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The View From Here
2005-08-19 12:41
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Thanks to a well-timed and largely media-free vacation on the Maine coast, I missed the latest Yankee stumble against the sub-.400 Devil Rays. Not having witnessed the infuriating manner in which the Bronx Bumblers blew the final two games of that series earlier this week, I sense that I might have a slightly different perspective when sizing up the remaining six weeks of the Yankees' season than those embittered by watching those games unfold.

What I see when I look at the standings is that the Yankees are four games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with six games left to play against Boston and one and a half games behind the A's in the Wild Card race with three games left to play against Oakland. That means the Yankees' destiny is in their own hands. If they are able to match just one of these two clubs win-for-win over the remainder of the season and sweep their head-to-head confrontations, the Yankees will make the playoffs for the eleventh consecutive season.

Not that I expect that to happen.

But then again, why not? Aside from those nine games against the teams they're chasing, the Yankees have just three remaining games against the other two AL teams with better records than their own, those being the three games they will play against the AL best White Sox in Chicago this weekend.

Otherwise, the Yanks have three home games against the league-worst Royals, three games at the West's worst Mariners (against whom the Bombers are 5-1 on the season, including a 2-1 series win in Safeco in May), and a whopping 22 games against the three teams below them in the AL East standings.

The A's, meanwhile, have those three games against the Yankees, four in Fenway against the Red Sox, and seven against the division-leading Angels. The Red Sox have those six games against the Yanks and four against the A's, and six more against the Angels, who whupped them 13-4 last night to open a four-game series in Anahiem.

For those keeping track, that's 11 remaining games against what I'll, for lack of a better term, call "playoff caliber" teams for both the A's and Yanks, and 14 for the Red Sox. Overall, I think it's fair to say that the Yankees have the easiest remaining schedule as, while the A's, Yanks and Bosox will all do battle with each other, the A's and Hosers each have a pair of series remaining with the Angels (who as of this moment are my pick to win the AL pennant) while the Yankees get a second chance at the slumping White Sox.

Yes, the White Sox still have the best record in the American League and a convincing 10.5 game lead in the Central, but that was almost entirely the result of a smoking first half that saw the Chisox peak at 57-26 (.687) before being swept by the A's in their final series before the All-Star break. Since then, the Pale Hosers have gone 16-18 (.471), dropping their overall winning percentage 60 points to .627. Best of all for the Yankees, the bulk of that losing has come in August, a month in which the AL's "best" team has gone 6-9. Most of that is due to an active five-game losing streak that started immediately after the Southsiders squeaked out a 2-1 series win against the Yanks over the course of three one-run games early last week.

Since that series, each team has made just one roster move. The Yankees have dumped bullpen flotsam Wayne Franklin in favor of an apparently healthy (knock knock) Jaret Wright, who turned in what was easily his best Yankee outing in his first start off the DL this past Monday and will start against a hopefully less determined Jose Contreras on Sunday. The White Sox, meanwhile, have had to disable lead-off man Scott Podsednik, giving his roster spot to 23-year-old rookie outfielder Brian Anderson and his spot in left field and the batting order to < a href="http://cubtown.baseballtoaster.com/archives/166042.html">Timo! Perez.

The Yankees move clearly makes them better, while the White Sox move clearly makes them worse (Timo! actually started two of the three games in last weeks' series due to a Carl Everett injury, but not as the White Sox's lead-off hitter, and good as Timo is in the field, Podsednik is better). As the last meeting between these two teams resulted in a net score of 6-5 White Sox, it's not irrational to think that these simple changes just might have tipped the balance in the Yankees' favor.

Tonight the Yanks send staff anchor Mike Mussina against the major-leagues' second winningest pitcher, Jon Garland. Coming off a pair of stomach-punch loses against the Devil Rays, with the FOX jinx lurking over tomorrow's El Duque/Chacon match-up, and the two teams the Yankees are chasing starting their respective aces tonight (Harden and Clement), the Yankees really need to pull out a win tonight to keep morale high and the hitters loose.

Comments (74)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-19 13:42:52
1.   JVarghese81
Cliff,
Before the Tampa Bay series started, I went and pointed out several disparraging ERA stats of the Rays pitchers the Yanks were facing (who the Yanks then made look like Whitey Ford) and stated that the Yanks SHOULD, at least take 2 games. Yeah, that worked out well...

