Category Archives: Sports

russell martin

Baseball stats n’ facts: Week 4

If you saw my previous article written earlier today, you know that the Red Sox have the best record in baseball. After one month, the Red Sox, Royals and Pirates are all alone in first place, and after Colorado lost two to Arizona this weekend, the Rockies and Diamondbacks are now tied for the division lead. Take that for what it’s worth, we’ve seen it before.

With that in mind, here are some notes from the last week of this great baseball season.

- As mentioned in my Red Sox article, Boston is 14-0 in games that Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront pitch.

- Boston’s schedule through May 30 includes 27 games against the Twins, Blue Jays, White Sox, Indians, Rays and Phillies.

- Red Sox hit 29 doubles in seven games last week (ten more than anyone else).

- After a slow start, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 11-4 against the Cardinals, Reds, Braves and D-Backs.

- The Pirates’ pitching staff, statistically one of the best, is led by A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and Jeff Locke. Who would have guessed.

- As of Saturday those free-spending Angels, Dodgers and Blue Jays were all under .500 (Dodgers now at 12-12).

- Justin Upton has as many home runs as the Miami Marlins team.

- Saturday was the first time the Braves had lost a game in which Justin Upton had homered. They were 10-0.

- Surprise! Despite all that was written prior to the season about losing Swisher, Ibanez, Martin, A-Rod, Granderson and Teixeira, the Yankees have hit the most home runs in the American League.

- Rays have homered in 14 straight games. They had zero the six games before that.

- Without a doubt, Angels Joe Blanton has been the worst pitcher in baseball. In five starts he has allowed 47 hits (including 18 extra-base hits and four stolen bases) in about 27 innings. Only four individual batters (Bryce Harper, Chris Davis, Justin Upton and Carlos Santana) have a higher OPS than he has allowed.

- A lot of big-time hitters are in serious slumps. Andrew McCutchen was 1-22 (.045) last week, Albert Pujols 3-27, Carlos Gonzalez 2-24, Mike Trout 3-24, and Adam LaRoche 0-24.

- Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista hit a combined 8 home runs in a five-game stretch this week, yet the Blue Jays went 1-4 in those games.

- And now my crusade going after terrible relievers and pitchers who can’t throw strikes:

 – Baltimore Orioles had won 17 straight extra-innings games. How did that end? Closer Jim Johnson hits a batter to load the bases and then walks Maicer Izturis, of all people (on four pitches), to lose the game.

– In the same inning, Blue Jays’ Aaron Laffey walked Yankees’ Ben Francisco (backup DH), Chris Stewart (backup catcher) and Jayson Nix (backup third baseman).

– In that game, Blue Jays’ pitchers walked ten Yankees and and Francisco, Stewart, Nix, Ichiro and Brett Gardner accounted for seven of those.

– He didn’t account for all of them, but two of Felix Doubront’s last three games had 15 walks issued by both teams. In Saturday’s game there were eight bases-on-balls in the first two innings. Yawn…

– In a tie game in the seventh inning on Saturday, Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was pulled after walking a batter. His replacement Joe Kelly threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, then walked in the go-ahead run.

– Cubs Carlos Marmol has walked six batters in his last four innings. On the season he has 10 BB in less than 11 innings pitched. (Do you trust him?)

 Players of the Week
Couple of unlikely candidates.

AL: Josh Donaldson. The Athletics third baseman had 12 hits with 7 doubles and 7 walks, and knocked in 10 runs.

NL: Russell Martin. After a dreadful start, Martin (along with all the Pirates) have really picked up.  Martin hit .171 the first two weeks and .409 the last two weeks, including four home runs last week leading Pittsburgh on a 4-2 road trip.

david ortiz

All Smiles in Red Sox Nation

AL BEast Notebook – April 29

There’s a lot of buzz right now about the Red Sox hot start. Yes, after a 93-loss season, today they have the best record in all of baseball at 18-7, and they’ve been quite impressive. Here are some of the reasons why.

- Starting pitching has allowed three runs or less in 23 out of 25 games.

- Boston is 14-0 in games started by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront.

- Boston hitters are batting 52 points higher than their opponents (.272 to .221).

- With runners on base, the Red Sox hitters lead the league in average (.310), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Conversely, with runners on base, Red Sox pitchers have allowed the lowest average (.176), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

- Dustin Pedroia is hitting .330, along with the second-highest walk total in the AL. He actually only has six extra base hits and leads the American League in singles. But all those singles and walks is just fine because…

- Mike Napoli has fallen in love with the Green Monster, hitting a league-high 13 doubles in 25 games and compiling 27 RBI already.

