Apr
10

Thoughts following the Orioles series

By
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

These last two games against the Orioles didn’t go according to plan, and while I think intra-division games are going to be extra important this season, the two losses aren’t the end of the world this early in the season. Yes, every game counts, but there are still 153 games left to make up ground. If you’re going to drop two of three to an AL East rival, this is the time to do it. Here are some thoughts before the Red Sox come to town for another division matchup.

1. There’s been a lot of talk about infield shifts so far this season, and not just from the YES booth either. I’ve heard it on other broadcasts as well. I understand that people don’t like them because they’ve drastically hurt some players (Mark Teixeira, for example) and are taking a bite out of offense around the game in general, but shifts are here to stay. Think about what it was like when pitchers starting throwing curveballs and sliders. Breaking balls were once a new fad that especially hurt some players and lowered offense around the game. That’s life. The strong survive. If you can avoid the shift with some kind of regularity, you will be in high demand. Few things are as annoying as a player beating a ball into the shift, but once upon a time the same was true of players swinging over a slider in the dirt. Baseball is changing and this is just something players and teams will have to adjust to.

2. The Teixeira injury really exposes how inflexible the 40-man roster is right now. The Yankees have too many good but not great prospects — Nik Turley, Jose Campos, Bryan Mitchell, and Ramon Flores jump to mind — occupying 40-man spots even though they are in no real position to help the big league team this year. The Yankees can’t designate those guys for assignment because they’ll lose them on waivers for nothing, meaning they’re essentially working with a 36-man roster. That’s how you end up recalling a third catcher when your starting first baseman gets hurt. In a perfect world, the Yankees would package three or four of those good but not great 40-man prospects for one player, a young infielder or something, clearing the logjam and addressing a need in one fell swoop. Too bad it’s not that easy. Teams usually aren’t looking to take on some other team’s clutter.

3. Carlos Beltran has started to snap out of his early-season slump, and of all the guys who struggled early in the year, he surprised me the most. That’s not necessarily because he is the best hitter of the bunch, but because he’s the most complete hitter on the team (average, power, discipline, etc.) and never has the platoon disadvantage as a switch-hitter. Those guys, like Bernie Williams and Chipper Jones, usually don’t struggle very long. Of course, Beltran will be 37 in two weeks and there’s always a chance he’s starting to slip as a hitter, but I didn’t believe he had fell off the cliff that hard, that soon after one bad week. Dude is a force when right. I didn’t expect Beltran to struggle out of the gate and I certainly didn’t expect it to last very long.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

4. I get that he’s hitting well right now and Teixeira is injured (and Brett Gardner is on the roster), but I’m not a fan of Jacoby Ellsbury batting third. He’s hit with two outs and the bases empty four times in the last two games, including both first innings. Ellsbury doesn’t have much power and it’s really hard to create runs in those situations because it takes at least two hits to do it — one to get him on base, one to drive him in. (To be fair, they did score a run after he singled in the first inning of Tuesday’s game.) I like Ellsbury much better as a leadoff hitter, especially because he steals so much and gives the guys behind him so much of an opportunity to drive him in. I mean, batting third is fine, it’s not like he’s batting fifth or something. I just think the lineup is at its absolute best when he’s setting the table, not being counted on as a run producer.

5. It has only been a week, but things seem to be going well so far in the farm system. The pitchers have barely gotten any work in, but 3B Eric Jagielo and RF Aaron Judge are hitting and so have OF Mason Williams and C Gary Sanchez. You can make a pretty strong case that those are the four most important prospects in the system. Others like C Peter O’Brien are off to nice starts as well. The only top prospect who has not hit so far is C John Ryan Murphy. One week doesn’t mean much of anything, but I am glad to see some of these guys start the new season on the right foot. If, say, Williams came out of gate struggling, it would have been hard not to think “here we go again.” The good starts are nice, now they have to keep them going into the dog days of summer.

6. Now that he has two starts under his belt, what do you think about Masahiro Tanaka? I’m pretty excited even though he’s shown a penchant for the longball. He’s getting a ton of strikeouts and swings and misses, which I kinda expected to happen. He also doesn’t seem to get rattled by anything. Kei Igawa used to practically curl up in the fetal position after giving up a base hit. That is reportedly one of things that made Tanaka so appealing to the Yankees, his toughness and competitiveness. It’s not often you can see that stuff on the field, but the guy is coming into a new culture in a brutal division in a new league. I don’t think anyone could blame him if he looked like a deer in the headlights early on, but we haven’t see that. I really think Tanaka’s going to be ace-like once he really settles in acclimates himself. Everything is there for him to be that type of pitcher.