Now, before the CHiSox series, not looking at stats & with the Yanks facing far better pitchers, I haven't learned my lesson. The Yanks should, nay, WILL take at least 2 of 3 in this series. Why, you ask? WHY NOT? Rather than rely on stats or anyting else, I'm just going with my gut and hopes as one of the dwindling number of optimistic Yankee fans out there. In my mind, this is a FLAWED but still .600 ballclub that has played super craptastic baseball against the two worst clubs in the AL (KC & TB) but will be able to pull it out in time for the playoffs.

Now that being said,
Cano should be moved down in the order,
Andy Phillips should be called up and Felix Escalona sent down,
If Proctor has options left, send him down, bring up Colter Bean for the rest of the month and then bring back Proctor when the rosters expand,
Send down Bubba Crosby and bring up Kevin Thompson - both would probably be null at the plate BUT Thompson is a VERY good outfielder with very good speed and great baserunning instincts (41SB, 10CS this year)

Anything I missed?

2005-08-19 13:43:22
2.   Shaun P
I'm very frustrated from the Yanks play lately myself. But as Cliff says, we aren't out of it yet. Every contending team has their flaws, and we are capable of reeling off a nice win streak at any time.

On the subject of Torre, from the last thread: I question some of Torre's moves too, but I see no viable alternatives.

We need a manager who will:
1. Handle NY and the Yankee vets
2. Manage a bullpen and a bench effectively.
3. Give younger players a chance over washed up veterans.
4. Most importantly: win, baby.

Only 1 guy fits that bill 100% and is (somewhat) available - Davey Johnson.

If you can't get him, you stick with Torre. He's got 1 and 4 down, as few managers ever have. 2 and 3 can be forced on him by the FO getting rid of Tino, Sierra, Womack, Embree, Franklin, Leiter, Rey Sanchez, etc. (maybe Gordon too, he's a free agent.)

Give him a bench of:
C - Flaherty *
2B/SS - Escalona or Joe Thurston
OF - Kevin Reese or Kevin Thompson
OF - Bubba Crosby

And of course Phillips and Giambi split 1B/DH, with Phillips able to backup at 3B. And if you can find a better backup IF, do it.

*I know Flaherty's a crappy vet, but Unit seems to pitch better with him catching over Posada

And then you make a pen of:
CL - Mo
RP - Colter Bean
RP - Sturtze
LP - Sean Henn
RP - Scott Proctor
LP - Alex Graman
RP/SP - Shawn Chacon

Henn gets ready for the rotation in '07 (when Wright is gone) Earl Weaver style - by pitching from the pen. Chacon is the swingman who can start if need be.

You could also replace Anderson/Graman with Jorge DePaula, Jason Anderson, or whoever else is down at Columbus with good K, K/BB, and HR rates. (I don't know much about what we've got in AAA.) Or go after minor league free agents who have high K and low BB and HR rates. Get as many of these guys as you can; the younger, the better. If a guy gets 6 weeks worth of frequent use in the pen and he sucks, then you cycle in someone else until you have a good pen. Otherwise, do nothing. Torre can't just pitch Mo and Sturtze every day - even if he might try for a while, it won't last.

If the Brewers and the Angels, among others, can build pens this way, why can't we?

2005-08-19 14:10:20
3.   Shaun P
JVarghese81, I think we were on the same wavelength there.

I totally agree with dropping Cano in the order. In fact, I think Phillips (or Giambi, given his recent hitting slump) would make a fantastic #2 hitter. Think of the pitches they'd see hitting in front of Sheff and A-Rod.

2005-08-19 14:37:28
4.   yankeegirl26
Thanks for the analysis Cliff, but I think it's almost worse that the Yanks will be playing sub .500 teams for the most part from here on out. They are able to play hard against contenders (Boston, Red Sox, Chicago), but they just are flat against all the "bad" teams - see Tampa Bay and Kansas City. It's very disheartening. I for one, am preparing myself for the Yanks to finish 2nd in the AL East and to have the west win the wildcard. No consistency.
2005-08-19 15:03:28
5.   Alex Belth
I don't mind the fact the Yanks could miss the playoffs, but I am going to mind it when they finish the season in Boston, getting tooled on, ending the year in enemy territory like that. Ugh. That would be the worst. I've debated whether I'd even watch the series if I knew the Yanks were already out of it. Or just watch it with the sound off.

The Yanks have been all over the place this year but they are still good enough to get into the playoffs. Man, it would be great if they just got there this season, don't you think?

