Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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2005-05-03 23:04
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Despite the fact that I didn't expect to catch much of it due to playing in my first softball game of the year (1 for 2 with a nice ranging catch in my only chance in right field), Alex asked me to write the recap of last night's game in Tampa because he was going to be at Shea taking in his first ballgame of the year. As it turns out, we were both treated to similar games. At Shea, Alex witnessed a 10-3 thrashing of the Mets by the Phillies, with Tom Glavine suffering his third dreadful outing in six starts (3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 1 K, 53 percent of 93 pitches for strikes). It is only in comparison to that line, which pushed Glavine's ERA over 7.00, that Kevin Brown's performance in the Yankees 11-4 loss to the Devil Rays last night can look like anything other than a disaster.

In the top of the first the Yankees (with Tony Womack indeed batting second) went 1-2-3 on nine pitches against Doug Waechter. By the time Brown had thrown his ninth pitch in the bottom of the first, the Devil Rays had scored once and had runners on the corners with no outs. Despite the progress he seemed to have made in his previous start, Brown reverted to his bizarre 2005 form by allowing six runs in the first inning before settling down in the following innings.

Curiously, out of the eleven batters Brown faced in the first, he started seven of them out with strikes and never fell behind any of them more than 2-1 in the count. Indeed, Brown didn't walk a single batter in the game and, despite his third pitch being wild, threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes. All of which would normally be indications of a well-pitched game. Once again, if one were to look at Brown's line for innings two through five (after 92 pitches he was replaced by Mike Stanton to start the sixth) you'd see this:

4 IP, 5 H (all singles), 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 7 ground outs, 3 fly outs

Still, that first inning was brutal: infield single, wild pitch, RBI single, ground rule double, RBI ground out, RBI single, double, 2 RBI single, single, RBI single, fly out, ground out.

That just won't due. Brown has lost all four of his starts (though it's also true that the Yankees have failed to score more than four runs in any of them), and last night's was the worst of the bunch in that he gave up the most runs and was taken out the soonest. Unfortunately, with the team already dipping into their double-A staff for a replacement starter for Randy Johnson (who, by the way, is less than pleased about not taking his turn), there aren't many options.

I'm more than a little dubious about Sean Henn's ability to make the leap from double-A to the majors. That said, if he pitches well tomorrow, it might be worth while to shift him into Brown's spot and force Brown to work out his problems on a minor league rehab assignment or even a sojourn to Billy Conners' Camp For Pitcher Reeducation in Tampa.

Meanwhile, I was unable to catch enough of the game to get a clear read on the Yankees new defensive alignment, but at the very least they seem to have avoided detection, which is a good thing. Robinson Cano, however, failed to get the ball out of the infield in his first three major league at-bats, grounding out on the first pitch he saw, striking out on four pitches in his next at-bat and rounding out the night with another first-pitch groundout. So in three at-bats he saw just six pitches and took just one for a ball. The three players involved in the revamped defensive alignment went a combined 0 for 11 with no walks and two strikeouts last night as Hideki Matsui went 0 for 4 to push his slump to 3 for his last 28 (though two of those three were for extra bases).

Elsewhere, Tino Martinez continued his hot hitting going 2 for 3 with his third homer of the year. He's now 8 for 20 since Andy Phillips' big debut. Rounding out the hot/cold portion of this post, Jorge Posada added his second homer of the year, but remains just 3 for his last 25 (though two of the three were for extra bases). The other two Yankee runs scored on a Derek Jeter triple that was misplayed by Alex Sanchez in right field.

Speaking of Alex Sanchez, I'm not sure that his home run off of Mike Mussina on Monday got enough play (maybe it did on the broadcasts, which I missed). That was just the fifth home run of Shanchez's career, in 1511 plate appearances. Sanchez made his major league debut on June 15, 2001. Since that date there have been exactly as many no-hitters thrown in the major leagues as there have been Alex Sanchez home runs hit. Those of you who saw that homer on Monday were witness to a truly rare baseball event.

