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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pregame notes: “Go with what’s got you to this point”

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Misc on Apr 18, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Admittedly, Joe Girardi had not seen much of Hiroki Kuroda prior to the Yankees decision to sign the right-hander this offseason. So far in this young season, the signing has paid dividends.

“The only thing I knew about him was what I had seen in the one game that he started against us, and just watching film,” Girardi said. “Considering what type of pitcher he is – he’s been pretty much a groundball pitcher for a good part of his career – he induces more groundballs than flyballs, and I think that bodes well usually, especially at this ballpark. He was a guy for me that has pitched in pressure-packed situations… I thought it was a pretty good fit.”

Kuroda looked like a great fit last Friday, as he pitched eight stellar innings, allowing five hits and no runs while striking out six. He also recored 12 outs via the groundball, erasing the bad taste he had left in Yankees’ fans mouths after allowing six runs (four earned) in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in his first start.

The Yankees are hoping that Kuroda pitches more like he did on Friday in tonight’s start against the Minnesota Twins to solidify the No. 2 spot in their rotation. While the Yankees do seem to have an abundance of starting pitchers, they entered the season with no clear-cut No. 2 behind ace CC Sabathia. Girardi gave Kuroda the nod to start the second game of the season, and has liked what he’s seen so far.

“The biggest thing is that he pitches to his strengths,” Girardi said. “If you pitch to your strengths, you have a much better chance of getting guys out. Sometimes you get so caught up in a scouting report and pitch away from your strengths just trying to pitch to the scouting report. For Hiroki, go with what’s got you to this point.”

• I was thinking that I could see Alex Rodriguez getting a day off soon on my way to the ballpark, and that’s exactly what Girardi decided to do. The results have not been favorable for A-Rod since his 3 for 4 performance last Friday, and I figured they might want to give him a break before this weekend’s series in Boston. “Just trying to be proactive,” said Girardi, who noted that A-Rod had not had a full day off yet this season. “Not wanting to run him into the ground where we end up having to give him a couple of days off… To me, he’s swung the bat well. I know he hasn’t gotten a lot of hits lately, but he’s lined out a few times.”

• Girardi was asked about his thoughts on A-Rod’s at-bats of late. (For what it’s worth, he’s putting on a display in BP right now. Balls are flying out to all fields.) “I don’t see him chasing a lot of pitches,” Girardi said. “I see him being patient and trying to wait for his pitch. To me, he’s done everything that he needs to do to be successful. He’s just run into some bad luck.”

• With A-Rod out, Mark Teixeira will hit third against Twins’ RHP Jason Marquis, with Robinson Cano sliding into the cleanup spot. Tex was out with flu-like symptoms yesterday, but he said he was feeling much better when asked in the clubhouse. Here’s a telling stat: Through 11 games, the Yankees have gone without an RBI from the cleanup spot. That’s not very good.

• Nick Swisher will DH and hit fifth, with Raul Ibanez playing in right and hitting sixth. In his brief time in the outfield so far this season, Ibanez has not looked completely comfortable. “I don’t necessarily think he needs it today,” Girardi said when asked why he DHed Swisher. “But I think as we go through this, it will pay dividends with 13 games in a row.”

• Eric Chavez will get his first start of the season today at third. He only has four at-bats so far this season, which is a bit surprising. Eduardo Nunez has been receiving the starts at third on the days that A-Rod has been the DH, which is because those have been days when the Yankees are facing a lefty. Ibanez has somewhat eliminated the need for another left-handed bat, but Chavez showed last season that he’s still capable of producing. No sense in letting him waste away on the bench.

• A lot of the pregame talk was about Girardi’s increasing use of defensive shifts so far this season. Rays’ manager Joe Maddon has become a trend-setter of sorts, with more and more teams across the managers utilizing the shift against hitters who have the tendency to hit the ball to certain spots. It’s somewhat surprising that it took so long for teams to come around on the idea, but it generally takes one team having success with it before others will follow. Girardi denied the notion that he was motivated to use shifts more after that opening series, but did acknowledge that he intends to use it more often. “I don’t think it’s a reaction to what happened to us, but it’s a reaction to all of the data that’s being put out now that all of the clubs are seeing,” said Girardi, who also mentioned that they have more data to reference each season. “Some of it is the type of pitchers that we have, as well.”

