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How Low Can You Go?
2005-05-05 04:43
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"You'd have to be there," General Manager Brian Cashman said, when asked about Steinbrenner's mood. "It's not a good time if you're with the Yankees right now." (N.Y. Times)

The Yankees look as if they are playing under water. Everything is slowed down, dulled, arduous. The Headline in the Times today reads: "Sinking Yankees Nearly Hit Bottom." I wonder when they'll get there all ready. Hear that ticking? We know what that's about. At this point, Yankee fans must be thinking: When will Steinbrenner finally explode? (Yeah, firing the first base coach, now that's the answer).

The Devil Rays made short work of Sean Henn last night (a key error by Robinson Cano didn't help matters, but Henn looked doomed regardless). Though the Yankee offense battled back, the Devil Rays continued to tack on runs against the Bomber pen, as Tampa beat New York, 11-8. Eight runs should be enough to win. Heck, you should feel good when your team puts up eight runs, but that wasn't the case last night. It's hard to get too excited when your pitching staff can't retire the Devil Rays in order.

A Few Things

One funny moment came in the eighth inning when rookie Damon Hollins made another mistake in the field. It occured in the top of the eighth inning and contributed to two Yankee runs. Piniella was furious. He cursed and muttered to his coaches for the rest of the inning, always an entertaining sight. Hollins led off the bottom of the eighth and parked Flash Gordon's first pitch into the left field seats, his third hit and fourth RBI of the night. Even Piniella smiled, before quickly changing back to his game face.

Say what you want about Joe Torre as a manager, he's always impressed me as a person. Of course, I don't know him, but the way he treats his players is admirable. When he came to the mound to get Sean Henn, he looked directly at the young pitcher, his eyes open wide and earnest, and had some words of encouragement for the kid. Torre's face was blocked almost as soon as he started talking, but you could tell he went out of his way to make a point.

Jason Giambi was hit in the helmet last night. The pitch got him on the ear flap. He didn't fall down but was immediately removed from the game. It was a scary moment, but he seems to be okay.

According to the Daily News, Bernie Williams will be limited to pinch-hitting duties until he has an MRI on his right elbow.

My girlfriend just can't get over Hideo Nomo's wind up; she laughs pretty much every time he throws a pitch from the stretch. "How did he learn that? I mean, didn't his mother teach him anything?" My mighty Ms. Optimism has her work cut out for her these days. Before the game started last night, I was moaning about how difficult it will be for the Yankees to turn this thing around and make the playoffs. She told me I had to have faith. I told her I have precious little faith in this team. "History is against them," I whined. And she told me, "F*** history: F*** history, hard." Keep hope alive.

Maybe I should take up drinking.

Comments (52)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-05-05 05:34:56
1.   Dan M
This might sound trite, but did anyone make anything of the fact that Giambi was the first Yankee up after F-Rod hit a DRay in the 7th inning? The first thing that popped into my head was, "Who knows? Maybe Curt Schilling is right."

Naw.

2005-05-05 05:37:36
2.   STONER
You read it here first - the turnaround starts tonight with another sterling performance by our 'stopper' Wang. I really feel last night they bottomed out and the turnaround starts tonight...this team is too freakin good to play and pitch like they have been. Relax George, everything will be OK!
2005-05-05 05:57:52
3.   Patrick
I agree with your girlfriend.
2005-05-05 06:10:03
4.   domvjr
Why didn't Torre, pinch hit for Giambi, when the Yanks had two men on, in the inning they scored the 3 runs. Giambi, is toast, he is killing them. The Yanks would have had a better shot, if they sent Bernie or Phillips instead of the albatross..
2005-05-05 06:51:32
5.   Jen
History was also against a team coming back from 3 games down and we all know how that ended up. So I'm with your girlfriend of that one.

And hey, Sturtze is coming back!

2005-05-05 06:57:56
6.   rbj
Henn didn't look as bad as Brown. Damning with faint praise, but Henn deserves another shot, IMO. He gets the needed groundball double play, and the throw goes wide.

This L should be hung on the bullpen.

2005-05-05 07:12:48
7.   rsmith51
Just curious...

What does it say about the Yankees when the team and fans are waiting for Tanyon Sturze and Ruben Sierra to come off the disabled list?

