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Desperate Measures II
2005-07-01 13:50
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

note: this post was to be posted before game time, but was held up due to a black out resulting from a sudden thunderstorm.

Normally at the start of a new series I post the roster of the team the Yankees are about to face, but after the last couple of days, I thought it might be helpful to post the Yankees current roster.

New York Yankees

2005 Record: 39-38 (.506)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 41-36 (.532)

Manager: Joe Torre
General Manager: Brian Cashman

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Yankee Stadium (96/97)

Current Roster

1B – Jason Giambi
2B – Robinson Cano
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C - Jorge Posada
RF – Gary Sheffield
CF – Tony Womack
LF – Hideki Matsui
DH – Ruben Sierra

Bench:

S – Bernie Williams (OF)
L - Tino Martinez (1B)
R - Russ Johnson (IF)
L – Bubba Crosby (OF)
R – John Flaherty (C)

Rotation:

L – Randy Johnson
R – Mike Mussina
R – Carl Pavano
R - Chien-Ming Wang

Bullpen:

R – Mariano Rivera
R – Tom Gordon
R – Tanyon Sturtze
L - Buddy Groom
R - Jason Anderson
R - Scott Proctor
L - Wayne Franklin

DL:

R – Kevin Brown
R – Rey Sanchez (IF)
R – Felix Hernandez
R – Jaret Wright (60-day)

As for who's replaced whom, by demoting Kevin Reese in favor of righty Jason Anderson on Wednesday, then designating Paul Quantrill and Mike Stanton for assignment yesterday in favor of Bubba Crosby and lefty Wayne Franklin, you get this:

Bubba Crosby replaces Kevin Reese
Jason Anderson replaces Paul Quantrill
Wayne Franklin replaces Mike Stanton

Scott Proctor, meanwhile, replaced Sean Henn, who replaced Kevin Brown, which puts the Yankees a starter short. Earlier this week, Joe Torre had expressed hope that Brown would be able to take the fifth starter's turn against the Orioles on Tuesday, but Brian Cashman has recently quashed that notion. In that linked Star-Ledger article, Dan Graziano speculates as to whom the Yankees might use in Brown's spot on Tuesday.

Brad Voyles, who pitched Wednesday night for Triple-A Columbus, or Aaron Small, who's scheduled to pitch tonight for Columbus, would be the top candidates. Small would be on short rest, but if he only pitches a few innings (or not at all) tonight, he could be ready to go.

Lefty Sean Henn, who pitched June 25 against the Mets, is not a candidate, because he will not have been in the minors for 10 full days and therefore cannot yet be recalled. Lefty Alex Graman, who made two starts for the Yankees in 2004, is not a candidate because he was recently converted to a relief pitcher in Columbus.

Toward the end of Mike & the Mad Dog's 24-hour marathon today, Cashman said that Small has been their prefered choice for emergency starts all season, but a groin injury he suffered earlier in the year forced them to go to Henn, who you'll recall started the year in double-A Trenton. That would suggest Small for Tuesday, but another option Graziano doesn't mention is Wayne Franklin.

Despite leading the International League in appearances pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, the 31-year-old Franklin spent all of 2002 and 2003 as a starter (68 starts in 72 appearances between AAA and the majors), and started five more games between Fresno and San Francisco in the Giants' organization last year, despite getting most of his work out of the San Francisco bullpen. So while the promotion of Franklin might be seen as an attempt to have a second lefty in the pen to replace Stanton, it can also been seen as a move to add a long man and spot starter.

Of course none of this really changes the fact that Franklin has proven his inability to get hitters out at the major league level. In 302 2/3 major league innings for the Astros, Brewers and most recently the Giants (who released him during spring training of this year), Franklin has posted a 5.47 ERA (80 ERA+), a 1.54 WHIP, walked 4.58 men per nine innings and surrendered 54 homers, 1.61 for every nine innings pitched.

