Category Archives: Managers and Coaches

Game 44. Yanks fall to .500.

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Sorry for the late post. I was at last night’s game and got home around 2 a.m.

As a result, there will be NO minor league report from Sunday’s games.

On a night when Bernie Williams’ #51 was retired, and Derek Jeter made his first trip back to Yankee Stadium since his retirement, the Yanks continued their funk, losing their tenth game in their last eleven (sixth in a row) to fall to 22-22, even .500. They remain in 2nd place in what is so far a weak AL East, 1 1/2 games back.

The ingredients for a loss were as follows: mental and physical lapses in the field (2B Jose Pirela), a starting pitcher who couldn’t give you five innings (Capuano), an offense that for the fourth time in eleven games gave you two runs in the first inning and nothing thereafter, and a bullpen that let a close game slip away.

Jose Pirela made a mental mistake on the first play of the game, and the batter almost reached because Pirela was too lackadaisical in fielding a ground ball. The play was only called an out upon review. Pirela then booted the next ball. When Prince Fielder doubled to score the run, it appeared as if there was a play at the plate, but Pirela’s throw home on the relay wasn’t good. Pirela was only charged with one error, but had made three bad plays, and Texas had an unearned run.

The Yanks got two in the first when Gardner (who has been slumping badly…down to .279, .196 since May 9)  reached on an error, then Headley singled. Gardner however, was thrown out at third on Headley’s single. Maybe it was a case of over-aggressiveness, of someone trying to make things happen while his team is in the midst of a losing streak, but there you have it. A-Rod singled, and after a ground out that moved up the runners, McCann singled in two runs to make it 2-1 Yankees.

But in the second, on a 2-2 pitch with two out and a runner on, Capuano gave up a 2-run HR that hit the top of the wall and bounced over. One strike away from getting out of the inning and …. …. I suspect Capuano, who in two starts has given a total of 7 1/3 innings, will be the one pulled when Tanaka or Nova become ready. The Yanks need a starter who’ll give more innings than Capuano has provided so far.

It remained that way, 3-2, for a while, but the Yanks’ offense (minus Beltran, who has the flu, the slumping Young (.240, 2 for his last 28, played CF and Garrett Jones was in RF)) couldn’t do anything and the Yanks’ bullpen gave up two in the seventh to seal their doom.

It is a good thing Girardi has some job security. I’m blaming none of this on him, it’s the players, but it may be a good thing if he (or Hal Steinbrenner, who was there for the Bernie ceremony) ripped into the players after the game. Hal, especially, should pull a page from his dad’s playbook. Losing ten out of eleven is not acceptable. A lesser manager than Girardi may be on the hot seat. But these players need to be held accountable, especially with some of the bad mental errors they are currently making out there.

It doesn’t get any easier. The defending AL champion Royals are in now, and the Yanks are heading west soon.

They have gone from 21-12 to 22-22. That should be a wake up call to tell them to pull their heads out of their you-know-where’s.

The good news is that in a weak division so far, losing ten out of eleven—even this early—hasn’t buried them. There is time to right the ship, and it needs to be done now.

Capuano (L, 0-2, 7.36) 4 1/3 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 0 walks, 4 K.
Shreve 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 0 K. 3.00
Wilson 1/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 5.79.
Betances 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 0.00
Carpenter 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 5.19.
Miller 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 0.93.

I was kind of hoping, but didn’t get, the MLB debut of Jacob Lindgren, who was brought up yesterday. Brandon Pinder was sent down after having thrown 48 pitches on Saturday.

Game 41. Slump continues as Yanks lose, 3-2.

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Sometimes over a course of a season, you question a manager’s moves. I have to do that here with the Yanks’ 3-2 loss to the Nats last night.

In the top of the seventh, in a 2-2 game,  Joe Girardi let Adam Warren hit for himself. Warren then coughed up the lead and the game in the bottom of the inning. Granted, Warren was pitching well (from LOHUD: Warren had retired 13 of the past 15 batters before that seventh inning when an error and two walks loaded the bases) except for the two solo HR he gave up. But I might have PH there. Joe decided to save his pinch-hitters for later. I can see that, but it didn’t work out. Besides, there were two out anyway and no one on when he let Warren bat for himself.

I’m just saying that I might have PH there, knowing that Warren was not used to going that deep into games. But horses for courses…

The only other time in his career Warren started a game and pitched into the seventh inning was in his previous start. He isn’t used to it. Granted, it’s nice to get him to do so, but I’d rather see him do it for the first or second time in a game where he has a cushion, not in a 2-2 game. I was wondering why Girardi didn’t PH for him at the time and was really wondering why after Warren coughed up the lead and game in the bottom of the inning.

