Posts Tagged ‘AJ Burnett’

Seattle Mariners Lockup Felix Hernandez

January 19, 2010

The Seattle Mariners invested not only for 2010, but in their future last night.

According to ESPN.com’s Keith Law, the Mariners have signed ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million contract extension. The deal buys out Hernandez’s two remaining years of arbitration.

"King Felix" got paid last night

First, kudos to the Mariners’ front office for locking up Hernandez. It always pleases me to see when teams lock up home-grown talent to long-term deals.

The Cleveland Indians started this trend in the early to mid-90’s and it’s great to see the trend continuing into the 2000’s. We have seen over the years teams like the Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke), and most recently the Florida Marlins (Josh Johnson) lockup young talent.

Second, kudos for Hernandez for taking a home town discount. I know it’s hard to say to a guy he just accepted a home town discount at $78 million, but the reality of the situation is, he did.

$78 million for a guy of Hernandez’s age (23) and caliber, is a pretty good deal for the Mariners. Just look at all the pitchers who signed contracts similar to Hernandez’s over the last couple of years.

Derek Lowe – Four years, $60 million

Roy Oswalt – Five years, $73 million

AJ Burnett – Five years, $82.5 million

John Lackey – Five years, $82.5 million

Carlos Zambrano – Five years, $91.5

Now, all of these pitchers are pretty good. There is no arguing that. But, none of them at the age of 23, have accomplished what Hernandez has accomplished so far at the major league level and has the skill level of Hernandez.

Last year, Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and struck out 217 in 238.2 innings of work. He also finished second in the AL Cy Young award voting to Greinke.

One could make the argument that Hernandez could have asked for a CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) or Johan Santana (six years, $137.5 million) like contract. But he didn’t and now the Mariners have Hernandez locked up to a reasonable contract for the next five years.

Now that they have Hernandez locked up, I wonder how this affects the re-signing of Cliff Lee? Lee is a free agent after this season and will be looking for a significant raise from his $5.75 million salary in 2010.

If the Mariners can lockup both Hernandez and Lee, then they will really have something going in Seattle.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Starting Rotation: American League East

January 18, 2010

Update:

I would like to make a correction to this post. I would also like to apologize to Blue Jays fans for making this error.

Shaun Marcum will be starting for the Blue Jays in 2010, not Dustin McGowan. Both are coming back from injuries in 2009, but Marcum will get a chance to earn his starting rotation spot back in spring training.

Again, I apologize for this oversight.

Original Post

On the heels of our Starting Nine posts that debuted last week, I thought we would take a look at the other side of ball this week. This week, I wanted to take a look at each team’s starting rotation as presently constructed.

Like last week, each day I will look at one division in baseball until all the divisions are analyzed. And like last week, we will start this segment with the American League East.

The American League East lost one major pitcher this offseason (Roy Halladay), but also gained a pretty good pitcher (John Lackey). While the offenses in this division get most of the headlines, the pitching staffs are no slouches.

Here are the starting rotations for each American League East team as presently constructed.

New York Yankees

1. C.C. Sabathia, LHP

2. A.J. Burnett, RHP

3. Andy Pettitte, LHP

4. Javier Vazquez, RHP

5. Joba Chamberlain, RHP

Quick Take – The Yankees’ starting rotation got better in the offseason with the addition of Vazquez. He becomes a pretty impressive fourth starter. There is still some debate as to who will start in 2010–Chamberlain or Phil Hughes. I believe Chamberlain will start.

Boston Red Sox

1. Josh Beckett, RHP

2. Jon Lester, LHP

3. John Lackey, RHP

4. Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

5. Clay Buchholz, RHP

Quick Take – Beckett might be the No. 1 starter, but this staff is really led by Lester. He will be a leading candidate for the Cy Young award in 2010. Lackey gives this staff incredible depth. Look for Dice-K to have a bounce back year.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. James Shields, RHP

2. Matt Garza, RHP

3. Jeff Niemann, RHP

4. David Price, LHP

5. Wade Davis, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation won’t miss the highly overrated Scott Kazmir in 2010. Garza has really turned the corner and has developed into a very solid No.2 pitcher. Starting rotation will only go as far as Price and Davis take them.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Kevin Millwood, RHP

2. Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

3. Brad Bergesen, RHP

4. Chris Tillman, RHP

5. Brian Matusz, LHP

Quick Take – The Orioles acquired Millwood to mentor this young staff and to eat up innings. Tillman and Matusz are two top prospects, who will have to earn their stripes pitching in the very tough AL East. The Orioles need Guthrie to really step up in 2010.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Ricky Romero, LHP

2. Scott Richmond, RHP

3. Brandon Morrow, RHP

4. Brett Cecil, LHP

5. Dustin McGowan, RHP

Quick Take – Any time a staff loses a pitcher of Halladay’s caliber, they are going to experience a major drop off. It looks like Morrow is going to start in Toronto, so perhaps he can realize his potential. Romero (and I think he is good) becomes the Blue Jays’ No.1 starter by default.

