Category Archives: Players

WS Game 1: SF, 7-1.

Maybe after winning eight straight postseason games, KC was due for a loss. In any case, the game was basically over six batters in. Pedro Sandoval doubled in a run (another potential run was thrown out at the plate on the play) and Hunter Pence followed with a 2-run HR to put the San Francisco Giants up 3-0 in the top of the first. That would be all that Madison Baumgarner would need as the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals 7-1 in Game 1 of the World Series.

Baumgarner gave up just one run on three hits in seven innings of work.

KC’s James Shields has had a rough postseason. He passed a kidney stone the other day and it may have affected his pitching. Shades of the 1980 WS when George Brett had hemorrhoids. Shields is a free agent after the season and his postseason troubles are not helping him.

Meanwhile, Yankees prospect Greg Bird, a 1B who was in High A/Double A this year, was named a player of the week in the Arizona Fall League. He’s had a great start there so far.

 

WS set: KC/SF

So the 2014 WS is set: KC vs. SF. The Royals vs. the Giants. The AL (Royals) have the home-field advantage.

On Wednesday, the amazing Royals completed a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles to win the ALCS. They have won all eight postseason games they have played this year. They hadn’t been in a postseason since 1985, when they came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to win the 1985 WS (with help from a blown call by umpire Don Denkinger). So that is 11 postseason wins in a row, granted over a span of 29 years.

Travis Ishikawa’s 3-run walk off HR gave the Giants the NL pennant last night. The Giants won the NLCS 4 games to 1. The St. Louis Cardinals had a 3-2 lead in the eighth, but Michael Morse’s PH HR tied it up. The Cards threatened and did not score in the top of the 9th, then Ishikawa’s blast in the bottom of the 9th sent the Giants into the WS.

It’ll be the third WS appearance for the Giants in the past 5 years (2010, 2012 and now 2014). The Giants won it all in 2010 and 2012. If they win this year, are they already the team of the decade? They aren’t a “powerhouse” in the traditional sense of the word, like when you think of the old Murderers Row Yankees, but three WS titles in 5 years is saying something in this day and age.

Another thing of note: both pennant winners are wild cards.

NLCS Game 2: Cards win game but may lose Molina.

The St. Louis Cardinals evened up the NLCS at a game apiece last night, winning 5-4 on a walk off HR by Kolten Wong, but may have lost something bigger.

All-Star catcher Yadier Molina left the game with a left oblique strain and may be done for the year.

The Cardinals got HRs from PH Oscar Taveras in the 7th, 1B Mike Adams in the 8th and 2B Wong in the 9th to win the back-and-forth affair with the Giants 5-4. But you wonder how much the loss of Molina hurts them going forward. The teams are off today.

The ALCS resumes tonight in KC with the Royals up 2 games to none on the Baltimore Orioles.

Team of Destiny? KC up 2-0; SF goes up 1-0.

I’m starting to wonder if KC is a team of destiny for this postseason. They won their sixth straight postseason game, doing it late like usual, albeit in regulation, not in extras this time. (Four of their six postseason wins have come in extra innings). They scored two in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie and win 6-4 on Saturday. They go home up 2 games to none in the ALCS, winning both games in Baltimore.

Meanwhile the NLCS, the visiting San Francisco Giants shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in Game 1 last night.

Good move in Cashman telling A-Rod to prepare for reps at 1B in spring training. I’m not a fan at all of A-Rod’s return, but since he’ll be 40 next July, missed all of 2014 and all but 44 games in 2013, also is coming off two hip surgeries, you wonder about EVERYTHING with him. Offense, defense, baserunning. There is no guarantee he can hit, handle 3B, etc. But the Yanks didn’t have a legit 1B backup for the fragile Teixeira last year. Kelly Johnson, moving a C to 1B (McCann/Cervelli), even sometimes putting Brendan Ryan there… not answers. At least with A-Rod you would have an experienced infielder… and hopefully power-hitting 1B, playing 1B when Teix can’t.  It beats what was attempted last year, when there was no legitimate backup to 1B.

Turning to college football, this PSU grad has to say that so far he isn’t too impressed with the new coaching staff at his alma mater. I’m not thrilled with some of the play calling this season, there isn’t a running game, for some reason big bull Zach Zwinak appears to be underutilized (the big boy may not be quick or gain too much yards/carry, but he may be able to wear down the opposition in the 4th quarter if used more often earlier in the game) and the O-line has serious issues.

Baseball resumes/Yogi/The SS search

The ALCS gets started tonight with Game 1 between Baltimore & KC. The NLCS starts tomorrow between SF and StL.