It's my hope that the Yankees have brought up Franklin with the intention of demoting him in favor of Tuesday's eventual starter, who, assuming he's not Kevin Brown, will then be sent back to Columbus in favor of a more deserving reliever, be it the Godot-like Colter Bean or the newly LOOGY-fied Alex Graman.

As for the moves in general, well, this is only the sort of thing that many of us in the blogging community have been calling for for at least two years. Overstocking the bullpen with high-priced veterans on the downsides of their careers when your minor league system has a handful of youngsters who could do equally poorly or better for one tenth of the salary is exactly the sort of thing that has lead this team to their current state as something of a bloated corpse floating on the surface of respectibility thanks to the air pockets of talent trapped inside.

The Yankees have now designated for assignment three such veterans (remember, Steve Karsay was the man who was dumped to clear roster space for Robinson Cano back in early May). Here are their total salaries for 2005 and beyond that the Yankees have been forced to swallow:

Karsay: $6.5 million*
Stanton: $4 million
Quantrill: $3.4 million*

Total: $13.4 million

*includes buyout of a 2006 option

Don't even get me started on what the Yankees could have done with that money this off-season. Meanwhile, Buddy Groom, a non-roster invitee, is making $800,000 this year and Tanyon Sturtze, who has replaced Quantrill in the Yankees Big Three, is earning just $850,000. As for Anderson, Proctor, Bean et al., they're making the major league minimum of $320,000. At that rate the Yankees could pay Groom, Sturtze and thirty six rookie relievers and still have money left over from the $13.4 million they've wasted on Karsay, Stanton and Quantrill in 2005 and beyond.

As for the call-ups, we've already discussed the fact that Anderson was the right choice, though at this point I'd prefer Reese over Crosby, but the most important thing is that the Yankees may have finally seen the error of their ways. Stay tuned . . .

As for the Tigers, rumor has it that they plan to activate Magglio Ordoñez for tonight's game (with Alexis Gomez or Jason Smith being the most likely to lose their spot), though nothing had happened as of post time. Meanwhile, thanks to Robinson Cano I guess I can't complain about Placido Polanco any more, but when you watch him this series, just remember that the Yankees chose Tony Womack over this guy. As if you needed any more proof that this team is getting what it deserves this year.

Detroit Tigers

2005 Record: 36-39 (.480)
2005 Pythagorean Record: 38-37 (.509)

Manager: Alan Trammell
General Manager: Dave Dombrowski

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Comerica Park (96/97)

Who has replaced whom?

Placido Polanco replaces Ramon Martinez (Phillies)
Chris Spurling replaces Carlos Peña (minors)
Alexis Gomez replaces Marcus Thames (minors)
Troy Percival (DL) replaces Ugueth Urbina (Phillies)
Sean Douglass replaces Wilfredo Ledezma (minors)
Fernando Rodney replaces Matt Ginter (minors)

Current Roster:

1B – Chris Shelton
2B – Placido Polanco
SS – Carlos Guillen
3B – Brandon Inge
C – Ivan Rodriguez
RF – Craig Monroe
CF – Nook Logan
LF – Rondell White
DH – Dmitri Young

Bench:

R - Omar Infante (IF)
L – Jason Smith (IF)
L - Alexis Gomez (OF)
R – Vance Wilson (C)

Rotation:

R - Jeremy Bonderman
L – Nate Robertson
R – Jason Johnson
L – Mike Maroth
R - Sean Douglass

Bullpen:

R – Troy Percival
R – Kyle Farnsworth
L – Jamie Walker
R – Franklyn German
R – Chris Spurling
L – Doug Creek
R – Fernando Rodney

DL:

R – Magglio Ordoñez (OF)
L – Bobby Higginson (OF)
R – Gary Knotts (60-day)
R – Colby Lewis (60-day)
L – Fernando Viña (IF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