- Jacoby Ellsbury is only batting .273, but he has 11 stolen bases already.

- David Ortiz is back to his old self. He has 16 hits in eight games and dating back to July, has a 20-game hitting streak. In those eight games this season he has 11 RBI and a .529 on-base percentage.

- Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan struggled then got hurt, yet his replacement Andrew Bailey has been superb. In seven games and innings since taking over, Bailey has given up just three hits, one run, and picked up five saves.

- Looking at the upcoming schedule, you can expect them to keep it up. If we pretend the Twins (who are at 11-10) lose in Detroit tonight, then only 3 of the next 30 games for the Red Sox are against teams above .500. Take a look at the schedule.

It has been a crazy month in Boston. After all they’ve gone through with a Patriots Day tragedy and successful citywide manhunt, it feels appropriate that they are having a happy start.

daniel nava

late-April Look at the AL East Awards

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Four weeks into the season isn’t too soon to evaluate award races for the AL East. Well, maybe it is… but it’s still fun.

First Month Awards

MVP: Chris Davis, Orioles. Davis leads the division in home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs created and WAR (sabermetric stats), and all that with virtually no protection in the lineup (J.J. Hardy, batting .181). Napoli and Cano honorable mention.

Best Pitcher: Matt Moore, Rays. 4-0 in four starts in two good hitters’ parks (Arlington and Camden Yards) along with dominant performances over the Yankees and Indians. ERA of just 1.04, WHIP of 0.92 and batting average against of .116. Apologies to Clay Buchholz.

Biggest Surprise: Daniel Nava, Red Sox. The 30-year old career fourth outfielder’s strong start has allowed him to take over left field from Jonny Gomes and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Nava is third in the AL East in on-base plus slugging percentage (behind just Davis and Cano) with 18 hits in 18 games along with 10 walks, 4 homers, 11 runs, and 15 RBI.

Biggest Disappointment: David Price, Rays. Tampa is 0-5 in last year Cy Young winner’s starts. After racking up more Ks than hits three years in a row, he’s struck out just 26 batters while allowing 37 hits, and lots of the extra-base variety (five home runs and ten doubles), although neither in recent loss to Yankees).

Manager: John Farrell, Red Sox. The new sheriff in town came to fix the pitching in Boston and in April he has. Starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in 20 of the Sox 22 games. Boston’s team ERA has rebounded from worst to best. The offense has also been surprisingly strong, leading the division in on-base percentage, helping the Red Sox jump out to an early tie for best record in the American League at 15-7.

Rookie: Manny Machado, Orioles. He’s not technically a rookie since he had 181 at bats in 2012, but the 20 year old wonder kid has blossomed into an All-Star already. He’s batted #2 and played third base every inning of Baltimore’s games. Along with racking up defensive highlights he is showing a clutch gene, going 6 for 9 with runners in scoring position and two outs, for 11 of his 14 RBI. If not rookie, he’s been the breakout player at least.

Crazy Stat: Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Colby Rasmus have combined to hit 22 home runs and just 31 singles. They also have 98 strikeouts.

Updated Projections

Orioles 88 (0)

Blue Jays 87 (-2)

Yankees 84 (0)

Red Sox 84 (+4)

Rays 80 (-3)

josh johnson

Injury Updates and Recent Moves

AL BEast Notebook – April 26

Here’s an update of injuries and significant transactions (from reputable sources around the teams) all organized nicely to help you keep tabs on what’s going on around the division.

New York Yankees

- Kevin Youkilis has been out a week with a sore back. He was supposed to be back yesterday but needed some more rest.

- As for the regulars, Curtis Granderson is the most likely to return first. He was hitting off a tee this week and could be two weeks away. Mark Teixeira was targeting May 1, but is now realistically hoping for a late-May return. Michael Pineda threw a simulated inning and is hoping to make a June return. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are hoping to be ready in July.

- (UPDATE: it was an eventful night at the Stadium. Francisco Cervelli was hit by a foul ball in the first inning and fractured his hand; he needs surgery and will be out a couple months. Austin Romine is being called up to be the backup catcher. In the third inning, Ivan Nova left with a sore elbow.)

Boston Red Sox

- Shane Victorino has missed three games this week with back stiffness. On Thursday John Farrell said he will not return to the lineup until he is “symptom-free.”

