Posts Tagged ‘Andy Pettitte’

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

Who Were The Winners For This Year’s Winter Meetings

December 11, 2009

Now that Baseball’s Winter Meetings are officially over and we have all had a chance to catch our breath, lets take a look at the five teams who really improved themselves over the last four days.

5. Baltimore Orioles. I really liked the addition of Kevin Millwood for this ball club in 2010. Millwood is exactly what this team needed.

Millwood improves the O's

The Orioles only had one pitcher in 2009 (Jeremy Guthrie) throw more than 124 innings. Millwood should come in and eat some much-needed innings for the Orioles and provide some leadership for the Orioles’ young starters.

All the Orioles had to give up for Millwood was Chris Ray. Ray and his 7.27 ERA won’t be missed from the Orioles’ bullpen.

4. Detroit Tigers. I know when a team gives up the type of person and player Curtis Granderson is, they usually aren’t considered winners. But the Tigers did really well in their three-way trade with the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tigers got three top prospects in Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth and got another left-handed pitcher for their bullpen in Phil Coke.

Jackson will replace the departed Granderson in center field and Scherzer will replace Edwin Jackson, who was shipped to the Diamondbacks in the Tigers rotation.

3. Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays finally acquired a closer they so desperately needed. The Rays acquired Rafael Soriano from the Atlanta Braves for Jesse Chavez.

Soriano now gives them stability in the back of the pen. Over the last four years, Soriano has a 2.76 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and has averaged 10.3 K’s/9 in 221.2 IP.

2. Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers went into the winter meetings wanting to improve on two areas–the starting rotation and the bullpen. In a span of about three hours, they accomplished both.

On Wednesday, the Brewers inked LHP Randy Wolf to a three-year, $29.75 million contract to improve the starting rotation and then signed RHP LaTroy Hawkins to a two-year, $7.5 million contract to improve the bullpen.

Did the Brewers perhaps overpay a little for Wolf and Hawkins? Maybe, but Milwaukee isn’t Miami, L.A. or even Chicago. The Brewers sometimes have to overpay to get people to come to Milwaukee.

In a span of three hours, the Brewers made themselves contenders again in the weak NL Central.

1. New York Yankees. The rich get richer huh? The Yankees wanted to get more athletic this offseason and accomplished that goal when they traded for Granderson.

Granderson is a perfect fit in NY

With his personality and his ability to drive the ball to right field, Granderson is a perfect fit in New York. The Yankees can now either re-sign Johnny Damon to play left or they can let Damon walk if he is asking for too much money and let Melky Cabrera play left field.

Either way, the Yankees’ outfield defense will be improved in 2010.

The Yankees were also able to re-sign LHP Andy Pettitte to a reasonable ($11.5 million) one-year deal. As I have said before, outside Mariano Rivera, Pettitte has been the second most important Yankee over the last 14 years.

There is no more reliable postseason pitcher in today’s game than Pettitte.

If you notice, I don’t have the losers of the winter meetings because I don’t necessarily feel a team has to do something during the four days. Waiting and picking your spots doesn’t make you a loser.

However, if there was one loser based on the moves they did make during the four days it would be the Diamondbacks. They gave up way too much to acquire E. Jackson and Ian Kennedy.

They better be right with their thinking that Scherzer doesn’t translate into a starting pitcher.

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

New York Yankees Re-Sign Andy Pettitte

December 9, 2009

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the New York Yankees have re-signed LHP Andy Pettitte to a one-year, $11.75 million contract.

The $11.75 million for one-year is a nice increase in base salary for Pettitte. If you remember, Pettitte signed an incentive laden deal last winter with a base of $5.5 million.

Pettitte re-signed with the Yankees

Pettitte earned a total of $10.5 million in 2009, so he got a slight raise in 2010.

After having a disappointing 2008 season where he went 14-14 with a 4.58 ERA and gave up a career high 10.3 hits/9 innings, Pettitte enjoyed a nice bounce back season in 2009.

