Monday, May 30, 2005

Game 49 at Yankee Stadium

Well Game 49 certainly had a better outcome than Game 2.

A friend came through with tickets for ESPN's Game of the Week (and for any UK readers, did ESPN show the English flag fluttering from the top deck awning for a few innings last night? Sadly I wasn't able to see what was written on it before security took the flag away) and my lucky hat - current record 5-0 - came through with the necessary 'dust'!

After Saturday's one-sided affair, the Red Sox started very positively, with Edgar Renteria continuing his climb to more normal levels of production, and Ortiz hitting an absolute bomb to the upper deck in right field. However, Wells, wearing #16 rather than #3 (and what is with players selling numbers to each other? don't these guys make enough already?) gave the lead up straight away with line drive HR's to Jeter and Sheffield. From then on, it really was all Sox - Wells pitched well enough - helped by a very aggressive approach by the Yankees, while the Sox bats continued their record setting ways - Ortiz's second HR of the night was another enormous hit, this time to straight away center field.

I guess the only minor disappointing part of the night was Francona lifting Wells in the 9th. Wells had been very effective after the first inning, and I guess he would have welcomed the opportunity to pitch a complete game at his old home after his performance in the opening day game - but after allowing a hit to Sheffield in the 9th, he was lifted for Foulke, and received further evidence that Yankee fans don't retain a deep well of love for him from his pinstripe days.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Did the Yanks play yesterday?

At 5-0 I knew it was over and gave up and did other things. I came upstairs about an hour later and it was 14-0, what a game for the poor Red Sox, feasting on a diet of meat balls by Carl Pavano, and when he left, Mike Stanton and Paul Quantrill kept up the day-long tradition of throwing hittible junk.

Still it is only one game and 17-1 is just the same as 6-3 which was the score the previous night. Matt Clement looked great and does appear to be an excellent pick-up by the Red Sox. Pavano again disappointed at the big ballpark in the Bronx, his away performances do seem to be far superior and he had pretty much nothing and that was obvious from the get go.

Away from yesterday, the Yanks beat the Sox on Friday night behind a couple of sterling assists at the plate. Both Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon would be nailed at home by Womack and Cano respectively as the momentum shifted dramatically and the Yanks would come back and put up a five spot at the end of that inning and go on to win.

Red Sox fans were bleating about their third base coach but he was right to send Bellhorn so I don't see why they are moaning about that play, the second one though I can see why they were annoyed, the ball never left the infield and you wave Damon home from second? Mad.

Neil H will be at the game tonight as Boomer Wells takes on the red hot Moose in the rubber game of this three-game series, lets just hope the Sox are all hit out a la the Yanks after the game three blowout last year. The Sox going a good week or so hitting a buck eighty would be devine.

Let's count to... 17

Sorry - couldn't resist!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Let's count to...

I thought I would sleep on it....

Never post angry...

My post wouldn't seem so angry after a good night's sleep...

I have the jetlag arguement on my side as well...

But this pretty much sums up how I still feel this morning...

And to add insult - you get quotes like

"We just couldn't get the knockout punch" - Kevin Millar - no Kevin you did, you just couldn't convert the knockout punch into those important run things...

"When you make good plays defensively, it lifts the team.'' - Johnny Damon - so how do dumheaded baserunning and pitching decisions help them?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Tigers can't take the heat so **** off out of the kitchen

Ah old school baseball. The Tigers in a blowout throw at E-Rod and chuckle to themselves. Paul Quantrill retaliates and they cry. "[Quantrill] doesn't even know that [Smith's] wife is about to have a baby ... and then he goes at the guy's head? He can kiss my [rear end] for all I care. Thank you. Print that." said Tigers Dimitri Young (as reported on . What a bum. First of all the ball drilled him in the back, not even right at the top of the spine, just down below the shoulder blades which is probably one of the easiest places on the body to shakes off a HBP. Secondly the pitch never had head height so unless the poor lad ducked half a meter and leaned back in a great gymnastic move, the ball wasn't going to hit him in the head. Thirdly your team started it in a blowout game, what do you expect? To be able to get away with cheap shots?

Dimitri was clearly not a happy guy. He continued in the same report, "If they hit [leadoff man Brandon] Inge down low, there's no problem with that. We hit their superstar after two home runs. That part of the game happens," Young said. "But when you go after a backup player because you're scared to hit an everyday player, to me you're not a good teammate, because you hit a backup guy around the head." Well sadly Inge wasn't up and this poor guy just happened to be up in the right situation, 2 outs in the following inning, whoever was up was getting hit. Remember Dimitri you were the punk that started this all by taking out John Flaherty in an exhibition game at home plate and showed no sign of remorse. That incident prompted him to say, "The days of the nice Tigers are gone. Milk-and-cookie teams finish last." You say you've lost respect for Quantrill? He was protecting his player from an unprovoked attack in a blowout, you took out a man in a Spring Training game. The nice Tigers got hit and are wallowing in how nasty the big bad Yankees are, give me a break.

