Tag Archives: phil hughes

The Debate: Curtis Granderson, AL MVP

AL MVP? You're looking at him.

So Adrian Gonzalez is going to win MVP in the American League. I’ve conceded this fact I know it will happen and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Gonzalez has been everything that the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired him from San Diego. He has stabilized their lineup, hit for average and driven in a ton of runs. Basically without him in the lineup the Red Sox are not the same team they don’t have the same pop in the order and no one can really match what he does as far as production goes.

His MVP candidacy can only be trumped by two other Red Sox who are having great years in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe a dark horse candidate in Jose Bautista can steal some votes. Besides that Gonzalez should run away with this thing as the Red Sox guide their way into the playoffs and to a possible AL East title…

Ok that was my take on the AL MVP race up until today when I did my normal weekly numbers look up and checked out league leaders and to see who else was ballin out of control currently. There was Gonzalez in all of his glory with a monstrous .348 batting average and a .408 on base percentage to go with 102 RBI. Those numbers, along with his great defense at first base can more than lock up the MVP race for him.

Mark Teixiera can thank Grandy for his power numbers.

But here’s the revelation that I have come to after further review and after getting my head together… Adrian Gonzalez is not the AL MVP if the season ended today… Curtis Granderson is.

Yep, I hear the calls from all of you that this is a homer pick seeing as how I am a super crazy Yankees fan and that I’m just finding a way to diminish Gonzalez’s value to the Red Sox. Honestly I’m not; I think Gonzalez is without question the best Red Sox player right now. He is putting up great numbers and has been a great addition to the Red Sox lineup.

With that said Granderson has been much more valuable.

With Alex Rodriguez fighting through injuries, Derek Jeter’s early season struggles, Mark Teixeira’s horrendous batting average and a ton of uncertainty in the rotation with Phil Hughes arm problems and injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano it was Granderson that made all of that irrelevant.

Granderson took Teixeira’s number 3 spot in the lineup after A-Rod’s injury and took off. He’s producing power numbers at a career rate and is doing it with ease. Granderson has set career highs in home runs (36), RBI (103) and slugging (.591) and is doing it against left handed and right handed pitching.

For anyone that has followed Granderson throughout his career you know about his deficiencies against lefties. Last year he barely hit .200 against them and found himself on the bench in games against lefties and replaced in games by the likes of Austin Kearns. Yeah it wasn’t cool. This year he’s hitting .279 against them thanks to help from hitting Coach Teddy Long and looks as comfortable as ever.

Take a look at his stats for a minute and compare them to the three Red Sox Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ellsbury as well as Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista. Of all 5 contenders Granderson does have a ton more strikeouts with 135, trails Bautista, Gonzalez and Pedroia in on-base percentage and has the lowest batting average at .278. However, let’s be real about strikeouts these days, they don’t matter. This is a free swinging era and seeing high strikeout totals is nothing new. In 2006 when Ryan Howard won MVP he struck out 186 times, he also hit .300 with 50 home runs and 140 RBI. Also his OBP is almost .380 so who cares that he’s 11th in that category when you get on base that much.

Granderson has monster numbers in most offensive categories. He’s 1st in runs, triples and RBI, 2nd in Home runs and slugging, 3rd in OPS, 6th in walks and 8th in steals. Look at those runs for a minute; yes he is 11th in OBP but when he gets on base he scores almost every single time. Jacoby Ellsbury has scored 93 times, 2nd in the league, and is a league leader in steals… AND IS STILL ALMOST 30 RUNS BEHIND GRANDERSON! To get on base like that and score runs at that pace is silly. He has an outside shot at scoring 150 runs this season and breaking Jeff Bagwell’s modern day mark of 152 (the record is 198 in 1894 and that’s never getting broken).

He’s put Yankee batters in great position to knock in runs all year with his ability to get on base and his speed. As poor as Tex has been hitting this year his power numbers are still gaudy because he hits behind Granderson and has been able to get good pitches to hit, same for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.

