Tag Archives: Hunter

Game 94. Bye, Bye, Birdies. Yanks sweep series with 9-3 win.


Back in the early 1960s, there was a play and movie called Bye, Bye, Birdie. The Yanks could be thinking of that as they swept the series from Baltimore with a 9-3 win Thursday afternoon.

Tanaka reminds me of Catfish Hunter. Give up the long ball, but make sure they are solo HR and won’t beat you.

The Yanks jumped ahead early, loading the bases in the first with no one out, but after two outs  and no runs in, you wondered if they would waste an opportunity.

Nope. Chase Headley cleared the bases with a double, went to third on the play at the plate, and Didi Gregorius singled in Headley to make it 4-0.

Tanaka gave up the first of the three solo HR he gave up in the second. 4-1.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who had 3 hits today (missing the cycle by a triple) and 4 RBI, hit HR #3 of the season in the second to make it 5-1.

In the third, the Yanks made it 7-1 on an RBI double by Drew and SF by Ellsbury.

Ellsbury drove in two in the fifth to make it 9-1.

Tanaka gave up two solo dingers in the eighth before being pulled.

The win kept the Yanks 5 1/2 in front. They are now 53-41 on the season.

Besides Ellsbury’s big day (3 h, 4 rbi), Chase Headley had 2 h, 3 rbi, and 3 hits each for John Ryan Murphy and Didi Gregorius.

Tanaka (W, 7-3, 3.64) 7 2/3 IP, 3 R, 5 H,  0 walks and 7 K.

Capuano 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K, 4.60.

Pinder 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 Walks, 0 K. 2.45.

More awards, a signing, and a huge trade.

Manager of the Year Awards went out last night. Davey Johnson of Washington won for the N.L., and the A.L. award went to Bob Melvin of Oakland.

I thought Buck Showalter of Baltimore would win in the A.L., but he lost 16 first-place votes to 12. I’m not saying Melvin wasn’t deserving, but I thought Buck would get it.

Today, the CYA winners were announced. David Price of Tampa Bay edged out Detroit’s Justin Verlander for the A.L. award by just four points. The N.L.  award went to R. A. Dickey of the Mets, who became the first knuckleballer to ever win the award.

Tomorrow, the MVPs.

Torii Hunter signed a 2-yr. deal with Detroit. You would think that Hunter, winner of 9 Gold Glove awards, will help the Tiger defense, what with being next to Austin Jackson in that big outfield in Detroit. Hunter wanted 2 years, and the Yanks wouldn’t go for that, even if Swisher goes. Hunter got those 2 years, along with $26MM, from the Tigers. Hunter, who will be 38 next June (and it may be a good thing the Yanks DID NOT get him, what with their present age concerns), hit .313-16-92, OPS+ 132 for the Angels this past year. Yes, an excellent year, but you have to ask how many players 35+ you want on the Yankees.

As for the Yankees, they better watch out. Toronto made a huge trade. If the old players on the Yankees show their age, then the Yanks could very well slip to 3rd or 4th place in the A.L. East. The Blue Jays picked up a #1 AND a #2 starter from the Marlins in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, as well as an All-Star SS in Jose Reyes. They also got C John Buck and speedy utility man Emilio Bonifacio in the deal. (Reyes and Bonifacio combined for 70 SB, and Bonifacio only played in 64 games).

There is rumors that Miami isn’t done. I see on the BBD blog that the Yanks are thinking about bringing back Ibanez (I’m against it, he’ll be 41 next June) and thinking about Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins. I also see a rumor that Miami may shop Logan Morrison.

Nolasco, 29, was 12-13, 4.48, ERA+ 88 last year. I don’t want that. For his career, he is 76-64, 4.49. His 162 g. average is 14-12, 4.49. Figure in the DH league he goes something like 13-13, 4.80. That’s not good enough in my book.

I’d rather let Ibanez go and go after Morrison if the Marlins have him on the block. I appreciate what Ibanez did last year (esp. in the postseason), but he will be 41 next June. How many old players do you want on the Yankees (think Pettitte, Jeter, Rivera, A-Rod, maybe Kuroda, maybe Ichiro… Jones is most likely gone, if Chavez comes back, he is 35, Ichiro…). Morrison is 25, LF/1B. With Gardner maybe moving to CF and Granderson to LF, Morrison can DH, play RF and fill in at 1B once in a while (he seems better suited for DH, his defense isn’t good). He hit just .230-11-36 (OPS+ 91) last year, but is young, a lefty hitter, 6’3″ 240 and hopefully can use that to take advantage of the porch. He hasn’t done badly vs. lefties (.247 vs. righties and .259 vs. lefties). He hit 23 HR in 2011. His 162 g. average is .250-21-73. OPS+ 110. Younger than Ibanez, more potential, can probably put up better numbers in 2013 than Raul.

