Fan Confidence Poll: April 25th, 2011

Record Last Week: 3-1 (32 RS, 14 RA)
Season Record: 12-6 (109 RS, 82 RA, 11-7 pythag. record), three games up
Opponents This Week: vs. White Sox (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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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 recover from Mo’s blown save, top O’s in extras

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, then it was the best of times again. For the second straight game the Yankees jumped all over a young Orioles’ starter for some first inning runs and got a quality start out of their pitcher, but the last few innings of this one were a bit rockier than we’d like. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

What’s Wrong With Mo? Week™

It happens every year. Mariano Rivera will get knocked around a bit and blow some saves, prompting a few “Mo is done!” comments and articles. The standard reply: “He does this every year, don’t worry about it.” The standard reply to that standard reply: “But he was never XX years old before!” And then Rivera will right the ship and finish the season as his usual dominant self. Been like that for what, a decade now?

Rivera blew his second save in as many chances on Sunday afternoon, giving up the tying run on a double down the line by Brian Roberts, his 33rd (and final) pitch in what would have been his first four-out save of the season. The only reason the Yankees lived to see the tenth inning was because of a great set of relay throws by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, gunning down Robert Andino at the plate to end the inning.

As is the pattern whenever he struggles, Mo battled command today, missing either too far outside or two much over the plate on pitches that were supposed to hit the black. Complain about the strike zone if you want, but Rivera shouldn’t need a generous zone to retire Adam Jones (ten pitch leadoff walk), Mark Reynolds (seven pitch strikeout), or Matt Wieters (another seven pitch strikeout). He had four days off following his five games in seven days stretch, but who knows how that contributed to Sunday’s struggles. Mo will get back on track, he always does, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck when he struggles and blows leads.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Putting The Mental Back In Fundamentals

After a scoreless tenth inning (more on that in a bit) and a 45-minute rain delay, the Yankees got back on the scoreboard with some help from the shoddy Baltimore defense. Cano led the inning off with a double (after the rain interrupted his at-bat with a 3-2 count), then he managed to steal third when the O’s botched a run down. Cano broke for third then held up, but Matt Wieters’ throw to second was off line and pulled Andino to the first base side of the bag. That gave Robbie enough time to get to third safely.

Pinch-hitting for pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Russell Martin almost obliged, grounding to short only to have Andino throw the ball away on the flip to second. After Brett Gardner‘s fourth strikeout, Reynolds threw an infield hit by Derek Jeter away to score another run. A ball off the glove of Roberts allowed Curtis Granderson to reach safely and score another run. Three of the five balls in play in the 11th were somehow derp’d by the Orioles’ defense, and although the Martin and Jeter plays were tough, they certainly weren’t impossible.

Of course, the 11th inning wouldn’t have been needed if the Yankees managed to capitalize on a first and second situation with one out in the tenth. They tried the small ball approach  with Mark Teixeira moving the runners up on a sacrifice fly before Alex Rodriguez tried to do the same, only to watch Jeter get thrown out on what was a straight up beast mode block of the plate by Wieters. He just planted his leg and didn’t budge as Jeter slid into him feet first. The Cap’n didn’t touch the plate until after the home plate ump called him out. Next time, just hit the ball out of the park and take your time around the bases guys. Good thing Buck Showalter’s crew reverted to their little league days in the 11th.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Sweaty Freddy Grounds The Birds

In his first start of the year, Freddy Garcia lulled the Rangers to sleep with a mix of junk, slop, and cement mixers. He did the same to a far inferior offense on Sunday, working Orioles’ batters up and down, inside and out with changeups and splitters, fastballs and sliders, curveballs and who knows what. Despite a hot YES Network gun, Garcia was only sitting 86-88 mph, but you wouldn’t know it by the results. He struck out seven and allowed just four baserunners (three in one inning), needing 90 pitches for 18 outs.

It’s been just 18 games, but the early returns on Garcia and Bartolo Colon (add Chavez to the mix as well) have been far better than expected. It’s clear that Garcia’s margin for error is small (if some of those 85 mph floaters catch too much of the plate one day, watch out), but the Yankees have no long-term investment in him and can milk it for all it’s worth. He’s been surprisingly awesome so far.


