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Posts Tagged ‘Brett Gardner’

In an earlier post, I discussed Javier Vazquez‘s recent ineffectiveness and his “dead arm.” I postulated the idea that this is the perfect opportunity to skip him once or twice through the rotation, see if his arm strength returns in September and take it from there. I fretted about the cumulative effect of having an ineffective Vazquez, an inconsistent AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes’ innings limit will have on the team as a whole and on the bullpen in particular.

If you watched last night’s game, you saw everything I’m worried about in a nutshell.

I realize the offense was pathetic and if the team had hit – even just a little bit – they likely win that game. I realize, too, that mid-August is not the time for a team-wide slump (but anytime your line-up includes Ramiro Pena, Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner you’re not likely to see much offense, anyway). And I know Joe Girardi publicly blasted the team for the overall horrible way they played yesterday. But let’s have a reality check here: Javy’s performance last was the epitome of “it’s better to be lucky than good.” He pitched with men on base throughout his four innings of work and every ball the Tigers hit seemed to leave a vapor trail. Once again, his average fastball clocked in at 87mph – below his season average of 89mph and more than 4mph below his career average.

At this point, the question isn’t if Javy can be effective pitching without velocity. The answer is patently obvious – he can’t. The question now is, what do the Yankees do about it? I can’t see them throwing him out there again without having Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre warmed and ready to go in the first inning. Much as the Mets found themselves doing earlier this season with John Maine, it may be time for the Yanks to tell Javy he’s hurt and DL him. Even though you might think that Vazquez would let somebody know if he’s hurt, this is a guy with a track record for hiding injuries. The last time he was in pinstripes, much the same thing happened – and it can be argued that it cost the team a chance to repeat as AL Champions that year. And this year, facing free agency at the end of the season, Vazquez has even more reason to hide an injury – even if it costs the team a chance to defend their World Championship. As bad as he’s been lately, he still has a chance at a decent contract with a 2nd division team. But nobody will give a 35 year old pitcher coming off an injury much in the way of a contract – a fact Vazquez has to be aware of.

Regardless of his health, the team simply cannot let him pitch until they know he can be effective. The race is too tight to let the bullpen eat up this many innings on a nightly basis. If they aren’t going to DL him and bring up a serviceable starter in his stead, then the least they can do is skip his next turn or two and let Mitre or Gaudin take the turn. While they’re not exactly world-beaters (there IS a reason they’re in the bullpen, after all), it would give Vazquez a chance to rest his arm and the Yankees a chance to see if he can be counted on for the stretch run.

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Brett Gardner has gone 8-for-44 over the last 17 games (.181AVG). Over that span (since July 30th), he’s knocked in only 2RBI’s.

With another 0-for-3 outing tonight, Francisco Cervelli has picked up only 11 hits and 3RBI’s over his last 71 at-bats (since June 26th). That comes out to a .154AVG. At the beginning of June, Cervelli was hitting over .300. It’s hard to believe that he’s dropped off so much. Remember when some crazy fans thought that this guy would be Posada’s heir apparent?

With Francisco’s recent struggles at the plate and his shaky defense of late, are the Yankees going to call up Jesus Montero any time soon?

CLEVELAND- JULY 27: Francisco Cervelli

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From the LoHud Yankees Blog:

Nick Swisher has been scratched from the lineup with soreness in his achilles. Colin Curtis is taking his spot in right field. Brett Gardner has moved into the lead-off spot.

It doesn’t sound very serious, but with all the recent injuries on this team..it’s just not a good sign. Hopefully, he’ll be back in the lineup tomorrow.

Update: 6:38PM ET: From LoHud:

“I got up to go to the bathroom this morning and I was like, wait, something ain’t right,” he said.

The pain is in his left Achilles. Swisher took batting practice in the cage and said he believes he could pinch hit if necessary, but running is a problem. He’s been getting treatment most of the day and said it feels more loose than it did this morning.

“It’s not like it feels like anything is horrible,” Swisher said. “But anything in your achilles, that’s a scary thing to mess with. It’s a good day to just chill and get as much treatment as I can. Come back here tomorrow and get back after it.”

