Sep
16

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

By

Every other week, Jamie O’Grady channels the 2005-version of Michael Kay by “Looking Back. Looking Forward.to get you caught up on what just was, and what soon will be with the New York Yankees.

LOOKING BACK: So what did you miss?

One of my favorite movies of all-time is undoubtedly Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day.” In the moviefilm, an immortal Phil Connors – slowly realizing that he’s reliving the same day over and over – advises the innkeeper that the “chance of departure is around 80%…75-80.”

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with a supposedly Yankee-centric column, but there’s an obvious connection here to the total disaster which is Mr. Allen James Burnett. We already know that watching AJ pitch feels like deja vu all over again, yet despite only marginally improved results of late, the likelihood that Burnett is kept off the postseason roster feels much like Connors’ chances of leaving Punxsutawney without running into Ned Ryerson. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Wanna put the oft-ridiculed Yankee hurler’s 2011 statistics into some perspective? Check out this most recent 16-start sample size:

You don’t have to be John Sterling to recognize Starter B; he’s the aforementioned AJ Burnett. Player A? None other than Javier Vazquez. Yes, that Javier Vazquez. Really, is there any greater insult than being told “Dude, your ERA is like 4 runs higher than Javy Vazquez‘s, Bruh!” (UPDATE: Cy Vaz tossed a 5-hit shutout Friday night)

And no, despite my Burnetterrific frustration, I’m not planning on bathing with my toaster oven anytime soon.

Where in the world is Alex Rodriguez? Since returning from the disabled list on August 21, ARod has compiled just 36 at-bats (with two home runs), putting an exclamation point on his injury-riddled and disappointing 2011 campaign. Surely, $25m+ doesn’t go as far as it used to, what with the economy and all, but come on.

He’s allegedly still battling the worst jammed thumb in history, and his impending return to the lineup tonight – though welcome – doesn’t leave a ton of games for him to get his act together for the postseason.

Seriously, does anyone remember the ARod who closed April on pace for .290/41/146 this season? Yeah, neither does Cameron Diaz, apparently. I’m not judging, by the way. Perhaps ditching that insanely hot “distraction” will pay immediate Jeterian dividends.

Oh, some guy named Mariano crossed the 600-save threshold. And some guy named Jesus saved the franchise. We all just better pray that Joe Girardi doesn’t ask Montero to sacrifice himself. The worldwide religious implications are enough to make one’s head explode.

What we learned:

9/02 – 9/04 v. TOR I keep waiting for a NY Post headline which reads Ivan the Terrible, but Yankee phenom Ivan Nova just won’t allow it. He continues to lead all big-league rookies with 15 wins, and he hasn’t suffered a loss since way back on June 3. Nova is 7-0 since rejoining the club on July 31, and his 3.32 ERA over that time is actually much less impressive than his 1.14 WHIP (1.37 for his career) over the same span. Nova may not be able to retain his newfound-poise in a playoff atmosphere, but there’s no doubt his pure stuff is good enough to go head-to-head against almost any other AL team’s No. 2 starter. Prediction: NYY sweep series) (Actual: NYY sweep series)

9/05 – 9/08 @ BALWhat a disappointment. It took Jesus Montero all of four Major League contests to hit two home runs in one game, which puts him just 66 games behind Babe Ruth for the all-time Yankee lead in multi-HR efforts. I’m guessin’ the son of God will catch the Babe sometime in 2013. Scott Proctor made his first appearance as a Yankee since July 23, 2007. Predictably, he served up a long ball. I hadn’t been this excited to hear the name Proctor on TV since he and Lt. Harris were slow dancing at the Blue Oyster Bar. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Prediction: NYY win 3-of-4) (Actual: NYY split series)

9/09 – 9/11 @ LAASomewhat lost amidst the local joy surrounding Boston’s injury-induced September-meltdown is the fact that the Yankees remain particularly vulnerable against certain other potential playoff-opponents. Case in point: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County, California, U.S.A., Earth, Milky Way. Now just three games back of the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, the Angels - and their dominant 1-2 punch in Weaver/Haren - would be a lethal Yankee opponent in the ALDS. The Detroit Tigers – even with Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera & Co. – would be a better match-up for the Bombers. You might even be surprised to learn that Verlander is just 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA lifetime versus New York. (Prediction: NYY win 2-of-3) (Actual: NYY lose 2-of-3)

9/12 – 9/14 @ SEADon’t look now, but Phil Hughes (5-5) has held opponents to two earned runs or less in six of his last eight starts. He even managed to best the mighty King Felix in a Yankee win which saw Chris Dickerson take Hernandez deep for his first Major League home run. Dickerson can now retire tomorrow and still pick up chicks at will, although not at the Blue Oyster Bar. Not to be outdone by the aforementioned Montero, oft-hyped Yankee catching prospect Austin Romine collected his first big-league hit. At first glance, he looks very comfortable behind the plate. (Prediction: NYY sweep series) (Actual: NYY win 2-of-3)

LOOKING FORWARD: What can’t you miss?