But getting back to Toronto. This is a big deal for them. Let’s face it. The Yanks have an OLD team. If the Yanks don’t watch it, they can fall to fourth place in a hurry, maybe even last. God forbid. But look at the division. Good young players in Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and now Toronto made a big move. Goodness knows how Boston will rebuild.

Yes, I know the Yanks had the best record in the league last year. But they were exposed in the playoffs.

There is a fine line between experienced, and old.

Will the Yanks inject some youth in 2013?

Slow time.

Well, there hasn’t been many posts lately for a number of reasons.

1) the season is over and we see what happens with trades/free agents.

2) Hurricane Sandy knocked my power off for 22 hours. I’m lucky. Many didn’t get power for many more days.

3) I’ve been busy. 48 hours of work this past week and 48 next. 40 Thanksgiving week and I’m not working on the holiday. 50 hour weeks the two weeks after T-Giving.

So we await on the major awards from MLB. So far, Cano and Teix got the GG, Cano and Jeter SS awards.

I don’t know what the Yanks will do yet with their free agents. They did give some qualifying offers (rejected) to Kuroda, Swish and Soriano. I expect Swish and Soriano to be gone. Kuroda is a question mark.

Martin is a free agent. I wouldn’t mind a 2-yr. deal for him, but remember, he only hit .211 last year (with 21 HR). Romine needs a full year at AAA, something his back injury prevented him from last year. So 2013 AAA, maybe 2014 back up Martin. If so, who is the backup? If Stewart, then best to trade Cervelli and see what you can get for him. Sanchez is on the come, so you don’t even know if Romine is the future. Sanchez is a few years away.

SS/3B is a problem. Jeter is 39 next June, and coming off a broken ankle. He had just 9 sb this year, his range is in question and now a broken ankle. I’d love to see Nunez figure more in the lineup for the 35-40 SB potential he brings, but where to put his horrendous defense? And A-Rod looks like a fading star. 38 next July. Do you really want a left side of the infield that has a 39 year old SS and 38 year old 3B? Guess what. You are stuck with it.

Do you bring back Kuroda and Pettitte? One will be 38 next year, the other 41 next June. Then there is Mo. He threw 25 pitches off a mound for a commercial. Good sign, but he will be 43 in a few weeks. Ibanez is on the block. 41 next year. Jones 35. Chavez 35. Who comes back?

This team MUST get younger.

Meanwhile, Toronto mgr. Farrell goes to Boston. Toronto is looking. One-time A’s SS Walt Weiss is now the Rockies’ mgr. Mark McGwire leaves St. Louis to become the Dodgers’ new hitting coach.

The Mets and Jason Bay reach an amicable divorce. That didn’t work out.

College Football: Darrell Royal died at age 88. He won 3 national titles for Texas in the 1960’s (although, as a PSU grad, I’ll dispute that 1969 one).

Lee MacPhail, who was the Yanks’ GM in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, died at the age of 95. His dad (Larry) owned the Yanks for a brief time (1945-1947). Lee later became the A.L. President and it was he who made the Pine tar ruling.

The Yanks are thinking of flip-flopping Granderson and Gardner, moving the Grandy Man to LF. If they bring Ichiro (39) back for RF, they’ll have a speedy and good defensive OF, but having Ichiro AND Gardner cuts into your power.

If Torii Hunter really wants $20 mil over 2 years, count the Yanks out. He is 37 so it wouldn’t fit the “getting younger” plan.

I worry about next year. Too much age.

As for 6-4 PSU, I’m happy with the job Bill O’Brien has done. It’ll get much harder after this year. I see an offense that has come out of the stone age. Under very difficult circumstances, he has done a good job.

A strange year. My faves are Rivera and Polamalu (Steelers fan) and between the two, I don’t get to see them on the field what with injuries. I’m happy the Steelers are 5-3. They should beat KC tomorrow night, they should reach the playoffs.

But anyone doubting the Texans needs to be aware of them. Houston is for real.

