SI blows out Auburn in Game One of NYPL Finals

Short Season Staten Island (9-2 win over Auburn) SI leads the best-of-three Championship Series one game to none … game two is tomorrow in Staten Island
Mason Williams, CF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – led the game off with a double, then came around to score on a ground ball and a sac fly
Cito Culver, SS: 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Ben Gamel, RF: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Tyler Austin, 3B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 E (fielding)
Reymond Nunez, 1B: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
Casey Stevenson, DH: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – broke it open with an RBI single in the ninth
Zach Wilson, LF: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Angelo Gumbs, 2B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 K – gave them a 2-1 lead with a solo homer in the fifth
Nick McCoy, C: 1 for 3, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Taylor Morton, RHP: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 3-6 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) – not the best Game One start, but it could have been worse
Wilton Rodriguez, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3-0 GB/FB – stranded the two runners he inherited from Morton
Zach Arneson, RHP: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1-0 GB/FB
Phil Wetherell, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Branden Pinder, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – came out after they broke it open in the ninth, save some of those bullets for tomorrow
Ben Paullus, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K – nice and FIPy

Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, and Low-A Charleston all failed to qualify to the postseason. The Rookie GCL Yankees have already won their league title.

Game 146: Thrown to the wolves

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

A week and a half ago, Jesus Montero made his big league debut. The Yankees didn’t exactly baby him; his first game was in Fenway Park with Jon Lester on the bump. Montero responded by scoring the game-winning run, and he’s gone on to play well in his limited action. Although we saw Austin Romine catch yesterday, he gets his first career start tonight. His assignment? Felix Hernandez, in a park that is unkind to right-handed hitters like himself. Welcome to the big leagues kid, here’s Felix. Fun fun fun. Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, 1B – tested out his elbow before the game
Eric Chavez, 3B
Brett Gardner, LF
Chris Dickerson, RF
Austin Romine

Phil Hughes, RHP

The game is scheduled to start a little after 10pm ET, and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

IFA: Yankees sign Alvaro Noriega for $175k

Via the Dominican Prospect League, the Yankees have signed 16-year-old Colombia catcher Alvaro Noriega for $175k. He was supposedly the best catching prospect in the league this season, showing “major improvement in blocking, receiving and throwing accuracy behind the dish. ” At the plate, the 6-foot-1, 180 pounder is said to make good contact from gap-to-gap with occasional power. The Yankees have been hoarding catching prospects for years now, which isn’t a bad thing given the position scarcity.

Open Thread: Looking back at 1998

(Photo Credit: SF Weekly)

The Yankees have had a very successful season so far, sporting the second best record in baseball at 88-57. One of my favorite things to do each year is compare the current team’s progress to the 1998 Yankees at the same point of the season. It’s always fun to see that no matter how good you think the Yankees are at any given moment, the 1998 squad will always be better. For example, after 145 games in ’98, the same number they’ve played so far this year, the Yanks were 103-42. If you took that team and stuck them in the AL East right now, the 2011 Yankees would be 15 games out. Fifteen! The 1998 Red Sox went 92-70, a great season, but they finished 22 (!!!) games out of first place. That blows my mind.

Here’s the Baseball-Reference page for the 1998 Yankees. It always neat to see that aside from Bernie Williams, no one really had a monster season. Just about everyone was solidly above-average and they had depth, 1-9 in the order and 1-5 in the rotation. They could play any kind of game too, a slugfest, a pitchers duel, a bullpen battle, that team could do it all, and quite often they did. We’re never going to see another team like that, but I’m glad I got to see them.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the night, as we wait for the game to start a little after 10pm ET. The Mets are playing the Nationals (Dickey vs. Detwiler), and the Monday Night Football doubleheader has the Patriots at the Dolphins (7pm ET) and the Raiders at the Broncos (10pm ET). The game thread will be along in a little while, but talk about whatever you want here.

David Robertson named finalist for Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award

Via the man himself, David Robertson has been named a finalist for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, which is given annually “for outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to [the player’s] community and is one of the awards given during the Players Choice Awards banquet annually.” Robertson was elected as one of six finalists (one per division) for his work with High Socks For Hope, helping those effected by tornadoes in his hometown of Tuscaloosa.

The winner will be announced after the season. Curtis Granderson won the award in 2009, when he was with the Tigers.

Lining up Sabathia

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

All season long, there have been questions about the pitching staff. It didn’t matter how well Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia or Ivan Nova pitched, they were going to be judged on a start-by-start basis. All three have exceeded expectations, no doubt, but they’re still being treated as question marks. One thing has never been in question though, and that’s who would start Game One of the ALDS. That would be CC Sabathia, regardless of how well everyone else pitched. There’s a slight problem though, Sabathia doesn’t line up to start that game, and it’s not even close.

Because of the continued use of the six-man rotation, Sabathia has either two or three starts left. If the Yankees keep the rotation the way it is right now, CC would have to start Game One on just two days rest, which obviously won’t happen. If they move him back a day, he’d have to start Game One on seven days rest. Move him up a day, it would be three days rest. Here, look at the schedule, it just doesn’t work without getting creative. There’s not much schedule left, so the Yankees can’t keep delaying this rotation decision like they have for the last month or so. Sabathia needs to get lined up for September 30th, the date of Game One, and it needs to happen soon. My solution: a simulated game on Thursday.

