Andy Pettitte wasn’t at his sharpest today, but a few of his hits were of the bloop variety. He’s not why the Yankees lost. They lost because the bats were 9 for 37 with one extra-base hit. They walked twice and struck out seven times. The Yanks find themselves at 2-3 because the team is hitting .228/.289/.382 with nine walks and 22 strike outs. But it’s five games at the start of the season. They’ll snap out of it, and if the bullpen and starting pitching keeps doing what its been doing, the Yankees will be a-ok. And that’s all there is to it today. · (36) ·
The Yanks are mired in something of an offensive slump to start the season. As a team, the Bombers are hitting .227 with a .285 OBP and a .378 slugging percentage. For all the talk about their offensive, they’ve plated just 12 runs over the first four games.
The bats, of course, will wake up, and today’s game may be just what the doctor ordered. Facing the Yankees today will be the righthander Edwin Jackson. For years, Jackson has been hyped as the Next Big Thing. He started out with the Dodgers and made his Major League debut a few months later. But control — and Big League succes — have so far eluded Jackson. Over five seasons and 272.2 innings, he has an ERA of 5.64 and a WHIP of 1.71.
The Yanks haven’t shown their trademark patience at the plate yet. They’ve drawn just eight walks as a team. With Jackson on the mound, the Yanks’ bats may get the reprieve they so need after facing Toronto’s own big three starting pitchers and a surprisingly effective Andy Sonnanstine last night.
On the hill for the Yanks will be Andy Pettitte, making his 2008 season debut. No, my April Fools joke did not come true. He isn’t missing time due to his back right now, and he won’t be replaced by Kei Igawa. Against Tampa last year, Pettitte was 0-2 in four starts with a 5.32 ERA. Hopefully, he’ll find success this season. In all likelihood, Jonathan Albaladejo will be sent back to AAA to make room for Pettitte, and I am not a fan of that move.
The guys over at Saber Scouting made a trip to Triple-A Scranton’s season opener to take a look at the Kei-man, and figured out what’s wrong with him: A whole lot. It makes sense that it’s not just one big problem with Igawa, it’s a bunch of smaller problems building on each other. Surprisingly, they say there’s a lot to like about Igawa, and that whoever scouted and recommended him wasn’t completely wrong. Check it out.
PS: If you watch the video, make sure you turn the volume down. You’ll thank me. · (8) ·
In 8.2 Spring Training innings, LaTroy Hawkins was masterful. He allowed seven hits and two unearned runs while walking three and striking out three. But as he said on March 24, “Spring Training don’t mean shit.”
Truer words, LaTroy, were never spoken.
Just two appearances and 2.0 innings into the 2008 regular season, LaTroy Hawkins has been utterly shelled. He’s already one-upped those seven spring training hits and has given up 7 earned runs. He’s managed to walk no one, but he hasn’t struck anyone out either. Luckily for him, two innings does not a season make.
The other long reliever on the Yanks guaranteed hasn’t been much better. With two inherited runners on base, Kyle Farnsworth entered tonight’s game and, well, pulled a Kyle Farnsworth. One batter later, three Tampa Bay runs had scored, and a close 6-4 game quickly ended up at 13-4. On the season, Farnsworth hasn’t been terrible; he has 4 strike outs in 2.1 innings. But the five hits are not a good sign, and the home run tonight just seemed like business as usual for Krazy Kyle.
The rest of the bullpen, meanwhile, has been as good as advertised. Jonathan Albaladejo, Ross Ohlendorf, Joba Chamberlain, Mariano Rivera, Brian Bruney and Billy Traber have given up four hits and no runs in 11.2 innings. This sextet has recored 13 strike outs and one walk in the first four games of the season. Sadly for the Yanks, Albaladejo will be sentenced to the minors.
While sample size issues are certain a problem here, I’m wondering if the Yanks bullpen is better off with Albaladejo and Scott Patterson than it is with Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins. Funny how that works out, eh?
