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Archive for September 14th, 2010

vs. Matt Garza PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 30 0.286 0.310 0.393 0 1
Curtis Granderson CF 21 0.211 0.238 0.316 0 2
Mark Teixeira 1B 20 0.125 0.300 0.313 1 4
Alex Rodriguez 3B 21 0.412 0.476 0.647 1 3
Robinson Cano 2B 25 0.320 0.320 0.560 1 4
Lance Berkman DH 10 0.000 0.200 0.000 0 1
Austin Kearns LF 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Colin Curtis RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 132 0.248 0.295 0.402 1 8
             
vs. Ivan Nova PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
John Jaso C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ben Zobrist 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carl Crawford LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Evan Longoria 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Matt Joyce RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Dan Johnson DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Carlos Pena 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
BJ Upton CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Reid Brignac SS 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0

 

Yankees vs. Rays    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TB: 7-5 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 138-76

 

  Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 3-7 10-10 16-14
Rays 5-5 12-8 18-12

 

  Away vs. RHP
Yankees 38-32 56-34
  Home vs. RHP
Rays 44-26 53-40

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Like it or not, in some circles, the Yankees have become more associated with Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind than Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York. If the Boss was still alive and in good health, you can bet that transition would have been slowed somewhat, but so be it. Times changes and the Yankees need to move along with them.

I can live with the Yankees using Empire as a new anthem, even though the lyric about Jay-Z making “the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can” is both absurd and insulting to the franchise. I can tolerate having Jay-Z and Eminem and a whole litany of rap artists fill the Stadium with lyrics that aren’t exactly family friendly (after all, some of the things said by an angry Stadium crowd might make even the most hardcore rapper blush). It’s pushing the envelope a little, but I can even swallow hard and accept the Yankees decision to co-market their brand along with Jay-Z’s on a line of apparel. What is displayed below, however, is something I can’t abide.

 

I’ve probably invoked this line too much since his death, but there is no way George M. Steinbrenner III would have allowed Lou Gehrig’s number four jersey to bear the name of “S. Carter”. How the Yankees could allow that sacred number four to be involved in a marketing gimmick is, quite frankly, very sad.

Lou Gehrig was the epitome of what the Yankees purport to be all about. Allowing his number to be used in such a manner is either an inexcusable oversight or a reprehensible dismissal of history. Hopefully, it’s the former because if the new administration has knowingly decided to compromise the sanctity of the Yankees’ glorious history, the future will not be as nearly bright as the past.

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Joe Girardi’s use of the bullpen, or lack thereof, has drawn considerable scrutiny over the last 12 hours, and with good reason. Being overlooked, however, has been his use, or misuse, of the bunt.

Let’s rewind back to Friday night. With the game tied 5-5 in the top of the 12th, Chad Moeller led off the inning with a double. Up next was Brett Gardner, who promptly bunted to advance Moeller to third. Not surprisingly, Derek Jeter followed with a weak groundout that didn’t score the run, after which Colin Curtis struck out to end the potential rally.

Was it a smart decision to bunt in that situation? Thanks to Baseball Prospectus’ run expectancy matrix for 2010, we can take a look at how Girardi’s decision measured up in a context neutral environment.

2010 Run Expectancy Matrix

Runners On: No Outs One Out Two Outs
No Men On 0.49 0.26 0.11
Third 1.37 0.93 0.34
Second 1.11 0.68 0.32
Second and Third 1.99 1.39 0.59
First 0.86 0.50 0.23
First and Third 1.83 1.10 0.47
First and Second 1.43 0.87 0.45
Bases Loaded 2.38 1.52 0.78

Source: baseballprospectus.com

Based on the above chart, we can see that advancing the runner from second to third actually decreased the Yankees’ expected run output from 1.11 to 0.93. Of course, there is something to be said for having Gardner bunt against the lefty Oliver to set up Jeter, who has hit well against southpaws. Of course, because context is being considered, you could also throw in Jeter’s struggles on the road, high propensity for hitting ground balls as well as the very poor look to his at bats that evening. Still, this one is debatable, so you can give Girardi a pass.

The next night, the Yankees found themselves nursing a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth when a single and stolen base by Eduardo Nunez once again gave them a runner of second with no outs. The batter was Cervelli, so the idea of bunting wouldn’t have been outlandish. However, Alexi Ogando quickly fell behind 3-0. So, naturally, Cervelli would at least be taking a pitch, right? Not so, according to Girardi, who had his catcher lay down a sacrifice in spite of being far ahead in the count.

Looking back to the matrix, we can see that not only is a man on second with no outs better than a man on third with one out, but having runners on first and second with one out also leads to a higher run expectancy. In other words, bunting 3-0 was the height of folly.

After the game, Girardi tried to reason that 3-0 was a perfect time to bunt because Cervelli could be sure of a strike. That line of thinking seems to imply that Ogando wasn’t trying to throw the 2-0 pitch over the plate, and wouldn’t have done the same on 3-1. Regardless, the chances of scoring would have been greatly enhanced by a Cervelli walk, so not having him take a pitch defies justification. What’s more, with Golson on deck, Girardi could have then sacrificed the runners to second and third for the switch hitting Swisher and Teixeira.

