Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Game 8 Recap

1. The Angels struck first in this one, stringing together three straight hits to start the third inning. First, Brandon Wood pulled one through the left side of the infield and then stole second. Eric Aybar followed with a base hit to center, bringing up Bobby Abreu. El Como Dulce only has a .358 OBP against Javier Vazquez, but 15 of the 20 hits he's collected against him have gone for extra bases, 9 of those home runs. That trend continued as Abreu pulled a double to the gap in right center putting the Angels ahead 2-0.

2. It took the Yankees until the 5th inning to get on the board against Joel Pineiro. Robinson Cano led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a dribbler by Jorge Posada and ended up at third after another ground ball off the bat of Curtis Granderson. With two outs and Cano 90 feet away, Nick Swisher mashed a triple that rolled all the way to the wall in left center to make it Angels 2 - Yankees 1.

3. The sixth inning would be the end for Javy Vazquez and it began with a leadoff double to Torii Hunter. Vazquez initially had Hunter 0-2 but let the count slide to 3-2 before giving up the line drive to center. Kendry Morales added a two bagger of his own on Javy's 100th pitch, predictably summoning a chorus of boos and bringing Joe Girardi out of the dugout. Joe G. called on Alfredo Aceves. Alf allowed the inherited runner to score and and gave up a run of his own in the 7th on an RBI single by Hunter, putting the Angels ahead 5-1.

4. After Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless frame in the top of the 8th, the Yanks mounted a rally in the bottom half of the inning. Scott Shields relieved Pineiro and promptly walked Brett Gardner. Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson then added back to back singles, narrowing the gap to 3 runs with men on the corners and no one out. The Yanks WPA was at 25% when hard-throwing right hander Kevin Jepsen was summoned from the bullpen to face Mark Teixeira.

5. Teix came to the plate hitlesss in the game and left it that way, but did drive in a run with a ground out to third. A-Rod worked a one out walk, bringing up Robinson Cano. Robby smoked a ball directly at Brandon Wood. The Angels tried to get two and the throw appeared to beat Robinson Cano to first base but he was ruled safe. Jorge Posada then struck out swinging to ending the threat. The Yanks were trailing 5-3 after the inning, and that would prove to be the final score.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Vazquez got off to a shaky start, getting a mound visit from Dave Eiland after allowing a single to Abreu and a walk to Hunter in the first inning. It appeared that Eiland saw something mechanical (his shoulder flying open, perhaps) and the visit was effective, as Javy retired the next two batters to close out the frame.

  • Eiland made another mound visit in the third inning, but that one clearly didn't work out as well.

  • Joel Pineiro was nothing short of impressive today. He pitched 7 innings, allowed five hits, one run and struck out 7 while walking none. He induced twice as many grounders as fly balls and allowed just one line drive - a single to left by Jorge Posada. His sinker had significant movement and he threw just under 2/3 of his pitches for strikes.

  • Brandon Wood displayed considerable range at third base, making two nice plays on high popups against the tarp in foul territory.

  • Hideki Matsui had a rough day at the plate, going 0-4 with 3 Ks and amassing the lowest WPA on the Angels outside of Scott Sheilds.

  • The only Yankees to get on base more than once were Cano and Jeter - each with two hits.

  • Nick Johnson's single in the 8th was the result of a 9 pitch at bat, and came after 5 straight foul balls. Johnson also advanced to second on a wild pitch by Jensen, putting both runners in scoring position for Teix, but didn't manage to make it home.

  • Mark Teixeira's slow start rolls on. He is now 3 for 38 with 7 walks.

  • Michael Kay called Fernando Rodney "automatic" before he came in to pitch the 9th inning, which I found rather amusing, but Rodney needed just 9 pitches to sit the Yanks down.
The series finale is tomorrow night at 7:05.

Game 8: Ain't Got No Home

Joel Pineiro gets the ball for the Halos today. Pineiro's been a bit of a nomad over the last few years of his career. After spending his first seven seasons with the Mariners, Pineiro signed with the Red Sox for 2007. Primarily a starter during his years in the Pacific Northwest, the Red Sox made Pineiro a reliever exclusively. There was even talk that Jonathan Papelbon, coming off his rookie campaign, would return to the starting rotation with Pineiro inheriting the closer's role. That didn't come to pass, and after a disastrous half season in their bullpen, Boston shipped him off to the Cardinals. It would prove to be a career altering transaction for Pineiro.

Returned to the rotation, Pineiro finished the 2007 season strong, but followed it up with a mediocre 2008 campaign. Under the tutelage of pitching coach Dave Duncan though, Pineiro had a career season in 2009. Armed with a new two seam fastball, his ground ball rate went through the roof, his walk and home run rates went through the floor, and his stock as an impending free agent skyrocketed.

Pineiro parlayed his age 30 career season and Major League best walk rate into a two year $16M deal from the Angels. It's unlikely he'll replicate his 2009 season; his ground ball, walk, and home run rates from last year just aren't sustainable, particularly when switching to the more challenging American League. Yet even with some regression, Pineiro figures to be a good value at just $8M per year. And if he isn't, he just may find himself on the move again in 2012.

Since the 2003 season, Javier Vazquez has done six different stints with five different clubs over eight years. He's gone from Montreal to New York to Arizona to the south side of Chicago to Atlanta and back to New York. Aside from the three years spent with the White Sox, each of Vazquez' stops since leaving Montreal have lasted just one season. His current contract expires at the end of the year, and virtually all the speculation since his reacquisition has assumed Vazquez' return engagement with the Yankees will be just a one year affair. Many Yankee fans may be hoping as much.

