Monday, June 7, 2010

Fack Youk's First Annual Half-Assed Draft Preview!

For the defending World Champions lying in wait with the 32nd pick, the MLB Draft is not nearly as big of a deal as it is for the teams at the top of the heap, picking among the premier amateur talents available. In general, because most of the prospects taken are so far away from the Big Leagues and the attrition rate is so high, baseball's draft is inherently less compelling that its NFL (and especially) NBA counterparts.

However, that didn't stop Major League Baseball from moving the first round of it to 7:00pm tonight on MLBN, televising rounds 2-30 on Tuesday and rounds 31-50 on Wednesday. If the draft isn't that interesting to begin with, well, why not make it more interesting by slowing down the intervals between picks, inserting commercials and putting it in prime time!

Maybe I'm being a little to cynical there. To the average fan - meaning casual followers who don't read blogs - the draft is more or less inconsequential. However, to those of us who try to keep tabs on the farm system and get excited about prospects, it's at least worth paying attention to your own team's pick, in addition to the inevitable drama that will surround the efforts to sign Bryce Harper and other top talents.

As far as the Yankees are concerned, they are said to be targeting "one of two high school bats", but who they will select depends very heavily on who is taken in front of them. Typically, a couple of high-ceiling talents fall to the bottom of the first round every year because teams are concerned that they won't be able to sign them due to high signing bonus demands.

No team wants to face the dilemma of overpaying for their highest draft pick or simply letting them walk away and waiting until next year to pick in a similar spot. But the Yankees obviously have the financial power to ink a great prospect who is looking for a big payday and can afford for the pick not to reach the Majors in a worst case scenario, so they can take someone who might not pan out but will probably be pretty awesome if they do.

Again, who knows who will be available when the Yanks pick, but here are some names that they've been linked to in recent days:
There are going to be live blogs/chats at River Ave. Blues, FanGraphs and Big League Stew to name a few, and I'm sure all of those places will have plenty of valuable information should you want to follow along. We'll probably have something on the Yanks' pick first thing tomorrow morning. Enjoy the off night, Fackers, and we'll talk at you then.

Great Moments In Self-Congratulation

Tim Britton, who was filling in for Byran Hoch this weekend over at, dug up this gem from Joe Girardi after yesterday's game:
When asked after Sunday's 4-3 win if he thought his ejection helped his team come from behind in the eighth inning, Joe Girardi just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sometimes I think I should get thrown out in the first."
Let's hear it for Joe Girardi and his super-clutch ejection, ladies and gentlemen. Play. Of. The Game.

If he had just came out to argue the call without getting thrown out, who knows what might have happened...
  • Would Cito Gaston decided against intentionally walking Mark Teixeira, instead leading to an improbable, line-out-step-on-the-bag double play?

  • Would Jason Frasor still have tossed the wild pitch with A-Rod up that allowed Gardner to score and tie the game?

  • Could A-Rod still have managed to strike out on a pitch right down the middle of the plate if Girardi hadn't lit a fire under his ass like that?

  • Would Robinson Cano, who only had a meager 81 hits (two earlier in the game) and 43 RBIs coming into that at-bat have finally woken the fuck up and done something for this team!!1?1!/??

  • Could Joba Chamberlain still have given up that run in the bottom half of the inning without the inspiration from Girardi's magical ejection?

  • Where would Mariano Rivera have found the motivation to throw a perfect ninth inning had Joe not been tossed?
In all seriousness, this is an example of a manager thinking he matters way fucking more than he actually does. The Yankee rally was in full swing when Girardi got tossed. The Blue Jays already hit Cervelli and Gardner with pitches to start the inning and then Derek Jeter ripped a double, driving in a run and putting men on second and third, still with no one out. At that point, the Yankees' Win Expectancy was at 59% - a single gives them the lead, an out ties the game and they got multiple opportunities for both. Even after Swisher "struck out", they had a greater than 50/50 chance of winning the game and an even better chance of at least tying it right there.