- John Lackey threw this week and is on track to come off the DL and pitch against the Astros on Sunday, which is like a glorified rehab assignment.

- Joel Hanrahan threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and is headed to Pautucket on Friday to begin a rehab assignment.

- Craig Breslow is planned to pitch back-to-back days in Pautucket this weekend and could return to Boston next week.

- Franklin Morales had a setback in his rehab, developing some soreness in his chest this week. There’s no timetable on his return.

Other moves: Alfredo Aceves was demoted to AAA. Daniel Bard was brought back up this week after Steven Wright came up for one poor outing before getting sent back down. Allen Webster was called up and started one of the doubleheader games and promptly returned (although he pitched well). Backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway is in Boston.

Baltimore Orioles

- Steve Johnson pitched a rehab game in the minors on Wednesday and didn’t do particularly well, giving up four runs in five innings. He could be back in Baltimore next week.

- Brian Roberts has not been cleared for baseball activities. He jogged on a treadmill in a pool this week (sounds like fun). Late May is a realistic expectation.

- Tsuyoshi Wada, recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched four innings in an extended Spring Training game this week. Orioles hope he can be back in June.

- Wilson Betemit, torn PCL in his right knee, should be back sometime this summer.

- Top prospect Dylan Bundy is dealing with elbow/arm problems and will visit Dr. Andrews on Monday for a second opinion. 20 year old Bundy hasn’t thrown off a mound since March.

Other moves: It has been a game of musical chairs for Orioles pitchers lately. Josh Stinson was called up for one start and was promptly sent back down. Reliever Alex Burnett was also called up and returned a couple days later. Zach Britton was called up Thursday and scheduled to start Monday after Jake Arrieta was sent to the minors.

Toronto Blue Jays

- Josh Johnson will miss Friday’s scheduled start because of triceps tightness, though the move was described as precautionary. He has had a poor April, giving up four runs and not pitching past the sixth inning in three of his four starts.

- Sergio Santos is eligible to come off the DL on April 30 but I can’t seem to find any update on him. Seems like he’s not likely to come back for at least another week.

- Jose Reyes is targeting the All-Star break as a return date from his severely sprained ankle.

- Blue Jays have several lesser pitchers out without much of a timetable (Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchinson).

Other moves: Blue Jays picked up Aaron Laffey off waivers and he will start in place of Johnson today (Friday) against the Yankees (New York usually struggle against lefties.) Ramon Ortiz and Brad Lincoln were swapped for the bullpen.

Tampa Bay Rays

- Yunel Escobar left the game Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring and not expected to play Friday. He’s day-to-day.

- Luke Scott is set to make his season debut on Tuesday.

- Jeff Niemann underwent shoulder surgery April 10 and will miss the season.

shin soo choo

Feats n’ Facts for Week 3

(April 22)

Last week you may recall I expressed my agitation with pitchers who can’t throw strikes. I don’t know if umpires uniformly decided on shrinking the strike zone (besides the one from the Rays/Rangers game a couple weeks back) but there have been more walks than I can ever remember. This week saw some of the same but also some signs of improvement.

- Indians and Red Sox pitchers combined to walk 15 batters in Tuesday’s nine inning game. Seriously, who has time for that?

- With an obviously different home plate ump on Wednesday, Braves and Royals pitchers struck out 19 batters without issuing a single base-on-balls. My kind of game.

- Phillies hitters went four straight complete games this week without taking a walk.

- Athletics collected 22 free passes in the same time period.

- On Monday, Cliff Lee issued his first walk in his last 169 batters faced. On Saturday he walked three batters in five innings.

- Adam Lind, the Blue Jays batter hitting .227 with no homers on the season came into the batter’s box five times this weekend against the Yankees and might as well have left his bat in the dugout. He walked in all five plate appearances.

- The Amazing Astros

– Erik Bedard continues his bizarre season. In this week’s start Bedard walked four of the first five batters of the game, gave up six runs and only got one out.

– Philip Humber and the Astros bullpen had an unfortunately memorable day Saturday. By the time they had retired the tenth Indian out, 24 batters had been on base including 18 that touched home plate. In three (plus) innings Houston allowed 17 hits, 4 walks, committed two errors and hit a batter. The home crowd was not pleased.

And like Bedard a week ago, Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir couldn’t even stay in the game long enough to get a win despite getting 19 runs of support!

 - Sadly, that wasn’t the only wacky pitching performance of Saturday night.  Tigers’ Rick Porcello put up this line: 0.2 innings, 9 hits, 9 runs. The first eight of those hits were singles. The ninth was not (no sir, Mike Trout grand slam).