So that’s it for the AL East. Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League Central, home of the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Derek Lowe: What’s His Trade Market?

November 23, 2009

On January 13, 2009, the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million deal. The Braves signed Lowe after they failed to sign AJ Burnett, who signed with the New York Yankees.

Now less than one year later, the Braves are looking to trade 6’6” righty.

Why would the Braves look to trade Lowe just after one year? Well, for one, they feel they have an excess of pitching. And two, if they are able to trade Lowe, they could free up some money to add offense.

The Braves want to unload Lowe

So can the Braves trade Lowe? Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Lowe and what teams would be interested in trading for the former member of Red Sox Nation.

Pros

If you trade for Lowe, you are going to trade for one of the most durable pitchers in the game.

Lowe has started 30-plus games every season since moving from the bullpen to a starter in 2002. And since moving to the National League in 2005, Lowe has led the league in starts three out of those five years.

Over the last three years, Lowe is third in the National League in innings pitched with 605. In a sport where quantity counts just as much as quality for a pitcher, Lowe’s durability goes a long way.

Perhaps Lowe’s best asset is his ability to pitch well in big games. We all know what he did in the 2004 playoffs for the Red Sox winning the clinching game in all three series.

Lowe was also solid in two out of his three starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 playoffs.

Cons

Can you believe Lowe is going to be 37-years-old next year? It’s a little surprising considering that he looks a lot younger.

And with Lowe getting older, perhaps his age started to show in 2009. Lowe’s ERA rose from 3.24 in 2008 to 4.67 in 2009 and Lowe’s hits/9 increased to 10.7, which was his highest since 2004 (11/9).

Lowe K’s/9 went down from 6.3 in 2008 to 5.1 in 2009 and his BB/9 went up from 1.9 in 2008 to 2.9 in 2009. And while Lowe is known as a sinkerball/groundball pitcher, in 2009 he threw a lower percentage of groundballs (56.3) than at any point during his career.

It’s never a good sign when a groundball pitcher is throwing more flyballs than ever.

Lastly, the biggest con Lowe has going for him is his contract. Lowe still has three years and $45 million on his contract. The Braves overpaid for Lowe last year and they are going to hard pressed to move that size contract in this economy.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Lowe, let’s take a look at the teams that might be interested in trading for the native of Dearborn, MI.

Milwaukee Brewers: There was a lot of talk recently of a Lowe for Corey Hart swap, but that was correctly turned down by the Brewers.

I know the Brewers are desperate for starting pitching, but even if all things were equal I wouldn’t have made that move if I was the Brewers’ GM.

New York Yankees: The Yankees had their choice between Burnett and Lowe last year and went with the younger Lowe. However, if Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back they feel Phil Hughes is still better suited to be in the pen, then Lowe could be an option.

It would be a long shot, but an option none the less.

Seattle Mariners: Another long shot, but the Mariners do need a number two starter and perhaps the Mariners could bring back the pitcher they traded away almost 12 years ago.

For those of you not familiar with what I am talking about, the Seattle Mariners trade Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb.

I’ll check that one off as a win for the Red Sox.

Texas Rangers: Unless the Braves ate a significant portion of Lowe’s contract, it would be hard for the Rangers to acquire Lowe.

However, the Rangers could use a guy like Lowe and if they can get the Braves to eat a large portion of Lowe’s contract, then he would make sense for the Rangers.

As I have mentioned, the biggest problem the Braves will have with trading Lowe is his contract. Unless the Braves eat a significant portion of the deal, they are going to have a tough time trading him.

Now if it were my decision–I wouldn’t trade Lowe. This whole “the Braves have an excess of pitching” is comical to me.

Guess what? There is no such thing in baseball. The Red Sox had more pitching depth than any team in baseball going into 2009 and they still had to bring in Paul Byrd off his couch in August.