One final note on last nights' game, Felix Rodriguez was taken out of mothballs for his first appearance since last Wednesday and promptly walked the first batter he faced on four pitches. He actually threw 9 of his first 12 pitches for balls, walking two of the first three men he faced before giving up a double to Toby Hall that scored them both. In his next inning of work he reversed the pattern, throwing 10 of his first 12 pitches for strikes, but allowing a single and a double that lead to another run.

However, it's unlikely that Felix is going anywhere soon as, with Steve Karsay designated for assignment to make room for Cano, the Yankees have decided to send Bubba Crosby down to Columbus to make room for Henn/Sturtze. It's just as well, with Bernie on the bench as a fourth outfielder, speedy baserunner, and lefty pinch-hitter, Crosby was very redundant. What's more, Crosby has yet to show any ability to hit major league pitching. Of course, his opportunities have been severely limited. Bubba made just three starts in April and only reached base three times in 13 trips to the plate. His complete lack of production is becoming something of a chicken and egg phenomenon with his playing time, made all the more confusing by his break-out performances in the last two spring trainings.

Meanwhile, Andy Phillips (as well as Felix II) is safe for the time being as Ruben Sierra has suffered a setback in his return from a torn bicep. Sierra had gotten to the point at which he was taking batting practice and hoping to be activated this weekend, but despite swinging free and easy from the left side, he was forced to shut down his session when he felt some discomfort batting righty. The Yankees are concerned that the lingering injury would also prevent Sierra from playing the field as he'd be unable to make throws and thus expect him to take another week or two to come back from the injury.

The irony of all of this is that Sierra should not be allowed to either play the field or bat righty. Which are just two reasons why I'm hoping Phillips can get his act together and Pipp Ruben off the roster, though that might become more difficult with Bernie available to make starts as a right-handed DH.

Comments
2005-05-04 04:50:36
1.   Simone
It is morning and Brown still sucks. I kept expecting to read that Brown had been released, but nothing doing there. He is a parasite. I read that Brown told Mel that he had a stomach ailment which is appropriate because watching him pitch makes me sick to the stomach.

ESPN is so happy to play up the Yankees' struggles. If the Yankees don't get it together by the end of the season and make it to the playoffs, I hope the Os and their 17,000 fans along with the Marlins and their empty football stadium make it to the World Series and tank ESPN and FOX's ratings.

2005-05-04 04:59:34
2.   daven1
The majority of the hits Brown gave up in the first inning were ground balls. As Murcer and Singleton kept saying, that would normally be a good sign for Brown.

Did anyone watching the game feel that the Yankee defense should be held accountable for these hits. Or were the balls just hit too hard for any plays to be made on them?

2005-05-04 05:16:13
3.   rbj
Why is Karsay getting released and not Brown? Glad I missed most of the game, but on the recap on BBTN they were showing that Brown was elevating at least some pitches. Before the season began I joked about bringing David Cone back, now it doesn't seem too much like a joke. Is Brown's back healthy?
I hope we can get 6 inning, 3 runs given out of Henn.
2005-05-04 05:44:23
4.   Dan M
In comparison to Brown's woes, Javy Vazquez's 2-3 runs per first inning never looked so good.
2005-05-04 05:46:56
5.   Dan M
Oh, daven1, I only listened on the radio, but SW said that if anyone in the clubhouse said the balls "just found holes," she'd have none of it. She and Sterling said the Rays were hitting everything too hard for that excuse.
2005-05-04 05:54:47
6.   Simone
"Did anyone watching the game feel that the Yankee defense should be held accountable for these hits. Or were the balls just hit too hard for any plays to be made on them?"

It was all Brown. He threw the ball down the middle and the D'Rays' crappy hitters hit them perfectly all over the field just out of the reach of the Yankee defenders. If the D'Ray hitters were above average, Brown would have given up 10 runs in the 1st.

