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The Twins
2005-06-03 12:29
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

So what the hell happened in Kansas City? Steven Goldman offers his two cents on today's Pinstriped Blog. Joe Torre says it all comes back around to starting pitching. If you ask me, the pitching wasn't the problem. Yes, you'd like to see the Yankee starters dominate a hapless offense such as the Royals', but the 4.00 ERA they posted over three games is more than half a run better than the staff's season mark and Torre didn't have to use his bullpen much at all (2 2/3 innings of Sturtze, 1 of Gordon).

No, I blame the offense. This team is simply giving away outs, be it by starting Tony Womack and Ruben Sierra, a series of awful baserunning blunders, or simply by hacking their way into outs at the plate. The last of those is enough to make one wonder if Don Mattingly will ever get any heat from the local media. Don't get me wrong, I love and respect Donnie baseball as much as any pinstripe-blooded Yankee fan, but back when the Yankees were looking for a hitting coach after losing the 2003 World Series, I wondered if Donnie's personal history of contact hitting was less than ideal for a team built around working the count, drawing walks, and knocking them home with big blasts. Though I was very pleased when Mattingly was hired less than a week later, and thrill to the site of Donnie with his beat-up little black book consulting hitters before and after at-bats, I still wonder.

Heading into Minnesota, the Yankee bats get a break, as they will miss both Johan Santana (who struck out 14 Indians last night) and Hometown Brad Radke, who has walked just three men all season. But then again, to an offense that just scored a grand total of three runs against D.J. Carrasco, Ryan Jensen and the Royals bullpen, Kyle Lohse, Joe Mays and Carlos Silva could just as easily be Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz.

Minnesota Twins

2004 Record: 92-70 (.568)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 87-75 (.537)

Manager: Ron Gardenhire
General Manager: Terry Ryan

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (102/102)

Who's replacing whom?

Joe Mauer inherits Henry Blanco's playing time
Justin Morneau inherits Doug Mientkiewicz's playing time
Juan Castro replaces Cristian Guzman
Michael Cuddyer, Nick Punto, Terry Tiffee and a rotating cast of infielders inherit Corey Koskie's playing time
Shannon Stewart picks up Jose Offerman's playing time
Joe Mays takes over Terry Mullholand and Seth Greisinger's starts
Jesse Crain inherits Joe Roa's playing time
Matt Guerrier inherits Aaron Fultz's innings

Current Roster:

1B – Justin Morneau
2B – Brent Abernathy
SS – Juan Castro
3B – Michael Cuddyer
C – Joe Mauer
RF – Jacque Jones
CF – Torii Hunter
LF – Shannon Stewart
DH – Lew Ford

Bench:

R – Matthew LeCroy (C)
R – Mike Redmond (C)
L - Michael Ryan (OF)
S - Luis Rodriguez (IF)
S – Terry Tiffee (IF)

Rotation:

L – Johan Santana
R – Kyle Lohse
R – Joe Mays
R – Carlos Silva
R – Brad Rake

Bullpen:

R – Joe Nathan
R – Juan Rincon
L – J.C. Romero
R – Jesse Crain
R - Matt Guerrier
L - Terry Mulholland

DL:

R - Luis Rivas (IF)
S – Nick Punto (IF)
R - Grant Balfour
L - Jason Kubel (OF) (60-day)

In addition avoiding the Twins two best starters, the Yanks get the extra break of catching the Twins at a time when both Justin Morneau (elbow) and Joe Mauer (groin) are banged up and day-to-day. Morneau and Mauer are easily the two best hitters on an unimpressive (9th in the AL in runs scored) Twins offense. With them nursing injuries on the bench, the Yankees could be treated to a Twins infield of Cuddyer, Castro, Abernathy (or Luis Rodriguez) and Tiffee with Mike Redmond behind the plate. C'mon, Yanks, they're making it easy on you!

Or are they? If there's any consolation for the Twins offense (other than the fact that their New York counterparts are hitting like Castro, Abernathy, et. al themselves), it's that Shannon Stewart and Torii Hunter have been smoking the ball of late.

