Happy CC Day!

On this day 518 years ago, some guy named CC landed near what would eventually become New York and – backed by an empire with an overwhelming advantage in resources and a determination to conquer everything in its wake – began an era of dominance and prosperity for some and misery and subjugation for others.

I know – it's hard to relate to events like this that are so far removed from our current reality…so let's talk instead about the 2010 baseball playoffs.

If the first round of this post-season has reinforced anything, it is that pitching wins – and poor defense loses - in October, and this raises another thorny question for Yankee manager Joe Girardi as he leads his team into the ALCS. 

First, the pitching…

The Phillies look like the best team in baseball not only because they have an AL East-quality line-up, but primarily because they have the most fearsome three-man rotation in the playoffs.  That rotation gave up a total of 3 earned runs (all by Roy Oswalt) on their way to a sweep of the offense-heavy Reds and contributed to an extraordinary team-WHIP of 0.556 for the series.  The Giants likely won't have the offensive firepower to compete with Philly in an NLCS matchup, but their top-two of Lincecum-Cain gives them a better shot at matching the Phillies' pitching than the Braves would have should they somehow advance.  Either way, it would be pretty shocking if the Phillies don't repeat as NL champs this year thanks largely to two pitchers named Roy and a resurgent Cole Hamels.

As for the AL, the surge in confidence regarding the Yankees' chances of returning to the World Series is not so much due to the fact that their hitting has picked up, but because of the pitching – both their own and that of their prospective ALCS opponents.  In the ALDS Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes demonstrated that theirs is not a one-man rotation.  And the ace of whichever team emerges from the Rays-Rangers series will likely not take to the mound any earlier than game 3 of the ALCS.   

As for defense… 

I can't recall so many errors and unearned runs in one round of playoffs as we have seen in the two NLDS series this past week.  Consider the following:

NLDS (Phils-Reds): 3 G, 17 total runs scored, including 7 unearned.  Of the 13 runs the Phillies scored in these games, 6 were unearned.  What slim chance the Reds had vs. the Phils was thrown away behind an embarassing seven errors in just three games.

NLDS (Giants-Braves): 4 G, 15 total runs scored, including 4 unearned.  The Braves have committed 5 unbelieveably costly errors – 4 alone by Brooks Conrad.  This series has provided probably the most entertaining momentum-alternating nail-biters of the first round and runs have been at a premium in this series more than any other.  Time and again, the difference-maker has been lapses in the field that undermined strong pitching performances – but as with everything else in this series, the problems have ben pretty eveny distributed, with each team scoring 2 unearned runs.  At this rate it will be surprising if a defensive lapse does not sway tonight's game 4.

By comparison, the two ALDS match-ups have yielded 52 total runs, of which only 4 have been unearned, and the Yankees have continued their season of solid defense into October - getting through the first round as the only team in the playoffs to have not committed an error.

Joe's decision…

As the rejuvinated Yankees look to the ALCS, the outstanding question for Joe Girardi is the same as it was prior to the ALDS – go with a 3-man rotation (in this case throwing all three starters on short rest, including CC going twice on three days rest should this series go the distance) or give AJ Burnett a start?

There is not a Yankee fan alive who would prefer AJ Burnett on 3 weeks rest to CC Sabathia on 3 days rest.  But the prospect of also having to start old-man Pettitte and young-man Hughes on short rest puts things in a different perspective.  If I were Joe, I would take two factors into account:

1. Opponent.  I would work a lot harder to close out this series before game 7 if the Yankees are facing the Cliff Lee-led Rangers than if they are up against the Rays – and that would likely mean starting the Yanks' top three each on short rest to try to avoid seeing Lee twice.  David Price is great, but he is not the pitcher Lee is in October, at least not yet.

2. Situation.  Under no circumstances would I want AJ to be starting in a game where the Yankees are facing potential elimination.  He implodes much too quickly for that.

Considering these factors together, my plan would be: G1 CC; G2 Andy; G3 Phil; G4 CC on short rest; G5 AJ (unless it's the Rangers or an elimination game vs. Tampa Bay, in which case this is Andy's game on short rest); G6 Andy on normal rest (or Phil on short rest in either of the above scenarios); G7 CC with rested Phil waiting in the wings. 

So on this idle day when we all celebrate the arrival of CC, what do you think Yankee fans?

18 comments… add one

  • Well, according to Cashman, Burnett is slotted in as the Game 4 starter. Ugh.

    IronHorse (YF) October 11, 2010, 8:03 pm
  • This Braves-Giants series is great tense playoff baseball. Only in the first 8 innings of Game 2 has there been more than a 1-run differential between the two teams and that game was tied up in the 8th before Ankiel won it with a HR in the 11th.
    True to form tonight there have been 3 errors committed and at least two other borderline plays. Braves down to their final 3 outs.
    Lots of fun talking to myself here…..tumbleweeds rolling by…….

    IronHorse (YF) October 11, 2010, 10:20 pm
  • sorry i wasn’t around yfsf the past few days IH, and last night i watched football…but, yeah about “…Burnett is slotted in as the Game 4 starter….”…that’s ok so long as we are ahead 3-0 by then…then again, you never know, wierd stuff seems to happen in the playoffs, and he might just pitch a gem…and santa claus might just bring that pony i’ve been asking for all these years…i heard that the way joe decided was to flip vazquez in the air, heads and he’d pitch, tails and burnout pitches…about the braves, i was kinda rooting for them in support of a friend who is a big braves fan, that and the whole bobby cox goodbye stuff…felt bad how close they came only to mess it up 2 games in a row on errors…i guess i’m rooting for texas tonight…somebody a lot smarter than me, or so i conceded, thinks we have a better chance of beating texas, even with cliff lee…as you pointed out, at least both the rays and rangers rotations are out of whack due to their series going the distance…

    dc October 12, 2010, 8:13 am
  • I will be beyond pumped if we get Cliff Lee…what a game. The guy is nails.

    krueg October 12, 2010, 10:54 pm
  • So happy to see the Rays out of it. Hopefully the ALCS will be an exciting one.

