Tag Archives: joe maddon

The Yankees Should Think Twice Before Starting A.J. Burnett

Joe Girardi, if you’re listening, at all… do not, DO NOT start A.J. Burnett in game 4 of the ALCS. PLEASE!!!

Learn from the mistake that Joe Maddon made in game 2 of the ALDS when he started James Shields against Texas. He knew that Shields wasn’t pitching well all year. He knew that Shields couldn’t shake his struggles and control problems. He knew that Shields wasn’t the right man to pitch in that situation, but still did. Why? Because he’s “Big Game” James. He was the guy that led Tampa’s charge to the World Series in 2008. Because he was hoping that James would find his motor once again in another big time series. He was wrong.

Girardi better be right about A.J. Burnett

This is the exact same scenario with A.J. Burnett. He’s 10-15 with a 5+ ERA, this is after a 6-1 start. He lost control of his stuff and never regained it. He struggled mightily against everyone. He had a 7.80 ERA in August and a 6.14 ERA in September. All of these numbers should tell any sensible manager that starting Burnett is a no-no even in the Arizona Fall League playoffs.

Yet here is Joe Girardi revealing his 4 man rotation for the playoffs and after Andy Pettite in game 3, there it is Allan John Burnett set to go in game  4. Why? Because last year when the Yankees only went with a three man rotation in their World Series run it was Burnett who set the tone in game 2 of the ALCS and virtually saved the Yankees season with a gem of a game 2 against Philadelphia in the World Series. Despite his 5.27 ERA Burnett put the Yankees in position to win each of their series after following C.C. Sabathia in the rotation.

This is why Girardi is putting him in the rotation. He didn’t pitch Burnett in the ALDS because of his struggles, but is hoping that A.J. can regain his form of last year and help pitch the Yankees into the World Series once again.

The problem is that no, and I mean no one believes that A.J. is fit to pitch on this team this year. Just look at his last simulated start a few days ago. he was wild, viciously wild, he hit two batters and threw a wild pitch, yet the Yankees brass are saying that A.J. took big steps forward in his location and delivery. Do I believe that? Of course not.

However when you look at the Yankees other options you  could understand why they need to talk themselves into thinking that A.J. is ready to go. You can’t do the three man rotation again with a young Phil Hughes and Andy Pettite off of an injury. You can’t throw Ivan Nova out there because of his inexperience. As for Javier Vazquez… id rather Hideki Irabu pitch for the Yankees that Vazquez. It honestly looks like it could be A.J. or bust. What else could the Yankees do, pull Joba Chamberlain from the bullpen and start him?

It’s the lesser of two evils for the Yankees right now, A.J. Burnett or a question mark filled field of pitchers. Honestly? I would take my chances with throwing Nova out there before I let Burnett go near the field. As clutch as he was last year Burnett is not the same guy this year. Throwing him out there is a huge mistake and would kill the Yankees shot at making it to the World Series. Unfortunately, Joe Girardi thinks differently. I really wish he would’ve talked to Joe Maddon first before making his decision.


Garza May Finally Breakthrough, With This Breakthrough

Matt Garza's Up and Down year gets a huge boost with his no-hitter

The no-hitter has replaced the home run as the most appealing sight in baseball. That’s what happens when you have 6 in less than 100 games (and yes I’m still counting Armando Galarraga’s thank you very much).

The latest comes from Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays who only allowed one walk over his 120 pitch gem in a 5-0 win against the Detroit Tigers. Garza has been considered to have ace potential since his arrival from Minnesota via trade, and his performance Monday shows why Tampa ponied up a few prospects to land him in the first place and make him a front of the rotation pitcher.

(It also makes you wonder what Minnesota’s rotation would be like with him there and how the current struggles it has with Nick Blackburn being moved to the bullpen would be a moot point. Sorry to pour salt in those wounds Twins fans.)

The great thing about Garza’s performance is that it was an awesome performance. Unlike Edwin Jackson and Ubaldo Jimenez’s walk fests of no-no’s Garza was in control for most of the night walking only one but getting a double play ball immediately after. He faced the minimum of 27 batters striking out six and over powering Tigers hitters with that huge fast ball of his. 101 of his 120 pitchers were fastballs sometimes hitting 96 or 97 on the radar gun. His performance last night was the high point in a year that has been filled with ups and downs.

Sometimes over the course of his tenure in Tampa, Garza’s focus and emotional restraint has been questioned. He is a fiery right-hander who listens to 2pac before each start and it shows in his emotions throughout the course of some of his starts. In June Garza had a complete meltdown against the Florida Marlins when he gave up 7 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, against the Red Sox earlier this month he allowed 4 earned runs and threw 84 pitches in 3 innings which got him the quick hook. In his last start against Baltimore he allowed 7 earned runs and ten hits to one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

Then this, this is the Matt Garza that baseball writers fell in love with during the 2008 ALCS where he made his presence known by winning the series MVP. This is the guy that came out this year with a 3-0, .75 ERA start to his season. This is the guy that was going to be the leader of a rotation with young flame throwers like David Price and Jeff Niemann. Garza himself knows what kind of year it’s been for him, “This year I’ve just been so rocky, just trying to find myself. Something good had to happen soon,” the right-hander said. “I’m trying to look for just a hint of consistency, and this should get the ball rolling in the right direction. I didn’t feel great. My mechanics felt off, but I was able to locate my fastball.”

Manager Joe Maddon agrees, “This is the kind of game that could catapult somebody like him who has this kind of ability. He has struggled at different moments this year. Hopefully this is one of those things that can really mentally get you over the hump.”

The Rays need it too. They’re in a pennant chase with the Yankees and have a huge series coming up this weekend against them. They would love nothing more than to have this carry over into the series and take over sole possession of the AL East.

What they would also love are more gems like these in their favor. The Rays before Monday had been no-hit 3 times in fourteen months. It’s about time one of these things went in their favor.

While we all marvel at Garza’s achievement, and Yankees hope that Saturday’s showdown against him is a little better than what the Tigers endured, his oldest son Matthew isn’t impressed. He told his dad after his historic performance, “You’re still not an all-star.” See, even in the year of the pitcher where a guy wins eleven games and throws a no-no you still can’t impress everyone. Hopefully this outing will change his dad’s fortunes and maybe this time next his son will be fully satisfied.