Categories : Musings
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    The 40-man stuff is one of the more crazy-making things to me about this season. I understand your average blog commenter freaking out about every Single-A pitcher possibly being the next Jose Quintana, but the franchise should have a more level head with things like this. Having to carry a guy like Campos on the 40-man is just silly. We don’t have the ability to call upon players who could actually be useful to us because of the five catchers and borderline prospects we’re afraid to expose. That being said, at least Flores would have a prayer of being a contributor if needed. He’d still be about sixth, at best, in the OF depth chart.

    Tanaka will be fine. I think pitching to contact makes him prone to being singled to death, and that he’s still trying to get batters to bite on mistake pitches that gets him drilled. Melky as his first batter and the HR last night are pitches he’s going to learn to avoid as he goes along.

    Not worried about the middle of the order. They’ll come around. It’s been nine fucking games. These guys aren’t all falling off a cliff just yet.

    Hooray for the farm system.

    • RetroRob

      Regarding Tanaka, we don’t have a track record with him so it’s hard to react to certain things. For example, he clearly depends on his command of his pitches, yet in both starts he seems to have had some difficulty commanding his fastball in the first couple of innings. We may see that is a regular trend, and that he gets better as the game goes on. We may see that his command gets better as the season progresses, which means he is going to get even better.

      What we don’t know is how hitters will adjust to him the second and third time through the league. My guess, though, is they might need to be more concerned about how he is going to adjust to them. The splitter is for real, as is the slider, but also as advertised his uber-competitive side. As good as both games have been overall, he is probably not pleased, and that’s a good thing.

    • Ed

      Well, I think a lot of it comes down to when they had to make the decisions. They had to make the 40 man roster calls before signing the big free agents.

      I’m guessing they planned around having Cano instead of Beltran, which makes the position player situation look a lot better. If they thought they could find a taker for Ichiro, that makes things even better.

      As for the catchers, I didn’t really expect them to sign McCann. I figured they’d just go in house and spend the money elsewhere. As good as McCann is, I feel like he’s a poor fit considering the budget restrictions and how many other holes the team has. That said, I think they have to make a trade at some point. Romine or Cervelli could flame out and find themselves out of a roster spot, but otherwise I think the other guys are clearly staying on a 40 man roster somewhere for a while.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    1. Exactly. And some of these ballplayers are going to have to learn to lay down a bunt down the 3rd base line. Do that over and over and over and they won’t be shifting as much.

    2. Yeah, they really screwed the pooch not signing Mark Reynolds as backup. Would have been nice to have right now instead of Kelly and Frankie trying to play 1st.

    3. Carlos is our best hitter. Him and Ellsbury should continue to hit 3rd and 4th even when Teixera returns.

    4. I disagree wholeheartedly. You don’t need Babe Ruth hitting 3rd all the time. The 3rd hitter should be your best hitter. If you want to argue Carlos should hit 3rd, fine. But Teixera and Soriano are not consistent enough to hit 4th. And McCann has been a joke thus far.

    5. Still have a lot of ways to go on the farm. The Sox have a farm that is leaps and bounds better than ours. Rays too. Os have a nice young nucleus as well.

    6. He’ll be our ace, no doubt. Nova’s just too inconsistent, Kuroda’s 40, Pineda just coming back from 2 years off and CC is the worst pitcher on the staff. Tanaka has looked really good with the splitter and FB, needs to work on not throwing meatball sliders.

    • 28 this year

      If you bunt more and successfully, all that will change is the 3B moves from SS to play for the bunt and the shift remains. Not a huge deal in the long run but yes a few short run hits.

      • JAG

        I’m fine with bunting through the shift with guys like Cano who can run it out for a double. But Tex, McCann, Beltran, these aren’t guys who are fast enough to make a double out of a bunt through the shift, so all they’re doing is getting a largely meaningless single, since the most pronounced shifts where bunting through is likely happen with the bases empty. Teams just frankly don’t care that much about a bases-empty single by a power hitter, and rightly so.

