Aug
04

The Dog Days

By

About two weeks ago I wrote a post about the upcoming schedule and how the Yankees needed to take advantage of some weak competition and pad their lead on the playoff spot. Fourteen straight games against sub-.500 teams – including ten at home – was a recipe for success, and the Yankees have answered the call. They’ve won ten games in that stretch so far, with a chance to make it 11 tonight. Even if they lose tonight, I consider a 10-4 stretch to be a big-time success.

That 14-game stretch, which began at the outset of the ten-game homestand, has increased the Yankees chances of making the playoffs from 89.3% to 98.6% according to Cool Standings, and their lead on a playoff spot has grown from 5.5 games to 8.0 games. The Angels have won seven of their last 13 but have lost 2.5 games in the standings. That must be comforting for them. The Yankees have won with pitching and offense during these 14 games, posting a 3.63 ERA while hitting .329/.395/.521 as a team. They’ve outscored their opponents 101-50. They’ve also gotten healthy during that stretch, with both Eric Chavez and Rafael Soriano returning from long-term-ish injuries. Alex Rodriguez will begin baseball activities in Tampa today, so he’s inching closer to a return as well.

Following tonight’s series finale against the White Sox, the Yankees will play six games against the two teams they have to be most concerned about right now: the Red Sox and Angels. Making the playoffs is always priority number one, but winning the division is always a goal and beating Boston is pretty much a necessity to achieve that goal. Plus they really need to beat the Red Sox just for the sake of beating the Red Sox. That 1-8 record against them this year is a big eyesore. Next week’s series against the Halos is much more important in the grand scheme of things, a sweep either way will drastically impact the wildcard race, anything else will just maintain the status quo.

Once those six games are over with, it’s another prolonged stretch against mediocre to bad clubs. The Rays are fading fast (they’re only 1.5 games up on the Blue Jays these days), then it’s 15 straight against the Royals, Twins, Athletics, and Orioles. For all the talk about how many road games the Yankees have left (31 vs. 22 at home), a whole lot of those games away from the Bronx are against those bad teams. Plus the Yanks have one of the best road winning percentages in baseball, so it’s not like games away from Yankee Stadium are a chore. The Yankees have beefed up their win total over the last two weeks, and they’ll have a great chance to do it again later this month.

Yesterday, Joe wrote about using the big wildcard lead to play around with the roster somewhat. They can find some extra rest for CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon, perhaps see what J.C. Romero has to offer, maybe even give Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos a chance to strut their stuff. These are the dog days of summer, when all the games kinda blend in with each other and it feels like we’re just going through the motions, but for the Yankees it’s a chance to improve on what they already have.

Categories : Musings

72 Comments»

  1. BREAKING NEWS

    Reports have surfaced that Alex Rodriguez’s dog “Spike Ripken” may have participated in an illegal underground game of dogs playing poker. Eyewitnesses have produced this photographic evidence of the game in question, which took place in the Hollywood mansion of world-famous canine actor Beethoven. (Spike Ripken is the white bulldog pictured in the foreground, secretly passing cards underneath the table with his hindlegs unbeknownst to the other canine players.) Celebrities believed to be in attendance include Air Bud, Clifford, Marmaduke, three of the huskies from Snow Dogs, and Hooch (or Turner, whichever one of those two wasn’t Tom Hanks).

    If confirmed, this violation of the Uniform Player’s Pets Code of Conduct could result in a 30-day suspension for Alex and a fine of up to 500,000 pieces of kibble for Spike Ripken. Commissioner Selig has promised a thorough and painstaking investigation of this miscarriage of justice, appointing non-partisan and impartial special investigator Senator Mitchell to spearhead the inquiry.

    Lethal force has been authorized.

  2. YanksFan says:

    I don’t believe you. We can’t make the playoffs – Harold told me so.

    You don’t want to take anything for granted but the most important thing right now is to stay healthy and give a day off here and there for the players as well as the pitchers.

    I would like to see what Montero & Manny can do for a month or month & a half for Jesus.

  3. Tom Bombadil says:

    See what Nova gives us tonght. If he throws up another gem then you put him an AJ into a competition. Go start to start and whoever performs better stays in the rotation. Right now Hughes is the 4th playoff starter.

    • Jobu The Voodoo Troll says:

      I love the optimism, but that is a big jump for one start.

      • I’m still waiting for some type of confirmation that Tom Bombadil, Hester Prynne, Winston Smith, and Jack Merridew aren’t all the same person.

        • Jim S says:

          The writing style is the same, but Tom Bombadil has been a lot more likely to reply to other comments.

          I’m still on the side of yes, handles are too coincidental.

        • NotJackMerridew says:

          Another boring day in paradise. Made a bong out of a conch. Messed with TSJC.

