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High and Tight.

Updated: 2016-02-04T11:48:55.603-08:00


Swish, O.A.R., and Crazy Poker Games


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This is When You Know Your Media Has an Agenda


Look at the bottom.


That's the front page of the Post. A world leader and admitted terrorist who has killed thousands of people over decades has been overthrown and killed, and they use it to take a cheap shot at A-Rod.

Leave it to the Koreans to Sum Everything Up Nicely


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This One Didn't Hurt So Bad


There is of course some regret in not seeing my Yankees advance, but in reality, I'm not overly upset about it.

This wasn't 2001, where Joe Torre refused to play the infield back.

This wasn't 2003, where Torre put Jeff Weaver in relief and left Rivera to rot in the 'pen for a save that never came.

This wasn't 2004, where Torre refused to bunt on Schilling because it wouldn't be "classy."

Those hurt. This one was simply disappointing.

This wasn't a Yankees team that was supposed to compete. This was supposed to be the year the Phillies beat the Red Sox in the World Series.

I didn't expect a title in 2011. The pitching staff going into the year was CC, Hughes, and Pray Not to Lose.

Jeter and A-Rod spent significant time on the disabled list. Hughes, the expected #2, spent an injury-riddled season struggling to come back. Posada's production fell off the proverbial cliff. Rafael Soriano, the expected "bridge-to-Mo," couldn't stay healthy.

This was a team with disaster written all over it. Then a funny thing happened: they kept winning.

This flawed, injured group of players wound up with the best record in the American League.

I'll break it down for you as simply as I can, Yankee fans: no other team's fans had a better time in 2011, with the exception of whichever team wins the World Series.

This year, I got to see the development of Curtis Granderson from a "nice little player" into a genuine MVP-level superstar.

I got to see Robinson Cano continue to emerge as one of the best players in baseball.

I got to see my team dismantle their chief rivals at the end and knock the favorites out of the postseason picture.

I got to see brilliant pickups by Brian Cashman, Freddie Garcia and Bartolo Colon, come out of nowhere to pitch not only effectively, but at a high level on a big stage.

I got to see David Robertson shift from a decent middle reliever into an All-Star and the heir apparent to Rivera.

I got to see a glimpse of a bright future for Jesus Montero.

I got to see Ivan Nova blossom from a guy considered such a fringe prospect he was a Rule 5 pick who was returned to New York to a bonafide Rookie of the Year candidate.

I got to see the greatest shortstop in Yankees history get his 3,000th hit.

I got to see the greatest relief pitcher in history become the all-time saves leader.

I got to see a lot. Fans of no other team can say anything close.

I enjoyed this regular season. I know most Yankee fans are of the mindset that it's only October that matters, and there is some truth in that.

Maybe it's because of the lowered expectations coming in that this loss doesn't hurt like the punches in the gut that were 2001, 2003, or 2004.

But maybe, just maybe, it's because I enjoyed getting there so much that, looking back, the final destination wasn't as important.

Yankee fans have become entitled and arrogant, expecting every year to win or else.

Sometimes, you have to enjoy the journey.

This year, I did.

Yanks Down to Last Chance


Still, it could be worse...


So, How Did That All Work Out For You?