As a result, the Yanks lost their seventh game in their last eight. Amazingly, they are still tied for first with a 22-19 record as they hit the quarter pole of the season. It looks like 90 wins may be enough to win this division, maybe less.

For the third time (I think) in this slump, the Yanks scored two runs in the first inning and nothing thereafter. Gardner singled, Beltran doubled him home, was moved to third on a groundout and McCann hit a SF. After that, nothing.

The home plate umpire made a few questionable calls. Washington’s Bryce Harper and manager Matt Williams were ejected. The last pitch of the game, a called strike three to A-Rod, looked awful as well.

After the Yanks scored two in the top of the first, Warren gave up solo dingers in the bottom of the first and in the fourth. The winning run was unearned due to an error by Headley, whose defense this year has been disappointing so far. Nine errors in 1/4 of the season.

Warren 6 1/3 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 h, 4 walks and 4 K. (L , 2-3, 4.26)
Wilson 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 4.97.
Rogers 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 2 K. 3.12.

The Yanks are off today. They come back home after a brutal road trip (2-7) to face the Rangers this weekend. I’ll be up at the Sunday night game. Before that game, the Yanks will honor Bernie Williams and retire his #51.

No game today or Thursday…in between, no DH.

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The Yanks are off today (Monday) and are also off on Thursday. In between, they have two games in Washington, D.C. against the Nationals, which means no DH.

Which means that Joe Girardi will have to decide if Alex Rodriguez plays the field.

Making the decision more complicated is whether Mark Teixeira will be ready to go in those games (see the update below). Teix was removed from Sunday’s loss against KC with a bone contusion on his toe after being HBP.

Which means that if he can’t go Tuesday or Wednesday, the Yanks lose the DH and their top HR hitter.

Which means if A-Rod doesn’t play the field, the Yanks lose their top TWO HR hitters.

Going into Sunday’s game (in which they were shutout), the Yanks were hitting .247 as a team. The offense has struggled lately as the Yanks have lost five of their last six. You want to stop that bad momentum. Losing the DH won’t help stop it.

If Alex doesn’t play 1B or 3B (with Headley sliding over to 1B), and Teix can’t play 1B, then it’s up to Garrett Jones to play 1B. Jones has disappointed so far in 37 AB (.162-0-1). Teix and Alex have 21 of the Yanks’ 46 HR.

The Yanks, going into Sunday, were 9th in the league in batting average, but 2nd in HR. Losing both Teix and Alex for the two-game series against the Nationals would be a huge blow. The Yanks were third in the AL in walks. The top two guys on the team in drawing walks? You got it—-Teix and Alex.

If Alex doesn’t take the field against the Nats,  and Teix can’t go, you could be looking at:

Ellsbury CF
Gardner LF
Beltran 1B
McCann C
Headley 3B
Jones 1B
Drew 2B
Gregorious SS
The Pitcher

Hmmm. Going into Sunday, Beltran was at .233, McCann .237, Headley .228, Jones .162, Drew .183 and Gregorious .210.

Now throw in the pitcher.

If Teix can’t play, Girardi’s decision may have to be to play A-Rod in the field.

There may be no other choice against a Nationals team that boasts Scherzer, Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez among its starters. Granted that Strasburg has struggled (2-4, 6.06) and Doug Fister is on the DL, but…

If Alex DOES sit, it would be a good time for the bottom of the lineup—Drew and Didi Gregorious, to snap out of it.

Heck, it would be a good thing in any case. The two combined are at about .200. Now they are hitting before a pitcher, and you can’t expect much there. Which means if they continue as they are, you are basically giving away three innings in each of these games.

Hopefully the offense picks it up.

Update: Girardi states that Teix is day-to-day and will probably play against the Nationals. That is good news. For if he wasn’t ok, you can see above what the ramifications would have been. Still, losing Alex as DH will hurt.

 

Game 30. Yanks edge O’s 5-4

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Carlos Beltran has had a tough time as a Yankee. Last year he hit just .233-15-49 while missing about 1/3 of the season with an elbow injury. Even after last night’s game, he is .191-0-11 for this season. His OPS+ (100 is average) was 97 last year and is just 50 now. He hasn’t homered in what seems like forever. Stuck on 373 for his career.