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Anyone who watched any of this week’s Yankees games are probably wondering the same thing: who stole the major league umpires and replaced them with these clowns?

In every single game, the umpires blew at least one call. By my count, they cost Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira
and Jorge Posada base hits. They also cost the Royals a run last night. They cost Brett Gardner an at-bat for reasons unknown (although Colin Curtis turned that into his first ML home run). They tossed Joe Girardi from a game and nobody has yet to tell him why.

I wish I could rail against some sort of vast umpiring conspiracy against the Yankees. I wish that Joe West’s comments at the beginning of the season pointed to a bias against the Yankees. Sadly, I cannot. This season, umpires have cost Armando Gallaraga a perfect game (and no-hitter) with two outs in the 9th inning. Turn on SportsCenter and nightly, some umpire somewhere is blowing a call that directly affects the outcome of a game. What we are watching is the one thing that will kill baseball as a top-tier sport in this country faster than PED’s or Tim McCarver. Bad umpiring used to be a rare occurrence – rare enough that a bad call led every sportscast in America. Now, bad umpiring has become the norm. Fans can be excused if they wait with baited breath for the next horrible call.

Fortunately, I don’t think this problem is unsolvable. Here are five pretty simple things that Commissioner Bud Selig can do to restore some sense of normalcy to the grand game:

  1. Revert back to having AL & NL umpires. With that system, the umpires got to know the teams, players and managers much better than with the current system of rotating crews around the majors.
  2. I understand that MLB grades the umpires every year. Why not make those grades public? Fans have more stats available than Roosevelt has dimes to know how a player performs; it seems only fair that we know which umpires have fair strike zones, which ones blow calls most often and so forth. Besides, knowing that their performance will be publicly available sounds like a great incentive to get the umpires to concentrate a bit harder on the field.
  3. Suspend umpires during the season for some of the ridiculous calls they make. If a player or manager can be suspended for conduct unbecoming, no reason an umpire cannot.
  4. Demand the umpires get in shape. Baseball is the only major sport that allows its game officials to be so…corpulent. This isn’t a case of “fat discrimination” but one of simply asking the umpires to be mobile enough to keep up with the speed of the game.
  5. Have more intense spring training for the umpires. I cringe every time I see an umpire in the absolutely wrong position to make a call. Just as the players work on getting themselves in correct position for cut-off throws and pitchers run PFP drills during spring training, I think having a spring complex where umpires work on getting on in position for throws to every base from every angle is appropriate.

The really neat thing is, the commissioner’s “best interests of baseball” authority means he can do all of this outside of the CBA. (Maybe not #5; but certainly the rest). What do you think? Is it time for MLB to do something about the umpiring?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@rrothfeldt) and friend me on Facebook.

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Yesterday marked a memorable occasion for our beloved Yankees. In the 7th inning, both Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis took Angels reliever Scott Shields deep. How rare was it? It’s the first time since 1929 that two Yankee rookies went yard in the same inning. (Those two players? Bill Dickey and Sammy Byrd. Dickey went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Byrd became famous for ending his career by crashing into an outfield wall in the first ever night game.)

The Yankees expect Miranda to pop a few long balls; it is the principle reason he is with the major league squad. But for those who missed it, Curtis’ shot was a direct-from-Hollywood-screenplay type of home run. The only reason Curtis was in the game at all was due to the horrible umpiring: home plate ump Bill Emmerich tossed Brett Gardner, ostensibly for arguing balls and strikes. The only thing was, the count when Gardner was ejected was 0-2. So, not only was Curtis facing a veteran, former all-star pitcher with a 95+mph fastball; he inherited a no-ball, two-strike count. Just to make things more unlikely, Curtis had not gone yard since Spring Training. But like any Hollywood “B” script writer will tell you, the most unlikely scenario is exactly how it needs to play out for the hero and when Curtis’ laser cleared the right-field wall, it was…well, it was just the latest chapter in the Yankees best feel-good story in a long time.

Colin Curtis really deserves one of those “B” movies to be made about his life. When you really stop to think about it, his story is one of those that seem to come straight from a fairy-tale. It is one of those stories that when you tell your grandchildren about it, they’ll swear you’ve been spiking your prune juice – because it is just THAT unbelievable. To put it simply, Curtis stat line says he should be dead, not hitting improbable home runs at Yankee Stadium.