(Side note: A dark horse candidate for MVP is Cano as well. Top 10 in four offensive categories, could have 200 hits, a gold glove at second base and is scorching hot in the second half. Yeah I know I’m giving my Yankees a little too much slurpage but they deserve it.

Granderson's not bad defensively either.

I honestly thought that the Yankees were going to be mediocre this year with the Red Sox getting Gonzalez and Carl Crawford as well as the Yankees pitching problems. However, you name the person and they’ve stepped up.

David Robertson has become one of the game’s best setup men, Granderson’s career year to ease the A-Rod ills, Ivan Nova emerging as the Yankees number 2 starter and Swisher finding his swing in the summer months have all lifted the Yankees to a possible playoff spot. This was an iffy year and guys have been stepping up and killing it.)

More than anything Granderson has become the most reliable man in the Yankee lineup. It’s almost as if you expect him to get on base and score runs every game. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hit or not he somehow finds a way to score a run. A few games ago Granderson went 0-3 and scored 2 runs… how does that happen? In yesterday’s 22-9 massacre of Oakland he had 2 hits and scored 4 runs… really?

He’s having a gaudy year and is as worthy of MVP as anyone in the league. If Bautista is truly MVP worthy why is his team playing so poorly even with him in the lineup? Also how can you distinguish one of the Red Sox players as MVP?

Who is truly more valuable Ellsbury, Pedroia or Gonzalez? If you take any of them out of the lineup will the Red Sox still be effective offensively? Who makes the other two guys better? Hell David Ortiz missed time in the lineup two weeks ago and the Sox went 4-4 and fell behind the Yankees in the AL East momentarily so maybe he should get MVP votes.

The point I’m making is it’s hard to choose an MVP from a team where there are three candidates because really who is more valuable. With Granderson you see his value and his effect on the Yankees lineup from top to bottom. He sets the tone, drives in runs, and has made other players in the lineup better.

Without Granderson the Yankees wouldn’t be in the position that they are in. His big numbers and big plays have the Yankees sitting pretty in the AL Wildcard and possibly winning the AL East.

He deserves props and respect for the season that he is having, but more than anything he deserves to be the AL MVP.


Nova In And Burnett Out Should Be The Call For The Yankees

Ivan Nova has more than proven that he should be in the Yankees rotation.

This is not rocket science. This should not be a hard decision.

If Joe Girardi is smart then here is what he should do about his current pitching problem… pencil Ivan Nova in and take A.J. Burnett out.

It’s simple mathematics really, Nova has been stellar since being called back up from AAA Wilkes-Barre and he was on his way to stellar even before then.

Nova has won 6 consecutive starts dating back to June. He hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of those starts. What’s even more impressive is that with each start Nova is getting better and better.

Since his return Nova has allowed 3 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings of work. He has turned into the Yankees second best pitcher and despite his youth he has looked like a ten-year vereran on the mound with his poise and unshakeable attitude.

The same can not be said for Burnett.

As much as I love Burnett and his pie antics and loveable locker room personality he is not fit for this team as a starter right now.

With Burnett it’s all mental. When he’s throwing strikes and his pitches have movement Burnett could be a top 2 pitcher in any rotation. However, he can’t get there because he is too inconsistent.

Burnett looked like a gem in April going 4-1 and not allowing more than 4 earned runs in any outing. Since then? He’s 4-8 and has had more than a few moments where fans have been screaming bloody murder for Girardi to remove him.

Take for instance Wednesday night; the Yankees are up 13-1… 13-1 with Burnett on the hill in the fourth inning. With that type of lead you should be fine as a pitcher, no big deal. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth and it’s 13-7 with one out and two in scoring position. I was actually concerned that Burnett was going to blow it because he looked like a batting practice pitcher by leaving all of his pitches high and flat.

Something's gotta give when it comes to A.J. Burnett.

Girardi mercifully removed him and Cory Wade got out of the jam. Now the Yankees did win 18-7, but the story was still Burnett couldn’t even pitch well enough to earn a Win with a 12 run lead.

Funny thing is that this isn’t unusual, this is just how unreliable Burnett truly is.