On the flip side, the Twins starters have been historically stingy with ball four thus far this season, to the point that Baseball Prospectus has, not one, but two articles on the subject from this past week alone.

Speaking of which, you remember that stuff about the Yanks catching a break by missing Santana and Radke? Well Carlos Silva has a better ERA (3.09) than Johan Santana (3.67) and has no more walks than Bradke (3). Though he's third on the team in WHIP, his 1.19 would be second only to Chien-Ming Wang on the Yanks (1.14). Likewise, Joe Mays (3.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) and Kyle Lohse (4.21 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) have hardly been pushovers.

The good news is that Silva and Mays are striking out about 3 men per nine innings and giving up their fair share of homers and Lohse isn't far behind (or ahead) in either category. So, low K rates, impossibly low BB rates, that means lots of balls in play, which is usually a good thing for opposing offenses. The catch is that the Twins defense is third in the AL in Defensive Efficiency.

And don't look to the bullpen for a crack in the armor, the Twins relievers have combined for a 2.49 ERA. Let me repeat that: a 2.49 ERA combined, for everyone whose pitched as much as a single inning out of the Twins pen this year. Throw in a 1.10 WHIP and the devastating strike-out rates of their Big Three (Nathan: 10.41, Rincon: 10.64, Romero: 8.72) and it's just as well that the starters don't walk anyone, the Yankees are better off trying to get their licks in against the rotation than trying to run up the starters' pitch counts to exploit this water-tight pen.

Good luck with that though, this Twins staff as a whole leads the majors with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Yes, the 13 pitchers the Twins have employed have combined to post a lower ERA than the Yankees single top starter (Mussina 3.90, who draws the start tonight against Lohse, though both Johnson 3.92 and Wang 4.06 have pitched better than Moose looking at their peripherals).0 In fact, TanGorMo are the only Yankee pitchers of any kind with individual ERAs lower than the Twins composit staff ERA. Just what this ailing offense needs, right? Heh.

The Yanks enter this series just one game over .500. Break out the voodoo dolls.

Comments
2005-06-03 14:49:07
1.   Knuckles
The Yanks have good numbers against Lohse so far, while Moose has seemingly handled the Twins lineup.

Not going to bore you folks by typing stats, here's some links:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/bvsp?pitcherId=4789

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/bvsp?pitcherId=2557

I'm off to drink some beers.

2005-06-03 14:58:17
2.   Cliff Corcoran
Hmmm.

Moose in the Metrodome since 2002: 4.82 ERA in 3 starts (2-1, 18 2/3 IP, 18 H, 19 K, 5 BB 2 HR). Good stats, disappointing ERA.

Lohse vs. the Yanks since 2002: 5.70 in 4 starts (0-3, 23 2/3 IP, 23 H, 16 K, 7 BB, 6 HR).

Here's hoping . . .

2005-06-03 15:04:35
3.   Simone
I'll be happy if Womack and Sierra are not in today's line up. Any combination of Tino/Bernie/Giambi will do.
2005-06-03 15:13:51
4.   Cliff Corcoran
Prediction: playing on turf, Torre refuses to stick Bernie in the field (not unjustified), Womack starts all three games.

This team needs an outfielder. A real one. Badly.

2005-06-03 15:23:40
5.   Marcus
I think you're right Cliff. It seems so clear that they need an outfielder. Why do we keep hearing so much about a Clemens trade? Why am I scared that Big Stein will impulsively make the Clemens trade just to keep him away from the Red Sox? Does anyone know of any trade scenarios involving outfielders, or any rumors of things in the works to that end?

Has anyone heard of the timeline for Wright's return from the DL?

