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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.  

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 

Live Blogging Game 1

Just figured I would add my observations in real time for tonight’s game.

6:42pm- Which is worse, the fact that there is an umpire specifically assigned to the Right Field Line who didn’t make that call or the joke of a replay by TBS? At least they conferred and got it right.

6:46pm-Great at bat by Abreu, from 1-2 to a walk and now comes a big at bat for A-Rod

6:49pm-I shouldn’t read too much into it, but I think A-Rod doesn’t draw that walk in the past.

6:52pm- I am really starting to loathe TBS and we are only five batters in. They start the game on TNT because the Phillies game runs over and they can’t stick with it past 6:52? I mean was anyone going to really watch the last five minutes of Law and Order? Wait for the commercial break next time guys!

6:55pm- That’s a huge lift for the Indians getting out of that jam.

7:14pm- That was an ugly inning from Wang. Hitting the first guy and then after getting the double play he just struggled. And worst of all, Kenny “Gary knows what he is talking about” Lofton with the big hit.

7:19pm- Sabathia looks like he is going to give the Yankees plenty of chances- a four pitch walk to Cano!?

7:21pm- Cabrera should have yelled “HA”

7:25pm- That is not a good inning on the scoreboard, but they made Sabathia throw 17 pitches. That’s 50 through two. They keep that up and he won’t pitch six.

7:27pm- Are you really telling me that TBS or MLB didn’t have enough money to buy www.october.com and instead had to settle for www.actober.com. What the heck is actober? Sounds like a theater company tryout.

7:33pm- Nice throw by Posada, he has become a very good catcher since Pena came to town.

7:48pm- A-Rod just missed that one.

7:52pm- Yankees need a spark and soon. That home run could be the nail in the coffin.

7:53pm- LeBron’s will probably get booed at home wearing that hat.

8:03pm- Thank you Cano

8:22pm- Was it Mientkiewicz’s ankle or is Joe just realizing he needs to try and exploit the matchup with Sabathia?

8:26pm- Time for Captain October to do something

8:30pm- I agree with not bunting there, Jeter is too good a hitter to lay it down.

8:32pm- And Abreu picks him up, now it’s time for A-Rod.

8:33pm- I know it sounds crazy, but considering all the postseason stuff with A-Rod, I would have made him beat me there. Wedge is playing it by the book, but I would have challenged him.

8:36pm- That was some pitching by Sabathia down 3-0 and then a strikeout. On the plus side, he is over 100 now.

8:38pm- Score one for Eric Wedge, now the Yankees need Wang to keep it at one-run.

8:47pm- That is just a terrible start by Wang.

8:56pm- Is it me or does Ohlendorf even look like Mussina when he pitches?

9:00pm- He really does look like Mussina. Ok, bad joke, but what exactly did Guidry say to him that led to belt-high fastball?

9:10pm- The way things are going, I am glad hockey season started. Check that, Rangers are losing too 2-1.

9:15pm- This is looking over. The Indians are smart to use their top bullpen guys to get outs here, don’t let the Yankees get things going.

9:18pm- You know I really like Frank Calliendo. The guy is incredibly talented, but I don’t think I can take an entire of October of his promos.

9:23pm- At some point you have to get Ohlendorf out of there. I know you need to soak up innings, but you don’t want to let a young pitcher take too big of a beating. I think you go Veras soon and then let Farnsworth pitch the 8th.

9:28pm- I guess Kenny Lofton never got over the way Torre used him in 2004. He is killing the Yankees tonight.

9:35pm- Hockey update: Rangers 5 Florida 2, Drury has three points in his MSG debut.

9:37pm- Interesting that they are using Perez for a 2nd inning with an 8-run lead. I assume this will disqualify him from pitching tomorrow night which helps NY.

9:41pm- That guy is nasty.

9:45pm- Phil Hughes now? Why?

9:56pm- Matsui looks lost right now, Torre has to think about either Giambi or Duncan for Game 2.

And I think that will be it for the live blog. I have some things to do and even Joe Borrowski couldn’t blow an 8-run lead in one inning. Could he?

Series Prediction

Back in April I picked the Yankees to win this series in four games.   (Yup, I picked Cleveland-Yanks in the ALDS, of course I also had the Twins winning the AL Central and while I did pick the Phillies and Cubs in the playoffs, my Dodgers and Mets picks didn’t make it.  On the plus side, my World Series of Phillies-Yankees is certainly possible)

I would stick to that if the Yankees did what I said in my original post "Hughes in the fourth game seals it".  The way I see it going down is as follows:

Game 1: Sabathia quiets the Yankees’ bats and Wang struggles, giving up runs early. 

Game 2: Pettitte pitches a beaut and Yankees pound Carmona.

Game 3: Clemens guts out six and Joba and Rivera carry the Yankees to a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4: Moose is rocked and Cleveland evens the series.

Game 5: Torre goes with experience and Pettitte starts Game 5 instead of Wang.  It works and Pettitte outduels Sabathia with A-Rod driving in the winning runs.  

Let’s face it, Sabathia is scary and I think he will pitch very well today.  If the Yankees did get Game 1, it would be a huge boost to their chances.  But, apart from Sabathia, the other Indians pitchers don’t scare me.  Carmona had a great year, but I think the Yankees will hit him, as for Byrd and Westbrook, they should shell them.  I think Pettitte really proves his worth in his two starts and Clemens will figure out a way to get it done.  I still hope they realize that Moose isn’t the answer for Game 4, but I am resigned to the fact that Hughes will probably enter that game in the third inning when Mussina has given up 5 runs.  

It should be a very good series and I imagine it will turn on a couple of key plays.  

Back after the game.   

Who Do We Root For?

Was anyone else confused tonight? You see Boston playing in the playoffs and you automatically root against them, right? Well tonight I wasn’t so sure. I don’t know if the Yankees can beat the Angels. For whatever reason, they seem to have our number. On the other hand, I think we can beat Boston. Yes, their pitching is very good, but I think we have a better shot against them than the Angels.

So, while I want a five-game series with multiple injuries on both sides (nothing career threatening, just something that keeps a player out for October) I think I want Boston to win. Is that wrong? I am going to go shower because I feel dirty.

Roster Surprise

The Yankees have announced their playoff roster and I am shocked by the fact that Ron Villone didn’t make it. That means the Yankees won’t have a lefty arm in the bullpen and considering that several of the Indians hit much better against righties than lefties, it is a curious deicsion. I guess the Yankees didn’t view Villone as a guy to call in in a big spot against a lefty hitter. In addition Ramirez didn’t make the team, as the Yankees have put both Ohlendorf and Veras on the roster with Sardinha as an extra bat.

The fact that Veras and Ohlendorf made the playoff roster after pitching 15 innings combined shows you how highly the Yankees think of them. Unlike years past, this team is willing to take chances and I can’t argue with that approach, I just wonder if it would have been better to have a lefty in the pen instead of both Ohlendorf and Veras.

In addition, the lineup for Game 1 has been announced. It is the standard lineup of recent weeks

Damon- LF

Hard to argue with the idea of Mientkiewicz with Wang on the mound, getting good infield defense is critical. I was curious to see if Shelly Duncan would make the cut since they are facing a tough lefty, but I think Joe wanted to keep Abreu in there. Abreu hit .262/.329/.349 against LHP, so I would have gone with Shelly.

All The Best Love The Yanks

Not that it matters, but here is one Cleveland athlete who will be rooting for the Yankees this week.  While the best player in the NBA is a good get, this is my personal favorite.