(Side note: I can’t watch Burnett pitch anymore it’s too scary. Even when I see him penciled in I get the shakes. Watching Burnett is slow torture because, he reels you in with his fastball and makes you put your guard down. Then over the next few batters and innings he leaves balls up, gets out of jams that he causes, allows hit after hit, then there’s a shot of Girardi trying to let him work through it and encourage him while internally he’s probably going “you’re giving me hemeroids A.J.,” then either A.J. completely implodes or Girardi pulls him out just in the nick of time.

I swear Hostel 2 or any of the Saw movies are easier to watch than Burnett at this point.)

Coming down the stretch the Yankees need consistency in the rotation and Girardi needs to go with the hot hand and keep Nova in the rotation as well as Phil Hughes who has looked sharp in his return from arm troubles.

Nova is the Yankees second best pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia. As long as they don’t screw with his arm like they’ve done with their other young and talented pitchers Joba Chamberlain and to an extent Hughes (or trade him like Ian Kennedy… Excuse me while i vomit) then Nova should finish the year getting stronger with each start.

The Yankees can depend on Nova, they can’t depend on Burnett. Which is why by this time next week Joe Girardi’s rotation should be Sabathia, Colon, Nova, Garcia and Hughes and A.J. Burnett should be on the bench.

It’s the best move for the Yankees, and it makes everyone involved less stressed not knowing what to expect from one of it’s starters.


Hughes’s Arm Raises Big Questions For The Yankees

And now the first big issue to the Yankees pitching question mark has arrived.

Phil Hughes's arm problems are not what the Yankees pitching staff needs right now.

Phil Hughes has no arm.

Through three starts this season Hughes has been beaten around like a piñata. He’s allowed 15 earned runs and hasn’t made it out of the fifth inning in any of his three starts.

Why you ask? He has no arm right now. His velocity that topped out at 93 last year on his fastball is only popping the mitts at 89 this year. His breaking balls have no movement and are getting tattooed by everyone. He’s as flat as flat can get and for the Yankees, a team who was counting on him to basically be C.C. Sabathia’s sidekick, this is the worst possible news.

Now the pitching is really thin in new York as they try to figure out what’s wrong with Hughes and put together a rotation filled with ifs and maybes.

Kevin Millwood and Bartolo Colon were acquired as possible spot starters and neither have looked impressive in their outings.

Millwood has been getting tattooed in the minor leagues and Colon has given up 7 earned runs in his three relief appearances. We’ve also yet to see Freddy Garcia this year and Sergio Mitre was dealt before the season began.

Um, paging Andy Pettite, paging Andy Pettite.

GM Brian Cashman is saying that they won’t be making a deal for a pitcher anytime soon, but they have to do something. Maybe it’s time to bring up first round draft pick Andrew Brackman who is ready to roll by all accounts, or Manny Banuelos.

Banuelos was the talk of spring training and though the Yankees were hesitant to bring him up he’s ready to come in according to most scouts.

Whoever it is, the Yankees have to do something. Sure it’s only the second week of the year and the Yankees are in first place, but this could be a long-lasting problem that could do the Yankees in.

The Yankees have to either find out what’s wrong with Hughes and fix it or find his replacement. Because right now its C.C., and A.J. Burnett carrying the weight and that wont cut it.

Plus, how long do we all expect A.J. Burnett to keep pitching decently? Yep, exactly.


Your Wacky Week In Sports Recap

The Isner-Mahut match was one of the many crazy things to happen this week

And you thought that once the NBA Finals ended that sports would go into a deep sleep with the long slumber of the baseball season, oh what little you knew.

The annual conception of sports is that once David Stern’s rig-a-thon of a finals ends yearly in June that we just sit around and twitter our thumbs until the baseball trade deadline then football season begins.

Tennis isn’t as big as it once was, golf lulls you to sleep (Tiger or not) and NASCAR—well NASCAR isn’t a sport. So there is baseball and when you talk to people they all have complaints about the length of games, season, the lacking continuous wow factor and just the slowness of the sport in general. So honestly the 6 weeks between the end of the NHL and NBA playoffs and the beginning of NFL training camps are usually repetitive, slow and boring… then this week happened.

