HRs off CC Sabathia both on a 2 strike count.

COMMENTARY: If Cliff Lee’s historic performance last night is any indication of the toughness of this Philadelphia team, then the Yankees are in for a monumental fight. Cliff Lee was dealing last night, mowing through the Yankee lineup with apparent ease. He becomes the only pitcher in MLB postseason history to strikeout at least 10 batters, issue no walks, and have zero earned runs. Lee’s fast pace on the mound and his ability to locate any pitch he wanted had the Yankees off balance the entire night, add to that equation the fact that he did not hesitate to go after the big bats in this lineup and you have a nightmare situation for the Yankees. Teixeira and Rodriguez went 0-for-8 for the night, accounting for half of Lee’s strikeouts. It was a miserable night.

There are other side stories of note in this game. CC Sabathia and the nowhere bridge to Mariano Rivera. Sabathia had a tough night by his standards, he was behind the count on batters all night and did what he hadn’t done all year at home: give up a home-run to a left handed batter, and he did it twice, and to the same batter Chase Utley. But he got through 7 innings of work, and it was work, allowing only 2 runs which for this team is not a deficit that can’t be overcome. Sometimes when a pitcher is locked in like Lee was last night, there is little the opposing team can do. It happens, even in the World Series. Give him credit, move on, this series truly begins tonight. What should be most concerning to Yankee fans is the fact that the bullpen gave up 4 runs in just 2 innings of work and made a 6 run deficit a tall order.

Many had speculated that the Yankees had the advantage when it came to the bullpen, but outside of Rivera this bullpen may prove to be our Achilles’ Heel. Girardi has the unenviable task of figuering this bullpen out. Certainly pitching Brian Bruney who hadn’t pitched since October 2nd may not be the answer, someone in that pen must step up and fast because the Phillies have every intention of defending their Championship and they have the talent, the confidence, and the experience to do it.

No Stopping Cliff Lee

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Interview with Chad Jennings from The LoHud Yankees Blog

October 28, 2009 2 comments

The following interview was conducted by Brandon Cohen. Brandon along with the staff at The Pinstriper would like to express our gratitude to Chad Jennings for sharing his time for this interview.

Without further ado, here is the interview in its entirety:

1. In a recent blog post I debated whether I would prefer Ryan Howard or Mark Teixeira for this series….which would you take?

Right now I would take Howard. He’s as hot as anyone not named Alex Rodriguez, and he’s even getting Rodriguez a run for his money. I got to see Howard hit quite a bit in Scranton, and he’s more than just a pull-the-ball power hitter. He can go the other way. He can move runners. He’s not awful at first base. On the whole, though, I think Teixeira is a more complete player. Just hard to overlook what Howard’s done this postseason.

2. With Pedro Martinez starting game 2, do you think the Yankees or Pedro have the upper hand? (Which has the advantage in that matchup)

I think Pedro’s a little different pitcher than he used to be. He’s still mixing his pitches, but this isn’t going to be the same Pedro that Jeter and Posada and the rest remember from Boston. I’m not sure the experience against one another plays a huge role, but certainly this is going to be a tough place to pitch for Martinez and this Yankees lineup is awfully dangerous. I’ll take this Yankees lineup over an aging Martinez, but I’ll say that respectfully. The guy can still pitch. Just ask the Dodgers.

3. Do you think the Yankees will go with a 3 man or a 4 man rotation for the World Series? Which would you do?

Four man. That’s what I think they’ll do and that’s what I would do. I would pitch Sabathia in Game 4 and Gaudin in Game 5. That leaves a fully rested Burnett/Pettitte for Game 6, and the off day between 5 and 6 means the Yankees can burn through a ton of relievers without losing them for the next game.

4. Do you think the set-up man role is open right now? Girardi has stuck by Hughes, but if Hughes struggles?

I still think Hughes has the job, mostly because Chamberlain hasn’t been lights out. He’s allowed some hits of his own. I’m a huge Robertson believer, and I think the eighth inning might be his one day, but I’m not sure a few big outs by Robertson and a couple of bad innings by Hughes is enough to swap roles. Hughes earned this spot and I’m not sure anyone has done enough to take it from him.

5. Having covered the Phillies farm system in the past, can you give us some background on their core players?

Utley is the best player I ever saw in Scranton. He and I weren’t especially close — he was never particularly comfortable with the media back then — but he’s a terrific, terrific hitter. I touched on Howard, who can do more than hit home runs. He has a lot of power to left-center. Victorino isn’t so underrated anymore thanks to the all-star game, but he’s had a lot of talent for a long time. Good speed. Good power. Terrific arm. I’ve said before that I think Victorino is the kind of player the Yankees hope Austin Jackson becomes. Don’t count out Carlos Ruiz. His numbers aren’t good, but he’s a dangerous hitter and does good work behind the plate. He works great with pitchers. That’s why he’s remained an everyday catcher.

6. What do you think is the biggest problem for the Yankees going into the World Series?

I think there should be a little bit of concern about the middle of the order, outside of Rodriguez. Teixeira and Matsui got it done this season, but both have been a bit cold in the playoffs and I think the Yankees need both of them to break out oit.

7. For the Phillies?

The bullpen. The rotation has some question marks, but the bullpen is full of them. Brad Lidge has pitched really well this postseason, but I don’t know any Phillies fan who feels particularly comfortable with him in the ninth. And getting to him is hardly a sure thing.

8. Any bold predictions for the series?

Nothing too bold, but I’ll say Teixeira snaps out of it and Utley gives the Yankees more trouble than Howard.

Quick Questions:

  • Who wins, how many games? Yankees in six.
  • Best starter? Sabathia.
  • Best Hitter? Utley.
  • Best Reliever? Rivera, with Hughes getting back on course in the eighth.
  • World Series MVP? Jeter.