Category Archives: Managers and Coaches

Dynasty? SF wins 3rd title in 5 years.

When you think of baseball dynasties, you think of the Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio-Mantle Yankees of 1921-1964. The Big Red Machine. The Bronx Zoo. The Torre Yankees of 1996-2003. When you look at the makeup of the San Francisco Giants, you don’t see dynasty. But after winning their third title in the last five years, maybe that qualifies them as one now. At the very least, with the decade half-over, they can already call themselves the team of the decade (unless someone else runs off three or four titles over the next five years). The Giants became the first road team since the 1979 Pirates to win Game 7 when they beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 last night.

Madison Bumgarner joined a very select group of pitchers to win three WS games in the same Series. Bumgarner got the save. For his efforts, Bumgarner was named WS MVP. 2012 WS MVP Pedro “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval went 3 for 3, Mike Morse drove in two runs, and all the damage was done by the 4-7 hitters. Neither starting pitcher went four innings. Both managers had quick hooks. SF starter Tim Hudson went just 1 2/3, and KC starter Jeremy Guthrie 3 1/3. With neither starter going five innings, the decision on who got the win came down to an official scorer’s decision. Usually, they just hand the win to the pitcher who was on the mound when the eventual game-winning run was scored. That was Jeremy Affeldt, who was credited with the win. But the official scorer did not get it right. He handed the win to Affeldt. He did not have to. This was “official scorer’s discretion” and the guy who should have been given the win was Bumgarner, who came out of the bullpen on two days rest to pitch five innings of scoreless relief and preserve a 3-2 lead. Bumgarner thus wound up winning Games 1, 5 and saving Game 7 of this WS. No guts by the official scorer there. He went “formula.”

The difference in the series turned out to be one run, and one man. And perhaps, one slip. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the fourth, Sandoval reached on an infield single. KC 2B Omar Infante made a nice play getting to the ball, but his right leg slipped out from under him as he tried to throw out Sandoval at first. Had he not slipped, who knows? That’s baseball. Sandoval eventually scored the eventual WS-winning run later that inning on a single by Morse. SF manager Bruce Bochy showed guts in going to Bumgarner. 3 titles in 5 years should put him into the HOF one day. Funny how he did go to Bumgarner after some “experts” I heard on ESPN radio said that there was no way Bumgarner should pitch, and no more than one inning. What pansies. To me, it was refreshing seeing Game 7 the way it should be. You manage that game differently than other games. The players have all offseason to rest, and although he didn’t start, Bumgarner winning pitching in a third WS game reminded me of Randy Johnson coming out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the 2001 WS (a painful memory for us Yankees fans), or Lew Burdette starting on two days rest in 1957 (another painful memory for Yankees fans),  Sandy Koufax in 1965 pitching a CG shutout on two days rest, Bob Gibson going 1-4-7 in 1967 or Mickey Lolich going 1-5-7 in 1968 (and facing and beating 1-4-7 Gibson in that 1968 Game 7). You go with your best in Game 7. You manage differently.

Bochy managed it brilliantly. If Bumgarner would have been too tired after only two days of rest, Bochy would have heard it from here to eternity. But Bochy played his trump card. He went with, and stayed with, his best. That’s one thing I’ll take out of this WS. One run, and one man (Bumgarner) made the difference. KC has nothing to be ashamed of.

So the offseason begins… with free agency, trades, etc. and oh yeah,….. A-Rod is now officially back. (Crying.).

In other news, it looks like a few moves are coming soon. Joe Maddon, who just left the Rays, is expected to take the manager job with the Cubs, and there are rumors that the Yanks are after Raul Ibanez to be their next hitting coach.

WS Game 3: KC goes up 2 games to 1 with a 3-2 win.

Alcides Escobar had two hits and scored two runs, and KC’s bullpen tossed four innings of no-hit ball as the Royals beat the Giants in Game 3 of the WS Friday night 3-2 to take a 2 games to 1 lead in the World Series.

Game 4 Saturday night.

Surprising news today as Joe Maddon opted out of his contract as manager of the Rays. He won’t be out of work long.