The players were probably pretty ticked off at the terrible call by the umpire. Could that lead to a rally in some cases? Maybe. Did what Joe Girardi did help the team in any meaningful way, shape or form? I highly fucking doubt it. Players win games, not managers by getting ejected from them.

But keep telling yourself that getting thrown out of the game "fired the team up" or what have you, Joe. You came up huge yesterday. Great work. Just don't throw out your elbow patting yourself on the back.

Bob Lorenz For President

Amidst a fairly dismal weekend in Toronto, one decided bright spot was the presence of Bob Lorenz as play-by-play man in the booth.

No one seems to like Michael Kay, but I've defended him to some extent (maybe on this blog, maybe not) because he has a tough job and when you are exposed to someone for three plus hours 140 or so times a year, it's easy to dislike him. Futhermore, given the way blogs and social media are set up, it's easy to complain about any broadcaster and once you start noticing someone's flaws, the hatred of them generally tends to snowball. We've seen in with Joe Morgan partially as a result of FJM and there's no doubt that @YESMichaelKay gives us things to despise about the real broadcaster that we might not have otherwise noticed.

We've heard Ken Singleton do play-by-play fairly often, generally on west coast road trips, and I think that he typically does a good job ("Look out!"), but for whatever reason, possibly the audio mix, his voice often fades into the crowd noise whereas Michael Kay's sticks out like a sore thumb. I know Ive heard Lorenz do play calls when the YES Network was having technical difficulties but I remember thinking that he sounded unprepared (which of course he was). This weekend, though, I thought Lorenz sounded plenty polished and fell somewhere between the abrasive Kay and the low key Singleton.

As I mentioned earlier, I missed all of Friday's game and I was driving back upstate the first eight innings of Saturday's contest, but I found myself enjoying Lorenz's call for the conclusion of that contest and Sunday's game as well. He was energetic, seemed engaged with the game, offered some good insights and deferred to John Flaherty for the heavy analytical lifting.

In all likelihood, we'll probably pick up on Lorenz's verbal tics and annoying go-to phrases were we to have him in the booth for the majority of the year, but as of right now, I'd really love to see him get that chance. Obviously the YES Network has hitched its wagon to Michael Kay and one weekend of games is not going to change that, but maybe Lorenz will have the opportunity to do more games when Michael Kay is taking time off.

Larry from The Yankeeist has already started up a Facebook page for to advocate Lorenz as the primary play-by-play man. I don't know Michael Kay's contract situation off the top of my head, but there's little-to-no chance that he's going to get fired or leave voluntarily. However, there's nothing wrong with showing a little love for Lorenz in hopes that he'll be rewarded somehow for his good work in the booth.

Wrapping Up The Weekend

Welcome back, Fackers. Heading into the eighth inning yesterday afternoon, it appeared that this would end up as a terrible weekend for the Yankees and we would see the first three game sweep of the season. The Bombers lost 6-1 on Friday night in a game that was never close and could only muster two runs in 14 innings on Saturday, eventually falling victim to an RBI single by Aaron Hill off of Chad Gaudin.

Brandon Marrow, like Brett Cecil and Rickey Romero before him, was having his way with the Yankees, shutting them out through seven innings while Scott Downs warmed up in the bullpen. Morrow had thrown over 100 pitches and Cito Gaston was likely going batter-by-batter with him, so when a fastball got away from the young right hander and nailed Francisco Cervelli in the front shoulder, it signaled the end of his day.

The first batter Downs faced after Gaston called on him was Brett Gardner. Downs let a fastball leak too far inside and it hit Gardner right where his bottom hand met the bat. Luckily, neither Yankee was injured and the Jays had just put the two tying runs on base for free with no one out. Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate next and sliced a ball down the right field line, scoring Cervelli to make it 2-1 Jays, and that was it for Downs.