Man am I pissed off with him. I don't like guys getting hit but if you intentionally hit someone then I have no problems with a pitch coming back and hitting the other team. Quantrill tried to go like for like, thigh for thigh but missed outside and both benches were warned. That didn't bother Quantrill who didn't miss second time up as he plunked Young just beneath the shoulder blades and a few Tigers came out of their dugout and Quantrill essentially said 'C'mon then' but got no takers. Quantrill and Torre were both ejected as Tiger manager Alan Trammell came out and asked the umpires if they could call the game and give the Tigers the win, those final few words may or may not have been completely made up, but I bet if they did Young would've claimed all 13 RBI's.

Young called Quantrill a headhunter and said that he wasn't sure the incident was over. Wang goes for the Yankees tonight and I doubt he'll hit Young back, but Tanyon Sturtze will if the opportunity reveals itself. If you are going to pour heat on the fire Dimitri expect to take a shot, your words are distinctly hollow. As I said in my title, If you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen. On that note I'm out and watch Hell's Kitchen on FOX, I saw the original UK version and Gordon Ramsey was fantastic and I hope you Yanks take to it as well as we did.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Yanks leave Shea in good shape

I don't like the subway series. There I've got it off my chest, in all honesty I couldn't give two hoots about the Mets and quite frankly find the games pretty boring. Don't ask me why but that is honestly how I feel even though we took two from three against our cross-town rivals, but it is not a rivalry, the rivalry is with the BoSox so I don't see why people get so into the Subway Series (unless of course it is a Subway World Series then I'll get into it).

A quick recap of the series:

Randy Johnson is throwing a fastball that has no movement. He isn't even throwing it that hard (low 90's) and is getting hit hard. I hope it is this groin that is causing the problem otherwise this looks bad.

Carl Pavano again pitched well, one earned run over seven innings is good enough for me. He was not helped by the defense as E-Rod booted a routine play which cost him two runs in the 2nd.

The defense of both teams was horrible.

Posada called out Randy Johnson for not covering home plate and allowing Koo to score (although he was out but Chuck called him safe because he's a poor ump). This play in turn led to an injury for Posada and kept him out of the line-up on Sunday for the rubber game.

The Yankees had Bernie Williams hitting in the three hole on Saturday - why?

Roberto Hernandez got smoked by the Yankee hitters.

Pedro again pitched well against the Yanks but failed to beat them.

Kris Benson pitched as great as his wife looks

I wanted to see my boy Kaz Ishii pitch but alas it wasn't to be.

Jeter, Posada and Sheffield all sat out on Sunday through injuries but are all expected to play come Tuesday.

The Yanks ended up on Sunday with an infield of Tino-Sanchez-E-Rod and Russ Johnson at 3rd, now that is a scary IF.

Oh and the Yankees won two out of three. They were beaten all ends up on Saturday and won two ugly games on Friday and Sunday, with Sunday being a come from behind show in the 8th thanks to two errors by the Mets (Wright and Reyes).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

No matter the size of screen - a quality start

One of the interesting things about being back in the UK at the moment is the chance to see baseball as Neil M sees it - I am using MLB.TV on my laptop to watch those games that are not on NASN (or Channel 5 tonight).

When I left the UK before the 2003 season, I had used the original MLB.TV in 2002, and while it was better than nothing, the quality of the game stream was pretty awful on my broadband connection - very 'blocky', and prone to frequent buffering delays.

Well here in 2005 I can honestly say... WOW... the quality is incredible, TV standard, albeit best viewed in a relatively small screen setting, with no buffering delays to date - I have watched the Yanks / Mets, Cubs / Sox and Braves / Sox today and can say without reservation - subscribe if you don't already.

Matt Clement had his best start as a Sox today - a complete game victory, that without one rocky inning would have been something truly special. He had fantastic command (no walks) and was ahead of most batters, giving hitters less chance to be patient. His record now stands at 5-0, his ERA at 3.34 - is this the start of the break out year that every one expected of Clement?

Also of note - Manny continuing to improve. Jerry Remy and others frequently comment on Manny taking the ball straight away or to right field as signs that his batting stroke is coming round - well in his 3 for 5 day today, all the hits were in those directions, and that has been the case for a few days now - my hope, fingers crossed, is that Manny is ready to break out - a remarkable statement given his other numbers, but more an indication of his incredible career standards.

Are they his Daddy's?

