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The Devil Rays
2005-05-02 13:26
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Devil Rays team the Yankees will face over the next four nights in Tampa has changed slightly from the one they faced two weeks ago at the Stadium.

To begin with, the Yankees themselves knocked Rob Bell out of the Tampa rotation when they scored ten runs off him in one and one-third innings on April 18. He's been replaced by 24-year-old Doug Waechter, who was once an exciting up-and-comer for the Rays, but in two starts has looked more like the Old Mussina than the prospect of 2003. Waechter was in the pen two weeks ago, where he pitched much better than Bell has since switching places with him.

When Bell made that ill-fated start against the Yankees, he was moved up a day to do so to fill in for the injured Mark Hendrickson, who has since enjoyed a 15-day stint on the DL and is now back in action, having performed modestly in one start since being activated. Hendrickson will start Thursday against Chien-Ming Wang. Waechter starts tomorrow against Kevin Brown.

Overall, the Devil Rays' pitching has been awful. They have a 6.21 team ERA and only set-up man Travis Harper has a WHIP below 1.50 (0.83, but a 6.32 ERA). Conversely, only closer Danys Baez has an ERA below 4.00, but he has an equal number of saves and blow saves (one of each), and identical walk and strikeout rates of 4.91 per 9 IP. Recognizing that quantity does not guarantee quality (something the Yankees have yet to figure out), the Rays have slimmed down to eleven pitchers, as I mentioned in my previous post. They did this by demoting another once-exciting young prospect, 24-year-old Seth McClung, who returned to Durham with a 12.19 ERA and a 2.13 WHIP after nine appearances with the big club.

The Rays have replaced McClung on the other side of the ball by calling up yet another 24-year-old prospect, outfielder Jonny Gomes. Gomes got two cups of Turkish Coffee (too small and too overwhelming) in the past two years, but finally seems to be clicking, forcing his way into the lineup, primarily in left field, forcing Carl Crawford to center and Alex Sanchez to the bench (good news for Rays fans).

Throughout the line-up, the Rays are hitting so poorly that Lou Piniella is desperately shifting playing time around to get his hottest hitters in the line-up. Gomes (corner outfield), Nick Green (3B/2B), and Eduardo Perez (1B, and sure to start against Randy Johnson on Wednesday), are the only members of the Devil Rays' 25-man roster with OPSs above .800. One wonders how long it will take Lou to snap and exile Chris Singleton (.250/.294/.250, .195 GPA) in favor of Joey Gathright (who hit for a .309 GPA in his six games with the club during Alex Sanchez's suspension), giving the Rays the outfield they should have installed at the beginning of the season of Crawford, Gathright and Gomes.

In the infield, the underachieving Alex Gonzalez, Josh Phelps, and Travis Lee are finding themselves having to fight for playing time, while Aubrey Huff is once again being bounced around between right field, first base and DH, playing a different position in each of his last three games. Julio Lugo isn't hitting either, but Gonzalez is the only other man who can play shortstop (donde esta B.J. Upton?) and he's been even worse, opening up third base to Nick Green's advances.

All of this adds up to the Devil Ray's having the third-worst record in baseball (above only the Rockies and Royals). The Yankees, by the way, have the fifth-worst record in the majors, only the equally-disappointing Indians falling in-between tonight's two opponents. Speaking of tonight, the Yanks send the Old Moose up against the Rays' Young and Spritely ace Scott Kazmir. The Devil Rays enter this series on a seven-game losing streak and Kazmir has yet to win a game this year, despite hurling seven innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox two starts ago (the only one of his starts his team won, but Baez vultured the win). Pessimists start your engines!

Comments
2005-05-02 14:35:35
1.   murphy
well... after cliff's glowing review of the DRays, i'm ALMOST confident that we can win this series... i think...
2005-05-02 14:47:03
2.   JohnnyC
Since Torre's various explanations for the team's doldrums make it seem like some sort of spiritual crisis, unless St. Petersburg has some holy shrine the guys can visit, I have a bad feeling about this 4 game set. The Yankee braintrust (sic) should act quickly, make changes on the field and off, and, at the very least, get the organization on the right track so we can compete next season, even if this season turns out to be a washout. Bob Lemon, where are you?
2005-05-02 16:19:45
3.   Dan M
With Rey Sanchez starting and batting second, my confidence is a touch below murphy's.
2005-05-02 16:56:05
4.   rbj
5 of 6 batter K? Ugh, even if it is Kazmir. And Luis didn't send the runner home after a double, must've been a ground rule one. (at work, I can only use Gamechannel.)
2005-05-02 17:05:27
5.   redshift
Rodriguez groundout with bases loaded and two out - not surprising, but I'm not too disheartened - at least they got on base. Mussina perfect through three frames too, good start.
2005-05-02 18:04:48
6.   Adam B
Don't let the runs and hits deceive you. The Rays' impatience is the reason why Moose looks so good tonight. 82 pitches, 51 strikes, and a lot of the strikes in at bats where batters actually tried to foul of pitches, through 5.

