Ahh the New York Yankees. What’s not to
love. All the money, success, tradition, state of the art stadium, hordes of non baseball fans rocking the hat and more.
The Angels welcome the Bronx Bombers to the Big A for a pivotal three game series this weekend. To commemorate the occasion I spoke to Robert Bonanni of Fan Sided’s own Yanks Go Yard to get his take on Nova vs. Trumbo , The Short Porch, and most importantly why I was booed ( for sporting my Angels hat) during my trip to Yankees Stadium last weekend.
"Its important to note – I have now been relentlessly booed at both Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Some friends and I had the testicular fortitude to sport our Laker jerseys to Fenway Park the day after the Lakers beat the Celtics in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Two items off the bucket list..check."
Check out the interview with Robert after the jump.
Yankees Six Pack
- Kalup: 1. Who Has Been the Yankees Offensive MVP. Granderson, Cano, Texiera?
- Robert: Granderson has been the offensive MVP. Texiera has been very hit and miss. Cano is still the Yankees best and most dangerous offensive player, but Granderson has had such a phenomenal season. He has the perfect Yankee Stadium swing and is now and even more dangerous player because of his improvement against left handed pitching. He has a legit chance to end the season leading the league in homers, runs scored, and RBI’s. The Grandy Man is clearly the Yankees offensive MVP.
- Kalup: 2. I made my first trip to the new Yankees Stadium over Labor Day weekend and naturally wore my Angels fitted cap. I was surprised at the amount of (mostly good natured) cat calls and boos I received. Does Yankee nation still consider the Angels a threat? Or was the viotriol thrown my way just a result of the decade long rivalry and playoff showdowns between the two teams?
- Robert: I will be honest with you, Yankee fans could care less about Angel fans. They were probably shocked to see an Angels fan in the Stadium. I think 2008 ended the Yankee fans fear of the Angels. This is also a much different Angel team compared to the teams that gave the Yankees so many problems in years past. Additionally, with the cost of tickets and all the other nonsense that goes on in the stadium, half the crowd probably could care less about what is actually happening in the game. The wine and cheese corporates that can afford to go to games will not be as cut throat as the hard core die hard Yankee fans.
- Kalup: 3. After Sabathia and Nova which starting pitcher do the Yankees trust most?
- Robert: Probably none of them. I don’t even think they really trust Nova, but they have no other choice but to have faith in him. If I had to choose another pitcher by default I would say Colon. He has been the most consistent of all the other starters and has a track record for being a big time pitcher. He also still brings quality stuff to the mound, despite being a fat slob. It clearly is not AJ Burnett. I think the Yankees would have more faith in a dead corpse pitching for them. Freddy Garcia has been a major surprise, but he does not have the stuff to get out a big time offensive team. Possibly if they play a weaker hitting Detroit team, Garcia could get a start. Phil Hughes is a wild card, but I believe because he has proven that he could be great out of the bullpen will probably end up there in the post season.
- Kalup: 4. A lot has been written about how guys like Cano and Granderson thrive largely because of the short porch of Yankee stadium, yet most who make that argue fail to realize both players actually sport a higher road OPS. What’s your take?
- Robert: I think the entire team benefits from hitting in Yankee stadium. I also think they have a lot of great hitters who can hit in any ball park. The ball park does help and having home field advantage in the post season will greatly benefit them. As for Cano and Granderson, I think Granderson is helped out more than Cano. Cano can hit the ball out of Central Park. I know Granderson has a higher OPS on the road this season, but when you watch him play on a daily basis you realize how perfect he is for Yankee Stadium. He hits a lot of home runs into the short right field porch. The ball park is the ball park though and most of the stadiums around baseball are band boxes anyways, so I think most of today’s players have a major advantage over the players of previous decades.
- Kalup: 5. What’s your take on the AL Rookie Of The Year Race. Nova, Trumbo, Pineida, Hosmer or someone else?
- Robert: I am going to go with Nova. He has 15 wins for a first place team going to the playoffs. The 3.94 ERA might be high for peoples liking, but I am a wins person. I like pitchers who know how to win games for their team and Nova does that. Nova also has the pressure of pitching in New York and being throwninto the number 2 spot in the rotation. He also dealt with the Yankees jerking him around and sending him back to the minors even though he earned his spot in the rotation. I know Angel fans would probably go with Trumbo. He has been a great surprise and his 26 home runs and 80 RBIs so far this season is very impressive, but I can’t put him ahead of Nova. People do not realize the pressure players on the Yankees face, especially the pitchers. Just look at AJ Burnett and he has ultimately failed in dealing with it.
- Kalup: 6. What’s the Yankees plan for Eduardo Nunez? With the captain signed for at least two more seasons will Nunez be kept to platoon with Jeter, traded, or given the everyday shortstop role at some point?