(Further updated 05/23)

Yahoo's MLB front page currently reads - Yankees still Martinez's daddy - the kind of headline that a casual fan reads and believes, and will no doubt be repeated elsewhere in the mainstream media tonight and tomorrow.

As a Sox fan in a Yankeeland office, one of the most energetic (repeating) debates concerned the Yankees owning Pedro - a position I did not agree with even after Pedro's daddy diatribe.

So part of the reason for this post is to link to David Pinto's incredible Day to Day database which allows you to do very quick and dirty analysis of specific players performance. The second part is to look at Pedro's record against his "daddy's" following the Mets loss to the Yankees in the rubber game of the Subway Series today - was I wrong to ever defend him?

The numbers I am using are from 1997 forward, so there are a few interleague games in there - including today's effort against the Yankees in a Mets uniform, although I have only looked at his performance against the NYY, versus his performance against all other AL teams - my thinking was that the sample from other interleague games would be too small to add anything particularly meaningful. The one thing that is missing are his post-season starts against the Yanks - I think there are 5, one in 1999, and four over the last two seasons, and clearly these last 4 play a large part in the perception that I am interested in - however, to get a feel for his relative performance, these are excluded.









+ / -



107 2/3
























66 2/3
















93 1/3








80 1/3
















71 1/3
















135 2/3








85 1/3















1292 1/3





The first thing that stands out - apart from the question, what did Seattle ever do to upset Pedro? - is the fact that 15% of his starts have been against the Yankees. Is this a simple case of familiarity breeding comfort? Even removing the start for the Expos in 1997, and today's start for the Mets, some 14% of his starts have come against the Yankees - the next closest are Division rivals Toronto and Tampa, at 10.6%.

My reason for adding the NR% (No Result % if you didn't guess) was a feeling (and that was the reason for this analysis, my desire to test the feeling that Pedro wasn't owned by the Yanks in any meaningful way) that Pedro suffered a high degree of No Results against the Yanks - that is, he put in a sterling pitching performance, but the bullpen blew it for him - well he wasn't involved in 31% of the decision in games against the Yanks, but that could have worked for him as much as against him. Looking a bit deeper - of his 29 starts, 22 were quality starts by the traditional definition - 6IP, 3 or less ER. In his 9 no decisions, 8 were quality starts, so clearly the bullpen didn't do a lot to help him in those starts - but equally, neither did the hitters - he averaged 3.1 runs of support in these games, and to further show that impact, in 3 of those 9 games, he received an average of 1 run of support.

Additionally, in his 10 losses, 6 qualified as quality starts, and his average run support? A whopping 2 runs per game, although that falls significantly if we exclude a loss in August 2003 - so even in his losses, Pedro has hardly been owned.

The ERA +/-% shows the % above or below the 2.41 AL Opponent Average. AL East opponents clearly have an edge, again supporting the view that familiarity helps - Pedro's ERA against the Yankees is 32% higher than the league 'average', but the Orioles appear to be his true daddy, with his ERA 66% higher than average when those birds are his opponent.

So is there a conclusion to this rambling post - I guess it is, use the numbers to reach your own conclusion - 22 quality starts out of 29, 24 starts where he has given up 3 runs or less, 11.3K per 9IP.... 6 starts without a win against the Yankees (if you include the 2004 postseason), 5 of his last ten starts have not been quality starts.

Not sure if this is required, but thought I would play safe; The above table was populated using information obtained from David Pinto's Day to Day database. In turn that information was obtained free of charge from, and is copyrighted by, Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at 20 Sunset Rd., Newark, DE 19711.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sox season so far - the 40 game edition

Well another 20 games have passed, and a quarter of the season is as good as done. The Sox are sitting in second place, 3.5 games behind... yep, still those Baltimore Orioles.

While the 6 game stretch on the west coat finished a disappointing 2-4, the Sox really aren't in that bad a state - there has been a lot of noise, and the team clearly has issues, but we are early enough in the season for these to be corrected. We are still missing the presence of Curt at the front of the rotation, but Arroyo has exceeded expectations (though he is really just continuing to evidence the progress that he made last year - perhaps expectations were too low to begin with?), Clement and Wakefield have been largely as expected (that is sometimes good, sometimes not so good), while Miller, in an admittedly small sample, has certainly shown signs that he can be a very effective starter - though like most Sox fans I guess, I have fingers and toes crossed, and I am knocking on a very large piece of wood, as I make that statement. Wells reappeared from the DL last night and clearly wasn't very impressive in that first start back, but (and this is the pain of being in the UK, I can't see these events as they happen), it did appear to be single, after single, after single that hurt him.