Pettitte finished the year 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and his 1.38 WHIP and 8.9 hits/9 were the lowest of his career since 2005. Of course, as usual, it was in the postseason where Pettitte earned his money.

Pettitte was his usual stellar postseason self going 4-0 with 3.22 ERA. Pettitte became the first pitcher since Derek Lowe in 2004 to win the clinching game in all three rounds.

Behind Mariano Rivera, I believe Pettitte has been the most important player in the Yankees’ postseason success. Every time the Yankees would lose Game One of a series, there would be Pettitte to pitch in Game Two to even the series.

You could take it to the bank that he would win that game.

Pettitte will be entering his 16th season in 2010. For his career Pettitte is 229-135 with a 3.91 ERA. His 229 wins are third most amongst active pitchers.

The Yankees could officially announce the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and the re-signing of Pettitte this afternoon.

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

Hideki Matsui Powers New York Yankees To World Series Championship

November 5, 2009

If Mark Teixeira doesn’t beat you, then Alex Rodriguez will. If Alex Rodriguez doesn’t beat you, then Jorge Posada will. And if Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Posada don’t beat you, then Hideki Matsui will.

Playing in perhaps his final game as a New York Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a homerun, a double, a single, and six RBI as the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to win their 27th championship.

Matsui did the majority of his damage against Phillies’ starter Pedro Martinez, who didn’t have much last night. Martinez, who was pitching on five days rest, which was short rest for him, really couldn’t get going.

In the second inning, after walking Rodriguez to lead off the inning, Martinez missed his spot by at least four inches to Matsui on a 3-2 pitch and Matsui promptly hit one into the rightfield seats.

In the third inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Matsui came up to the plate again. And again Martinez missed his spot. Martinez, trying to throw a fastball high and outside, threw a fastball outside, but not high enough.

Matsui served a single to left-centerfield to make the score 4-1 and that was the back breaker in my opinion.

While Matsui was driving in the runs, Andy Pettitte wasn’t allowing any runs to the Phillies. So much for not being able to pitch on three days rest.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came up big for the Yankees yet again

Pettitte pitched with a bend, but don’t break mentality last night. Pettitte walked five and gave up four hits over 5.2 innings, but never gave up the big hit.

Here are some other observations from last night:

The Phillies biggest fear in this World Series came to light last night–nobody except Cliff Lee could win a game for the Phillies.

After Matusi’s two-run single in the third, I couldn’t believe Charlie Manuel left Martinez in the game to face Posada.

Ryan Howard struck out for a 13th time last night breaking Willie Wilson’s World Series record of 12 set back in 1980.

I can’t believe that more was not made of Shane Victorino’s misplay on the Derek Jeter linedrive in the third. That was a huge play. The way the Yankees were playing, you can’t give them four outs in an inning.

Great job last night by Chad Durbin keeping it close. 0.1 innings, two hits, one walk, and three runs.

While Matsui might have won the World Series MVP award, Damaso Marte was just as valuable in this series.

Marte’s strike out of Chase Utley in the seventh was the nail in the coffin for the Phillies.

Of course, Marte came on to clean up Joba Chamberlain’s mess. How many times did I have to write that this postseason. Someone explain to me why Chamberlain is the most hyped pitcher in the game again?

Melky Cabrera has a World Series ring and Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, and Don Mattingly don’t. Unreal.

Back in March, Gary Sheffield was deciding between the New York Mets and Phillies. The Phillies really could have used him as their DH in this series.

Both teams were playing eight on eight tonight. Brett Gardner = automatic out for the Yankees. Ben Francisco = automatic out for the Phillies.

The Yankees become the first team since the 1991 Minnesota Twins to win a World Series using a three-man pitching staff.

5,000 kids in Long Island, who were Mets fans yesterday, are now Yankee fans today. They came into class today wearing red Yankee hats and a fake Chamberlain jersey.

Matsui will be replaced in the Yankees’ lineup next year by Matt Holliday. Damon will move to DH.

