Archive for April 15th, 2010

The entire Yankee team wore #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day (Photo: AP).

Phil Hughes’  long-awaited return to the rotation was kind of an enigma. Although he certainly had good stuff, he was somewhat inefficient, needing 108 pitches over 5+ innings. Strangely, it seemed as if Hughes pitched ahead for most of the night, but then selectively nibbled. For example, after giving up a second inning HR to Hideki Matsui on a 92mph fastball, Hughes only threw him one more fastball in his next two ABs. Still, there was a lot to like. Most impressive was that Hughes used all four pitches (fastball that started around 94 and ended up at 91; sharp curve that he dropped in for strikes; biting cutter that elicited a number of missed swings; and an occasional change). If the Yankees can get Hughes/Posada to remain aggressive and not waste pitches when ahead, he’ll have the potential to dominate.

  • A 9th inning misplay (ruled a hit) by Derek Jeter cost Joba Chamberlain his second career save. However, if both Hughes’ and Chamberlains’ roles hold, and the Yankees best expectations for them are realized, that combination could figure prominently over the next several years.
  • On the other hand, Scott Kazmir exhibited rapidly diminishing stuff over the course of his 4+ innings. After starting out with a mid-90s fastball, Kazmir ended the game throwing around 87mph. Perhaps it was the lingering effect of the sore right hamstring, but then again, Kazmir has seemed to be undergoing a gradual decline.
  • Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting with 2HRs. It was Cano’s 5th multi-home run game, and first since April 25, 2009 against Boston.
  • Derek Jeter’s third inning HR extended his hitting steak to 9, tying his longest such string to begin a season (2006). Robinson Cano also extended his season long hitting streak to 9. Both Jeter and Cano are now halfway to Alex Rodriquez’ franchise record of an 18-game hitting streak to begin a season (2007).
  • Curtis Granderson’s two triples represented the fifth time he has accomplished the feat. Granderson’s last 2-triple game was on August 18, 2008 versus Texas. The last Yankee to hit two triples in a game was Bobby Abreu, who did so at the Metrodome on May 30, 2008. The last player to hit two triples at Yankees Stadium (old and new) was Enrique Wilson on July 3, 2002 against Cleveland. The Yankee record for most triples is three, held by Joe DiMaggio (August 27, 1938 versus Cleveland) and Earle Combs (September 22, 1927 versus Detroit).
  • Granderson also starred in the field by throwing out Hideki Matsui at home plate in the fourth inning. The replays showed that Matsui actually slid under the tag of Posada, who set up behind the plate.

    Hideki Matsui slides under the tag of Jorge Posada, but is called out by Home Plate umpire Jerry Layne (Photo: AP).

  • In the third inning, Arod used a hard slide to break up a potential double play ball off the bat of Robinson Cano. Even though the Yankees didn’t capitalize on the resulting 1st and 3rd situation, the play illustrated Arod’s all around hard style of play, something not always forthcoming from a star of his magnitude.
  • Francisco Rodriquez made his major league debut for the Angels by pitching the bottom of the 8th. No, it isn’t 2002. The Angels new “K-rod” is a 27-year old career minor leaguer.

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Phil Hughes makes his long anticipated 2010 debut after throwing a couple of simulated games while awaiting his start. Meanwhile, Angels’ lefty Scott Kazmir is also making his season debut. Kazmir had been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.  According to Joe Girardi, Hughes will not be on a modified pitch count, although Kazmir very likely will be. Either way, this figures to be a game that will be decided by the bullpens. Randy Winn will also make his first start of the year. Winn, who will play left field against the lefty Kazmir, is joined at the bottom of the lineup by Marcus Thames, who fills in for Nick Johnson at DH.

