Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The 2011 Yankee Pitching Preview

It is time for:

Opening Day is tomorrow, and the Yanks get things started at 1:05pm in the House that God Built against the Tigers. It's a classic Sabathia-Verlander duel to jumpstart the season and show all the Yankee haters that they're in for a long season of frustrated tantrums in THEIR MOTHER'S BASEMENTS.* This is supposedly "not our year," if you believe the chatter. Too many question marks in the lineup, too many vacancies in the staff. Well guess what? We'll see. (As far as votes of confidence go, that's all I can muster at the moment.)

*That's right, I'm changing the stereotype. Right now, the idea is that bloggers live in their mother's basements. Once the new lingo catches on, that changes from blogger to anyone who hates the Yankees. Theo Epstein? Mother's basement. In fact, the entire city of Boston is nothing but mother's basements.

As I've admitted to you all before, I'm the kind of fan who is pretty horrible at following a team in the offseason. I'm as obsessed as they come from opening day to the bitter or joyous end, but at that point something in me turns off. The great part about college basketball and major league baseball is that they basically span the entire calendar. And there's almost no overlap! That allows me to disconnect from one sport at the end of a season, turn to the other, and not miss a beat of game action. It also prevents me from knowing how the hell things have changed while I was away. And it's not that I pay no attention. I know all the trades and acquisitions the Yanks have made. It's just that I've spent no time analyzing it.

So yesterday, I started a thread on my favorite Yankee message board asking for everyone's top 5 concerns. I had my own ideas, but I wanted to see the consensus from the hardcore fans and make sure I didn't say something stupid.

So, newly armed with knowledge and ready to begin a season-long obsession, I've come up with the top 20 concerns at the start of the 2011 campaign. Some of them are fake. Today, we present the first half: pitching.


1. Is Hughes a legit #2 starter?

Hmmm. Is he ready? He had a fairly strong season last year in some respects, winning 18 games, but he tapered off at the end of the year and finished with an ERA north of 4. After a nice start against Minnesota in the divisional round of the playoffs, he struggled mightily against Texas. Some thought he got exposed, others that he just had a couple poorly-timed bad starts. But after a scintillating start to the year, his last 12 appearances weren't too impressive; 59 innings, 53 hits, 4.42 ERA. Those aren't second-starter numbers. At least not in the AL East. Hughes is a big question mark.

2. What about Hughes' obsession with police uniforms?

I personally don't think it's a big deal if he dresses up like a cop now and again; everybody has their own thing. But honestly, how long before that's not good enough anymore? How long before he takes it a step too far and actually impersonates a cop, arresting someone on the street? Then you have legal problems and everything else, and that could really hurt the team.

3. AJ Burnett: WHAT'S THE DEAL?

Can he come back from whatever the hell happened last year (rumors abounded, from a messy divorce to alcohol issues to something involving pitching coach Dave Eiland) to give us a solid season at #3 in the rotation? I mean, I don't think anybody would deny that the dude has some of the sickest stuff in the game. His curve can be devastating, his fastball moves, and at his best he's dominant in a way that only 10-15 other pitchers in the league can manage. But last year's 5.26 ERA with only 145 strikeouts in 187 innings (and 204 hits)? Not going to cut the mustard. I mean, Girardi barely had confidence to throw the guy in the playoffs. For $16.5 million, I think we can expect a little more.

4. Will Burnett keep writing his racist blog, "WhiteTimes"?

Look, I respect freedom of expression, but I think it really divided the guys last year. Maybe if he just wrote it and stopped promoting it all the time, it'd be better? I don't know. I just hope Girardi doesn't get roped into doing another guest post this year.

5. What about Ivan Nova? What about the 5th starter, whoever it may be?

As you can see, the top three concerns are all related to starting pitching. The Yanks were really banking on getting Cliff Lee, and it threw them for a loop when he chose Philly. Failing that, they hoped like hell that Andy would be back, but retirement proved too strong a lure. We know what we'll get from CC, but starts 2 through 5 are huge question marks, and the deeper you get, the bigger that question mark becomes.

Nova will be playing his first full season with the Yanks. He's a pretty well-regarded prospect, but nobody quite knows how he'll fare, especially so soon. His fastball averages around 93-94, and he throws a cutter about 1 in every 4 pitches. He'll go to the changeup infrequently, and that's about it.

Freddy Garcia should begin the year as starter #5, especially after his decent outing yesterday to close out spring training against the Tigers.

There are two reasons why these guys are so important. The first is obvious: we can't make the playoffs without some production from the 4-5 spots in the rotation. The second may be even more important: if they can't perform, it means we'll probably sacrifice a top prospect, maybe even Jesus Montero, for a starting pitcher somewhere near the trade deadline. And that would be kind of a shame.