Now all of a sudden Joe Girardi is a genious.

Yankees’ President Randy Levine said in his post-game interview that George Steinbrenner was the first owner to go into Japan when they signed Matsui. Somebody should tell him A. Hideki Irabu played for the Yankees in 1997 and B. Ichiro Suzuki came into the league two years before Matsui.

How many times did the Yankees’ front office try to get rid of Pettitte over the last 10 years? Just proving that they are good business men, but terrible baseball men.

Pedro Feliz killed the Phillies this game. Three times up with RISP and 0-for-3. He gets a hit in any of those AB’s, it’s a different game.

How awesome was Carlos Ruiz this postseason? Just awesome. Such a good little player.

Raul Ibanez had a tremendous AB versus Rivera in the eighth inning. He worked hard for that double.

For the final out of the World Series, the Yankees had Jerry Hairston Jr., Gardner, and Nick Swisher in the outfield. Just goes to show you, you never know who is going to play a role in the World Series in April.

Well, with that the baseball season officially comes to an end. I’ll be doing a year in review in the upcoming days and I will be doing a what to look for this offseason post as well.

It’s one in the morning and I need some sleep. Have a good night folks.

Yankees Rock Cole Hamels, Take Game Three

November 1, 2009

There are some things in life I just don’t understand.

Like why my mom continues to buy single-ply toilet paper, or why Heidi Klum is married to Seal, or why a hitter would swing at the first pitch after a pitcher just walked two out of the last three batters he faced.

The New York Yankees overcame a three run deficit thanks to a gutsy performance from Andy Pettitte and some timely hitting to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 last night in Game Three of the World Series.

The Yankees now lead the World Series 2-1.

For me, the turning point of this game was in the bottom of the second inning. I might be in the minority here, but I really thought the Shane Victorino AB with the bases loaded and one out in the second changed the course of the game.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came through again for the Yankees

Pettitte had already served up a homerun to Jayson Werth and a wall scraping double to Pedro Feliz. Then he walked Carlos Ruiz, misplayed a Cole Hamels bunt, and walked Jimmy Rollins which forced in a run.

Victorino came up with Pettitte on the ropes. Pettitte was done and Victorino let him off the hook.

Instead of taking a strike, Victorino, trying to be the hero–swung at a pitch in the dirt. Then Victorino swung at another pitch in the dirt to make the count 0-2.

Victorino managed to hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0, but I really thought that AB was the turning point of the game. That AB allowed Pettitte to settle down, gather himself, and from there–he was vintage Pettitte.

Why Victorino didn’t take a strike in that situation is beyond. Pettitte wasn’t close to throwing a strike to Ruiz and was even further off to Rollins. You have to let Pettitte prove to you at that point that he can throw a strike.

The Phillies could have possibly had five or six runs that inning, but settled for three. From there the Yankees bats came alive against a yet again mediocre Hamels and now are just two games away from winning the World Series.

Here are some other observations from last night’s game.

No matter what the situation is, Pettitte always manages to keep the same demeanor on the mound. He really is one of the great clutch performers of all-time.

Hamels didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning. He only last 4.1 innings last night. Amazing.

Remarkably, there are still some people out there who will argue that Hamels is the same pitcher as last year. I wonder if they still feel that way after last night’s performance.

If this series goes seven games, there is no way Charlie Manuel can start Hamels in Game Seven.

I would go with Happ in Game Six and then Pedro Martinez in Game Seven. Give Martinez the extra day if you can.

I still can’t believe Hamels would throw a curveball–Hamels third best pitch to Pettitte. Pettitte’s single was another turning point of the game. That was the single worst pitch of the postseason.

Apparently Joe Girardi’s benching did Nick Swisher well. Swisher hit a double and a homerun last night.

Swisher played Feliz’s double in the second terribly. A good rightfielder catches that ball against the wall.

Ryan Howard just struck out again.

I thought the umpires had a very good game last night. Home plate umpire Brian Gorman was consistent all night and good job getting together on the Alex Rodriguez homerun.

