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Middle of the Road
2005-06-06 04:49
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Another lost weekend. The Bombers dropped two-of-three to the Twins. They are 1-5 on their current 12-game road trip, 28-28 on the season, and six games behind the Orioles. Heard any good jokes lately? Torii Hunter told New York reporters:

"They've got some great guys over there," Hunter said. "But it just seems like they're not having any fun. Even when you're losing, you've got to have fun out here. It seems like it's all controlled over there. We play our music no matter what.

"I know they've got a lot of expectations on them, and that makes it harder. But to me, that's no way to play."

The Yanks start a three-game series against the Brewers tonight.

Comments
2005-06-06 05:28:45
1.   Dan M
You know it's bad when you have a 3-game set against the Brewers, and Milwaukee has the pitching advantage in at least 2, if not all 3, of the games.
2005-06-06 05:36:25
2.   Mikey Bronx
It's not pretty.
2005-06-06 06:22:35
3.   murphy
i spent the whole weekend with mets fans, so you can imagine the shit i ate; but the one point i agreed with them on was what hunter was saying. as if listening to sterling and waldman hasn't been painful enough, now i gotta get upset with the games themselves. i can't get on the case of individual players, managers, etc, but the whole team is just not exciting to me - and i get excited pretty easily. i am not all doomsday on this, but on an off-day, i gotta throw this out there:

what is this team's albatross?

is it giambi, age, the 96-00 teams, steinbrenner, torre, mel (a theory i am starting to worry about)?

thoughts?

2005-06-06 06:24:08
4.   murphy
i spent the whole weekend with mets fans, so you can imagine the shit i ate; but the one point i agreed with them on was what hunter was saying. as if listening to sterling and waldman hasn't been painful enough, now i gotta get upset with the games themselves. i can't get on the case of individual players, managers, etc, but the whole team is just not exciting to me - and i get excited pretty easily. i am not all doomsday on this, but on an off-day, i gotta throw this out there:

what is this team's albatross?

is it giambi, age, the 96-00 teams, steinbrenner, torre, mel (a theory i am starting to worry about)?

thoughts?

2005-06-06 06:30:22
5.   STONER
Relax everyone, the Yanks are just on a GOOD-WILL trip, making all the revenue-sharing team fans happy with hometown wins...Yanks are just a bunch of good guys...
2005-06-06 06:32:44
6.   murphy
i spent the whole weekend with mets fans, so you can imagine the shit i ate; but the one point i agreed with them on was what hunter was saying. as if listening to sterling and waldman hasn't been painful enough, now i gotta get upset with the games themselves. i can't get on the case of individual players, managers, etc, but the whole team is just not exciting to me - and i get excited pretty easily. i am not all doomsday on this, but on an off-day, i gotta throw this out there:

what is this team's albatross?

is it giambi, age, the 96-00 teams, steinbrenner, torre, mel (a theory i am starting to worry about)?

thoughts?

2005-06-06 06:32:54
7.   STONER
Murphy wrote: is it giambi, age, the 96-00 teams, steinbrenner, torre, mel (a theory i am starting to worry about)?///

It could be age...like Mickey once said, "All of a sudden, we all got old"...

2005-06-06 06:37:45
8.   Murray
Age and poor choices in the free agent marketplace have compounded the pressure of expectations. As usual, however, I think that pressure is almost entirely created by the Tampa front office and the Yankees' partners in the YES Network. No fans I know and consider to be knowledgeable really feel that it's "win or else" for this club.
2005-06-06 06:42:00
9.   jedi
I have been reading alot of comments about how Brown should be demoted to the bullpen when Wright comes back to save a spot for Wang. To say Wang deserves a rotation spot is a no brainer ( I even think he should be our #4 instead of our #5), but to easily say that Brown should be demoted to the bullpen is just plain ignorance. How many times has it been discussed on this site and any other source that Brown take 5 years to warm up. Take that into account as well as heis better when he is tired because his pitches dip more and have more action. I think if he were ever demoted to the bullpen Joe should start warming him up in the 1st inning to bring him in the 7th or 8th. But, let's be realistic. We are strapped to keep Brown and he is not pitching horrible. He is a SP by nature and he doesnt seem to have the build to "warm up" in the bullpen. He has been pretty decent of late. He looks Horrible because our defense has been horrible. Horrible is Wright before he left and if he is legit he should prove it in the bullpen first.

While they are at it, they need to really bring Quantrill down to Tampa or release him because his stuff is just not there. Whether it maybe mechanics or mental toughness he seems frazzled. We have been having a lot of luck with our farm system so far so why not bring up proctor or one of our young guns. I have heard they are pitching better than expected in AAA.