The rest of tonight’s 13-4 loss was rather forgettable. Ian Kennedy simply didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He was missing his spots badly, and his pitches were trailing over the center of the plate. They were very hittable, and the Tampa Bay Rays — a very underrated team — took full advantage of Kennedy’s mistakes. The Yanks meanwhile couldn’t hit a lick outside of one inning.
Today, the Yanks have Pettitte going with a chance to put the season’s first ugly loss behind them. Sadly, he’ll be backed up by one of the weaker combinations of relief pitching the Yanks could put behind him for now. As the starters get over their early-season pains, it will be interesting to see how the Yanks bullpen plays out. Right now, I don’t go to Hawkins or Farnsworth in key situations if I’m Joe Girardi. The kids, meanwhile, are alright.
Forget about IPK being all over the place, this lineup isn’t exactly striking fear into the heart of the opposition. They were 1 for 25 with a walk outside of the 4-run third inning. Not gonna get it done like that guys.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Lehigh Valley)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 3, 1 K
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (throwing)
Greg Porter & Juan Miranda: both 1 for 3 – Miranda drove a run in
Jason Lane: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB – walk was intentional
Cody Ransom: 2 for 2, 1 2B, 1 BB
Eric Duncan & Chad Moeller: both 0 for 3, 1 K – E-Dunc GIDP’ed
Steven “don’t call me” White: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9-5 GB/FB – rock solid
Chris Britton: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3-0 GB/FB
Jose Veras: 1 IP, zeroes
It was a beautiful thing last night, seeing Phil go six strong with Joba picking up the (meaningless) W. Tonight we see the final member of the Big Three taking the hill, IPK. He’ll be opposed by Andy Sonnastine, whom none of the Yankees have had more than 7 at bats against.
Rob Thompson will manage the team tonight, as Girardi is suffering from a upper respiratory infection.
Melky’s suspension has been reduced two two games. He’ll sit out today and tomorrow. I’d feel far more comfortable if we had a groundballer like Wang out on the hill during those contests. An outfield of Matsui-Damon-Abreu is probably bottom 5 in the AL defensively. Duncan’s hearing is up Monday, according to PeteAbe.
I had posted PeteAbe’s lineup earlier, but Mark Feinsand reports that Posada has been moved to DH. I would assume then that Betemit sits and Molina slides into the nine spot. So this is the assumed lineup:
1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. Rodriguez, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Posada, DH
8. Matsui, LF
9. Molina, C
And on the mound, number thirty-one, Ian Kennedy
Let’s have some fun. It’s a slow Friday afternoon, and with rain forecast throughout the New York area, there’s no guarantee of baseball tonight. Meanwhile, the New York sports media is all abuzz about Joba for a change.
On Tuesday night, when the superstitious Joba struck out Frank Thomas to escape the 8th inning, the Yankee youngster was very animated in his fist pump. Over the last few days, our city’s lovely sports media has decided to make a mountain of this mole hill. Is Joba’s fist pump over the top or appropriate, the guys on YES discussed last night.
Paul O’Neill, at one point, compared Joba’s fist pump to Chad Johnson’s endzone celebrations. They aren’t the same thing, Paul decided. Joba’s fist pump is a sign of the adrenaline flowing through him; it’s not meant as some taunting celebration. And Frank Thomas himself said that Joba’s fist pump doesn’t bother him. Why would it? After all, Joba’s not the only pitcher with a fist pump.
Meanwhile, O’Neill made another valid point last night. The Yankees aren’t used to such animated celebrations at the end of games. For 12 seasons, we’ve watched Mariano Rivera calmly close out games with nary a fist pump in sight. So now that we have our own version of a Francisco Rodriguez or — dare I say it — a Jonathan Papelbon-style celebration after a big inning, everyone jumps on it.
