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One Beats None
2008-08-01 19:57
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Coming off a brutal start in Boston, Sidney Ponson didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning of last night's tilt against the Angels. In fact, the only baserunner he allowed in the first four frames came on a rare walk to Howie Kendrick, who never got past first base.

Garret Anderson got the Halos' first safety with a leadoff single up the middle to lead off the fifth. After Kendrick flied out to right, Ponson loaded the bases with walks to Juan Rivera and Jeff Mathis, but got out of the inning by getting Chone Figgins to pop out and Maicer Izturis to fly out to Johnny Damon in left. That was the only threat the Angels mounted in Ponson's seven innings of work. Mark Teixeira led off the sixth with the Angels' second single of the game, but Ponson got Vlad Guerrero to hit into a double play and retired the next four men in order.

With Ponson at 96 pitches, Joe Girardi decided to count his blessings and call on his bullpen. Though he had only allowed two hits, Ponson had walked four, thrown just half of his pitches for strikes, struck out just one, and been helped considerably by a variety of nice defensive plays, including a leaping stab of a screaming line drive over his head by first baseman Wilson Betemit, a couple of nice jump catches at the wall by Bobby Abreu (yes, really), and a fantastic running catch heading back toward dead center by Melky Cabrera.

No runs on two hits through seven innings is good no matter how one gets there, but as well as Ponson pitched, Angels starter Ervin Santana was better. Allowing just five singles through eight shutout innings (there were no extra base hits in the entire game), Santana struck out eight Yankees and walked just two.

Damaso Marte matched Santana's eighth inning in relief of Ponson with a dominant frame in which he threw ten of 15 pitches for strikes and struck out two of the three men he faced, all of them hitting right-handed. That passed the game on to Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning.

Much has been made of Rivera's "struggles" in non-save situations this season, but that's only in relation to his total dominance in pursuit of saves. Entering last night's game, Rivera had a 2.70 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP with 24 Ks against 2 walks in 20 innings in non-save situations, which is about as good as you could expect even the Great Rivera to be no matter the situation. That said, Mo couldn't keep things going last night. Rivera started the ninth by walking Mark Teixeira on five pitches. Vlad Guerrero then went with a pitch low and away, flicking it into right field to move pinch-runner Reggie Willits to third base. Rivera then got ahead of Torii Hunter 1-2, but after ball two, Hunter singled past an attempted kick save by Rivera to plate the first run of the game and give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Without having gotten an out, Rivera had blown the game, and he still had runners on first and second.

Mo then struck out Garret Anderson and got Howie Kendrick to ground into a double play to give the Yankees some hope of getting to Francisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth, but it wasn't to be. Facing Alex Rodriguez to start the frame, the Angels' closer got strike one with a wicked slider that Alex swung over. He then came down and in with a couple of fastballs for balls, and Alex spat on another slider for ball three. The 3-1 pitch came right down the pike, drawing a hearty swing from Alex, only to dive into the dirt at the last second, a wicked slider reminiscent of Joba Chamberlain's best. Then, on 3-2, Frankie threw Alex a changeup. Thinking it was another slider, Alex took it, but the ball didn't break. Instead it nicked the outside corner for ball three. Alex had no chance. Jason Giambi followed by just getting under Francisco's worst pitch of the night and skying out to center. Rodriguez then got Robinson Cano to fly out on a 2-1 pitch to end the game, 1-0.

Great baseball game. Awful loss.

Comments (53)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-08-01 21:09:15
1.   williamnyy23
Just got back from the game...it's amazing how this offense continues to find away to sink to new depths. The first inning pretty much summed up the Yankees season...1st and 2nd, no outs and then Abreu and Arod strike out before Giambi pops out meekly. It's one thing to expect the middle of your order to produce, but the Yankees have a hard time making anything more than feeble contact.

It's August now and the lineup hasn't produced. Still, Girardi refuses to reorder the lineup, opting instead to try to squeeze blood from a stone. The more I watch this listless offense, the more I think the Yankees to need have a major offseason purge.