6. Is SuperNova too obvious a nickname for Ivan Nova?

And what if he's bad? What's a hilarious nickname for a guy with the last name Nova who stinks? If he was white, it'd be a no-brainer: the White Dwarf. That would almost be a perfect nickname. Can we maybe ignore that he's not white? Is that too much of a stretch? And how about Garcia? He'll probably be bad, so we should get on this now. Is it better to just make it something sarcastic, like Freddy Franchise?

7. What's the bullpen look like?

Pedro Feliciano, one of our main offseason acquisitions, will be starting the year on the DL and probably won't return until early May. Rafael Soriano is the biggest add, and hopefully he'll live up to his $7.25 million salary. He's clearly the closer-in-waiting, which is fine, and it'll be awesome to have him as an 8th-inning guy. Joba is still around, unpredictable as ever, and he'll probably be competing with Robertson for 6th-7th inning duties. For long relief, we've got Boone Logan and Bartolo Colon. Luis Ayala, a righty, was the last man added to the roster yesterday. The big concern here is that With Marte on the 60-day DL and Feliciano out, Logan is our only lefty. Still, all in all the pen looks pretty solid. At least one ESPN writer is calling it the best in the bigs.

8. Who's going to play point guard on our bullpen basketball team?

I think we're really lacking at the point position, and I don't see a good answer. Sure, Logan is a strong center, and Joba and Colon are great at crashing the boards from the power forward. But we all know Robertson is more a shooter than a penetrator, and Ayala is a glorified cheerleader at best and a coward at worst. That leaves Soriano for the point, but he's always been defined as more of a slashing guard, and I worry that changing his position so late in his career will give him a complex and hinder his confidence.

9. Seriously, how much time does Mariano have left?

Father Time can play forever, motherfucker. Ask again and you'll get a one-way ticket to the headbutt factory. And guess what? I'm the foreman.

10. How's Mariano's bald spot doing?

He's gone past the 'Buddhist Monk' stage. His nickname for this year is "Siddhartha." Also, try to find a picture of his bald spot online. You can't do it. I think Mariano controls the internet.

Tomorrow: the offense. And don't forget to let us all know your precise CST.


  1. I have actually seen a girl with beautiful blonde hair in the passenger seat of a Porsche. When she turned around it was a dog. I think a female dog, doggystyle, wouldn't necessarily be that bad. Can I be drunk?

    I always regret having sex with girls I find unattractive.

    -No way

  2. I think this really comes down to the point where you finally have an opportunity to have sex with someone preferable to the ugly person. As long as you have no viable option, no reason to have sex with the dog. The second part of the question is how much more preferable that person has to be. Living in the city, I figure anyone can get some from a reasonable person (certainly better than wretched) within a 6 month period, and that's being very conservative (as I sometimes say (but have yet to implement) standards are your own personal cock block). Girls, it's probably 2 weeks-MAX.

    Therefore, I think CST, 3-months. And, if I were a girl it would be immediately before the next time I go out.


  3. First off, I am not sure that asking people to assess their personal CST is going to elevate this blog out of the recent slump of some of the trolling (is that a phrase I am using correctly? I don't really know about blogging culture and as the past couple of weeks have shown, I know even LESS about the level of sanity among random blog trolls. <-- still not sure I've got that phrasing right, but I figure at this point the enormous volume of words I have thrown around it will provide some important context clues. Yep, that is all in one parenthetical) that has been plaguing SCSD! Knowing very little about either, I'd predict the center of the venn-diagram between people into making insane comments on random internet blogs and people who enjoy sex with animals is likely very large.

    Secondly, of course I have an opinion. I feel like "sex with an animal" is something that seems very doable for men - not like "super good idea to do", but like within the realm of physical possibility. Like, obviously, completely vile, but also? Physically achievable. And in theory, I guess I "know" that there are women who have... initiated and engaged in inter-special intercourse, but personally do not understand... how? Like, the logistics of it are really confusing to me. And please understand, that is not an invitation to explain. Rather, I can see myself being much more put off by negotiating the whole sex-with-animal landscape for much much much much longer (read: infinitely) than I would be the "just go with it" attitude necessary to sleep with an incredibly unfortunate human being in perpetuity. And like, maybe they have a nice personality? So, I guess that makes my CST: ∞ That's the infinity sign. Yep, I looked it up and copied and pasted. You're welcome.

    Thirdly: Baseball. THANK YOU.

  4. "Not our year" for the Yankees just means they win the wildcard instead of the division.