R – Brandon Inge (3B)
R - Placido Polanco (2B)
S – Carlos Guillen (SS)
R – Rondell White (LF)
R – Ivan Rodriguez (C)
S – Dmitri Young (DH)
R – Craig Monroe (RF)
R – Chris Shelton (1B)
S – Nook Logan (CF)

Comments
2005-07-01 16:56:35
1.   rbj
Yankees now have to get 5+ runs to win tonight. Grrr.
2005-07-01 17:09:29
2.   tocho
It's going to be one of those frustrating nights, no doubt about it. RJ really sucking and the batters jumping on every single pitch. I hate these nights... so does my furniture.
2005-07-01 17:14:09
3.   JohnnyC
It's my hope that these non-moves that have come out of the Tampa meetings are tacit evidence of a sea change in the way the Yankees front office has normally done business in recent seasons. If Gene Michael truly has regained some authority, if the team is really committed to not trading its prospects, if trading for expensive and aging stopgaps like Clemens is no longer soup du jour...the sting of watching this team play .500 ball this summer, miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, and having to endure Torre and Stottlemyre's incompetence one last time just might be assuaged. Just might. Just.
2005-07-01 17:15:19
4.   Chucksax
Unit just looks like he has no command whatsoever - he's got a good amount of velocity, but everything he throws seems to be softball-sized. Argh.

I would give my left arm to see, JUST ONCE, a Yankee outfielder HIT THE CUTOFF man. Matsui kills me in the field.

2005-07-01 17:22:40
5.   Nick from Washington Heights
JohnnyC, that's the silver lining I'm hoping comes from this mediocre season. Probably, given Steinbrenner's mercurial nature, that's an overly optimistic view. Alas, hope is usually just hope.
2005-07-01 17:24:42
6.   rbj
Time to see what else is on. RJ's got nothing tonight. Again.
2005-07-01 17:29:19
7.   JohnnyC
I know this is cold comfort for the way he's pitched so far but...remember Roger Clemens' first season with the Yankees? He was awful: 14-10, 4.60 ERA, 1.81 K/BB, 1.47 WHIP. And he had just come off back to back Cy Young seasons. There is hope for 2006. Stottlemyre will probably be retired then. Maybe then RJ can stop tipping his slider and trying to throw his fastball down in the zone instead of high-riding it above the batters' hands. 94 above the waist is more effective than 94 between the thighs and knees. Someone please tell Mel. Like someday?
2005-07-01 17:33:47
8.   singledd
Well, the off-season had such bad Karma that even our one decent signing, RJ, looks like garbage now. And we get to enjoy (and pay for) 2 more years of this.

My lineup is finally on the field for maybe the first time this year. Small tweaks would be to switch Bernie/Tino in the order and Matsui/Bernie in the OF.

Looks like we are a .500 team again. It seems impossible that the middle and worst teams in the game kill us. This team has severe emotional problems to add to poor managment and a terrible FO.

I simply don't know how we can be this bad. 4 guys batting over .300, ARod with an MVP year, Matsui getting better... and we still stink.

How is this possible?
HOW is this possible???

2005-07-01 17:35:36
9.   Paul in Boston
Not much you can do when your "ace" gives up 7 runs in half a game. (I called the Ordonez home run, as I'm sure did many many many others watching.) Yikes.

Oh Big Unit of yore, where art thou?

2005-07-01 17:40:58
10.   Simone
I think that RJ is injured, probably his back.

To quote Galadriel, "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife." The Yankees have to decide by the All Star break if they are going to make the necessary trades to push this team into the post season or they just ride the season out and make changes in the off season.

2005-07-01 17:46:01
11.   Simone
" simply don't know how we can be this bad. 4 guys batting over .300, ARod with an MVP year, Matsui getting better... and we still stink.

How is this possible?
HOW is this possible???"

Easy, the moves to shore up the starting piching didn't work. It doesn't matter how good your offense is, if your pitchers can't dominate other teams with any consistency. Picking up a back up centerfielder when they decided to sign Beltran would have been a good idea.