2008-08-01 21:20:42
2.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Well, Giambi will be bought out and shouldn't be resigned, and Abreu shouldn't be resigned either. The offseason should also give us Matsui and Posada back, so that alone is a major change from what we're watching right now.
2008-08-01 21:31:46
3.   JL25and3
1 It could have been worse, William. I was there the night before.

2 I need to see more before I'm convinced that replacing Abreu with Nady is an improvement.

2008-08-01 21:50:49
4.   Cliff Corcoran
3 I didn't say Nady would be a sufficient replacement. I only said Abreu shouldn't be resigned.
2008-08-01 22:12:21
5.   JL25and3
4 Yeah, I know you're probably less convinced of Nady than I am at this point. I'm just saying that a major offseason purge may well just make things worse.
2008-08-01 22:15:38
6.   williamnyy23
3 I'd rather have been at that game...I'd have been home before midnight.

This team has gotten so frustrating, I just want to see new faces.

2008-08-01 22:18:04
7.   williamnyy23
5 I am willing to take the chance...I'd like to shake things up even more. Texiera and Manny could replace Abreu and Giambi. Heck, I'd even listen to offers for Cano. The Yankees need to get back to consistent hitters who have actually have an approach. I saw so many swings at bad pitches, it made me sick.
2008-08-01 22:48:48
8.   cult of basebaal
7 this just in, ervin santana has filthy stuff.
2008-08-01 22:54:39
9.   JL25and3
6 You'd have left early?

I never leave a game early. I sit through 3-hour rain delays in the ninth inning. I know, I'm nuts. But I figure that if I leave early, someone's going to turn an unassisted triple play and I'm going to miss it. I'd never forgive myself.

2008-08-01 23:18:39
10.   williamnyy23
7 He has an ERA+ of 118 (career ERA+ of 97). That's pretty good, but it seems like other teams are managing a run or two. I wasn't even being that greedy...all I wanted was a well struck ball. I guess we can keep giving credit to the opposing pitchers, but that would mean someone must have cloned Sandy Koufax.

9 Absolutely. I wind up going to at least 20 games each year, so I'll take off early in a blow out, especially on a week night. I also wind up going to too many games out of a feeling of obligation...a loss combined with the increasing inconvenience of the Stadium makes for a very unpleasant experience.

2008-08-01 23:32:01
11.   cult of basebaal
10 well, we should have pushed across a run or two, that's true ... but to compare santana to some UURP is just silly.

he might be a bit of a head case (witness the home-v-road splits from last year) but he's clearly got #1 starter stuff and the outcome of every at bat and every pitch has to be weighed in consideration of how what he threw and how well he threw it.

frankly, he's better than every yankees' starter (in the organization) other than joba and it's not very close.

2008-08-01 23:37:12
12.   williamnyy23
11 What exactly is a UURP and who is comparing him to one.

I am not sure why you rate Santana so highly. He is a league average pitcher having a solid season, who isn't necessarily better than Pettitte, Wang or Mussina. If a few good swings off of Santana is too much to expect, then who exactly are they going to hit?

2008-08-01 23:45:17
13.   JL25and3
10 I go to almost that many games, and in fact I sometimes feel the obligation as well. But I almost never find the experience downright unpleasant, even if the game sucks.

I have a little bit of an advantage on weeknights. I work near the Stadium, so I don't have to get there. I can also move my car into a spot that can get me out a bit quicker than a lot can.

But even before I worked that close, I never left games early. I think it comes from having been at the Harvard-Yale game in 1968, where Harvard (the underdog) scored 16 points in the last 42 seconds to end up with a tie.

2008-08-01 23:52:30
14.   williamnyy23
13 You definitely look at the glass as being half full. I don't know...a 1-0 loss in which the team has one pathetic AB after another, followed by 30 minutes just to exit the Stadium and then a two hour drive home is very unpleasant to me.

I've seen so many games and so many special events that the only thing I care about is a Yankee win. I guess I am not that interested in seeing an unassisted triple play in a game the Yankees get blown out.

2008-08-02 00:51:46
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
So we follow up a blow-out loss with a 1-0 loss, of course.

I mean, of course.

