It’s All Over

I just watched Joe Torre’s postgame press conference and hearing him refer to the Yankees future as “their future” and not “our future” made me sick. Great job by the fans chanting his name in the 8th when he came out and made the pitching change and he deserves better than this ending.

But, this is the way it will end. In the next few days, I fully expect the Yankees to let him go. After that, who knows what happens. Will Posada and Mo want to play in New York without Joe? Will Pettitte stay if he has to play under a new manager? What’s going to happen with A-Rod?

All of those quesions are going to be vital to the 2008 Yankees and while we don’t know a lot of the answers right now, I think we can all agree on the overall need. This team has to get younger and has to find a way to get players who are on the way up and not the way down joining the organization. Getting rid of Torre and all of the questions with the roster offer uncertainty but also opportunity. Heading into 2008 we know the Yankees have the biggest resources in the game and they finally have some young pitchers who should anchor the rotation going forward. This is a moment for sadness, but it can also be a moment to cement the foundations of the next dynasty. That is what I will address over the next few days, after I am done mourning.

Rocket Out, Villone Back

The Yankees have done the smart move and subtracted Roger Clemens from the roster.  Under the new rules, he now has to miss the ALCS, which he probably would have anyway.  In his place, the Yankees have added Ron Villone.  My understanding is they didn’t want to add Kennedy because he isn’t with the team and he was away getting married this weekend.  I imagine he will be in the mix if the Yankees make the ALCS.  So, the choice came down to Ramirez, Villone and Britton who were all with the team.  I think Villone is a good move because it gives them a lefty and he can probably go the most innings of anyone in this group.

As for the lineup, Giambi is back to the bench and Mientkiewicz is in.  This is the standard move when Wang is pitching, so it isn’t a surprise.  Matsui is the DH again with Damon in left. 

The Yankees have a great chance tonight with Byrd on the mound, talk to you after the game.   

 

Still Standing

That was quite a game.  Phil Hughes showed why he is going to be a very, very good starter for the next 10+ years and the Yankees survived a horrible start by Roger Clemens.  Kudos to Damon for a home run that totally turned things around and kudos to Alex Rodriguez for getting two hits to shut everyone up.

Now, the Yankees have some interesting choices to make.  Torre announced the first big one tonight in his postgame press conference, Chien-Ming Wang will start for New York.  Eric Wedge is sticking to Paul Byrd and this is obviously a matchup the Yankees should be able to take advantage of.  

Bigger than that is the decision of what to do with Clemens.  Under the new rules, Clemens can be replaced on the ALDS roster tomorrow, but it would mean he cannot pitch in the ALCS.  If I were the Yankees, I make the move.  The ALCS is something to worry about after Wednesday, go get Kennedy back from his wedding and add him to the roster. 

Tomorrow night should be electric in the Bronx and I can’t wait for the game.  Talk to you Monday.   

Advanced Placement

The Red Sox advanced to the ALCS riding the pitching performance of Curt Schilling.  The Angels are a far better team than we saw in the ALDS, but injuries kept them in check.  Despite a line-up that wasn’t up to speed, credit has to go to the Red Sox pitching staff for allowing only 3 runs in the series.

Schilling certainly isn’t the pitcher he was even 2 years ago.  His velocity tops out at around 90 and his off-speed pitches have lost zip too.  But, he has become a better pitcher as a result instead utilizing placement and change of speed to keep batter off balance.  Not that Schilling was a gun slinger in his prime, rather he has just had to tighten things up a bit this year.  While the results were outstanding, you can tell there might be something wrong with Schilling based on his mound presence.  He takes a ton of time between pitches and doesn’t look completely comfortable.  Or maybe he is just taking more time because he knows he has to be more precise.  Or the 3rd, most likely theory is that I’m full of it and don’t know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, with an opponent TBD, here is the ALCS schedule.

Game Matchup Day Date Time ET TV
Gm 1 TBD @ BOS Fri Oct. 12 TBD FOX
Gm 2 TBD @ BOS Sat Oct. 13 TBD FOX
Gm 3 BOS @ TBD Mon Oct. 15 TBD FOX
Gm 4 BOS @ TBD Tue Oct. 16 TBD FOX
Gm 5* BOS @ TBD Thu Oct. 18 TBD FOX
Gm 6* TBD @ BOS Sat Oct. 20 TBD FOX
Gm 7* TBD @ BOS Sun Oct. 21 TBD FOX
* – if necessary

The best part of today’s win was the fact that it gives everyone some time off.  The Red Sox have 4 days off.  The bad news about this win is that Red Sox are now entering an ALCS being televised by Fox.  You know what that means, right?  Yup, Tim McCarver.  At least Brandon Arroyo isn’t on the team anymore.