I guarantee that if the Braves trade Lowe or Javier Vazquez, something will happen to one of their remaining starters and they will be searching for a starter by the July 31st trading deadline.

That’s just the way baseball works.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Phillies Hold Off Yankees, Force Game Six

November 3, 2009

Like George Costanza, the Philadelphia Phillies did the opposite last night.

Instead of having tuna on toast, with coleslaw, and a cup of coffee and trying to wait out AJ Burnett, the Phillies had chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, and a cup of tea and jumped all over Burnett.

The Phillies were aggressive and ambushed Burnett in the first inning thanks to a Chase Utley three-run homerun and eventually held on for an 8-6 victory to force a Game Six back in the Bronx.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-2.

What ever respect Burnett earned in his gutsy performance in Game Five of the ALCS and his brilliant performance in Game Two of the World Series, he lost last night.

Yankees Orioles Baseball

Burnett gave the Yankees nothing last night

To go out in a World Series game and give your team absolutely nothing, is pathetic. At least battle like you did against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Here is all you need to know about where Burnett’s head was last night.

In the bottom of the third, Burnett was facing Jayson Werth with two on and nobody out. Burnett gets to 0-2 on Werth on two fastballs. The second fastball he blew by Werth.

Now one of the first things you learn when you become a pitcher is if a guy can’t catch up to your fastball, don’t throw anything offspead.

So what does Burnett do? He throws a tumbling curveball right over the middle of the plate. Werth was all over it and ripped the ball right back up the middle.

You can’t throw that pitch, if a guy just couldn’t catch up to your fastball on the pitch before. Let him prove that he can hit your fastball.

Burnett was then taken out of the game.

Just a terrible performance.

Here are some other observations from last night.

When Shane Victorino got hit on the finger squaring to bunt in the first inning, it reminded me of David Cone breaking his finger in 1987 on a bunt attempt.

In a potential clinching game in the World Series, the Yankees had Nick Swisher batting fifth.

Lee was good last night, but wasn’t great. He walked three guys last night and had only walked three guys in his previous four starts.

Lee only threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of the 31 batters he faced. Very uncharacteristic for him.

I was very surprised to see Lee come out for the eighth inning. I thought Charlie Manuel should have gone to Chan Ho Park to start the inning and preserve Lee for a relief appearance in a potential Game Seven.

Great job by David Roberston and Alfredo Aceves to keep the Yankees in the game. Four innings, two hits, and three strike outs.

The Yankees have to be encouraged by Phil Hughes’ performance last night. 1.1 innings and looked sharp.

I guess we now know why Damaso Marte is ahead of Phil Coke on the depth chart.

With five homeruns, Chase Utley has tied Reggie Jackson for most homeruns in a World Series.

Why does Swisher look up at the scoreboard before every pitch? If this was the 1960’s, he would be accused of stealing signs.

Can someone please teach Brett Gardner how to bunt? This guy is one of the fastest players in baseball and he is hitting the ball in the air every AB.

I had no problem with Manuel going with Ryan Madson in the ninth. Lidge threw 30 pitches the night before and Madson was solid in Game Four.

Whatever praying the Phillies’ dugout did before the Derek Jeter AB–it worked. Jeter hitting into a 6-4-3 double play is more than anyone could have expected.

Say what you want about Johnny Damon–when the game and season is on the line, he shows up to play.

You can make all the great defensive plays you want, but Mark Teixeira’s postseason honeymoon is over. He has been awful in this World Series and for the most part, the entire postseason.

Hideki Matsui leads the Yankees in total bases this World Series (11) and has only started two games.

Citizens Bank Park has an X-Ray machine in the stadium. How far have we come in terms of technology? It really is amazing and we all, including myself take it for granted.

Hypothetical here: Let’s say Teixeira tied the game with a two-run HR in the ninth and Brett Gardner wins the game for the Yankees in the 15th inning. Does Utley still win the MVP award?

Ryan Howard has struck out 12 times this postseason tying Willie Wilson’s World Series record. I am confident that he will break that record in Game Six.

Another hypothetical here: Game Six, the Phillies are up 4-3, and heading into the ninth inning–who close’s for the Phillies?

If there ever was a “good loss” last night was it for the Yankees. They took the Phillies best punch last night and managed to get back up and make a fight out of it.

The Yankee teams from 2001-2008 would have taken that punch and not gotten back up.

