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Who's Scruffy-Looking? Laugh it Up, Fuzzball Edition
2006-09-05 05:21
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"I tell you, I've been here a month and a couple of days, and I've seen some crazy things," said Bobby Abreu, who broke a 5-5 tie with a double to deep center. "This team has come back at any time, no matter what."
(Tyler Kepner, N.Y. Times)

Well, it was just a matter of time, I guess. The Yankees left runners on base in the first six innings last night in Kansas City and had just one run to show for it. They were retired in order in the seventh and then broke out for ten runs against the Royals' bullpen in the eighth, turning a 5-1 deficit into an 11-5 lead. The final score on "Star Wars" night in KC: Evil Empire 12, Royals 5. Chien-Ming Wang was not great though he did not pitch poorly either (Wang was victimized by a botched double play and a missed call at the plate in the sixth). Luke Hudson was what they like to call "effectively wild." His hard change-up was particularly sharp and he struck out ten Yankees. He also brushed a few Yankees back. In the third, Hudson knocked Jeter down with a pitch around the shortstop's noggin; after shooting Hudson a dirty look, Jeter lined the next pitch right back through the box, into the pitcher's body. You can only dream about stuff like that.

But KC's bullpen was awful in the eighth and the Yankees pounced. Forty-four pitches were thrown, ten runs scored, and when all was said and done, the Yanks remained nine ahead of Boston, who beat the White Sox in extra innings last night at Fenway Park. The magic number to clinch the division for the Bombers stands at 17. I wonder if Giambi and Damon partied with any Wookiees after the game.

Mike Mussina returns tonight, while Hideki Matsui will play in Trenton tomorrow.

Comments (52)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-09-05 06:21:52
1.   rbj
I started channel surfing when it went to 3-1. At 5-1 I promised myself just one more inning. Nice to see the gang comeback and take it to that awful, awful bullpen.
2006-09-05 06:29:45
2.   Dimelo
During that eighth inning, the Yanks could have lined up in front of Florida State's football team and they would have put up at "least" 7 points on a 5 play drive. Who would have been the QB to march them down the field? I think Posada would be my choice - the gun and accuracy. ARod did a good job with the glove so he would have been the go-to receiver. Cano would be playing linebacker with his bobble of a DP ball and his ability to deliever bone-crushing hits. Giambi would play offensive tackle, he kind of looks like Joe Jacoby a little bit. Jeter would be our tailback. Abreu as full back, Damon will be our other receiver and Melky would be our 3rd down back. Wang…well he could be our kicker.
2006-09-05 06:41:58
3.   rsmith51
If the Yanks go 13-13 the rest of the season. Boston needs to go 21-3 to tie.

Let's go Yanks!

2006-09-05 06:48:09
4.   Yu-Hsing Chen
The Yankees could (and probably should) trout out house money every day from now on...
2006-09-05 06:50:40
5.   YankeeInMichigan
Where do you get your Probable Pitchers info? mlb.com is still reporting TBA from Friday on.

Last week I heard that Torre was planning to skip Wright or Lidle and go with Wang on Saturday. I'm glad to see you reporting Lidle on Friday and Wright on Saturday. Both are coming off of good starts, and they need to battle for the last October rotation start.

Frankly, I would prefer that the Yankees skip over Wang this time around. He has already exeeded his 2005 innings count by 42.