2005-07-01 17:50:02
12.   Marcus
It just plain sucks that RJ has given up so many homers this year. I expect Proctor to suck, but the way RJ is pitching is really hard to swallow. I would love it if RJ would throw some chin music the next time he gives up a home run. I mean, yelling at himself doesn't do much except make him look crazy.

I wish A-Rod would pad his stats tonight. It would make me feel better.

2005-07-01 17:58:21
13.   Nick from Washington Heights
The good news is I'm getting a lot more time to read nowadays.
2005-07-01 18:01:08
14.   singledd
Simone - The Sox, in first place, have a worse team ERA then we do... and their D isn't much better. And look at our staff.... how can they be so bad? How?
2005-07-01 18:11:32
15.   Nick from Washington Heights
sigledd, as way of an explanation for what is happening to our staff and team

1. RJ is actually 42.
2. Pavano put together 1 good year in his career. He's always had a low k rate, and that combined with the porous D had led to his results.
3. Mussina is actually 36.
4. Kevin Brown is actually 41.
5. Wang. A young up and comer, he's been solid, no criticism here.

offense: There are so many peaks and valleys in this offense it's absurd. Every day, this line-up sends out 3 of the following 4: Tino, Womack, Sierra and post-tumor Giambi. The onus of this offense is on stars all on the declining side of their career paths.

Combine this with defense that features only 2 plus fielders (A-Rod and Cano) and a .500 team magically appears.

2005-07-01 18:47:33
16.   Simone
After the Blue Jays finish off the Red Sox tonight, the Yankees will be in 4th place in the AL East. I never thought it would get this bad. I've got to hand it to the Yankees, they don't do anything halfway. When they crash, they hit bottom hard. Hell, even the Cowboys fell apart gradually. The cliche, "the taller you are, the harder you fall" fits the Yankees perfectly.
2005-07-01 18:52:01
17.   vockins
Anyone under the impression that this team will make the playoffs is delusional.

FO: sell.

2005-07-01 18:59:43
18.   Simone
singledd, are you sure about the Red Sox's ERA being higher than the Yankees' ERA? Because I am pretty sure it is better by a few points and that their starters have been better going deeper into games than. Regardless, it is OVAH for the Yankees this season unless some major changes happen.
2005-07-01 19:02:29
19.   Simone
I'm watching BBTN. The cameraman who Kenny Rogers' shoved is sure milking the media spotlight and building up the case for his lawsuit. I bet if Rogers knew it would blow up into this big thing, he would have hit the guy in the face as well.
2005-07-01 19:04:13
20.   tommyl
This team is bad because of the pitching, plain and simple. They are, I believe 3rd in the AL in batting average, while they are something like 10th or worst in pitching. A telling stat is that the Yankees have yet to win a single game when scoring 3 runs or less. The offense is there, but you can't score 10 runs every night and that's what the pitching/defense is giving up.

Unless the pitching drastically improves, which is still possible, this season is basically over. I just hope RJs' problems are some combination of minor injuries and adjusting to NY as opposed to the beginning of a true decline. Will there be any young, decent arms available in the offseason?

2005-07-01 19:10:01
21.   Simone
AJ Burnett who can bring the heat will be available and in demand. However, he has elbow problems so it is a risk signing him.
2005-07-01 19:38:00
22.   Simone
Steve Phillips is doing the "Buyers or Sellers" segment on BBTN. He is naming the teams that he thinks are buyers versus those that are sellers. If Phillips actually knew which teams are which, wouldn't have he gotten another job as a GM? He is such a dope.
2005-07-01 19:39:15
23.   tommyl
Simone,

I'd like to see them move away from guys that just throw the ball hard. In my opinion, in the long run, a guy who has confusing stuff, good movement and most importantly is smart (in the Maddux mold basically) is a much better bet. Young guys who throw hard are likely to lose that ability, especially if they have elbow problems.