2005-08-19 15:52:42
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Alex, I agree, whereas the mantra of past years was "all or nothing," I think simply making the postseason at all would be a huge accomplishment this year given the manner in which the front office bungled the off-season and the injuries which have laid waste to the rotation.
2005-08-19 16:25:54
7.   singledd
I simply can't see Jason batting second... he is a liability on the basepaths. You get his OBP in front of ARod, and get him better pitches to hit, by batting Giambi 4th, ARod 5th and Matsui 6th. While Cano has slumped of late, he has mostly done a good job in the 2 hole.

Th Yanks are loaded with talent. Pitching problems? The Sox are in 1st with the WORST ERA in the AL. While the Sox are 14th in pitching, we are 9th (and getting better of late). I see no reason why our offense is not as good as the Sox. However, we have underperformed and been poor in the clutch.
It's a simple as that. We have too many LOB and not enough 2 out hits.

I think it's a mental thing. We are not playing smart. When we blow a lead, the offense shuts down. We have the talent.... but do we have the will?

2005-08-19 17:25:19
8.   Mattpat11
I think there's something wrong with the field mics tonight.
2005-08-19 17:27:02
9.   rbj
The White Sox announcers are the worst homers I've heard. Including Detroit.
Incidentally, the Tampa Bay announcers weren't bad.
2005-08-19 17:27:02
10.   JVarghese81
Hey, just started to turn on the game...Look who's not in the #2 hole - whoa - one suggestion down...3 to go.
2005-08-19 17:37:30
11.   Cliff Corcoran
With Bernie batting 2nd and Cano batting 9th five of the first six batters (Rodriguez being the exception) have worked three-ball counts.
2005-08-19 17:49:05
12.   Mattpat11
Does anyone else think jeter may have lost a few steps? I was shocked that that bunt play was even close, let alone so clearly an out.
2005-08-19 17:55:24
13.   Cliff Corcoran
I think it was just a great play by Crede.

Dreadful baserunning in the top of the third, still, tie game.

2005-08-19 18:01:54
14.   Rich
Giambi when playing 1B: .329 /.467/.657/1.124

Giambi when DHing: .225 /.424/ .411 /.835

2005-08-19 18:11:55
15.   nick
.808 OPS trails Texas and Boston

Yanks w/runners in SP & 2 out: .698 OPS--that's tied w Cleveland for 2nd last in AL, .001 ahead of KC[!]

On the other hand, if we check close and late, they're .758, which dosen't sound great but is 2nd in AL (closers keep the numbers down) behind only the Red Sox, whose .880 is just insane, a total outlier...

so what I wanna know is, with those hitting stats in close and late PLUS Mo, how come we're only 16/14 in one run games?

2005-08-19 18:13:59
16.   Rich
Jeter may have lost his inital burst, but I don't think he has lost a lot of overall speed.
2005-08-19 18:19:35
17.   Mattpat11
nick, this probably isn't it, but I think we seem to have an uncanny amount of walks that go nowhere, bases empty doubles that go nowhere, doubles that only move a guy to third, and not as much as last year, but an Ungodly number of infield singles.
2005-08-19 18:25:11
18.   nick
well, that terrible 2-out RISP hitting certainly dosen't help us......there's also the fact that Mo has a lot of 1-inning, 3 run lead saves--as Stephen Goldman just pointed out on the Pinstriped Blog...I mean, wouldn't you like to see him in the 8th in a tie game, when keeping the other guys from scoring ANY runs really matters? Of course Joe used him that way in past postseasons--but I'd love to see him used that way in September--give Sturtz the 9th up 4-1.....(yeah, I know, no chance)
2005-08-19 18:32:58
19.   Rich
Jeter was safe.
2005-08-19 18:35:13
20.   Mattpat11
I wonder if making Garland throw 8000 pitches or whatever the hell he's up to at 4.2 innings (I think its 91) is a good thing with that bullpen.
2005-08-19 18:36:35
21.   rilkefan
Somebody asked for 2-out RISP hitting?
2005-08-19 18:39:03
22.   Cliff Corcoran
92. It's pick your poison with the White Sox pitching. The ideal situation is probably to get to the pen ahead of the Big Three, or make Guillen extend those three.
2005-08-19 18:39:55
23.   mikeplugh
Yes, the White Sox announcers "The Hawk and DJ" are the worst homers I've ever heard.

