Thursday, May 16, 2013

Andy Pettitte's Back Flaring Up Again

Andy Pettitte left tonight's game with is what is being called as a tight left trap. That is a muscle in the upper back in between the shoulder blades and the neck. This is the second back issue Pettitte has faced so far this season and reoccurring injuries, although this is in a different spot in the back, is never a good sign. No news yet on whether he will get an MRI, will miss time, go on the DL, etc so stay tuned.

Chris Stewart Leaves Game W/ Groin Injury

And another one down and another one down, another one bites the dust...

Chris Stewart left tonight's game in the seventh inning with a groin injury. Chris pulled up lame running the bases and was in obvious pain in the groin area. It is worth noting that he stayed in the game and continued to run the bases but was taken out in between innings. Maybe a ray of hope with that said but with this team, this season, I doubt it. JR Murphy has to be sitting by the phone right now one would think.

Andy Pettitte Leaves W/ Mystery Injury

Andy Pettitte has left tonight's game in the fifth inning with two outs with a mystery injury. Andy had struck out the previous two batters and was only at 79 pitches when manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to talk to Pettitte. He did not throw any test pitches or warm up pitches and left the game immediately so it cannot be good news for the Yankees who the last thing that they need is yet ANOTHER injury.

Daily Yankees Injury Update

Travis Hafner is out of the lineup for a third straight day with right shoulder tendinitis and probably won't start a game until Saturday at the earliest. Hafner did toss and hit off a tee today and is available as a pinch hitter tonight and tomorrow but I am sure the Yankees prefer not to use him if they can get away with it. 

Joba Chamberlain was not activated like originally speculated and the Yankees are not giving much of a reason why. Is it a health thing or is it just because of how he looked in his rehab inning for the Scranton Railriders? I don't think we will ever know but it is probably Mariano Rivera's fault somehow. 

Derek Jeter has been reevaluated by his ankle doctor and there is not much new news to report. The ankle is healing but Derek will still be in a walking boot and cannot do any kind of baseball activities. The ankle is healing though and the bones are beginning to form together again so there is always that. No news is good news?

Ivan Nova was rehabbing a triceps inflammation injury when he aggravated something in his upper back near his pitching shoulder and was shut down. Nova only got one rehab start before being shut down but manager Joe Girardi expects Nova to pitch again, probably in an extended spring training game, on Monday at the minor league complex in Tampa. 

Michael Pineda is expected to throw either 50 pitches or four innings tomorrow in an extended spring training game or a intrasquad game. Pineda has no limitations on the pitches he can throw so it seems like all hands on deck as the Yankees build his arm strength and speed back up before his promotion possibly in June. 

Game Thread SEA vs. NYY 5/16

The Yankees got clobbered last night and blown out off the field but the beautiful thing about baseball is tonight is a new night. The Yankees have Andy Pettitte on the mound tonight looking to start a new winning streak as he faces off with former Yankees prospect Hector Noesi. Use this thread to chat during the game or head over to twitter and give @GreedyStripes a follow and tweet with us there all season long. 

Here is the Yankees lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

Article Revisit - Stop The Knee-Jerk Reactions

Due to some confusion regarding my article regarding knee-jerk reactions, particularly when it came to my opinion of Phil Hughes, I decided to look up the #4 starters for each American League team. A pitcher being a team's #4 starter, in this case, is based on the number of innings they threw. I would have liked to do it by the top starters on each team, but I couldn't find a standard way of getting that information. I didn't want to go by WAR, because a pitcher being injured (like in Pettitte's case) would skew that. I thought about going with ERA, but if a pitcher gets called up in September and starts a few games, should that really be included? The same can go for just about any statistic. So innings pitched it is.

Okay, being lazy may have played a small part.

For example, the 2012 Yankees rotation looks like this...

1. Hiroki Kuroda - 219.2 IP
2. CC Sabathia - 200 IP
3. Phil Hughes - 191.1 IP
4. Ivan Nova - 170.1 IP (5.02 ERA)
5. Freddy Garcia - 107.1 IP
6. Andy Pettitte - 75.1 IP

On top of Ivan Nova being the #4 starter for the Yankees, here are the #4 starters for the rest of the teams in the American League in 2012...

BAL - Jake Arrieta 6.20
TB - Jeremy Hellickson 3.10
TOR - Aaron Laffey 4.56
BOS - Josh Beckett 5.23
DET - Doug Fister 3.45
CHW - Jose Quintana 3.76
KC - Jeremy Guthrie 3.16
CLE - Derek Lowe 5.52
MIN - Cole De Vries 4.11
OAK - Brandon McCarthy 3.24
TEX - Scott Feldman 5.09
LAA - Dan Haren 4.33
SEA - Blake Beavan 4.43

After adding in Ivan Nova's 5.02 ERA, the average ERA among the 14 American League #4 starters in 2012 was 4.37.