Hero for Game Five – Chase Utley

Goat for Game Five – AJ Burnett

Series MVP – Chase Utley

Game Six is Wednesday at 7:57 ET.

AJ Burnett Outduels Pedro Martinez, Yankees Even Series

October 30, 2009

So much for this being an offensive World Series.

For the second night in a row we saw a pitcher’s duel in the Bronx. Last night AJ Burnett outdueled Pedro Martinez as the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 to even their best-of-seven series at one game a piece.

AJ Burnett

Burnett pitched the game of his life last night

What you saw last night was two pitchers going about getting hitters out in two completely different ways, but getting the same result.

Burnett, overpowered the Phillies lineup with a mid-90’s fastball and a power curve all night. Martinez, used an array of offspead pitches to keep the Yankee hitters off balance all night.

But last night proved that no matter how hard you throw, whether you throw 95 mph or 85 mph, pitching is all about first-pitch strikes and location. A well spotted 85 mph fastball is just as effective, if not more effective than a 99 mph fastball right down the middle.

Burnett threw 22 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced and Martinez threw 16 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced.

Here are some other observations from last night:

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Burnett had a performance like that in him.

In the third inning, after walking Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, every Yankee fan thought “Here we go again” with Burnett.

I am very surprised the Phillies didn’t change their approach during the game. If you see a guy throwing strikes, there is no point in being patient.

Ryan Howard just struck out again.

Have Yankee fans not realized that chanting “Who’s your daddy?” only motivates Martinez?

I am still trying to debate who is the smarter pitcher–Martinez or Greg Maddux?

The ball Matt Stairs hit to drive in Raul Ibanez in the second was an error by Alex Rodriguez–not a hit.

I would love to see a throwing contest between Johnny Damon and Jason Bay. That would be high comedy.

If the Yankees don’t resign Damon, some dumb team is going to give him a three-year deal and regret it from the first day. Damon at this stage of his career is a product of the Yankee lineup and the new Yankee Stadium.

Did anyone else think Ibanez’s diving catch in the second inning was happening in slow motion? It seemed Ibanez was running forever and the ball hung up in the air forever.

It was good to see Mark Teixeira finally show up with the bat. That homerun was a bomb to rightcenter.

How did Hideki Matsui hit that homerun in the sixth? That pitch was at his shoe tops.

Did Charlie Manuel get coaching advice from Grady Little before the game? There is no way Martinez should have come back out for the seventh.

Howard just struck out again on another curve four feet out of the strike zone.

Manuel said he didn’t start Rollins and Shane Victorino in the eighth because Utley doesn’t hit into many double plays. Manuel thought it might have been five or less throughout the season.

Manuel was right. Utley hit into five double plays during the regular season.

If you are a Yankee fan, you can say Damon’s linedrive hit the ground in the seventh. As a Philly fan, you can say Utley was safe on that double play.

Both plays were bang-bang. I have no problem with either call.

I don’t care how great Mariano Rivera is, you can’t keep asking a 40-year-old to throw 40 pitches a night.

The Yankees are really going to need to find somebody to pitch the eighth inning in Philadelphia. With three games in a row, Rivera can’t pitch two innings every night. His arm will fall off.

I wonder if Jerry Hairston will get the start in Game Three against the lefty Cole Hamels? Hairston was 1-3 last night replacing Nick Swisher.

How much weight has Mark Grace gained? He has seriously ballooned up. I think we will be seeing him in a Nutrisystem commercial pretty soon.

Hero for Game Two – AJ Burnett

Goat for Game Two – Ryan Howard

Series MVP – Cliff Lee

Game Three is Saturday night at 7:57 ET.

Cliff Lee, Chase Utley Help Phillies Take Game One

October 29, 2009

There’s an old saying in baseball that has held true from 1909 to 2009–good pitching, always beats good hitting.

That saying held true again last night in Game One of the 2009 World Series.

On a rainy, misty night in the Bronx, Cliff Lee dominated a powerful New York Yankee lineup and Chase Utley hit two homeruns as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven World Series.

58765118

Lee was performance last night was historic

Lee’s pitching performance last night was very similar to Josh Beckett’s performance in Game Six of the 2003 World Series. Beckett steamrolled the Yankees that night and Lee steamrolled the Yankees last night.

Lee made pitching look ridiculously easy last night. Like Beckett, Lee was in control the entire game. He set the pace, he pounded the strike zone, and he did what he wanted to do.