Under-rated moment of the game: Garcia pitching around Wieters in the second inning. The Yankees were up by two and the O’s had two on with two out, but he threw the O’s catcher (.368 average over his last six games, .310 in his last nine) four wide ones to load the bases for … Cesar Izturis. The offensively inept shortstop struck out on three pitches to end the inning, swinging over the top of curveballs for strikes two and three. Risky? Sure. But I thought that was a great job of pitching around the guy that could hurt you for the one that can’t.

Joba Chamberlain allowed a two-run homer to Reynolds to cut the lead from three runs to one, then David Robertson made thing interesting by allowing two hits in the eighth. That prompted Mo coming in for the four out save. With Rafael Soriano unavailable due to a tight back (which we didn’t know at the time of the game, of course), I like that Joe Girardi went to Joba in the seventh to face Baltimore’s top two power hitters (Luke Scott and Reynolds), saving the bottom of the lineup for Robertson in the eighth. Of course I didn’t want to see him take Garcia out in the first place, but I digress.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

For the first time all year, I can honestly say: great job by Boone Logan. Cut right through two lefties and a righty in the tenth, then came back out after sitting for an hour (because of the rain) to retire Scott to leadoff the 11th. Very nice work from him after the letdown of the blown save. Also, big ups to Buddy Carlyle for the final two outs. Yeah, he threw one garbage time inning on Saturday, but he also threw multiple innings for Triple-A Scranton earlier in the week. That’s not to say he was gassed, but I can’t imagine he was completely fresh.

Jeter’s four hits were all ground balls, including two infield singles. The Grandyman clubbed his league leading seventh homerun in the first inning, then went opposite field for a double later in the game. He’s now 14-for-33 (.424) with five homers during his eight-game hitting streak. A-Rod walked three times to bring his season OBP to .492. He’s drawn 14 walks while striking out just six times this season. Cano’s double extended his hitting streak to 13 games, but he’s definitely taking some ugly hacks on pitches out of the zone. He’s always been a free swinger, but never to that extent.

Nick Swisher went hitless with three strikeouts in five at-bats, further continuing his struggles against righties. Brett Gardner continued his struggles against all pitchers by striking out four times (twice looking), though he did make a legit game-saving catch to end the eighth. Mark Teixeira made a nice play at first and reached base twice (hit and walk). He’s at .273/.403/.621 right now, so it’s safe to say he’s avoided the (prolonged) April slump this year.

WPA Graph & Box Score

So that got a little dicey. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

Back to the Bronx, where the Yankees will welcome to slumping White Sox to town for a four game set starting Monday night. Ivan Nova A.J. Burnett will look to get back on track while Phil Humber (!!!) goes for Chicago. Tickets are dirt cheap on the secondary market if you want to catch a game, just check out RAB Tickets.

Open Thread: Tight back for Soriano

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Like many of you, I was wondering what the hell was up with Rafael Soriano when the Yankees had a one-run lead in the eighth inning today and he was nowhere to be found. Joe Girardi announced after the game that his Eighth Inning Guy™ has some tightness in his lower back, and he was unavailable yesterday as well. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow to see if he can pitch. Hopefully he’s okay, because it’s unlikely Mariano Rivera will be available on Monday after throwing 30-something pitches today.

Anyway, here is the open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night game features the Reds and Cardinals (Sam LeCure-Jake Westbrook), plus I’m sure there’s NHL and NBA playoff action on somewhere. Talk about whatever you like, go nuts.

Montero hurt in Scranton win

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Syracuse)
Greg Golson, RF: 0 for 4, 2 K
Kevin Russo, 2B, Chris Dickerson, LF, Jordan Parraz, DH & Ramiro Pena, SS: all 0 for 3, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 1, 1 K – left the game after taking a foul ball to his, uh, groin … hopefully he feels better and soon, because holy crap does that suck
Jose Gil, C: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 K – took over for Montero
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Justin Maxwell, CF: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 9-4 GB/FB – 60 of 98 pitches were strikes (61.2%) … allowed the first three batters of the game to reach (double, homer, walk), then he sat down 18 of the next 23 he faced
Andy Sisco, LHP: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – half his 16 pitches were strikes
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 19 of 23 pitches were strikes (82.6%) … now that’s a save

Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, and Low-A Charleston all had scheduled off days. That seems odd, minor league franchise are always looking for ways to maximize attendance and revenue, and yet the league schedules off days on a weekend? Weird. (I’m An Idiot Update: It’s Easter, duh.)