Sabathia last pitched on Saturday, so Thursday would be his turn with normal rest. The Yankees have to get him back on a regular five-day schedule at some point, the sooner the better. They’re off on Thursday, traveling from Seattle to Toronto, which is why it would have to be a simulated game. Sabathia gets his work in that day, the lines up to start on the 20th (Rays) and then on the 25th (Red Sox) before that Game One comes up. In an absolute disaster scenario in which the Rays catch New York and the two teams are tied for a playoff spot, they Yankees would have the option of pushing CC back to the 26th to have him face Tampa. I doubt it comes to that, though. They’ll be able to use that simulated game to have Sabathia pitch on normal rest for basically three full turns through the rotation, giving him (hopefully) enough time to get back into the routine before the postseason. This would be ideal given where we are right now.

Obviously the long and late night flight from Seattle to Toronto sucks (thanks for the getaway day on Wednesday, Mariners! [/sarcasm]), but the Yankees could simply send Sabathia to Toronto before the rest of the team. Have him fly out on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, then show up to the park on Thursday afternoon ready to unload 100 pitches. Greg Golson, Chris Dickerson, Brandon Laird … all the September call-ups that might be rusting away on the bench can step in the box for some extra at-bats, and Jesus Montero could catch in order to develop some of that all-important familiarity with the staff ace. Even if he splits the catching duties with Austin Romine, it works.

Are the Yankees going to do this? Most likely not. They absolutely have to do something though, and they should probably do it pretty soon. Figuring out who starts Games Two and Three is enough of a concern right now, they don’t need to make things even more difficult by having Sabathia start Game One on some inordinate amount of rest. The idea of essentially skipping CC sounds crazy, but the team has built up enough of a cushion on the wildcard that they could get away with it. A few wins in Seattle would make the simulated game plan even more palatable.

Freddy’s homers: long-term problem or just a blip?

(Frank Franklin II/AP)

For the first few months of the season it was the one thing that kept Freddy Garcia’s head above water. As summer rolled in, it allowed him to stand behind CC Sabathia as the team’s No. 2 pitcher. But after going 10 straight starts without allowing a home run, Garcia has allowed five in his last three, including four in his last two, which amounts to 7.2 IP. It leaves the Yankees facing a big question heading into the postseason: can Freddy still step up and take the ball in Game 2?

There are two possible scenarios at play here. The first one, popular with the statistics-oriented crowd, is that Garcia is merely experiencing a correction. It’s not normal for a pitcher to go 10 starts without allowing a homer, and so Garcia is just coming back down to earth. His xFIP has suggested such a regression, and the past three games represent just that. The second one is that he found something in his repertoire that allowed him to suppress home runs earlier in the season. His finger injury, and perhaps some dulling of his command due to a long layoff, is reason for his recent failures.

During his homerless streak, Garcia leaned heavily on his changeup. He threw it 30 percent of the time, more than any other pitch in his arsenal. After that he threw the four-seamer and the slider with frequency; in total he threw those three pitches a hair more than 85 percent of the time. The remaining 15 percent was divided almost evenly among the cutter, splitter, and two-seamer. This might seem odd, since the splitter has been, anecdotally, Garcia’s most effective pitch this season. Yet he doesn’t deploy it with frequency. Instead he picks his spots, and it worked. He generated swings on 11.2 percent of his 259 splitters during the streak.

In his last three starts Garcia has started relying on the splitter much more frequently. He has thrown it 39 times out of 250 total pitches, or 15.6 percent. That’s essentially triple the rate at which he threw it during his streak. At the same time he’s backed off the changeup significantly, throwing it only 45 times, or 18 percent. The slider has gained primacy in Garcia’s repertoire; he has thrown it 31.2 percent of the time since coming off the DL. Might the change of pitch selection be reason for Garcia’s failures?

In his start against Baltimore, the one when he allowed two homers and seven runs in 2.2 innings, Garcia leaned on the slider. He threw it 16 times in his 56 pitches, or 28.6 percent. The Orioles hitters demolished it, though — the Brooks Baseball data has the linear weights score on the slider at 3.12, which is simply horrible (negative scores are better). He also got beat up with the fastball, which is unsurprising. In that game he threw the splitter just four time,s and with generally good results: three strikes, one swinging, and a negative linear weights score. He apparently used that performance to justify heavier usage of his splitter yesterday.

That, of course, did not work either. Garcia threw 26 splitters out of 106 pitches, or 24.5 percent. His linear weights score: 2.04. His slider, however, was more effective, generating three swings and misses on 33 pitches and resulting in a -1.04 linear weights score. The changeup also came back into play, accounting for 27 of those 106 pitches and generating five swings and misses. It wasn’t overly effective, just barely on the linear weights scale, but it certainly got the job done moreso than it did against the Orioles. As expected, the results were quite better. But they weren’t necessarily good.

The change in repertoire, then, lends credence to both ends of the argument. While it’s certainly possible that Garcia is just experiencing a correction following his homerless streak, it’s also possible that a change in pitch selection, and a lack of sharpness in command, has led him down a homer-prone path. There’s no real way to tell, of course, which makes the issue that much more frustrating. But it’s good to know that there are tangible changes at play. If everything had been the same as before, the situation might appear a bit more dire.

This leaves some room for optimism. If Garcia gets sharper with each outing, he might be in ideal shape come playoff time. When he’s keeping hitters off-balance with his slider and changeup, while working the splitter into opportune spots, he’s shown that he’s effective. But he hasn’t done that in his last few games. His next few starts, then, will be of great importance in determining the postseason rotation. The No. 2 spot is, in all likelihood, his to lose. A strong finish could set the Yankees up well for a playoff run.