Lee became the first pitcher in World Series history to pitch a game where he struck out 10, walked none, and didn’t allow an earned run.

Here are some of my other observations from last night:

CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff last night and he still held the Phillies to two runs and just four hits in seven innings. Pretty impressive.

Sabathia missed his spot twice last night to Utley and Utley made him pay big time.

How great were Utley AB’s last night? He saw 30 pitches in four AB’s. His walk in the first inning might have been more impressive than his two HR’s.

Alex Rodriguez was very good defensively last night. Offensively? Not so much.

I really can’t believe Yankee fans are calling the radio stations this morning and complaining. What are you complaining about? You lost to a great pitcher, who pitched great last night. It happens.

Lee is on a roll right now like Bret Saberhagen in 1985, Orel Hershiser in 1988, and Josh Beckett in 2007.

The Yankees have a serious Phil Hughes problem. What ever he did in the regular season, he is doing the complete opposite in the postseason.

Hughes has faced 27 batters this postseason and has only retired 14 of them. Ouch!

You can have Mariano Rivera in the pen, but if you have nobody to get him the ball, then it won’t matter.

Here is what I wrote about Damaso Marte in my preview yesterday:

“Marte is going to be asked at some point during this series to get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, or Raul Ibanez out.

Does any Yankee fan feel confident with first and second and one out in the seventh and Girardi calls on Marte to pitch to Utley and Howard?”

I was off by an inning. Marte came in the eighth with runners on first and second to face Utley and Howard and he did a really good job. He got Utley to strike out looking and got Howard to fly out to right.

Have you noticed that since Joe Girardi was hammered for overmanaging in Game Three of the ALCS, he has undermanaged since?

I was a little surprised he left David Robertson in the game to face Raul Ibanez in the eighth. I thought he might have gone to Phil Coke in that spot.

Was it a shock to anybody that Carlos Ruiz was in the middle of a rally in the ninth? This guy is so good in the postseason. I have become a huge fan.

Unlike the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Phillies expected to win last night and not hoped to win. The Phillies believe they are the better team and played like it.

Good job the umpires getting together to make sure they got the call right on that popup by Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fifth.

If a Yankee fan is going to complain about the check swing being called a strike in Cano’s AB that inning, then the Philly fan can complain about Lee striking out Hideki Matsui on an inside fastball and the pitch being called a ball. Matsui singled on the next pitch.

Lee coming out in the ninth inning pretty much ensured that Charlie Manuel will go with a fourth starter in Game Four instead of Lee on three days rest.

Tonight we are going to find out if AJ Burnett is worth his contract.

Now we are going to find out how tough the Yankees are. It’s one thing to take a punch in the face from the Angels in Game Five up three-games-t0-one.

It’s another thing to take a punch in the face in Game One of the World Series.

Game Two is tonight. First pitch is 7:57 ET.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

2009 World Series Preview And Prediction

October 28, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees

Schedule

Yankee Stadium

Game One: Wednesday, Oct. 28 7:57 ET. Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia

Game Two: Thursday, Oct. 29 7:57 ET. Pedro Martinez vs. AJ Burnett

Citizens Bank Park

Game Three: Saturday, Oct. 31 7:57 ET. Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels

Game Four: Sunday, Nov. 1 8:20 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Five*: Monday, Nov. 2 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Yankee Stadium

Game Six*: Wednesday, Nov. 4 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

Game Seven*: Thursday, Nov 5 7:57 ET. TBD vs. TBD

* If necessary

Umpires

Gerry Davis (crew chief), Joe West, Dana DeMuth, Brian Gorman, Mike Everitt, Jeff Nelson

Roster Changes

Phillies – In: Brett Myers. Out: Miguel Cairo

Yankees – In: Eric Hinske, Brian Bruney. Out: Freddy Guzman, Francisco Cervelli

Cliff Lee2

Lee will take the ball in Game One

Matchups

Yankee hitters vs. Lee, Martinez, and Hamels – .269/.327/.444

Philly hitters vs. Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte – .249/.281/.417

Preview

At 7:57 ET tonight, the Phillies and the Yankees will officially begin the 2009 World Series or “The worst case scenario for New York Mets fans.”

Not only do the Mets suffer one of their worst seasons in franchise history, but now they have to watch their hated division rival and hated cross-town rival in the World Series. Talk about a punch to the gut.