2006-09-05 07:02:01
6.   aronneil
How many at bats does our boy Cano need to make it on the leader board? He was on fire last night.
2006-09-05 07:12:35
7.   Bama Yankee
2 Good job on the football analogy, Dimelo. Didn't A-Rod play QB in high school? I think he was 9 and 1 his junior year. I would make Posada, Bruney and Guiel my linebackers (also sounds like a tough law firm). Damon could be the possession receiver. Of course, Carl Pavano would have to be on the sideline as the injured tight end... ;-)
2006-09-05 07:13:43
8.   kylepetterson
mlb.com is predicting that Sheff will get 5 rbi's by 9/13/06. I guess it's a good thing I stopped getting my stock advice from them..
2006-09-05 07:26:31
9.   DarrenF
Have I missed some Craig Wilson news? Or is he just benched for the time being?
2006-09-05 07:27:20
10.   Cliff Corcoran
5 A combination of ESPN & MLB.com (which often disagree) and what I've heard from Torre interviews, or have been able to discern from stories on the opposing teams. The pitchers in the Baltimore series are admittedly a guess based on Alex reporting to me that Torre's putting Rasner and Karstens in the bullpen, I just lined 'em up in order minus those two. If he does decide to skip Lidle or Wright I'll amend them.

Myself, I'd like to see Rasner get another start to allow Wang some extra rest, but also to add to Rasner's candidacy for next year's rotation.

2006-09-05 07:28:39
11.   Dimelo
7 Yeah I know ARod played QB in high school, but I was just trying to use last night's game as the point of reference of who would play where. There was no real method to my madness.

I agree that Posada wouldn't be my real choice for QB, but given that he had the jack and he caught Gathright stealing then I thought it was only fitting.

2006-09-05 07:29:26
12.   RIYank
6 Let's see, I think you need 3.1 Plate Appearances per game that your team actually plays. So he needs 502.2, which I guess means 503. He has 406 PA now, so he needs 97 in the last 26 games, or 3.73/game.
If that's all correct, then he'll make it easily.
And last year, Robbie got 40 hits in September. He could actually challenge!

Mauer has been sub-.300 since the break, and is a very good bet to cool even more, since catchers almost invariably do. Mean while, Jeter is a good bet to heat up. September is his best month. I make Jeter the favorite to win the title.

2006-09-05 07:29:26
13.   Cliff Corcoran
9 Torre's not playing him against righties. Aaron Guiel is starting at first against righties, which means he's the primary 1B. But then Torre will shift Giambi to first and start Bernie at DH every so often, which takes more ABs away from Wilson. So yeah, he's kinda benched. He's pinch hitting a lot though.
2006-09-05 07:48:46
14.   DarrenF
13 Gracias. Bronx Banter is the place to go for the information.
2006-09-05 08:05:26
15.   Peter
How important is it that they stick to a 5 man rotation? If they have a 6 or 7 man rotation (with Karstens and/or Rasner), it could keep guys like Randy, Moose, and Wang fresher for the postseason. Or are pitchers so conditioned to pitching every 5 days that extra time off may cause more harm than good?
2006-09-05 08:08:18
16.   Cliff Corcoran
15 Given the fact that their top three starters are old and ouchie (Moose, Unit) or way out of their depth in terms of total innings pitched (Wang), I can't see how it wouldn't help everyone involved to go to a six man rotation. Everyone needs rest, Rasner and Karstens have something to prove for next year, they've got a huge lead in the division, and both of the rookies have pitched well.
2006-09-05 08:39:02
17.   Sliced Bread
Good stuff as always, guys. re: Wilson: have we seen him catch yet? I'm curious to see his game behind the plate. Not getting much out of Fasano offensively, not that Wilson's been ripping the cover off the ball either, but perhaps we'll see him relieve Posada against a southpaw?

Also, what's the word on Cairo? Is he done for the season? I'd like to see A-Rod, Jeter, and Cano rested for October. As I said the other day, I hope Jeets doesn't get caught up in this batting title race. It's much more important that he's ready for Oct.

Also, with Giambi scuffling a bit, perhaps Phillips will get at-bats by the bunch this month?

