The Ghosts have Crossed the Street

October 10, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees came back from two runs down in the ninth, and then overcame a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the eleventh en route to a Mark Teixiera homer, and a 2-0 lead in the series against the Twins.  The victory makes one wonder if the mystique of old Yankee Stadium has jumped the short distance into the Bronx Bomber’s new stomping grounds.

The Yankees caught a few big breaks in this one.  Terrible umpiring was prevalent from the first pitch, but in the eleventh, Joe Mauer hit what appeared to be a leadoff ground rule double.  The umpire called the ball foul, though replays proved it to be fair by at least a foot (Words cannot describe how bad this call was.  The umpire was standing on top of it, and staring right at it.  Melky Cabrera touched it in fair territory.  Bad call).  Mauer would later single, but was forced out at the plate in an epic escape by Yankee’s reliever David Robertson.

Earlier on in the game, with the game still tied at zip, Matt Tolbert singled with two outs and Delmon Young at second.  Carlos Gomez took a wide turn rounding second, and Nick Swisher quickly got the ball into Derek Jeter.  Jeter who is seemingly, always in the right place at the right time in the month of October, applied the tag to Gomez just before Delmon Young reached homeplate.  Inning over, game still tied.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Mannys went out.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Manny's went out.

Also, a moment no one touched on during the coverage.  Brendan Harris hit a key rbi triple for the Twins.  While watching, the first thing I thought when Johnny Damon whiffed on it was, “that will be an inside the park homer,” but replays show Harris pimping it (definition: verb. admiring a batted ball that you think will reach the stands.) and getting off to a slow start.  He had a stand up triple and slowed down into third.  If he busts it out of the box, Harris may have had a rare homerun without leaving the yard.

A third break for the Yankees is that in his last two outings, Joe Nathan has looked pathetic.  Tuesday, against the Tigers, he pulled a Houdini on a ball smoked at Orlando Cabrera that caught Curtis Granderson napping at first, and tonight, he came in and could not throw a strike.  Nathan looked shook on the mound.  He was sweating like a pig.  When Nathan did find the zone, he found a bit too much of it, and paid the price.  Teixiera got a hard single off of Joe, and Alex Rodriguez followed with an absolute blast that made New York fans forget about the past, until tomorrow.

Jose Mijares dodged a bullet in the tenth, a runner inherited from Joe Nathan, Brett Gardner took off from third on a line drive to Orlando Cabrera and was doubled off to end a very promising threat.  (In Gardner’s defense, if he froze and got back to third, Derek Jeter was halfway to second base, and would have been thrown out anyways.)

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

This whole situation led to the very surprising use of Francsico Cervelli in the game.  When Posada was pulled for a pinch runner Francisco was actually at the bar in centerfield with his spikes on.  Cervelli came in and handled David Robertson effectively to get out of a huge jam.

After the first two games of the series the Steinbrenner Plan is working to perfection.  C.C. got a win, AJ Burnett pitched wildly effective, and Mark Teixiera collected the walkoff “wallscraper.”  Yankees fans are just hoping the Plan works in the House that Kirby Built.

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Day 4, The Ken Caminiti Cup

October 2, 2009
A recollection of Baseballs Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

A recollection of Baseball's Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

Here it is, day 4.  It seems the baseball season is almost over.  It’s funny how 162 games can go by so fast.  Well the stats have all been tabulated, but at Blue Duck, you need a certain “Je ne se quois” to take down a major award.  Especially one named after a baseball purist, and straight edge individual like Mr. Ken Caminiti.  The results are in, here are the best ballplayers from the 2009 season.

NL

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand?  Yes Albert, we see you.

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand? Yes Albert, we see you.

Boomer
Albert Pujols

As much as I’d love to name somebody, anybody else MVP, I must continue my Cardinal love and name Pujols the MVP.  He is hands down the best hitter in baseball.  He is one of the most consistent hitter in the league, except his standards are much higher than all others.  Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder can compete in the power categories (HR and RBI), but Pujols hits at least 30 points higher than each of them.  He’s also got 20 more runs on the season than both of them because he’s a smarter baserunner than most people realize.  Add in the OPS of 1.108 and Gold Glove defense at firstbase, and Phat Albert is the obvious MVP choice.