"No runs for the bad guys, the good guys coming to bat."

On Garland (after giving the Yanks a 3-1 lead) "He hasn't gotten a strike all night."

They are like a morning drive time radio program, and a bad one at that. They reek of mid-west hick'ry smoked flav-err. I'm in Japan and switched back the Japanese language audio track because I couldn't take it anymore.

2005-08-19 18:46:28
24.   Rich
Harrelson used to do Yankee games in the 80s. He was awful.
2005-08-19 18:54:50
25.   Mattpat11
Well, Hawk should be happy now. Garland got some generous calls that inning
2005-08-19 18:57:02
26.   BklynBomber
Yeah, I'd jump off a bridge if I had to listen to these mooks all season — even if I was a Sox fan. They are horrible, especially Hawk. Rooting for drives to stay foul, etc. Amateur hour.
2005-08-19 19:01:40
27.   Mattpat11
I am conflicted. I want to hear "Run Timo Run" again just for the novelty of it, but I don't want us to be in asituation where Timo running is important
2005-08-19 19:06:42
28.   Cliff Corcoran
Okay, Moose strikes out the side in the sixth and finishes with 101 pitches. So what's your bullpen strategy? Do you try to get another inning out of Moose? Do you turn to Sturtze or Gordon to start the inning? How long of a leash do you give Mussina?
2005-08-19 19:09:44
29.   Cliff Corcoran
Myself, I go back to Mussina and try to use Moose for 7, Gordon for 8 and Mo for 9. First baserunner Mussina allows in the 7th, I go straight to Gordon and try to give Sturtze the night off.
2005-08-19 19:10:35
30.   Rich
I would stay with Moose as well. Sturtze is toast lately.
2005-08-19 19:12:31
31.   Mattpat11
Sportsline has no one up in the pen, so it looks like it may be Moose
2005-08-19 19:13:47
32.   Mattpat11
The boxscore is going to smile on Garland, but he was nowhere near as good as his numbers.
2005-08-19 19:15:12
33.   BklynBomber
Stay with Moose. If there's a baserunner, it would depend how he gets on and the pitch — if it's a 4 pitch walk, a hanger or a fastball with nothing on it, yank him. If it's a error or bloop, let him work out of it.
2005-08-19 19:16:36
34.   JVarghese81
I would go with Moose for a couple of batters - I think that of all the guys we have pitching, he's got the most knowhow on the mound and if anything comes up, I'm confident he could keep it contained until I got the right person in from the pen. That being said, I'd have Gordon warming
2005-08-19 19:17:24
35.   JVarghese81
And he is facing the bottom of the order...
2005-08-19 19:18:18
36.   Mattpat11
Mussina has 7 Ks? He sort of did that quietly.
2005-08-19 19:19:02
37.   BklynBomber
Did Cano not learn anything from the other night? Yeesh! I thought that was heading for the stands.
2005-08-19 19:19:10
38.   Cliff Corcoran
Back tracking, I give Moose Uribe here, and Timo! if he gets Uribe. If he loses Uribe he's out and Gordon's in. Torre's right on point tonight, BTW.
2005-08-19 19:21:40
39.   BklynBomber
Now, does Moose start the 8th?
2005-08-19 19:22:06
40.   Rich
The Daily Gordon will pitch the 8th.
2005-08-19 19:24:13
41.   Cliff Corcoran
Fantastic outing by Mussina, he was really working it. Had some great stuff.

Now, no major league manager will do it, but with the heart of the order due up in the eighth, this is where I'd like to see Rivera pitch the eighth and Gordon the ninth. The only problem there is, if Gordon has nothing, there's no safety net. Assuming Torre goes Flash to Mo, I can dig it.

2005-08-19 19:25:32
42.   Cliff Corcoran
At 112 pitches, I thank Moose for a job well done.
2005-08-19 19:26:55
43.   BklynBomber
Cliff, that is interesting!

As you say, everything has to go right — but, boy what a move that would be.

2005-08-19 19:27:12
44.   JVarghese81
I agree with you Cliff, Rivera would be the best option for the 8th - that would be the use of a true relief ace...BUT it's not the way of the world. That being said, they did have an off day yesterday so he should be rested.
2005-08-19 19:28:34
45.   Mattpat11
Cliff, if you really wanted to think out of the box, you'd just move Mo to CF (Tell me you don't think he could shag a fly better than anyone else in our outfield)for the ninth and have him waiting in case of trouble.