I can't understand Sanchez being #2 tonight. Torre seems to love wasting outs. Productive outs, my ass.

By the way, that Kazmir trade has worked out for the Yankees and their fans. We can make fun of the Mets's old management and we don't face Victor Zambrano anymore.

Ugh.. Top of the 6th, the Yankees have Kazmir at 100 pitches, so they go up swinging away?

2005-05-02 18:34:07
7.   redshift
Can't be too pleased with Phillips' line right now - 4 AB's with 4 K's - all swinging, with three of them to end the inning.
2005-05-02 18:49:50
8.   Jen
I was all ready to give Sanchez props for his looper over the infield until he screwed up and didn't go to second on Sheffield's foul out. That ball was nowhere near fair territory.
2005-05-02 18:51:23
9.   Marcus
Why wouldn't you give someone like Karsay a shot here in the bottom of the 8th? A 4-run cushion and an overused Gordon tell you to experiment a little, if anything for the sake of trade bait.
2005-05-02 18:54:00
10.   Adam B
Gordon again? Did the Yankees put a clause in his contract that they don't have to pay him if his arm falls off and not disclose it to the public? What happened to Felix Rodriguez? They have a 4 run lead as is.
2005-05-02 19:02:33
11.   redshift
Make that 5 K's for Phillips - all swinging, and four of them ending the inning.

13 strikeouts against the Devil Rays is just embarrassing.

2005-05-02 19:03:10
12.   singledd
Wow, Gordon again! Maybe Torre isn't worried about the post-season anymore.
2005-05-02 19:05:09
13.   singledd
Oh Oh. I think I just say Torre drive a stake throught the heart of his Phillips voo-doo doll. RIP Andy.
2005-05-02 19:09:20
14.   Jen
Maybe they should fire Michael Kay. They seem to do well when he's not in the booth.
2005-05-02 19:14:20
15.   singledd
And to top it off, Detroit is embarassing the Sox, who are about to be 13-12. Baltimore won't keep up this pace, but it will be an interesting year for the AL East.
2005-05-02 19:40:24
16.   Dave D
Holy crap, anyone watching the post game with Torre? Lots of moves, Cano coming up, Karsay hits the toad and Womack in left! And The Unit missing his next start to be replaced by a mystery starter.
2005-05-02 19:41:35
17.   justin
guys, Torre just announced that Cano is going to play 2nd tomorrow, Womack in LF, and Bernie, if he plays at all, will be a DH.. I am assuming Matsui will play center. Torre said that Bernie has a sore elbow, of course Torre is probably just saying that..

There are a lot of other moves that's being talked about now.. Something about skipping Randy's start on wednesday due to some groin problem... jeez

2005-05-02 20:07:35
18.   brockdc
What about Karsay? I have MLB Extra Innings and don't get any YES extras. I don't even consider going to Yankees.com (AKA xxooxxankees.com) anymore. I don't give a sh#$ that it's Tanyon Sturtze's baby daughter's third birthday, dammit! What a joke. It's like watching "Extra" when you want some hard-hitting analysis on the current health care crises.
2005-05-02 20:23:28
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
It's great to have won and all, but it was such a sloppy win.

I refer you to the top of the seventh, we're up by one. Understand? Up by one in the bottom three innings. That's no kind of lead with our pen.

But never fear, Sheffield leads off with a double. Great, you think, Rodriguez, Posada and Matsui can get this guy in, some way, somehow. So Rodgriguez bounces out to short, failing to advance Sheffield and that was that.

Now, I know the man can hit the ball out, but is there no way to hit the ball to the right side? To say to yourself, "Look, if I'm going to slug the ball, I'll wait for an outside pitch. Otherwise, I've got to advance the runner."

Just like when Giambi insists on hitting into that dragnet they lay for him.

I mean seriously, are these people professional hitters or not? Why is it such a vaunted skill to hit the other way (to say nothing of bunting) that only the few and the proud can do it with consistency? I really don't want to be unfair, am I missing something?

2005-05-02 20:27:57
20.   brockdc
Weeping,

No. The Yankees are sorely lacking in the most fundamental aspects of the game. It's maddening.

2005-05-02 20:34:52
21.   brockdc
Sorry for being a blog hog. Kenny Singleton said something during tonight's telecast about Torre setting the goal of reaching .500. Who said the Yanks have lost their swagger?
2005-05-02 20:41:33
22.   Bruce Markusen
Phillips strikes out five times in a game. I'm sure that this happened several times in baseball history; I've just never seen it before.