    Freddy Garcia is "The Chief".

    I believe there are also Black, Brown, and Red Dwarfs. Science is racist like that.

    If you lined up the women I've been with over the years, it would look a lot more like the cast of The Biggest Loser than America's Next Top Model. No regrets. I'm pretty sure I could go forever without resorting to bestiality.

  5. Yeah, but Carrie, how do you troll this kind of question? I think it's untroll-able.

    So far, here's the breakdown for CST:

    1 - Immediately
    1 - 3 Months
    2 - Never

    I'll be keeping a tally as the day goes along.


  6. You would have been so much better off to have just gone with the thumb penis example. I just feel that asking this question can't help but reflect badly on me. Also, posting this on the internet inevitably means I will have to have another one of those hour long hushed conversations with my mother where I defend my life choices and hear my father pacing in the background feeding her questions and asking himself where they went wrong...thanks in advance for that.

    -the girlfriend (who is considering her escape plan)

  7. Shane,
    Gentlemen prefer Mastiffs, its a size thing. I would say that I am "a friend to all animals" making my CST somewhere around the 3-4 day range.

    You better hope your Yankees have the power hitting to keep up with the number of runs the opposition will be posting against 2-5.

    This might finally be the year I have been praying for since I was a wee lad... Dodgers vs. Mariners World Series! YAY WEST COAST!

    - Dr. K

  8. And with that final bomb dropped came the end of all J-School grad's attempts to bring Shane back from the dark side.

    I don't know if I can determine a CST without juxtaposed pictures of the horrible looking human and the dog. Post visual aids.

  9. I mean are we talking Waffle House waitress ugly or worse than that?

  10. GB, we're talking real bad. Like every time you have to take the plunge, you get the cold shivers. EVERY SINGLE DAY.


  11. Which, by the way, is my only complaint with Sean's otherwise logical argument: it ignores the unpleasantness of the daily intercourse with the awful option

  12. I must disagree with Carrie, the question of a CST is a burning question in American life right now. Furthermore, the logistics of the proposition are simple to understand if one was to think of a popular sexual position.

    Lesley Visser keeps flashing through my brain whenever I think of "ugly." I can't imagine having sex with her while her soulless zombie eyes stare me right in my face. On the other hand the prospect of having sex with a dog is quite revolting. I can't accurately predict my CST because recently I didn't have sex for six whole months. Luckily I broke the streak with an actual human girl. My CST has to be greater than six months, but I'm not sure what the exact breaking point would be.

  13. I think the only logical answers are "never" or "immediately". If you answer with anything else you are making the choice to have sex with BOTH the person of unthinkable horror and a dog.

  14. Sorry being unclear, Nasty: the amount of time you pick is how long you'd choose to suffer the unattractive human partner WITHOUT resorting to the dog. So if you said 30 days, you'd essentially be saying "I would have sex with a very unattractive person for 30 days before in order to avoid having sex with a dog. But if you made me do 31 days, I'd choose the dog instead."


  15. The concept of a "canine sexual threshold" is quite disturbing. There are a number of factors that could have influenced my decision: do I have to marry or cohabitate with this horrible woman? Do I have to talk to or cuddle her? Will my friends find out about this? Can I be blackout-drunk? But thats not the question- its either sex every day for the rest of your life with a horrible person, or one-time sex with a dog. After some serious thought and some soul-searching, I'm going to have to say that I would rather subject myself to a lifetime of sex with a vile, repulsive woman than having sex with a dog. Therefore, I do not have a threshold point. Here are my reasons:

    1- If you put a gun to my head and said "I am going to kill you unless you have sex with my dog," I would say "Fuck you, shoot me." If you put a gun to my head and said "I am going to kill you unless you have sex with this horribly ugly woman every day for the rest of your life," I would think about it for a bit, but ultimately decide to keep on living.

    2- If I had sex with the dog, every day after that I would see myself in the mirror and say "you had intercourse with a canine, you wretched, wretched being." I don't think I could bear the shame.

    3- What would my friends think? I could never again be taken seriously. If I'm in the midst of a heated sports debate with a friend, and I am winning that debate, my friend could just say "your opinion isnt valid because you had sex with an animal." Just like that, I would lose all credibility and the debate would be over(that is, assuming I am credible in the first place). Or what about if you're at a bar talking to a cute chick? Your drunk friend shows up and says "he had sexual relations with a beagle." Conversation over. Its like an ultimate trump card that could be played against you at any time.

    4- I have an extremely vivid imagination and can tune people out remarkably well. When its time to do the deed with the horribly unattractive female, I am confident that I could go to my happy place, get the job done pitino-style (15 seconds or less), and go on with my day.