Unbridled optimism: what usually gets you to look like a jackass after a season is completed.Case in point.2011 Red Sox Will Challenge 1927 Yankees for Title of Greatest Team in Major League Historyby Eric Ortiz on Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 7:41AM 362The Red Sox have won 100 or more games three times in their 110-year existence.They will make it four in 2011. But this team has the potential to accomplish something even bigger than winning 100 games.The last time the Red Sox reached the 100-win mark was 1946, when they went 104-50-2 and lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games.Prior to that, the Red Sox posted 101 wins in 1915 and 105 in 1912. Both seasons ended with World Series titles.Will the duck boats be rolling through the streets of Boston again next fall?Bookmakers like the Red Sox’ chances. Current odds put them at 9-2 to win the 2011 World Series. Only the Phillies, at 7-2, are bigger favorites, with the Yankees not far behind at 5-1 shots.Championships, of course, aren’t won in January. But championship teams are built during the offseason, and Theo Epstein has put together a roster that would make Branch Rickey proud.Look at the starting lineup.Jacoby Ellsbury, CFDustin Pedroia, 2BCarl Crawford, LFAdrian Gonzalez, 1BKevin Youkilis, 3BDavid Ortiz, DHJ.D. Drew, RFJarrod Saltalamacchia, CMarco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, SSSpeed. Power. Plate discipline. This lineup has it all. Good luck finding a hole from 1 to 7. Saltalamacchia is a bit of a wild card, but the 25-year-old could be ready for a breakout season. And whoever is the starting shortstop -- Scutaro or Lowrie -- gives the Red Sox one of the toughest No. 9 hitters in the game.Besides a potent offensive attack, the Red Sox will boast airtight defense, perhaps the best of any team in baseball.Turn to the bench, and manager Terry Francona has plenty of options.Mike Cameron, OFDarnell McDonald, OFMarco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, INFJason Varitek, CYouth, experience and versatility will ride the pine like lions waiting to hunt. Depth won’t be a problem, especially with players like Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick on the farm.In 2010, the Red Sox scored 818 runs (second-most in the majors), or 5.1 per game. They hit 211 home runs (second in MLB) and posted a .790 OPS (tops in MLB). The offense, with even more weapons now, could demolish those numbers.Yet one run is all it might take to win a game on some days with the starting staff the Red Sox have assembled.Jon Lester, LHPJosh Beckett, RHPJohn Lackey, RHPClay Buchholz, RHPDaisuke Matsuzaka, RHPLester is a Cy Young winner waiting to happen. Beckett will notch more than six victories. Lackey should be better equipped to avoid the one-bad-inning syndrome. Buchholz has become a force. And Dice-K might be the best No. 5 starter ever. The Japanese right-hander is the only pitcher in the rotation who’s never been an All-Star, but this could be the year he ends that streak.Every Red Sox starting pitcher has something to prove. While the Phillies might be the popular choice as the best rotation in baseball, don’t be surprised if people are singing a different tune come October.When Red Sox starters have to hand the ball to the bullpen this season, Boston fans won’t have to have to cover their eyes and pray. The weak link in 2010 could be one of the best relief corps in the business.Tim Wakefield, RHPScott Atchison/Matt Albers, RHPHideki Okajima, LHPDan Wheeler, RHPBobby Jenks, RHPDaniel Bard, RHPJonathan Papelbon, RHPOkajima is the only known left-handed quantity. But youngster Felix Doubront has talent and should see some action. Rich Hill, Lenny DiNardo and Andrew Miller also could contribute.The right-handers in the mix all bring experience and different styles to the fire. Need long relief? Call on Wakefield to disrupt hitters’ timing. Need a middle-inning specialist to get key outs? Wheeler knows how to do the job, and Atchison pr[...]

Granderson Picks His Intro Music


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I'm really just curious how many media outlets will spin the story that way instead of ol' folksy Cliffers taking "less" money to play where he was comfortable (although the average annual value is higher than the reported offers that the Yankees and Rangers made even if the sixth year isn't guaranteed).

Had the Yankees signed him for the same dollars you can bet there would be another outcry about disparity. But the Phillies? Nope, this is just old friends reuniting!

What Joba's Been Up To This Offseason



Maybe Mickey can help him with his slider.


It's amazing that they both have the same expression.

Jeter : Gold Glove :: Kim Jong Il : Nobel Peace Prize


We all know that most of the award voting in baseball is a joke, but is there anything more ridiculous than the Gold Glove awards? They gave Rafael Palmiero one when he'd played less than 30 games there and was a DH.

Now they award Jeter with another one, when not only do the defensive metrics say the opposite, but even with the naked eye it's readily apparent that Jeter's future away from the shortstop position is coming quickly.

He's obviously lost more than a step and these voters can't see past the intangibles.

Cano and Teix were among the deserving, though.

If You Have Field Level Seats, Pay Attention


This is what you get if you spend your time at the Stadium not watching the game.


... How Is This Even Possible?


Is he the unluckiest guy ever, or what?

Mark Prior Injured Again
Former Cub takes line drive off pitching shoulder

Former Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, out of baseball after leaving the San Diego Padres organization a year ago, recently started throwing again in hopes of one more comeback.

But we hear that he recently took a line drive off of his pitching shoulder while throwing batting practice to a local team. He was shut down for three weeks although the injury is not considered serious.