A Little Entertainment: Extrapolating 2011 Statistics

"Maybe we'll be as good as you sometime." (AP/Kathy Willens)

One of the best things about the beginning of the season is that we are presented with statistics that are mildly nuts to absolutely absurd. It’s not unusual for players to go through slumps and streaks, but when they happen in July or August, the numbers are evened out by what the player in question has been doing for the rest of the year. If he’s absurdly hot for two weeks, he’ll be bogged down by his crappy season, and vice versa. The beginning of the season doesn’t have any of that.

In light of this dramatic game (and the not-so-dramatic game from yesterday), I’d like to present some of the streaks and slides the Yankees have been going through so far, only extrapolated to fill the entire season. Blowing the numbers up to 162 games just makes them look even sillier than they do now, and hopefully the craziness of the numbers are enough to calm down anyone freaking out about some of the struggling players on the roster.

Here are some crazy hitter numbers:

Jorge Posada: 86 hits in 152 games (last year, he had 95 hits in 120 games). 57 of those hits will be home runs. He’ll also strike out 152 times.

Russell Martin: 162 hits, 54 home runs, and a 1.132 OPS. He’ll steal 18 bases and not get caught once.

Mark Teixeira: 54 home runs (he’s only had one 40+ homer year), 154 hits (one more than last year), and 144 RBIs (he had 108 last year).

Alex Rodriguez: .370/.483/.826 with almost as many homers (45) as strikeouts (54). Also, his 99 walks would be better than every year except 2000, when he had 100.

Robinson Cano will have 9 walks all season. On the other side, Nick Swisher will have a career-high 108 walks. Swish will also rock a career-low 72 RBIs, which might have something to do the fact that he’ll hit zero home runs.

Derek Jeter’s projected slash line? .243/.308/.271 with 36 RBIs and 18 doubles. That RBI number is pretty depressing, but considering  he’s batting after Brett Gardner (projected: 72 hits, 18 doubles, and a .207 OBP), you can’t really blame him.

And some pitchers:

Bartolo Colon will throw 172IP with 191 strikeouts and only 48 walks and 67 ER.  I’d take that for sure.

With today not factored in, Freddy Garcia’s numbers look like this: 117 IP, 9 ER, 81 Ks. Yes please.

AJ Burnett: 210 IP, with 210 strikeouts (that would be the second best in his career, behind 2008), and 95 walks (also two behind his career high of 97). He’s also projected to give up a whopping 38 (!) home runs.

It’ll be an even worse season for Soriano, though, who would, in 76 IP strike out as many as he walked (57) and give up 57 ER.

Luckily, Mo is slated to have another awesome season behind him. 86IP with 19 ER and 67 strikeouts.

It just goes to show you that early-season numbers can turn into some crazy longer season numbers. I’m pretty sure Burnett won’t be giving up 38 homers, and if Soriano is striking out and walking the same amount of people, we have a major problem. Likewise, if if Teixeira really does hit over 50 homers this year, I think that would be a pretty awesome surprise. Nick Swisher will eventually get something out of the park. Don’t put too much stock into what players have done already, because while it may be impressive (or really depressing), things tend to even out.

Game 18: For the mini-sweep

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

These makeshift two-game series aren’t helping the “just win series” cause, just because sweeping any big league team is tough to do. The Yankees really, and I mean really took care of business last night; if the offense hadn’t scored a zillion runs they were still in good shape because CC Sabathia was awesome. Freddy Garcia brings his slow, slower, slowest approach against a hacktastic offense, but he doesn’t need to be great, just keep his team in the game and the offense figures to take care of the rest. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF

Freddy Garcia, SP

Not sure I get running Martin out there in a day game after a night game, though they did have three days off last week, and Frankie Cervelli is close to coming off the disabled list. You know he’ll play more than we want once he’s back. Anyway, game starts a little after 1:30pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Video of the Day: Destroying Yankee Stadium

Ever wondered how the old Yankee Stadium bathrooms were cleaned and destroyed once the team moved across the street? Here’s your chance to see how. This upcoming Thursday, the National Geographic Channel will air “Break it Down: Yankee Stadium.” The show starts at 10 p.m. so Yankee fans can watch it after the team finishes up their evening affair with the Chicago White Sox.

After the jump, another clip from the program showing the seating sections from the old park coming down. A tip of the hat to Alex Belth at Bronx Banter for this one. [Read more…]