• Girardi confirmed the starters for this weekend’s series in Boston: Ivan Nova will start on Friday, Freddy Garcia on Saturday and CC on Sunday. Phil Hughes will pitch the final game of this four-game set with the Twins tomorrow.

• Here’s the Twins starting lineup: 1. Denard Span (CF); 2. Jamey Carroll (SS); 3. Joe Mauer (C): 4. Josh Willingham (LF); 5. Justin Morneau (DH); 6. Chris Parmalee (1B); 7. Sean Burroughs (3B); 8. Clete Thomas (RF); 9. Alexi Casilla (2B).

• Three Yankees in today’s starting lineup have career batting averages over .300 vs. Marquis. Cano (.667) and Swisher (.333) only have three career at-bats each against Marquis, while Ibanez is hitting .364 in 22 at-bats with two homers and eight RBI. Interestingly, Andruw Jones has crushed Marquis in his career with an average of .750. In 12 at-bats, he has five home runs, but Girardi decided to keep him on the bench.

• Only Willingham has seen Kuroda before among starters for the Twins, and he’s hitting just .111 in nine at-bats.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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31 Responses to “Pregame notes: “Go with what’s got you to this point””

  1. luis April 18th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Vince very good post, very comprehensive. Kudos

  2. Jerkface April 18th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Wow I just noticed Ibanez in RF and Swisher DHing… why??? Don’t you learn Girardi :(

  3. luis April 18th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    He wants to rest him, after all he played 1B last night. It is going to be an adventure

  4. blake April 18th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    At least at YS where Ibanez doesn’t have much ground to cover and its groundballer Kuroda instead of Hughes……but I still don’t get why Raul has to play outfield ever…….

  5. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Blake,

    With Mourneau and Mauer, Ibanez may have more work than we think.

  6. ron April 18th, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    “For his career Marquis has struck out 974 of 7328 total batters faced, or a paltry 13.3 percent. Yet of those 974 strikeouts, 173 have come against the opposing pitcher. That amounts to 18 percent of his career strikeouts. Moreover, his career strikeout rate against pitchers is 33.1 percent, against 11.8 percent against non-pitchers. Last year only three qualified pitchers had strikeout rates below 11.8 percent: Jeff Francis, Carl Pavano, and Brad Penny. The results there weren’t particularly pretty”.

  7. blake April 18th, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Luis,

    True….but I was just saying if you’re gonna play him out there it makes more sense at YS with Kuroda pitching than Hughes at the Trop or somewhere…..but he should really never play the field with the options they have…….if you want Swish to rest then just play Jones…..

  8. ron April 18th, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    The Yankees received some of the worst DH production in the American League last year, finishing 11th out of the 14 teams with a 101 wRC+. That’s exactly league average among all hitters for all intents and purposes, but it’s below average in the context of position. The only thing a DH has to do is hit, and a league average performance doesn’t really cut it for a contender.

    Early on this season, the Yankees have actually received less production from their DHs than they did last year. Although they moved up a spot and now rank 10th out of the 14 AL teams, they do have a below league average 97 wRC+. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like the Yankees are receiving below average DH production, at least to me. Part of the problem is Raul Ibanez, who hasn’t been anything special overall — .222/.267/.481 and 97 wRC+ — but has had a knack for the big hit. The go-ahead double in Baltimore and the moonshot against the Angels standout in my mind, not all the unproductive walks back to the dugout.

    From rab.

  9. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Blake,

    :) I agree completely, it’s just that you were trying to sugarcoat it. Man there is no way to do that, not with Ibanez on the field. ;)

  10. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    If Kuroda pitches well, it won’t matter who’s in right field.