The 2009 postseason is officially Jayson Werth’s coming out party. Two more homeruns last night now give him seven for this postseason.

Believe it or not, outside of Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte has been the Yankees most reliable reliever.

Despite the one hour and 20 minute rain delay, this game didn’t end as late as I thought it would. I thought this game would end at two in the morning.

Yankees’ bullpen–three innings, one hit, and one run. Phillies’ bullpen–4.2 innings, three hits, and three runs.

100 percent agreed with Girardi with sending out Phil Hughes to start the ninth with a four run lead. With three games in a row, the Yankees need to save Rivera as much as possible.

Terrible job by Hughes in not being able to finish the ninth. The Yankees didn’t want to use Rivera and they had to.

Howard just struck out.

Chase Utley and Howard went 0-8 with five K’s. If they Phillies are going to win this series, then those two need to carry the offense.

The team that wins Game Four wins the World Series.

Game Four is tonight at 8:20 ET

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

Just as a reminder, I will be on the Frankie the Sports Guy show tonight on AM 1240 WGBB at 10:20 ET. I’ll be talking about the World Series and some other baseball topics.

Former Yankee third baseman Charlie Hayes will be on the show as well.

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.

Yankees Beat Bumbling Angels 5-2, Advance To World Series

October 26, 2009

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim found out with the Minnesota Twins already know. If you continue to make boneheaded baserunning plays and continue to play horrific defense you are going to lose in the playoffs.

The New York Yankees beat the stumbling, bumbling Angels last night 5-2 to take their best-of-seven series 4-2 and advance to the World Series for the 40th time in their history.

Pettitte was vintage Pettitte last night

Pettitte was vintage Pettitte last night

The tone of this series was set in the first inning of Game One when Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins stared at each other and let Hideki Matsui’s Little League popup fall in. Shockingly, that is the way the Angels would play for the entire series.

If you said to someone that the Angels would make eight errors in six games, that person would have said you are nuts. After all, the Angels are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in baseball.

But for what ever reason, the Angels played like the Twins did in their ALDS series against the Yankees.

Here are some of my observations from last night:

Joe Saunders played with fire for the first three inning and eventually got burned in the fourth. You can’t constantly pitch from behind in the count and be successful in the playoffs.

Saunders faced 22 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to only seven of those batters.

I can’t believe Saunders was left in the game to face Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded in the fourth. What was the point of warming up Kevin Jepsen, if he wasn’t going to come into the game to face Rodriguez?

The 3-1 pitch to Rodriguez was a strike at any level of baseball except in Game Six of the ALCS.

As bad as Darren Oliver was in Game Five, he was great in Game Six. He kept the Angels in that game for as long as he could. Great performance.

If you are going to hand out nine walks to the Yankees in a game, I would say there is a very good chance you are going to lose the game.

Melky Cabrera (my least favorite player in baseball) really gave the Yankees a boost at the bottom of their lineup. Cabrera hit .391 for series and had a .462 OBP.

When Andy Pettitte retires, the Yankees are going to miss him just as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The guy is just money in a big spot.

Pettitte faced 25 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of those batters.

Jeter’s potential error turns out to be a positive for the Yankees. Amazing how that works out.

There is no greater weapon in sports than Rivera.

How does Vladimir Guerrero get doubled up on that flyball to right? The play was happening right in front of him. It’s inexcusable.

Did anyone else have flashbacks to the 2006 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers when the Angels couldn’t field those bunts in the eighth?

Why didn’t Scott Kazmir start the eighth inning? He was ready and the Yankees had Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Cabrera coming up.

Cano had a nice defensive game last night. Considering he didn’t show up in Game Two, he kind of owed it to the Yankees.

Some team is still going to give Figgins a four-year, $42 million deal and still regret it from the first day.

Do you know that phrase in baseball “Stay within yourself?” Apparently Torii Hunter has never heard of that phrase. He goes for the downs on every swing in the playoffs.