Curtis was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000, at the age of 15. By the time treatment began, it had spread to the blood vessels and lymph nodes throughout his abdomen, making it a stage III cancer, the most advanced form. The five-year survival rate for that type of advanced stage cancer is only 48%. Curtis beat the cancer, returning in time to rejoin his high school sophomore team. He not only rejoined, he played well enough to earn a scholarship to Arizona State, where he wound up hitting .324. After his college career, Colin was selected in the fourth round (134th overall) by the Yankees in the 2006 amateur draft. He then made it to the major league spring training camp as a non-roster invitee this year; where he opened some eyes by hitting a walk-off home run in the Yankees first spring training game. And now he is on the major league roster, having appeared in 14 games so far and hitting what may be the Yankees most improbable home run of the season.

Quite frankly, this kid has beaten the odds at every level. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to want Colin Curtis to succeed. But if you’re a Yankees fan and don’t get a bit of a chill down your spine the next time Colin Curtis is announced, then perhaps you need a transfusion of humanity.

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Last year, it was the “The Year of the Walk-Off.” This year, it’s the “Year of the Grand Slam.” The Yankees have hit nine grand slams this season, which is only one shy of the club record set in 1987. Mattingly actually hit six of those grand slam’s in ’87 (Fun Fact: Don never hit a grand slam before or after 1987). With 74 games left to play, I’m sure the team will shatter that record.

May 14th: Alex Rodriguez vs. Matt Guerrier (MIN)

May 28th: Robinson Cano vs. Tony Sipp (CLE)

May 31st: Alex Rodriguez vs. Chris Perez (CLE)

June 8th: Curtis Granderson vs. Kevin Millwood (BAL

June 12th: Jorge Posada vs. Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)

June 13th: Jorge Posada vs. Casey Daigle (HOU)

June 20th: Mark Teixeira vs. Johan Santana (NYM)

July 3rd: Brett Gardner vs Brandon Morrow (SEA)

July 6th: Alex Rodriguez vs Trevor Cahill (OAK)

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The season is more than half over.  Most of the questions the Yankees have are relatively minor and I fully expect the front office will address them via trade or waiver pick-ups.

But there is one question that the Yankees bet the House that Jeter Built on that has yet to get a satisfactory answer. That question is, will Curtis Granderson ever hit left-handed pitching? The answer seems to be a pretty resounding, “No.” The worst part about this is there isn’t a obvious answer to the problem. Granderson was brought in to be the everyday center fielder and to do it, the Yankees sent away the  CF of the Future, Austin Jackson.

Consider the following splits:

  Split R HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG BAbip tOPS+
Career vs RHP 380

92

264

67

15

246

476

0.289

0.365

0.525

0.334

117

2010 vs RHP 23

6

19

5

0

17

27

0.244

0.336

0.48

0.263

128

Career vs LHP 87

17

58

7

2

50

192

0.209

0.268

0.338

0.263

49

2010 vs LHP 9

1

4

2

0

5

23

0.203

0.250

0.291

0.273

54

                           
  Career Totals

467

109

322

74

17

296

668

0.269

0.341

0.478

0.317

100

  2010 Totals

32

7

23

7

0

22

50

0.228

0.304

0.408

0.267

100

As you can see, Granderson’s struggles with left-handed pitching this year are in line with his career totals. The principle reason his overall batting line is sub-par this year is mainly due to the much lower BAbip, which may be as much a result of bad luck as anything else. But the L/R splits for this year are pretty much the same as for the previous six, and they are dramatic. The OPS+ difference is particularly striking, revealing a player who is well above league average when facing a right-handed pitcher but hits more like Mario Mendoza when facing a lefty. Equally depressing are the run production differentials: against righties, Granderson produces a run in 28.7% of his plate appearances, but against lefties it’s 14.6%. In other words, a Granderson at bat against a RHP is twice as likely to yield the Yankees a run as one against a LHP.