I found some of his doozies on this site.  Here are a few samples:

2004 ALCS, Game 5? Red Sox vs. Yankees . David Ortiz hit a home run into right field.  Tim: "Mt. Everest erupts again!"…..too bad Mt. Everest isn’t a volcano! 

August 19, 2006 Yankees @ Red Sox.  "Pitching is such a vital part of the game, as far as winning is concerned"

Not to dump on McCarver as having to fill 4 hours of broadcast time would make most of us cry, but I know for a fact there are better options in this world.  My ideal team of course would be Sean McDonough and Jerry Remy.  If others complained that Remy was an active Red Sox broadcaster, then I’d have to say I’d pick…Joe Morgan.  Kidding, seriously, please.  I’d pick, hmmm.  I’m struggling here.

Other than Remy, I can’t really stand any of the national options.  I have to assume that any semblance of non-homerism displayed by my announcers cannot be tolerated by me.  I guess that means McCarver never had a chance with me.  Anyway, excluding Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, who would your ideal broadcast team be for the ALCS (you have to pick from living options)?  Let us know your pick by leaving a comment.

Guess Who’s Playing….

Here’s the lineup

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Posada C
Giambi 1B
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF

Torre is trying to get the offense going which is a very smart move at this point.  Back after the game. 

The Lion Roars Again

Just when we were ready to paint George out of the picture, he proves he is back.  In this interview he shows the bluster that made him hated the world around.  Among the highlights:

1- On Joe Torre’s job status- "His job is on the line. I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series."

2- On the bugs the other night- "The umpire was full of [expletive].  He won’t umpire our games anymore." (Note, he is retiring after the playoffs)

3- On A-Rod- "I think we’ll re-sign him. I think he’s going to have a good run the rest of the [postseason]. I think he realizes New York is the place to be, the place to play. A lot of this [postseason] is laying on his shoulders, you know, but I think he’s up to it." 

So there you have it, he’s back and full of piss and vinegar.  It isn’t getting into a fight in an elevator, but it is vintage George.  The sad thing is, he thinks this will fire up the team and not distract them at all.  <sigh> 

Now What?

The Yankees will talk about taking it one game at a time, which is all fine and good, but they need to figure out how to win three games in a row.  So, while they focus on winning tomorrow, let’s do a potentially pointless exercise and talk about what happens if they win Sunday. 

First thing I do tomorrow if I am Joe Torre, after putting Giambi in the lineup for Game 3, is announce that Chien-Ming Wang will start Game 4 and Andy Pettite would start a potential Game 5.  Ok, he doesn’t need to announce it until after they win, but Wang should be sent home early tomorrow night to get some sleep.

Yes, he threw 94 pitches Thursday, but tired sinkerball pitchers are better than rested ones and who cares if he only gives you four or five innings?  If the Yankees get to Monday, they will need to bulld on the momentum of Sunday’s win.  Who gives you a better chance for that, tired Wang or rested Mussina?  Obviously, you know my vote and I hope Torre realizes it too.  I think starting Mussina in Game 4 down 2-1 would be very similar to pitching Wright in the same spot last year.  You are hoping it will go well, but in your heart you have serious doubts.  He can relieve when Wang gets tired, but keep him out of things until that point.

Secondly, if you get to Game 4, you have to wrap you head around the idea that Luis Vizcaino isn’t the third guy out of the pen right now.  They may not use Joba and Mo tomorrow at all which would be great (er, great if they won) but if they do, they probably need to figure out some other bullpen combos for Monday.  Corey suggested in the comments of another post Farnsworth ahead of Vizcaino right now which I endorse, but I will go one step further and say throw Hughes in front of Farnsworth.  

Yes, I know he relieved for the first time Thursday and no, it isn’t fair to ask him to do it.  But, if the Yankees are holding a one-run lead late in the game and Joba and Mo can’t go, who would you rather see?  I wouldn’t ask him to enter an inning in progress, but if it’s the start of the 7th and I need someone to protect a lead, he’s my guy.  If he fails, so be it, I don’t think a bad relief appearance will hurt his psyche since he is a starter and the experience just might help him.   