Baseball passings and free agency

Pascual Perez was killed in an armed robbery at his home. Perez, 55, went 3-4, 2.87 in 17 starts for the Yankees in 1990-1991. For his career, he was 67-68, 3.44, ERA+ 110 from 1980-1985, 1987-1991 with the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees. He had drug problems throughout his career. In the 1982 NLCS he was 0-1, 5.19. He won 15 in 1983 for the Braves (All-Star) and 14 the year after. His brother Melido pitched for the Yankees 1992-1995, going 33-39, 4.06 during that period.

Dave May, an OF with the Orioles, Brewers (twice), Braves, Rangers and Pirates from 1967-1978, died at the age of 68. He was once traded for Henry Aaron (when the Brewers traded for Aaron at the end of his career to return him to Milwaukee to DH). In 1973 May was an all-star with the Brewers (.303-25-93, 8th in MVP voting) and he hit .251 in his career.

OF/1B Champ Summers died at the age of 66. He hit .255 from 1974-1984 with the A’s, Cubs, Reds, Tigers, Giants and Padres. He last played for the 1984 pennant-winning Padres.

Free agents:

Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract. We’ll see if he returns. Meanwhile, it’s not certain whether Mariano Rivera is returning. He turns 43 at the end of this month and is coming off ACL surgery.

If Nick Swisher departs (free agent), there has been rumors of the Yanks possibly pursuing Torii Hunter on a one or two year deal as a stopgap until kids like Tyler Austin are ready. Hunter is 37.

Which creates a problem. Most of the Yankees free agents are old. Never mind Jeter and A-Rod both signed for next year (when they turn 39 and 38 midseason). You have Mo at 43. Pettitte will be 41 next year. Do you bring back Kuroda at 38? Ichiro at 39? Chavez at 35? Ibanez 41 next year and Jones 35 are old. What about them?

Martin is also a free agent. CC will be 33.

Of course I want the team to win. But there is no getting around the fact that the Yankees are getting long in the tooth. They need to get younger, and soon if not now. But how to gently get rid of legends like Mo, Pettitte and Jeter (I’m not suggesting dumping them, but one day the page has to be turned).

Of course, it doesn’t say much for your farm system if 40 year olds still outperform 25 year olds.


Remembering another New Year’s Eve

12/31/74. Was it really that long ago?


Amid the bowl games, and just a few days after I became a teenager, amidst the anticipation of a new year, came the word….

Catfish Hunter is signing with the Yankees.

Of course, people thought that it was a one-time deal. The peculiars of Catfish’s situation. They were shocked at the years and the amount. Later, with the decision in the Messersmith/McNally case, people learned that free agency was here to stay.

When you look at that “class of 1976/1977” and see what people signed for then, compared to now, who’d have thought that in the mid-1970s?

Charlie Finley wanted everyone to be a free agent every year. He thought it would keep prices down and limit the bidding. He was probably right. Marvin Miller was scared of it.

Catfish is long gone, killed by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Gone much too soon.

Catfish's grave

But 36 years ago tonight… who’d have thought?


Wishing you all a great 2011.   

Can A.J. save the Yankees?

A.J. Burnett had a terrible season. 10-15. 5.26. You don’t know what he will give you today as the Yankees could fall into a 3-1 hole in this ALCS with a loss today.

But it is just one game. It there concern because it is A.J.? Certainly, and justifiably so. But it’s not time for panic over A.J. Remember that some postseason pitching stars in 2006 were the following: Oliver Perez, Anthony Reyes and Jeff Weaver. I’ll leave it to you to check out their 2006 regular season statistics. They were as ugly and uglier than Burnett’s were this year.

Burnett did go 1-0 with an ERA of 2.50 vs. the Rangers this year. He did have 17 K in 18 IP. If he can do that today… I understand the call for CC to go on short rest. The fans and media have been beating that drum for a while. But I wonder if those beating that drum know those numbers? A.J. is 4-3, 3.66 vs. Texas in his career.

Go back. Check out Perez, Reyes and Weaver’s 2006 regular season vs. postseason.

Rangers vs. Burnett: Only Murphy (.294, 5 for 17) has a BA over .250 against him. 

Say the Rangers go with this. Here are the averages against A.J.  Molina .200, 1 for 5; Moreland 0 for 2; Kinsler .200; Andrus .214; Young .250; Vlad .240 12 K; Cruz .143, 2 for 14 with 8 K; Hamilton .250; Murphy .294.   