2005-07-02 01:16:04
24.   Jeff P
Simone, you're calling this a hard fall? You obviously haven't followed the Mariners. THAT was a hard fall. This is just a shot of reality. What's really the worst is that they tease us with respectability just before falling on their faces again.

As for the pitching prospects, tommyl, Greg Maddux is a once-in-a-generation guy. The fact is, most guys who survive on guile flame out in the upper levels. I wish I had some sort of tangible statistic or trend to back me up on this claim.

I'm just wondering, I go to bed every night hoping that Tony Womack will be dead in the morning...does that make me a bad person?

2005-07-02 05:13:01
25.   tommyl
I'm not asking them to go and find another Greg Maddux, but there are surely other pitchers out there who do not rely almost solely on their fastball velocity, as Burnett appears to. I can think of multiple pitchers who the Yankees had for example, such as Lieber, El Duque, etc., or even have, such as Mussina and Wang.

I wonder if anyone has done a study of decline of pitchers of various type. I'd bet that on average, power pitchers drop off a lot more drastically with age than control guys. There will be exceptions, like Clemens (but he's got phenomenal control and really understands pitching as well, so he's sort of a power and control guy). It just seems to be that flamethrowers tend to flame out rather quickly and that's my worry with Burnett.

2005-07-02 06:38:09
26.   jkay
Quantrill to Pods for Darrell May and Tim Redding.

http://tinyurl.com/bd44c

2005-07-02 07:13:00
27.   billyfrombelfast
>>I'm watching BBTN. The cameraman who Kenny Rogers' shoved is sure milking the media spotlight and building up the case for his lawsuit.<<

If I'd been assaulted going about my work by a millionaire man-child I'd probably do the same. Good luck to him.

2005-07-02 07:22:19
28.   Simone
Goldman thinks it is over for the Yankees this season: http://yesnetwork.com/yankees/pinstripedbible.asp

Jeff P, I didn't even remember the Mariners, but I admit they did get really bad, real fast.

2005-07-02 08:44:17
29.   Zack
The talk about Maddox vs. Burnett makes me think that in the mid 90's, one of the best signings the Yankees made to put them in a position to win was Jimmy Key, the kind of guy I wish we could get. He was my favorite pitcher during his brief stay, still one of my top three in my lifetime. In 93 and 94 he went 18-6 and 17-4 (strike year). In 94 he was otherwordly but lost out to Hentgan or someone for the cy young, and then fell off over the next few years. He wasn't a strikeout pitcher but was so fun to watch and was a total Stick type of signing...
2005-07-02 10:05:02
30.   Cliff Corcoran
TommyL, actually power pitchers last longer than control guys. Think Clemens, Schilling, Johnson, Ryan, Seaver, Carlton etc. etc. The reason is that these guys (particularly Clemens, Schilling, Ryan and Seaver) pitch with their legs, putting less stress on their arms. Also there's more room for error, if you can throw in the high 90s and have a killer breaking pitch (Ryan's curve, Clemens' splitter, Johnson and Carlton's slider etc.), you can get away with losing up to 5 MPH on your fastball. The control guys have much less margin for error, they miss their spots, their high-80s junk gets pounded.
2005-07-02 12:48:33
31.   Simone
I can't believe that Goldman gave Hideki Matsui as an example of a player that the Yankees should trade to get them younger. Why on earth would the Yankees trade one of their youngest position players, a lefty with power? The only player on the team who actually pays for his own salary 10 times over with the revenues that he generates. Clearly, the two position players that the Yankees can trade are Posada and Sheffield, but there is no one to catch if Posada is traded at this season's deadline. Realistically that leaves Sheffield as the only position player that the Yankees can trade to get a good prospect. However, Sheffield has made himself untradable with his comments. The Yankees shouldn't trade anyone until the off season, in my opinion.
2005-07-02 12:58:18
32.   tommyl
Cliff,

