Monday, August 5, 2013

Yanks Drop 2 of 3 In San Diego Under A-Rod Cloud

One more time: I'm not going to comment on Alex Rodriguez's suspension until I have the necessary facts:

1. When it happens.  At the moment, they're talking noon today to make the announcement.  A little less than 2 hours from when I posted this.

2. How long.

3. Why. I want to see the facts, and whether the suspension is justified, and if the punishment fits the "crime."

Until then, I'm not commenting on it.

*

This weekend's series in San Diego wasn't much fun.  On Friday, CC Sabathia once again did not have it.  The guy's been a horse, a true ace.  But he's pitched 2,717 innings in his career, an average of 215 a season.  Within my lifetime, that would have been no big deal.  But these days, it is.

2,717 innings.  Among all the pitchers who have ever appeared in Major League Baseball, that ranks 188th.  Among lefthanded pitchers, it's 46th.  Among lefties in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, it's 37th.  Since World War II, essentially the post-1947 Integration Era, it's 28th.  In the post-1969 Divisional Play Era, it's 22nd.  And in the post-1990 Five-Man Rotation Era -- essentially, that last generation of baseball -- it's 10th, and the 2 guys ahead of him, Andy Pettitte and Mark Buehrle (who's also having a rough year), are both older.

(For the record, Cy Young has the most innings pitched; Warren Spahn the most among lefties, including post-1920 and post-1947; Steve Carlton has the most post-1969; and Tom Glavine has the most post-1990.  Pettitte has pitched 3,248 1/3 innings, ranking, respectively, 97th, 26th, 18th, 14th and 6th.  And 1st among Yankees, having surpassed Whitey Ford.  But there's a big difference: He's 41, while CC is 32.  Andy's seasonal average is 174, much less.)

Even if games this season where CC has been hit hard, Joe Girardi has looked into his Binder and it's told him, "Leave CC in, no matter how many runs he allows," and he's kept CC in to pitch 6 or 7 innings.

On Friday night, CC was allowed to go into the 6th, having allowed 5 runs on 11 hits and 3 walks.  The Yankees just couldn't keep up, bat-wise, and lost, 7-2.

WP: Andrew Cashner (8-5).  No save.  LP: Sabathia (9-10).

Someone wrote on Twitter, "The Awkward Moment when CC Sabathia has a higher ERA than Phil Hughes." At the time, it was true: CC's ERA had jumped to 4.78.  Hughes? More on him in a moment.

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Derek Jeter played on Friday night, but hurt his calf, and didn't play the rest of the weekend.  He may have to go on the Disabled List.  Again.

At this rate, since he can play through his appeal process, A-Rod could end up playing more games for the Yankees this season than Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira combined.  So far, Jeter has played 5, Grandy 11, Teix 15.  Total: 31.

One guy who wasn't expected to make much of a contribution this season was Ivan Nova.  On Saturday, he made a fantastic contribution.  He went 7 innings, throwing 86 pitches, 59 of them for strikes.  He allowed 4 hits, just 1 walk, and no runs.  He struck out 8.  I would have left him in for the 8th, but, with the score being only 3-0, Girardi probably did the right thing in not experimenting to see if he could go 8.  So Nova got the win (5-4), while David Robertson pitched a scoreless 8th and Mariano Rivera a perfect 9th (35th save -- on the 50th birthday of Metallica leader James Hetfield, author of Mo's theme song, "Enter Sandman").

Did the Yankees miss the aforementioned Curtis Granderson, or what? Grandy, injured most of the season, hit his 2nd home run of the year off Tyson Ross, a 2-run blast.  A Jayson Nix single accounted for the other run.  Yankees 3, Padres 0.

*

Yesterday's game was a battle between the young starting pitcher that Brian Cashman was willing to trade, just not for The Great Johan Santana; and the young starting pitcher he wasn't willing to trade, for The Great Johan Santana or anyone else.  It was Ian Kennedy against Phil Hughes.

Cashman sent Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks after the 2009 World Championship season, a season in which Kennedy made 1 appearance, pitching 1 inning, pitching to 6 batters, and it didn't make a difference.  All told, Kennedy made 14 appearances for the Yankees, and was never a factor.  The trade was a 3-team deal: The D-backs got Kennedy from the Yankees and Edwin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers got Phil Coke (good riddance) and Austin Jackson (whom we never seemed to need until this injury-plagued season) from the Yankees, and Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth frmo the D-backs.  The Yankees got Granderson from the Tigers, and nobody from the D-backs.