      • Tom Bombadil says:

        It’s not just one start though, is it? AJ’s been erratic all season and if you look at Nova’s numbers vs AJ’s it favors Nova. I just don’t know why you completely dismiss the idea of AJ pitching for his job.

        • Jobu The Voodoo Troll says:

          I would love to see AJ pitch for his job. My reference to was one good start from Hughes leading to your assertion that he is the 4th playoff starter. I am a Hughes fan, but up until his last start he has been horrible this year. I am not confident that what he showed on Tuesday was who he will be the rest of the year. Hopeful but not confident.

        • NotJackMerridew says:

          There on to us. Ixna on the uestionqa arksma.

        • Jim S says:

          Meh. Hughes being dominant was just one start, so putting him automatically into the #4 slot is an over reaction. I’d love for him to keep pitching how he did Tuesday, but 1 start has little to no predictive value.

          Right now Hughes/Nova/Burnett should all be fighting for the last 2 spots, in whatever order that may be.

          • Tom Bombadil says:

            Ok. I agree, those 3 should be in a competition. We can do the 6 man for another time or two until A-Rod returns then perhaps all that matters is who will be our #4 in the playoffs. The #5 and #6 probably won’t see much action in the playoffs with our deep pen.

    • gc says:

      Hester, you really need to stop.

  4. Mister Delaware says:

    Why the hell is today not a ~ 2:00 EST getaway day start?

  5. Jerome S. says:

    The more I think about it, the fact that we have not yet seen Jesus is a really good thing. I mean, if we were some team struggling with our current core of players, then Jesus would have been called up months ago. That he hasn’t speaks to the strength of the 25 men currently on the roster.

    That said, I would now like to see some Jesus.

    • Jobu The Voodoo Troll says:

      I think that makes it the perfect time to bring him up. if the team was struggling then there would be pressure on him to make an immediate positive impact. Bringing him up while the team is going well mitigates that to a degree and gives more of an opportunity to just work him in. Having said that, I am not sure that bringing him up and playing him in Boston right away is the best idea. However, bringing him up and having him on the bench for the Boston series may be a good way to introduce him to that rivalry.

    • Sayid J. says:

      Well… it could also speak to the fact that when Jesus was needed most (Jorge struggling, Chavez hurt, A-Rod hurt, Jeter hurt), Montero was struggling as well. It could also speak to the fact that the Yankees may not have wanted to expose him to the majors before the trade deadline. It could speak to a lot of factors, but I’m guessing the strength of the 25 man roster may be at the bottom of the list. Montero has had the talent to be on the roster all season, but he didn’t perform up to his talent for the first portion of the season, and when he did, the Yankees may not have wanted to bring him up the week or two prior to the deadline. If he had warranted a call-up earlier, I’m guessing they could have found a roster spot for him. However, Montero never really produced enough to force the Yankees hand.

      (Yes, the 25 man roster is strong. The Nunez, Chavez, Jones bench trio is one of the best we’ve had in years. I just mean to say that the weakest man on the 25 man roster is the one that Montero is most likely to replace, which leads me to believe that Montero would have been here if not for a variety of other reasons.)

    • Jedile says:

      Better attend church this Sunday then! That is probably the soonest you’ll see him.

      As for Hey-Zeus maybe August 18th would be a good date for him to come up. I would love it if ManBan just mows down AAA hitters, then he might actually be called up before September also, to get a shot at the playoffs maybe as a LOOGY or shucks a rotational spot like: CC, Colon, Garcia, Manny B, Hughes/Nova/AJ. Now this is a stretch, but if we are wanting another lefty in the rotation to face the left-heavy Boston, then this might actually be a sound move.

      Jesus coming up would be like the second coming if he absolutely tears it up in the bigs. The problem though is if he does, cause then what do you do with Martin (Who actually has been hitting the ball with some authority recently). You could split it with 3 games of Jesus catching, and 4 for Russel. Jesus can get some other bats via DH.

    • vin says:

      “That he hasn’t speaks to the strength of the 25 men currently on the roster.”

      This also applies to guys like Golson, Romero, Vazquez, Russo, Warren, and even Nova and Noesi to an extent.

      At least 4 or 5 of those guys would have spent time in the big leagues (or in the rotation to stay) if the 25 man roster weren’t among the best in the league.

  6. Favrest says:

    I’ll believe in Jesus when i see him with my own eyes.

  7. Bronx Byte says:

    There was talk of a 6-man rotation. That’s been changed to a 5 1/2 man rotation. Anybody that guessed that the 1/2 man is Burnett guessed right.

  8. steve says:

    HOW DARE AJ RIP OFF HIS JERSEY LIKE THAT!!! YOU ARE A YANKEE! THAT JERSEY MEANS MORE TO US THAN YOU. TREAT IT WITH RESPECT YOU F-ING IDIOT.