2005-05-05 07:15:00
8.   rsmith51
I will believe in the Yankees until they are mathematically eliminated from post-season consideration. I am concerned about what Stein et. al. will do between now and then.
2005-05-05 07:15:52
9.   Roger C
I don't remember Giambi striking out so often even when he was afflicted with his various injuries. Jason has morphed into Jeremy before our very eyes. It's almost as if Jose Canseco had turned into his twin Ozzie. No one can tell me steroids do not enhance performance, because look at what a difference being steroid free apparently makes.
On a positive note, Womack's looking pretty good out in the outfield. (Or at least when his performance is compared to Alex Sanchez's. The Tampa Bay outfielders, with the exception of Carl Crawford, make New York's outfielders look like gold glovers.
2005-05-05 07:42:02
10.   Paul
As the Yankees fell behind last night, I finally broke down and read Buster Olney's epilogue to his book on the ESPN site. Painful, yes, but it was wonderfully written, as usual, and since the material didn't demand of him sabermetric sophistication, it was damm good. Required reading for all Yankee fans!

I, for one, am looking forward to the post-Steinbrenner era in the Bronx. A team with this revenue stream and a sensible man at the top (who understands the importance of player development) could be really something!

2005-05-05 07:47:07
11.   Knuckles
Rock bottom may actually be hit after tonight, should the Yanks drop into a last place tie with the Devil Dogs...

Torre for Piniella would almost be nice right now, if only for the fact that our guys might stop getting beaned without retribution. Maybe Wang can get a few quick outs tonight and drill someone?

Given the current construction of this team, I don't know what else can be done if they don't turn it around within the next few weeks.

I feel awful saying it but I would almost accept missing the playoffs this year if it meant addressing the current problems in a rational manner this winter. But sadly, any missing of the postseason is going to be immediately preceded by yet another pillaging of the farm system.

2005-05-05 08:00:09
12.   NetShrine
If you think this is bad, wait till they play in Shea in two weeks. That could be Joe's last supper.
2005-05-05 08:25:56
13.   Simone
I'm coming from the prospective that this is rock bottom. The Yankees turn it around and go up from here.

"I, for one, am looking forward to the post-Steinbrenner era in the Bronx. A team with this revenue stream and a sensible man at the top (who understands the importance of player development) could be really something!"

Ummm, unless the new owner decides to pocket all the Yankees revenues and turn them into the Pirates. Despite Steinbrenner's flaws, I have appreciated that he meant it when he said that he wanted to win and backed up his words with his money. He won 2 World Series in the 70s using his madcap methods. Even when he was banned, Steinbrenner didn't pinch pennies. It is very unlikely that the Yankees will ever win 6 Championships under the same owner again. Few modern day sports franchises are able to accomplish this feat.

2005-05-05 08:36:40
14.   NetShrine
If you look at years owning a team, and number of rings, Stein is as good as any owner in the HOF. If I had a vote, I would put him in Cooperstown. He is part of baseball's fame.
2005-05-05 08:41:54
15.   nicole
I agree that Steinbrenner is part of baseball's fame. How many other owners are so well known, even by baseball's casual fans.

Did anyone else half hope when Giambi got beaned it would land him on the DL for a while?

2005-05-05 08:53:11
16.   jedi
Wow. Talk about bad reflexes. Did you see how late Giambi turned away from ball. Apparantly, not as late as he was on that slider before hand. Geez, I do not think Miller has the fastest ball in the majors, but for Giambi to turn away just barely shows how much this guy has a long way to go into making a comeback. Bad news because Jason is turning in Jeremy!? I'd rather have Jeremy right now!
2005-05-05 08:55:09
17.   NetShrine
"Did anyone else half hope when Giambi got beaned it would land him on the DL for a while?"

We're only supposed to think that, not say it out loud. (wink)

2005-05-05 09:01:55
18.   jedi
Positive note of the day:

Tino has been on a tear!

...I know it's been only two games, but it's longer than any Yankee win streak this year.