That is why a bases-loaded, 2-run double by Beltran last night hopefully can kick start Beltran back to some semblance to being the old Beltran. At the time, it gave the Yanks a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the third. The Yanks needed it. They hung on to win 5-4 to go to 19-11 on the season. The are in first place in the AL East by three games.

In the first, the red-hot Ellsbury and Gardner (.362 and .326 respectively) set the table again. Ellsbury singling and Ellsbury doubling him to third. A-Rod’s SF (career RBI 1988) drove in one run and McCann’s 2-run HR (3) made it 3-0.

Beltran’s double in the third increased to lead to 5-0 but starter Adam Warren had a disappointing outing when he had to be pulled one out short of qualifying for the win. Manager Joe Girardi had to use the bullpen, and they hung on. Betances and Miller, who have been carrying the Yankees, did it again.

Warren 4 2/3 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 3 walks and 2 K. 4.65
Wilson 1 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 k. 4.22
Martin 1 IP, 0 R,  2H, 1 walk and 0 K. 3.55
Betances (W, 4-0) 1 1/3 IP 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K. 0.00
Miller (13th save) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 0.00.

 

New bio on Billy Martin out

Recently, I got a book sent to me in the mail. An advance copy. It is about 500 pages, and from what I’ve skimmed through so far, it may be the most definitive biography of Billy Martin there is.

The book is Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington (HMH, $30.00).

Billy was a complex character. No bio on Billy would be a short one and this one is about 500 pages. It appears well worth it.

Chisox great Minoso dead at 89.

In a few days, I’ll be starting the daily S.T. games with the scores and recaps.

Just five weeks ago, Chicago lost a legend in Cubs great Ernie Banks. Now White Sox fans have lost a legend in Minnie Minoso, who died today at the age of 89.

Minoso was the first black to play for a Chicago team. He started his career with Cleveland (1949, 1951) went to the White Sox (1951-1957), back to Cleveland (II, 1958-1959), back to the White Sox (II, 1960-1961), the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962, Washington Senators 1963 and the White Sox 1964, 1976 and 1980. Yes, you read that right. At the age of 50, Minoso went 1 for 8 in 1976 for the White Sox as a publicity stunt (play in 4 decades) and he was 0 for 2 in 1980 at age 54 to have him play in 5 decades.

Primarily a LF, Minoso had a 162 g. ave. of .298-16-90 with 18 SB and an OPS+ of 130. Four times he finished 4th in MVP voting, and he finished 8th another year. He was an All-Star in seven different years, a 3x Gold Glove winner, and led the league in hits once, doubles once, triples 3x, SB 3x, total bases once and getting HBP 10x. He hasn’t made the HOF yet and never appeared in a postseaso game.

Besides getting a new Marty Appel book, I also am receiving a new bio on Billy Martin. Here is the press release…

This spring, award-winning New York Times sportswriter Bill Pennington offers the clear-eyed and quintessential biography of one of the most hauntingly mercurial and endearing characters in the history of sport. “BILLY MARTIN: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 7, 2015) presents Martin’s almost unimaginable ascent from hard-punching Bay Area ragamuffin to purveyor of the art of baseball cheered by millions, friend of the cultural elite of his era, and regular on the back pages of the New York tabloid newspapers.
From his early playing years as the firebrand second baseman of the perennial champion New York Yankees to his years as a journeyman manager, he had his way (aka “Billy Ball”). And Billy’s way was like no one else. It was a magnificent combination of learned baseball knowledge and intuitive logic mixed with incredible guts. He was a cunning strategist. He was a winner. Martin had a beautiful baseball mind and was in love with the game. He became alive just before the first pitch of every game, but over a quarter of a century after his tragic death, his demons—alcoholism, insecurity, paranoia, womanizing, fisticuffs, and risky behavior—have tragically come to define him. Until now.
Across the decades, Pennington addresses the fractured depiction of Billy Martin and completes the story of this complicated, but compassionate and endearing man beyond the many hires and firings, brawls and brouhahas, and other episodes within his decades-long tumult outside the lines. His genius, however flawed, is not properly appreciated or understood, but Pennington takes great pains to rectify that. For the first time, Pennington spent time with all four of Martin’s wives to generate the complete portrait of the man. No other journalist or biographer has received this much access. Martin’s was a dynamic, memorable life of accomplishment and great baseball.
 “BILLY MARTIN” also covers:
  • How he was ridiculed for his overly large nose and jug ears in his youth, helping develop his quick trigger
  • His claim that he “never started a fight in his life”
  • The importance of Kenney Park in Martin’s baseball life
  • The original odd couple: Unlikely buddies Joe DiMaggio and Billy Martin
  • How he hobnobbed with the cultural icons of his generation: Frank Sinatra, Rock Marciano, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Gleason, and Lucille Ball, among many others
  • His use of amphetamine tablets during his playing days
  • His close relationship with Casey Stengel
  • The friendships with Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle
  • The story behind the infamous fight at the Copacabana in 1957
  • The strategic marketing plan of the Yankees front office to cast Billy as an unwelcome influence on Mantle
  • The depth of the heartbreak after his trade from the Yankees in 1957
  • Billy magical managerial triumphs for teams in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas and Oakland
  • The affect of the dugout conflict with Reggie Jackson on national TV in 1977
  • Reggie’s claims of Martin’s bigotry
  • The never-ending circuslike atmosphere of 1977
  • The hypnotic and surreal love-hate Billy-George-Reggie triangle
  • The classic Miller Lite commercials
  • How juggling wives and paramours was a major distraction during his career
  • Accounts that some of the women he dated were underage
  • His reputation as a one-year manager
  • The bizarre moments of the 1983 season including Brett’s pine tar home run and Winfield’s dead sea gull
  • The emotional Billy Martin Day in 1986
  • Blow by blow of his well-known fight with Yankees’ pitcher Ed Whitson
  • Whether he should be considered for Cooperstown.
  • The account of a secret meeting with Steinbrenner, where the plan to re-hire Martin again in 1990 was devised
  • Whether Billy was the driver or passenger in his fatal car crash
  • Jill Martin—Billy’s widow—breaks her silence 25 years later about the final moments of Martin’s life