        Now, if you can get in scoring position by bunting, then I’m all for that. If the Red Sox shift against Soriano at Fenway, I think he’s got a decent chance of getting a double out of a bunt towards first.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead
      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        I stopped at “or Joba Chamberlain belongs in the rotation.”

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          2009 was a simpler time.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            *looks at crib in other room*

            Indeed.

    • Mr. Roth

      “…and CC is the worst pitcher on the staff.”

      Nova has been hands down the worst pitcher on the staff so far. It’s really not all that close.

  • JK5

    As long as Jeter’s gonna be the 2 hitter, I kinda like Ells hitting 3rd, mostly because it means getting Gardner an extra AB here and there, and I’m all for getting our best hitters as many extra ABs as mathematically possible. In a perfect world we’d go Ells-Gardy with Jeter hitting 8 or 9, but that’s obviously not gonna happen. It’d never happen, but maybe the best lineup(with Jeter having to bat 2) would be Ells-Jete-Gardy…being that Ells is more apt to steal a base than Gardy is hitting in front of Jeter. So Ells gets on first, steals second, Jeter goes opposite field…if it’s a hit, Ells scores, if not, Ells on 3rd(no GIDP) with Gardy coming up.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      It may not make a ton of sense once you give a ton of thought, but there is something boner-inducing about seeing those three 1-2-3. Just a ton of potential to get around and score, take the extra base, etc. If we can get Gardner or Jeter into scoring position, Ellsbury doesn’t really need to do a whole lot different. Get the ground ball out of the infield and the runner scores.

  • Kosmo

    “ice water in his veins“ this we´ll come to find, if we haven´t already, applies to Tanaka.

    I`m wondering if Roberts is your proverbial washed up 36 yr old 2B. He still has good instincts, works counts, walks and can play ok D but he was once a player who could drive the ball racking up tons of doubles along the way. Yanks have Sizemore who is off to a great start at Scranton.

    I agree NY could unload some of those players on the 40 man for a young 3b/1b like Josh Vitters or Ryan Wheeler. They both have some upside and are currently blocked at their respective positions.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      You kind of have to swap out Anna and Sizemore before 5/1. There’s nothing lost by sending Anna, who has his options, down. There’s much more lost by letting Sizemore walk in May. I really hope that happens.

      I understand Sizemore can’t play short, but he’d leave you with Solarte less anchored at third while Tex is out.

      • Kosmo

        If Roberts doesn´t pick it up, for example hitting far better than he currently is by May 1st, then he should be given the axe. Ryan will be back so that in and of itself makes Anna superfluous. Sizemore also as you suggest gives NY better flexibility. Sizemore is also 7 yrs younger than Roberts.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          With Roberts defense and how he’s had basically the best at bats of anyone in this lineup, there’s no way anyone’s letting him go.

          • Chip Rodriguez

            Yup. Even when he’s struggling, he’s still forcing 6-7 pitch ABs half the time.

            • The Great Gonzo

              THIS. Roberts going 0-4 and seeing 38 pitches is better than you typical nobody going 0-4 and seeing 12 pitches.

              I have to assume Roberts will at some point start hitting, but Sizemore is making one hell of a case in Scranton. Got to think Dean Anna shouldn’t get too comfortable.

              • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                he saw an inning’s worth of pitches vs Ubaldo, didn’t get a hit (iirc). who cares? EIGHTEEN PITCHES.

        • Mr. Roth

          I’m guessing you haven’t really watched the games? Roberts has looked pretty good so far despite the poor batting average.

      • Tom K

        The problem is that Anna seems to be the only guy they are comfortable with backing up SS. I know Solarte can probably do it, but I am guessing it wouldn’t be pretty.

  • mitch

    Very pleased with Tanaka so far. I don’t think he has the pure stuff to ever join the very elite guys like Felix and Kershaw, but I think he can be a Top 15 guy, and somebody you definitely feel comfortable handing the ball to in a big game.

  • Everdiso

    What a packed house that Yankee Stadium is… Electric atmosphere!

  • Baked McBride

    WTF is up with our inability to get big hits the past 3-4 years?

    • karcotte

      hello confirmation bias I have missed you greatly

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    EASY FIX: They’ll be less likely to shift if you have a man on second or third…

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Tanaka is great and will get better. 20 K’s in first two career starts with excellent control of 7 pitches!

