Free Bartolo!

There are crimes and there are tragedies, and while this is neither, Bartolo Colon was by far the Yankees’ best pitcher today (4 1/3 innings of relief, one run — which wasn’t exactly his fault — and five strikeouts), yet he gets the loss, while Phil Hughes (six runs in two innings) and Boone Logan (one run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning … both those hits coming from left-handers) simply get bloated ERAs. I’m aware that wins and losses, especially for relievers, aren’t the best statistics to determine how a pitcher performed, but still, : (

That was the first time I’ve used an emoticon in my LIFE (might be a lie).

— Brian Cougar

Free Bartolo!

A.J. Burnett has more wins than the Red Sox

The fact that we’re six games and two Burnett starts into the season and the title for this blog entry is true is amazing. Was that available as a prop bet in Vegas? Do I know what a prop bet really is? Loyal readers will have to help me out on that question (I will NOT google it).

But it is true, and while Burnett hasn’t been amazing, he has been closer to “Good A.J.” than “Bad A.J.,” which is (sadly) all most Yankee fans ask from him. Should a person being paid $82.5 million over five years be expected to simply keep his team in games? Nope, but as Kurt Vonnegut said, “so it goes.” (Vonnegut hoped that phrase would be used to justify mediocre performances from subpar pitchers, right?)

Back to the Red Sox … this first Yankees/Boston series, which gets overhyped as it is, will now be hyped through the roof due to the fact that the Sawx are going into it (home opener no less) winless. SEASON ON THE BRINK! Are the Red Sox buckling under the pressure of being the team to beat heading into this season? (And were the Yankees smart by pretending to be $200 million underdogs?) Will Boston sweep and immediately return to being most people’s pick to win the AL East? Will the Yankees sweep and cause Red Sox Nation to despair about a season already lost in April? However it ends up, the Red Sox will be happy to know they get to face the Rays starting Monday, and that team is in much worse shape than they are right now (seriously, that offense is little league).

— Brian Cougar

A.J. Burnett has more wins than the Red Sox

Here comes a bikini whale!

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ROCK LOBSTER!

Of course the day I pointed out how well the Joba/Soriano/Mo
trio was performing this season, Soriano goes out and is charged for four runs
in two-thirds of an inning in a dumb loss to the Twins. First moral of the story:
don’t walk three batters in less than an inning when you come into a game with
a four-run lead. Or ever. Second moral of the story: things I say are true will often be proven false within 24 hours.  Also, let’s not forget that Boone Logan walked the
leadoff hitter in the tenth. Relief pitchers drive me insane (outside of
beautiful Mo).

– Brian Cougar

Here comes a bikini whale!

The Joba controversy

Because Hank Steinbrenner said this quote in Play Magazine:

“‘Red Sox Nation?’ What a bunch of (expletive)
that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled
with Red Sox fans.

“Go
anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll
see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to
put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

He is already a Yankees legend.  Just like Hideki Irabu, Luis Sojo, Derek Jeter, and Jose Canseco.  You see, anyone who has ever worn a Yankees uniform is a Yankees legend (yes, that includes Kyle Farnsworth).

However I, like many sane people, am not with Hank on the current Joba controversy.  You see, I support what seems to be the Yankees’ current plan.  Start the season with the rotation they have now, keep Joba in the setup role and then, around June, work him into the rotation.  The only reason the Yankees have to accelerate putting Joba into the rotation is if any of the five starters suffer an injury that would keep them out long-term.  Right now (and hopefully, not ever), that hasn’t happened.  I realize Hank and many fans of the Yankees think Hughes and Kennedy may not be ready, and that Mussina may be finished as an effective starter, but I do not agree.

With Hughes and Kennedy (and Moose to some degree) the main problem right now seems to be they’re not being aggressive.  Moose, of course, needs to take a page out of Tom Glavine’s book and start pitching inside more.  This doesn’t mean Moose has to completely reinvent himself as a pitcher, that’s not what Glavine did, he just has to sneak the fastball inside enough that batters can’t sit on his breaking balls or a fastball over the outside of the plate.  A successful Moose start at this point also relies on him having excellent control and a sharp breaking ball.  He had that against the Rays and he pitched a great game (He also worked inside a bit more, especially to Gomez).  In the first start against Boston he had it early, but they have one of the best offenses in the league and were going to score a few runs off him no matter how great he pitched.  It also didn’t help that in both starts against Boston he was matched up against Josh Beckett.  Moose can still be successful (I’m talking a 2008 record of somewhere in the 13 wins, seven losses range) but he’s going to have to make some adjustments.

With Hughes and Kennedy I think they’re problem, right now, is their both being tentative.   With Hughes, and I’m not sure if this is because he’s still building up his arm strength, his fastball velocity seems to be less than he’s capable of throwing.  When he was pitching his brief and infamous no-hitter against the Rangers last year, he was topping off with a fastball in the mid-90’s, while I don’t think I’ve seen him hit over 93 on the gun this year.  If it isn’t an arm strength thing, I think it’s a situation where he’s aiming the ball too much, and not relying on his stuff.  He has a tremendous curveball, and he’s had success with it so far this year, but it seems like he’s too concerned with absolutely nailing his spot with his fastball that he’s either missing off the plate for a ball, or he’s getting too much of the plate with a subpar fastball and it’s getting hit hard.   Again, I’m not sure if this is a arm strength issue or a situation where he’s worrying too much about hitting his spot with perfection.  We will see as he progresses over the season.

I managed to catch a few of Kennedy’s starts during Spring Training and was quickly becoming a fan of his approach.  He seemed willing to throw his tremendous change up on any count, and he was consistently throwing strikes with his fastball.  Then, in his first start against the Rays and his start against Baltimore this weekend, he became an extreme nibbler.  And when he was getting into 3-0 and 3-1 counts, he would then just throw a fastball right down the middle of the plate.   He seems afraid of letting the batter make contact early in the count.  At 89 mph, hitters are going to catch up with his fastball.  For him, he has to keep it low in the zone and, most importantly, throw strikes.  It would be great if he could hit the black with every pitch, but it’s not going to happen.  Attack the zone, work in the change up (I’d also like to see a bit more of the curve, for a different look) and, most importantly, throw first-pitch strikes.

The most exciting part of this season, for me, is the young pitching.  The offense will be great, there’s too much proven talent there, but the great unknown is the pitching.  Outside of Wang and Pettitte, it’s off to a rough start, but they’re young, they’re talented, and I think fans have to be patient (and by patient I mean see progress by Memorial Day) before there are any shake ups with the rotation.

The Joba controversy