On a more important front, I like the changes that are being made. Williams is FINALLY being taken out of center field; this should have happened a long time ago. Defensively, Matsui will be an improvement over Bernie, while Cano should be an improvement over Womack at second base. Womack probably won't be as good as Matsui in left field. Still, that's better defense at two spots, and that should help.

Here's a trade I'd like to see happen: Karsay, Alex Graman, and cash to the Rangers for David Dellucci. I know it's wishful thinking, but I can dream, can't I?

2005-05-02 20:42:36
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
Brockdc,

But how the fuck (pardon my french) do these people make it to the major leagues without fundamentals? Seriously, they must have learned these things at some point but then--out of hubris or vanity or just disrespect of the game--decided that fundamentals were for the great unwashed, not sluggers like themselves. Can't Joe just make them do the right thing some how? Go to the papers and start saying, "Yeah, I tell Giambi he shouldn't just hit the ball into the dragnet like a chump, but he's a little man and won't listen."

I don't know, anything. I'm raving now because losing is one thing, but losing with a one-dimensional lineup is just agonizing.

When California whipped our ass in 2002, especially that final inning against Wells (fourth, fifth?) they just hit one line drive after another. They ran well. They won with solid baseball, as we used to.

And all this after we won the goddamned game.

And against the Devil Rays.

2005-05-02 20:56:38
24.   Nick from Washington Heights
I think the Yanks won the game so for a night I'm going to pretend that the ship is turned around, and the Yanks are ready to compete for a world series.
2005-05-02 21:06:14
25.   brockdc
Weeping,

That was epic. Billy Martin is applauding inside his box.

2005-05-02 21:27:30
26.   weeping for brunnhilde
From espn.com:

Cashman "had lobbied unsuccessfully to shift Soriano to the outfield and sign the Japanese-born Kaz Matsui to play second base in his stead."

Imagine it. Our plight might actually have been even worse.

I'm cracking up just thinking of it.

2005-05-02 21:35:32
27.   Simone
Radical changes, but something had to be done. Hopefully, the Yankees can trade one of the relievers for a left fielder turning Womack into a utility guy. Bernie's bat does seem to be waking up so maybe he gets more time at DH than Sierra and Giambi. Giambi needs to play 1st on occasion to push Tino onto the bench.
2005-05-02 21:36:28
28.   Simone
Radical changes, but something had to be done. Hopefully, the Yankees can trade one of the relievers for a left fielder turning Womack into a utility guy. Bernie's bat does seem to be waking up so maybe he gets more time at DH than Sierra and Giambi. Giambi needs to play 1st on occasion to push Tino onto the bench.
2005-05-02 22:12:52
29.   Zack
The full report:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2052024

Well, its no good the Randy is hurt, we need him badly. Bernie needs to go from center, that is good, but Womack in left is weird. I'm not sure how much we can expect from Cano, or if this is just a trade chip move. And the best we can do is to bring up a kid from AA to pitch? That is a bad sign!

2005-05-03 03:59:36
30.   singledd
This teams has not had a decent 4th outfielder since the David Dellucci/Karim Garcia days... yet they got rid of both of them. I think the were both pretty cheap, and either one would be very handy now.

While I'm glad to see some changes, I do not think Bernie will play well off the Bench. Tino and Giambi, both lefties, don't platoon well. Phillips will never play. I like Cano at second, but trading Bernie for Womack? How much can that help? Bernie can always get hot. Womack now is about as hot as he gets. Who will have a better OPS at the end of the year?

We have 3 guys, all hitting below .250 fighting for 2 spots. Giambi MIGHT get hot and surprise us.... I think he has the best chance to make an impact. Tino contributes D at first, which IS important. Womack in left gives us the worst offensive left-fielder in the game.

This is a move... but sideways at best. We need to get ONE outfielder... LF or CF. Womack in left is unacceptable. Keep Tino at first, because glove IS important (and pray he responds and bats over .250). Hate to say it, but Bernie rides the pine (at least he's a switch hitter) except when Tino rests or Giambi slumps or is off).

But please, don't tell me I have to watch Womack as an everyday LF. This is literally the Poster of a team in ruin. Cliff and Larry M. must be in tears at this thought.
Common.... this team is sucking dirt... moving guys around won't help a hell of a lot. Get Cano and phillips some playing time, get an outfielder, because as bad as this year is, next year could be worse.

I was there is '65. It was not pretty. The front office needs to move fast! Where is Karim Garcia? At least call Theo.... he might have a good idea!!!

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