Kevin Long signs on as hitting coach for the Mets, not too long after the Yanks let him go.

Jimmy Rollins and Paul Konerko share the Roberto Clemente Award for giving back to the community.

Cashman returns, but not Long or Kelleher

The Yanks signed GM Brian Cashman to a new 3-yr. deal today, but let go of hitting coach Kevin Long and 1B/Infield coach Mick Kelleher.

Surprises in Division Series, Jeter Rumors, and Yanks hands tied

We’ll start with the Division Series. The Royals and Orioles are both in the driver’s seat, up 2-0 in a best of five, with two thrilling wins yesterday.

KC won its third straight extra-inning postseason game, setting a postseason record, by scoring 3 in the top of the 11th to defeat the Angels, 4-1. While Mike Moustakas had the HR in the 11th inning of Game 1, this time it was Eric Hosmer with the big blow.

I like the way KC plays. Not only that, although I admire Trout and Pujols, I can’t root for the Angels. I’m tired of seeing Mike Scioscia bitching all the time about balls and strikes. I admire Scioscia as a manager and think he’s one of the best in the game, but he (and when he was managing, Bobby Cox) are two of the biggest dugout whiners and crybabies I’ve ever seen.

Meanwhile, Baltimore, down 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th, scored 4 in that inning and went on to win 7-6. Delmon Young, who while with Detroit was the ALCS MVP in 2012 against the Yankees, got revenge on his old team with a bases-loaded double. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for seeing Buck Showalter do well (as well as Donnie Mattingly with the Dodgers).

In the NLDS, a shocker. You expected a pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. The Dodgers knocked out Wainwright in taking a 6-1 lead. But then Kershaw, 21-3, 1.77 in the regular season, lost it. St. Louis got one in the sixth and 8 in the seventh and hung on for a 10-9 comeback victory in Game 1 of the NLDS. The Cardinals’ mastery of Kershaw goes back to last year’s postseason. They have his number, or maybe Kershaw is tipping his pitches and only St. Louis knows how?

In the other NLDS, the SF Giants won Game 1, 3-2 over the Washington Nationals.

Some great, great games in this postseason so far.

There was a good article I read about the Yankees noting how they really are hamstrung in trying to improve the team for 2015. Yes, you’d like to improve the offense, but how when players are tied up into long-term deals, are declining and have no-trade clauses? Or, if you CAN trade them, you won’t get equal value or will have to eat much of their expensive contracts? McCann, Teix, A-Rod, Beltran, Gardner, Ellsbury, CC… all these guys are signed up for 2015 AND BEYOND. (Also, younger guys like Tanaka are, but Tanaka is a different story…). Which means these guys have to improve on 2014’s performances. You are stuck with them. For some guys who are aging, you have to wonder if they EVER will get back to what they once were. And that is a problem.

There are rumors that Derek Jeter has a big to-do this weekend. Some call it a retirement party. Others say he’s getting married to Hannah Davis. If it IS a wedding, it’s on short notice, since Derek really, if things would have gone right, would be having an off-day today in the middle of playing in the Division Series. In another words, the original plan was for him to be playing ON the field and not OFF of it. We’ll wait for confirmation on that wedding rumor.

2015 Yankees: Image, Identity problems?

So the last of the Core Four (+ Bernie) is now gone. After farewell tours for Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, the focus won’t be on an individual player, but on the team’s performance.

Or will it?

The past two years, the focus was on two of the most respected players in baseball, and two future certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famers. The farewell vibe was good.

Two players who spent their whole career with one team. Who were leaders on and off the field. Jeter, in particular, was not only the face of the Yankees, but the face of baseball.

The Yanks may have an image problem in 2015. For who now becomes the face of the Yankees? Oh yeah, someone who is returning from a full-year suspension because of steroid abuse.

A-Rod. No Yankee in 2015 will have as much Yankee “tenure” as A-Rod.

Barry Larkin on ESPN mentioned about the lack of cohesivity with the Yanks. It’s one thing to go and sign different players each year to fill in positions. But it’s like trying to find the right piece to complete a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes the pieces don’t mesh.