2005-05-04 05:59:15
7.   Repoz
While it's obvious that Kevin Brown still resides in rottendamn.

but after watching Jeter on the Trop turf again last night...I'm convinced that if he had to play 81 games a year there...he would never catch a ball.

2005-05-04 06:55:56
8.   Knuckles
What's smarter- paying $15M a year for a near-automatic loss every 5 days, or $15.3M per year for a chance to win those games?

Dump Brown.

Keep Henn up, or just freaking rotate AAA starters and retreads the rest of the way. There is no way that can be worse than this clown.

Up with youth.

2005-05-04 07:07:07
9.   Cliff Corcoran
Ah yes, I forgot to mention that in his postgame, Sterling said that the hits Brown gave up were shooting through the infield "like marbles on glass."
2005-05-04 07:10:24
10.   Murray
Does Sterling know how to beat a dead horse or what? I dont like Brown, either, but has Sterling ever taken to task any Yankee player who hasn't been in the organization's doghouse before he began ranting??
2005-05-04 07:28:57
11.   unpopster
I've always wondered about the player dynamic behind closed doors and in the clubhouse.

In the past, I've wondered what the pre-game mingling must be like at Red Sox -Yanks games, especially when Pedro, Posada, Varitek, Trot and Arod were concerned. Were there cordial handshakes and chatter or were there venomous looks and attitude?

Now, I am more concerned about how certain players in the Yankee clubhouse are received by their teammates. In particulra, I wonder about Brown and Giambi.

After his altercation with the wall and now his absolutely pathetic performances this year, is Brown a pariah in that clubhouse? Is he ignored, shunned, or is there still a comradery that is behind closed doors and not seen by the fan base and press? This intrigues me.

Also, have any of you read Buster Olney epilogue to his book, now up on espn.com? There is a refernce to Giambi and how some team members were quoted as saying that "he's done here..." after he sat out a '03 WS game because of his bum knee. Is he still in that same standing in this '05 clubhouse?

2005-05-04 07:43:49
12.   Cranky Yankee
We need a clean slate. Cashman will not admit it was a mistake, and Joe will not run him out of town, Brown's gotta go and we need new leadership to do so..Im with Frank the Yank...Joe-fo-Lou!!!
2005-05-04 07:58:37
13.   markp
Let me go on record-I believe Brown, Mussina, and Giambi will all have good seasons. I also believe Karsay will do well if given an opportunity elsewhere.
2005-05-04 08:02:59
14.   JohnnyC
This is not meant as a glowing endorsement of either Brian Cashman or George Steinbrenner and the way they've managed the roster of this team, especially in the last 4 years. However, certain facts and an undeniable series of events scream out for emphasis. To get perspective on how and why Kevin Brown is here and others are not, remember that from 2001 through 2004, Brian Cashman provided, among others, a young lefty with hard-to-hit stuff if not command (Lilly), a 26 year old righthander on the rise (Weaver), an early 30's righty with great stuff that need to be harnessed (Contreras), and a 27 year old righty (Vasquez)who was headed for a good if not spectacular season before the second half turned him into jelly. Because Torre and Stottlemyre totally botched the handling of every single one of these major league caliber+ pitchers, reducing their trade value as well as destroying any hope they could ever contribute to the team, we now have Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, an aging Mike Mussina, no middle relief, and had to rape our farm system of its remaining viable prospects to obtain Randy Johnson. Great work if you can get it, eh, Joe?
2005-05-04 08:06:00
15.   jglassman
I think there were two ground ball singles in the first inning that went to Jeter's left that most shortstops would have been able to handle. There weren't hit particularly hard or even very up-the-middle, but Jeter wasn't really even close. I watched both of them several times on tivo.
2005-05-04 08:44:08
16.   jeroboam
I don't think anyone's mentioned the most appalling thing of all about last night's disaster: Even if TB's entire 6-run first inning were to be magically made to disappear, they still would have won the game 5-4.
2005-05-04 09:11:43
17.   Knuckles
Can we please pound Nomo tonight and give Henn some cushion to owkr with?

