Open Thread: Yanks win even when they don’t play

Evan Longoria (3-for-4, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI) was the Yanks' best player today. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Yankees wrapped up their ALDS victory last night, but they won big today as well. The Rays topped the Rangers by the score of 5-2 this afternoon, forcing a Game Five on Tuesday night with Cliff Lee taking on David Price. That means that neither pitcher will be able to start Game One of the ALCS on Friday, and the earliest they’ll be available is for Game Three. Yeah, both could start Game Two on three day’s rest, but so far both clubs seem to be against pushing their aces like that. Either way, thanks for the win Tampa, you served your purpose. I wish you no luck in Game Five.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Reds will send Johnny Cueto to the mound to save their season against Cole Hamels and the Phillies at 8:07pm ET (TBS), while the Eagles and 49ers are the late NFL game (8:20pm, NBC). Talk about whatever you want here, just don’t be a dick.

Oh, and send in some mailbag questions using the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. We spaced on that last week and we need some fresh post-ALDS questions. Thanks.

Yanks taking off Sunday and Monday

With six full days until the ALCS starts, the Yankees are taking advantage of the break by giving everyone today and tomorrow completely off. Everyone will then report to the Stadium on Tuesday for workouts and bullpen sessions and batting practice and all that stuff.

You’re going to read a lot of articles and blog posts and comments about how all the time off will be bad for the Yanks, but I disagree. This isn’t their first rodeo, it’s a veteran team (both players and coaching staff) that’s done this just last year (when they had five days off between the LDS and LCS) and knows what they need to do to prepare. Even players that weren’t with the club last year like Curtis Granderson, Lance Berkman, and Marcus Thames, have playoff and World Series experience in the past. The rest is a good thing, I’m not concerned about anyone rusting over.

NLDS Game Thread: Giants @ Braves

This series is tied at one, Jonathan Sanchez goes against Tim Hudson. Game starts at 4:37pm ET and can be seen on TBS.

500 words on Joba Chamberlain

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Even when the Yankees sweep an easy playoff series, controversy somehow manages to find the team. After all, baseball fans and reporters who face five and a half days without baseball have to find something to talk about during the downtime. The topic of the week, as it often is, will be Joba Chamberlain.

During the ALDS, only 18 of the Yanks’ 25 active players saw game action, and only seven pitchers — three starters, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Kerry Wood and Boone Logan — reached the mound. Absent among those was Joba Chamberlain, the once and, hopefully, future pitching stud. Of course, since Joba is Joba, that he didn’t pitch in the ALDS has elicited analysis of the moves and predictions of a Joba-less future for the Yankees.

The why of it is simple: Joba Chamberlain wasn’t in the Yanks’ plans for the ALDS, and the situation for him to pitch never arrived. In Game 1, Joe Girardi used his close-game staff. After CC Sabathia left in the 7th, Boone Logan came in for the lefties and David Robertson for the righties. For the 8th with a two-run lead, Girardi gave the ball to set-up man Kerry Wood, and Mariano got the ninth. In Game 2, Andy Pettitte went 7, and Wood and Mo closed out a three-run game. Joe Girardi’s strategy was not a mystery.

For Game 3, the circumstances changed. After Phil Hughes‘ utterly dominant seven-inning outing, the Yanks had a 6-0 lead with six outs left. For the first time in the series, Girardi could have moved down the depth charts. He could have gone to Joba, but in the past, Girardi’s M.O. for playoff-clinchers has been a no-nonsense one. Mariano Rivera is always on the mound, and the top relievers get the ball before him. It’s not a surprise then that Girardi never went with Joba.

The Yankees and Joba had a difficult relationship in 2010. After he struggled as a starter at the end of 2009, Chamberlain spent the year in the bullpen, and he ended the season a 4.40 ERA but 77 strike outs in 71.2 innings. He cut his walk rates and his home run rates but seemed to meltdown at the wrong time. Still, over his final 30 appearances, Joba sported a 2.15 ERA and a 6:1 K:BB rate. He was a very good reliever down the stretch, but he hasn’t moved up on the depth charts.

Once the Yanks’ 2010 campaign is over, the team will have to address Joba’s future. As Ken Davidoff highlighted yesterday, Joba is arbitration-eligible this year and is due for a raise. As the Yanks showed with Melky Cabrera, they’re willing to trade players who are making more than the team feels they are worth, and Davidoff believes the Yanks will listen to offers on Joba and may be willing to include him in a trade.

But for now, there’s plenty of baseball left, and Joba will have his time to sink or swim. That he didn’t pitch in the ALDS simply means that the team’s other hurlers did their jobs and nothing more.

ALDS Game Thread: Rays @ Rangers

Wade Davis will try to keep the Rays’ season alive against Tommy Hunter. Yankee fans have to pull for Tampa in this one, no doubt about it. If they win and force a Game Five, it’ll mean that either Cliff Lee or David Price won’t be available until Game Three of the ALCS, which is very good for the Yanks. Game starts at 1:07pm ET and can be seen on TBS. Go Rays!

Football Open Thread

The Giants are in Houston (1pm ET) and the Jets don’t play until Monday, but use this thread to talk all of the day’s football action.

Sunday Morning Links

A few links for your Sunday morning.

Ronald Monestime takes a look at Andy Pettite and says that he deserves to be considered this generations Mr. October as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do.  I love Pettitte and what he has done for the Yankees all of these years, but he’s the same pitcher in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  Jeter is the same player in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  If you’re going to label someone Mr. October simply for stepping it up in the playoffs, it has to be Rivera.  As great as he has been in the regular season, his postseason numbers are even further off the charts.

Speaking of Rivera, heres a pretty cool piece in which Kerry Wood compares Rivera to Greg Maddux.  It’s probably not a comparison made often as one is a starter, one a closer, but it makes sense and it’s pretty cool to hear it from someone with Wood’s perspective.  Rivera and a PED accusation free Maddux could end up going down as the greatest starter and closer of their generation (and obviously in Mo’s case G.O.A.T.).  It’s just too bad we never got to see Rivera close out a game for Maddux, despite the Boss’ best efforts.  Speaking of which, here’s a link to when the Yankees struck out with Maddux (and Bonds) and signed Jimmy Key.  The last line is classic Steinbrenner, and would soon ring true.

Sam Borden took a look at A-Rod and how he heads into October without the pressure he’s had in the past after his heroics last season.  The best part for me is that Borden made sure to point out that A-Rod had plenty of good playoff moments with the Mariners and wasn’t really the choker we had all been led to believe.  Many of the glowing A-Rod articles after last season neglected to mention this, and I’m glad Borden pointed it out.

Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune briefly talks about his history with George Steinbrenner and how it feels different in the postseason without him around.  The further away we get from his death I think the more we’ll appreciate that the 2009 team was able to win the World Series in his last full year alive.