2005-06-03 15:29:05
6.   Jen
Womack is leading off tonight. Bernie's the DH, Tino at first.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/boxscore?gid=250603109

2005-06-03 15:45:07
7.   spycake
Do you think Mattingly is a good coach? His personal hitting style shouldn't really matter -- he's not trying to mold everybody into Mattingly, he's trying to be a student of hitting and help everybody excel in their own style/role, right?
2005-06-03 16:13:48
8.   rbj
Why couldn't Torre come out and say the hitting stunk? It was patently obvious and it might do some hitters some good to be publicly challenged.
2005-06-03 16:52:06
9.   Hank
I think the other issues are bigger than the hitting. You can accept, I suppose, that the bats might go to sleep for three days, but the mental mistakes by Giambi, Williams, and Womack are inexcusable. Championship teams simply don't do things like that.
2005-06-03 17:01:12
10.   Simone
Why is Womack hitting first? Joe is nutty sometimes. Now Womack, the Yankees' worse hitter gets more at bats than anyone else. I hope the Yankees win tonight.
2005-06-03 17:55:49
11.   singledd
Man oh Man... Wo-is-me-mack must have some pictures of Torre that aren't fit for a newspaper. Once again, Womack replaces Giambi. I wonder who opposing pitchers would rather face... Womack or Giambi.

They got 80 mil rapped up is this guy. In his ABs since the West Coast, he has hit better, popped a HR, and has twice had 2 out RBIs. I'm not saying he's dangerous but geez... they may as well dump him as keep him on the bench.

I've necer rooted for a Yankee to get injured before, but Wrong Wright is out and the Yanks are better for it. How about something not painful but long lasting for Womack?

Hey Alex... how about a poll. Which injury would you like Womack to have?

2005-06-03 18:45:54
12.   rilkefan
Please make it stop.
2005-06-03 18:51:25
13.   tocho
This is really painful. We were 2 feet away of 5-2 and now we are 3-5. I can't say it's all bad luck but we just don't find breaks...
2005-06-03 19:05:52
14.   brockdc
This is how little faith I have in this team:

It is now 5-3, and the Yankees haven't given ANY indication that that is surmountable.

Remember last year's cardiac Yankees, when we'd be down 6-0 after two and Kay would be whining about the Yankees having to "fashion seven innings out of the bullpen"? I would scoff because I knew they'd come back. Not this year, not at all.

^Double Mike Redmond, followed by E-1. I'm turning off the TV.

2005-06-03 19:11:21
15.   Shaun P
I'm with you, brock - this isn't worth the stress. Mental error after error - ugh.

As for an OF, maybe he isn't worth it but aren't the Rockies looking to get rid of Preston Wilson? Presumably he plays a better OF than Bernie or Woe-mack . . . anyone got some numbers handy? Wouldn't Alex Graman and Scott Proctor look great in purple?

2005-06-03 19:12:45
16.   Simone
It is just a game. It is just a game.
2005-06-03 19:14:14
17.   singledd
The O's lose, but the Sox come back from 4-1 to win 7-4, on a 2 out based load double.
A 2 out hit?
A bases loaded hit?
Geez.... I didn't know these existed.
2005-06-03 19:22:49
18.   sabo
I'm glad to see Mariano tonight, just not losing 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th. Geez.
2005-06-03 19:23:10
19.   singledd
Preston Wilson makes 12.5 mil. His OPS in Colorado is more then 100pts higher then on the road. He's not a bad guy, but way, way overpaid. I thinks the Rockies know it.
2005-06-03 19:26:02
20.   redshift
Mo gives up two straight singles to make it first and third, no out. Its not supposed to work this way. Something's gotta give.
2005-06-03 19:31:48
21.   Marcus
Joe Nathan's about due for a blown save, right? Right? Oy....
2005-06-03 19:32:11
22.   singledd
Mo does not panic
2005-06-03 19:33:34
23.   domvjr
Could someone please tell me the last time the Yanks lost six in a row? This is becoming disheartening, I am becoming very pessimistic about the rest of this season. Unless there is a sudden transformation, this is a 500 team.
2005-06-03 19:33:51
24.   singledd
It is no coincidence that our losing streak coincides with mini-slumps from Jetes and ARod.
2005-06-03 19:42:48
25.   Simone
The offense is comatose. The Yankees need a starter to pitch a shut out. It is their only hope to win a game. I just don't get how they could go into the tank so quickly again. It is like they have a multiple personality disorder. They will probably go on a 10 game winning streak next week, but if they keep this up, they aren't making the playoffs.

