I just wanted to quickly introduce myself as a guest contributor to River Ave Blues. I’ve been a longtime reader of the guys at RAB since the days of ‘In George We Trust’ and ‘Off the Façade’ so I’m really looking forward to providing some write ups during the AzFL season. I’m a techie by trade, but I’m a huge fan of the Yankee minor league teams and hopefully I can bring you first hand recaps and photos from the games. Hope you enjoy…
In our younger and more vulnerable days, we were not too kind to Bobby Abreu. Now, despite our early trangressions, we did apologize to Mr. Abreu in June. Let’s take a look at where things ended up with the presumptive 2008 right fielder this year.
During today’s game, as he hustled down the line early on, Bobby Abreu beat out a potential double play ball to secure his 100th RBI of the season. Abreu would later walk to drive in run number 101 on the season, thus completing a remarkable turnaround. Abreu ended the season with a whopping 123 runs scored, 40 doubles, 16 HR, 101 RBI and a batting line of .283/.369/.445. While those rate stats aren’t in line with his career numbers, those are some impressive counting stats.
Now, let’s jump back in time a bit to see how Abreu got there. The journey makes his final number seem all the better. At the end of May in Toronto, Joe Torre opted to bench Bobby Abreu. The former All Star was hitting .228/.313/.289 and needed to refocus. Whatever happened that day sure did work. Over the next 106 games (not yet counting Sunday’s), Abreu hit at a pace even with his career line. He turned in a .312/.397/.525 line with 34 doubles, 14 home runs and 77 RBIs.
That’s some turn around. Not coincidentally, Abreu’s turnaround came with the Yankees’ turnaround. It’s really that simple. When Abreu hits, pitchers have to face Jeter-Abreu-Rodriguez in the heart of a fearsome order. There’s no letting up, and Abreu, in effect, put up MVP numbers for the reason of the season. Furthermore, had Abreu avoided his early season slump, I bet the Yanks would have won the division.
To bolster that claim, let’s see what Abreu’s final line would have looked yet if we take those stellar 106 games and extend them over 162. He would have hit .312/.397/.525, significantly higher than his final 2007 numbers. He could have ended the year with 21 HR, 117 RBI (!) and 52 doubles. His numbers through 106 games also would have put him on pace to score 137 runs. If that’s not an MVP candidate, I don’t know what is.
With those extra runs and extra hitting, the Yanks would have been able to win two games — any two games really — during their 21-29 stretch. We can blame the Devil Rays all we want, but the truth is that the Yankees did themselves in with a slow start, injuries and poor pitching.
Now, let’s jump ahead to this week. On Thursday, the numbers are all reset to 0 — or is that .000/.000/.000? When Johnny Damon digs in against C.C. Sabathia on Thursday, we’ll have to hope that Bobby Abreu can help lead the Yanks to 11 more victories this year. In May, I wouldn’t have believed it, but after the last 107 games, I think he can.
The Mets, up 7 with 17 games left to play, have lost the NL East. The Phillies wouldn’t say die and managed to overtake the Mets this weekend to claim the NL East title. Wow.
It’s gettin’ ugly early. 4-0 Fish, 1 out in the top of the first.
Update: Glavine just plunked Dontrelle Willis with the bases loaded, 5-0 Fish. Tommy’s out, Jorge Sosa’s on in relief. Still only 1 out.
Update 2: Big K of Hanley by Sosa.
Update 3: Double down the LF line by Uggla. 7-0 Fish after the first. Ya gotta believe.
HWB Honolulu (7-0 loss to Waikiki)
Austin Jackson: 0 for 4, 2 K – one too many Mai Tai’s I see
Bradley Suttle: 0 for 0, 1 BB – came in as a defensive sub in the 6th
George Kontos: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 0-4 GB/FB – wasn’t helped out by a throwing error & 2 passed balls by his catcher
Anthony Claggett: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP – didn’t even know he was heading to Hawaii
These games are almost like Spring Training games, with mass substitutions in the middle innings, and pitching changes every other inning or so. Somehow, someway, the 6th overall pick, and the consensus top position player talent in the 2007 draft, Matt Weiters, batted 9th in the starting lineup. Oi.
Sean Henn drew the short straw for today’s game, and as Yankee fans, who cares? Sure, it would be nice for Robinson Cano to drive in 3 runs on Sunday and for Bobby Abreu to get that elusive 100th RBI, but in the grand scheme of baseball, the Yanks’ next meaningful game isn’t until Thursday.
That day, the Yanks will play their first postseason game in Cleveland since the 1998 ALCS. From those two teams, only Kenny Lofton, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera remain (or have returned to) the same teams they were on then. Unbeknownst to me, Ron Villone threw a few innings on the 1998 Indians but wasn’t on the playoff roster. (Hear that, Joe? He was not on the playoff roster. Take a lesson.)
The Yanks got a bit lucky with the playoff schedule as Boston picked the long series. While this may limit Joba Chamberlain‘s availability and otherwise tax a weak Yankee bullpen, by playing the short series, they won’t have to face C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona twice each. Sabathia would go twice only if the series runs to five games.
The schedule and pitching match-ups follow with game times to be determined:
Thursday: Cleveland – Wang vs. Sabathia
Friday: Cleveland – Pettitte vs. Carmona
Sunday: New York – Clemens vs. Westbrook
Monday: New York (if necessary) – Mussina/Hughes vs. Byrd
Tuesday: Cleveland (if necessary) – Wang vs. Sabathia
Let the fun begin, and feel free to discuss today’s game here once 1:35 p.m. rolls around.
And, please, enough about Austin Jackson. The guy hit .285 with nine homers in Double-A ball – hardly superstar-in-the-making numbers.
Nevermind that straight batting average is a terrible, terrible number on which to base any kind of projection. We’ll go with this, though: One Bernabe Figueroa Williams hit .281 with 8 home runs in his age-21 season at Double-A. Feel free to test out your scouting skills with another player, Bill.
Earlier this sumer — Old Timer’s Day to be exact — Ben and I sat high in the Tier Reserves. Over the course of both games, we were on high alert for pigeons perched above us; a number of people in our section had been pooped on, though they were a couple of rows in front of us. One guy actually got hit three times (he deserved it, as he was a drunken idiot). Clearly, though neither of us was hit, this was a nuisance. Pigeons suck and that goes triply for ballgames.
I’ve always wished we could do something to abolish pigeons. After all, what freakin’ purpose do they serve other than playthings for old, smelly ladies in the park? The Cincinnati Bengals have a solution: gun them down. Yes, the team is seeking permission to eliminate pigeons with pellet guns. This brings two things to mind:
1) This is by far the coolest idea in the history of human existence.
2) How does one sign up to shoot these pigeons?
Hey, almost all of us have experience. Who didn’t sit on their friend’s porch and pick off squirrels and birds and whatever else presented itself as a target?