2006-09-05 08:39:07
18.   KJC
I'd point out that "Wookiee" is actually spelled with two e's, but then you'd think I was a total Star Wars nerd. So forget I mentioned it...
2006-09-05 08:46:39
19.   Cliff Corcoran
17 Cairo's supposed to be back within a week. Don't count on much work for Andy beyond the old Bubba Crosby late-inning replacement role. As for Wilson, since Torre hasn't used him behind the plate yet and now has Wil Nieves up as the third catcher, I don't think we'll be seeing him back there at all, though the playoff roster sure would look better with Wilson in Fasano's place, or with Wilson able to serve as the third-stringer.
2006-09-05 08:55:44
20.   Sliced Bread
19 Thanks. Yeah, I'd at least like to see what Wilson can do back there. I think Joe likes Fasano's defense, and game-calling so Wilson's audition is probably not high on Joe's list of priorities.

I have a feeling Sheff is going to fit like the cliched glove at first. Man, Joe might have a lot of juggling to do. Every manager should have his troubles.

2006-09-05 09:05:26
21.   Cliff Corcoran
20 I still don't think Sheff's coming back, at least not far enough back to make the postseason roster, but still, if he does the team will have had five starting first first basemen this year (Giambi, Phillips, Wilson, Guiel, Sheff). Meanwhile, how about this line-up:

L - Damon (CF)
R - Jeter (SS)
L - Abreu (RF)
R - Rodriguez (3B)
L - Giambi (DH)
R - Sheffield (1B)
L - Matsui (LF)
S - Posada (C)
L - Cano (2B)

That's just not fair.

2006-09-05 09:20:29
22.   Chyll Will
Relative to absolutely nothing except a comment on yesterday's thread, but could someone (preferably Sliced) pass along to SF Yank that there's nothing wrong with bread and peanut butter as long as you also have a cold glass of milk to wash it down (and feel free to use that Sam Jackson snarl from 'Pulp Fiction' and a wink when you do >;)

Sorry, nothing serious or substancial today...

2006-09-05 09:21:29
23.   Jim Dean
21 For A-Rod, I'm pretty sure Joe's working off of these splits (AB AVG OBP SLG OPS):

376 .274 .374 .476 .850
117 .342 .426 .692 1.119

I don't think we'll be seeing A-Rod back at #4 for any length of time. If anything's the big reason for his down year, it's how long they left at #4. Just as Giambi scuffs when he DH's, A-Rod shouldn't be batting fourth (see prior years for similar trends).

That's the thing - for all the simulations about how batting order doesn't matter, I have yet to see one where the results are weighted by actual results in slots. Assuming all batters will hit equally in all slots is a bad assumption. They don't.

2006-09-05 09:22:38
24.   Jim Dean
Sorry, 23 top is A-Rod at 4th, bottom is him at 5th.
2006-09-05 09:29:32
25.   Sliced Bread
22 Man, the only thing more comforting and enjoyable than a peanut butter sandwich and a cold glass of milk is the lineup posted in 21. No matter how you stack 'em, good Gawd, that's a beautiful thing.
2006-09-05 09:32:13
26.   Joeg
Looks like we're leading the majors in Runs Scored! Apologize if this has been discussed before, but with Sheff & Matsui out for most of the season, it's amazing that the Yanks are still the top offensive team in the bigs.
2006-09-05 09:35:09
27.   Jim Dean
25 Yup, I should have seconded that sentiment. Still, anyone looking forward to the hit on defense with Shef and Matsui in the field?

I know I hope Shef doesn't make it back to rough up Guiel for playing time at 1B.

And for as much as I want to see Clutch-zilla in the post-season, I'd rather Melky is in the field.

2006-09-05 09:40:55
28.   Sliced Bread
27 I'm with you re: the Melky love in left, and Cliff is probably right about Sheff not returning in time to help the team in Oct. but who knows? I say Sheff is one of the few who could defy the medical odds. Either way, Joe will find a way to get Melky in left. He seems to be putting out the signal, even to Matsui, that left field is now Melky territory.
2006-09-05 09:45:33
29.   YankeeInMichigan
26 That fact alone should be enough to crown Jeter as MVP.
2006-09-05 09:47:18
30.   Count Zero
21 Can't see that lineup happening this year. Matsui will strictly be DHing if / when he returns. Besides...I'm not sure I would replace Melky with an out of sync Matsui even if I had the opportunity to do so.