O how I wonder what manner of losing lies in store for us today.

I hate California. I mean I really hate them. Nice to know we get to see them a host more times before this season draws to a close.

2008-08-02 00:56:15
16.   weeping for brunnhilde
13 Never again.

:)

2008-08-02 04:53:24
17.   Shaun P
To make you all smile, here's Chili Davis talking about Pedro's "17 K perfect but for Chili's HR and hitting Knoblauch" game back in September of '99:

http://tinyurl.com/6pr3m7

2008-08-02 05:54:15
18.   JL25and3
14 I don't know if it's glass-half-full, but I do look at it entirely differently. I've been to so many games that my enjoyment can't just hinge on whether the Yankees win or lose. If it did, I'd never go to another game again.

My emotional investment with the Yankees has to do with ups and downs, not just ups. And if I didn't find the game itself interesting, I can't imagine why I'd want to sit through it in the first place.

If the only thing that holds any interest is the final score, and then only if the Yankees win, I can understand why you find the whole process to be increasingly oppressive and unpleasant.

2008-08-02 06:50:56
19.   Sliced Bread
Sidney being Sidney after the game:

"The Yankees don't deserve a player like me. During my weeks here, I've seen how they have supported other pitchers when they want to win. The Yankees scored runs for Mussina, Pettitte, Rivera, Joba, Rasner and tonight [last night] they do nothing for me. Their goal is to paint me as the fat guy. I love New York fans, but the Yankees don't deserve me. I'm talking about desserts: mud pie, ice cream whale cakes, tartuffo, that sort of thing. It's not that I'm not eating well here, but everything is going to my waist, and these losers can't score runs, know what I'm sayin'?"

How long can the Yankees shrug off comments like this?

2008-08-02 07:52:28
20.   ChrisS
Ugh. This team is really struggling and I'm not sure what the solution is. Then again, if I did know, I'd probably have Cashman's job. And I'm not sure I want it.

As it stands, I think the team is probably 2-3 years from legitimately contending again. They'll still win ball games, but I think there's too much to overhaul for one off-season.

2008-08-02 08:01:25
21.   tommyl
0 Cliff, on a positive note it appears Girardi will not make Marte into a pure LOOGY. Color me impressed, he'll use him situationally when he has to (face Ortiz but not Manny) but the rest of the time he seems to just be a setup guy who happens to throw left handed.

19 That's a joke, right?

2008-08-02 08:01:31
22.   seattleyank
20 The problem is that in 2-3 years, their current problems will have been replaced by new ones. They will likely have a new outfield, first basemen and a couple starters, but Jeter, Posado and Mo will all likely in significant decline, Pettitte and Moose will be long gone, etc. They have a troubling mix and really young and really old.
2008-08-02 08:02:29
23.   seattleyank
22 Excuse the typos, I just woke up.
2008-08-02 08:04:51
24.   tommyl
20 The solution is to stop playing the Angels. For whatever reason we suck against them. We seem to lose in every possible way.
2008-08-02 08:10:27
25.   seattleyank
Can someone answer this for me: once we lose our first round draft pick by signing a Type A free agent, is there any additional penalty for signing more Type A's? Would we lose compensation picks we might acquire from other teams signing our free agents?
2008-08-02 08:44:37
26.   JL25and3
25 I think the second signing loses you your second round pick, but you never lose the compensation picks.
2008-08-02 08:57:01
27.   seattleyank
26 Thanks.
2008-08-02 09:08:20
28.   Zack
The few innings I did watch last night showed the Yankees bats looking beyond feeble against Santana. Bad swings where the hitters looked like they had no idea where the ball was or was going.

I'm not nearly so doom and gloom about the team. Sure, they might not make the playoffs this season, but going into next season, they have Wang and Joba at the top, with the possibilities of CC, Hughes, Andy, Moose, and Kennedy to slot behind them. For the first time in awhile, they have the makings of a legit ace.

The offense is obviously aging and regressing with few options to counter that. But this season has also been about as BAD as could be expected in terms of expected contributions. With Posada and Matsui back things shouldn't be so bad...And then there's the already solid BP only getting better with Melancon ready to step in...