Interesting point. I do note though that you have listed only elite power pitchers. I have no problem with the Yankees going after an elite power pitcher (under the age of say 35 or so). I wonder how your point holds up for more second-tier guys. To me, a major question with a power pitcher is can he adjust as he gets older? Pedro is an excellent example of this, he can't through 97 anymore consistently, but his location and other pitches have greatly improved, as has his pitching knowledge. Other players, such as, say...Kevin Brown do not make this adjustment nearly so well. I guess my thinking was that a control guy would be, on average, more apt to make the adjustments as their velocity declines.

Has anyone done an honest statistical study of this?

2005-07-02 13:18:52
33.   Cliff Corcoran
I bet BP has, but I don't know of a specific article. Brown had a great year at age 38 and his problems are more due to injury than anything else. The classic example of a power pitcher making adjustments after losing their fastball is Frank Tanana, who had to do it at a very young age. But other than Jamie Moyer (who's finally fallen apart) and Warren Spahn, I can't think of any control guys who were very effective into their 40s. Even Maddux and Glavine have fallen on hard times (moreso Glavine, but Maddux is not the pitcher he was with the Braves, whereas).
2005-07-02 15:00:40
34.   JohnnyC
Cliff, tommyl must be a Stottlemyre fan. This is one area where both sabermetrics and traditional scouting would concur: hard-throwers not only have a higher ceiling but also more rooms in the house, that is, they generally retain their effectiveness longer into their careers. Look, all pitchers lose velocity as they age. If you threw 95 in your '20s, you'll end up throwing 89-91 in ten years; if you threw 87-89 in your '20s, you'll end up throwing 83-85 at 35. Problem is, if you're throwing 83-85 and you have neither incredible location or movement, you're out of baseball. Most observers of pitching will tell you that relying heavily on breaking pitches (not change-ups) kills your velocity. Too many sliders and cutters (Pettitte and Loaiza just to mention two)take precious miles an hour off the fastball. Now you can understand why fans cringe at the number of sliders and breaking balls the Yankees' staff is asked to throw, especially in deep counts with men on base, late in the game. The triple whammy of Stottlemyre's unfortunate game plan.
2005-07-02 15:15:38
35.   Jeff P
Kevin Brown DID adjust. That's why, at the age of 31, he changed from an effective workhorse to one of the most dominating pitchers of the late 90s, throwing at least 230 innings of sub-3.00 ball for five straight years.
2005-07-02 21:11:20
36.   brockdc
A. How about a moratorium on acquiring pitchers with ONLY a National League track record of success (i.e. Pavano, Burnett, Vasquez)?

B. If we do acquire a pitcher, he must be cerebral, humble, and mature enough to make mechanical adjustments on his own. Torre and Stott are both useless in this regard, as we have all been unfortunate enough to witness ad nauseum.

C. It's plausible that RJ is not injured, that he has been faltering due to faulty mechanics (the velocity on his pitches is fine, but the location stinks and the movement on his slider is lacking).

D. Guys that have a proven track record of success playing for the Yanks (Cairo, Lieber, Sheff, Cano, Wang, Pettite), and whom are still productive players, should always be retained. It takes a special player to produce in this environment. Why take a huge chance on someone who might melt under the scrutiny and spotlight of playing for the Yankees when you don't have to?

2005-07-03 11:30:45
37.   tommyl
JohnnyC,

You make several excellent points, and no I'm not a huge Stottlemyre fan (though I like him very much as a person), its one area that I would agree a coaching change should probably be made, though in the offseason.

I still wonder what an actual statistical analysis shows. You guys might be right, but I'd love to see it in detail.

2005-07-03 11:31:43
38.   tommyl
Jeff P,

I was referring more to his travails these past two seasons. When he gets in trouble he tends to rock back and try to fire it by people (with some exceptions). This just doesn't work for him anymore.

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