    Too bad Jeets couldn’t bat 3rd. I actually like Ells/Gardy/Jeter in the first inning. Gardy the most patient allows Ells to steal or he could be bunted over. Jeter the hit machine and GIDP machine would be best utilized. Can’t see Gardy batting 3rd. Batting him 7th is next best scenario.

    • mitch

      Against righties I actually prefer Ellsbury batting third. If Tex comes back and plays well i’d probably switch back, but until then it makes the most sense. If Ellsbury leads off, who bats 5th? Soriano? Johnson?

  • jgibs

    I don’t get all this hype about Tanaka. According to Adam Jones Tanaka is really “nothing special”….

    • sevrox

      Heard that part of last night’s broadcast – AJ, when asked if he’d heard of Tanaka, punk-ass’d responded, ‘Has he heard of me?’

      Then struck out against Tanaka in his first 2 ABs. Ha!

      • The Great Gonzo

        Fuck Adam Jones in particular.

        • gageagainstthemachine

          I’ve gotten ESPN alerts on Adam Jones’ big mouth three days in a row! Meanwhile, YES announcers are talking about how mature he has gotten and become a leader on the Orioles thanks to Jeter and Showalter taking him aside early in his career. Apparently, they didn’t explain having a little class. Thankfully, Tanaka (2 Ks vs. Jones) took the high road and hasn’t said peep, such as, “Adam Jones? Nothing special.”

  • Bryan

    1) Shifts are here to stay. Yanks just need to get better at hitting against them. Tex said he’d retire before trying to change his approach. He then hit an oppo field single before getting hurt. They should all try to do that. Of course, after playing baseball for so many years, I am sure it is very difficult for these guys to completely change their approach.

    2)It would be very nice to see the Yankees get rid of a couple of guys currently on the 40-man. I like Flores but he is not exactly a high caliber player. We have a bunch of OF who are similar to him. We should be looking to off a few of these guys. Not sure what the hold up is.

    3) Beltran should be fine. He is too good to be held down for too long. I am much more nervous for McCann, Jeter, and Soriano. If those guys don’t hit, we are in deep shit.

    4) I liked the lineup with Ells batting 1st and Gardner in the 6/7 spot. For some reason, Gardner is hesitant at stealing while Ellsbury is not. Give Ellsbury all the opportunities in the world to be a table setter. Move Gardner down and let him have a go at being the type of guy to keep a rally going or an inning alive.

    5) The farm has looked real good. Last year imo was an aberration. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. We also added in a lot of high caliber guys. With a good year, the system should shoot up the rankings as a whole. Also, I think we will have a better system than TB by the end of the year.

    6) Really like Tanaka. That splitter is the bees knees. His slider and fastball though need some work. His slider needs a bit more bite and his fastball lacks the movement to simply blow past hitters. But through his first two starts, he has been phenomenal.

    • LK

      I don’t really understand being more nervous over McCann than Beltran. That seems like an overreaction to the tiny sample of the season so far. They’ll both probably be fine though.

      • Bryan

        McCann did not have a good year (for his standards) last year. I am nervous all the mileage is catching up to him

        • vicki

          brian mccann was one of the league’s most notable victims of the 245% increase in defensive overshifts last season. his babip against the shift was .179; against a standard defense, .299.

          see? it’s all one big story.

  • D.

    Sorry not feeling all of the Tanaka love. “Top 15″ pitcher? “He’ll be fine” We’ll see. But so far he has had a ton of hard hit balls against him. The whole “he made one bad pitch” narrative is laughable when you look at the defense bailing him out and the line drives that found the right spots.

    • TWTR

      It is a small sample size, but neither his xFIP nor BABIP nor batted ball data scream luck.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        But D’s eyes scream luck, so it must be luck.

        He’s also had some not so amazing defense behind him. We’re pretty terrible at remembering every event perfectly.

        • D.

          I didn’t say he’ll be terrible, and I didn’t mention the word luck. I’m merely presenting the flipside of the “he only made one bad pitch narrative”. He had a lot of balls that were hit hard. Do you deny that? If so, you didn’t watch the games. In a two game sample size, an anecdotal observation carries as much weight, if not more, than any stat.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            “The whole “he made one bad pitch” narrative is laughable when you look at the defense bailing him out and the line drives that found the right spots.”