Entering play tonight, Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees at 100% likely to make the playoffs (92% to win the AL East), so the remaining 14 regular season games are largely irrelevant aside from playoff seeding and setting up the starting rotation for the American League Divisional Series. What’s most important for New York over the next two weeks is the health and performance of ARod, who despite his 2011 disappearing act, remains an absolutely critical factor for the club’s chances at making the World Series.

It’s been readily apparent since Spring Training that the Yankee rotation was not going to be a team-strength, but even with the losses of Joba Chamberlain, Pedro Feliciano, and Damaso Marte, the bullpen has been nothing short of dominant. In particular, David Robertson (1.15 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 95K/62IP) has had the kind of season that makes you wonder if Mariano Rivera‘s eventual replacement has been here all along.

And so it remains that formula – CC Sabathia, an elite offense, and a lock-down bullpen – which Brian Cashman hopes New York can ride all the way to its 28th World Championship.

What we expect to learn:

9/16 – 9/18 @ TOR I really miss the original Blue Jay uniforms. Those badboys were awesome. Not much else to espouse about our friends from north of the border. They’re sporting a pedestrian 75-74 record, which makes sense given their above average lineup and well below average pitching staff. Ultimately, the Jays won’t be making any noise in the division until they find themselves an ace – no, not you, Brandon Morrow – and a closer who brings more to the table than a really questionable neck tattoo. I actually feel for the baseball fans in Toronto; to see your franchise trade away Doc Halladay and still support the team? That’s commendable. And stupid. (Prediction: NYY win 2-of-3)

9/19 v. MINLooking for a sign that the Apocalypse is upon us? Well, for the first time in about 68 years, the Yankees will not be facing the Twins in the playoffs, which is probably a good thing for residents of St. Paul, considering the fact that New York seemingly never loses to Minnesota in the postseason. That said, I will miss seeing Joe Mauer’s abnormally girthy sideburns in October. (Prediction: NYY win makeup game)

9/20 – 9/22 v. TAMHoly shizah, these are not your father’s Devil Rays! While the Red Sox have been imploding, the Rays have exploded, winning 9-of-12 and amazingly creeping to within three games of Boston in the AL Wild Card race. Make no mistake, despite losing half their roster in free agency, Tampa’s farm system is extremely well-stocked, particularly in the pitching department. Widely hailed as baseball’s best pitching prospect, Matt Moore was recently called up to bolster Tampa’s pen over the final 15 games. Keep an eye on him during this series, you’ll be seeing him torment the Yankees for many years to come. (Prediction: NYY split 4-game series)

9/23 – 9/25 v. BOSBoston closer Jonathan Papelbon has not had a save opportunity since August 18, almost one month ago! Daniel Bard, the usually dominant Red Sox setup man, has compiled a 17.36 ERA and 2.35 WHIP thus far in September. Kevin Youklis is hitting .197 with two homers since August 1. In short, the team that everyone picked to win the division has utterly collapsed due to a combination of bad play, untimely injuries, and bunch of games against really good clubs. Might we hear some completely unjustified “Fire Tito” chants in Fenway Park before the season ends?  (Prediction: NYY lose 2-of-3)

9/26 – 9/28 @ TAMThere’s only so much I can say about the Rays in one column, but I happen to like Joe Maddon’s glasses. Also, BJ Upton needs a new batting stance. Every time I see his weirdo ankle-shimmy I want to throw something at the television. Finally, what is up with having actual stingrays in an aquarium at the ballpark? Didn’t we learn anything from the untimely death of Steve Irwin? Call me crazy, but when I attend a baseball game, the closest I want to come to sea life is plunking down $20 for mediocre sushi at Yankee Stadium. (Prediction: NYY win 2-of-3)

Next stop…

 

 

 

 

And that’s all she wrote. I’ll see you back here in a fortnight, unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case I’ll see you every five seconds or so.

Categories : Musings, Whimsy

25 Comments»

  1. theyankeewarrior says:

    “…still battling the worst jammed thumb in history”

    Couldn’t have said it better. Dude, is your thumb broken? This guy has missed like two weeks and they’re still saying they don’t know when he’ll be ready to swing?