But here's a questions: the Yanks have some money to spend next year, and there are two candidates that fill obvious needs but who will probably demand $20M or so in CC and Texiera. Assuming the Yanks only feel like taking on one bloated long term contract, who do you sign? The stud 1B they so sorely lack or the dominant in his prime workhorse #1 pitcher to give you a fearsome top 3?

2008-08-02 09:16:13
29.   ChrisS
22 Good point, that's a concise way to look at it. The pitching looks to be in good shape, including the bullpen. With Robertson, Sanchez, and Melancon, I'm not overly worried about replacing Mo. He can't be replaced, I mean, but I don't doubt that the best replacement possible will come from them. Hell Edwar, hasn't given up a hit in 37 batters! (and Girardi used him to send a message and get suspended ...). And with the big three at the ML, there's McCallister, Brackman, Betances, and (hopefully) Cole in the pipeline. Having 1 turn out in each group, makes things good for the Yankees staff.

The offense/position players is what really concerns me. There's just not much depth and not a lot of high-upside prospects there. The Yankees' method for developing position players seems to be sign a bunch of crap from latin america and hope that something sticks. Nick Johnson & Marcus Thames are the only decent ML position players that they've developed from the draft in the last 12 years. Hopefully Ajax adds to that, but they need positional help and badly.

Then again, after perusing the draft results for a couple of other teams at B-R, the draft is a whole lot of crap. And for every Piazza that comes out of nowhere, there's thousands of players that are drafted after the first 5 rounds that don't amount to jack. Scouts do a pretty good job, overall.

2008-08-02 09:24:59
30.   Zack
29 Yeah, that's pretty dead on. And that lack of positional depth and excess of pitching is just further reason why Cashman needs to trade from that excess to solve the positional issue. Hopefully these past two trades indicate a slight shift towards that.

There are some pretty legit positional prospects in the system, but other than Ajax, they are ALL in Low A or Rookie League, meaning they are at least 3 years away most likely. Monteiro, Romine, Almonte, Angelini, and Suttle all have legit potential, and of course the draftees from this year are still too new to really read into, but Corban Joseph has been very solid thus far.

In two years, the Yanks will need CF, LF, RF, 1B, and C and probably SS too. In two years, they really only have a replacement for CF. Other than Jackson, AA and A+ are completely devoid of anyone even remotely interesting, and that is a major problem.

2008-08-02 09:30:28
31.   ChrisS
28 I don't think the Yankees can count on both Posada and Matsui contributing much next season. One or both might, but after about 32, it seems anything can happen with players and it's mostly negative.

I'm all for pitching depth.

2008-08-02 09:37:33
32.   horace-clarke-era
7 "Texiera and Manny could replace Abreu and Giambi."

Nice to be rich isn't it william? 40 million into two players. Easy come, easy go.

Dunno, I'm with JL, I hate hate hate it when the Yankees lose a close game (and Mo blows it) but last night was well-played, tense, I saw two good ballclubs. One of them is on a flat-out roll, 5 straight over BoSox and us on the road. It happens.

Wasn't it 6 days ago the place here was buzzing with how good the Yankees had become? If we'd flipped the close loss to O's and last night's into wins (and close losses happen!) we wouldn't be nearly so glum/angry/ ready for dynamite ... and it is just wrong to let a couple of games do that.

william, I suspect you'll say 'I've seen it all year' but every AL team but the Angels has seen it all year, Hot/colder.

Lot of ball left to play. It was a frustrating game with some very good D.

2008-08-02 09:39:26
33.   seattleyank
28 I would choose CC over Tex if the Yanks could only sign one. Although I do have minor concerns that the Brewers are going to pitch him until his arm falls off since they know he's gone in a couple months.
2008-08-02 10:06:21
34.   cult of basebaal
33 i don't know if they're minor concerns, when you're looking at signing somebody for the type of contract CC's looking for ...

my preference is to sign tex, if i had to sign only 1, the offense is the big worry for me ...