On the hitting front, the outfield have been very strong - despite a surface glance 'concern' about Manny's batting average (I read an article the other day that stated if Manny had had one more hit a week he would have been sitting at .300, and given his other numbers no one would have been expressing any concern - sorry I can't find the link) - with Damon outperforming any reasonable expectations, and Nixon hitting well despite being used in a platoon role.

The infield has been more concerning - apart from Varitek, the infield has not really produced the way we might have hoped / expected, but the numbers are not so far off as to give cause for extreme concern.

The decision to retain Kevin Millar over Doug Mientkiewicz was based on the belief that Millar's hitting value would be greater than Doug's hitting and defensive value - but given the similarities in their hitting lines at this stage... Kevin can't be overly proud of his .326 slugging percentage - of the 51 players listed as 1b on the MLB stats page Millar sits 43rd, with only Pena from Detroit and Thome of the Phillies below him as regular first basemen - and Jim Thome was hampered by injury before he went on the DL. Clearly the Sox have recognized that 1b is a concern, with John Olerud in a minor league rehab stint as he works his way toward Boston - but I would hope that Millar's hitting picks up such that Olerud is not our 1b answer in the second half, or that the Sox make a trade for that answer.

The next 20 games include home series against the Braves, Orioles and Angels and road trips to Toronto, New York and St. Louis - I think that we may have a better picture of where the Sox stand at the end of those 20 games.

Over those same 20 games the Yankees, having rebounded strongly against what would have been the cream of the AL West not that long ago, face road series against the Mets, Royals, Twins and Brewers as well as a 6 game homestand against the Tigers and Sox. Given the weakness of that schedule (apart from the Sox, he adds before Neil makes a comment), we can probably expect to see the Yankees make further progress up the AL East before I make the next of these posts.

This weekends Yankees / Mets set may be as interesting as the Sox series over the Memorial Day weekend - the Mets clearly believe that they are a greatly improved team, even if the standings support the view that they are nothing more than a .500 team despite the winter contract extravagance. It really will be interesting to see Pedro pitch against the Yanks in something other than red sox - though given his cortisone shot, I may be revealing my overly cynical nature when I suggest that I won't be the most surprised Sox fan on this side of the pond, if his next start is pushed beyond Sunday.

Yankees finally lose and they lose ugly

I went to bed damn early last night as I was shattered for some unknown reason, this in turn led to me waking up and wondering why it was still dark. I sat up and looked at the PC and saw it register 3:25 AM meaning the Yanks had just started so decided to log in and watch the game. We were four up and Ichiro was up in the bottom of the 1st, sweet I thought, here goes 11 straight. I was to be most wrong.

The M's would get a couple back in the bottom of the inning and the Yanks would get it back to 6-2 before it became 6-4 again. Mussina didn't looks sharp despite sitting down nine straight at one point and only went five, but it was the 6th inning where this game was won and lost.

The Yankees loaded em up and Matsui had a 3-0 count but would take two pitches become swinging at a good fastball over the outer half of the place. Cue momentum shift and that sinking feeling. In the bottom of the inning two errors would allow the M's to tie it, Posada's botch of a third strike/wild pitch allowed Olivo to be safe at first and then Sheffield would try to gun Olivo down at 3rd only to see his throw hit Olivo and sail into the Yankee dugout.


In the 8th the Yanks got the lead off man on but instead of sacrificing him over to 2nd, Joe green lighted Cano and he grounded into a double play. Cano had earlier walked in that 6th inning, his first as a major leaguer, well done son.

In the bottom of the 8th another error by Womack allowed Reed to get to 3rd with one out and Olivo sent him home with a drive to right center field. In the top of the 9th the Yanks should've tied it up. Sheffield was on with a walk but would only go to 2nd on a solid line drive single by Matsui, he really should've been at 3rd, a more intelligent base runner like Matsui, Jeter or A-Rod would most certainly of been, it isn't as though Sheff is slow! He would've scored on A-Rod fielders choice instead of being gunned down at 3rd but there we go. We still loaded em up and Jason Giambi had a chance to be the hero.

He took strike one over the heart of the plate, he then took strike two down and away and then on 0-2 with the bases loaded and the Yanks one run down after a ten game winning streak, he stood and watched a fastball by Ron Villone sail by right down the pipe, he couldn't have thrown a more hittable pitch if he'd tried.

I hate it when players go down in crucial situations with their bat still sitting on their shoulder. All in all a very ugly night for the Yanks who should've won this game at a canter but with the off day today, hopefully they can freshen themselves up for Victor Zambrano and the Mets on Friday night at Shea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Strange things....

You wake up (admittedly at 6am, that's jetlag for you) and the Sox are still playing!

Pavano catches the bug

Carl Pavano stepped up and followed the performances of the rest of the starting rotation late on Tuesday night as he came away with a five-hit complete game shut-out. He struck out seven and only faced 33 batters as the free agent signing from the Marlins demonstrated the quality that caused the Yankees to part with $39.99m over four years to secure his services.