Selected Stats vs Nomo (AB/OPS)

Sheff 29/ 1.433
Womack 29/ 1.010
Tino 22/ .598
Dirty Sanchez 20/ .598
Jeter 15/ 1.604
Alex 12/ 1.083
Matsui 5/ 1.500
Team 203/ .890

Quantrill, Pavano, RJ, and KB are a combined 0 for 15 against Nomo as well. So don't F up the DH spot tonight Torre.

2005-05-04 10:42:16
18.   Clay Caviness
I've mentioned something along this line in another post here, I think, but it may bear repeating:

Dumb dumb Kevin Brown. Start before last night he does his usual pre-game warm up, and then Stottlemyre (he made a good pitching suggestion!) has him do a "simulated inning" after a short rest.

Result? 3 runs over 7 innings, acceptable.

Kevin, of course, thought the simulated inning was a bunch of useless hooey that did no good, so last night he did his usual warm-up with no simulated inning.

Result? 8 runs over 5 innings, terrible.

For the three games in which he didn't do the simulated inning, his ERA for innings 1-2 is 18.00, and for innings 3+ is 2.45.

What an idiot.

I do think he can turn it around and have decent year, certainly better-than-league-average year, but he needs to get past this batting-practice-for-first-two-innings crap.

2005-05-04 10:50:06
19.   yankeegirl26
could Kevin Brown just go away. Please. Forever.
2005-05-04 10:53:21
20.   Marcus
Clay, I think you're right on the money. I've always heard that sinker ball pitchers like Brown have more dive on the ball when they are fatigued. That might explain Derek Lowe's success in the playoffs last year pitching on short rest. A guy with the arrogance of Brown who's been doing things "his way" for so long just won't make the adjustments necessary to pitch a decent game.
2005-05-04 10:58:56
21.   Clay Caviness
Sorry, ERA for innings 1-2 of the three 'bad' games is 24.00, not 18.00.
2005-05-04 11:04:50
22.   mhmitch
Just to change subjects momentarily from this fog of gloom and despair to a correction for this site's upcoming pitching matchups. According to the SF Chronicle this morning, the A's will flip their rotation to pitch Zito this Friday and Blanton on Saturday. Apparently, the A's want Zito and Harden to start in 6 of its 12 upcoming games vs. the Yanks and Red Sox.
2005-05-04 11:34:04
23.   JohnnyC
Those who stayed for the post-mortem last night heard Joe Torre say very clearly that Brown DID throw extra warm-ups before the game...he warmed up, sat down, and warmed up some more. So that's not the answer. I really do think it's his back (you know the part of his body that feels like it's got a steel rod up it, in his own words). Ask Don Mattingly if back problems get much better with time. My two cents: since you can't trade the guy, disable him and hope he can rehab the back enough to pitch in June and thereafter. Meanwhile, go with Wang and Henn and anyone else down on the farm.
2005-05-04 11:38:24
24.   abr
Not to let Brown off the hook at all, but let's talk about the offense for a sec. Against 24-year-old Doug Waechter, who went in with a 5.93 ERA -- slightly BETTER than his 2004 ERA -- the Yankees managed eight baserunners in seven innings. Waechter worked fast, threw strikes and completely set the pace, and when he came out he probably had enough left to go another inning or so. I could sort of forgive one run in six innings the previous night against Kazmir, because Kazmir's a spectacular talent, but c'mon.

By the way, jglassman's dead-on about Jeter. I live in St. Pete and was at the game, and I know exactly the ground balls he's talking about, because both times almost as soon as the ball left the bat I turned to my companion and said, "Jeter won't get that."

2005-05-04 12:27:09
25.   Clay Caviness
Ok, there goes my theory. Still, something's weird because he can be very effective after a few bad innings. I have no idea how to get him over that hump, though.
2005-05-04 12:31:22
26.   rbj
Was it just extra tossing or was it a "simulated inning?" Is there really much of a difference?

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