So yes, A.J. can get it done. Will he?

We are talking one game. One. Can A.J. suck it up and give one good game? The rust worries me. He hasn’t pitched since October 2nd.

Yankees fans maybe should be more concerned with the offense than with A.J. today. For A.J. may come out and throw a gem to no avail. Take away that 5-run comeback inning in Game One and two Robbie Cano HRs, and you are left with one run. ONE. Teixeira is oh for the ALCS and 4 for 36 vs. the Rangers this year. Swisher is 4 for 40 vs. Texas this year. Alex is 2 for 13 in the ALCS.

I wonder if Cervelli starts today with Burnett on the mound. If so, I’d really shake up the lineup. I wouldn’t want Gardner and Cervelli both at the bottom.

Besides, Posada isn’t doing much. Yes, he can jack a mistake whereas Cervelli (1 career HR) can’t. But defensively, Cervelli may be a better call. Maybe Cervelli’s energy wakes the team up. And Posada is 6 for his last 45 with 21 strikeouts. Lordy, Cervelli could do that.

With this offense struggling, and a day game after a night game, maybe take a chance. Move Gardner to the leadoff spot. Bench Jorge for a game and use Cervelli with A.J. on the mound. Heck, I’d even drop Teixeira in the lineup. Berkman has a hot bat (2 for 4 in Game 2 ALDS, double and HR; 1 for 3 in Game 2 ALCS and the only RBI outside of Cano’s 2 HR and the 5-run inning). I know Girardi won’t do it, but I go with the hot hand and drop the cold Teixeira and Swisher down in the lineup as shown below. It’s small sample size but here are the numbers vs. Hunter. Anyway, something needs to be done to the SLUMBERING LUMBER.

Gardner 0 for 2
Jeter 2 for 3, 2 RBI
Cano 2 for 5
Alex 0 for 4, 3 K. Given that A-Rod is 2 for 13 in the ALCS, not good. But you can’t drop everybody down in the lineup.   
Berkman never faced Hunter
Teixeira 1 for 3 (and 4 for 36 vs. Texas in 2010)
Swisher  0 for 3 (that 4 for 40 vs. Texas in 2010)
Granderson 4 for 6, 1 HR, 1 RBI (so I’d expect him 2nd in usual lineup vs. righties)
Cervelli 1 for 1 with an RBI (another case for him today instead of Posada?)

Posada has never faced Hunter.

Hunter is 0-1, 6.75 vs. the Yankees in his career. 7 R in 9 1/3 but 12 K. 0-0, 3.60 vs. the Yankees this year.

Gripe all you want about A.J. starting. His numbers are good. We don’t know if Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde shows up today. The leash will be short.

But if the Bombers keep hitting like Bronx Banjo Hitters playing the song Slumbering Lumber, the choice of who’s the starter won’t matter anyway.

Final thoughts for now:

My local newspaper is something I get basically only for the local news. I’ve perceived Philly butt-kissing (every Monday in the fall, it’s Eagles on the front page, no matter what. Like there aren’t more important things going on in the world). A very anti-NY sentiment. I’ve noticed that for 40 years. But today was just ridiculous. The sports section had last night’s ALCS news and remarks on it on page 5. Yes, the Phils and Eagles news were on the first page of the sports section…as well as a story on salmon fishing. Yes. Salmon Fishing in NY on page one of the sports section. The ALCS on page 5. You gotta be kidding me.

Lee became the first pitcher with three 10-strikeout games in a single postseason. Not even Koufax or Gibson did it (Gibby did have three in a row, but spread over 1967 and 1968).     



Were the Joba rules in vain? … and a NY doo-wop legend passes away.

I had the privilege of seeing Johnny Maestro in concert twice, and met him backstage once. I have a greatest-hits album signed by him. Brooklyn-born  Johnny Mastrangello had an angelic voice. Great showman, wonderful guy. Maestro died Wednesday night at the age of 70.

Maestro began his career with the Crests, whose biggest hit came in early 1959 with 16 candles (#2 for 2 weeks). Six Nights a Week, The Angels Listened In, Step by Step and Trouble in Paradise all hit the top 40 in 1959 and 1960. The Crests were one of the first interracial acts in music history.

