Daily Archives: October 4, 2012

Yankees Postseason Notes: Who makes the roster, Rangers or Orioles and Bobby Valentine?

Good evening everyone. There’s no baseball at all tonight so we’re going to post some tidbits and notes that have been stirring around from Yankee Land. Here are some evening notes.

— The Yankees have yet to make the postseason roster but there are 3 definite players aside from the other starters for the roster: David Phelps, Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner (Brian Cashman confirmed Gardner today).

— The Yankees might either face the Orioles or Rangers on Sunday so the question is–who would you rather face?

Andruw Jones might get a roster spot for the postseason. I don’t think he should be on the roster considering he had a pretty bad 2012 regular season and there are hitters that could be of assistance on the bench. Players such as Chris Dickerson perhaps?

— A lot of writers believe that Andy Pettitte should start Game 2 of the play-offs instead of Hiroki Kuroda. Here I would have to agree. Kuroda has a better home record than an away record and since the Yankees are on the road to begin the play-offs, it would make the most sense to have  CC Sabathia and Pettitte for Games 1 & 2 and Kuroda and Hughes for Game 3 & 4. Sabathia would pitch Game 5 if it came down to that.

— In other news that has nothing to do with the Yankees but the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine after 1 year with the Red Sox. Honestly, the Red Sox never should have fired Terry Francona to bring in Bobby Valentine. Francona won 2 championships and had one bad year. Bobby Valentine came in and made everything worse.

Travel Day

Here in the great Northeast, the leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are falling.  The MLB playoffs are set, and the last regular season games have been played.  For the first time since 1967 we are celebrating a Triple Crown winner. There are also no MLB games today. The last time there were no MLB games being played was on July 12th and the division leaders were the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Pirates and Dodgers.  A lot can change in 2 1/2 months can’t it?

The Playoffs

Atlanta and St. Louis will kick off the playoffs at 5:07pm ET on Friday in Atlanta. Atlanta is pitching Kris Medlen and St. Louis will be pitching Kyle Lohse in this one game playoff that will decide who hosts the Nationals.

It will be very unfortunate for baseball if the Cardinals win this game.  The addition of an extra wildcard team was offensive enough, but the way the playoffs are being executed this year is a disgrace and an insult to the intelligence of fans as well as the players who had 162 games to display who the better team was.

Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to matter in this case.  The Braves are a better team in every facet of the game and should win this game.  The Braves had been assured of a playoff spot for a long time, and have a rested and ready bullpen to back up Medlen, who had a sensational season.  Medlen compiled a 10-1 record while posting a 1.57 ERA and a microscopic 0.91 WHIP.  Converted to a starter at the end of July, Medlen has yet to lose a game in his new role, going 9-0 with the Braves winning all 12 of his starts.  Medlen’s 23 BB’s vs. 120 K’s is startling.   Medlen is on regular rest with the killer bullpen of Venters, O’Flaherty, and Kimbrel rested and ready to go.  I like the Braves to win this game in what should be a very hostile atmosphere for the Cardinals.  Smart move by the Braves organization to hand out 45,000 tomahawks at Friday’s game.  I think that the Braves will advance to play the Nationals and beat them to move on to the NLCS.  I like the Braves in four games over the Nationals if that matchup occurs.

Baltimore will visit Texas for their one game playoff on Friday night that will begin at 8:37pm ET.   Darvish will definitely be on the mound for the Rangers and it looks like Saunders will take the mound for the Orioles, although that is not official yet.

This game would have taken place under the old playoff system in exactly the same fashion, it just wouldn’t have counted as a postseason game.

Whether you call it a postseason game, a play-in game, or a tiebreaker the bottom line is that the Rangers are the more talented of the two squads and are playing at home, which should give them the edge in this game.  I like the Rangers to advance to the next round and host the Yankees, who I think will beat either the Rangers or Orioles in the best-of-five.  I like the Yankees to beat the Rangers in four games if that matchup occurs and the Yankees to beat the Orioles in three games if that matchup occurs.

San Francisco will host the first of two games at home against the Reds on Sunday.  Arroyo will take the mound for the Reds and Bumgarner will get the start for the Giants.  The Reds have been the most complete team in the NL since the beginning of the season and I think they will take care of the Giants and advance to the NLCS to play the Braves.

Last but not least, the Tigers will host the first of two games In Detroit against the A’s on Sunday.  No announcement yet on who will start for the A’s and Verlander will start for the Tigers.  This is a very difficult series to break down but I’m going to go with the A’s to upset the Tigers.  The Tigers do a lot of living on the  long ball and their record this year against the West in pitcher’s parks was a combined 3-7(0-3 in LA, 1-2 in Seattle, 2-2 in Oakland)  With the first two games taking place in Detroit, I think one Oakland win there will enable them to win the series at home where the power of the Tigers could be neutralized to some extent.

