Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday around Baseball

Some things to note about some of yesterdays games:

  • The Toronto Blue Jays finally snapped a 9 game skid in which they defeated Boston 6-3. They are back home again at the Rogers Centre which appears to be their comfort zone as they are 17-6 at home and 11-17 on the road. Casey Janssen is making his way this year as a starting pitcher (after missing this season and all of 2008 due to a torn labrum that required surgery) and pitched 7 good innings, giving up 3 runs on 11 hits. The bullpen was strong and Scott Downs received his 6th save of the season.
  • Isn't it interesting how Boston, yet again, misses the great Roy Halladay. Brian Tallet goes today for the Jays against Brad Penny.
  • Andy Pettitte had a tough outing in which he was pulled after the 5th due to stiffness in his back. While this injury doesn't appear to be series enough to cause him to miss a start, this is the very reason why it is important to have Joba as a starter. If a guy in their rotation is hurt, they still have Hughes down in the minor to replace an injured guy without having to look elsewhere (whether it be within their own system or trading for a player).
  • The tricky situation will come when the Yankees decide to bring Wang back into the starting rotation. Do you keep Hughes up and put him or Joba in the pen or do you send him back to AAA. I say 100% no to Hughes in the bullpen, that is the dumbest thing they could possibly do as he will not reach his innings and it will set him back for next year.
  • C.J Wilson of the Rangers had a great day yesterday. In their double header against the A's, Wilson came up with a win in the first game, after Texas was able to score 3 runs in the 8th inning to give them the lead. In the second game, he recorded a save which brought him up to 4 for the year. Does anyone know if he is throwing the Gyro ball yet?
  • Mets won in 11 innings yesterday. That Omir Santos has turned out to be a decent player for them so far this year. It is amazing to see how big of a contributor Sheffield has been to the team as well. It is turning out to be a steal so far for the team.
  • Matt Wieters made his debut for the Orioles tonight going 0-4 with a strikeout. He is supposed to be the next big thing for the Orioles organization which is something they need as they have been brutal to watch on television.

Who Left the Dog Out?

Don't let this sweet, little face fool you. This dog is a little devil. Before the game on Thursday, I met up with a friend of mine who gave me a few copies of ESPN the Magazine. I ended up leaving for the game and putting the magazine on the couch. Now the kicker of the story is that we have a puppy who just loves to chew everything, her favorite of course being money that she finds in my brothers wallet.

Well, my brother who is lacking in the area of common sense, decided he was going to go out and not lock the door of the crate that we put the puppy in (only when we go out, if we don't she chews whatever she can find). To my surprise, as I arrived home from the Syracuse game after midnight, Millie had devoured two of the magazines and it appeared as if there had been a huge party at my house due to the amount of confetti that was scattered on the couch and the living room floor.

Since I was too angry to think of taking a picture of the floor, I did capture a few pictures of the remnants of the magazine I got on Thursday, that I was never able to read, and that I will not be able to read about. Bad, bad puppy. No, bad, bad brother. He knows better. Hopefully there wasn't too much in there about baseball.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Syracuse Chiefs vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barr Yankees- part 2 of my roadtrip

After contemplating this for a few days, I decided to head back to Syracuse to check out the Yankees in their final game in Syracuse against the AAA Nationals. While the crowd was significantly smaller than Monday's games (and so much quieter), it was a fun night and I met some great people at the game.

The first thing I must make mention of is that I was successful tonight in scoring a few autographs for the two little girls I tutor, thanks to Shelley Duncan and Mark Melancon. I couldn't be more impressed with Shelley Duncan as he came over and talked to me for a bit and signed a ball for the girls. He was so great with the little kids at the park and it was cute to see how excited they were during the game to tell everyone that he signed their ball. He seems to be a stand-up guy, as my friend has told me on several occasions. He made the 4 hour trip well worth it and I couldn't thank him enough. I can't wait to see the reaction on the girls' face when I give them the ball (they are 6 and 9 and I am "trying" to get them into baseball).
Mark Melancon on the other hand, I feel thinks I am possibly nuts. I am not entirely sure. When I walked up to get him to sign the ball I brought for the kids, I said to him "Hey Mark", to which he replied "Hey, Christina. What's going on." Ok, he remembered my name, that's interesting (hopefully it wasn't one of those "she's a crazy girl" things). When I asked him if he could sign the ball for the kids, he responded with "Yeah, sure, that's what they all say." No, really Mark, this WAS for the kids. Oh well, it was funny nonetheless. I do have to admit, I really do like the kid, he seems pretty nice.I have some funny stories from the game that I was add to later when I get home from work. I just had to get out what a stand up guy Shelley was despite me saying he was grumpy the other night. Just as we are all individuals, we have our good and bad days. I couldn't have been more happier and I know the two little ones will get a kick out of the baseball autographs that were personalized with their names on it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What happened to the Jays?