Finally, there is the bunt from last night’s game to consider. This time around, the Yankees and Rays were locked in a scoreless tie when Austin Kearns led off the 11th inning with a single against the righty Grant Balfour. Curtis Granderson, who entered the game with an .818 OPS against right handers, then worked the count to 2-0 before being asked to sacrifice. Coincidentally, following Granderson were the same two hitters, Jeter and Curtis, who failed to get the job done in the aforementioned situation from Friday’s game. This time, however, the bunt only moved the runner to second and Jeter had to face a right hander (.609 OPS split this season). Basically, Girardi opted to have Granderson, a legitimate power threat against righties who had worked himself to a hitter’s count, give his at bat away so a rookie and a struggling Jeter could shoot for a go ahead single. Once again, the Yankees’ rally was thwarted in no small part because of the strategy employed by their manager.

Over the final three weeks of the season, and into the post season, better game strategy and bullpen management could wind up being vital to the Yankees chances of repeating. Based on the events of the last week, it’s hard to have too much confidence.

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Joe Girardi said he “felt like we had to stay away from some guys tonight”. Dave Eiland, apparently being a good soldier, stated in a matter of fact manner, “sometimes you lose the battle to win the war”.

The excuses were overflowing from the Yankees clubhouse after a demoralizing 1-0 defeat in 11 innings, but in reality, nothing really needed to be said. The extensive mismanagement that permeated the Texas series had carried over to the first place showdown in Tampa, causing the Yankees to lose three games in the standings and bringing into question the organization’s commitment to winning the division.

Let’s assume that the bullpen really did need a rest. Isn’t that an indictment of how Girardi handled it in Texas? As detailed in this blog’s game summaries for the Friday and Saturday losses, Girardi exhibited a quick hook with pitchers capable of giving length and an overreliance on short relievers. Apparently, that strategy not only cost the Yankees those games, but last night’s as well. Of course, one might be wondering why Joba Chamberlain, who has thrown only four innings in the entire month of September and had only pitched once over the previous four days, was unavailable. Well, Girardi refused to explain why during the post game, angrily snapping at reporters who endeavored to find out.

Although both Robertson and Chamberlain claim to be healthy and allegedly will be available for tonight’s game, let’s again assume they needed a rest. Why then was Robertson warming at the start of the ninth inning? Did Girardi not realize he needed a rest until that point? Perhaps he couldn’t get loose? All of this information would be important know, but Girardi has seemingly returned to the cloak and dagger style that caused so much friction during his first year as manager. In any event, the depleted bullpen does make you wonder why Girardi would burn Logan for only one batter, especially considered all the lefties at Maddon’s disposal, and remove Wood after only throwing 11 pitches? These questions need to be asked too.

Adding further irony to the proceedings, the Yankees decided to use Nick Swisher, who is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee today, and Brett Gardner, who received a cortisone shot in his right thumb before yesterday’s game. For a team living to fight another day, how much sense does it make to have two vital offensive cogs risk further injury?

The mixed message being sent from Girardi and his coaching staff can be interpreted in many ways, but they sure make it easy to infer that no priority is being placed on winning the division. One can only wonder how the Boss would have reacted to such indifference, especially considering where last night’s game was played.

The worst part of how Girardi handled last night’s game is it completely overshadowed an absolutely outstanding performance by both David Price and C.C. Sabathia. Not only did both men step up for their teams in a big spot, but they also padded their Cy Young resumes. Although King Felix may have the numbers that look best on paper, there is something to be said for the daily pressure and competition faced by Sabathia and Price as their respective teams battle it out in the AL East.

Although the Yankees continued to struggle on offense, there is no shame in being shutdown by the likes of Price, Soriano and Benoit. What was embarrassing, however, was how they squandered one of their better scoring attempts. With two outs in the 10th, Gardner, who had come on to run for Lance Berkman, stole second to put himself in scoring position for Austin Kearns. Not satisfied, Gardner then attempted to steal third on the next pitch, but Benoit wheeled to second instead of going home. The play ended with Gardner being tagged out at third to end the inning.

After the game, Gardner eschewed excuses and apologized for his gaffe, saying, “I screwed up. I take full responsibility”. The Yankees manager would have been wise to do the same.

Top-10 Games By A Yankees Starter, Ranked by Game Score

Player Date Opp Rslt IP H ER BB SO Pit GSc
CC Sabathia 9/13/2010 TBR L 0-1 8 2 0 2 9 119 85
CC Sabathia 9/2/2010 OAK W 5-0 8 1 0 3 5 95 82
Phil Hughes 4/21/2010 OAK W 3-1 7.1 1 1 2 10 101 80
CC Sabathia 4/10/2010 TBR W 10-0 7.2 1 0 2 5 111 80
A.J. Burnett 4/29/2010 BAL W 4-0 8 3 0 1 4 116 79
CC Sabathia 6/20/2010 NYM W 4-0 8 4 0 2 6 100 78
Javier Vazquez 7/10/2010 SEA L 1-4 7 3 0 2 7 117 76
CC Sabathia 8/22/2010 SEA W 10-0 6 3 0 0 8 76 74
CC Sabathia 6/25/2010 LAD W 2-1 8 4 1 3 7 115 74
Javier Vazquez 5/21/2010 NYM W 2-1 6 1 0 2 6 70 74

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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