I just read about George's conference call with Joe, Cash, and Levine on MLB.com. I can't blame him if he goes ballastic.

2005-06-03 20:57:09
26.   Cliff Corcoran
The Yanks last lost six or more in a row when they closed out the 2000 season with seven straight loses. Two wins prior to that streak they also lost six straight, making them 2-13 to end the 2000 season. They then went on to beat the Mets in five games in the World Series.
2005-06-03 21:36:26
27.   Paul in Boston
That 2000 finish was the worst I've seen the Yankees play since pre-1994. This is 2nd worst, and it is painful painful painful. My e-mail was filled this AM with delighted Red Sox fans' gloating about the Royals' sweep and Ortiz's (latest) walk-off heroics. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

(And for the record, I have never gloated to any Sox fan about a Yankee win and/or a Sox loss.)

2005-06-04 02:55:00
28.   debris
Must confess, I'm visiting the land of the enemy here. I was a Brooklyn fan as a kid and am celebrating my 50th anniversary as a Yankee hater. After moving to New England, I turned to the obvious place in 1975.

Took my son to the NY and the stadium to watch the Sox treat the Yanks rudely last weekend. I was surprised by how gracious most Yankee fans I spoke to there were about last year. "They won it. They deserved it. It was their time."

Of course, that's easy to say with 26 in your back pocket. I wonder how gracious they'll be in the unlikely event the Sox repeat?

2005-06-04 05:00:34
29.   Paul in Boston
>that's easy to say with 26 in your back pocket.

No, that's easy for YOU to say. Don't you still find it difficult to watch the Sox lose a game even though they won it all last year? There have been plenty of bad Yankee teams mixed in with those 26 titles run, and I suspect no true fan feels that it's ok to have their team stink just because of those titles.

And I suspect even if the Sox do repeat, I'll still get lots of gloating e-mail from my good friends who are Sox fans. It's just part of the "system" by now.

2005-06-04 05:39:49
30.   tulsaslide
Rick Anderson has tried to convert Kyle Lohse into more of a Silva/Mays type clone, simplying his pitch selection to sinking fastball, slider, and change, and leaving the high heat and the curve out altogether. The results have been very good so far (4 straight quality starts, I think), especially compared to the 2004 and early-2005 Kyle Lohse.

There's the distinct possibility of a surreal series when a team faces the new Lohse, Mays, and Silva in consecutive starts. Lots of double plays, men left on base, and fans of both teams pulling their hair out (at least until the seventh, when we hope the strikeout pitchers come in)...

2005-06-04 05:45:18
31.   singledd
In 'Pinstripe Bible', Steve says about Giambi: "his 12 games prior to Tuesday, Giambi batted .293/.341/.390." This is not enough for Steve and he wants Giambi gone, even though he admits we have no better replacement, and Phillips may be the best bet.

I'm surprised. Looking at these numbers I would guess:
1) BA is up, OBP is down. Giambi must be reading this Blog and is taking swings instead of looking for walks. a .293 BA for the season would be a dream come true. I suspect, after a while and with his confidence up, he would start walking more and up his OBP.

2) His slugging is WAY, WAY down. Not a good sign, but you have seen this guy and this year he is big, strong and healthy. Maybe he is cutting down on his swing. He must be hitting more GBs and line drives, and not getting the ball up in the air. Maybe his timing needs work. Our concern for Giambi was NOT slugging, but BA and his ability to put the meat of the bat on the ball. I can;t help but think he he continues to hit, hits Slugging with go up.

If you simply replace Womack with Giambi (w/Bernie in LF), thats +130 OPS right there. This can't hurt. No cash, No blood, just +130.

If this is what Giambi has done in his last 12 games, playing sparatically, never knowing when he will play and where in the lineup he will be, what might he do playing(almost) everyday in a consistant lineup?

Jeter
Bernie (LF)
Sheffield
Matsui (CF)
ARod
Posada
Giambi (DH)
Tino
Cano

I know some names are bigger then their numbers, but tell me... is that the line-up of a .500 team?