A regional hit was My Juanita. Maestro left the Crests, and went solo for a time, hitting the top 40 in 1961 with Model Girl and What a Surprise. Later, he hooked up with members of the Del-Satins, who had once backed up Dion. After spending a little time with them, they eventually merged with a group called the (great name) Rhythm Method. This new combined group took on a new name—The Brooklyn Bridge.

The Bridge had one major hit, 1969’s The Worst That Could Happen, which hit #3 early that year. Other minor hits included Welcome Me Love; Blessed is the Rain; Your Husband, My Wife (controversial at the time); and a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Now to baseball…Since Phil won the #5 spot, and Joba is bullpen bound (as the 8th inning setup guy, where some believe he should have stayed?) were the Joba Rules for naught? What about Hughes limits?

I don’t think the Joba rules were for naught at all. Nor am I concerned over limiting Hughes. You have to remember that neither has reached their 25th b/day yet, and the Yanks do want to be cautious about what can be called their two most prized young pitching prospects. After all, the Yanks have not developed a rotation mainstay since Andy Pettitte; much too long in my opinion. It’s one thing to drop a Joba back into the bullpen to dominate. We saw that with Hughes last year and hopefully Joba does that this year. It’s another to develop one as a starter. Much more difficult. Before relegating one to the bullpen, you have to see if he can be a starter first. You just have to, especially at that age. Having ten to fifteen year rotation mainstays, like a Pettitte, is a nice luxury, and protecting them so that they can BE those kind of long-time mainstays is a necessity.

Old-timers may scoff at the overprotection. They correctly point to pitchers of the past who continuously threw over 300 innings but forget some things. Yes, Warren Spahn gave 245 or more innings every year from 1947-1963. But they forget that that streak began when Spahn was 26. Spahn lost three years to WWII.

Yes, Robin Roberts tossed 300 or more innings from 1950-1955. In 1956, Roberts went 19-18, 4.45 in 297.1 IP (ERA+ just 81) at the age of 29. He really wasn’t the same again. Consider this. Roberts was 286-245 in his career. In those six years from 1950-1955, Roberts was 138-78. For the rest of his career he was 148-167. This isn’t to disparage Roberts’ HOF career. It is to say that Roberts’ HOF numbers were primarily built on SIX of the 19 seasons he pitched. Did the six seasons of tremendous overwork hurt his 1956-1966 output? Probably.

Catfish Hunter was just 29 in 1975 when he pitched 328 innings for the Yanks—after pitching 318 for the 1974 A’s. In 1976, Hunter pitched 298.2 innings, going just 17-15, 3.53. ERA+ just 98. From 1977-1979, the last three years of his career, Hunter was just 23-24. He had to retire at the age of 33. For all the talk about the olden days, Roberts and Hunter aren’t brought up, are they?

More. What about Don Drysdale? His last pitch came just after he turned 33. From 1962-1965 he tossed 300 or more innings each of those years. Mel Stottlemyre threw his last pitch at the age of 32. He tossed 250 or more innings in every single season from 1965-1973.  

I guess the question is on investment. With so much more invested salary-wise in the players today, burning out a pitcher for short-term goals vs. trying to maximize investment over the long-term is a more important issue today. It’s why I think the Joba Rules or Hughes Limitations aren’t for naught.

You hope both realize their full potential—for as long as they can—in whatever role is suited best for them.

The 25 man roster for Opening Day…not much more than a week away, hasn’t been set, but we can pretty much figure it out now.

SP- CC, AJ, Andy, Vazquez and Hughes
RP-Aceves, Park, Mitre, Robertson, Marte, Joba and Mo.
C-Posada and Cervelli.
INF-Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Pena
OF-Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Winn, Thames.

The only questions I have are that I hope Posada doesn’t drop off (38 years old). He’s fighting Father Time here. Will it be one or two lefties in the bullpen? Above is only one. Will a righty be dropped for Logan or Ring to be a second lefty in the ‘pen? If so, who is dropped? It appears as if there will be just the one lefty. Lastly, Thames hasn’t done anything in spring training so far. When will he pick it up? If he doesn’t pick it up, will the Yanks look at another righty bat off the bench (no, I don’t see them going after Jermaine Dye). Could they then see what David Winfree would give them? Make a deal with the Dodgers to get Jamie Hoffmann back? I’d expect them, if Thames fails, to take a less expensive route than Jermaine Dye. I think that they would want someone who would be more apt to accept a bench role than Dye, and also someone with more speed and better defense than Dye (36) would give.