Why does Mike Scioscia continue to pinch-hit Gary Matthews Jr. for Mike Napoli? Napoli is a much better hitter than Matthews–even against a righty in Rivera.

Why did Scioscia pinch-hit Macier Izturis for Jeff Mathis in the seventh? I don’t care what the matchup is, Mathis is the hottest hitter on the planet outside of Rodriguez right now. Let the guy hit.

Hero for Game Six – Andy Pettitte

Goat for Game Six – Joe Saunders

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

I will be doing a World Series preview tomorrow.

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

Yankees Sweep Twins, Advance To ALCS

October 12, 2009

If you are a New York Yankees fan, you have to start feeling like there is a lot of late 90’s magic going on with this team. When I say magic, I am not talking the clutch hitting from Alex Rodriguez or the brilliant pitching by Andy Pettitte.

I am talking the egregious umpiring that always benefits the Yankees (Joe Mauer call in Game Two), teams and players making bonehead plays they would normally not make (Nick Punto last night), and even when the Yankees make a bad play, it somehow works out in their favor (Robinson Cano misplay leads to an out last night).

Those were staples of the Yankee teams in their glory years from 1996-2000.

Pettitte was great last night

Pettitte was great last night

The Yankees lost that magic starting with the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, they got some of that magic back in a big way against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees beat the Twins last 4-1 to sweep the Twins 3-0 in their best-of-five American League Division Series and advance to their first ALCS since 2004. The Yankees used some great pitching, timely homeruns, and some just brutal baserunning by the Twins to get by the Twins in this series.

What was amazing about this series, was that every single time the Twins would take the lead, the Yankees would come back to either tie the game or take the lead the very next inning. It was unbelievable.

Last night was such a perfect example of what I am talking about.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Joe Mauer single off of Pettitte, who was brilliant in this game. The very next inning, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit solo homeruns and just like that, the Yankees have a 2-1 lead.

I even wrote on my Twitter page that the Yankees have the Twins right where they want them being down 1-0. The tragedy of that, is that Carl Pavano was pitching the game of his life before those two homeruns.

That was the best I have ever seen Pavano look. For six innings he completely controled the game. There is no doubt in my mind he earned a multi-year deal with his performance last night.

Even down 2-1, the Twins had their chances in this game. In the bottom of the seventh, Yankees manager Joe Girardi took out Pettitte for reasons only know to himself and replaced him with Mr. Mediocre himself–Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain proceeds to give up a double to Delmon Young and the Twins had a runner on second with just one out. Chamberlain got Brendan Harris out on a hard grounder to third and then struckout Jose Morales to end the inning.

Do the Twins not have anyone else that can DH besides Morales? This guy stinks. Every time I see him play, he doesn’t seem even close to getting a hit.

In the bottom of the eighth is when the you know what really hit the fan for the Twins. Punto led off the inning with a double off of the suddenly shaky Phil Hughes.

The next batter Denard Span hit a chopper up the middle. Derek Jeter got to the ball and didn’t throw to first because he knew he couldn’t get Span. Punto, not picking up his third base coach thought the ball went up the middle and decided to head home.

Punto realized the ball didn’t go into the outfield halfway between home and third, Jeter threw the ball home to Posada, and Posada threw out Punto trying to go back to third.

I really thought at that point Ron Gardenhire was going to punch Punto when he got back to the dugout. He had that look on his face.

After that play, the game was essentially over.

I can’t believe how many bad baserunning plays the Twins made in this series. And this was the supposedly the more fundamentally sound team coming into this series. It really was inexcusable.

Now the Yankees will move on to play their arch nemesis in the playoffs, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Game One of the ALCS will be on Friday.

American League Division Series Predictions

October 7, 2009

It took 163 games, but the American League Division Series matchups are finally set. Yesterday, I gave my NLDS predictions, so today I am going to give my ALDS predictions.

Something of note with the 2009 postseason. Three out of the four postseason matchups in 2009 are the same as they were in 2004. The only series that is different is the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies series.