vs. Scott Kazmir PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 41 0.111 0.220 0.222 1 4
Nick Swisher RF 29 0.185 0.241 0.296 1 2
Mark Teixeira 1B 18 0.636 0.667 1.000 0 3
Alex Rodriguez 3B 30 0.125 0.300 0.125 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 26 0.154 0.154 0.154 0 3
Jorge Posada C 28 0.440 0.464 0.680 1 5
Marcus Thames DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 6 0.200 0.333 0.200 0 0
Randy Winn LF 6 0.200 0.333 0.200 0 0
Total 184 0.241 0.318 0.385 3 17
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Erick Aybar SS 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Bobby Abreu RF 3 0.500 0.667 0.500 0 0
Torii Hunter CF 2 0.000 0.500 0.000 0 0
Hideki Matsui DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Kendry Morales 1B 2 0.000 0.500 0.000 0 0
Howie Kendrick 2B 6 0.250 0.500 0.250 0 0
Mike Napoli 2B 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brandon Wood 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Reggie Willits LF 4 0.000 0.250 0.000 0 0
Total 19 0.240 0.307 0.403 0 0
  • In honor of Jackie Robinson Day, a special pre-game celebration involving the Robinson family will be held at Yankee Stadium and televised on the MLB Network. In addition, all players will once again be invited to wear #42. Mariano Rivera is the only player left who regularly wears that number, which has been retired league-wide.
  • Phil Hughes is the last Yankee from the active roster to appear in a game.
  • In 28 games/141.1 innings as a starter, Hughes has a career mark of 8-9 with a 5.22 ERA, 1.436 WHIP, 7.1 K/9 and .778 OPS against. In 44 games/51.1 innings as a starter, Hughes has a career mark of 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 11.4 K/9 and .456 OPS against.
  • Derek Jeter has hit safely in all 8 games he has played this season, one game shy of his career high of 9, which was established in 2006. The Yankee record for most consecutive games with a hit to start the season is 18, set by Alex Rodriquez in 2007.
  • Alex Rodriguez has yet to hit a HR, giving him 8 straight homerless games to start the season. His longest such stretch is 10 games, set in 2001 with the Texas Rangers. Arod went on to hit 52 HRs that year.
  • When Arod does finally hit his first home run, it will move him past Mark McGwire for sole possession of 8th place on the all-time list. Arod and McGwire are currently tied with 583 HRs.
  • Mark Teixeira has also been held homerless, and has all three of hits in one game. Teixeira looks to right the ship against Kazmir, against whom he has a lusty line of .636/.667/1.000 in 18 plate appearances.

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The most remarkable thing about yesterday’s 5-3 loss to the Angels was something that didn’t happen: no one hit a HR. Last year, Yankee Stadium did not host a homerless contest until June 18, 2009, the 35th home game of the season. In fact, that was the only homerless game at Yankee Stadium all season.

As many probably recall, the amount of HRs hit a Yankee Stadium last year was a cause for much consternation, particularly by those in the media. Buster Olney made the topic an almost holy crusade, regularly providing “Sand Box” updates on his blog. In fact, on May 23, he even went so far as to address one of my comments about his ignorance of sample sizes. Olney replied:

So I ask again of Williamnyy and others who are much more adept than I am when it comes to assessing numbers: Is the sample size large enough yet to say that the new Yankee Stadium plays like a bandbox? Or do we wait until records are shattered before we can say that? I await your guidance.

Thankfully, the Yankees didn’t fall victim to this short-sighted logic. When pressed on whether they would make any changes over the offseason, Yankee executives smartly refused to cave into the pressure. Not only did the HR rate abate as the season went on, but the Yankees managed to win a World Series, all while “playing in a bandbox”. Go figure.

Clearly, two games into this season aren’t any more conclusive than a small sample from last season. The overriding point, however, is you can’t overreact without sufficient data. Perhaps the dismantling of the old Stadium will have a muting impact, a theory that was suggested last season. Still, it remains to be seen whether the HR rate at Yankee Stadium will return to more historically normal levels. So, if Olney is still waiting for my guidance, no, the sample size is still not large enough.

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Yesterday, Craig Calcaterra slammed Yankees fans for being classless and arrogant. Why? Because they supposedly booed Javier Vazquez during yesterday’s game.

These boos are almost certainly a function of people thinking back to 2004, which is amazingly weak given that, you know, the team just won the World Series five months ago. For a fan base that fancies itself so much more knowledgeable than anyone else’s, this was pretty bad.

Was Calcattera actually at the game? I was, and quite frankly, his take is a gross exaggeration of reality. Javier Vazquez was not booed. Sure, there were some audible groans when he gave up runs in the 3rd and 6th innings, but that’s what usually happens when the Yankees give up runs. For the most part, yesterday’s crowd was a very passive one, both for good and bad. Even when Vazquez walked off the mound the response was mostly indifferent, with a few offering polite applause and even fewer mildly voicing their displeasure. That does not count as “booing”…at least not in Yankee Stadium. Just ask Ed Whitson or Carl Pavano.

Yankee fans are far from perfect, and they have been guilty of senseless booing (see Arod). However, in this instance, Calcattera’s rant is much ado about nothing. If he is going to level such inflammatory criticisms, it would be nice if he was at least basing it off a first-hand account. Who knew that tweets about what one fan says were sufficient to form such a strong opinion.

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