Jason Frasor came into face Nick Swisher and struck him out on a horseshit check swing call that not only was clearly wrong but the home plate umpire never should have made on his own. Joe Girardi came out to argue with his cap already off, veins popping out of his head and neck, instantly unleashed on Bruce Dreckman and was tossed in a matter of seconds. It had the feeling of a sure ejection as soon as he left the dugout and he wasted no time in delivered some combination of the magic words and/or gestures.

When things calmed back down, the Jays intentionally walked Mark Teixeira to get to Alex Rodriguez. The broadcast booth followed with the obligatory numbers of what has happened when teams have done this in the past (37-37 with 145 RBIs) but A-Rod (who was removed from the game with a sore groin shortly thereafter) struck out on a knee-high pitch right down the middle but not before Brett Gardner scored from third when Frasor uncorked a breaking ball in the dirt that Jose Molina couldn't corral, thereby tying the game.

When Robinson Cano came to the plate with two outs and the game knotted at two, Cito Gaston walked out to the mound, looking like he was about to pull Frasor from the game. However, Gaston sauntered back to the dugout and didn't ask his hurler to hand over the ball. Allowing the righty to face Cano didn't work out very well as Robby took a 94mph fastball on the second pitch of the at bat the opposite way, dunking front of left fielder Fred Lewis and driving in two runs.

Joba Chamberlain gave up a run in the eight inning before he recorded an out, but followed with a double play to get things under control. Despite the bases being empty and two outs, Tony Pena (acting as manager after the Girardi ejection) signaled to the bullpen for Damaso Marte. Except Mariano Rivera came out. Apparently Pena changed his mind at the last minute without phoning the 'pen, so Rivera came all the way up to the mound before being sent back. Marte did his job against Adam Lind, recording a strike out and Rivera worked a perfect ninth to salvage at least one win out of this godforsaken series.

The Yankees scored more runs in that wild 8th inning yesterday than they did in the balance of the series. Sure, you can give credit to the Jays' starting pitchers, and they certainly deserve some of it, but the Yanks also got to face Toronto's bullpen for six innings on Saturday and could manage only four baserunners.

What's worse is that when the Yanks did get men on base and into scoring position, they couldn't drive them in. Before the eighth inning yesterday, the Yanks were 2-24 w/RISP in the series, something that seems characterized the team whenever their offensive production droops. I'm sure this tends to be the case with any good team that goes through a bad stretch - they still get guys on base but can't drive them in.

The biggest culprit was obviously Mark Teixiera. He reached base just twice in 15 plate appearances this weekend (once via intentional walk) and struck out seven times - five on Saturday alone. After that game, Joe Giradi reiterated multiple times that he wasn't worried about Teixeira and I think that he'll eventually start hitting this year, However, he's been up to the plate 261 times already and is hitting .211/.326/.363. Given that he's posted numbers that bad for over one-third of a season, there's almost no chance that he can come anywhere close to the .286/.276/.535 line that has averaged throughout his career.

And I suppose that's not important at this point. The past 57 games are water under the bridge. The Yankees don't necessarily need Teixeira to atone for his early season awfulness, they just need him to hit his numbers from here on out. What else can they really do at this point? Take him out of the three slot? Sit him for a day?

I listened to a good portion of Friday's game while I was driving my sister to JFK. We got stuck in standstill traffic on the Hutchinson River Parkway and while listening to John and Suzy prattle on, I thought about how going through a bad stretch in baseball is a little bit like being stuck in traffic.

You can keep trying to change lanes, and possibly pick up a few car lengths if you don't mind pissing everyone else off around you. But lots of times, a la the intro to Office Space, by the time you slide over to the lane that is suddenly moving along, that one stops flow and the one you were in just picks up. Unless you've got a motorcycle and want to drive in between the lanes, you pretty much have to keep on course and have faith that eventually, traffic is going to start moving again and you'll be able to make up some time. I guess we've gotta hang in there with Teix too, and have faith that he'll figure it out. He has to at some point, right?