Fan Confidence Poll: May 10th, 2010

Record Last Week: 5-1 (42 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 21-9 (178 RS, 111 RA, 22-8 Pythag. record), 0.5 games back
Schedule This Week: @ Tigers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Twins (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yanks on the other end of 9-3 blowout

Three games at Fenway, three blowouts. The Yanks, thankfully, found themselves on the winning end of two, leaving the Red Sox another game back. It doesn’t matter much at this point in the season, but it’s encouraging to be ahead early. The 24-6 advantage in the series’ first two games certainly made the 9-3 loss easier to handle.

Biggest Blunder: Thames can’t track it down

Photo credit: Winslow Towson/AP

Marcus Thames is a DH, and he reminds us of that nearly every time he plays left field. Last the Red Sox hit plenty of balls his way, including one that got them started. With J.D. Drew standing on second and two outs in the second, Jeremy Hermida took a 2-1 fastball the other way. Marcus Thames couldn’t handle it, and it dropped in for a two-base error. Burnett got out of it by throwing three straight curveballs to Darnell McDonals, and it didn’t seem like much to worry about at the time.

This didn’t feel like the tuning point of the game, though. It was just one run, and Burnett did get the next hitter. Maybe it was the biggest statistical swing, but the biggest emotional swing clearly came an inning later. First with the Ortiz ground-rule double, then with the Beltre double. It hurts to give up anything to David Ortiz these days, especially when it really gets the Sox going.

Biggest Hit: A-Rod ties Frank Robinson

Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

The only blemishes on Jon Lester’s performance came in the fourth, when his team already had a 6-0 lead. Nick Swisher led off the inning with a home run, and then two batters later Alex Rodriguez hit his third of the season. Lester was pretty sharp the rest of the way, allowing just two hits, walking a guy, and hitting another. The Yanks put up a fight at times, but they were short lived.

A-Rod’s home run was, as you surely heard on the broadcast or the highlights, was his 586th, tying him with Frank Robinson on the all-time list. That was just his third of the season, giving him one every 43 PA. That pace should start to pick up. He has a few more to hit before he reaches No. 6, Sammy Sosa, at 609. If he picks up the pace a bit he could accomplish that this year.

Umpiring bad, but no excuse

Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

Arguing with an umpire over balls and strikes is a fool’s errand, but I don’t blame Joe Girardi for registering his complaints with Tim McClelland. His strike zone extended as low as the shins at times, and that pitch to Thames was clearly outside. I’m sure that Girardi didn’t get tossed over one bad call, though. I’m sure he was miffed at how McClelland’s zone affected his starter.

A poor strike zone, though, doesn’t excuse a performance like Burnett’s. The Red Sox seemed to have a plan, hitting almost everything to the left side. Of the 26 batters Burnett faced, 19 put balls in play, and nine hit safely. Another was the Thames error. The three walks didn’t help either. All three of those batters came around to score.

As well as Burnett has pitched this year, a start like this was inevitable. If you choose to read the outlets that publish them, you’ll likely see an article or two about Burnett’s poor performances at Fenway Park. It’s poor timing, for sure. The Yanks had a chance at a sweep and set back the Red Sox even further. But as long as he reverts to his dominant form next start it won’t matter much in the long run.

Annoyances

Two out runs. Six of the Red Sox nine runs came across with two outs on the board. Yes, two-out runs will happen. They’re part of the game. That doesn’t make them any less annoying.

Ortiz’s ground rule double. I know I mentioned it before. It was that annoying.

Joys

A-Rod and Swish moving up on the all-time HR list. (Swisher now has 140, tied with Joe Crede, Pinky Higgins, Terry Pendleton, and Adam LaRoche for 464th all-time).

Romulo Sanchez enforcing. He took his job seriously, retiring 11 of the 13 Red Sox he faced, striking out three. Even if the Yanks send him back tomorrow in exchange for a fresh reliever, he’ll get another shot this year.

WPA Graph & Box Score

This one’s not so bad if you ignore everything from 3 on.

Box Score

Up Next

The Yanks fly to Detroit to meet up with some old friends for the next four days. The Sergio Mitre Experience plays the warm-up set tomorrow night against Dontrelle Willis.

Still no Montero as SWB wins again

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.

Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Durham)
Greg Golson, CF: 1 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS
Reegie Corona, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB – had been six for his last 31 (.194)
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 0 for 5
Juan Miranda, 1B: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K - just three for his last 17 (.176)
David Winfree, RF: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K - second straight game with a jack
Jon Weber, DH & Matt Cusick, 3B: both 2 for 5, 1 RBI – Weber scored one run, Cusick two
Chad Huffman, LF: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB – it seems like he’s getting hits every day, but his avg is just .232
Robby Hammock, C: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB – got picked off second … still no Jesus Montero
Zach McAllister: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 5-9 GB/FB – 66 of 99 pitches were strikes … still not getting them to hit the ball on the ground as much as he used too
Royce Ring: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 11 of his 20 pitches were strikes … served up a homer to a two-time big league All Star
Mark Melancon: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 15 of his 21 pitches were strikes (71.4%)

[Read more…]

Game 30: Finish Them

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

The Yanks have already won this weekend series, but that’s never enough. They’ve got a chance to finish off the sweep in Boston, and when coupled with the Rays getting perfect game’d in Oakland, they’ve also got a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the AL East. It won’t be easy though, the Red Sox are sending their best arm out to the mound in Jon Lester.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, which looks a bit more like the A-lineup than what they’ve had to throw out there the last few days…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, DH
Thames, LF
Cervelli, C
Gardner, CF

And on the mound, Allen James Burnett.

First pitch tonight is scheduled for 8:05pm ET, and the game can be seen nationally on ESPN. Enjoy.

CC does Dallas

When A-Rod broke an unwritten rule few were aware even existed, all hell broke loose in Oakland. The date was Thursday, April 22, and Dallas Braden and the A’s were playing the Yanks in the final game of a three-game set. On his way back to first from third base on a foul ball, A-Rod stepped on the pitcher’s mound, and Dallas Braden didn’t take too kindly to it.

At the time, Braden railed on A-Rod, and he sounded both full of himself and as though A-Rod had run over his dog. “I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or if I’m the 25th man on the roster. “If I’ve got that ball in my hand and I’m out there on that mound, that’s not your mound. If you want to run across the mound, go run laps in the bullpen. That’s my mound,” he said, later adding. “I don’t go over there and run laps at third base. I don’t go over there. I don’t spit over there. I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound, foot on my rubber. No. Not flyin.”

A-Rod: “He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I’ve never heard that, especially from a guy with a handful of wins in his career…It’s not really a big deal. I didn’t know he was talking to me. I thought it was pretty funny actually…I’ve never heard of that in my career.”

End of story, right? Well, not if you’re Dallas Braden. Speaking to Comcast’s Bay Area affiliate, Braden had a laughable message for A-Rod. “There are things that are going to have to happen,” Braden said. “Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he’s probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you’re right, we don’t do much talking in the 209.” The 209 is a reference to Stockton, California, the birthplace of Braden. For an area that doesn’t do much talking, Braden couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

When the Yankees heard of Braden’s latest comments, they tore into the A’s lefty, and Bob Klapisch nailed down the goods from A-Rod’s teammates. As A-Rod said he no longer wanted to discuss it or give Braden more headlines, Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman added his two cents. “Braden is wrong and Alex is right,” he said to Klapisch. “The more Dallas talks about it, the sillier he looks.” Indeed. Dallas Braden does indeed come across as an immature young pitcher with no sense of respect for the game or his boundaries. Even if A-Rod broke an unwritten rule, Braden has topped him by yammering about this for two weeks.

The final word though belongs to CC Sabathia who summed up this entire incident and Dallas Braden’s response in one of the better quotes we’ll read all season. “He’s a clown,” Sabathia said. “Guy says he’s from the 209, what the [bleep] is that? That’s where I’m from and I don’t know what he’s talking about. Two-oh-nine. He needs to just calm down – put that in the paper. That’s just tired.”

Update (6:27 p.m.): In news too coincidental to be anything but true, Dallas Braden just wrapped up a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Athletics Nation opted to take the high road in their gloating toward A-Rod, and the Yanks can move into sole possession of first place in the AL East with a win tonight against Boston.

Gene Monahan and his battle

For the first time in nearly five decades, the Yankees started a season without head athletic trainer Gene Monahan there to deal with the aches and pains and injuries. Monahan had his own ailment to deal with – cancer of the throat and tonsils. Wayne Coffey detailed not just Monahan’s fight today, but also his time with the Yankees. From when he joined the organization at a bat boy in 1962 to when he became head trainer to all the times George Steinbrenner fired him. It gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

The good news is that after surgery and 30 rounds of radiation treatment, Monahan is close to returning. He set a target date of June 1st, and after spending the last several months taking care of himself, he can get back to doing what he loves: taking care of others.

Where are they now? Yankees offseason targets

If the byline looks a bit unfamiliar, that’s because we’ve brought aboard a couple of guys to help out on weekends. Welcome Steve H from Mystique and Aura and also the RAB comments.

How are the offseason targets of the Yankees faring so far in 2010?  Every offseason all big name and big money free agents are tied to the Yankees.  Obviously this is often posturing by the agents to drive up the bidding elsewhere (if the Yankees truly have no interest).  I’m going to look at a few of the players they likely had at least a passing interest in and how they are faring so far in 2010.  It’s truly too early to judge any of these contracts any differently than I would have when they were first signed, but it’s interesting nonetheless to see how these players are faring so far.  Today I will roll out the hitters, with the pitchers soon to follow.