Aided by three RBI's courtesy of the bat of Jason Giambi and a two-run blast from A-Rod, Pavano mowed down the Mariners and never looked in real trouble, only facing two men on base twice throughout the game.

The story away from the pitching gem was without doubt Jason Giambi. Yours truly picked him up off the FA scrapheap in his fantasy league after the other member of the 3,079 miles team dropped him last week and I have been rewarded handsomely for having some faith in the slugger.

His RBI bloop single in the second was nice, his solid RBI single in his second AB was even better but his monster solo shot off left-handed reliever Matt Thornton was most encouraging as the former MVP slowly creeps away from the Mendoza line.

The Yanks now stand 21-19 and still 5 games back of the high-flying Orioles. Mike Mussina takes the mound against Jamie Moyer for the final game of this very successful road trip, before the Yanks head back to the Big Apple to take on Pedro and the Mets on Friday night.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Back in the USSR

(Back in the UK just doesn't fit the lyric!)

Well I get to see how the other half lives for the next ten days...

No ESPN, no MLB Extra Innings, no NESN, no YES, no Baseball Tonight, no instant reaction, no games on at a sensible hour... but I do now have NASN!

I am back in the UK for ten days, visiting friends and family (should that be the other way round?) and will get the full Neil M baseball experience - given how much sleep I had on the flight overnight, it will be interesting to see if I make it to the first inning of any game!

Bernie Slams; Yanks win ninth straight

The Yankees waited out Aaron Sele's best outing of the season and got to the bullpen in a big way as they slammed their way to over .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.

After giving up two in the first, Chien-Ming Wang settled down and pitched supremely well but with no run support it looked as though he may get a hard luck Loss to his name. He retired 17 straight at one point and questions must be asked if he continues like this, how can they move him out of the rotation for Jaret Wright?

In the seventh inning the Yanks finally made some noise against the M's as Hasegawa came in to relieve Sele. After Cano ground out to short, Sheffield and Matsui both singled and A-Rod drew a walk to load em up for Tino Martinez. However he would ground into a fielders choice bringing up Bernie Williams facing JJ Putz.

Bernie stunned us all by turning on a mid 90's fastball (96 MPH) and drilling out to deep right-center field and a leaping Reed couldn't bring it back. Bernie's second shot of the year and proof that there might, just might, be some life in the old dog yet (as a hitter, no way as a CF).

Sturtze, Flash and Mo would combine to shut this one down as the Yanks took it 6 to 3. A 9th win on the spin and from nowhere this club is starting to look like everyone thought it would. Good pitching, the back end of the bp is starting to look sharp and the hitting is now there with Tino and Jorge turning themselves around, Cano settling in and stinging the ball, Womack running like anything and even Giambi had a solid opposite field hit last night.

Maybe all this talk of the demise of the Yankees was a tad premature...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

MLB Extra Innings

Last season, from my home in New York, I was able to see every Red Sox game on NESN, through the MLB Extra Innings package. This season, whenever the Sox play out of town, I have to listen to the 'home' announcer team.

This shouldn't really be a problem, I quite enjoy hearing other commentators - you sometimes hear views on your own team that your own announcers wouldn't express, and you also tend to get a very different perspective on the other team.

So tonight I am watching the game on Fox Sports Northwest and listening to... (goes away and does some 'research') Rick Rizzs and Dave Henderson , and am getting more and more frustrated by the nonsense these guys are talking on ball and strike calls.

A pitch by Ryan Franklin, in the exact same location as one correctly called a ball outside two pitches ago, was just called strike 3 by the umpire, but was called "right down the middle" by Rizzs.

Then a half inning later, a pitch by Miller "in exactly the same location as Franklin's" - you know, the one that was in the exact same location as the one that went "RDtM" is complained about as it was called a strike... aarrrghhh - support the home team guys, but please at least be consistent. What I really need is a muted TV, and some Sox announcing on XM Radio's MLB coverage!

In their defense, the home plate umpire's (more research - Jeff Nelson) definition of the outside edge of the plate to left handed hitters seems to change from pitch to pitch - at times it seems to be inches bigger - when both hitters and pitchers are unsure whether a pitch is a strike...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Yanks roll to six straight

Tino didn't go deep but the Yankees still found a way to win as they crushed early Cy Young contender Rich Harden on Friday night. Harden would leave in the top of the 4th with a left oblique strain but the damage had already been done.

A two-run no doubt about it bomb by Sheffield in the 1st and a two-run triple by Womack in the 2nd would give the Yankees a superb start. Womack would score on a very deep fly by Matsui and that would provide all the offense that the Yankees would need to win the game.