With the core four and Bernie, you had cohesiveness. The extra pieces (Tino, O’Neill) fit in perfectly. But the Core Four and Bernie came up through the system. They played many years for the same team. They were leaders.

It is hard to find leaders among mercenaries. When your big names all came from other teams, who is the leader? CC, Teix, Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, A-Rod, Prado …. all brought in from elsewhere. Some, like Ellsbury, Tanaka and McCann, are too new to be leaders, and especially in the case of Tanaka, there is the language/cultural barrier.

Larkin mentioned the need for the Yanks to build from within. This may take years. There is no homegrown product, like a Mattingly, a Core Four (+ Bernie), who is a leader on this team right now. The closest thing to that would be the Yankees’ best player (according to WAR, Wins Above Replacement) of 2014—Brett Gardner.

No offense to Gardner, but do you consider him the face of and leader of the Yankees?

So who is the leader of the 2015 Yankees? Is it a guy who was suspended for all of 2014 and, let’s remember, only played in 44 games in 2013 because of his second hip surgery? A guy (A-Rod) who sued his very own union and in extension, the players themselves? His own teammates?

Here is a problem for next year’s team. The image of the Yanks will be A-Rod, and it won’t be a nice image. There will be attempts to celebrate certain accomplishments that A-Rod is looking to achieve in 2015. After all, he is just six homers from tying the great Willie Mays on the all-time list. He is 61 hits away from 3000. He is 39 RBI from 2000 and 81 runs scored from 2000.

But how “celebrated” will those achievements be? After all, they are tainted.

Is that what the “highlights” of 2015 will be? Celebrating tainted “accomplishments”?

After all, 2013 and 2014 didn’t bring much in the way of accomplishments other than the farewell tours of Mo and Derek. 85 and 84 win seasons. In both seasons, their Pythagorean records stated that they should have finished below .500 in both years. They weren’t exactly a pretty team to watch in both years, especially offensively. Often, they were flat out boring on the offensive side.

Without many true Yankees, or many who have been with the team say, longer than 2009, who becomes the leader? The face of the team?

It may very well be that it may have to be not a player, but the manager.

It may be that Joe has to be even tougher than usual. More the guy who ripped some players on Thursday. How that will play in a clubhouse of aging veterans, many with very few Yankees ties and who are, for lack of a better word, mercenaries, we won’t know. It may not go over well.

So there may be no identity or true leadership, and the face and image of the 2015 Yankees may be A-Rod.

I don’t know about you, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to.

The Yanks need to develop another Core Four + Bernie. It’s way beyond time to fix that farm system and bring up players who know and behave the Yankee way (all they have to do is follow the steps of Jeter and Mo, for example) and become leaders. It’s unfair to expect the on-the-field excellence of Jeter, Mo, Posada, Pettitte and Bernie, but the Yankees need a new image and new leader—from within. Someone who comes up through the system. Someone who becomes a star and is a true leader. Someone who becomes the face of the franchise with a good image.

Someone like Jeter and the rest of the Core Four + Bernie.

Who will it be? How long will it take?

As for now, the thought of A-Rod being the image and face of the Yankees, and maybe their “leader” doesn’t excite me in the least.

What about you?

 

Game 150. Yanks lose, 6-1.

Michael Pineda has an ERA of 2.15.

He also has a W-L record of 3-5, since the Yanks don’t hit for him. Tuesday night was no exception as the Yanks lost 6-1 to the Rays.

Pineda went 5 1/3, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 walks and 5 K. He left losing 2-1.

The bullpen didn’t keep the Yanks in the game after Pineda left.

Josh Outman 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 2.86.

Esmiel Rogers 1/3 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 0 K. Overall ERA 5.31.

Rich Hill 2 batters, 2 hits. 0 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 walks or K. Overall ERA 3.86.

David Phelps 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 0 K. 4.35.

David Huff 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 3.54.

Things got a bit heated when Derek Jeter was HBP and David Phelps threw a pitch inside in retaliation. The Rays have hit a couple batters in recent Rays/Yanks games recently, including Jeter last week as well as the pitch that hit Headley in the chin. Phelps, Girardi and coach Tony Pena were ejected.