We all knew that the hot tear the Jays were on wouldn't last the entire season, but I don't think many expected them to fall out of it this fast. They have lost 9 straight games and are 5-11 in their past 16 games.

It was only a matter of time before the number of injuries and the inexperience of the starting pitching began to creep up and effect the overall performance of the team. I was curious to see if there was a certain aspect that I could pinpoint and attribute to the 9 game losing skid they are on and my analysis left me with an array of results. Here are some stats from the following 9 games that have all resulted in a Blue Jays loss:

BOS: 2-1 6 LOB 1 Error Bullpen:Good
BOS: 8-3 11 LOB Starter only went 4.2 Bullpen: Good
BOS: 5-1 12 LOB Starter only went 4.1 Bullpen: Good

ATL: 1-0 4 LOB Bullpen: 1ER Pitching duel
ATL: 4-3 7 LOB Bullpen 1ER
ATL: 10-2 11 LOB Starter only went 5 innings Bullpen 8ER Offense: 10 hits and 2 runs

BAL: 4-1 9 LOB Bullpen: 2ER
BAL: 7-2 10 LOB Starter went 5.1 with 5ER Bullpen: 2 ER
BAL: 12-10 7 LOB Bullpen: 9ER

  • The 9 games were all lost on the road. The Jays are 16-6 at home while 11-17 on the road.
  • Roy Halladay is one of their only starters to give the team length in an outing. The inexperience of their starting pitching (due to injuries) has led Gaston in having to go to the bullpen early in the game. This appears to have weakened their bullpen and could be the cause for them preforming so bad as of late.
  • The offense has been leaving entirely too many guys on base. During their losing streak of 9 straight games, the Jays have left 7 or more guys on base in 7/9 games.
The pitching needs to come together and start giving the team length. The bullpen also needs to straighten up their act. The loss today was inexcusable and the fact their pen gave up 9ER is absolutely embarrassing. This is why I can not stand when people focus so much on W/L. Roy Halladay would have so many more wins if it wasn't for the Jays blowing games for him or their offense not scoring runs for him (which was the case on many occasions for the past few seasons).

Jobber in the Bullpen??

Francesa is on his Jobber in the Pen debate. It is getting so tiring. The guy has a repertoire of four pitches and is only 23 years old. You have to look long-term for the team and if you put Joba back in the pen this early, you are basically are either keeping him there long-term or starting the process all over again for him building up his innings.

So the question is this: Would you rather have a guy with Joba's stuff pitching every 5 days for the team or in the bullpen where he may only pitch once or twice a week for a few innings (based on if the games are close and if the team is winning)?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why is there no baseball in Albany?

The trip to Syracuse yesterday to see minor league baseball brought me back on my tirade about why the city of Albany is without a decent minor league team. Sure, we have a team in the Troy area (which is a good 45 minutes from my house) but it is an affiliate of the Houston Astros in a league that doesn't even start until June 20th.

I just don't get it. I really want to go back to Syracuse to catch another game this week but I can't see putting another 300 miles on my car to travel down there. Going to Yankee Stadium is just as far and 10 times expensive. The options for families to see baseball in this area are far too limited.

I could go on a tirade about this for hours but I will spare you all that. Enough people have heard me go on about it in person and it is quite draining to hear I am sure. Simply stated, I just wish we still had the Albany-Colonie Yankees here, or some sort of minor league baseball. For those of you who do not know, the AA affiliate of the Yankees were in the area of Albany from 1985 to 1994. Here is a prior blog entry I wrote about some of the notable alumni who were part of this squad before making it to the major leagues.

I am sure some of you guys from around here visited Heritage Park back in the day. Any memories from the old park that is worth sharing? If I had money I would build a park or something but I am a poor person trying to work my way up to educate the youth of america. I have no pull, but someone out there must.