2005-05-05 09:20:15
19.   markp
hmm
I see posts hoping Giambi got hurt when he got beaned, saying he's finished, saying he's killing the team, and saying Tino is "
on a tear."
According to EPN's Yankee stats page (which may be a day old):
Tino Martinez OPS is .002 higher than Giambi's.
A lot of people had Matsui as their MVP candidate from the Yankees. His OPS is currently .032 points lower than Giambi's.
Andy Phillips, who gets nothing but good press from all Yankee blogs currently has an OPS 202 points lower than Giambi's.
Posada's OPS is 100 points lower.
Why is it that when Yankee pitchers get blown out two games in a row, almost half of the posts rip Giambi, to the point of hoping he gets hurt by a beanball? (How sick is that? Why doesn't someone saying that bother anybody?)
Giambi's start is right in line with most of his career. He's always struck out a lot.
But to hell with all of that, no thinking is required if we just blame him for everything that happens.
2005-05-05 09:23:20
20.   Fred Vincy
Does anyone think the axe could come down on Torre (or Mel) as soon as tonight or tomorrow? With the Boss at the game last night, it seems like a possibility.

As to whether it would be justified, I don't know. Obviously, the front office moves are the real problem here, and Joe have overall done a terrific job the last 9 years. On the other hand, I remember Bill James' point that it's best to avoid the "good manager"/"bad manager" dichotomy and recognize instead that a manager may be well suited to one situation and poorly suited to another....

2005-05-05 09:25:52
21.   rbj
Knuckles,
I agree with you. If we miss the playoffs this year, but get Cano, Wang, Crosby and, hell, Henn some big league experience, that might be best. Plus next year we'll be rid of Bernie's and Brown's contracts.
On the other hand, Roger's getting squadoosh in run support in Houston. . .

What's the worst that could happen, the Red Sox win the World Series?

2005-05-05 09:27:25
22.   NetShrine
Fred - Torre has a lot of money left on his deal. Stein would really, really, need to me ticked to cut him. Getting swept by the Mets could do it.
2005-05-05 09:46:35
23.   Simone
If anyone goes, its Cashman. He is in the last year of his contract. I'm pretty sure that Cash is just bidding his time until he can walk out the door free and clear. George must suspect this and will want to dump Cash before Cash dumps the Yankees.
2005-05-05 10:38:37
24.   Paul
Yes, Steinbrenner has overseen 6 titles during his reign, and is willing to "spend to win". However, it is painful to watch the team get such poor value for money, and then have Steinbrenner inhibit any reasonable plan that the people with baseball knowledge want to make to improve the team.

Plus, I've always hated his militaristic/football approach to the great game of baseball, his tirades against the "little" people in the organization, his inappropriate scapegoating of various employees and players, and his utter inability to see the big picture time and time again about player development. As a lifelong Yankee fan who lives in Boston now, I am constantly reminded that the Sox have a far more intelligent operation than the Yanks do now, starting with Henry at the top, down through Epstein as General Manager (who is given actual authority), and extending to their farm system.

2005-05-05 10:44:24
25.   singledd
I agree that Giambi is everyone's scapegoat. I'm just afraid that as long as he always pulls the ball, he will never hit for average. The 'shift' on him takes away at least 20 points. They are now shifing on Ortiz (in Boston), and just last game he lost 2 hits to the shift.

The thing is, Giambi has more potential to improve and make a difference then does Bernie, Tino & Sierra. Getting hot, batting behind ARod, will make a big difference. Right now, there is no replacement for him that warrents taking him out against righties. We have 3 more years in this guy. Trying to make the best out of an investment that can also greatly help this team is probably the way to go. Maybe playing Phillips against lefties would help.

Also, in terms of Steroids, Jason was an excellent hitter (with less power) before steroids. He's still strong, he still has a good eye. I, for one, can't imagine why he's doing this poorly. But so is Posada and Matsui.

It's very frustrating. You want to do SOMETHING... but what?

Heres what I would do. In batting practice, I'd put 3 fielders in shallow left-center, and tell Giambi to hit one of them on every swing. Hook electrodes to his testicles and give him a 'blast' every time he pulls the ball. Force him to do nothing but hit the other way. 30 swings, (try and) hit 30 balls to left center. Mattingly's excellence was his ability to go the other way. When Matsui is hitting, same with him. It is up to the Yankee coaches to get Giambi to hit to left.