Jeter’s 0-for string reached 26. His batting average is down to .249, a 29 point drop since August 2nd.

Earlier in the day, the Yanks lost their hottest hitter, Martin Prado, for the season due to an emergency appendectomy.

Masahiro Tanaka will test out his arm (and that hopefully-recovering torn ligament in his elbow) with a start on Sunday.

The only Yanks run in the game came on an rbi single by Ichiro in the second. They were 1 for 10 with RISP.

One other sad note: The Yanks are dead last in the AL in runs scored.

With the loss, the Yanks remain in 3rd place in the AL East (Baltimore clinched the division last evening) at 76-74, and there is a chance they may finish without a winning record for the first time since 1992. They are six out of the final playoff spot with just 12 games remaining and would have to jump four teams.

Game 148. Robertson can’t hold lead, Yanks lose 3-2.

David Robertson threw 35 pitches on Friday in one of the doubleheader games. He threw 11 Saturday in saving that game. He was brought in yesterday to save a 2-1 Yankees lead in the 9th.

You just knew what was going to happen. Robertson had nothing, gave up two runs and the Yanks lost 3-2.

On the ESPN telecast, the announcers basically said that to them, it appeared that the Yanks were basically saying “you are a free agent, we aren’t going to re-sign you, so we’ll just run you into the ground.”

Seriously, there was no one else Girardi could have brought in to get three outs? Robertson for a third straight day?

Martin Prado homered in the second, his 12th overall HR of the year, to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead. Baltimore tied it in the sixth.

Brian McCann put the Yanks up 2-1 in the top of the 9th with his 20th HR of the year.

But then Robertson gave up doubles to Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce to tie it (and see my recent post “You were saying” about Pearce, a one-time Yankee), and after a fly out, a double to Kelly Johnson (remember him? Yup, that Kelly Johnson from the Yanks earlier this year) to win it.

Kuroda went 7, 1 R, 6 H, 0 walks and 5 K. 3.81. Too bad the Yanks, like usual for this year, didn’t give any run support to a starter who pitched well.

Betances 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 1.35. His 2 K tied Mariano Rivera’s record of 130 K in a season by a Yankees’ reliever. It looks more and more like he will be the closer next year and the Yanks will let Robertson leave via free agency and take the money saved to shore up other needs. This year’s first-round draft pick, Jacob Lindgren, may wind up being the set-up man. We’ll see what happens this winter.

Robertson 1/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 walks and 0 k. He falls to 2-5, 2.93.

The Yanks fall to 76-72. They remain in third place, 12 1/2 behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East with 14 to go. They are one game behind second-place Toronto. The Orioles’ magic # for eliminating the Yanks from the division title is down to two. As far as that final playoff spot is concerned, the Yanks are five out with 14 to go and would have to jump over four teams to get there.

The Yanks finished 85-77 last year. They would need to go 9-5 in their last 14 games just to meet that mark this year. That’s what has been disappointing. They had a lot of injuries last year (Jeter and Teix both missed most of the year), and with the free agent signings of Beltran, McCann, Ellsbury and Tanaka, you thought the record would be better, or at least the same—not worse. Yes, there have been injuries this year, but still, it’s been disappointing.

Derek Jeter went 0 for 4. He is now 0 for his last 24 and down to .250 (actually, .249534, which is rounded up to .250). He did hit a couple of balls well last night, but no luck. His OPS+ is down to 70 and he’s hitting .172 since August 2nd. It makes you wish the season, and his career, were over already.

It’s not like you want Jeter’s career to be over, and yes, you’d like for a miracle to happen and for the Yanks to make the playoffs (isn’t happening) but you just don’t want Jeter to go on to the end like this. Another point fell off the lifetime batting average. He started this year at .312, and it’s down to .309.

There are 14 games to go, and how many Jeter plays in we don’t know. You’d hate to see him below .250 or even .240. You’d hate to see another point drop off that lifetime batting average.

You hope he has one or two multi-hit games left in him.

But does he?