I like the A’s to win it in 5 games and advance to face the Yankees in the ALCS.

A Ridiculous Debate

No, I’m not talking about Obama vs. Romney.  I’m talking about Trout vs. Cabrera for AL MVP.

Of all the metrics that currently dominate the discussion of the value of players, I think WAR is the most flawed.  In my opinion, WAR makes too many assumptions and that inflated defensive metrics often affect the overall WAR too much.  The debate on WAR would take a book to fill but it simply isn’t proper for anyone with a brain to vote for Trout over Cabrera for AL MVP.

What Miguel Cabrera just did hasn’t been accomplished since the great Carl Yastremski did it in 1967, before I was born. If winning the Triple Crown isn’t such a big deal, then how come the dozens of hall-of-famers who have taken the field since 1967 haven’t been able to do it even once? What makes it even harder to accomplish in the AL is the presence of the DH, which adds many good bats to the mix.

Here’s one thing that I don’t seem to read much about as far as Cabrera’s “value” is concerned.  Cabrera was willing to move to third base this year so that Prince Fielder could play first base. Is it really fair to value Cabrera’s defense at an unnatural position to him the same as you would Trout’s?

Miguel Cabrera picked up the Tigers and carried them on his back while showing total unselfishness in a position change  and won the Triple Crown for the first time in baseball since 1967.

Please, enough with the WAR.  At the end of the day no player in baseball was even close to as valuable to his team as Cabrera was.

The Three Zombies

Last year during the postseason Brian Sinkoff, a sports radio talk show host in the Maryland area and Albany, NY, was hosting a chat on Facebook during the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees.  As I was lamenting the pathetic displays at the plate by A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher, Sink coined the phrase “The Three Zombies” in reference to this sorry trio.

The Yankees elimination from the postseason the last two seasons has been blamed on just about everything but global warming.  In reality, the reason for the Yankees early exits in the postseason can be left squarely on the shoulders of these three players(with a big assist from a disgraceful job by home plate umpire Gerry Davis in game 3 of last year’s ALDS).

The combined average of Swisher, Teixeira, and A-Rod in the 2010 ALCS and 2011 ALDS was a dreadful .125 (15-112) with 2 HR’s and 8 RBI’s.

We all know that A-Rod’s 2009 postseason carried the Yankees to a title, but Swisher and Teixeira’s postseason efforts as Yankees have been nothing short of pathetic.

Swisher is 16-100(.160) in the postseason as a Yankee, with 4 home runs and 5 RBI’s.

Teixeira is 18-106(.171) in the postseason as a Yankee, with 3 home runs and 12 RBI’s.

Clearly something has to change with at least one of these guys for the Yankees to advance to a title.

A-Rod has been swinging the bat well and although his power has waned with ball after ball hit to the warning track, his ability to rap out hits is still there.  With Cano and Granderson providing power, A-Rod doesn’t need to hit home runs to be valuable to the Yankees this postseason and I think he can and will have a good postseason.

Swisher has been swinging the bat well also, but needs to overcome an obvious mental block in the postseason. I’m betting on a good postseason from Swisher also.

Teixeira’s average took a plunge starting with the postseason of 2009 and he has never recovered that part of his game since then.  A career .301 hitter when he signed a 180 million dollar contract with the Yankees, Teixeira has followed his great 2009 regular season batting average(.292) with batting averages of .256, .249, and .251 respectively in 2010-2012.

Including his postseason at bats, Teixeira is 431-1747(.247) since the postseason of 2009.

Still possessing power, it would appear that the best Yankee fans can hope for is that Teixeira can add to the feeble 3 home runs he has hit in 118 postseason at-bats as a Yankee.

For the Yankees to make the World Series it doesn’t matter which of three players wakes up and performs in the postseason, so long as one of them does.

Will late playoff push help Yanks in post-season?

Cano will be a marked man in the playoffs

In recent years, the Yankees have had the luxury to often glide into the playoffs and set things up the way they wanted.  They had the luxury of resting injured or tired players and set up the pitching staff  to their liking.  But this year with the addition of the Wildcard play-in game, the Yankees have had to fight for the division when previously it really didn’t matter if they were the Wild Card.  In fact ever since mid-August when Baltimore tied them in the standings, the Yankees have been playing meaningful games every night.

The disadvantage of having to fight until Game 162 is a guy like Derek Jeter, who has been playing through a bone bruise on his ankle, couldn’t be rested.  Andy Pettitte had to be rushed back from his broken ankle and players in the every day lineup and bullpen have not been able to get a few days off to recharge.  However, with the exception of  Jeter not getting some days off the ankle, I believe losing their 10-game lead and having to fight for the playoffs will help this team.  It reminded them that they can’t take things for granted and it also forced them to make some changes in their style of play.