Mike Mussina struck out nine through seven innings of two-run ball as the Yankees starting pitching continued to deal after Carl Pavano's blip on Wednesday night. He kept the Athletic hitters off balance all night long with his knuckle-curve looking particularly sharp as he beat them for the second time in two starts.

Jason Giambi snapped an 0/18 skid with a single to RF which skipped past Bobby Kielty allowing two runners to cross home plate and ended up with the slugger standing on third. The former superstar of the A's returned to the Yankees lineup amid speculation that he had turned down a buy-out offer and hit a deep fly in his second AB that would've been a HR in Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays all lost leaving the Yankees just 5.5 out of 1st place, which doesn't seem all that much considering the awful start to the season. All in all a successful night for the Yankees, now if Kevin Brown can repeat his performance of last time out then I'll start to get excited.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Giambeanie

My colleague Mr Hay wrote an article on Jason Giambi just the other day and it is time for my Yankee perspective on it. I like Giambi as a guy, I think he made a bad mistake but it isn't something which is to be honest that bad in this day and age.

I want Giambi to be a success with the New York Yankees. He simply cannot hit the ball at the moment. Whether that is due to bad mechanics, too much going on in his mind, the steroids wrecking havoc with his insides, I just do not know, but he needs to get away from the Yankees for a while and should accept a spell down at AAA or down at A ball in Tampa.

He'll make it through waivers as no-one in their right mind would take on his contract so that isn't a concern for the Yankees. Although should somebody decide to take it off their hands, I doubt you'd see too many dismayed faces coming from the Yankees Front Office.

Giambi has said that there has been talk of moving to the minors but no decision has been made either way yet. He is set to start at DH for the opening game of the road trip on Friday night as he looks to get out of his funk.

I will say this though. Neil, I disagree with your thoughts about hiding him in the line-up down at 8 or 9, and strongly disagree with hitting in the 2 spot. He will see the same pitches wherever he is hitting, the fact is he is not hitting the ball because something is up with him, and to get it fixed, he needs to go away and work on it. The team is starting to find some form, it doesn't need to try and carry Giambi whilst it does so.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A Yankees update

I'd like to thank Neil H for picking up the slack in recent days as I've been in bed rather unwell and with my final project for my university course due in on Friday, I have been working on that for those rare few moments that I have felt well enough to get out of bed.

Anyways, the Yanks have won four straight, what is the deal with that? The whole rotation has been through with quality starts, with only Pavano getting a Loss despite pitching well. Mike Mussina stepped up in a big way and looked great against a weak Athletics line-up but when Kevin Brown came in and did the same, it certainly made me sit up and notice.

I have Kevin Brown in my main fantasy team and Sunday was his last chance to throw well before he got the chop and that he did. However upon closer inspection, Brown's numbers haven't been as bad as I previously thought. His dERA is down at 3.51, which does show that the majority of the hits off him have been ground balls and sooner or later these hits will turn into ground ball outs.

Randy did ok again on Monday night without truly excelling and Wang did a fine job last night. All highly encouraging stuff.

In a few minutes they start a day game against the Mariners as they look to get the brooms out for the first time in a three-game series so far this season. Carl Pavano goes to the mound and faces up with Jamie Moyer.

In one more piece of news, F-Rod has gone on the DL and utility IF Russ Johnson has come up. More my the Giambeanie and my take on the latest news on New York's least favourite slugger to come later on tonight after the game.

A fantasy baseball rant

Part of my obsession with baseball is aided by fantasy baseball - when you live in the UK, the fantasy game is a true aid to getting to know the details of more than the 'hometown 9' - and also makes games on Channel 5 (for US readers, baseball in the UK is carried live on one free to air channel - Channel 5, showing ESPN's game of the day on Sunday - and one premium cable channel) that don't involve that hometown team much more interesting - it is amazing the number of online conversations I have, that involve cheering for some guy that is having a hot night for someone's fantasy team.

I participate in quite a few leagues, though significantly down from the 16 that I participated in one year, you can imagine that I spent more of my life managing my teams than I did working that year. The most frustrating thing about fantasy baseball is that which you don't control - what do the following players have in common?

Ben Sheets
David Wells

Jeff Bagwell
Craig Wilson
Nomar Garciaparra
Juan Gonzalez (hey, he was a 25th round pick)
Sammy Sosa
Ben Sheets... again
Joe Borowski

Jose Vidro
Jim Thome
Armando Benitez
David Wells... again

I own them all, across three fantay leagues, and they are all on the DL - and that list doesn't include the players in that last league that I have had to drop, because I couldn't put out a full team if I held onto all the guys that are now on the DL. These type of injuries really do hurt your chances in a league, particularly in scarce positions - when the loss of Vidro hurts your team more than the loss of Thome...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The fall and fall of Jason Giambi

ESPN (and various other sources) are reporting that Jason Giambi met with Brian Cashman and Joe Torre today to discuss his poor start to the season, where the subject of Giambi's willingness to take trip to the minor leagues was discussed.