            That is literally the definition of luck. Whether you said it or not, you implied it.

            I watched the games. Do you forget the less-hard hit balls that found spots? Do you forget who we have playing infield defense this year? Do you forget that literally every pitcher in baseball has a defense behind him that bails him out on every single ball in play?

            Of course he left more balls up than he probably wants to. I said as much to people I was watching the game with. But it’s a lot safer for someone with amazing stuff to leave balls up in the zone than it is for someone like 2014 CC.

            ” “Top 15? pitcher? “He’ll be fine” We’ll see.”

            That is combative. That is a disagreement with people who think he’s going to be good. Did you say he’d be terrible? No. But this is absolutely a statement indicating you are not expecting very much out of Tanaka this year. You’re free to believe what you want, but don’t get all surprised when people call you out.

            • D.

              Based on his performance, I wouldn’t go anointing Tanaka as a Top 15 pitcher yet, and although I hope R. Tils is right, we have no idea if he’ll be fine, or if he’ll end up as Phil Hughes, V2.

          • WhittakerWalt

            After two games you can’t trust much of anything, either stats or anecdotal evidence. The fact that you want to trust the anecdotal so much speaks more to your bias.

            • Mr. Roth

              This.

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      You’re right, he’s been absolutely terrible. Cashman failed. He’ll be 1-15 by the end of the year. Eveything sucks, what makes life even worth living anymore? Tanaka and the Yankees are doomed.

      • D.

        I’m glad you didn’t take my mildly critical comment and blow it wildly out of proportion.

        • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

          I was obviously being extremely sarcastic with my response but I stand by my point.

          I wouldn’t classify your coment as “mildly critical.” Despite two highly encouraging starts (his first 2 in the big leagues) you elected to spin it in a completely negative direction, and you know what; that’s your right and prerogative. However it’s my prerogative to scoff at your Debbie Downer opinion and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

          • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

            I mean no personal offense, btw. Please don’t take this comment as such. I just find it silly that after watching both of Tanaka’s starts you have only negative things to say. But to each their own, I suppose.

            • D.

              Lol, it’s all a vicious circle, man. My comments were in reaction to the slightly over the top love for Tanaka…which also came after two only starts, in which he put his team in a hole twice, early. Look, I’m definitely encouraged by the strikeouts, I hope the league doesn’t figure him out, and I hope Sterling is on point when he talks about Tanaka settling down once he gets used to a new culture, food, and league.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                He really said “food?” That’s pretty funny.

                Those strikeout totals will really be astronomical when he learns how to fold a slice of pizza properly.

                • gageagainstthemachine

                  I think this was Jesus Montero’s offseason strategy. Except, he forgot strikeouts are negative for him.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I’m not going to jump on you, as I can understand the visceral reaction during one of those innings where he’s given up his share of singles, or the two rather big mistake pitches to Melky and Scoop/Scope/howeveryouspellhisname.

          There is enough good around those moments for me to go beyond giving him the benefit of the doubt, and I certainly can understand why some of these moments happen and believe he will make the adjustments needed. You may simply need a bit more time there to become a believer.

          You’ll join us soon enough. Team Pollyanna always has open enrollment going on.

          • D.

            It wasn’t just the homeruns, it was a lot of very loud outs. Believe me, I WANT to love Tanaka, and I hope I do. But I’ll never let my heart get broken again the way it was broken by Sam Militello.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              *goes into therapist stance*

              Tell us more about how Sam Militello broke your heart.

              • D.

                August 9, 1992.

                The dark days of Stump were still upon us.

                In those sad times, a lone bright spot. A minor leaguer who was tearing it up in AA, then AAA. And on one auspicious August evening, where once there had only been Wade Taylor and Tim Belcher…a new savior took the mound.

                With his high socks and calm demeanor, Sam Militello faced off against the likes of Boggs, Vaughn, Clark and Brunansky, and they were found wanting.

                Seven innings. One hit. No runs.

                http://www.baseball-reference......8090.shtml

                I remember sitting on the third base line (when you could still sneak down from the upper deck without the Gestapo demanding your papers) and going crazy with every pitch. Finally, finally, we would have the ace we hadn’t had since Gator. And he would be a true home grown Yankee

                And he was out of baseball within a year.