  9. John says:

    At what point do they pull AJ from the rotation? I don’t think anyone can legitimately argue that right now Nova is a better pitcher than AJ, so do we continue to risk throwing away the AL East just so we can arbitrarily trot AJ and his 16mil contract out there every 5 (or 6) Games?

    • Jorge says:

      At the point you remember he was on the losing end of a couple of games with zero run support not too long ago.

      • moose says:

        dont make excuses for him – the yanks didnt exactly face world beating pitchers in those games – its almost as if they expect to lose when hes out there – last nites offensive outburst notwithstanding

        • Mister Delaware says:

          Which is why they choose not to score many runs in a lot of his starts. Why waste them, right? Except last night which is different. Also.

        • Jorge says:

          Every game in a 162 game schedule is weighted equally.

        • Ana says:

          Exactly. The Yankees obviously don’t score on purpose when AJ pitches because they don’t want him to win, except for the times when they do, which we don’t count because the narrative etc.

          • moose says:

            im not saying they score less when hes out there…but i woudlnt be suprised if theres some psychological brain drain when its his turn on the bump…..eveyrbody always says when cc comes out we expect to win, couldnt it stand to reason that they secretly feel the same way when aj comes out ?

            • MannyGeee says:

              wha??? you know everyone on the team (well, except for Jorge) really like AJ, right? The Yankees, and $205M in payroll and 1 win seperated from the best record in the AL, expect to win EVERY GAME.

              and if this was the case, the same ‘brain drain’ woulda happened with every Ponson, Pavano, Jaret Wright, Javy, Igawa and Chase Wright start over the past decade.

              Thinking if your theory was correct, 2008 wouldnt have been the only season we woulda missed the playoffs…

      • John says:

        The Runs we score in AJs starts has nothing to do with my desire to consider pulling him in favor of Nova. I’m not judging Burnett off his W/L record, rather his ERA, WHIP, and FIP – and the general fact that he’s been getting lit up a lot lately.

        Our run support of AJ is faily independent of his performance. Even if you feel there is some correlation between the two, it’s blatantly obvious that Nova is the better option. Yes AJ throws many “Unhittable” Pitches, but he also throws a lot of “Can’t Miss” pitches. AT some point you need to stop focusing on his potential and what he did for us in 2009, and just look at his results.

  10. Jorge says:

    As much as I want to see Jesus Montero up in the Bronx, I’m not going to sit here and clamor for him. I’d be surprised (albeit mildly) to see him come up before September without an injury to Posada, Tex, or one of the catchers occurring. I don’t see the team further marginalizing Posada before rosters expand, nor do I see them deviating from trotting out Cervelli out there as the gritty backup catcher who the pitchers like.

    I’m convinced 2012 is Jesus’s coming-out party and, at this point, it’s better than 50/50 he stays a Yankee.

    • Klemy says:

      I would at least like to see Montero be called up before the Sept 1st date. Bring him up a few days before, so that he is easily on the playoff roster if he performs well through September. I realize there are loopholes they can use, but why force the issue? If you have to send Cervelli down for 10 days to do it, go for it.

      • Delaware - Ralph says:

        I agree although one thing I freely admit to not truly understanding is playoff roster eligibility.

        • MannyGeee says:

          look back at the past few days’ posts. its been covered quite a bit.

          basically it reads that anyone is available except for Montero, as he might be ‘bored’ in October in Detroit.

  11. meaty balls says:

    Jeeze im in cape cod. And the things they say to me about wearing my yankee attire is classic.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      Except Southie, Boston is almost like the eye of a Yankee-taunting hurricane. Rarely do people here say anything about my Yankees hat (and when they do its in knowing jest) but when I go a little further out or when out-of-towners come in for games, its almost like they feel obligated to make comments.

      • Rick in Boston says:

        It’s most North Shore people. The folks west of the city are too afraid to approach a guy with a Yankee hat and/or jersey on.

        • MannyGeee says:

          they might be in a gang, and most likely a shade of brown…

          Sincerely,
          Ppl west of Boston & north of Worcester

    • Jorge says:

      I got nothing but compliments on my cap up in Maine a couple of years ago, and it was a part of the world where your “Yankees Suck” t-shirt is on regular wardrobe rotation.

    • MannyGeee says:

      ironically, the cape is chock full of New Yorkers for the vacation season.

    • Owen Two says:

      I never got any crap about wearing Yankee attire in Boston until 2004.

      That’s when the annoying fans started feeling ‘entitled’.

    • Kiersten says:

      I lived in Cape Cod last summer and never got any comments about the Yankee attire I wore around all the time. It was disappointing.

  12. Alibaba says:

    I agree with Mike Axisa that the Angels series will be a key one. If the Yankees can sweep the series, it will be very difficult to catch them in the WC race.

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