So, what do the Yankees do? Can they live with Granderson in CF against lefties on a regular basis despite the fact it’s doubtful he will ever be an effective hitter against them? Or do they bite the bullet and call it a mistake? The Yankees have options: Brett Gardner is a very god defensive center fielder and there are corner outfielders on the market. One intriguing possibility is Jayson Werth, who is rumored to be on the trading block. Another is David DeJesus, who is constantly linked to the Yankees. Both of those players will be free agents after the season, both are respectable left fielders defensively and both represent an offensive upgrade from Granderson.

What say you – do the Yankees make a trade or live with Granderson as the center fielder of the present and future?

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Robbie Cano, Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez (reserve) and C.C. Sabathia made this years American League All-Star team. Do you notice a name missing from that list? Yeah, the name is Andy Pettitte.

C.C. Sabathia is set to start the Sunday before the All-Star Game, which will not allow him to participate with the new rules enforced by the league. He will have to be replaced on the roster, and the general idea is that Pettitte will take his spot. When you break it down..you’re probably saying, “Why didn’t Pettitte get picked over Hughes and Sabathia?” I was thinking the same thing. He’s got better numbers than both of them, but people seem to think he did this because he knew he would have to pull Sabathia from the game, and he could just slot Pettitte in his spot. That way, he is honoring both of his players.

There are also guys like Francisco Liriano and Jered Weaver out there, who are also deserving of a spot on the team, so there is no guaranteed spot for Pettitte. With Girardi running the team, you would have to think he would go with Andy. It’s not something to go crazy over, but having Pettitte as an “add-on” is a bit of a smack to the face. I’m sure Girardi talked it over with his players, because he’s just that type of guy. Andy probably brushes it off as nothing, just as he handles everything else with class. I just don’t like the idea that a guy some people were saying should START the All-Star Game..isn’t even on it at the moment.

Some also think that Brett Gardner should have made the team, but I guess he really doesn’t have the star power to make it. It’s a popularity contest..we all know that. Nick Swisher is on the Final Vote Ballot. Vote Swisher!

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If you watched today’s game, you’ve undoubtedly started pointing fingers at different people for some pretty horrendous performances. You could point to Joba Chamberlain‘s meltdown in the 8th inning. You know, walking a guy then giving up consecutive two-out hits to score the tying run. You could point to David Robertson, who in his second inning of work let the first two hitters reach base, setting up the disastrous 11th inning. You could point to Chan Ho Park, who once again proved that no matter how well he receives ceremonial first pitches, he is never to be trusted in a game situation. You could point at Joe Girardi, whose decisions (letting Robertson start the 11th, bringing in Park) can certainly be questioned. (Then again, his decisions are often curious – and that’s being generous).

Yes, those were all pretty bad performances and you would be correct in pointing out all of those failures. But none of those are the reason the Yankees lost a game they should have won. In fact, the Blue Jays should never have even been in the game, had the real culprit done its job. None of those late-inning failures would have mattered had the OFFENSE bothered to show up. Frankly, the Yanks threw away scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity – and not just routine scoring chances, but chances to post some serious crooked numbers. Toronto’s starter not only was on the ropes for the whole day, he seemingly was one hit away from getting an early shower. (more…)

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Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano have pretty much locked up their respective positions on the All-Star ballot. Teixeira, Rodriguez and Posada all stand in 2nd place in their races, but it seems like Teixeira is the only one that is close enough to overtake the #1 slot. Not one of the Yankees outfielders are in the top 4 positions in the Outfield class (Swisher [5], Granderson [6], Gardner [8]).

Even though you can’t vote for these guys, you have to figure that Girardi picks Hughes, Pettitte and Rivera for the All-Star team.

Vote Yankees

 