As Peter Abraham notes, the goons on Mike & the Mad Dog were talking about it today, and of course, they were critical of it. We know they’re not to be listened to, but people tune in anyway. They claim — and Michael Kay and O’Neill made a similar argument — that hitters will go up there trying to get to Joba. But I don’t see someone trying too hard and pressing against Chamberlain as necessarily a bad thing.
So here’s my question: Is the Joba fist pump a bad thing? Does Joba need to tone down his celebration for fear of showing up his opponents or is it all part of the game?
We have some resolution to the Amazing Disappearing Mark Melancon Box Score situation.
As Mike noted in last night’s inauguraul Down on the Farm, Mark Melancon appeared in the MiLB.com Tampa Yankees box score last night, but the young pitcher did not throw a pitch. Considering the hype surrounding Melancon and the fact that he’s one of our Tommy John pitchers, we were worried.
Yankee fans flew into a panic! What happened to Melancon? The guys on NYYFans.com couldn’t figure it out; Chad Jennings had no leads. It was an information black out. And then Yankees1010 rode to the rescue, directing us to this Saberscouting post:
Mark Melancon is not hurt. He didn’t enter the game after throwing warmup pitches (that I took video of and analyzed like the Zapruder film), because T-Yanks Manager Luis Sojo forgot to put him on the roster. Just a simple brain fart. Don’t feel bad for freaking out though Yankee fans, until the game ended and this was figured out, Yankee brass in the stands were in a state of panic as well.
Way to be, Luis. Way to be. Don’t scare us like that.
Who needs Johan Santana?
For six innings last night, Phil Hughes had the Blue Jays off balance. For six innings, Hughes mixed his pinpoint accuracy with a deadly curve with a stellar fastball. He held the Jays to two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out four. He threw two-thirds of his pitches for strikes and showed why we were totally opposed to seeing Hughes sent to Minnesota.
While the Yankee offense has yet to click, the pitching has held up quite nicely in three games. The bullpen was stellar again last night with Billy Traber recording his first Yankee out and Brian Bruney looking like a new man on the mound. He threw strikes with confidence. The Joba-Rivera show closed out the game, and suddenly, the Yanks’ opponents are faced with the prospects of seven-inning games this season.
But the story was Phil. At the urging of a reader, let’s look at Phil’s pitch selection. Justin, a RAB regular, e-mailed me about Hughes shortly after the game ended:
Good game pitched by Hughes, but he could of been so much BETTER! He’s a two pitch pitcher right now. Yes they’re above average pitches but he’s got a very good changeup that he’s not even using (or only used twice…and both times they were effective!). Look at how effective McGowan was tonight with his changeup. He got some huge strikeouts with his change (A-Rod) and he kept the hitters off balance for the first 6 innings.
Justin believes that if Hughes deploys his changeup 10-15 times a game, he’ll be even better. Right now, I’m withholding judgement. Unlike Mike Mussina with his slow, slower, slowest approach, Hughes can rely on his fastball to get outs. It’s accurate; it has late life; and when he mixes in his curve, the fastball is even more effective.
Oh that curveball. Phil Hughes’ curveball was a thing of beauty tonight. Looking much like it did against Texas in the second game of Hughes’ career last year, the ball danced its way into the strike zone, fooling Blue Jay hitters and keeping them off balance. The curve is why, right now, I think Hughes can pick and choose his spots for a changeup that he is still refining. The curve, in fact, is something of a changeup. Hughes was sitting around 90 mph with his fastball last night and around 71 with a deadly break on the curve. Throw a 71 mph curveball and that 90 mph fastball looks pretty fast.
Today, Phil Hughes is the second-youngest player in the Majors, and at age 21, he’s only going to get better and stronger as the years go by. As Hughes matures as an athlete and a pitcher, he’ll gain more velocity on the fastball and more confidence in what could be a deadly weapon: his changeup. But for now, I am more than satisfied with his pitch selection and thrilled with Mr. Hughes’ first start of the season.