                • vicki

                  applause.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  Bravo.

                  These guys get so little love. We need a weekend column dedicated to nothing but Jeff Johnson starts.

                • RetroRob

                  I remember Sam Militello, and had very high hopes for him. And I even remember this very game, because I was looking for all signs of hope during those dark days.

                  I have no idea what happened to Sam Militello, but look at his minor league numbers up through 1992 in the link below and then how well he pitched when called up, and then how completely horrible he was after 1992, in the majors and when returned to the minors. The numbers look like a man who blew his arm out.

                  But if we had a starter in the minor leagues today who was marching forward putting up Militello numbers, RAB would salivating.

                  http://www.baseball-reference......lite001sam

            • Mr. Roth

              How many loud outs is a lot of loud outs?

    • pat

      One of the benefits of being an MLB pitcher is an MLB defense behind you. Every pitcher has plays mad behind him to single Tanaka out as an exception is stupid.

    • LK

      You’re saying that you think a pitcher, who hasn’t even had Ellsbury or Teixeira in the lineup half the time, is getting *helped* by the Yankee defense? Other than Gardner is there a single above average defender he’s had behind him in both starts?

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I think Soriano actually measures out to a slightly above average outfielder. And BRob, when healthy, is an above average 2B, defensively.

        • LK

          I’m a little skeptical that Soriano and Roberts are still plus defenders at their current ages, but point taken.

          Either way, in aggregate this defense isn’t likely to be doing the staff any favors this year.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Nope, on board with you there. One of the reasons I like Tanaka thus far is his K numbers, and thus, fewer balls entrusted to the men behind him.

            • LK

              The strikeouts and walks have both been extremely encouraging, with the home runs being the drawback. Thus far it seems like the Dan Haren comparison that I saw a few places might be pretty right on, which would be awesome.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                Sign me up for 2005-2011 Dan Haren.

                • LK

                  That seems like the best (realistic) case scenario.

  • TWTR

    The 40 man problem is a consequence of not having any near ML ready position playing prospect options at AAA, unless Murphy becomes a corner infielder, which doesn’t seem likely. So they have opted to keep their best 40. That is not an unreasonable choice, although it might have been untenable if they hadn’t made a smart/lucky move with the acquisition of Solarte.

  • RM

    With Didi Gregorius, Nick Franklin and Zack Walters in the minors. Would love to trade 3 or 4 of those 40 man roster guys as Mike mention for anyone of them.

    • ptbnl

      “Hey, remember that problem you have with a top prospect/player in the minors because you don’t have room for him in the majors? How’d you like to have it times *four* with players not even that good? Let’s make this trade happen!”

  • Blake

    Ellsbury hitting 3rd is about getting Gardner to the too of the lineup……I Jeter is got to hit 2nd then Ellsbury 3rd and Gardner leading off is about the only way to get them both up there. Jeter is getting on base too……when McCann starts hitting I think they’ll roll……

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    I think its incredibly silly to complain about shifts. What could the argument against them possibly be? I was more annoyed last year because the Yankees seemed to shift because everyone else shifted. All of a sudden we would just decide that such and such a team was full of dead pull hitters and move everyone over to one side so they could watch guys hit the ball to the empty shortstop hole

    • RetroRob

      The Yankees actually do quite a bit with advanced metrics, so I don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction. All teams are moving that way. The issue, though, is the team needs the right players to make it work and probably more than one year of data. But you’re right. Not sure why people would be upset with them. They’re not going away.

      I do think shifts will cause a change in the approach of hitters over time. A 35-year-old veteran is not going to change, and probably can’t change, but I can see this leading to a change in how hitters are coached through the minors, with perhaps a rise again in more contact and line-to-line hitters, or at least not extreme pull hitters. I’m not saying we’ll see a whole generation of Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn type of hitters, but I can’t see how this won’t lead to some changes by hitters.

      • vicki

        if anything, i think you understate it. we’re witnessing a dramatic paradigm ‘shift’ (get it?).

        there was a time when nfl defenses only had a couple of looks; now teams have dozens of schemes, more every year. the comparison is underscored by clubs like the tigers hiring what they call defensive coordinators.

        nfl offenses have countered; mlb hitters will have to as well. if we’re talking about a .100-plus difference in babip for pull hitters, i feel comfortable saying we WILL see a generation of rod carew/tony gwynn types.