- Johan Santana who? In four starts Mets pitcher phenom Matt Harvey has a .108 batting average against. He’s given up 10 hits in 29 innings.

- Reigning Cy Young winner David Price has offered up five homers and ten doubles already. Indians pitcher Brett Myers has allowed ten homers and five doubles.

- Speaking of Price: Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and Price’s teams are 0-12 in games they start.

- Adam Dunn is at it again. He homered Sunday afternoon, snapping a 0-31 slump. Teammate Jeff Keppinger might catch him; he’s still hitless in his last 24 at bats.

- Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks picked up his third hit of the season Sunday. It took him 14 games and 51 at-bats, but he finally got #3. It raised his batting average to .059.

- Braves are 8-0 when Justin Upton hits a home run.

- Upton has hit 9 homers and 7 singles. (J.P. Arencibia, Dexter Fowler and Mark Reynolds each have 7 home runs and 6 singles.)

- Braves won three straight last weekend over the Nationals. This weekend they lost three straight to the Pirates.

- We all know that it seems the Dodgers have been playing with Monopoly money recently, adding payroll like it’s going out of style. Well, Saturday night’s lineup featured Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston Jr, A.J. Ellis, Juan Uribe, and Luis Cruz. Not exactly what you were expecting.

- In one inning Friday night, Brewers Jean Segura stole second base, got caught in a rundown at third base, ended up on first base again, and got caught stealing second base. In a span of five pitches. Hard to believe.

- The two batters with the highest on-base-percentage this season are teammates in Cincinnati. Joey Votto’s OBP is .522 thanks to a ridiculous 25 walks, and leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo is one better, OBP of .523. You would think the manager would maximize production by putting them together in the batting order, but not Dusty Baker…

Players of the Week

AL: Mike Napoli. Gotta go with a Boston player this week. Napoli had 7 extra base hits and 10 RBI.

NL: Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo went 10/24 with 3 doubles, 1 triple and a homer. He also walked 3 times and stole 2 bases, which is as good as two more doubles, helping the surprise Rockies come a Sunday bullpen meltdown away from winning 9 in a row.

boston

greatest day in Northeast sports history?

(April 20)

For a mid-April Saturday with no rings or trophies being awarded, it has been one of the most incredible sports days in the Northeast I can ever remember. In Boston, the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics were all in action, and after yesterday’s heroic triumph over evil, what a day for celebration! For New York, the Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Mets and Devils were all playing and gave fans a great show.

Here’s the rundown:

Boston Red Sox triumphantly return to Fenway with a great ceremony, dramatic three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to win it; Ortiz returns and contributes, Buchholz goes to 4-0

New York Yankees win in 11 innings; Kuroda pitches a gem and Rivera saves the game

New York Knicks matched up with the Boston Celtics in playoff action

Brooklyn Nets trampled the Bulls in a dominant playoff debut

New York Rangers win in a shootout

New Jersey Devils win big

Boston Bruins returned to home-ice action with an emotional ceremony and played a great game

New York Mets played a great game with the Nationals and at least got to see Bryce Harper show some magic

Traveling a little farther south but still in the region…

Baltimore Orioles swept a double header on the memorial day for the late Earl Weaver

Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the first-place Braves

Pittsburgh Penguins won their hockey game in dramatic fashion

Philadelphia Flyers took care of business

- Afore-mentioned Washington Nationals won in dramatic fashion

Washington Capitals won big over division-leading Canadiens

What more could you ask for?

tim duncan

Miller’s NBA Playoff Predictions

(April 20)

In my first year trying I dominated my fantasy basketball league, finishing 9 (Roto) points ahead of the next guy, grabbing the most assists, steals, blocks, and three pointers. Now that that is done, the next obstacle is the real NBA Playoffs.

Generally, the playoffs go to the teams that play better defense, shoot better free throws and stay healthy, and that is where I trend.  Here are my picks for the first round (in order of comment length). There are traditionally few upsets in the NBA, but I pick some.