Given Giambi's later interview, it seems that Jason told the team that he wasn't willing to consider such a move... at this time. However, ESPN continues to speculate that the Yankees may make a move to either release Giambi, and take the $80M or so hit that would result, or 'persuade' him to go through the waiver process to get him down to the minors - perhaps as soon as the end of this week when Sierra appears likely to come off the DL.

Giambi is hitting an anemic .195, but continues to get on base at a .386 clip - though even this is 25 points below his fantastic career .411 pace. While the Yankees did not award Giambi the contract that they did just so he could avoid making outs, they did award that contract, and need to live with it. If they do eat this contract, this is the real sign of all that is wrong with baseball - not that the Yankees can award such contracts in the first place, but that they can make that expensive a mistake, and exit it without real pain.

If they are committed to helping Giambi, would it not make sense to put him up the lineup, rather than try to hide him in the 8/9 spot? If they hit him 2nd, he would more likely see good pitching to hit, and could act as a table setter ahead of the current big hitters in the Bombers lineup?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Why does it always rain on me?

Well this post should have been titled Game 31 at Fenway, but a combination of poor-health, and the change in game time meant that I stayed home and watched on NESN. And having watched the game, I have to say that I am not too disappointed - it would have been nice to see Wade Miller's pitching debut - 5 nice innings, with a truly knee buckling curve ball thrown for strikes... it would have been nice to see Cla Meredith's pitching debut (called up after only one game at AAA, and having become only the second player from the 2004 draft to the majors) - well it would have been nice if Francona hadn't called on him at a strange time to make his debut, but at least Meredith made his debut "memorable"... it would have been nice to see David Ortiz appear to get back on track with several big hits... but it really would have been very, very wet!

Are there any hard and fast rules on when a game gets called for rain?

When the players are wiping the bill of their batting helmets between pitches.... is that not a sign?

When the grounds crew have to work on the mound between batters... is that not a sign?

When small children appear to be drowning in the stands... is that not a sign?

And of course what it all boils down to, is that the Sox lost the second half of a day / night doubleheader - which seems kind of inevitable...

In trying to find some sort of statistical evidence to support that view (that most doubleheaders result in a split) I was looking through a lot of the information at Retrosheet, and while not finding a doubleheader database, in the same vein (that is, evidence v memory), I did enjoy David W Smith's article, debunking many of the classic memory over matter stories from 'yore'. If anyone can point me in the direction of a doubleheader database, use the comments!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Today is Polling Day

Over here in the United Kingdom, I have the chance to vote for the first time in a General Election and for the record I am a follower of the third party, the Liberal Democrats. Therefore it has been a very long day traveling back to my home constituency to cast my vote. This has led me to be grumpy and upon getting in I watched last nights condensed game and am not a happy bunny.

As Neil has already written, the Yankees are just not clicking at all and Robinson Cano's shocking error on a routine double-play ball just hurts. I know it is only one error, a big one, but still just one error but it just seems to be the way things are going at the moment.

Sean Henn had good stuff but after that play you could tell his head had dropped and he started to get hit hard. His fastball had some nice life to it and his slider has good movement but as with his change-up, the placement isn't up to major league level yet.

Henn has already been optioned as Tanyon Sturtze is coming off the DL. It says a lot about the state of the Yankees that getting Tanyon back is actually a really good thing. He is probably the best reliever on this team when you take Mo out of the equation, what is that all about?

This team is not very good. It would be good but there doesn't seem to be anything there. Maybe last years capitulation in the ALCS took out more than we previously thought.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

All 'new' Yankees... same old Yankees

The 'experiment' is only two days in, but there has been little evidence to suggest that the recent Yankee roster changes have injected that missing something that Cashman and Torre said they were looking for. If that missing something is hunger, it seems an improbable task for one 22 year old to inject a team of All-Stars with that desire.

Watching the Yankees as a Red Sox fan at the moment is a very strange experience - a heady mix of joy and fear. While the current results are flowing from flaws that were widely identified prior to the season - an over-rated rotation, a thin bullpen and significant defensive issues - it just seems slightly unreal / surreal to see all of these flaws being exposed simultaneously, so early in the season. Part of my brain is saying that this underperformance can't continue, and that my brain would be better employed worrying about issues with the Sox, while the Yankees clearly have a lot of time and (it is assumed) deep pockets on their side. However, as the Yanks continue to rack up poor performances, another, smaller part of my brain whispers that this may just be the true level of performance from an aging behemoth.