2008-08-02 10:06:37
35.   Shaun P
30 Don't forget Montero. Everyone (except people who work for the Yanks) say he's a stud hitting 1B in the end. (Yanks continue to say he can catch.)

The farm isn't likely to turn out another Bernie, another Posada, and another Jeter. But it could turn out guys who are 75% of them: guys who peak as stars, not as superstars. But the pitching side sure looks awesome, and maybe if the 2010 Yanks don't score as many runs as, say, the 1999 Yanks, they'll have a similar run differential thanks to incredible pitching.

2008-08-02 10:15:08
36.   Raf
Absolutely pouring here in the Bx...
2008-08-02 10:46:55
37.   Vandelay Industries
At the risk of being contrary, did Bobby Abreu steal someone's lunch money? Who do we propose replace a .285-.300 and 100+ RBI guy with? Another prospect with no prospects? I get the Giambi thing, but Bobby has done nothing, but well, be Bobby Abreu. I don't get it. Replacing Abreu with some bum prospect or FA who doesn't exist isn't going to turn Girardi into Mike Scioscia and make the Yankees what folks want them to be.
2008-08-02 10:59:15
38.   Zack
37 I think it has to do with the fact that he has steadily been declining across the board for the past 4 seasons, his quarter season with the Yanks two years ago notwithstanding. Take out July 29 and 30, and you have a guy who has been consistently an .800 ops or below player this season. Assuming that holds to pattern (its unlikely he will finish with an OPS much above last seasons), you have a guy heading into next season with a very real chance of a below .700 ops and ops+ right around 100, or league average. That's fine, in theory. BUt combined with his awful defense, and likely cost above his worth for more years than he's worth, I'd rather offer arbitration and either collect the draft pics or get him for a one year arb. contract.
2008-08-02 11:01:12
39.   Shaun P
37 .285-.300 and 100 RBI are the wrong numbers to look at w/r/t Abreu. And anyone else. Anyone can drive in 100 runners if year if they've got guys on base ahead of them. And the difference between a .260 batting average and a .280 batting average, over 600 ABs, is about a single a week. In terms of projecting what Abreu's going to do going forward, his average and his RBIs tell you nothing.

(If you're judging Giambi based on the same numbers, no wonder you want to jettison him!)

Instead look at:

OBP:
2006 - .424
2007 - .369
2008 - .361

BB
2006 - 124
2007 - 84
2008 - 70 (on pace for this)

Admittedly his SLG is up a bit this year (3 year progression is .462, .445, .472) but for a RF, that's pretty low. When his OBP was over .400 it didn't matter; now that is in the .360 range, it does.

2008-08-02 11:01:57
40.   Zack
38 Or, put another way, resigning Abreu is pretty much resigning Bernie Williams age 34 (his most similar batter at this age and for the last 4 seasons), where the the descent into league average hitting and atrocious defense was not pretty to watch...
2008-08-02 11:05:18
41.   Jeb
Let's beat this bunch of assholes today! Damn I hate K-Rod.
2008-08-02 11:10:25
42.   JL25and3
35 Zack mentioned Montero. But he's a long shot to be ready in 2010, as are all the others Zack named.

I understand why all the Yankees' top draft picks are pitchers. Since they always pick late in the first round, their advantage is being able to pay over slot for the picks that drop down for one reason or another. Those are almost always pitchers rather than catchers. But while those are high-upside picks, they're also often high-risk, which is why they've dropped down in the first place.

Also, of course, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect. It's inherently riskier to build your system entirely on pitching.

Maybe down the road they will be able to have those position players you describe. But they're really facing something of a crisis for the next 2-3 years, both in the starting lineup and in depth. They can sign free agents in a couple of places, but there are usually surprisingly few options: only one position player that raises any interest this year.

For that matter, is it really the best strategy to develop pitching and sign position players? This team has lots of FA position players of various descriptions, whether their own veterans, signed from other teams, or international free agents. Isn't that kind of what got us here? Meanwhile, the championship teams did exactly the opposite: position players primarily from the system or trades, and a starting rotation built primarily through free-agent signings.