    It’s going to be a long 6 years if he can’t even field a hard hit ball without hurting the hand that’s INSIDE A GLOVE.

    • Dick Gozinya says:

      I’m going to make an educated guess that you didn’t play much in your day.

      Have you ever tried to control a bat with a jammed thumb?

      • Mister Delaware says:

        A bit early for the Euphemism of the Day award, but that’s likely a winner.

      • J.R. O'Grady says:

        Gimme a break, so to speak. ARod should just pour some ‘Tussin on that badboy and get back in the box.

        • Dick Gozinya says:

          My comment wasn’t directed at you. I think we are all frustrated with the time A-Rod has spent being hurt this year. My comment was more directed towards the questioning of being able to swing. Also, its apparent that one hasn’t played any sort of competitive baseball if they don’t understand how a THUMB can be sprained while in a glove.

          You sir, just keep writing the glorious comedy that you have been bestowing upon us, please.

        • The Humungus says:

          What nonsense.

          Here’s Brian Cashman himself, speaking to the point about how Rodriguez is still “allegedly battling the worst jammed thumb in history”:


          “He’s got a Grade I sprain and it’s not going to go away completely this season,” Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com. “It only goes away with time which is not something that’s necessarily in our favor.”

          Cashman said Rodriguez’s injury was not likely to require offseason surgery.

          “It’s a sprained collateral ligament and it’s more of an irritating thing than anything else,” he said. “It could take six days, or 15 days, or 30 days, and even if he feels 100 percent, one wrong move or one bad swing or checked swing or dive or whatever could bring it right back to square one again. It’s just something he’s going to have to deal with.”

          http://espn.go.com/new-york/ml.....oing-issue

          But hey, keep plucking that chicken, right?

    • It’s a Grade 1 sprain.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      Not to mention a fracture can hurt less to play with than a severe sprain.

    • B-Rando says:

      My thumb has a chronic jamming condition (at least thats what I call it). It’s extremely susceptible to being jammed after years of continuously jamming it, and then playing with it jammed. Usually the first time it happens in a season, it lingers for the entire year until the next summer rolls around.

      Not making excuses, but it can be a tricky injury; and really whats more important than getting healthy for the postseason.

  2. Mister Delaware says:

    -ly hot

  3. the Other Steve S. says:

    “We all just better pray that Joe Girardi doesn’t ask Montero to sacrifice himself. ”

    More bitching about bunts? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  4. David, Jr. says:

    How would anybody ditch that “distraction”? 15 on a scale of 10.

  5. Kosmo says:

    Ned Ryerson anyone ?

  6. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    My only hope is that we do not heal the Red Sox when they come to visit us in acouple of weeks. This season we have already brought them back to health twice that I can remember.

  7. Pat D says:

    I dunno. 8-6 seems underwhelming.

    Then again, if they did that, Boston would have to go 12-1 to tie them, so that’s probably OK.

  8. Dave B says:

    What do you think Joe will do if AJ and Hughes gets waxed against the Red Sox or Rays? Colon-Garcia 3-4 in playoffs?

    • J.R. O'Grady says:

      I suspect we will see Bartolo in Game 3 of the ALDS, and that neither Hughes, nor AJ see action unless there’s a blowout. Freddy (game 4 ALCS?) either gets lit up or pitches well, doesn’t seem to be any in between, but he does have playoff experience, obviously.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        I say we see Bartolo Garcia in game 3. Each guy gets 3-4 innings max. Different style pitchers-old arms. It’s my 3.5 playoff pitcher rotation.

  9. Diane Ferrone says:

    Mr. O’Grady – Please justify your prediction of the Yankees dropping 2 of 3 to the BooSox. We may not have had their number in the beginning of the season, but (i) we took 2 of 3 last series, and (ii) they are not the same team.

  10. Neil says:

    So on 9/21 as a partial season ticket holder (since 1998) I will have about 57 seconds to attempt to buy tickets to a post season game. Last year I was able to buy one ticket to the AJ game against Texas where the Yankees experienced a death by binder loss as rigid Joe couldn’t help himself when the binder told him that Benjie Molina was something like 1 for 18 against AJ while the entire section I was sitting in was begging for any relief pitcher. Hoping for a better post season outcome this year and I will be watching at home on the HDTV and not renewing my partial plan for next year. I long for the old days when I got one game per post season series with a partial plan.

  11. Ross says:

    Unless you’re going to at least try to plot out pitching match-ups, what is the point of trying to predict W-L for the series you’re previewing? Otherwise it seems arbitrary and silly.

    • J.R. O'Grady says:

      DING DING DING… we have a winner. The picks were always meant as a parody of sorts. As you know, you can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.

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