Minor League Baseball: Yankees vs Nationals

I just got back from seeing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees play the Syracuse Chiefs at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, New York. I have been to this ballpark in the past but this was a few years back when the team was known as the Sky Chiefs and were an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was a fun experience. While Syracuse is about a two hour drive for me, it is the closest thing that I have to seeing minor league baseball (yeah, we have the Valley-Cats but they haven't started their season yet and I have very little interest in the single A Astros). Since the Yankees are in town this week (Monday-Thursday), I figured now would be a great time to see a game and to check out some of the young prospects that they have in their farm system. The only complaint I really have about this place is the fact that the gates open only an hour prior to the game. As someone who loves getting to games early to see batting practice, I was disappointed when I arrived today as there was no batting practice and the players were only on the field for a brief amount of time before the game began.

The Yankees threw out J.B Cox tonight which was an interesting choice as Cox is regarded as one of their top closers in the making. His outing was pretty bad tonight as he only last 2.1 innings while giving up 6 hits, 2 walks and 5 earned runs. The offense for the Yankees was pretty silent as they scored only 3 runs, one of them being a homerun from John Rodriguez.

It was quite an interesting day at the park to say the least. I have been to my share of games, both major league and minor league, and this game I have to say was the first time I have been around some extremely loud and obnoxious fans, in which there were only a few thousand fans in the stand. While I know the players tend to block out the nonsense I am pretty sure the noise from some of these fans were pretty hard to evade.

One guy sitting a section over from me was extremely loud and was yelling something insane after every single pitch that was made in the game. Some of these remarks included "read him his rights" when Miranda came to bat, "I should have wore my dunkin' donuts shirt today, Shelley", and "the only scoop you can make is an ice cream scoop" which was said after Shelley was unable to scoop up a ball. While he provided comedy to the fans, many people were getting pissed off because he was just way too loud and saying things that were pure nonsense.

At one point during the early innings, I ended up getting into a screaming match between these 3 obnoxious guys that were seated behind me. I can't recall what they said that got me started but I know it had something to do with them complaining about the Yankees and their payroll. While I understand the Yankees spend like crazy (which allows them to pick up the best players on free-agency), the mantra that a farm system isn't as equally as important is ridiculous. All you have to do is look at what the Rays did last year and even the Marlins during the 97 and 2003 season. They couldn't quite comprehend this mantra and were fixated on the fact that the Marlins salary is so low. Interesting as the Marlins are notorious for pocketing money instead of spending on their team.

I was hoping to score an autograph from Shelley Duncan for the two little girls I tutor, but Shelley didn't appear to be in a great mood tonight. I even tried to get Edwar to help me out in getting him to come over, but I still had no luck. It was comical though, nonetheless, as we ended up in a back and forth conversation about why it was impossible for Shelley to walk over to me.

Amy (left) and me before the game started.

While I was unable to get Shelley Duncan to come over, I was able to get Mark Melancon to sign a ball for me. He is one of the players (along with Austin Jackson) that I was looking forward to see on this visit and I have to say I was quite impressed with him when I met him before the game started. He seems like a really good kid and I will certainly be pulling for him as he makes his way back to the major leagues.

Overall, a great day. I am going to try to head back to another game this week. Hopefully I can get Duncan to sign a ball for the two little ones. It's my goal to get them to see how great the game of baseball is and I will start as small as I can with them.
Austin Jackson

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cooperstown cont'd...

I forgot to add these pictures in my prior post. When visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame, there are an array of artifacts that one must check out. I heard from my friend that the Barry Bonds ball with the asterisk was in the hall, however I was unable to locate it.

There are so many different things I always make sure I check out when visiting Cooperstown. The dedication to Babe Ruth is a must along with the tribute to Jackie Robinson. In addition, I enjoy seeing the lockers that are displayed as part of the "current day players" exhibit. Last but not least, one of my favorite places to check out in the hall is the collection of balls that they have displayed which signify each perfect game or no-hitter that has been pitched by a Major League player. Well look who it is! Alois!
Brownie, Coney, and AJ!

I am heading to Syracuse tomorrow to check out the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees play against the AAA Nationals. I used to love going to Syracuse to check out the AAA Skychiefs when they were part of the Blue Jays organization. I am bummed that they are no longer there. It is cool to see guys in the major leagues on the Jays that I used to see in the minor leagues. Anyhow, I am sure there will be many pictures along with some analysis of the game. I will be sure to have my scorebook on hand and take notes from what I see going on in the field. I am hoping to see Melancon and Jackson in action.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY

Yesterday, I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which is located in the middle of nowhere in the town of Cooperstown, NY. Since it is only an hour drive for me, I decided to head up there for the day with my friend Ange, who is one of those friends that doesn't understand why I love baseball so much. The goal was for her to see the tradition that it holds and the vast history of the game that has taken place since the 1800's.