Matt Holliday

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.275 0.331 0.450 4 0.338 0.310

The big fish from this offseason is off to a poor start after resigning with the Cardinals who negotiated (admittedly) against themselves and gave Holliday a 7 year/$120 million deal.  So far, not so good.  Holliday hasn’t been terrible, but as you can see in his line above, he’s been pretty pedestrian.  Of note, his BABIP is at .310 which is solid but well below his career BABIP of .350.  That of course needs to be taken with a grain of salt as the majority of his career came at Coors Field, which has more room for hits to fall in than any other park in baseball.  I certainly wouldn’t expect his BABIP to be at .350 going forward, so his .310 doesn’t portray too much bad luck.

Jason Bay

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.238 0.345 0.376 1 0.324 0.338

Bay was likely never a true target for the Yankees, but with an unsettled LF situation, he was certainly mentioned as a possibility in the Bronx.  Bay was seen as Holliday-lite, a little older, a little worse in the field and less accomplished as a hitter.  While his 4 year/$66 million seemed like an overpay at the time, it won’t hurt down the road as much as Holliday’s deal might.  Bay is off to a very slow start for the Mets.  In what has to be a frightening thought for the Mets, Bay’s .338 BABIP is above his career average of .327.  Oof.  He’s simply not providing any power at the plate, but Bay is historically streaky and is due to heat up soon.

Chone Figgins

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.204 0.336 0.265 0 0.293 0.278

Figgins was also rumored as a potential landing spot for the Yankees left field.  Considering he hasn’t played the OF regularly since 2006 and doesn’t figure to age well, I’m glad the Yankees stayed away from Figgins.  Figgins signed on with the Mariners for 4 years/$36 million.  A little steep for my liking, but not a terrible contract.  Figgins is off to a terrible start with a .293 wOBA and amazingly he’s carrying a .265 SLG.  Figgins has been very unlucky, as his .278 BABIP is well below his career average of .340.  Expect Figgins’ numbers to pick up soon.

Mark Derosa

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.205 0.298 0.277 1 0.259 0.239

Many people thought that the New Jersey born DeRosa would be a great fit for the Yankees as either the starting LF, or a utility player who could rotate around giving some of the regulars time off at DH.  Derosa signed with the Giants for 2 years/$12 million, which would have been too rich for the utility role, but as a starter not a bad contract at all.  It’s short term, and the money is moveable in a trade should the need come necessary.  DeRosa has primarily played LF, but to truly get some value out of him, his versatility should be taken advantage of.  DeRosa is off to a terrible start, but much of that can be attributed to poor luck.  His BABIP of .239 pales in comparison to his career of .309, so he is bound to pick it up at the plate.  If his BABIP was at his career norm, the career .273 hitter would be batting .265.

Johnny Damon

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.308 0.402 0.452 1 0.382 0.356

I had to save the two ex-Yankees for last.  Thousands of words have been written about Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui’s departures from the Yankees after their 2009 postseason heroics. After spurning the Yankees early offers, Damon signed with the Tigers for 1 year/$8 million.  Considering when he signed, and the other bats on the market, Damon did pretty well for himself, but left a lot of money on the table by not signing sooner.  Damon is off to a strong start, but his current .356 BABIP would be a career high(what is it with Detroit OF’s and luck?), and in his 16th season, he’s very unlikely to maintain that level.  At his career .308 BABIP, Damon would be hitting just .269.  As expected, leaving Yankee Stadium has sapped him of his HR power, as Damon has just 1 on the season after having 4 last April and another 6 in May.  Damon’s numbers are solid so far, but he is due for regression going forward.

Hideki Matsui

AVG OBP SLG HR wOBA BABIP
0.236 0.309 0.400 4 0.311 0.262

While the Yankees showed genuine interest in bringing back Damon, they seemed to have no plans to bring back Matsui.  They were happy to get a healthy season out of Matsui in 2009, but weren’t ready to rely on him for another year.  Add to that Matsui’s (crazy) notion that he wanted to play in the field, and Matsui was on his way.  If they use him strictly as a DH, the 1 year/$6.5 million contract the Angels signed him to could pay off.  After a very fast start, Matsui has been slumping of late.  Luck is partly the blame as his .262 BABIP is 40 points off his career average.  Of note however is that his BABIP was just .273 last year, so expecting a .302 BABIP at this point may be wishful thinking.  The 4 HR’s Matsui has hit so far are decent, but that’s about it.  Matsui is a very solid hitter and will get it going as we get deeper into the season, provided his knees don’t explode lumbering after a flyball.  Matsui’s two worst months in his career using OPS are April and May, so the Angels haven’t seen the best of Matsui’s bat yet.