It looked like just a normal week for sports fans; two drafts (NHL and NBA), interleague baseball, Wimbledon Tennis, the U.S. Open and World Cup soccer. Nothing big, the names all match the faces, you know what happens, who wins, loses, etc. There was a huge curveball thrown this way this week, weird things were happening everywhere to the point that if you turned away from your TV you probably missed seven different things in an hour.

SUNDAY

Tiger was in striking distance at the U.S. Open as was Phil Mickelson yet Dustin Johnson was the headliner heading into the final round. At 6 under, Johnson held a 3 shot lead over Grahame McDowell and a 5 shot advantage over a lurking Tiger. Then he threw it all away in three holes on Sunday and finished with a final round 82. Johnson buckled under the pressure with triple and double bogeys on no.2 and 3. He was so bad the NBC golf analyst caught fire this week for saying that Johnson wasn’t using his brain during his meltdown… OOPS!

McDowell wasn’t exactly stellar either; he finished at even for the tournament after a final round 74 to become the first European golfer to win the open since Tony Jacklin 40 years earlier. Yep Colin Montgomery never did it, nor Nick Faldo, or Paddy Harrington.

It was also the tournament that may have ended the notion that Tiger Woods is the most feared player on the planet. That tends to happen when you go from totally focused to whining about the holes to anyone that listens, and blasting your caddie in public. Apparently Tiger lost some since of class when he lost half of his money.

MONDAY

The Federer fiasco.

If Federer wanted people to pipe down about his fading skills, then this was not the way to do it. His near collapse is only topped by his opponents. Alejandro Palla had Federer beat, twice. He had the opportunity to break Federer for the match twice in the third set and he blew it. He eventually went on to lose in five sets including a 6-0 beat down in set five. Palla could’ve pulled off one of tennis’s biggest upsets; instead he is a great dinner date for Dustin Johnson this week.

Then there was the Phil Jackson conundrum in L.A. during their parade. Jackson skipped out on the festivities for a previous doctor’s appointment that he said he couldn’t reschedule. Keep in mind that he’s Phil Jackson; he could do whatever he wanted when he wanted. You couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment rescheduled? I’m broke and I get appointments redone all the time.

There couldn’t have been a more telling sign that Jackson is on way to retirement. This might be his way of riding off into the sunset like a lone cowboy. He could’ve done it in a less discreet way, maybe.

In a side note, the Yankees continued their plan to kill their young starters by skipping Phil Hughes because he’s pitching too many innings. Ask Joba Chamberlain how that worked out for him.

(Also Hughes is 10-1 with a 3.13 ERA! He’s the best pitcher on the staff right now. Yet he gets skipped for a start and A.J. Burnett continued his implosion by allowing 7 earned runs on Monday for his umpteenth unimpressive start lately. I’m starting to wonder if Jeffrey Luria knew what he was doing when he fired Joe Girardi…)

TUESDAY

… Until he fired Fredi Gonzalez Tuesday after their win against the Orioles. Luria says that he feels that the Marlins have every necessary tool to compete in the NL East. Yes Jeff except that you have no bullpen, no reliable cleanup hitter and no reliable starters that are not named Josh Johnson. Very true.

WEDNESDAY

Landon Donovan Saved the U.S. yet again

Wednesday was exhausting. I had to start a new job Wednesday and the was the least exciting thing in my life on that day.

First off U.S. soccer almost got jobbed again by a ref in their game versus Algeria. Clint Dempsey got the Maurice Edu treatment when a phantom offside call robbed him of a goal early in their match. Added to that was the pressure that England placed on the Americans. Jermaine Dafoe’s goal in the 23rd minute against Slovenia placed the U.S. squarely on the edge of elimination where it stayed until the extra time of the second half. Then after an amazing outlet pass from keeper Tim Howard Landon Donovan saved our hopes of a World Cup title with a rebound put back that put the U.S. up 1-0 and into the knockout round on Saturday against Ghana. Easily the greatest goal scored in U.S. Soccer history. The feeling was amazing for a nation that isn’t easily influenced by soccer but loves a champion. Even I was speechless as Donovan saved the U.S. in the second straight match when all hope seemed lost.