Interesting bite of information from ESPN's SportsCenter - the last time the Yankees started two rookie pitchers in the same week, seven teams had higher payroll than them, including the Kansas City Royals!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Torre calls time on Bernie in CF

We have been discussing the fortunes of Bernie Williams in recent days and so have the Yankee hierarchy. Matsui is now the everyday CF whilst Tony Womack will become the teams everyday LF. At 2B we will see Robinson Cano come up and start as Derek Jeter's double-play partner as the Yankees really shake things up.

Bernie Williams though is the sad story as his poor elbow means his career as a big league fielder is all but over. He'll share DH duties will Jason Giambi and Ruben Sierra but in reality we have seen the best of Bernie Williams and sadly it is very much in our rear view mirror. He is a $12,357,143m bench player, only on the Yankees.

Also Sean Henn will come up and take Randy Johnson's start on Wednesday, with Steve Karsay being optioned and available to anyone who wants him as he passes through waivers.

These moves are not the typical Yankee moves we are used to, but personally I am excited by them. Let's see if Cano is ready for the bigs, we can't exactly do a lot worse!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Week 4 brings 2 wins and 4 losses

Well we are now a month into the season and the Yankees are below .500 and below everyone's expectations. Week four was another disappointing week in Yankeeland as they lost two home series, each by the odd game in three. First it was the Angels and then the Blue Jays who left the stadium with more wins than losses.

So we'll start another depressing round-up with the Positives

There is no doubt that A-Rod's week has by far been the highlight for the Yankees. Hitting .429 with 5 shots and 12 RBI's, we'll take that every week. His night against the Angels was awesome, 4/5, 3HR, 10 RBI, thank you very much!

Not much else to smile about but I'll go with Derek Jeter's .407 OBP from the lead-off spot in the past week. His walk rate this year is a serious improvement and has led to him getting better pitches to hit, probably the only Yankee player to be exceeding expectations so far this season.

On to the Negatives

Bernie. What are you doing to me? I defended you so bad but you are stinking. It pains me to say but you are nothing like the player you once were. I discussed it in more detail here

Flash is on this list too as he scuppered Wang's first career Win on Saturday. He is not the player he was last year, could Flash's arm be tired after the immense workload he put in last year?

My pick for MVP Matsui sits on here too as over the past seven days he is hitting .095. Quite simply, not good enough, and it is all these stupid rolling over the baseball groundouts to 1st and 2nd yet again.

Lastly, it pains me again (that is twice I've been pained here so far) to name Jorge Posada as the last negative. He will turn it around I am sure but he just doesn't look comfortable at the plate at the moment.

So there we have it. I have to admit I forgot about Wang's excellent performance and really should've put it in the positives but I'd already written out the two for the week. So Wang'll get a footnote for an excellent outing despite not striking out a batter in the spot vacated by Wright's trip to the DL.

Oh Bernie...

I love Bernie Williams. All he has done in his career is perform to a high level for the New York Yankees but the start of his 2005 campaign has not been special by any means, in fact it has been well below par.

I defended Bernie to the hilt against the onslaught from Neil who had all the evidence piled up in his corner. I just had hope, but hope seems to be fading away as Bernie Williams is fast becoming a liability to this team. He isn't the only one failing to produce by a long shot but he is the one I defended ferociously over the off season.

He is hitting .236 and whilst being able to catch a ball is about as likely to throw a runner out as I am of shockingly becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or even President of the good old US of A.

If only you could hit Bernie, then we could deal with your awful arm in the field but when your batting average is .130 below that of Niefi Perez, then you might start to wonder if you have a future in the big leagues.

Bernie please prove me wrong.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Bernie's struggles in CF

I am posting this just to give Neil a chance to respond, but today's game (still in progress, so Bernie could yet make me look foolish) showed again the folly of the Yankees decision not to structure a deal to acquire Carlos Beltran in the winter.

In the top of the 7th, according to the official scorer, Gregg Zaun hit a sacrifice to center, allowing Eric Hinske to tag up from 3rd and score easily. To score easily, it must have been a sacrifice to deep center, right? Well no, when the commentators on YES struggle to come up with another CF that anyone would even have tagged up on, yet alone score, you know that it wasn't a deep hit. And that play followed a play earlier in the game when Williams was unable to make up the ground to catch another ball hit into CF that you really should expect your CF to catch up with.

In an admittedly small sample, Bernie is hitting .238 / .323 / .310 with 1HR and 8 RBI, and really does appear to decline in front of your eyes. If Bernie is to earn the contract extension he seemed keen on in spring training, or indeed a new contract anywhere, he really does have to start showing that his offense can make up for his continued decline in CF.