He should call Kerry Wood and they should both just drive over to Dusty Baker's house and kick the shit out of him.

Optimizing the Lineup


I had a conversation last week with someone talking about lineups and who should hit where, so I thought I'd revisit the Optimum Lineup creation (sabermetrically) that one could form using the current Yankees.There's plenty of math and discussion on the subject, from Beyond the Boxscore, Retrosheet, and Catfish Stew.Here's the breakdown of the roles and slots: 1. The strongest OBP guy in the lineup. This could be your best overall hitter as well provided he leads the team in OBP, but essentially this spot boils down to whichever player gets on base the most. 2. Often (but not always) the team's best hitter. Usually the most balanced hitter on the team as far as OBP and SLG. 3. A balanced hitter but not traditionally the "three hole" guy. Usually the most balanced player left after the other assignments are made in regards to specific roles. Without a strong requirement, this spot is filled after most of the others (see the order below) but is usually a better hitter that doesn't have a specified role in the lineup. 4. The SLG guy. Essentially, he's the antithesis to the leadoff batter (although they could both be very good hitters). This is the fella most likely to drive the ball as far as possible, and the guy who (along with the #2 hitter) is usually the best on the team. 5. The next best hitter on the team (OPS-wise) who isn't already leading off or batting second or cleanup. 6. This position is reserved for the highest power guy who isn't an OBP machine. It may fall to this guy to drive in the guys on base should the four and five hitters not get it done, so it makes sense that his OBP isn't that important. 7. Usually a higher SLG than OBP from the remaining players. He's similar to the #4 hitter - like cleanup #2. 8. This is the hitter with the lowest OBP. If this is a National League lineup, the pitcher would hit here. Yes, Tony LaRussa was right. 9. Usually the second-worst hitter on the team. Power isn't important at all since he's hitting behind the worst hitter, but OBP is because the lineup is turning over. Kind of the opposite of the guy in the seven slot.The lineup would be constructed by picking players for these slots in order:1, 4, 2, 5, 6, 7, 3, 9, 8.So if we look at the current 2010 Yankees, (judging stats by only their play so far in 2010 and only utilizing the current Yankee regulars) the ideal lineup for creating runs would be as follows (using their OPS and the formula established by Baseball Musings:Runs/gm: 6.1151. Gardner LF2. Swisher RF3. Jeter SS4. Cano 2B5. Posada DH6. Granderson CF7. Rodriguez 3B8. Teixeira 1B9. Cervelli CInteresting. It's no doubt that Cano and Swisher have been the best hitters so far, and besides the "gut" feling that a speedy guy is a leadoff guy (this formula doesn't take speed into account at all) Gardner would make a fantastic leadoff hitter. It makes sense to see A-Rod as "second cleanup" and Cervelli in the 9-spot. Is anyone surprised to see Teixeira as the worst hitter so far? Didn't think so.Assuming Johnson can come back and be healthy, this would be the Yankee lineup (again, based on 2010 stats):Runs/gm: 6.1171. Gardner LF2. Swisher RF3. Jeter SS4. Cano 2B5. Posada C6. Granderson CF7. Rodriguez 3B8. Teixeira 1B9. Johnson DHIt's nearly identical lineup to the one above - just slide Johnson into Cervelli's spot (and the increae is minimal). I still think Cashman is going to pick up a bat at the trading deadline, so this is probably moot.This is the current lineup Girardi is running out there:1. Jeter SS2. Swisher RF3. Teixeira 1B4. Rodriguez 3B5. Cano 2B6. Posada DH7. Granderson CF8. Cervelli C9. Gardner LFThe runs/gm for this lineup is 5.978. It's not a huge difference, but a run or so per week cou[...]

