Tagged: Alex Rodriguez

Yankees Bullpen Hates Sabathia

Maybe the Yankees bullpen doesn’t hate C. C. Sabathia, but they have a strange way of showing that they don’t.  Sabathia didn’t pitch particularly well on Saturday afternoon, allowing 5 runs in 6 innings.  But he did leave the game in the bullpen’s hands with the Yankees leading 10-5.

The bullpen failed to hold that lead, and the Cleveland Indians rallied to defeat the Yankees 13-11.  Now, I’m no Yankees fan, but I do like C. C. Sabathia, and even if I didn’t, I’d have to note that his support from the bullpen has been, uh, lacking in his last two starts.  
In Sabathia’s last start, he pitched seven innings and gave up one run against the Red Sox, who rallied and beat the Yankees 7-6 as Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera crumbled in the final two innings.
In Saturday’s game, Chamberlain again struggled, surrendering four hits, a walk, and four runs in just one-third of an inning of work, raising his ERA from 4.22 to 5.82.  Chamberlain accumulated an astounding -.701 of Win Probability Added.  Actually, this game’s WPA chart is so…remarkable that it is worthy of reproduction:
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Seriously, that is ridiculous.  The Marson double was,,,so out of character for that guy, who entered the game with a slash line of .200/.261/.238.  (No, that isn’t a misprint, he was slugging .238 going in.  Why, oh why, is Carlos Santana still at AAA?)  So, anyway, Marson’s two-base knock was so out of character for him that you just had to know something was up with Joba.
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In other news from this game, A-Rod cracked Indian starting pitcher David Huff in the head with a line drive.  Huff, who remained motionless lying face down on the mound for several moments, was removed from the field on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.  He gave the crowd a thumbs up as he was placed on a stretcher, which made FPS breathe a real sign of relief after seeing him lie on the field for so long.  A CAT scan was negative, and while Huff was supposed to remain at the hospital under observation, he in fact returned to Yankee stadium, rejoining his teammates by either the eighth or ninth inning.  
A-Rod, for his part, imitated a human being, looking very sorrowful and concerned.  He did really smoke that ball, which deflected off of Huff’s head down the rightfield line, resulting in an RBI double.  MLB.com notes that the Tribe rally began after Huff was struck by the line drive.  
The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel notes something quite ironic:
In an odd twist, Huff was struck 53 years after another Cleveland pitcher, Herb Score, sustained a career-altering injury when another Yankees infielder, Gil McDougald, hit a liner off his face.
Let’s just hope things work out better for Huff than they did for Score
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Yankees Struggle; A-Rod Slumps (Updated)

The Yankees have had some tough times of late (and there was much rejoicing): The top of the lineup isn’t hitting, they aren’t fielding well as a team, and they aren’t catching many breaks.  Hmm.  So they are mortal, after all.  Wish I could say I was sorry, but, I just can’t.  Weep not, non-Yankee lovers, but just remember not to be too derisive all at once.  After all, it would be much more satisfying to watch the Yanks slowly bleed out over the course of the entire season rather than suffer a massive collapse all at once.  

(You know what sucks?  I have been a huge fan of both C. C. Sabathia and Curtis Granderson for years, and now I get almost no satisfaction watching them perform well.  That really sucks.)

The author of this post concedes that the Yankee’s have had hard going of late, and then notes that the Yankees’ schedule gets easier at this point.  As a Twins’ fan, I have to object to some of his tone, and I hope that I am correct to characterize his cockiness as mere bluster.  Despite the fact the Yankees have beaten the Twins regularly, they’ve won games in which they’re trailed, which, while pointing tot the New Yorkers’ resilience, also points to the Twins being competitive.  Let’s all down a shot in the name of “regression to the mean, ” shall we?  I mean, the Yanks can’t always come from behind, can they?  (Don’t answer right away.)
In amusing A-Rod news, K-Rod–Mr. Francisco “You Can’t Hit My Low-80s Hanger” Rodriguez–must be a happy man after he fanned A-Rod Sunday night to end the Yankees-Mets game on a pitch that A-Rod usually deposits into some lucky fan’s glove on the far side of the outfield wall.  
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The Mets really performed in the latest iteration of the Subway Series, taking 2 of 3 from the Yanks, with Johan Santana and the Mets’ hitters really outperforming both Sabathia and the Yankee batters.  The Mets thus temporarily turned down the heat of the seat manager Jerry Manuel has been occupying, though I’m sure his job isn’t secure just quite yet.  (Nor should it be, though the Mets’ front office should go before Jerry does.)
Meanwhile, Yankees fans and officials must be eagerly awaiting some positive news about their players’ health issues, and praying fervently for the avoidance any further injuries.
Returning to A-Rod for a moment, Yankees fans and officials are all waiting for him to show more signs of life at the plate.  Granted, the signs of decline are subtle, but they are all there in his batted ball numbers.