 

 

 

Odds and Ends.

Some odds and ends.

I saw an article that stated that according to insiders, Manager Joe Girardi did broach the subject of dropping Derek Jeter down in the batting order last season. Jeter hit just .256-4-50, OPS+ just 75 in his final season. The idea was shot down by upper management, and apparently Jeter wouldn’t go for moving him out of the #2 slot in the order either. Girardi knew that to do so would open a can of worms, so before it even hit the media, he apparently went through upper management and possibly Jeter himself. Would dropping Jeter have benefitted the Yanks? Possibly. Enough to make the playoffs? Possibly not. Enough to make the playoffs and soothe Jeter’s ego? Possibly not. But it’s interesting to note that the idea of dropping Derek (where to? 8? 9?) was considered.

Jason Giambi retired. He was with the Yanks from 2002-2008, hitting 209 of his 440 HR as a Yankee. Giambi, 44, hit 440 HR in his career, hit .277 with an excellent OPS+ of 139, won an MVP award with the A’s in 2000, was runner-up in 2001, and is one of five Yankees with back-to-back 40 HR seasons (2002 and 2003). He hit two homers off of Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. He won’t make the HOF however, because of his admitted PED usage and BALCO connection. It’s said he is a great teammate, and Terry Francona, manager of the Indians (Giambi’s most recent team) states that Giambi is a “manager in waiting.” His 162 g. average was .277-32-103, OPS+ 139, with 98 walks.

Alex Rodriguez issued a written “apology.” Really, I don’t want to hear it. Who believes anything he says or does anymore? He’s exhausted all credibility. Really, A-Rod, shut up and play. Show us you have something, if anything, left. It’s noted that he was suspended for all of 2014. What’s forgotten is that he played in only 44 games in 2013 and even then looked on the downside.

The Yanks signed Jared Burton to a minor league deal. The righty reliever is 33 and went 3-5, 4.36, ERA+ 91 in 2014 for the Twins with three saves. For his career he is 18-19, 3.44, 10 saves, ERA+ 123.  A depth move. He was 3-2 with a superb 2.18 ERA (ERA+ 189) and five saves for the Twins in 2012.

When I get time (I’ve been doing my taxes, need to do other family members taxes, working (of course) and …. well, shoveling snow and freezing my ass off…) I want to look at the future. I expect the Yanks to tread water for a while, but to me, the 2020 team could be interesting. Players (top prospects) would be in their primes (providing they prove MLB caliber players and aren’t traded away), old guys like CC, Teix, Beltran and A-Rod gone (maybe McCann as well)….it could be interesting to look at what could be the Yankee future. Stay tuned. Hopefully when Yoan Moncada signs (before the end of this month) I can include him on that 2020 future team I want to write about. Will the Yanks fork over the $$$$ to land Moncada?