In my earlier article I said that Hughes' 4.43 ERA prior to last night's outing was "very respectable". Based on the average #4 starter from 2012, I would have been better off leaving the word "very" out. Maybe my idea of "respectable" is different than yours, but being that close to league average works for me.

Moving on to my use of the phrase "very good" in regards to Phil's ERA in 2012, which was 4.23. Again, I think this is a case where leaving out the word "very" would have worked much better. Compared to a league average for a #4 starter of 4.37, saying a 4.23 is "good" is perhaps being a bit kind. I can accept that, too.

In summary, I stand by the main point I was making in that article. That being that Phil Hughes is a perfectly acceptable #4 starter for the Yankees. Seeing if there's a better alternative to Phil Hughes out there is not only okay with me, but it's something I'd expect from the management of any team. So forgive me if I'm not going to pick up a pitchfork with you, head to Yankee Stadium, and demand change.

"It's here when you're ready" - Angry Mob

Seattle Mariners @ New York Yankees 5/16

The Yankees and the Seattle Mariners will finish up their three game set tonight at Yankees Stadium. The Yankees lineup is looking better and healthier by the day which is a scary thought for the rest of the league if the pitching can stay constant. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound to face off against Aaron Harang. The game will be televised at 7:05 pm ET on YES and MLB TV.

Buy your Yankees tickets for this game and every Yankees home game right here on The Greedy Pinstripes.

News For Prospect Huggers

A couple bits of news...

1. Dellin Betances has been called up to take Brett Marshall's spot on the roster. This move is surely in response to Marshall throwing 5.2 innings yesterday, and likely being unavailable for a while. I'm sure people are intrigued by this move, but they shouldn't be excited. Dellin currently has an ERA of 5.40 in 8 AAA appearances this season, as he hasn't been able to control his pitches.

2. Aaron Harang has been scratched from tonight's start due to having a stiff lower back. Prospect huggers will be happy to know that in his place the Mariners will start Hector Noesi, who was part of the big Montero/Pineda trade last year. Noesi has appeared in 4 games this season, all as a reliever. As a starter in his MLB career, Hector's ERA is 6.40.

Game 41 Lineup: Mariners vs . Yankees

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

LHP Andy Pettitte

- Ex-Yankee Hector Noesi will be on the mound for Seattle.  Aaron Harang was scratched.

- Andy Pettitte trys to right himself after a couple of rough starts

- Yankees called up Dellin Betances from Scranton and sent down Brett Marshall who was spent after throwing 108 pitches yesterday

- Jayson Nix gets his shot batting 2nd today.  Nix has had a very quiet season offensively but suprisingly, his .319 OBP% is 4th among healthy regulars behind Wells, Cano & Gardner.  Nix has hit 2nd 6 times this year and has hit .261/.293/.261 (6 for 23 with 5 Walks).  Not many Yankees have faced Noesi but Nix is 1 for 3 with a HR.

Stop The Knee-Jerk Reactions

We're all guilty of it, and some more than others. I'm certainly no stranger to letting my emotions get the better of me. During the last offseason, when it was clear that Nick Swisher was not going to return to the Yankees, I wasn't happy. It wasn't because I thought it was dumb that the Yankees weren't bringing him back from a baseball standpoint (although that can certainly be argued), I was upset because I personally think Swish is a great guy.

Swisher batted .268/.367/.483, and averaged just over 26 home runs a season, during his four years in pinstripes. But his attitude is what really stood out to me, which can be seen here while accepting the 2012 Good Guy Award at the BBWAA dinner in April. So it was tough to see him go.

But while that's an emotional response built up over time, there's one type of emotional response that I strive not to let happen, and that involves the knee-jerk reaction to a player having a bad game. You've seen it a lot if you've hung out at any message board, comment section, bar, or on Twitter during a Yankee game. You may even see it in your living room while watching the game with friends.

You see, if Curtis Granderson strikes out people will bring up the 195 strikeout total from last season, and say they can't wait for the end of the season when his contract is up. Or they may say it was stupid for the team to pick up Grandy's option for 2013. Never mind the fact that those same people will point at Vernon Wells as the reason why Curtis is not needed, as if the Yankees or anybody else had any idea Vernon was going to be hitting .301/.357/.538 with 10 home runs in the middle of May. I highly doubt those Granderson-haters realize that the 12.5 WAR (per Fangraphs) he's put up between 2010 and 2012 is 4th among qualified American League outfielders. Yeah... 4th!