On Saturday, the Baseball Hall of Fame opened up their new exhibit Viva Baseball! to the public. Roberto Clemente Jr., Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal were on hand for the ceremony along with many members of the media. At 1pm the exhibit was opened to the public and I went in with my friend to check it out. The exhibit is bright and vibrant and it was great to see the different artifacts that they had which celebrated the impact that Latin American players have had on the game of baseball.

I have been to the Hall many times and it never gets old. While the artifacts are pretty much the same (with the exception of them moving the exhibits around in a different location), there is always something new you see or read that that you might have missed from a previous visit. Below are a sample of the pictures i took from this trip.They have this thing where you can hit in the batting cages and also test your arm to see how fast you throw. I hadn't thrown a baseball in a long time but I figured it would be fun to go for it. You will never guess how fast my fastball is!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Matt Holliday: Hit or Miss?

For those of you that don't know me, I am a pretty big fan of the left-fielder for the Oakland A's. I have been following the career of Matt Holliday for many years and he is someone that I would love to see in pinstripes.

While he has produced outstanding and consistent numbers for the past several years, there are many critics out there that believe Holliday's impressive stats are a reflection of the fact he has been playing at Coors field. Granted, there is an obvious advantage that a hitter has playing in Colorado, it is important to look closely at the numbers he has put up both at home and away from Coors.

In looking at Holliday's stats, he has hit over .300 in his four out of five seasons in the major leagues. His best season so far was in 2007 in which he hit .340 with 36 hrs and 137 RBI. Since it isn't his numbers that are debated, it is important to look at the comparison to games that were played at home to those played away.

I made this chart (sorry it's not creative, but it's the best I could do). Anyhow, these are Holliday's stats for home games. I chose to include the number of strikeouts in both of these charts to see any further discrepancy that may exist between his lay at home and away. Below are his stats for games when he is away from Coors:
It may be hard to see, but there is a discrepancy in the number of homeruns that were hit at home and away. That is just something happens when you are a power hitter that is fortunate to play in a hitter friendly ballpark. When looking at the stats for the past five years (which may be hard to see), Holliday hit 10, 12, 22, 25, and 15 homeruns at Coors and 4, 7, 12, 11, and 10 homeruns away from Coors. When you further dissect that, the only vast in the number of homeruns really occurs during the 2006 and 2007 season in which he hit over 10 more homeruns at home than away.

However, when you look at his stats, I think it is important to note that while his numbers are inflated at Coors, the man is putting up some good number in general. His batting average away for the past two years was over .300 and his OPS is continuing to improve. In fact when you look at his stats away from home, his batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS are all on an incline. Below is a chart of his stats away.
Regardless, it is an interesting debate. I will be the first to admit that there is an obvious discrepancy between the number at home and away from Coors. I do think it is unfair to judge him solely on that discrepancy because he has also had success when away from Coors. I think it will be interesting to see how well he does playing in Oakland- but to judge the results very carefully. He is playing in a new league and is still working on learning the pitchers.

Final Point: He is a Boras client so he is going to want the big bucks. I am not one to really seek after the big players, in fact I am the type of person that would rather see the little guy prevail and be successful. However, I have been a watching this guy closely for many years and now that free agency is approaching, I'd love to see him on our side.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Final Game in Toronto: CC vs. Tallet

(Derek, totally staring at me.. haha, yea, right)

I have pictures from the game last Thursday. Since that was a week ago, I really can't remember what happened so I am just going to post the pictures. Yankees won and it was a good pitching duel between Tallet and Sabathia.

One thing to add though. I was sitting net to a few guys during this game and they were asking me questions about New York and the new Yankee Stadium In our discussion, Leiter's name came up and to my surprise, the Jays fans were quite upset to hear that named mentioned in their presence. Apparently the fans of Toronto still are not too keen on Mr Leiter from the 7 years he spent in Toronto. Their opinion was that he spent a majority of the time here injured and when the Jays offered him a contract, he ran away to the Mets, despite the patience that the organization had with him as he battled with blisters and other things. Is that true for most Jays fans? I found it interesting as I had thought many of the Toronto fans were fond of both Coney and Alois.
During batting practice, the wind was so intense that the net things kept falling down and almost took out a few players. Also, this was the first game of the year that the dome was opened.

Eddie: The very serious security guard for the Yankees.