Don’t worry Mets fans, you will get through it. As a New York Jets fan, I went through something similar a couple of years ago when the New England Patriots played the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

I rooted for the Giants in that game. I decided there was no way I could ever root for the Patriots under any circumstances. I am getting a sense that most Mets fans are feeling the same way towards the Phillies.

Now let’s talk about the two teams that matter–the Phillies and the Yankees. This will be the first time perhaps since 1999 that the two best teams in baseball are playing each other for the championship.

I have thought long and hard about this series and which direction I want to go. For me, this series comes down to a couple of things.

1. Will the Phillies look like a deer in headlights like the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did? Let’s be realistic here–the Yankees beat both teams because both teams turned into the Kansas City Royals.

It’s not like the Yankees bludgeoned both teams.

The Yankees will always capitalize on errors and bad baserunning. Their lineup is too good not to.

If the Phillies make the same errors and baserunning mistakes the Twins and Angels did–they will lose this series.

2. Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park Scott Eyre, and Ryan Madson vs. Phil Hughes, Domaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and David Robertson. This series will be determined mainly by the under-belly of the bullpen–not by the closers.

I laugh when people say the Yankees have the advantage in the pen because of Mariano Rivera. Isn’t that the case with every game of every series the Yankees play in?

Saying the Yankees have an advantage because of Rivera, is like saying the Bulls had an advantage at shooting guard with Michael Jordan. It’s a given.

It’s going to be how the pitchers before Rivera fair that will determine the outcome of the game. In particular, Marte.

Girardi was going to Marte over Phil Coke in the ALCS in late inning situations vs. a left-handed batter. With the way Girardi overmanages, Marte is going to be asked at some point during this series to get Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, or Raul Ibanez out.

Does any Yankee fan feel confident with first and second and one out in the seventh and Girardi calls on Marte to pitch to Utley and Howard?

Pedro Phillies

Pedro will go in Game Two

3. Can Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels step up? If the Phillies are going to win this series, then one of these guys is going to have to step up. Martinez pitched better than anyone expected in Game Two of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now Martinez is expected to win against the Yankees in Game Two of the World Series. I have my doubts about this move.

Why open up a hornet’s nest by starting Martinez in the Bronx with all his prior history with the Yankees? Martinez is a National League pitcher at this point in his career. Let him start in Game Three or Four against a National League lineup with the pitcher hitting.

If Martinez doesn’t pitch well in Game Two, then the Phillies are going to need Hamels to wake up in Game Three. There is no evidence to suggest that he can.

His fastball is flat, his curveball has no break to it, and his body language on the mound stinks. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Yankees.

4. Will the layoff hurt the Phillies? We saw a long layoff hurt the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and the Colorado Rockies in 2007. The Phillies haven’t played since the 21st.

I think for the Phillies, the layoff won’t matter. Remember, they had a long layoff last year going into the World Series and that didn’t affect them at all.

5. Will Girardi Girardi overmange the Yankees out of a World Series title? If Girardi was overmanaging in an American League game, what is going to happen in those three games in Philadelphia? It might get ugly.

Girardi has been bailed out by Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees’ overall talent. What happens when the Yankees don’t bail him out?

Prediction

I have picked against the Phillies all postseason. I have picked the Yankees all postseason. Everything in me is leaning towards picking the Yankees.

They have the better pitching and they will catch a break someone. The inevitable bad call that favors the Yankees will happen somewhere during the series

I’ll keep my trend going.

Yankees in Six

MVP – Mark Teixeira

Also, for those of you in the New York/Long Island area, I will be on AM 1240 WGBB this Sunday night on Sports Talk Live with Frankie The Sports Guy at 10:30 PM ET.

We’ll be talking about the World Series and some other things that are going on in baseball.

Angels Win Wild Game Five, Force Game Six In The Bronx

October 23, 2009

Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi played a game of “What ever you can do, I can do worse.”

In one of the worst managed playoff games in quite some time, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outlasted the New York Yankees 7-6 to take Game Five of their best-of-seven ALCS and force a Game Six in the Bronx Saturday night.

This was a game that really had three parts to it.

The first part was the Angels ambushed Yankees’ starter AJ Burnett for four runs in the first inning. A walk to Chone Figgins, a double to Bobby Abreu, a single by Torii Hunter, a single by Vladimir Guerrero, and a single by Kendry Morales.