As for womack, he definitely needs to be off the lineup. He is the ultimate rally killer. The double play machine. The bunter who doesn't know how to bunt. The "foul" every pitch to left field seats" guy. Lofton was better at leadoff, had more power, same speed and didnt even play this much last year. So why Joe is playing Womack is beyond me. He has a young outfielder waiting to prove himself again in the name of Bubba he can call up. I thought Torre liked the kid? Wasn't it just yesterday he was praising the kid in spring training. But playing Womack over him these days seems like the ultimate diss.

We can all say what we want but we put all the pressure on this team through the media. Until this team realizes that they "don't need to win" and that they are not expected to win, then they will start producing better games. The mentality we impose on them is too overbearing. We need to stop labeling these guys as a "championship calibur team", because they are not. What in the last 6 games have you seen as calibur?

Hey, not even their team captain is believing they could win. Well, from this day on, I am labeling the Yankees as the underdogs. I don't expect them to win, I just hope that they win. Wow...is that how it feels to be an "normal" fan?

2005-06-06 07:16:24
10.   KJC
// Until this team realizes that they "don't need to win" and that they are not expected to win, then they will start producing better games. //

I agree...but how can a $200 million team be expected to do anything but win? Perhaps the team as a whole isn't really worth that much (thanks to current contracts), but I think with that price tag, people -- esp. Steinbrenner -- don't see losing as an option.

// I am labeling the Yankees as the underdogs //

That's as silly as people calling the Red Sox & their #2 payroll "underdogs" (of course, that didn't stop people from doing it).

2005-06-06 07:37:43
11.   JohnnyC
Comments like Hunter's are what you'd expect from opponents and detractors. I mean, remember, they said the same thing about the Yankees when they won, for chrissake: joyless automatons pushed to win by a ruthless, deep-pocketed owner and "spoiled" fans. Yadda yadda yadda. Baseball is execution not summer camp...we're not going to turn this season around by singing Kum Ba Yah. It's not lack of chemistry, it's lack of skills on the part of some members of this roster. Since we can't expect to see changes in the coaching staff (oh, god, I'm tired of beating my head against the wall on this so I'll shut up already), let's move some talent onto the 25 man squad...notably an actual leftfielder with on-base skills and a decent glove and some power arms from the farm for the bullpen. It's a start at least. Starting rotation problems notwithstanding, Torre has to stop using his bullpen like 4/5 of them are lepers.
2005-06-06 07:39:03
12.   monkeypants
OK, the collapse has finally arrived--the collapse predicted by some for years (indeed, the collapse we keep expecting of the Braves but never comes). Arguing about what this team can do this year for this year is probably futile. The real question is what form this collapse takes.

The Yankees will make a bunch o' money this year on advanced ticket sales--they will "draw" 3 million even if no one shows up. They will probably still make scads of money next year from residual good will and curiosity. Moreover, a ton of contract money will come off the books in the next two years.

So, do the Yankees bite the bullet in the short term, rebuild the farm system, save up cash, clean house, and play Oscar Azocar (or whomever) for the next couple of years? In this scenario they should, with smart FA signings be in pretty good shape in a couple or three years. Or, do they continue to throw good money after bad, which will lead to a long, painful, protracted descent from mediocrity to the abyss?

Of course, we could always hope that Steinbrenner was involved in the oil-for-food scandal or similar, so he can get his third suspension from running the team. According to history that plan should yield a world series within a couple of years. OK, that was facetious.

2005-06-06 07:39:51
13.   Simone
I like Torii Hunter, but his comments like those of the media are just the typical piling on that the Yankees have been subjected to whenever they have struggled this season. No professional athlete has fun when losing unless they are losers. Not playing music in the clubhouse and/or having a disciplined clubhouse has absolutely no impact on winning or losing.

The Yankees aren't winning because the majority of players are not performing. The ugly truth is that the players are not performing because most of them simply are no longer able to perform up to their previous abilities. Some are a waste of space (Womack and Sanchez), some are declining (Jorge, Tino, and Bernie), and others may be done (Giambi and Sierra). And I haven't even touched the debacle that is the pitching of late (both the starters and relievers).

2005-06-06 07:45:30
14.   rsmith51
Anybody know if Jeter is playing tonight?
2005-06-06 10:01:46
15.   singledd
Murphy: "what is this team's albatross? Is it giambi, age, the 96-00 teams, steinbrenner, torre, mel (a theory i am starting to worry about? thoughts?

It's really simple. EXPECTATIONS. On a philosophical level, expectations are a killer. When there are NO expectations, there is nothing to lose. When there is nothing BUT expectations, there is no way to win.

If the Yanks win the WS.... well... no great shakes. They are just doing what is EXPECTED. And anything else? Failure. It's no way to live. No other team, in any sport, lives with this. Even Tiger Woods, although surprising, is a allowed to lose. But we are not. How can you have fun under those circumstances.

Jeter is an exceptional person. He is able to find the joy in baseball, even with these expectations. But few can. Some are destroyed by it.

When the Yankees DON'T win... when they start to rebuild... when the expectation of winning is gone, it will be much easier on the players.