When the HRs stopped flying at the same rate, they were forced to manufacture some runs and to give prominent roles to guys like Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez.  Getting many of their regulars back from injuries and having to keep the foot on the gas, this team is starting to come together at the perfect time in the season.  They now head into the playoffs with several key players playing well and have some solutions to some of the areas they were struggling in.  Here are some of the positives.

Robinson Cano……Don’t ya know?

He’s had a career year with a .929 OPS and has been absolutely on FIRE as of late.  He has had 9 straight multi-hit games going 24 for 39 with 7 Doubles, 3 HRs and 14 RBI.  He’s hitting .615 with a 1.654 OPS while crushing both LHP and RHP.  Cano has been the team’s best post-season hitter the last 2 years hitting .333 with 6 HR – 15 RBI and a 1.104 OPS in 14 post-season games and will be the 1 guy every oppossing Manager and Pitcher will circle as the guy to not let beat them in the playoffs.  But the fact that the Yanks have their best weapon at the top of his game is a big plus.

The 2 Big Lefties

CC has had his most difficult season as a Yankee this year with 2 separate stints on the DL.  He had some rough outings in early September which had many people questioning his health but his last 3 starts have all been superb.  He’s gone 8 innings each game and allowed 2 runs or less.  Hitters are batting .155 off him and he’s K’d 28 in 24 ip.  CC was probably the main reason why the Yanks won the WS in 2009 as he was a dominant Ace in all 3 series that year.  The last 2 post-seasons he’s struggled but if his last 3 outings are any indication, he’s armed and ready to lead this staff thru October.

The Yanks also have their warhorse back in Andy Pettitte to play wingman to the Ace.  Andy always gives a good effort and keeps the team in the game and has proved he is ready after 3 strong post-DL starts with a 1.62 ERA.  With CC and Andy at the top, the Yanks can favorably match up against any A.L. team’s top 2.  Kuroda & Hughes are as good or better than most #3/4 pitchers also so the rotation looks promising.

The Lineup is Set

With almost everyone  back healthy the Yanks have a set lineup vs LHP and RHP.  Eduardo Nunez has emerged as a solid DH option vs LHP so Girardi has NO excuse to start Andruw Jones at all.  Against RHPs, Joe has the choice of playing Eric Chavez or Raul Ibanez.  Chavez has butchered RHP all season to a .908 OPS. and while Ibanez doesn’t have gaudy numbers, his knack for getting the clutch hit has been a huge factor this year.  The other benefit is if Tex or Swish or anyone else are having poor postseason’s, Girardi has a legit option in Chavez or Ibanez to  use in their place.  In past years when Tex and Swish were struggling in the playoffs, Girardi always said he had no other viable options……well, now he does.

The lineup also has a nice mix of hitters now with differing styles.  Earlier in the year, the Yanks were totally reliant on the long ball but now with Nunez, Jeter & Ichiro, they have 3 solid table-setters, 2 with great speed who can create opportunities.  They have their masher in Cano and  Martin is swinging the bat a lot better.  The key to the lineup is going to be the group of ARod, Teixeira, Swisher & Granderson.  At least one guy from that group has to be hitting well each series.  Any of them can get hot and wreck a game with a HR or 2 and the Yankees badly need production from this group to advance.  Every team is going to try to avoid Cano and this group has to make them pay.

What do you all think?  Would the Yanks have been better off having clinched the division early and coasting in or has the September fight helped form the team and prevent them from easing up?  I’m feeling better about the team now than I have at any point this season.  This team looks more balanced now than it has all year and fending off Baltimore should give them confidence having played playoff-caliber games for weeks.

Morning Bits: AL East Champs, Sabathia, Jeter, A-rod, Ichiro & more…

Good morning all.  What a good feeling it is that the Yankees came out with the bats alive last night and took the division and the best record in the American League.   The Yankees will play October 7th (Sunday) against Baltimore or Texas winner.   That game is Friday night at 8:30PM EST.

Enjoy the day now for some links…

Ian O’Connor of ESPN mentions that these are not Jeter nor A-Rod’s Yankees anymore.   How the Yankees will do in the playoffs rest on the shoulders of Robinson Cano.

Girardi mentioned last night that Jeter’s season exceeded expectation writes Andrew Marchand.

Wallace Matthews writes that Cashman wants to win a championship this year for his father.  Matthews also looks into who the Yankees will play next.

Steven Miller of mlb.com writes that winning the division is a well rested C.C. Sabathia.

— Kristie Ackert of The Daily news mentions that Ichiro is enjoying a chance at the postseason after an 11 year drought.

Ackert also has a story on Joba who was very emotional after the game while reflecting on his injury filled off-season.

Flip Bondy of The Daily News mentions that Girardi and the Yankees have Jeter to thank for the AL East crown.