Five batters into the game and just like that, the Angels had four runs. I really thought Burnett wouldn’t make it out of the second inning.

Which leads me to the second part of the game.

From the second inning to the sixth, this game was a pitcher’s duel. Burnett and John Lackey were matching each other goose egg for goose egg.

And let me give credit to Burnett. I was really surprised he settled down and pitched into the seventh inning. I didn’t think he had that type of bounce back ability in him.

Then comes the third part of this game and this is when the wheels start to come off for Scioscia and Girardi.

The last three innings of this game were managed so poorly, you would have thought this was never a playoff game. Let’s take a look at the managerial decisions that transpired from the top of the seventh on.

Top of the seventh – Scioscia takes out Lackey

After the Angels had their *Mark Langston moment on a 3-2 count to Jorge Posada, the Yankees had bases loaded and two outs with Mark Teixeira coming to the plate.

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Scioscia decides to take out his ace after only 104 pitches with the Angels’ season on the line to bring in Darren Oliver. Are you kidding me?

As Scioscia was approaching the mound, you can see Lackey saying “This is mine.” I’ll be writing another story on Lackey later, but that moment was pretty cool.

There is no way you can take your ace out in that spot. You just can’t. And for what? To bring in Darren freakin’ Oliver?

It’s not like Scioscia was bringing in Dennis Eckersley. There is a reason why Oliver has been on like 20 teams in his career.

And when did Teixeira become a worse hitter right-handed? Here is Teixeira’s OPS splits from the regular season.

Teixeira’s OPS LH – .951

Teixeira’s OPS RH – .911

Not much difference from left to right.

This was without a shadow of a doubt the single worst managerial decision of the postseason.

Of course, Oliver serves up a double on the first pitch to Teixeira and a single to Hideki Matsui. All of a sudden the game went from 4-0 Angels to 6-4 Yankees in a matter of five minutes.

Bottom of the seventh – Girardi leaves in Burnett too long.

First, I have no problem with Burnett starting the inning. I thought he should have been given every opportunity to go as long as he can, as he was getting people out.

But once he served up a single to Jeff “Mike Piazza” Mathis, he should have been out of the game. I thought it was going to be one of those let him pitch until someone gets on situation.

If anyone has watched the Yankees all year, that is how Girardi manages. But I really think all the overmanaging talk from Game Three really was in Girardi’s head.

He was trying so hard not to overmanage, that he actually undermanaged in this situation. Once Mathis got the hit, Girardi should have gone to Phil Hughes or Damaso Marte.

Instead, Burnett is left out there and he proceeds to walk Erick Aybar. That’s when the wheels came off for the Yankees.

Once the Angels got two on and nobody out, the crowd got back into it and from their Hughes unraveled.

Bottom of the seventh – Hughes pitches around Hunter to get to Guerrero.

Did the Yankees not watch Game Three of the ALDS between the Angels and the Boston Red Sox?

I really didn’t understand this move. And don’t tell me they weren’t pitching around Hunter. When you throw a 3-0 slider–you are pitching around a batter.

When did Hunter become Frank Robinson? He can be pitched to. He doesn’t work the count and we have seen in big spots in this postseason, he will chase balls that aren’t strikes.

This move almost worked until Hughes had mental breakdown on the mound. He threw a Papelbon-esque 0-2 fastball right down the middle and Guerrero singled up the middle.

Bottom of the eighth – Girardi goes to Joba Chamberlain instead of Dave Robertson

Did Robertson sleep with Girardi’s wife or something? This guy is pitching lights out in the postseason (three innings, two hits and zero runs) and he continues to sit on the bench.

At what point is Girardi going to realize that Chamberlain isn’t very good. Mr. Mediocre has given up seven hits in 2.2 innings of work and has a WHIP of 2.63.

A 2.63 WHIP is below replacement level. I really don’t understand the infatuation with this guy. He can’t start and now he can’t relieve.

What exactly does he do well?

Bottom of the ninth – Scioscia takes out Jered Weaver.

I am a firm believer that you should always go to your closer in save situations only if he is a top-flight closer.

If you have a Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, etc…That guy pitches the ninth no matter what.

However, when you have a closer like Brian Fuentes, I think you have to go with the hot hand. And the hot hand last night was Weaver.

This guy came into the eighth and just steamrolled the Yankees. I would have left him in for the ninth.

Fuentes is unreliable at this point. You have no idea what on earth he is going to do out there.