Will history repeat itself in the AL? Let’s take a look…

* means if necessary

Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 6:07 ET. Brian Duensing vs CC Sabathia

Game 2: Friday, October 9 6:07 ET. Nick Blackburn vs AJ Burnett

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Andy Pettitte vs Carl Pavano

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. TBD vs Scott Baker

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Major League Baseball drew 73,418,528 fans this year. Let’s say overall, there are roughly 100 million baseball fans in this world.

Out of that 100 million, 94 million want the Twins to win and six million want the Yankees to win this series. People will always root for the David instead of the Goliath. Out of those six million Yankee fans, three million couldn’t name more than five players on the team, but are fans just to be “cool.”

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Sabathia will lead the Yankees to the ALCS

Don’t tell me I am wrong about that. I have lived in New York my whole life and I have seen it first-hand. Unfortunately, those six million fans are going to have the last laugh in this series.

I love everything about the Twins. I love their passionate fans, the way they do business, and most importantly–the way they play the game. How could you not?

But I just don’t see it for them in this series. It has nothing to with the fact that the Twins played in a street fight last night against the Detroit Tigers.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the Yankees were 7-0 versus the Twins in 2009. I put very little into a team’s success in the regular season versus another team.

I think in this series you will finally see them miss Justin Morneau. Morneau is a game changer and in the playoffs you need as many of them as possible.

If the Twins can somehow win this series, it will go down as one of the biggest upsets in postseason history. I would love to put the Twins in the next round, but it’s not going to happen.

Yankees in Four

Boston Red Sox vs. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Game 1: Thursday, October 8 9:37 ET. Jon Lester vs John Lackey

Game 2: Friday, October 9 9:37 ET. Josh Beckett vs Jered Weaver

Game 3: Sunday, October 11 TBD. Scott Kazmir vs Clay Buchholz

Game 4*: Monday, October 12 TBD. Joe Saunders vs TBD

Game 5*: TBD

Prediction: Every year me and my buddy Odie talk about the “feel” of the Red Sox season. 2003 and 2004 had good “feels” to them. As did 2007 and 2008.

2005 and 2006? Not so much. I knew the Red Sox faced impending doom in 2005 when they started Matt Clement in Game One of the ALDS against the best team in baseball–the Chicago White Sox.

So what about 2009? Around August 15th, the Red Sox had a feel of getting bounced in the first round. I didn’t like the way they were playing and something just seemed off about this year.

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Bay will be meeting the Yankees in the ALCS

Now on October 7th, I feel very good about this team. Lester is pitching lights out and Victor Martinez has given the Red Sox a massive shot in the arm offensively. I’ll also bank on a healthy Beckett in the playoffs.

The Angels, are well, the Angels. They are a solid, fundamentally sound team that is going to try to use their speed game and to run all over the Red Sox. Seems like that is every year with the Angels though.

I have gone back and forth trying to predict a winner in this series. However, there is one scenario that keeps sticking in my mind.

Game Three, Fenway Park, Kazmir throws his usual 110 pitches in six innings, and the Angels are leading 3-2. A scenario that is very likely.

Does anyone on this planet think Jose Arredondo, Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen, and Brian Fuentes are going to get nine outs in Fenway without coughing up the lead? Not a chance.

For what ever reason, the Angels turn into pumpkins in October at Fenway.

Red Sox in Four

Fantasy Week In Review, July 6-12

July 13, 2009

Last week marked the final week of the official first-half of the season. For the first time in a long time, it seemed like there were more players we should be concerned with than there were fantasy studs. Never a good sign.

As always, here are the fantasy studs, the players who have me concerned, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week of July 6 – July 12.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Ludwick – .481/4/15. It was better late than never last week for Ludwick, who finally decided to show up in 2009.

Jayson Werth – .292/4/11/.438. Not a bad way to celebrate your first all-star selection.

Pablo Sandoval – .333/3/11. The “King-Fu Panda” took his all-star snubbing out on NL pitchers last week.