Damn Yankees

Jesse at “Twinkie Town” calls it Deja Vu All Over Again.  “First Pitch Strike” was more…deflated.  I can’t really use the words to describe my feelings in this space since MLB wisely has profanity filters for blog postings.  Let’s just say I’ve seen enough of A-Rod killing the Twins over the past two season to hurl wallpaper-curling profanities in several directions at once for about, oh, two months.

Twinkie Town’s Jessie really spanks Gardenhire for having Guerrier face A-Rod:

Speaking of A-Rod’s grand slam:  I don’t blame the Twins for walking Mark Teixeira, because Teixeira has raked versus left-handed pitching so far this year.  I don’t even blame them for bringing in a right-handed pitcher to face Alex Rodriguez, because he hasn’t hit them quite as well as he has southpaws.  But Matt Guerrier?  Are you kidding me?  Guerrier is a reliable relief pitcher, but A-Rod was 4-for-7 against him in his career.  All four of those hits were for extra bases, but three of them were home runs.  When he fouled off an inside fastball, anyone with any sense of the desires of the baseball gods could tell what was coming.  He destroyed the next pitch, another fastball that Guerrier decided needed to catch even more of the plate than pitch number one.

Bill at “The Daily Something” defends Gardenhire’s decision to use Guerrier, though he completely rips Gardy for the intentional walk, writing:

So the anger at Gardenhire is misguided. Not that you shouldn’t
be angry at Gardenhire; you’re just angry for the wrong reason. You’re one
plate appearance late. See, just before A-Rod came up, the Yankees had runners
on second and third with one out and Mark Teixeira at the plate. Gardenhire
chose to have Duensing walk Teixeira intentionally.

This is…well, idiotic. Obviously Teixeira is a very good
hitter, maybe as good as A-Rod is right now (and no, I don’t care at all that
he’s hitting .209 through his first 35 games). Nonetheless, bringing Guerrier
in to face Tex (who is a slightly better hitter right-handed than left) would
have been a hugely better move than walking him to face
A-Rod. Guerrier has good but not great control, and doesn’t have overpowering
stuff (average fastball is about 91 MPH, and about 90 this season). You might
not like your chances much facing an elite hitter with two on and one out…but
facing an elite hitter with the bases loaded and one out, in a one-run game? You’re
putting Guerrier in a situation in which he has to throw Rodriguez straight,
90-mile-an-hour fastballs, right down the middle of the plate. Which is what he
did, twice, and A-Rod didn’t miss the second one.

Look, it’s not a good situation. If you’ve got two runners in
scoring position with one out and Tex and A-Rod coming up, odds are very good you’re going to lose your one-run
lead. But there are ways to give yourself the best chance of hanging on to that lead, and
Gardenhire did pretty much the opposite of that.

Just don’t blame him for using Guerrier. Blame him for giving
Guerrier almost no chance to succeed.

Jim Souhan, columnist at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, isn’t one to search for single-cause explanations, and his Gardenhire-ripping piece from Saturday’s paper slams both the intentional pass and the decision to use Guerrier:

Gardenhire removed Baker and brought in lefty Brian Duensing, who induced a harmless flyout from Brett Gardner.

Gardenhire ordered Duensing to intentionally walk Mark Teixeira, then summoned Guerrier to face Rodriguez.

There were two statistical warnings against doing so:

• Rodriguez, in his career, was 4-for-6 with three homers, a double and a walk against Guerrier. It’s hard to hit that well in batting practice or tee ball, much less against a quality big-league reliever.

• According to Stats Inc., Rodriguez was 3-for-3 with a walk, a sacrifice fly, a home run and 10 RBI in five plate appearances after Teixeira was intentionally walked ahead of him.