Nets vs. Bulls: When the Nets fired Avery Johnson back in the day when they were 14-14 I said it was a good thing for the team and that Brooklyn will improve and not only make the playoffs but they would win a series. Joachim Noah has a bad foot that makes him doubtful for Game 1 and compromised in the series. Derrick Rose could surprise everyone and decide to play, and that could change things as the Nets have struggled against quick and offense-minded point guards. But Rose hasn’t faced NBA competition in twelve months, so even if he did play he wouldn’t be effective. Meanwhile, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are playing their best ball of the year right now, and a few extra days off should help Joe Johnson be in prime condition. Reggie Evans has emerged as the best rebounder in the NBA. Historically, D-Will performs at the highest level in the playoffs. Bulls are a trendy pick; in fact, it seems like the Nets are the underdogs. Nets advance in their first year in Brooklyn. Nets in 5

Knicks vs. Celtics. Knicks set the record for most threes in a season. Historically, teams reliant on the three-ball have not done as well in the playoffs. Also, the Knicks haven’t won a playoff series in thirteen years. They are facing a Celtics team that is missing Rajon Rondo but still has KG, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers, along with Jason Terry off the bench who has hit big playoff shots in his career. Celtics have been waiting for the playoffs for a month now. They don’t have much depth, especially in the middle, and that could cause concern, especially if Garnett gets in foul trouble. Carmelo Anthony is the best player in the series, but if he and J.R. Smith fall in love with the mid-range and shots from downtown, Boston will come away on top. And how nice that would be for a city coming off such a terrible tragedy. Celtics in 7

Nuggets and Warriors. I like the Warriors’ team and I want to pick them here, but for a lot of the same reason as the Knicks, I’ve gotta go with Denver. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are great shooters but in the playoffs the better defensive team usually controls the game. Even in Curry’s best games when he takes over the Warriors still typically don’t win. And the Nuggets are really solid perimeter defenders. One concern for Denver is health; they are losing players (Gallinari, Faried, etc.) at the wrong time of the year. If Golden State can get the ball inside to David Lee and Andrew Bogut regularly rather than I like their chances but I’m afraid they won’t do that. Nuggets in 7

- Clippers vs. Grizzlies. These are two great teams in one of the best matchups of the first round and a rematch of last year. Lob City won in seven games last year, but I’ve gotta go with my gut and my heart and pick the Grizzlies; I like their defense and inside game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. And to pick another stat I like, Memphis is a Top Ten free throw team while the Clippers are a bottom five, and free throws could make the difference in a long tight series. Grizzlies in 7

- Thunder and Rockets. An intriguing matchup as James Harden faces his former team. There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the season as to whether the Thunder made a big mistake “breaking up the band” so early but they still managed to finish on top in the West and are the favorites to represent in the Finals again. Rockets are exciting with Harden, James Lin, Chandler Parsons and Thomas Robinson but they just don’t play much defense and OKC is simply a much better team. Thunder in 6

Spurs vs. Lakers. Lakers aren’t very good with or without Kobe. Tim Duncan is having one of his best ever seasons and now is where his focus has been. There is no focus in LA and Dwight Howard is going to be shooting about 18 free throws a game. How many can he make? Not enough. I like San Antonio big in this series. Spurs in 4

Heat vs. Bucks.  LeBron and Bosh are playing their best ball of their careers and while Wade has played in just 3 of the last 10 games, he played 23 effective minutes in their last contest. Heat haven’t even been trying and they’ve still won 8 in a row. Won’t be a sweep, but the Bucks won’t challenge the Heat too much. Heat in 5

Pacers vs. Hawks. Atlanta has been falling apart lately and they just aren’t that good! They haven’t beaten anybody good in over a month. Indiana’s defense will wear out the Hawks and end the series quickly. Pacers in 5

EAST
Heat in 5
Celtics in 7
Pacers in 5
Nets in 5
WEST
Spurs in 4
Thunder in 6
Nuggets in 7
Grizzlies in 7
FINALS
Heat over Spurs in 6
brook lopez

And to Think I Saw It on East 161st Street

AL BEast Notebook – April 19

Yankees lost to the Diamondback yesterday in a game so strange it would make Dr. Seuss proud.

-Naturally, it started with Mr. Brook from Brooklyn throwing out the first pitch.

D-Back rookie shortstop Didi Gregorius hit a home run on the first pitch he ever saw in the major leagues

- In bottom of eighth inning down 2-1, bases loaded and one out and two strikes, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch on the foot that forced in the tying run. But wait; the umpires say he didn’t check his swing, and the strikeout overrules the hit-by-pitch. Two outs and runners stay. (Youkilis followed with another strikeout.)

- Arizona led off the 9th, 11th, and 12th innings with a double

- After the ninth inning double, the D-Backs were thrown out at the plate and reloaded the bases on a catcher’s interference.