As far as age, I don't think its a major factor. Lots and lots of guys in their mid 30's are still good. Shef is getting old, but is still a machine. Giambi is not old, but his body and mind have been through a lot. Moose? Maybe. Rivera? It may start to happen.

In Mantle's day, few guys worked out, and many did as much as possible to damage their bodies. Partying and heavy drinking. Players that eat right and work out are not that old at 35. Our team is not young, but the problem with this team is mostly above the shoulders and in LF.

2005-06-06 10:17:01
16.   singledd
P.S. About money. You don't know any rich or spoiled people that piss their money away, and almost always get less even when paying more? When you have money to lose, you almost always lose it. If they had a budget, they would have to (like most other teams) be smart.

Steinbrenner basically gets players he WANTS, not those that are a good value or a good fit for the team. Steinbrenner's desire to win and his putting his money where his mouth is, is a great example to other owners. But his getting involved and making baseball decisions hurts the team. He should use his money to hire the best baseball people, create a dynamic environment, and let his people run the team.

I also think at his age, he wants to win before he dies or gets senile (which may have happened already). He 'manages' for today and worries about the future later. 3 yrs of RJ instead of 7 years of Beltran is the perfect example.

We had a core of very good, young players... Jetes, Bernie, Posada, Mariano, Petite (no superstars) and signed them to long contracts. We added some solid, quality people..., Brosious, Tino, Paulie, and a few stud pitchers.... and made magic.

Beltran fit that formula perfectly. He would have been with us for a long time and become a real Yankee. Instead we got RJ... and we dont even know if he's got the 3 'bullets' left that we paid for.

2005-06-06 10:46:13
17.   rynox
Simone said: >>> The Yankees aren't winning because the majority of players are not performing. The ugly truth is that the players are not performing because most of them simply are no longer able to perform up to their previous abilities. <<<

That is a very astute observation. The Yankees have a habit of buying last year's hot shots. I've long felt that a young team is better (Obviously, you need some experience on your team or you end up like Tampa Bay). Take for example, the Twin's pitching, arguable the best in the league. Average age for Twin's pitchers is 29. Marlin's avg pitcher age: 31. The Yankee's average pitcher's age is 36.

I think to fix the Yankee's long term they will need to make a serious commitment to their minor league system. Those kids in double & triple A are important to baseball next year and the year after, etc.

Now I'm no Yankee's fan, but it's also much too early for Yankee's fans to be sulking and opponents gloating. It's a long 6 month season.

ryno

2005-06-06 11:29:37
18.   JohnnyC
Average age of World Champion Red Sox starting rotation in 2004: 33. Average age of Red Sox bullpen (closer and two set-up men): 35. It's not about age. It's about skill.
2005-06-06 11:35:31
19.   dtrain
Simone said: >>> The ugly truth is that the players are not performing because most of them simply are no longer able to perform up to their previous abilities. >>That is a very astute observation. The Yankees have a habit of buying last year's hot shots.

I agree with both; that's the basic pitfall of relying so heavily on free agency to build your team. You send up signing guys who've performed at a high level, when their value is at its peak and they have nowhere to go but down. It's the classic sports illustrated cover jinx effect - guys who appear on the cover tend to do worse afterwards, not because there's a hex on SI cover boys, but because they got onto the cover in the first place by performing above and beyond their usual level. Eventually, they regress back to their normal level of play, and it looks like they've been jinxed.
Giambi was never gonna have a better year than his last one in Oakland; it simply wasn't possible. Ditto RJ after his years in Arizona, Pavano probably peaked last year too...

Year after year of building your team through free agency, and you have a roster full of overpaid, underachieving, and untradeable vets, giving you no roster or financial flexibility.

2005-06-06 12:04:20
20.   yankeegirl26
Boy, when they are bad - they are really, really bad. I think that about sums it up.
2005-06-06 12:17:40
21.   brockdc
Problem #1: A complete lack of vision from the front office AND Torre. Loading a roster with former All-Stars and future HOFers at every position does not constitute vision. Vision is first settling on core players a great team can't do without and then surrounding them with solid, fundamentally sound complementary players, many of whom should come from the farm system.

Problem #2: Pitching and defense, defense and pitching, pitching and defense, defense and pitching...

Problem #3: Joe Torre's stubborness/downright inability to adjust to his teams' glaring issues. Because this team is such a disharmonious hodgepodge, Torre has been exposed this season as a very mediocre tactician. With that said, he has let the most pressing affairs fester (Womack in LF, Quantrill still on the roster, etc.).

Problem #4: Scouting(?) I question myself on this issue because of my unfamiliarity with the inner workings of a ML baseball franchise. At any rate, someone's responsible for the bevy of misguided signings that occured this off-season AND for the ones that we let get away (Clement, Beltran, Cairo, Pedro, Lieber, Wade Miller et. al).

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