2005-05-05 11:18:11
26.   Zack
Giambi only has such a high OPS because he does nothing but walk. Yes, his OBP is .400, but his batting average is below .200! He has more Ks than hits, and I can't remember the last time I even saw him swing, let alone make decent contact. Hell, I could stand up there and take 4 balls, and I'm faster than him and would do it for free. Giambi is being scapegoated (one of many) because he is being paid 20 mill. to knock in runs, not walk. There are times when Sabermetrics are useless, relying on OPS with Giambi right now is silly. That's not to say that Posada or Phillips are any great shakes, but at least Phillips has some upside at the moment, and hey, he only has 2 less RBI, that's sad.
2005-05-05 11:19:56
27.   nicole
I NEVER said I want Giambi hurt. I just want him to stop playing, at least for the Yankees. I have never liked this guy, not when he was on Oakland, not when the Yanks acquired him, not even when he hit the dramatic game winning homer in the rain.
Sure he is only part of the problem, sure there are worse things plaguing the Yankees but that doesn't make me feel any better.

While the Yankees are playing like this, there will always be a scapegoat. Why shouldn't it be Mr. Steroid-user?

2005-05-05 11:56:31
28.   JohnnyC
You only need to know this to see how winning or losing changes the perception of everything. Everyone who lauds the Red Sox management as a "can do" organization with smarts above and beyond the Yankees (or other organizations)needs to reflect that the Red Sox were 3 outs away in their home park of being swept out of the post-season by the team they had failed to beat out for the division title for the umpteenth time. 3 outs away from having that very same lauded management reviled, tarred, feathered, and run out of town for all the "idiotic" mis-steps made by Theo, Lucchino, and their minor league people. Would trading for Roberts, Cabrera, and Mientky have meant diddly had those three outs been picked up by Mo? Would Lucchino have ever lived down allowing the Yankees to acquire ARod? Would Curt Schilling have had the opportunity to tell a national TV audience who to vote for for president? Uh, I don't think so. Nor does it make Hanley Ramirez any better today than he was when they followed the acquisition of Cabrera by the free agent signing of Renteria. The Red Sox organization is in worse shape than the Yankees. John Halama? Blaine Neal? Jeremi Gonzalez? And boy, those guys Arizona got for Schilling are really burning up the National League, right?
2005-05-05 11:57:18
29.   Rob
Any word on if Steve Kemp & Dave Collins are available?
2005-05-05 12:11:33
30.   brockdc
Stoner,

I completely disagree. This team is not that good. They will continue to flounder until they address their defensive and bullpen issues. All this will have to wait until the off-season. Unfortunately, by then, the Yanks will need to be thinking about overhauling about half of their geriatric roster. I respect and admire your optimism. I just wish I could see past all their flaws at this point.

On a different note, the respect and loyalty that Torre gives to his players is pretty much unparalelled by any of his contemporaries. As a person, you really wouldn't mind having him for an uncle, brother, or dad. With that said, it's time for him to go.

2005-05-05 12:24:26
31.   KJC
"...3 outs away from having that very same lauded [Red Sox] management reviled, tarred, feathered, and run out of town for all the 'idiotic' mis-steps made"

You're absolutely right. And the opposite can be said for the Yankees if currently Johnson was 4-0 leading the league in ERA, Giambi was batting .400, and Bernie was proving everyone wrong that he's not washed up.

If the Yanks were in first place like everyone (myself included) expected them to be, I don't think many people would be questioning Torre. (This is the same Joe that up until last summer was destined for Yankee Sainthood.) I think it's unfair to place too much blame on him -- despite the high payroll, there's not a lot he can do with the team mgt bought if the players can't/don't perform.

2005-05-05 12:32:05
32.   nicole
JohnnyC, you are absolutely right. If the Yankees had a winning record right now (and despite what we have been shown, I still believe this can/will happen) most of their offseason work would be praised as it was before the season started. Johnson instead of Beltran would be the right move and no one would be wondering if Cashman and Torre should be gone.
2005-05-05 12:52:16
33.   NetShrine
If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, wouldn't it be a Merry Christmas?
2005-05-05 13:29:13
34.   earl
JohnnyC --

I totally disagree. You're confusing regular-season performance with post-season results. Before the Nomar trade, the Sox were 56-47, and looked like they would miss the postseason entirely; after it, they went 42-17, ending up just 3 games back of the Yankees. By the end of the season there was not a Sox fan out there who didn't think the trade -- which upgraded speed and defense, while getting rid of a star player who was miserable and wouldn't have re-signed that offseason anyway -- was a great one. Yes, being swept would've sucked, but the blame would've fallen squarely on the players (esp. Schilling for not speaking up about his ankle before Game 1) and not the ownership. Without the Nomar trade, the Sox probably weren't in the postseason in the first place.