The Tigers benefited from this trade just fine: They've won a Pennant and beaten the Yankees in the Playoffs the last 2 years.  The D-backs benefited from this trade just fine: After going an ordinary 9-10 in 2010, Kennedy went a spectacular 21-4 in 2011 and 15-12 in 2012.  (Yet he only finished 4th in the Cy Young Award voting in 2011.  Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers went 21-5 with an ERA 0.60 lower, and Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, between them, went 36-14 for a Division-winning Philadelphia Phillies team.  So it's a little understandable.  But no pitcher from the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals even received a vote.)

The Yankees? Granderson, in 2010, '11 and '12, has been terrific in the regular season, with an OPS+ of 118 in a Yankee uniform, matching what he'd done in Detroit, hitting 84 home runs and driving in 225 runs the last 2 complete seasons, including a League-leading 119 in 2011; but while he was one of the few Yankees who hit well in the 2010 postseason, he's been terrible since, going 8-for-50, including 0-for-11 in the 2012 ALCS.  And he does strike out a lot: His 195 whiffs last season were a club record, and not that long ago would have been a major league record.

I'd still rather have the Grandy Man that not: He's got a lefty swing that's tailor-made for Yankee Stadium, he can run, and he can field.  He's a genuine 5-tool player.

This was Kennedy's first appearance for the Padres, having been picked up at the trading deadline, the Padres sending the D-backs 2 players who won't matter this season, if ever.  He didn't pitch great, but...

He didn't have to: Hughes had nothing, he didn't even get out of the 3rd inning, and his ERA is once again higher than CC's: 4.87.  Preston Claiborne cleaned up his mess, and Adam Warren, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain pitched 4 innings of scoreless relief, but it was too late.

The one bright spot was Austin Romine, weak-hitting catcher, hitting his first major league home run.  Unfortunately, on WCBS, John Sterling not only ruined it with an awful call, but a recycled one, having used it during Austin Kearns' brief sojourn in The Bronx: "Austin powers one!"

Mister Sterling: If you never use that line again, I'll give you... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Romine's homer was part of a comeback that couldn't quite get rolling.  Padres 6, Yankees 3.  WP: Kennedy (4-8).  SV: Huston Street (21).  LP: Hughes (4-10).  Yankee Fans, especially on Twitter, are really, really getting on Hughes.

*

So, with 8 weeks left in the regular season, here's how the American League Eastern Division stands:

Boston 68-45
Tampa Bay 66-45, 1 back (tied in the loss column)
Baltimore 61-51. 6 1/2 (6)
New York 57-53, 9 1/2 (8)
Toronto, 51-60, 16 (15)

The Yankees have to gain an average of 1 game a week to win the Division.

In the Wild Card race, the Yankees are 4 1/2 games out of the 2nd slot, 4 in the loss column behind the Cleveland Indians.

If the current MLB standings hold to the end of the season, here's what the Playoff setup would be:

AL: Cleveland at Tampa Bay, winner vs. Boston, who would have home-field advantage; Oakland vs. Detroit, WWHHFA.

NL: Cincinnati at St. Louis, winner vs. Pittsburgh, WWHHFA; Los Angeles vs. Atlanta, WWHHFA.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in baseball.  Clint Hurdle, who previously managed the Colorado Rockies to their only Pennant in 2007 and was previously a much-hyped but disappointing player, may be about to secure his reputation as a really good manager.

Barring a comeback that gets them into the Playoffs, and then a World Series against the Pirates (and there's certainly no guarantee that either team will make it), Yankee Fans don't care.

Most of us just want the injured players back (and A-Rod is scheduled to play tonight, pending resolution of his appeal, as we start a series in Chicago against the White Sox), and want the A-Rod story resolved.

Play him, don't play him; suspend him long, suspend him short, don't suspend him at all; ban him, don't ban him.  Just let us know what we're dealing with, so we can deal with it.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.  At least, once we know what's going on, we'll know which devil to fight.

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