Carebear
Hanley Ramirez

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, Id say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, I'd say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Yes, I know, I’m an idiot.  Pujols is the MVP, but everyone is going to pick him so I didn’t.  Hanley may be the best all around player in the NL right now, though.  That strictly refers to the fact that Hanley has a little speed and plays short.

Hanley is a complete hitter as well.  Hes hitting .341 right now with 24 homers, and 105 rbi’s.  He also has 26 steals.  Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki are really the last of the powerful shortstops that we got so used to in the mid-90’s/early 2000’s (ARod moved to 3b, Nomar broke in half, Tejada aged 7 years in the last 3 seasons, Renteria was never that powerful, and neither was Jeter).

Ramirez also plays a solid shortstop.  Only 10 errors this season make him one of the better guys up the middle especially when you consider his range.

More importantly, though, with the bat, .410 OBP, .952 OPS.  He’s 25 years old.  Gonna hang around a while, and could prevent a Pujols Triple Crown for years to come.

AL

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Boomer
Joe Mauer

With two batting titles already to his name, Joe Mauer added the element of power to his game.  And did he ever, he hit 28 HR, 15 more than his previous career high.  As most hitters hit more homeruns, they sacrifice batting average.  Not Mauer, he hit 20 points over his career high.  He did this all while catching 100 games with Gold Glove defense.  He’s helped carry Minnesota to the final weekend of the season, still fighting for a playoff spot.  When you lead the league in OPS and batting AVG, you’re bound to be in the MVP race.  Adding power and great defense is just the icing on the cake.
Note from Carebear: Despite my sign stealing article, I love Joe Mauer, and I played with the stats a bit today.  Mauer and Pujols are two of four guys in the league with at least 70 walks who have more walks than k’s.  The other two are Todd Helton and Dustin Pedroia.  All Great hitters trying to contend in a category that Ty Cobb and Ted Williams would be proud of, the BB/SO ratio:  Pujols, 1.80. Mauer, 1.16.  Nicely done.

(Boomer’s honorable mention: Derek Jeter

Jeter has put together a great year in his age 35 season.  He’s always been a solid hitter and he had a down year last year, but he bounced back with a  big year.  Girardi put him at leadoff this year, and he responded by hitting .335 with an OBP of  .407 and 30 steals.  He’s also been knocked for his slipping defense recently.  He improved to league average defense this year too.  While a candidate for MVP til mid-August, his numbers don’t neccessarily compare with the Texieras, Cabreras, or Mauers.  But his importance cannot be underestimated.  Maybe this is my lifetime achievement award.  As much as I usually hate players being rewarded for career accomplishments, Jeter is the exception to the rule.  And all this is coming from a Sox fan.  Congrats Jeter, well done.)

Carebear

Miguel Cabrera

I hate to be that guy that just picks differently for the sake of picking differently, but I really just love Miguel Cabrera.  He may be the most underrated player in baseball.  Here’s some food for thought:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1057 3985 695 1204 227 21 238 725 504 634 .302 .381 .549
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1036 3905 629 1218 252 12 208 751 444 823 .312 .384 .542

Those are Ken Griffey’s numbers(Griffey’s numbers are the top set.) up to the age of 26 compared to Cabrera’s to that same age.  As you can see they are eerily similar.  I am not saying they are the same type of player, but very similar hitters, and that says a lot of Cabrera.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

This season, the Venezuelan is hitting .329 with 33 HR’s and 101 RBI’s.  He is going to finish the season with 200 hits, and the same OPS as Hanley at .952.  His defense is really not terrible at first base either.  7 errors is not good for a first baseman, but manageable.

Miggy won the quadruple crown for the Tigers this year.  He also led the team in runs, hits, walks, and total bases (by 45).  He was the dominant leader on an otherwise weak offense that could win the AL central.

Cabrera is the best right handed hitter in the American League.

That wraps up our awards for 2009.  Stay Tuned for BlueDuck’s MLB preview and more baseball garbage.  Feel free to look back at the Comeback Player, Closer Award, and Cy Young Award from earlier in the week.  Thanks Baseball-reference.com for the stats.