State of the Yanks


Sorry for the lack of updates over the past week or so - the blog time has ben spent redesigning the template and attempting to convert to the "new" Blogger, which amazingly doesn't allow for converting from the *old* Blogger. If you see some strange looks and feels in the coming days, don't worry about it - the content isn't going to be affected.Now, on to matters that actually matter.  It's almost a third of the way through the season, and The Yankees have the second best record in the game (behind those pesky Rays). So what could possibly be wrong in Yankee-land? Not everything of course, but some things are rotten in the state of the Bronx.The Good:Nick Swisher: He's hitting for power AND average this year. Quitely might put together a career season.Brett Gardner: One of the year's big question marks has become a nice addition. We knew about his speed and defense, now we're seeing his bat come to life as well.Francisco Cervelli: Will eventually come back to earth and stop hitting like Piazza, but has been very impressive stepping in for Posada. His entire minor league career he was never regarded as a great hitter, so his hot start may just be a fluke, but the Yankees will take it and ride it as long as Posada can't go.Joba regaining velocity: He's back in the bullpen and is back to throwing hard again. Hopefully we'll see the dominant Chamberlain we got to know a couple of years ago.Marcus Thames vs. lefties: He's a butcher in the field (when Girardi has to use Ramiro Pena as your defensive replacement even though he's never played right field at any professional level, you are not a good defender), but as a PH or DH, he makes matchups more difficult for opposing managers who want to go to their lefty specialist.Yoooooos: Phil Hughes is finally showing consistent flashes of why Cashman refused to trade the 23-year old for Santana or Halladay. He's currently in the Cy Young discussion.Old Man Andy: Pettitte has been having one of his best seasons to date.  He's been able to go deep into games, keep runners off base, and is among the AL ERA and Win leaders.Mo still Mo: A week ago there was some concern about Rivera in the media, but he's got a 1.76 ERA and is 10-for-11 in save opportunities. Typical Riverian numbers.AJ/CC: They haven't been as dominant as Hughes and Pettitte, but are a combined 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA.Posada seems not to have lost anything at the plate or behind the dish (when he's been able to play). His injury isn't the type you worry about with old catchers wearing down, it was just a fluke bruise.The Bad:Alex Rodriguez: An adequate year from a third baseman, but you don't pay adequate players $30M/yr. Unless his power numbers increase (on pace for 23 HR) this year will be a huge disappointment.David Robertson: Was expected to be a big cog in the 'pen, but has proven inconsistent and hasn't been able to nail down a real role in the bullpen yet.The Ugly:Chan Ho Park: Injured, then terrible, then injured again, then terrible again. I didn't understand this signing to begin with, and he's done nothing to change my mind. Also: diarrhea.Mark Teixeira thinks its still April: For a few brief moments in the beginning of May, Big Teix was bashing the ball like the Teixeira of old. Shortly after that, he regressed to April Mark, who can't hit his way out of a paper bag. It's odd to see from a switch hitter, because usually mechanical issues don't affect you at both sides of the plate.  He's got a .210 average and an OPS of .692.Derek Jeter is killing the team from the leadoff spot. He's hitting in the .270s, but isn't getting on base at all. As bad as Teix has been, Jeter's been even worse. A .321 OBP from a leadoff hitte[...]

Vazquez Has Best Performance of 2010


0.1 IP, 0 BB, 1 K, 4 PC, W.

It's really too bad he couldn't have done that the *last* time he relieved against the Red Sox.

No Play-by-Play from Mr. Grey


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Girardi Has Lost His Mind


Saw this quote by Girardi about Brett Gardner:
After the Yankees didn't re-sign Johnny Damon to play left, sent Cabrera to the Braves and traded for Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson, Gardner emerged out of spring training as the primary left fielder, although Marcus Thames then got some of the time against lefties.

Yet Gardner is off to a .370 start as a lefty vs. the lefties, going 10 for 27.

"I've always thought of him as an everyday player because he hits left-handers," Girardi said.

Now he is an everyday player, moving from left to center while Granderson recovers for perhaps a month from the groin strain he suffered last Saturday.
Remember last year when the beat writers jumped all over Girardi for "lying" about injuries? Why isn't anyone calling him on this?

Gardner is now playing against lefties because Granderson is hurt. Before that, Girardi moved the better centerfielder to left because he didn't want to have to make Granderson change positions due to the platoon he'd set up between Gardner and Thames. Gardner was not starting against lefties at all, as anyone who regularly reads this space has seen mentioned many times before.

Now, Girardi claims he "always thought of" Gardner was an everyday player because he "hits left-handers"? Girardi chose to instead play Granderson - who has repeatedly proven an inability to hit lefties - instead of Gardner.

Joe, just admit Gardner proved something to you and not that you "knew it all along."

It comes off as disingenuous and revisionist to anyone who has been paying attention.

True Yankee Update!