And I will say this, once Scioscia made the decision to bring Fuentes into the game, I had no problem with walking Alex Rodriguez with two outs and nobody on base. It was the right move.

Fuentes went on to save the game, but not before giving every Angels fan a heart attack. If you are an Angels fan and you don’t get nervous when Fuentes pitches then:

A. You don’t have a pulse.

B. No other closer will make you nervous ever again.

Now we have a Game Six. If you are a Yankees fan, you have to be a little worried. A late-90’s Yankee championship team doesn’t lose that game last night.

Game Six is Saturday at 7:57 ET.

Hero for Game Five – Kendry Morales

Goat for Game Five – Phil Hughes

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

*Mark Langston moment. In Game One of the 1998 World Series, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Langston was in the game for the San Diego Padres facing Tino Martinez in a tie game.

With two strikes, Langston throws a ball right down the middle, but the pitch was called a ball. It was an awful call.

The next pitch Martinez rips a grand slam and the game was over and the Padres never recovered.

Florida Marlins Chris Coghlan Making A Strong Case For NL ROY

September 25, 2009

Over the last 10 years, the Florida Marlins have probably produced more young talent than any team in the major leagues. Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis (at the time), Derek Lee, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, and Miguel Cabrera all became stars wearing teal and black.

As we all know, because the Marlins have a payroll that hovers around the $55.00 mark, they have not been able to keep any of their star talent. However, just because the Marlins can’t keep their talent (Hanley Ramirez might be the exception), doesn’t mean they have to stop producing talent.

The Marlins’ latest player to eventually-play-for-a-big-market-team — Chris Coghlan. Coghlan, went from so-so prospect to perhaps the favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.

Coghlan is having a great year

Coghlan is having a great year

In case you haven’t noticed, Coghlan leads all major-league rookies in hits (146), runs (75), average (.314), and OBP (.385). Coghlan also leads all of baseball in hits in the second half with 97.

While his defense hasn’t been stellar in leftfield (.980 fielding percentage, -10.3 UZR), you have to take into account that Coghlan played a grand total of one game in left in the minor leagues. Coghlan is a natural second baseman.

If you really think about it, Coghlan has become everything the New York Mets thought Daniel Murphy would be. Coghlan has become as solid hitter, who at least looks the part of a leftfielder.

If I had a vote for NL ROY, I would give it to Coghlan over Dexter Fowler, Colby Rasmus, Garrett Jones, or JA Happ.

Here are some other facts about Coghlan…

Age: 24

College: University of Mississippi

Drafted: 36th pick of the first round of the 2006 draft

Minor League Stats:

2006 Low Single A & Rookie: .297 with zero HR’s, 15 RBI, and a .368 OBP in 30 games.

2007 Single A+ & Single A: .287 with 12 HR’s, 82 RBI, a .378 OBP, and 24 SB’s in 115 games.

2008 Double A: .298 with seven HR’s, 74 RBI, .396 OBP, and 34 SB’s in 132 games.

2009 Triple A: .344 with three HR’s, 22 RBI, a .418 OBP, and nine SB’s in 25 games.

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: N/A

Analysis: N/A

Jordan Zimmermann To Have Tommy John Surgery…

August 11, 2009

The Washington Nationals just can’t catch a break. According to the Washington Post, Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann will have season ending ligament replacement surgery – otherwise known as Tommy John surgery.

Not only will Zimmermann miss the rest of the 2009 season, but he might miss all of the 2010 season as well. Based on pitchers in the past who have had Tommy John surgery, it usually takes a pitcher a year and a half to fully recover from the procedure.

This is a huge blow to the Nationals.

Zimmermann, who is only 23-years-old was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the Nationals’ starting rotation along with John Lannan and hopefully Stephen Strasburg.

Zimmermann should be ready to go in 2011

Zimmermann should be ready to go in 2011

Zimmermann was 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA on season, but showed great promise and had 92 K’s in 91.1 IP.

If there is anything positive to take out of this, it is that with the advancements in this procedure, Zimmermann should be able to not only pitch again, but make a full recovery. When Zimmermann returns at the age of 25, he will have his whole career in front of him.

If Zimmermann wants to feel better about things all he needs to do is place a phone call to Joakim Soria, Kerry Wood, Josh Johnson, Chris Carpenter, Erik Bedard, or AJ Burnett. They are just some of the many pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery and have gone on to have successful major-league careers.