- Robert: Nunez might be the worst defensive player I have ever seen. He has 18 errors and is a part time player (97 games to be exact). He has good range but his glove stinks and his throws are even worse. The throws are so bad that even Tex can save him on some of them. He has shown a decent bat, but nothing special. You have to hit like Manny Ramirez in order to make up for the defense that he plays. Derek Jeter will never be platooned so we can rule that out. He hasn’t proven he can play defense well enough to ever earn a starting position even if Jeter retired in 3 years. I see him staying in a bench role, giving Jeter and A-Rod DH or off days. I could also easily see him being traded as part of a package in an attempt to get pitching help in the off season.Angels Six Pack
- Robert: 1. Which player must step up most if the Angels were to overtake the Rangers for the division and make the playoffs?
- Kalup: Vernon Wells. Not that his play has any direct correlation with the Angels play-off chances , but of the three slumping veteran Amigos ( Hunter, Abreu, Wells) Vernon is the lone player who has yet to have his situation change. Torii Hunter has been himself for the entire second half (.834 OPS), while Bobby Abreu has seen reduced playing time. That leaves Wells as the most likely candidate. If he can improve on his dismal (.218/.252/.396) slash line he could help bridge the 2.5 game gap. I wouldn’t count on that happening though.
- Robert: 2. How do you think the “older” Angels (Abreu, Hunter, Wells) will perform in September?
- Kalup: The Angels have been counting on this trio to produce all season long. If you take away the second half that Torii Hunter has been putting together the Angels have gotten very little offensive production from these core veterans. I wouldn’t count on Wells or Abreu turning it on down the stretch. Abreu while still a disciplined hitter has lost his ability to drive the ball and catch up to fastball on the outer half. Wells meanwhile has displayed an extreme pull happy approach that has produce seemingly a careers worth of weak ground balls to the left side and infield pop ups. That leaves Torii Hunter as the only Angels veteran the club can rely on down the stretch.
- Robert: 3. Up until 2008, the Angels clearly had the Yankees number. Did the 2009 ALCS change that or do the Angels still have a lot of confidence when playing the Yankees?
- Kalup: I think the Angels historical confidence / good play against the Yankees is really a matter of personnel more than anything else. The Angels during the Mike Scioscia era have featured versatile offensive clubs with a combination of speed and a sprinkle of power bats. Couple that with what has largely been a great back end bull pen, solid defense and starting pitching and you have the tools to beat what has been an offensive juggernaut from New York. Since 2009 the Angels have lost a lot of offensive fire power to free agency ( Vlad Guerrero , Chone Figgins) and injury (Kendrys Morales) so its the failiure to make up for that offensive firepower ( Hunter and Abreu have only aged) more so than any mental edge that gives these Yankees a noticeable advantage over the Halos.
- Robert: 4. How shocked do you think the Angels and their fans are to see Bartolo Colon have the season that he is having?
- Kalup: I can’t speak for the entire fan base but personally I have been fairly surprised with Colon this season. This was a guy who could’nt get anyone out when he last pitched for the Angels in 2006 and 2007. The fact that he has turned himself into a solid back end rotation guy some five years down the line is certainly eye opening.
- Robert: 5. Which player has been the biggest surprise this season? Positive and Negative?
- Kalup: On the positive side the choice is Mark Trumbo. While his OBP leaves a lot to be desired (.295) Trumbo has filled in for injured slugger Kendrys Morales and been the Angels best power threat ( 26 HR’s, .220 ISO) all season. Trumbo’s emergence will give the Angels a nice depth problem to address when and if Kendrys returns to a healthy and productive state. On the negative side the choice is split between Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu. While not even the blindest of Angel homers expected Wells to put up the MVP type numbers his contract warrants Wells dismal offensive season has come as a down right shock to most. I don’t think even the most ardent Wells hater could have projected (.218/.252/.396) but some how some way that is what the Angels have gotten. As for Abreu, sure he’s now 37 years old and his age was bound to catchup with him at some point, but this year has seen father time get all crazy with the fast forward button. Abreu is .120 points off of his career slugging percentage, and almost .150 points off of his career OPS. Had the Angels gotten even a slight uptick in performance from these two vets, their season would likely look a lot different right now. Or they just could have not traded Mike Napoli..but I digress.
- Robert: 6. The Angels end the season with a 3 game series at home with the Rangers. This series could possibly decide the division title. Where do you think they will be in the standings when they play and what is your prediction on them winning the division?
- Kalup: The Angels will likely be within striking distance of the Rangers i’d wager maybe even 1 or 2 games back by the time this series rolls around. While anything can happen in a short series I do not see the Halos winning the division this year. The Rangers are the better ball club and their advantage on offense and in the bull pen will prove to much for the Angels to match. The Rangers also appear to have that mental swagger advantage (like the Angels use to have over the Yankees) over the Halos. In the past 7 games all with direct divisional implications the Rangers have gone 5-2. Enough said. Frankly with the Angels offensive shortcomings its a modern miracle that they have even kept the race this close.