That reminds me; doesn’t this team reek of destiny? Let’s be real, the U.S. should easily be eliminated with one point as they are the winners of their group. Their slow starts against England and Slovenia could’ve easily been losses if not for Robert Green’s butter fingers or Michael Bradley’s right place right time goal. For all of the talk of the U.S. being screwed out of goals, we have just as easily lucked into two or three of them. Makes you wonder what will happen next on Saturday.

That brings us to after the match and the wonders of the American language. My buddy Will Whatley introduced me to a word called fooleywang a while ago. He uses it to describe certain instances of ridiculousness that you view on a daily basis. It’s a play on foolishness, and adjective, here it is used in a sentence; the match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut on Wednesday was pure fooleywang. How does that happen? When Wimbledon instituted that they would have no tiebreakers in the fifth set of their men’s matches they couldn’t have possibly expected this.

I began paying attention to the match at around 30-29 Isner. Which turned into 34-33, 38-38, 40-39 and then I began to wonder, is this ever going to end?

It was pure will and endurance by both Isner and Mahut. They just couldn’t break each other to take control of the match. When Isner pulled back for an ace, Mahut followed. Winner after winner, ace after ace neither man was budging. Isner had three chances at match point but each time Mahut fought back with a great first serve and winner to keep his hopes alive. The crowd at the 18th court went from 100 people to 1000 with spectators stopping to watch the epic fifth set for hours, not budging for anything. They watched Isner and Mahut battle like prize fighters praying to make it to the next round.

The most telling point of the match came when Mahut dove for a ball well out of reach and watching his racket fly across the court in agony. He just wanted it so badly. He didn’t want to lose. Who would? When you’re on a court for ten hours and still at a draw you can’t lose. Both men took it to the extreme and both finally gave in as darkness set in and it was clear that they would need another day to settle this epic. 59-59 after two days, 150 aces and ten hours of tennis, still no winner. In other words I started a new job, wrote a blog, cleaned my room, Germany won soccer match, the Reds reclaimed first place and one tennis match didn’t end. Wow.

Then after that hockey just had to make no sense at all. The Blackhawks traded 3 of their most important role players due to financial restrictions Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Dustin Byfuglien… DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN!?!?!?! You mean the guy that made Kane and Toews fly, the guy that scored eleven goals and five winners in the playoffs you traded him! Really?

I understand that the market isn’t great now and you have to save money, but to trade your third best forward and most important force on offense? Really Rocky? Byfuglien is going to command lots of money next offseason based on his clutch performing in these playoffs which meant the Hawks couldn’t afford him anymore. Byfuglien’s big body and presence will be missed but in these economic times you’ve got to do what you got to do to save money. I just don’t get trading one of your most beloved players. Makes no sense, sort of like Henrik Sedin winning MVP over Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, but I digress.

Thursday

The sad afterlife of Lawrence Taylor continued.

Lawrence Taylor was officially indicted on felony sexual assault charges for having sex with a 16 year-old prostitute; if this wasn’t rock bottom for LT then I couldn’t tell you what it will be. Funny thing is that two months ago at the NFL Draft Taylor was all smiles speaking about what the Giants needed to get back to on defense, and his legacy. Now Taylor’s latest misstep just punctuates what has been a mess of a post career.

I’ll never understand why Taylor continues with this type of behavior when it has caused so many problems including his Hall of Fame selection. He never learned when it was a good time to slow down. Even when it seemed like he was getting it, he didn’t. You’ve got to wonder if the judge will put an official end to this behavior with a lengthy sentence that will all but end with LT being a shell of the person that we once knew as the most feared man in football.