    This will be my first opportunity to watch him pitch for the Yanks.

    I’d like to think his last game is going to be the rule and not the exception.

    I’m still on the fence but certainly leaning more in his direction.

  11. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Hi luis! I’m back home. I will get to watch the Yankees play baseball. YAY!!!

    :)

    Hopefully the last-place wonders will keep up the good work. I think I may have some Ritter Sports Bars coming here from San Francisco!

  12. champ809 April 18th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Wow with those career #’s against Marquis how is Jones not starting in LF tonight instead of Ibanez….

    Better glove and matchup dictates it! headscratcher

  13. champ809 April 18th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    correction RF

  14. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    trisha – true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Hi luis! I’m back home. I will get to watch the Yankees play baseball. YAY!!!

    :)

    Hopefully the last-place wonders will keep up the good work. I think I may have some Ritter Sports Bars coming here from San Francisco!

    =============================

    Glad to hear that you made it back alive! ;) I Hope that you enjoyed your trip. I thought they were going to end 4th, but at this pace they might even outdone the O’s and take the lead of the cellar. ;)

    All is good in Yankeeland.

  15. BD (Boston Dave) April 18th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    JF,

    (once you calm down after seeing Joe’s inexplicable use of Raul in RF)…

    It seems inconceivable that Kevin Long isn’t fully aware of the changes to Tex’s swing. I mean, I have to assume they’ve looked at this together.

    Changing your swing isn’t easy – but does it make sense that Tex would be so stubborn as to not consider working on it? The guy is a hard worker. I know he knows he can hit HR but he can’t look at last season and the tape from this season and not see the difference.

    I wonder what it would take to pull a “Granderson” and take a week off to work with KLong and make some changes.

  16. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Champ,

    I think i read somewhere that Ibanez OPS is more than 1.000 against Marquis as well.

  17. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    My bad Champ, here is Ibanez triple slash: Raul Ibanez DH 22 .364/.391/.727

  18. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    luis – :)

    The trip was really great but I always like coming back home. Flight was real late and I decided to watch quite a few DVRd shows when I got home. Not too smart. I’m in a world of tired hurt right now!

    All is well in Yankeeland, and the Titann-sux continues to sink.

    Que lastima!

    :D

  19. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    BD,

    Maybe he hasn’t been able to do it?

  20. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    It really kills me to see good players hit the skids. What the heck happened to Jason Marquis? He’s been all over the board.

  21. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Que lastima!

    Pobrecitos!!!!! :mrgreen:

  22. GreenBeret7 April 18th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Ivan Rodriguez has finally decided to retire as of next Monday.

  23. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    “Pobrecitos!!!!! :mrgreen:

    Congoja, angustia.

    :lol:

  24. luis April 18th, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Trish,

    I can see that you have been taken Spanish lessons ;)

  25. jacksquat April 18th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    pcaldera Brett Gardner a late lineup scratch with right elbow soreness, Andruw Jones in.

  26. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    luis – I’m embarrassed to admit that I minored in Spanish in college. That means I should know it a lot better than I do.

    Tengo hambre y no tengo alguna comida si pienso que compraro alguna.

    or – voy a comprar a poco de.

    (please correct where necessary!)

  27. luis April 18th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Tengo hambre y no tengo comida, pienso ir a comprar alguna.

  28. GreenBeret7 April 18th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Gardner was scratched because Girardi doesn’t like Gardner.

  29. RMS April 18th, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I think Kuroda will have a very strong game and shut down the Twins.

    ———————————————————————————–
    I don’t remember Ibanez playing right field with the Phillies, only saw him in left. Am I wrong?

  30. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 18th, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    “Tengo hambre y no tengo comida, pienso ir a comprar alguna.”

    Yo tambien!!!

    :D

  31. luis April 18th, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    jacksquat April 18th, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    pcaldera Brett Gardner a late lineup scratch with right elbow soreness, Andruw Jones in.

    ============================

    This game is going to be an adventure on the field. Yikes!


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