I had a few random thoughts on the last couple of games, so I’m going to scrap my usual recap format and just go with some bullet points.
- Have you ever seen anyone quite as happy after hitting a walk-off home run as Alex Rodriguez was yesterday? The look on his face as he rounded first was classic, and the other players seemed to share in that joy. It seems like he has fit seamlessly into this clubhouse, as the great chemistry that was present before his return has not dissipated. The knock against the Yankees in recent years has been that the club gave off a sterile, corporate feel and that they guys seemed to form cliques and remain distant from one another. From all reports that I have heard from the beat writers, this is no longer the case.
- Mark Teixeira is up to .238/.364/.484 after a 4-4, 4 RBI game yesterday. One or two more performances like that and his stat line will be about where it should be at this point in the season. Who could have predicted that he would start poorly and then gradually improve his numbers as the season went on? He has only done that in every single season in his career.
- From the replays that I saw, the Stadium seemed incredibly loud over the last two games. Hmmm, better weather, improved play from the team, exciting finishes, and suddenly the ballpark does not sound like a cathedral anymore. People judging the ambiance of the Stadium based on a few rain filled blowouts probably need to reassess their positions.
- Nick Swisher has two extra base hits since the end of April while Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are hot. With the day game following the night game, it might make sense to give Swish the day off. For that matter, Robinson Cano has played in every game thus far, and could probably use a day off as well.
- Steve talks about it below, but I do not like the simulated inning idea for Joba. The Yankees are wasting the bullets in his arm in the bullpen, as his innings are limited for a reason and the club should not be messing with their most valuable asset. Hopefully this is just a temporary measure until they can figure out another way to get him in rhythm for the first inning.
- Frankie Cervelli will be a major leaguer for a long time. He will not hit enough to start, but guys with his smooth defensive skills and passion for the game can hang around the league for a very long time.
- I had no problem with Joe Girardi’s use of the bullpen yesterday. The popular refrain has been that Rivera should have been used to face the heart of the Twins order in the 8th, particularly after Joe showed he was willing to use Mo for two innings by pitching him in the 10th. In regard to the first issue, you cannot blame Joe for not doing something that no manager in baseball would do. Although it is clearly the most prudent move, it would take the abolishment of the save rule to convince managers to use their closers in an inning other than the 9th. In regard to the 10th inning, Mariano had thrown only 11 pitches in the 9th. There is a difference between planning to go to Mariano for two innings, which Joe was not willing to do, and going to him for a second inning after an insanely easy first.
- Jose Veras is probably going to lose his job on Tuesday when Brian Bruney returns. If the Yankees could get something for Eric Hacker, maybe they can score a middling prospect for Veras. Alfredo Aceves, on the other hand, seems to be earning more important work, a development that I like. He throws strikes, an attribute that only Phil Coke seems to share among the Yankee middle relievers.
- While I was fine with the bullpen management yesterday, I did not like the decision to bunt with Derek Jeter in the 8th yesterday. A team with a great offense and awful bullpen should be playing for the win right there rather than giving up at-bats from the top of the order to hope to score on an out. You need to have faith that one of your top three hitters can single in a run in that spot, keeping a rally going rather than just settling for a tie score.
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