Then there was a bore of a NBA Draft, well except Wesley Johnson’s pants those were the most exciting things of the evening. Except for Utah reaching for Gordon Haywood at 9 (insert racial joke here) and the Grizzlies reaching even higher for Greivis Vazquez at 28 the draft was highly irrelevant because it was just a set-up for free agency.

Think about it, Miami traded out of the first round to save money as did Chicago. The Knicks did their prep work by packaging deals out of the next two drafts for this year’s free agency period. Really all the draft was, was just an appetizer for July 1st. teams close to contention clearing room for Bron and Wade or Bosh or Amar’e or Dirk. Teams don’t just want one star they want two because they believe that will put them over the top.

David Stern for all of his lauding about how he wants Bron to stay in Cleveland because it would be better for the league is facing a huge problem, and that is the competitive balance of the league. Really the league is just 6 good teams with everyone else there for fun factor. You don’t expect Golden State or Indiana to contend for anything anytime soon, it makes the league less relevant and makes the draft a sham.

Think about this for a second; Dwyane Wade and LeBron James set a precedent by signing shorter deals 3 years ago to get to free agency with no strings attached quicker, pretty much they now dictate who they want to play for. Who’s to say 6 years from now John Wall DeMarcus Cousins and Wesley Johnson won’t do the same and put Minnesota, Sacramento and Washington in similar situations like the one they are in now? Stern has to find a way to make the league more competitive so teams like New Orleans and Memphis won’t feel like they can’t compete with larger scale teams because of their attraction.

(But will Stern do it? Of course not. He’s more concerned with that $400 million dollar debt his league is in. not knowing that spreading the balance will help alleviate some of that debt.)

Oh and Isner-Mahut just ended 70-68 Isner. Eleven hours, 220 aces, 1000 points won, 183 games, an 8 hour 30 minute fifth set and finally a winner.

FRIDAY

  • Quickies from weeks end: Clijsters-Henin match setup for Monday
  • Rasheed Wallace retires. Referees rejoice.
  • Carlos Zambrano threw a fit in the dugout after getting hammered in the first inning against the Chisox. He got suspended and rightfully so. I love Zambrano but his temper is ridiculous. The guy has to find a way to slow himself down and regain his form before he finds himself out of baseball.
  • Taylor Hall was the number overall pick for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Draft. Tyler Seguin was second for the Bruins.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays host the Philadelphia Phillies… in Philadelphia. So you couldn’t play in another stadium in Canada, really? C’mon Son! You know that’s three extra home games for the Phils Bud. Don’t lie.

    Edwin Jackson threw another no-hitter, but who hasn't this year?

Oh yeah and Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays— WITH 8 WALKS! Ok what should be the story here; a. the no-hitter itself, b. the fact that this is the fifth no-no of the season (yeah I’m still counting Armando Galarraga’s) or c. the fact that Tampa has been no hit three times in the last year?

I understand that no-hitters are a big deal, but come on 8 walks? That’s eight base runners plus a hit batter, that takes away from the luster of the no hitter big time. It’s still an accomplishment to not allow a hit over an entire outing but Jackson’s wildness makes it less of a big deal. The same goes for Ubaldo Jimenez’s 6 walk no-no in April. They weren’t great performances like the Halladay, Braden or Galarraga games because those guys were in complete control from start to finish. I think we make a big deal out of no-hitters because we never used to see them a lot, but now that were entering a pitcher’s era in the sport maybe we should hold up a higher standard of how to celebrate no-no’s because Jackson’s to me isn’t that big of a deal.

What is a big deal is the fact that there are all of these no-hitters flying around like hotcakes. With the steroid era being cleared away you have to wonder that the use of PED’s really did amp up the last 15 years of baseball’s run production, who knows how many more of these things we’ll have this year, 2? 4? It is highly possible.

And please Tampa, learn some plate discipline. 3 times in 140 games? You get a big Ed Lover C’mon Son!

Oh and today, Saturday there’s another A.J. Burnett start, U.S. versus Ghana, Rafa trying to avoid another five set meltdown and whatever else could possibly happen as a crazy happenstance in this crazy week of sports. Just stay tuned because you might miss something special.