        • kenny


          i feel comfortable saying we WILL see a generation of rod carew/tony gwynn types.

          I agree with everything (except the “i”). If these shifts turn out to have merit (as offense deflation),then hitters will either have to learn to adapt or see their careers shorten.

          In about 1953, I saw the Phils try a shift (a la Ted Williams) on Musial. A line drive to the wall in left field had even the hometown Phils’ crowd laughing. Every now and then some NL team would try it and be quickly cured.

          Of course, guys have to learn the trick of it.

    • Ed

      Supposedly AJ Burnett hated all the shifts the Pirates did. It drove him crazy having the infielders moving around behind him all the time. That’s probably the only argument I’ve heard that had some merit to it.

      I guess I can see his point, but pitchers will get used to it as shifts become more and more common.

      • vicki

        it’s CHEATING! you think don larsen needed defensive shifts in the 56 series? i demand an asterisk next to all new pitching records.

  • Jarak

    Wanted Reynolds back all winter

  • RetroRob

    Few things will expose a team’s weakness more than being forced to play its depth. No backup 1B’man means players are learning to play the position on the MLB level. Overall, Solarte could end up being a good player long term because of his versatility, playing here and there, but his glove at third is not strong and he’s cost the Yankees there already. He’s hot with the bat, so play him, but that infield is going to need some glove help. The return of Tex can’t happen soon enough.

  • TopChuckie

    Of course I’m pulling for Tanaka, but if he was on any other team we’d all be saying the league will figure out that slider the second time around. Let’s give it a little time before we anoint.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Who anointed? Mike just said he had the tools and makeup to be a frontline pitcher, not that he was one already.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Would we really be saying that?

    • Get Phelps Up

      If he were on any other team people would be berating Cashman and friends for not signing him.

      • Mr. Roth

        Yup.

  • mick taylor

    mccann needs to start justifyin his 85 million

    • WhittakerWalt

      Well, duh.

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Thinking about Adam Jones’ comments about Tanaka (nothing special) and the fan on the field (I wish he broke his femur) make me appreciate a classy athlete like Jeter even more.

  • Dro413

    I’m going to forget about this series and hope that we whoop the Sox! HOPE. Go Yanks!

  • vicki

    it’s been salve for the soul to check dotf after these losses.

  • Larry B.

    Not a big fan of Ellsbury batting third either. I’m glad you brought that up. He should be hitting leadoff.

  • Larry B.

    ^Meant to add, third batter should be someone who is better situationally. I like Ellsbury but he is a classic aggressive early count guy. Which isn’t really ideal for a leadoff guy either but he is a better overall fit in leadoff spot than 3rd.

  • Alex

    IMO the ideal lineup goes like this:

    Ellsbury
    Tex
    Soriano
    Beltran
    McCann
    Gardner
    Jeter
    Johnson
    Roberts

    Ellsbury is simply one of the Yankees best overall hitters – OBP + SB – and should definitely be leading off. Tex can still take a walk, and drive in some runs with some power. The three spot is for a hitter with a lower OBP but higher SLG, hence Soriano. Beltran is at this point probably the Yankees best power + on base guys, followed by McCann. Gardner is good at not making outs, and would get a surprising number of opportunities to drive in the heart of the order. Plus, his speed would work well in front of a bat control guy like Jeter.

    Healthy, that is not a bad lineup at all.

  • mt

    I like Ellsbury batting third given Jeter “must” bat second and Teix is out.

    Adam Jones is a jerk – I have no problem if he thinks Tanaka’s stuff is not that good and wants to say so but he seemed offended and surprised that he was even asked a question about Tanaka. Is he so brain dead about how MLB and the press works in general that he is surprised that he would be asked about the top Japanese pitching import with a huge contract? Again if he wanted to say he was nothing special – that is his right – but drop the attitude about why is he even being asked. Also they do ask Tanaka what it is like to pitch againt these new AL line-ups.

    I am sure the same questions were asked about Dice-BB and Yu Darvish when they first came over.

    (I was less put off about his comment about fans running on the field but his emphasis on violence – tasers, using their metal spikes on the fans – was not wise – especially since that is the main fear that athletes have of being done to them.)