I think Davet Johnson used to do that, I think changing every batter depending on righty/lefty

2005-08-19 19:30:21
46.   Rich
It's Bill James's theory.
2005-08-19 19:30:51
47.   Cliff Corcoran
Odd decision here by Guillen to walk Matsui with a man on third and two outs and get the lefty to pitch to Giambi, I'd assume without the shift on.

By the way, good call on the hit and run to stay out of the DP and good baserunning by Bernie to get to third on Rodriguez's grounder.

2005-08-19 19:31:31
48.   JVarghese81
Hey, does anyone else get this network congestion thing from MLB.com's gamecast - I get it all the time and was just wondering if it's a country wide thing or just me.
2005-08-19 19:33:25
49.   Cliff Corcoran
Anyone else dreading Giambi walking and Jorge making the third out?
2005-08-19 19:37:51
50.   Mattpat11
That would have been Posada's specialty-making critical outs in rally situations.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-19 19:38:54
51.   Rich
Does Gordon always allow the first man he faces to get on?
2005-08-19 19:39:35
52.   Cliff Corcoran
Is Mo warming? I give Gordon one batter at a time now that the lead-off man is on.
2005-08-19 19:40:55
53.   Mattpat11
Its not a matter of if, but who hits the homerun now
2005-08-19 19:42:05
54.   BklynBomber
JV81 — If you're talking about the video gamecast, I've only purchased 2 games so far and found it to be choppy at best, much like the MLB Audio Gamecast signal. It pauses and drops out a lot. I have a killer broadband connection speed, too. It's frustrating, but better than refreshing ESPN's 'Scoreboard' page, which is usually anywhere from a batter to 3 innings behind...
2005-08-19 19:43:19
55.   JVarghese81
Naw, I'm thinking K, then GIDP...or vice versa.

Optimism baby...it's the only thing keeping me going these days.

2005-08-19 19:43:47
56.   Rich
One more Gordon.
2005-08-19 19:44:08
57.   BklynBomber
Hey Matt — this isn't Tampa we're playin' here. Have a little faith ;-)
2005-08-19 19:44:57
58.   Mattpat11
Oh Thank God. I always had faith in you Flash
2005-08-19 19:45:32
59.   Rich
An insurance run or two would be nice.
2005-08-19 19:47:07
60.   Mattpat11
"run or two"? I'd like a Proctor-proof lead. :)
2005-08-19 19:48:38
61.   JVarghese81
Hey, that'll work too. It wasn't the GIDP I was expecting but hey, that'll do. Optimism does wonders Matt!
2005-08-19 19:52:28
62.   Mattpat11
Well here we go
2005-08-19 19:54:37
63.   Rich
One.
2005-08-19 19:58:05
64.   Mattpat11
Crede looks 14 years old
2005-08-19 19:58:52
65.   BklynBomber
Dos. And Gawd, the announcers suck and why are Everett's eyes so red?
2005-08-19 19:59:15
66.   Rich
One more.
2005-08-19 20:00:44
67.   singledd
Does anyone notice that Cano almost always hits the ball hard? Not only that, they are almost always line drives. If this kid can learn to walk and be selective, I think he will be a great hitter. Hey... nice that he took his time on that throw and made agood one.
2005-08-19 20:00:53
68.   Cliff Corcoran
Everett might use those red-eye contact lenses that Brian Roberts uses.

Yankees win!

2005-08-19 20:01:34
69.   BklynBomber
OK, now let's go Disneyland/Los Angeles Angels of WhereEver!
2005-08-19 20:02:34
70.   randym77
Moose earned his paycheck today. Bet he's chosen player of the game.

I swear, the Yankees seem to do better against good teams than against losers like Tampa and KC. I just don't get it.

2005-08-19 20:04:33
71.   JVarghese81
Exactly...let's hope the Sox take an L tonight (hell, let em go on a losing streak) - it's been a rollercoaster of a season, here's to keeping it going into October.
2005-08-19 20:16:38
72.   marc
wow, textbook. Muss/flash /mo/ game over.

I wasn't sure they still existed.

2005-08-20 03:12:03
73.   coreyk626
This post is disingenuous to the Indians, who are 1 game behind the Yankees and have an easier schedule.
2005-08-20 10:59:07
74.   brockdc
Is Giambi trolling for walks again?

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