This is all quite the contrast to Twins broadcasters Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven, who today, in the bottom of the first, before A-Rod drove in the first run for the Yankees, offered the following defense of Gardenhire’s decision: Loading the bases was gave the Twins the best chance to get two outs–via the double play–and get out of the inning, and Guerrier is the Twins’ best right-handed reliever.

I’m still in a “Damn Yankees” funk not really wishing to determine what, if anything, to pin the actual blame on, though I think Major League managers tend to hand out the intentional passes a bit too much.  However, the previous clause is in no way intended to give Gardenhire a free pass for handing A-Rod lunch on a platter.  Perhaps it is time to suggest that you should probably use your “stopper” in the pen at the point in the game when the other team needs stopping most, instead of only in ninth, but “accepted patterns” of bullpen use frown on that sort of thinking.  That, however, is subject matter for another post, one concerning reliever usage and rise of the one-inning save.

Yankees Find Bats, Down Twins 8-4 (Updated)

Well, Yankees hitter recovered their bats, contributing a WPA of .602 in their 8-4 win over the Twins.  Joe Mauer actually had the highest WPA in the game (.386), but with the Yankees trailing 3-4, Alex Rodriguez smashed a grand slam in the 7th inning (.359 WPA) putting the Yankees up for good.

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For more depressing information, see this Star-Tribune story, “Bronx Bombed Again.”
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Braden’s Perfection: Reaction

Braden’s perfecto received an interesting challenge in the 5th, when Evan Longoria attempted a bunt (!) that rolled foul.  Follow the link for an interesting discussion of the propriety of this move, though I think that the 5th inning is awfully early for the crowd to start booing an attempt to get on base.  In the 9th, I get it, but in the 5th, come on, the man’s just doing his job.

Olberman concedes that the perfect game may just confirm that it really is Braden’s mound, and columnist Mike Bauman at MLB.com thinks the perfect game now speaks for Braden, concluding:

So it could be argued that Braden did the Yankees a favor on Sunday, taking some of the luster off the terrific start Tampa Bay has had to the 2010 season, giving New York a helping hand in the American League East standings.

But he did himself a larger favor. The name Dallas Braden will no longer be primarily connected to the notion that “he was the guy who didn’t want A-Rod on his mound.”

For now and all the times to come in which baseball is played, Braden will be known as a man who threw a perfect game. As even Rodriguez said: “Good for him.”

Hmm, nice symmetry in the argument, especially by finishing up the piece with a gracious quote from A-Rod.  
I am still of the opinion that A-Rod was right about one thing only, and not something he should be proud of: as my friend (and fellow fantasy player in the For Keeps league and a pretty good former high school pitcher) Joe H. wrote me, Braden, during the dust-up following his blowup at Rodriguez, should have conceded that, no, he hadn’t done all the things A-Rod has done in baseball, including, uh, cheating by taking steroids.  Yeah, yeah, a cheap shot, but A-Rod almost begs for them, doesn’t he?
I think Justin Klugh at “Call to the Pen” sums it all up best in his post titled “The ******* Side of Baseball,” with the money shot quote saying, 
Look, A-Rod is an *******.  There’s not really any denying that.  If anybody is going to be unaware of baseball etiquette, it’d be him.  I imagine even Yankees fans are aware of his penchant for testing the limits of acceptable play, but accept him regardless, due to what he contributes to the lineup.  It happens all over sports.

See, in some cases you don’t even have to be good to just be a universally accepted subpar human being.  So Dallas Braden is not at fault for assuming A-Rod was just being A-Rod.

But, the difference here is that Dallas Braden is also an *******.  We just didn’t know it.  He had to clear his throat and wave his hand in the air to be noticed, and that wasn’t going to happen if he just let A-Rod trot all over his mound.  So, he garnered himself some attention and had that spotlight when, weirdly enough, he threw a perfect game.  The two events aren’t really related, just… close tog
ether.

What we wind up with is two ******** who wanted to out-******* each other, with the chest-bumping or knuckle-touching or whatever it is they do in the 209 taking a back seat as, out of the blue, the 19th perfect game ever thrown in baseball happens.

The piece concludes with one of my favorite scenes from a baseball movie: Tom Hanks, in A League of Their Own, emphasizing that there’s “no crying in baseball,” something both of these guys did a lot of…yet, I’m still convinced that during the initial incident A-Rod’s perpetual cluelessness about how to act instigated the whole thing.
UPDATE:
USA Today’s “Daily Pitch” goes behind the scenes.