2005-05-05 13:30:42
35.   singledd
If the Queen had balls... she would be King.
2005-05-05 14:02:43
36.   tyrez
You think that since Giambi has lost his power he could learn how to go the other way with a pitch? When he hit one to left last week I almost passed out.
2005-05-05 14:04:04
37.   NetShrine
New meaning to the crown jewels.
And I thought they were McGregor and Velez!
2005-05-05 15:37:53
38.   brockdc
This team's issues will not just disappear with a 2 out of 3 from Oakland.

No, Torre is not entirely - nor even primarily - responsible for this team's failures. But he's been miserably inadequate at adjusting to them.

2005-05-05 16:56:10
39.   tocho
How low can you go?

Even lower and lower and lower....

3-0, 3rd. inning, 2 DP's... this isn't fun anymore.

I don't even feel you can place the blame on anyone individually. This team as a team just plain sucks...

2005-05-05 17:58:18
40.   weeping for brunnhilde
Why did Jorge get hung up between second and third on Matsui's grounder to third?

Why?

Why?

I know Jorge's prone to mental lapses, but please, for God's sake, not now.

It's one thing to suck, it's another to have your head completely up your ass.

And I didn't see Rodgriguez drop the ball, I only heard it. What happened there? Any possible excuse?

WTF is going on??!?!? Things aren't bad enough, they have to actively disrespect the game?

Answers, please, anyone! Are they all on the take or what?

It's one thing to be sunk in a lethargic funk, quite another to just give up altogether.

2005-05-05 18:02:25
41.   redshift
"And I didn't see Rodgriguez drop the ball, I only heard it. What happened there? Any possible excuse?"

It wasn't the easiest play in the world - an over-the-shoulder basket catch that ended up tipping off the end of his glove. I still think he should have made it, but you can't blame him too much.

2005-05-05 18:11:16
42.   tocho
The answer is very simple. Nobody is perfoming. The defense sucks, the hitting in important situations isn't there, the pitching in every aspect (starters and bullpen especially) is atrocious, and everybody is a funk that will just not get away.

I don't mind losing against competent teams (I don't like it, but if they win that's it), but this team has beaten itself probably 11 times out of the (18) loses.

I will still follow them, since I now discover I am a masochist, and root for them, but I seriously doubt something is going to happen this year...

2005-05-05 18:12:12
43.   Nick from Washington Heights
Alex Sanchez, no longer using the roids, finds the perfect antidote: The Yanks's pitching staff. 2 hr's!
2005-05-05 18:13:27
44.   Nick from Washington Heights
Also, someone's getting fired tomorrow. That's a prediction.
2005-05-05 18:21:15
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
Who's it gonna be Nick, who's it gonna be!

(You make me giddy with that talk.)

2005-05-05 18:24:34
46.   redshift
When somebody who hits 4 home runs in roughly 1400 at bats suddenly his 2 in one series, you know something is terribly wrong. But then we already knew that.
2005-05-05 18:35:41
47.   monkeypants
It was nice to hear from Murcer that Womack is using Mo's glove in LF, since his 2B glove is too small. I mean, since Mo will never play in another game this year it's not like he needs the leather.

How many games in a row will the Yankees have to lose before Torre gives Rivera some work? I know it doesn't make a difference, I'm just curious.

2005-05-05 19:09:35
48.   redshift
This has to be rock bottom, has to be. I can't imagine anything worse than getting outscored 28-14 by the Devil Rays in three games.

Maybe a firing tomorrow and a real pitcher on the mound can stop the bleeding.

2005-05-05 19:19:07
49.   Simone
I'm just hopeful that Pavano has a good outing and beats Zito tomorrow. I'm taking it one game at a time from now on.
2005-05-05 19:22:46
50.   Nick from Washington Heights
Alyssa Milano will be watching!
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-05-05 19:59:51
51.   jalexei
At least their starter tomorrow has a higher ERA than our starter. Probably don't get to say that too often these days.
2005-05-06 07:15:15
52.   Beth
Please enlighten me, Alex, as to how history is "against" the Yankees.

I mean, I love you, but...you are seeing as through a glass darkly right now, I believe.

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