Courtesy of The Onion, obviously:
True Yankees, Regular Yankees To Now Wear Different Uniforms

April 27, 2010 | ISSUE 46•16

NEW YORK—The New York Yankees unveiled a new, lesser uniform at a press conference Tuesday in an effort to distinguish ordinary, run-of-the-mill Yankees from the "true Yankee legends who walk among us." "To have Javier Vazquez don the same pinstripes as Mariano Rivera or Jorge Posada is…well, it's unthinkable," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said as Curtis Granderson modeled the sterile, black-and-white uniform with a large, boxy, non-interlocking "NY" stitched across the front of the chest. "The untrue Yankees will wear a blank, unfitted ball cap until they have their big Yankee moment. They'll wear their last names on the backs of their lesser uniforms as a badge of shame." When asked which uniform he was assigned, Alex Rodriguez cried for 10 minutes.

Girardi's "Set Roles" Costs Another Game


The situation last night: Dave Robertson came into the game in the 7th inning and faced one batter and struck him out (the box score will show 0.2 IP but one of those was a failed steal attempt).

In a tie game in which you never know how many pitchers you might need, it made sense to send Robertson - who looked good and threw minimal pitches - out for the 8th. However, Robertson isn't the "8th Inning Guy™" so when the 8th started, Chamberlain was called upon. Besides the fact that it's an easy way to burn through a bullpen in a potential extra inning game, Chamberlain had terrible numbers against Kendrick who was due up in the 8th (.667 lifetime average).

When a guy is pitching well and there's no reason to yank him - don't. Girardi's set roles (using his 8th Inning Guy™ in the 8th in a tie or with a lead, regardless of how the game is going, using Rivera only for th e9th and only in save situations instead of high leverage situations) is going to cost the team more wins this year.

I wish for once a manager would grow some balls and manage intelligently and not just stick to "the book" so they don't have to be second guessed if it doesn't work.

This isn't second guessing either - I was yelling about it from the stands in Anaheim last night as soon as Joba came out from bullpen.

Another Amazing Play in the Bronx


If you haven't seen this yet, be prepared for a surprise.
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The acrobatic player is Fordham University's Brian Kownacki.

This Makes the Signing Totally Worth It


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Well, at Least Now We Know Why C-Grand is in Center


While Gardner clearly was the superior centerfielder based on all available metrics including the naked eye, Girardi chose to put Granderson in center on an everyday basis and shift Gardner to left.

It's become apparant that Girardi didn't want to move Granderson to center from left when he plays Thames against lefthanders, because for some reason, Girardi has decided to platoon Gardner and Thames in left.

Maybe Girardi isn't aware that Gardner isn't the one who needs to sit vs. lefties.
Gardner vs. righties .330/.358/.688
Gardner vs. lefties .311/.317/.628
Granderson vs. righties .367/.530/.897
Granderson vs. lefties .271/.343/.615

It's fairly obvious who the one with the problem via lefties is out of the pair. Yes, Thames destroys lefthanders, and if you're going to play him at all it would be vs. a tough lefthanded starter. However if you're going to bench someone, make it Granderson and not Gardner, unless the players prove otherwise.

This seems more like a salary-driven "proven vet" Torre-type move. Let's hope it doesn't continue.

2010 Season Predictions


It's that time of year again - let's make some educated guesses on the final standings for 2010. As usual, here are ESPN's guesses

National League:
NL East:

NL Central:

NL West:


MVP: Hanley Ramirez
Cy Young: Roy Halladay
ROY: Jason Heyward

American League:

AL East:
Red Sox
Blue Jays

AL Central:
White Sox

AL West:


MVP: Robinson Cano
Cy Young: Jon Lester
ROY: Neftali Feliz

World Series:
Yankees over Phillies (again)

Crazy Predictions:
  • Andy Pettitte will lead the AL in wins.
  • Kyle Blanks will lead the NL in home runs.
  • For the first time in years, more than one Yankee will have over five saves.
  • John Kruk will say something stupid.

Well THAT Didn't Take Very Long


Hopefully not a sign of things to come:
Nick Johnson scratched from lineup

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)—New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson(notes) was scratched from the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against Philadelphia because of a stiff lower back.

Jamie Hoffmann(notes) replaced Johnson in the game that featured new Phillies ace Roy Halladay(notes) and Yankees star CC Sabathia(notes).