- Francisco Cervelli, who looked like he hurt his hand when it was struck by the bat in the CI mentioned above, hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. It was the third time in the series that the D-Backs blew a lead.

- Mariano Rivera was unavailable after finishing the previous two games.

- In Arizona 11th and 12th innings, Yankees’ pitcher David Phelps (pitching instead of Rivera) allowed leadoff doubles (as mentioned above), a walk, hit batter and another catcher interference by Cervelli. With no outs and runners at first and third, A.J. Pollock tried bunting but Cody Ross was thrown out at third base.

Catcher interference is something you practically never see. You would think that manager Joe Girardi, a former catcher, would have said something to Cervelli after the first instance where he clearly reached his glove forward to get struck by the bat and may have injured his hand. But nope, Cervelli did the same thing a second time.

- Eric Chavez doubled to clear the loaded bases in the 12th. Chavez, who played in New York the last two years, never had a game with three RBI for the Yankees.

- And of course, New Yorker Zack Humple caught two home run balls in the bleachers. Humple is the author of the book, “How to Snag Major League Baseballs.”

Just another day at the ballpark.

derek jeter

Jeter has a new crack in ankle, out ’til ASB

AL BEast Notebook – April 18

Well, Eduardo Nunez, this is your chance.

After breaking his ankle in the playoffs last October, Derek Jeter set his sights on April 1, Opening Day, to return to the field. When that didn’t work the goal was May 1. Now the time for seeing The Captain playing shortstop in pinstripes is way down the road.

A CT scan revealed a small crack in his ankle in the area of his previous injury. It is a new crack. He has been declared out until July, at least. That will be after his 39th birthday. That will be at least nine months after he last played. And that is best case scenario. Early August is more likely.

Eduardo Nunez has been the everyday shortstop in his absence and that will continue to be the case. After struggling defensively for much of his career he has actually been solid with the glove and throwing. He has not hit at all yet, just .240, and Nunez has missed basically five games already from getting hit by a pitch a couple times.

People have said for years that Jeter can’t be an everyday shortstop anymore, and even after he returns that will likely be the case. So here we are at the post-Jeter Yankees. I’ve said that Nunez can be a quality starting shortstop in this league, and this is the time for him to show that.

Nunez won’t be able to replicate Jeter’s 216 hits, but being in the lineup every night will help him be comfortable and get in a better rhythm. He is capable of racking up a .275 average, 10 homers and 15 steals by July 1. For a backup shortstop that should be fine. However, the only other infielder on the team is Jayson Nix, a weak offensive player that was pinch-hit for last weekend even though it caused Cano to move to short and Francisco Cervelli to play second. There’s no additional room for injuries in the infield.

As for Jeter and the Yankees, it’s hard to say what’s left in the tank. This latest injury is probably a result of Jeter pushing himself too hard for Opening Day, so the Yankees are going to take this slowly and carefully. Hard to believe, but Alex Rodriguez could be back before Jeter.

It has been a rough month for AL East shortstops. Along with Derek Jeter’s extended absence, the Blue Jays also have an All-Star (Jose Reyes) that is out for three months with an ankle injury. The Red Sox just got their shortstop Stephen Drew back after a concussion. The Orioles’ J.J. Hardy is batting .193, but that is still a lot higher than Yunel Escobar (.115) for the Rays.

robinson cano

what’s the purpose of an off-speed pitch?

AL BEast Notebook – April 17

In the bottom of the fourth inning on Tuesday, the Yankees were trailing the Diamondbacks 2-0. With one out and runners on first and second, Brandon McCarthy was pitching to Robinson Cano.

McCarthy threw a slider outside, another slider in the dirt, then a changeup for ball three. Cano taking all the way, the next pitch was a changeup right down the middle, followed by a slow inside curveball that was fouled away.

The sixth pitch of the at bat was yet another changeup, right down the middle, and Cano blasted it to Timbuktu.

So yeah, what is the point of an off-speed pitch, specifically a changeup? To interrupt the batter’s timing and keep him off balance. So why in the world is the pitcher throwing six off-speed pitches in a row? I think Robinson Cano is perfectly capable of hitting an 84 mph fastball, and when you don’t throw a real fastball to him–throwing six consecutive slower pitches–that’s all a changeup is!

Cano’s hit was a three run shot that was just crushed. Yankees won the game 4-2.

Dear Brandon McCarthy: you have a 94 mph fastball; use it. Otherwise you might as well be Jamie Moyer, and Jamie Moyer isn’t sneaking an 84 mph fastball past Robinson Cano.