And speaking of Wells, I don't recall many people liking the trade that brought him to New York in the first place. I will freely admit that I was one of those that took issue with the deal because I thought the Yankees were paying too much, despite the fact that the Angels took on $28.1 million of what is left on Vernon's contract. But I digress...

The reason I bring up this issue today is because of what I saw on Twitter last night during and after the game against the Mariners, in which Phil Hughes imploded right away, giving up 7 earned runs without getting out of the 1st inning. Yes, it was horrible. I didn't go all the way through his career, but I'm willing to bet that it was the worst of his 111 MLB starts. However, that shouldn't overshadow the fact that Phil's ERA going into last night was a very respectable 4.43. And it doesn't erase the fact that Hughes had a four game stretch in which he threw to a 1.93 ERA, averaging 7 innings a start. 

Another thing to keep in mind about Philthy (yeah, I'm still calling him that) is that his ERA last season was a very good 4.23 (EDIT: I failed to mention that I'm comparing Phil to other #4 pitchers here, not in general), and that includes a 4.12 ERA in the second half (15 starts). Yes, there were some stinkers during the 2nd half, including his August 12th game against the Blue Jays, in which Phil gave up 7 earned runs over 4 innings. Or his final start of the season on September 30th, also against the Jays, in which Hughes gave up 5 earned runs in 4 innings. But those two poor starts don't make his final two starts against the Red Sox, in which he gave up zero earned runs in 14.1 innings, including 11 strikeouts to only 2 walks, disappear. 

Phil Hughes is not the ace or #1 starter for the Yankees. Phil is not the #2 starter, either. Nor is he even the #3 starter. Phil Hughes is the Yankees' #4 starter. And as such, nobody should expect Hughes to carry the team with his pitching. I don't think the Yankees do, otherwise Girardi (or his binder) wouldn't keep putting him out there. When it comes to a team's #4 starter, getting a double-digit win total from them would be great. For proof, the only other American League team whose #4 starter had double-digit wins was Detroit, where Doug Fister got 10 of them. Oh, and I used the term "other" because the Yankees' #4, Ivan Nova, had 12 wins (Hughes was the #3 starter, and won 16 games).

"Despite the 12 wins last year, I still don't like you."

Furthermore, Phil has gotten 39 wins over the previous 3 seasons (he only had 5 of them in 2011, but that was in just 14 starts). You might be interested to know that during that time, between 2010 and 2012, only 9 other pitchers in the American League have more wins than that. And those pitchers are hardly "nobodies"... Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver, David Price, CJ Wilson, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Felix Hernandez.

Now, I imagine people are sitting there thinking "wins are no way to gauge a pitcher". And they're right. If I were just trying to convince you Hughes is good, I would go beyond his ERA which I talked about earlier, and get into his strikeout and walk rates, or his velocity and control. But I'm not doing that. Nor am I saying Phil Hughes is better than Miguel Gonzalez (Baltimore's #4 starter) or JA Happ (Toronto's #4 starter), although I actually would say that if asked. I'm simply talking about what Phil Hughes can do for the Yankees. And since a team's win total is the only thing that matters (believe it or not, playoff teams are not chosen based on their total WAR), then it boils down to putting the team in position to win. And Phil Hughes has done that, as the team has won 66 of the 111 games he's started. For reference, if a team's winning percentage was .600, that would equal 97 wins. Again... that's a #4 starter, not the team's "ace".

So be upset if Phil Hughes throws another stinker. Curse him out. Express your desire to see somebody better in the #4 starter's role. But until the team loses more games than wins with Hughes on the mound, then don't try and tell me the Yankees need to remove him from the rotation.

I said don't try.

Yankees Then & Now The History Of The Yankees

I recently picked up a copy of the book "New York Yankees Then & Now" published by the Thunder Bay Press and I have to say I was quite pleased with the book. I definitely recommend anyone who is a Yankees fan or who knows a Yankees fan to get a copy of this book because it is really worth the read. It touches on every aspect of the Yankees history from their time as the Baltimore Orioles, their ups and downs while they were the Highlanders, the sharing of the Polo Grounds with the New York Giants,their first World Series victory, the Yankees 2009 World Series victory, and every one of the 25 World Series Championships in between. The pictures are absolutely stunning and really show just what makes the Yankees and their history special to this beautiful game of baseball. Check out the book if you can and stay tuned here because we will be giving away one copy to a lucky reader very very soon.

This Day In Yankees History 5/16

On this day in 2006 the Yankees did something that they only did for the fourth time in their storied history and that is coming from behind to win a game from a nine run deficit. The Yankees trailed 9-0 to the Texas Rangers heading to the bottom of the 2nd inning before winning the game 14-13 on a Jorge Posada walk off two out two run home run.