Meanwhile, sad and disturbing news. Late Tues. night or early Wed. morning, professional thieves broke into Yogi Berra’s Museum. Items stolen include his WS rings and MVP trophies. I hope the scumbags are caught soon. Their punishment should be that every Yankees fan gets a bat and one good swing at these thieves, hitting their bodies wherever.

Yogi, of course, is devastated. The 89-year-old legend lost his wife earlier this year, and now this.

Cross J.J. Hardy off your wish list for Yankees’ SS. He won’t be going into free agency. Instead he signed a 3-yr. extension with the Orioles.

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.

2014 Yanks. Part 2. The pitching.

Part 1 dealt with General and the hitting. Part 2 deals with the pitching.

Despite losing 4/5th of the rotation, the pitching held up. GM Brian Cashman made some good moves to shore up the rotation and pitching coach Larry Rothschild did a good job.

But those injuries, and, to get back to the weak offense, helped necessitate a lot of moves that made the 2014 Yankees set new team record for players used in one year.

Masahiro Tanaka was great in coming over from Japan, 13-5, 2.77. But a partial torn UCL (which has not required surgery as of yet) made him miss about 12-13 starts.

Michael Pineda was also great when he pitched. 5-5, 1.89. Unfortunately he was too often the victim of an offense which provided him no support, hence his record. Between injuries and a suspension, he missed about 20 starts.

CC Sabathia started just eight games, going 3-4, 5.28 before he needed his knee worked on. CC is a major question mark for 2015. He’ll be 35 in July of 2015, is coming off a wasted year, and since 2012 is a pedestrian 17-17 with an ERA close to 5.00. As with Teixiera, A-Rod, Beltran…. too much $ for an aging, oft-injured, declining player.

Ivan Nova needed TJ surgery and was 2-2, 8.27 in four starts. Who knows how he’ll be when he should return in mid-2015.

The only member of the opening day rotation to stay healthy was Hiroki Kuroda. The 39-year-old had an average year, 11-9, 3.77. He may retire.

Vidal Nuno tried to fill the gap and was awful. He went 2-5, 5.42 as a Yankee before being traded to Arizona for Brandon McCarthy. (Nuno had a better ERA for the D-Backs but was 0-7 for them). Give Cashman credit for this one (as well as for Headley and Prado). McCarthy was just 3-10 for Arizona but went 7-5, 2.89 for the Yanks. He is a free agent. Will the Yanks retain him?

Shane Greene was a revelation as a rookie. Forced into the rotation because of injuries, Greene was 5-4, 3.78. Decent, esp. since he never put up overwhelming numbers in the minors.

Chris Capuano was capable as a fill-in. 2-3, 4.25 in 12 starts.

David Phelps alternated between starting and relieving, going 5-5, 4.38. He was doing decent until a late-season injury derailed him. In his last 8 appearances (pre- and post-injury) his ERA was 9.24.

Chase Whitley started a few games and was decent for a while. His ERA at one time was 2.56 before hitters caught up to him and ballooned his ERA to 5.23.

I was wondering why the Yanks brought David Huff back, but give Cashman credit for this one. Huff had a 1.85 ERA in 30 games for the Yanks after the Yanks got him back from SF.

The bullpen was solid. Dellin Betances had a break-out year, 5-0, 1.40 and 135 K in 90 IP. David Robertson saved 39 games in replacing Mariano Rivera as the closer. His ERA of 3.08 wasn’t Mo-like (Mo had many years under 2.00) but was solid. Robertson had a K/9 of 13.4. Betances was 13.5. Adam Warren had an ERA of 2.97. Matt Thornton was 2.55 before he was let go. Only Shawn Kelley at 4.53 was disappointing as far as the ERA is concerned.

Esmiel Rogers was iffy filling in at the end of the year (4.68). Preston Claiborne (3.00) saw some time.

Many other pitchers got a cup of tea, so to speak, then where released. Anyone remember Jeff Francis, for example? Wade LeBlanc? Chris LeRoux?

But look at some records.

Pineda 5-5, 1.89.
McCarthy 7-5, 2.89
Robertson 4-5, 3.08
Warren 3-6, 2.97
Thornton 0-3, 2.55

Those are good ERAs, and the combined record is 19-24.

The pitching was solid. An ERA+ of 104. Not great, but very solid (100 is average, higher the better).

But the offense killed matters (OPS+ 93).

The pitching could have been even better than what they were. After all, it is hard to pitch when you know if you give up three runs that your offense won’t back you up; that you can give up 3 r in 7 IP and lose because of a poor offense.

Late in the year, it seemed that the Yanks’ pitching cracked because of all that pressure put on them by the offense.

The story for 2014: Despite a rash of injuries to the rotation, the fill-ins, particularly Greene and McCarthy, held the fort.

But the offense was just dreadful.