    -Craig J.

  16. So I find this cool blog the other day and I tell all my Duke friends and Yankee fans about it. "Check it out," I say. "SCSD is just what the doctor ordered."

    Then the next day, the post on the blog centers around having sex with a dog. So now, I'm getting angry phone messages, people are "unfriending" me on Facebook, Jalen Rose is calling me an Uncle Tom (and I'm not even black!), and my cat refuses to look at me.

    Bottom line: I've got to thank Shane for putting this out there so I can see who my real friends are now.

    CST: I'm with Carrie...infinity (never)

  17. I,m just not into dogs.

  18. Scooter, if you could somehow send those angry phone messages, it would be a feather in my cap to post them on the blog. You can only talk so many angry internet comments before you long for the sound of an angry human voice.

    Anon, they're not for everyone.

    I've been thinking about it, and honestly, to me, the idea of being with a repulsive person of the opposite sex for any extended period of time just sucks. Now, I would clearly rather do that than be with a dog. So if it's a 1:1 ratio, I'm taking the woman every time. So I have to ask myself: how much worse is the dog than the woman?

    At that point, it becomes about how long you can bear something. Does it get easier? Does it get harder? I think, ultimately, you have to leave yourself some hope. It's a little like being in jail. Some men can tolerate it for a long time. I think I'd be pretty bad at being in jail. Still, I could handle it for a reasonable amount of time.

    10 years is too long. 5 years is too long. When it comes down to it, at this point in my life, 2 years is too long. A year? I could handle that. A year and a half would just be depressing, but I think less than that might be tolerable. Then you could say, 'yeah, it sucks, but once I get to a year I'm almost home.'

    So 18 month is too much, but I think I could do 17. 17 months is my CST. Beyond that, bring on Lassie.


  19. After looking through ESPN and SI's expert predictions, I have seen ONE go against the grain and pick the Yankees to win the AL East (and the vast majority have a Boston world champion). So a shout out to's Albert Chen. And shame on everyone for doubting the Yankees. Can't wait to laugh at all those reporters when Boston goes down.

  20. It's going to take some pretty inspired stuff to top Craig J's #4. That's some seriously good stuff.

    TarHeelAlex - Yankee fan. 'Nuff said.

    I could care less about CST (though lots of empathy for "the Girlfriend") as the 13-yr old Greek God of Baseball Stats has again chosen baseball practice over tonight's draft, leaving me floundering with my useless baseball knowledge (otherwise known as trivia). "Dad, about tonight's draft, here's 30 things rattled off in 45 seconds, and now you're all set... Dad?... Dad, weren't you listening?" Now if my competitors would cooperate, and just let me pick the Red Sox 25, I could get through this (and win, bitches). But no, you won't. You know where this year's talent lies. I am so screwed. Maybe Carrie and JHop can conference call in and we can strategery up something involving trivia, knowledge, intuition, and uniform colors?

    The part where I said "I am so screwed."? True that.

  21. I can sympathize with Shane's line of thinking and I can answer this knowing that this is a "Would you rather scenario..." and not something that could actually ever happen. So it's all hypothetical anyway. So I'm sure I have a CST, just not sure what it is yet... put me down as Yes, but undefined.

    BTW - This post totally calls for a new SCSD tagline. You know how Bill Simmons ends his mailbag with "Yup these are my readers"? You need something like that. This blog is like the bizarro Bill Simmons blog.

    - TheLaettnerDays

  22. Laettner,

    Forget readers. If Simmons were smart, he'd be mentioning SCSD and its readers in any of his columns discussing bizarro sports fans.

    SCSD readers head butt people who email Simmons. If he weren't a Red Sox fan with a cool father...

  23. TLD, that's hilarious: a bizarro Bill Simmons blog. Where the writer is the weirdo. But don't worry: the brief foray into matters of canine intercourse is over as of now.


  24. My answer is exactly the same as Craig's for the K-9 sex thing.

    Yankees suck.

    Austin Rivers has looked good in these HS All-Star games, but didn't have a standout McDonald's game. It's already hard for him to live up to his hype I think. Not because he isn't amazingly good, because he is, just because the hype is starting to get stupid. Quinn Cook is really growing on me though. I was a little worried about where we will be left at PG, but after seeing Cook on TV for the 3rd time I am officially excited at what he will bring to the table at Duke. I think he'll be starting by the end of next year (barring a miracle Kyrie return) and possibly right out of the gate. I like Thornton, but his ceiling is limited in comparison to Cook's.

    Plumlee Family

  25. Interesting image above I realize that maybe a lot of people in the world would like to do something like that I mean hit the head of that man.