    Atheose - SF October 13, 2010, 7:43 am
  • lee pitched a heck of a game last night…i guess another reason that i was rooting for the rangers [a bummer because i would've rooted for the rays otherwise] is that it may shut up the 2 “rays fans” i know, which of course is their entire fan base, who have been jacking me all week about the yankees having to settle for 2nd place in the division…i think they’re really just anti-yankee fans…their “allegiance” to the rays is just convenient i’m thinking…i almost expect to see them sporting rangers gear this weekend…best thing i can think of about being an anti-yankee fan is that the odds are in your favor…it’s the field against the yanks…on the other hand if they really are rays fans, it must suck for them to know their team will be broken up…and without a viable stadium for the future, and no community support, they will soon be rooting for, i dunno, the green bay rays?…at least then they’ll have a good excuse not to attend the games…it’s about 1400 miles from tampa to green bay…

    dc October 13, 2010, 7:59 am
  • You got it, dc.
    It will be so nice not to hear about the Rays for a few years (until of course, they get another ten top ten draft picks).
    Once Crawford, Pena, and their closer walk this year, and they don’t spend a dime to help their team compete in this division…
    Well, we know the result.
    Have a nice life, Longoria. Good move.

    Brad October 13, 2010, 8:23 am
  • The sale of Liverpool to the Sox owners is complete…$476 million. Man, you guys sure are poor up there Brad! ;)
    I would be SO pissed if I were a Sox fan.

    krueg October 13, 2010, 10:55 am
  • Well, the last hurdle was cleared…not “official” yet. My bad.

    krueg October 13, 2010, 10:59 am
  • Just back from a brief vacation. I’m pleased as punch with this post season so far.

    attackgerbil October 13, 2010, 12:06 pm
  • “…Have a nice life, Longoria. Good move….”
    yeah, he’s good, but not too smart brad…he may have a “you have to trade me from this shitty team” clause in his contract, i’m not sure…he’s stuck with this team for 3 more years, plus 3 club options after that…his avg ann salary for the 3 years is $4m…oy…the option years are $7.5m in 2014 [or a $3m buyout], $11m in 2015 and $11.5 in 2016…double oy…he’ll be just north of 30 in 2016…i guess that gives him plenty of earning power left in his career…and if the rays are still the rays and owned by the same folks, they probably won’t pick up the options and he can walk…
    “…Once Crawford, Pena, and their closer walk this year, and they don’t spend a dime to help their team compete in this division…”
    i’m hearing that their plan is to trim the payroll by about 1/3 down to $50m…since pena and crawford are the top 2 breadwinners, they are gone…soriano is #4, so bye-bye to him…they also have to decide what to do with hawpe since he is the 3rd highest paid guy…there’s a $10m club option on him, but that ain’t happening…

    dc October 13, 2010, 12:15 pm
  • Burnett’s numbers against Texas this year:
    18 IP, 16 hits allowed, 2.50 ERA, 17 K, 7 BB
    So Cashman has reason to be optimistic. I still have no confidence in the guy, but we can’t say this is a decision that has no rationale. He also hasn’t pitched in a while, so I’m just going to imagine that he’s been spending time with some pitching guru while guzzling some mystical bourbon that will grant him pinpoint accuracy as well as 10 MPH added to his fastball.

    DustyDrB - YF October 13, 2010, 1:13 pm
  • On the Rays: Losing Crawford will hurt.
    Pena just has one trick and he’s worthless against lefties. They are better off without him. Soriano had a good season but few relievers show the ability to repeat their successes season-to-season. I’m always of the opinion that it’s better to have guys fill in the role before you spend money on them that could be used in better ways. The Rays are loaded with young talent and they have more in their system as well. They’ll still be as much of a threat next season as they were this season

    DustyDrB - YF October 13, 2010, 2:57 pm
  • 10 hours, 11 minutes…

    krueg October 15, 2010, 9:49 am
  • 8 hours, 33 minutes…

    krueg October 15, 2010, 11:28 am
  • Can’t wait krueg. The only truly tense part of the Twins series was the first 5 or so innings of game 1. CC was a little ragged, the offense looked flat, and the Yanks were losing. With the lay-off I think it’s likely that CC will come out “too strong” and have difficulty throwing stirkes (as he said himself is his biggest problem with layovers) and so the Yanks may need to hang in there for a few innings and not let th Rangers get too far out in front. But if he comes out in control, I feel great about their chances tonight.
    Got tix with my bro to both Mon and Tues games – can’t wait…GO YANKS!

    IronHorse (YF) October 15, 2010, 2:34 pm
  • 5 hours, 15 minutes…
    That is amazing IH…after finally setting foot in the cathedral, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be there for a playoff game. I’m waiting for my buddy that lives up there to call me and tell me to get on a plane! A guy can dream…
    LET’S GO YANKEES!!!
    PS I took a half day to start my pregame festivities early!

    krueg October 15, 2010, 2:45 pm
  • How many free agents could $476 million buy??? I mean, it’s crazy that such a small market, struggling ownership group could possibly afford to buy one of the biggest teams in the English Premier League…
    I better not EVER hear another SF complain about money again. Ever.

    krueg October 15, 2010, 2:50 pm

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