Those are my moves for the future, as for tomorrow night, other than giving Giambi a crack, my biggest thought is to get guys moving on the basepaths.  Yes, the Yankees haven’t had many chances, but other than Abreu’s steal in Game 2, they haven’t done much on the basepaths in this series.  I am not just asking for straight steals, but hit-and-run plays as well.  (BTW- I am not asking for a plethora of bunts which Carey, Gwynn and Brenley all seem in favor of.  I still don’t understand how they can keep questioning Torre’s decision to let Jeter swing away in Game 1.  It didn’t work, but I think Jeter has proven he usually delivers a big hit in a big spot and I am not going to second-guess that call- now, maybe if it had been A-Rod j/k)

Well, that’s my collective "wisdom" what do you guys think they should do?  As for me, I will be posting again tomorrow when the lineups are out and then during the game in some form and after in a longer form.  

Manny, Mr October?

Great win late last night (early this morning).  Despite a disappointing performance by Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox stayed in the game only to win it on a walk off 3-run shot by Manny Ramirez (edit – Manny’s first walk-off home run since 1996, regular season or playoffs!).

Along with Manny, credit is due to Javier Lopez (0.1 IP), Manny Delcarmen (1.1 IP), Hideki Okajima (1.1 IP) and Jonathan Papelbon (1.1 IP) for not allowing a hit over the last 4.1 IP of the game.  With Matsuzaka allowing 7 hits and 3 walks in only 4.2 IP, having a bullpen to come in and shut down the opposition was huge.

Back to Manny, for whatever reason, I just don’t think of him as being clutch, or perhaps better said, being the savior.  Based on my observations (i.e. I have no #s to back this up), he can produce runs early in a game and in the middle of the game, but isn’t necessarily one you count on to bring home a win in the last at bat.  That role has been reserved for David Ortiz, but game 2 was Manny’s game.  K-Rod tried to sneak a fastball by Manny but couldn’t.  Manny sent it up, over and out of Fenway.  Huge.

Another benefit of Manny doing what he did was it will not give pause to the Angels and hopefully later competition that perhaps pitching around Ortiz (4 walks in game 2) isn’t such a good idea.  Manny put his foot down on that strategy, at least for now.  When asked by Sean McAdam after the game about pitching around Ortiz to face Manny, Angel manager Mike Scoscia said "it’s pick your poison" and that’s exactly why you want a core of really talented and dangerous hitters in your line-up, to make things tough on the opponent.

Now, enjoy this win but understand the Angels are still a really good team and are also really good at home (54-27).  One of the major storyline to watch is the status of Vladmir Guerrero.  He left the game after getting hit on the left shoulder.  I was stunned that he didn’t stick it out given the magnitude of the game.  He must really be hurt.

Curt Schilling is going in game 3 against Jered Weaver.  Weaver (13-7, 3.91/1.39) you will recall allowed 6 ER over 4.1 IP in his last game against Boston.  In his career against Boiston, he is 0-2 with a 4.70/1.35 in 23 IP.  In his career, Schilling is 6-2, 3.67/1.11 against the Angels.

Normally I’d have a bunch of opinions to share about what could have been handled better, but after game 2, I don’t have much to say.  Perhaps starting Matsuzaka was a mistake, but they managed through it with a W.

The Sweet Agony

I am totally exhausted, emotionally spent, that is why I love baseball.  If only the end result had been different.

Boy was I wrong about Carmona, what a game he pitched and to all the A-Rod bashers out there leave him alone.  The Yankees are hitting .121 in this series, it isn’t just A-Rod who isn’t hititng.  In fact, other than Abreu, who is?

The mayfly invasion was bizzare to say the least and I think it is fair to say it bothered Joba.  Unfortunately, those are the breaks and now the Yankees have to regroup.  Torre said in his postgame press conference that he isn’t thinking of shaking things up yet.  Jake Westbrook will help, but the Yankees better consider adding Giambi to the lineup to get out of this funk.  Just keep in mind, Westbrook and Byrd are very different from Sabathia and Carmona.  Things look bad now, but they aren’t dead yet.

Back tomorrow when I can think again.   

Time For Andy

Let’s face it Andy Pettitte in Game 2 was Joe Torre’s security blanket pre-2004 and that’s why he is pitching in this spot tonight.  You really only need six innings from him because Joe won’t hesitate to go to Joba and Mo for the last three innings.  Win and the Yankees are in good shape.  Lose and they are in trouble.  Interestingly, the Yankees are going with the same lineup as last night, but flip-flopping Matsui and Posada and Mientkiewicz and Cabrera.  This makes little sense to me as Matsui looks lost and I don’t think he can protect A-Rod right now.  Personally, I would have gone with Giambi at DH and let Matsui rest.

The Yankees had their chances last night and didn’t get hits when they would have mattered.  I think Carmona gives them plenty of chances early, will they capitalize?  

Back after the game