I've already said more than my share on Vazquez and on how some Yankee fans view him. I will attempt to restrain myself from expounding upon it any further. I am however very curious to see how Javy is received today, his first appearance in pinstripes in more than five years. His reception during Opening Day introductions yesterday was lukewarm. I couldn't hear many, if any, boos, but there certainly wasn't a loud cheer for him either. I hope the fans will be supportive today; I know I'll be cheering from the right field stands.

The life of a professional baseball player is transient by nature. On the way up, if he's lucky, a player will hit a new minor league outpost each year. Once he reaches the Majors, and is fortunate enough to establish himself there, he spends six consecutive weeks in Spring Training and half of the following six months on the road. Most players will change teams a few times over the course of their career.

As Joel Pineiro and Javier Vazquez know all too well, it's hard to establish a home as a Major Leaguer. Yet as Javier Vazquez returns to the Bronx, makes his first home start of 2010, and tries to re-establish a home in New York, I fear he may be facing a higher degree of difficulty than most, particularly in light of those who saw what they expected to see in his first start. I hope that these fans, who are so often told they're the best in the world, don't prove my fears to be well founded.

So as we face our second consecutive weekday matinee, we turn to The Band's Moondog Matinee album for today's video. The album is comprised entirely of covers from the early days of rock and roll. So while we're going with The Band's version here, it's tough to top the original from Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

I ain't got no home, or no place to roam
I ain't got no home, or no place to roam
I'm a lonely boy, I ain't got a home


Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Eric Aybar SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera RF
Maicer Izturis 2B
Jeff Mathis C
Brandon Wood 3B

Minor Matters

Good morning Fackers. Here are some minor league news and notes to start off your humpday:
  • Jesus Montero has begun his AAA career with a six game hitting streak. He's also hitting just .250 as he's picked up just one hit in each game. Such are the trappings of hitting streaks. Montero came up with a big eighth inning hit last night, giving Scranton the lead for good and allowing Kei Igawa to earn a vulture victory in relief of an outstanding Ivan Nova.

  • Scranton manager Dave Miley has been rotating infielders Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona, and Eduardo Nunez through the infield positions. All three have seen time at each of second base, third base, and shortstop thus far. Miley is also rotating the outfielders through all three positions and David Winfree started at first base last night. Due to paperwork issues related to the waiver claim, Chad Huffman did not make his Scranton debut until last night.

  • Alan Horne, who has missed the majority of the last two years after winning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2007, has decided against surgery to repair a tear in his rotator cuff. After consulting with Dr. James Andrews, Horne has instead decided to try rest and rehab combined with platelet rich plasma treatments. Let's just hope he stays away from Dr. Galea.

  • The official diagnosis is in on Christian Garcia, and it's not good: torn elbow ligament. No course of action has been determined yet, but Garcia is likely staring at a second Tommy John surgery and third overall elbow surgery in the last four years. This could be death blow for Garcia's career. It would easy to write him off as impressive talent who just couldn't stay healthy, but as his comments to Mike Ashmore indicate, Garcia is optimistic and appreciative of the support he's received in the past. That's an awful lot of grace to display in light of what he's facing.

  • Garcia's spot in the Trenton rotation has been taken by Lance Pendleton. Pendleton had a strong season between Tampa and Trenton last year, but had been squeezed out of the rotation in the numbers game. He got roughed up in his start last night.

  • Pendleton has been replaced in the bullpen by Jon Van Benschoten. The Yankees signed him as a minor league free agent this past off-season and had been in Extended Spring Training. Despite being thirty years old, a former first round, eighth overall draft pick, and having made just one appearance in AA since 2003, Van Benschoten is happy to have a job.

  • Top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos was scratched from his scheduled start for Tampa on Sunday. He was later added to the disabled list. No official word has been released yet, but the prevailing rumor is that he had an appendectomy. I'll take a freak appendectomy over an arm injury any day.

  • Just as the Yankees shared their Stadium with Pele and the New York Cosmos in the 1970s, the Tampa Yankees will be sharing Steinbrenner Field with FC Tampa this year. (h/t Pending Pinstripes)
We've got another weekday matinee today. Back with more in a bit.

Matsui's Reception

Matt already summed up Hideki Matsui's warm welcome back to the Bronx in the recap of of the home opener and Jason added another part of the story that wasn't obvious on the broadcast in the comments, but I wanted to capture some of the images that YES showed of fans in the stands.

That yellow Godzilla banner is a familiar site and the woman in the blue jacket appears to be holding up an "MVP" sign. We'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is more it than we can see.

Two guys who don't appear to be Japanese are holding up the flag of Matsui's home country. Probably big fans of his looking to show their appreciation. That's an awfully nice gesture.


I don't think using the fictitious solicitations of a prostitute from a movie is the best way to convey to Matsui how much his contributions to the franchise meant to you, unless you are propositioning him for sex on behalf of the entire fanbase. And by the way, Full Metal Jacket was about the Vietnam War, you dummy. Hideki Matsui is Japanese, remember? Can you see why some people might find that offensive? No? Do I have to get Gunnery Sargent Hartman to explain it to you, maggot? BULLSHIT, I CAN'T HEAR YEAR YOU!

Is this guy an insensitive asshole who is making a somewhat racist joke? Just a clueless moron who doesn't know the origin of the reference? Some combination of the two? So many questions...