2010 MLB All-Star Balloting : American League
1st Base
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Justin Morneau Twins 1,752,276
2. Mark Teixeira Yankees 1,507,769
3. Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1,426,973
4. Kevin Youkilis Red Sox 805,244
5. Carlos Pena Rays 620,001
2nd Base
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Robinson Cano Yankees 2,330,278
2. Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 1,227,495
3. Ian Kinsler Rangers 1,075,296
4. Orlando Hudson Twins 848,402
5. Ben Zobrist Rays 648,641
3rd Base
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Evan Longoria Rays 2,534,967
2. Alex Rodriguez Yankees 1,571,831
3. Michael Young Rangers 1,007,165
4. Adrian Beltre Red Sox 608,447
5. Brandon Inge Tigers 530,882
Shortstop
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Derek Jeter Yankees 2,692,418
2. Elvis Andrus Rangers 1,319,827
3. J.J. Hardy Twins 770,373
4. Jason Bartlett Rays 639,244
5. Alex Gonzalez Blue Jays 556,965
Catcher
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Joe Mauer Twins 3,280,565
2. Jorge Posada Yankees 1,043,748
3. Victor Martinez Red Sox 689,568
4. Taylor Teagarden Rangers 433,413
5. Gerald Laird Tigers 366,922
Designated Hitter
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Vladimir Guerrero Rangers 2,316,229
2. Hideki Matsui Angels 1,009,648
3. David Ortiz Red Sox 746,316
4. Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners 736,918
5. Jason Kubel Twins 654,269
Outfield
RANK PLAYER NAME AL TEAM TOTAL VOTES
1. Ichiro Suzuki Mariners 1,567,788
2. Carl Crawford Rays 1,445,615
3. Josh Hamilton Rangers 1,431,013
4. Nelson Cruz Rangers 1,377,399
5. Nick Swisher Yankees 1,049,047
6. Curtis Granderson Yankees 967,003
7. Torii Hunter Angels 943,814
8. Brett Gardner Yankees 942,338
9. Magglio Ordonez Tigers 869,231
10. B.J. Upton Rays 831,580
11. Vernon Wells Blue Jays 820,377
12. Michael Cuddyer Twins 774,088
13. Austin Jackson Tigers 764,488
14. Bobby Abreu Angels 703,134
15. Denard Span Twins 691,164
Results updated: Monday, June 21, 2010

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Ever since the injury to Nick Johnson, there have been debates to who should be the right person to bat second. I am reminded of some very wise words, stats don’t lie. As you can see from the table below, Brett Gardner and Nick Johnson both have had the most AB in the 2 hole. Johnson having the better OBP — by .050 — but with Gardner having 8 more hits and thus almost .100 higher batting average. I do realize that Granderson has a .429 OBP, but that is over 12 at bats and is likely to go down with more time in the 2 hole.

AB ? R H HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP
Brett Gardner 75 13 20 1 4 4 6 16 .267 .321
Nick Johnson 71 12 12 2 8 0 22 23 .169 .379
Nick Swisher 45 8 11 3 5 0 7 7 .244 .346
Curtis Granderson 12 4 4 0 0 0 1 2 .333 .429
Marcus Thames 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 .333 .250
Jorge Posada 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000
Randy Winn 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Greg Golson 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 207 37 48 6 19 4 36 50 .232 .352
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2010.

If Swisher continues to hit the way he is, I don’t see why the Yankees would need anyone else to hit 2nd. Time will tell.

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The Pitching:

Phil Hughes wasn’t the same pitcher we saw in previous starts this year. He was striking to strike every hitter out, wasn’t able to finish off hitters and ran up his pitch count pretty quickly. Phil’s pitching line was: 5.0IP 6H 5R 5ER 1BB 3K (104 Pitches, 74 for Strikes). Boone Logan came on in relief, allowing a run on two hits. Chan Ho Park was handed the ball in the 7th inning, and made a diarrhea all over the mound. He might as well have done that, because he was horrible. Park gave up three runs on four hits (two home runs). His ERA now stands at 8.10. Damaso Marte entered the game in the 8th inning, and wound up tossing 1.2 innings of scoreless ball. Vazquez came out of the bullpen and recorded the last out of the 9th. Javy picked up the win, improving his record to (W, 2-4).

The Offense:

Brett Gardner went 2-for-4 on the game, and picked up three runs. Mark Teixeira went 1-for-4, and collected a run and an RBI. Cervelli had another big night, going 2-for-4, collecting 3 runs and an RBI. A-Rod went 2-for-5 tonight, picking up 2 runs and 4RBI’s. He smoked a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game up. Marcus Thames went 2-for-4 on the game, with a run and 4RBI’s (Home Run, Double). He hit a two-run walk off home run to win the game.

Final Score: Yankees 11, Red Sox 9

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