Sunday, June 21, 2009

Notes from the Yankees - Marlins Game

Had a chance to watch the Marlins and the Yankees on the Florida Sports Network. It was nice to see where the Marlins play again. The Fan has fond memories of seeing a game there on his fortieth birthday. The Marlins will get a new ballpark, which apparently is much needed, but memories will remain rooted in their current yard.

The first note from the game is that Josh Johnson is really, really good. He seems to be a ground ball pitcher that really throws hard. His fastball was consistently around 96 and his final pitch was a 97 MPH beauty. Plus, he has a nasty slider that busts left handed batters inside and has them swing consistently at what is basically a ball inside. It was easy to see why Johnson is so successful. After watching the game, he might be in the top five pitchers in the National League.

The slider showed a lack of proper scouting by the Yankees. It seems that video of Johnson's starts would pick up that he gets a lot of outs on that inside pitch. If the Yankees had scouted properly, they would have had a plan to lay off that pitch and force Johnson into honest strikes.

The Marlins on the other hand, showed great scouting, particularly on how they played Derek Jeter. Jeter hit several balls up the middle that would have been hits against most teams. But the Marlins bunched him toward the middle and turned those hits into several double plays in the last two days.

It just goes to show how the Yankees field a better team, but always have inferior braintrust. It's the same reason why they cannot stay with the Red Sox who always outthink them and have since 2004. If the Yankees put as much emphasis in thinking as they do in players, they would be unstoppable.

The next thing about watching the game was a reminder of just how much Tommy Hutton annoys as an announcer. The Fan hated listening to him when he did Blue Jays games and he hasn't improved with time as he now calls the Marlins' games. It's not just that he is a "homer" for the Marlins. Most team announcers are homers. It's just that his way of reading into everything the Marlins' players do with some sort of mawkish babble grinds up the insides of anyone listening.

For example, before the Marlins' closer came out to pitch the ninth, Hutton prattled on about how if the stuggling closer could do well against the Yankees in that situation, it could turn his season around. In another example, he went on about how Bonafacio--who has truly proved that he is not a valid major league ball player--could be a powerful force if he learned to bunt and take a walk. Well, duh and shoot us. But the point is that he can't and won't and still gets thrown out on steal attempts when he does get on.

Hutton is to announcing what Sweet N. Low is to coffee.

Dan Uggla should be in the minors or in the outfield. He is not a very good second baseman. Nor is he hitting that well. Uggla has been okay in the past three years because half of his hits have been for extra bases. But his comical errors in the All Star Game were not flukes.

The Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the eighth inning with Jeter up and Gardner on second and A-Rod on first. Jeter first tried to bunt and was thrown a ball. The second pitch, the runners tried a double-steal and Jeter fouled it up by fouling it off. Gardner had already stolen second. There were no outs at the time. Jeter then tries to bunt again and does a terrible job (which is surprising really) and fouls it off. Now he has two strikes. To the Fan, the obvious move was to get Gardner to third one way or another. They should have had him running with A-Rod trailing him to second. Then, when Jeter grounded up the middle, the double-play might not have been and Gardner might have scored.

Gardner should be starting in games against right handers. The Fan has said it before, the tandem of Gardner and Cabrera against righties would be much more effective in the field and in the lineup than Cabrera and Swisher. You'd get better fielding and much more pressure on teams on the basepaths.

Johnny Damon really blew this game. How he did not catch the liner by Cantu is beyond belief. And then he had a pathetic swing in a big situation. He really cost the team in this game.

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