Have your days of rest, have some L/R substitions, exercise the bench when needed.... but lets have ONE line-up that plays. Win or lose, put our best on the field everyday, let them know when and where they are at, and let them play.

Everyone in the lineup has a history and mind-set of REGULAR/EVERYDAY player. Regardless of the politically correct 'whatever the team needs' line, these guys are not platoon players, not subs, not bench guys.... this is our team, this is the 2005 Yankees, and we should sink or swim with it until moves are made that DEFINITLY upgrade it.

2005-06-04 05:49:05
32.   debris
Actually, Paul, I'm quite OK with the Sox losing as long as they finish ahead of the Yankees. While last year was quite a thrill, I'm not particular happy with the Sox now playing by Yankee rules.

I can quite easily live with the Twins, Orioles or Jays winning this year. I'll be a lot happier when the Sox two or three years down the road have a lineup populated by the likes of Youkilis, Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Papelbon and Lester in the starting rotation and a few judiciously signed free agents. And hopefully, some of the 6 players they get in the first round of this year's draft will move up quickly. I prefer that my team be built, not bought. I don't see the accomplishment in buying championships and the 2004 Sox can certainly be accused of that.

That said, the Sox won last year, in large part, with the contributions of three players (Ortiz, Wakefield, Arroyo) who were picked up off the scrapheap, three bargain basement free agents (Bellhorn, Millar, and Mueller), and two players (Lowe and Varitek) who were acquired for the immortal Heathcliff Slocumb. Really, only two players (Nixon and Cabrera) either came up through their system or were traded for equal value from their system. They did, in the end, have to spend $125 million to claim their flag and that does diminish the achievement.

2005-06-04 06:57:55
33.   Simone
singledd, decent line up. When I look at the Yankees roster, I don't see a .500 ball club which is why I find their struggles to be truly perplexing.

Some of the problems in the line up are clear: Matsui is not producing like last season. After a hot start, Jeter is slumping. Giambi isn't hitting consistently. Womack is a black hole and has to come out of the line up. However, the other hitters should be enough to generate some solid offense. All I can think is that they feed off each other and slumps come en masse.

I also happen to think that the main problem is that the starting pitching is going downhill again which puts pressure on the struggling offense.

2005-06-04 09:33:40
34.   Fred Vincy
Clay Davenport has our chances of making the playoffs at <8%. Ouch. Subjectively, 8% seems about right.
2005-06-04 10:37:56
35.   JohnnyC
Cliff: You are right about Donnie...it's clear he's on the coaching staff for name value only. I don't blame him for not being a good batting coach; after all, he never campaigned for the job. But, just as you can only write what you know (convincingly, anyway), you can only teach what you know. Mattingly was a great hitter but one who rarely walked, didn't mind being behind in the count (I recall he was always among the league leaders in BA with 2 strikes), and was a "lapsed" power hitter" in his last seasons because of his back. None of the above makes him a good hitting instructor for a team that found glory through OBP and working counts to get fastballs to drive. That being said, I don't see him as a major problem. Offense does go in streaks, regardless of whether your coach is Charlie Lau or Bucky Dent. But, as it must be apparent to anyone who watches this team on a regular basis, bad pitching will kill us all. Two things need to be done: Torre has to stop futzing around with the line-up and re-establish some sanity on a day-to-day basis with the offense and defense and Mel Stottlemyre has to be replaced. I'm tired of not only listening to Torre sound dazed and confused in post-game interviews but of Stottlemyre being ACTUALLY dazed and confused all the time. Does he read scouting reports? Does he realize that batters don't stand way back in the box like they did in 1970 and that all of his pitchers' flat sliders get crushed BEFORE they ever finish their action because hitters in 2005 stand up in the box and right next to the plate? It's not just bad sliders, it's the very concept of throwing breaking pitches over the plate at the knees and thighs in the first place. Lew Ford tatoos a slider that was supposed to be at the knees on the inside corner but drifted toward the middle. Why was the target low and inside in the first place? You want a guy to hit a ground ball? Throw it down and away or inside underneath the hands. Yes, Lew Ford can hit a knee high slider over the plate very, very hard. It's probably in the scouting report, Mel.

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