It's nice that Cashman's been willing to trade some of the pitching depth for position players, but Nady and Rodriguez are more like short-term patches than long-term answers. It's tough to see what this team's lineup is going to look like in two years, and how it's going to be good.

Btw, the 1999 Yankees had the third-best offense in the league and the second-best pitching staff. Unless you expect to have an historically good staff, you're not going to match that run differential just with better pitching.

2008-08-02 11:13:21
43.   JL25and3
If you can get Abreu for one year, no problem. He's still a pretty good hitter, if no better than that, and the Yankees don't have a lot. 3-4 years, no way.
2008-08-02 11:15:09
44.   cult of basebaal
42 oh well, then we don't win for a couple of years. it's not the end of the world.
2008-08-02 11:35:52
45.   randym77
19 Did he really say that? How bizarre. It doesn't even make sense. What do deserts have to do with it?

And is anyone watching the Old Timers?

2008-08-02 11:38:59
46.   JL25and3
44 You don't have to sell me on that. But saying that isn't the same as praising the Grand Plan.
2008-08-02 11:41:22
47.   randym77
It's Willie Randolph! He wasn't on the list.
2008-08-02 11:45:00
48.   cult of basebaal
46 the two aren't incompatible. good plans sometimes require patience.
2008-08-02 12:36:12
49.   tommyl
42 I'm not sure what you mean that the position players were built from within. Jeter, Bernie and Posada were farm players. Tino, Knoblauch, Brosius/Hayes/Boone, O'Neill Strawberry, Davis, Raines, etc. were all either signed as free agents or brought forth in trades. As for the rotation, it was a mix. El Duque was from the farm, as was Pettitte, Rivera and some minor players. Wells and Cone were free agents, so was Key.

What one has to recognize is the changes in the market. In the 80s and 90s teams were not locking up their young stars early on. In a given year you might actually see an A-Rod, Griffey, Cone or players just below that available via free agency. Nowadays, teams lock up their blue chippers early (Reyes, Longoria, etc.) and those guys either never hit the market, or when they do they are much older (and more expensive). In addition, teams have wised up in trades for the most part and are demanding prospects of much fairer value. The two places where the Yankees can really flex their financial muscles is in the draft paying overslot and in the international FA market. It turns out that most of the "signability" cases are pitchers, so the Yankees go for that. Internationally I'd argue they've made a very strong push for position players. I'd agree with this strategy. The only thing I think they should add to that is some minor league trades for position prospects, but that's a crapshoot.

2008-08-02 12:48:44
50.   doslobo38
You know I just love the arguement that "anybody can drive in 100 rbi's a year" OK than why don't they.

The problem everybody has with Abreu is he is getting a little older so they pull out a slightly lower OPS or OBP and say get rid of him. But look at all the offensive categories for the Yankees and for the AL overall (hits, doubles, rbi's runs, walks, etc.) and he is near the top (or at least respectably placed) in all categories.
And as for his "horrible defense" where all all these Yankees games we have lost because of his poor D? What I see is a guy with a great arm, 8 assits, 3 double plays, 1 error and a .995 FPCT on the season.

So sure get rid of him,plenty of other teams would snatch him up in a heartbeat and he can start producing for them rather than the Yankees.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-08-02 13:15:54
51.   nick
We need to employ players in their PRIME--there's one offensive regular on this roster who has seen more than 50 ABs and is between 28-32: A-Rod. Nady makes it two.

Young guys can disappoint (check); old guys can get hurt (check). Our offensive woes are due to having a bunch of guys on the down side and a couple guys failing to develop.....

Resigning guys like Abreu is what Bill James used to call the "treadmill" strategy. It's why we never got over the hump in the 80s.

I have no particular fondness for Tex, but he's 28, a proven hitter and a good athlete. These are the kinds of guy who merit long-term deals.

2008-08-02 13:18:09
52.   nick
49 yeah, but Posada Jeter and Bernie were the three best players on that team--when you have three All Stars, three guys who are at least arguably the best in the league at their positions, at the three most important up the middle positions--that's a hell of a core.
2008-08-02 13:20:31
53.   nick
fuck, this is so depressing. can we all just ignore the game?

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