Paul Konerko – .391/3/10. All three of Konerko’s HR’s came in one game last week. Still good enough to be a fantasy stud last week.

Adam Wainwright – 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 14 K’s in 16.1 IP. Ended the first-half of the season on a positive note for the St. Louis Cardinals by shutting down the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night.

Washburn has been dealin' this year

Washburn has been dealin' this year

Jarrod Washburn – 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA and only gave up five hits in 16 IP. Washburn is making a serious push to land another big, free-agent contract in the offseason.

Josh Beckett – 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 11 K’s in 15 IP. Yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Royals was over when Beckett was doing his bullpen session before the game.

Rafael Soriano – Four Saves, eight K’s and a 0.00 ERA in four IP. Soriano has been lights out lately for the Atlanta Braves, and has taken the closer job from Mike Gonzalez.

Reasons for Concern

Torii Hunter – Placed on the 15-day DL with a strained groin. Hunter is eligible to return on July 22.

My concern here is that groin injuries are like hamstring injuries – they never seem to go away. Hunter did have 13 SB’s this year, so this might affect his stolen base numbers going forward.

Ryan Dempster – Placed on the 15-day DL because of a broken right toe. Dempster broke his toe when he tripped over the dugout rail after the Cubs beat the Brewers. That is classic.

Geovany Soto – Placed on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain. This really hasn’t been Soto’s year so far.

He got off to a terrible start, he is only hitting .230, and now he goes on the DL.

The Cubs and fantasy owners for that matter, need him in the second half to make some sort of contribution in order to win.

Jay Bruce – Placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured wrist. I had Bruce on this list before the wrist injury.

It was a terrible week for Bruce. First he was benched, then he comes back only to face Johan Santana, and then he breaks his wrist.

Bruce has struggled this year with a .207 average, but does have 18 HR and 41 RBI. Bruce has tremendous value in Keeper Leagues, so don’t give up on him just yet.

According to the Cincinnati Reds’ official Twitter page, Bruce will be out six- to-eight weeks.

Magglio Ordonez – Ordonez will now platoon in rightfield with Clete Thomas for the Detroit Tigers.

I am guessing the Tigers are determined not to let Ordonez reach his incentives so his $18 million extension won’t kick in.

Ordonez’s fantasy value is limited at best for the remainder of this year.

Andy Pettitte – Pettitte was 0-2 last week with a 10.45 ERA and gave up 12 runs in just 10.1 IP.

This almost seems like repeat from last year with Pettitte. Pettitte got off to a 10-7 start in 2008, but faded in the second half going 4-7 with an ERA over five.

Pettitte has been terrible his last two starts so this might start becoming a trend for the older Pettitte.

Johnny Cueto – Either this guy is hurt or he is just worn out. He is too good to be this bad over his last two starts.

Cueto in his last two starts is 0-2 with a 20.65 ERA and has given up 13 runs in 5.2 IP.

Keep an eye on Cueto (if you have started already) in his next couple of starts. If he continues to struggle, then there might be some cause for some major concern.

Potential Pickups

There are no potential pickups for this week.

How about a little prediction for tonight’s Home Run Derby. For those of you not aware, here are the participants…

Gonzalez will win the HR Derby

Gonzalez will win the HR Derby

Albert Pujols

Adrian Gonzalez

Prince Fielder

Ryan Howard

Carlos Pena

Joe Mauer

Brandon Inge

Nelson Cruz

I don’t like anyone in the AL, so that eliminates Cruz, Inge, Pena, Mauer.

Pujols is too easy, so I won’t pick him.

Fielder’s weight and stamina are a concern, so he is won’t last.

That leaves Gonzalez and Howard. Howard was born in St Louis, so I think he might feel the pressure.

The winner will be Adrian Gonzalez. Having spent his entire season trying to hit HR’s in the cavernous Petco Park, Busch Stadium will feel like a little league field to Gonzalez.