If there is any truth to Cashman's "youth" movement, don't be surprised to see Matsui out of a job next year. Bottom line is, the kid's got pretty good numbers (albeit without power, but power comes later), he runs better, he certainly plays LF better, and he's only 21. If I absolutely had to sacrifice one of the two, it would be Matsui in a heartbeat.

2006-09-05 09:48:11
31.   Chyll Will
May I quote you, Bama? 25 Good one, SB! Indeed, that's a lineup that sticks to your ribs... and 27 I don't think it will be all that terrible, but I do harbor some concern. They're not exactly Fumble Theatre with bendy-straws for arms out there; it's just a wait-n-see.
2006-09-05 09:49:36
32.   wsporter
28 That's one of the reasons I see Shef being SLOWLY integrated back into the lineup. Mr. Torre really seems to haven fallen in love with Melky's LF D (who among us hasn't?).

Matsui at DH and Shef at 1st and some DH would make that happen. Ultimately though if Shef and Matsu are ready to go I can't see Melky holding them both off. The cold reality is that if they're both healthy and can both play the field Melky will have to sit.

2006-09-05 09:54:59
33.   David
I'm hoping that we may see Matsui and Sheffield platooned as lefty and righty DHs during the playoffs. That lineup would be some murderers' row.
2006-09-05 09:56:18
34.   Jim Dean
28 32 Problem is, Torre just said something to the effect of Matsui reclaiming LF this year.

And even as Shef may be healthy, do we really want him finding his swing, learning 1B, AND pushing Matsui to LF all at the same time.

The present team is on the verge of the best record in baseball without either of them. Matsui at DH is surely an upgrade. The rest of the ripples, from Shef, I'm not convinvced will help more than they hurt.

2006-09-05 10:16:35
35.   Count Zero
34 Precisely. At this late date, I'm not convinced either one of them will help, and I hate to see all this nice chemistry fall apart.

Someone pointed it out here after the Red Sox sweep -- this team looks fundamentally looser, more confident, and is generally having a lot more fun than any Yankee team since 1996. I wouldn't mess with that at this point.

2006-09-05 10:47:34
36.   jonnystrongleg
35 Since the Red Sox sweep the Yanks are 1 game above .500. Every year when the Yanks start playing well (see last year's second half for a handy example) we hear comments about how "this team is finally a real TEAM" not like all of those post 2000 teams that lost in the postseason. Then they lose in the postseaon and they are ripped for having no heart and being a hollow team laden with stars and lacking chemistry.

If Matsui and Sheffield get back to their mashing ways, all Yankee fans will be much better off. That being said, Sheffield is not playing this year and Matsui has a place somewhere in the lineup without disrupting the precious chemistry - so it won't matter.

2006-09-05 10:50:21
37.   Bama Yankee
31 Chyll, yes you can quote me. BTW, I'm with you on 22. As that magician used to say on Sesame Street: "A la peanut butter sandwiches!"
2006-09-05 10:56:59
38.   RIYank
36 Oh, come on. Since the day before the Fenway trip, they're 12 and 6. And even if you start the day after, they've outscored opponents 81 to 50, so that 'one game above .500' is very misleading. They've been good, durned good. They stumbled on a West Coast road trip, but not horribly, and they've been very strong since.
Post-season is a roll of the dice; I like the Bomber odds but it will take some good luck to win it all. But what else is new?
2006-09-05 10:57:57
39.   Sliced Bread
34 I missed that. Last I heard Joe was thinking of Matsui primarily as DH. We'll see how it shakes out.
2006-09-05 10:59:03
40.   Jim Dean
35 36 It has nothing to do with chemistry experiments. Offense > defense = winning.

It seems that Matsui at DH will mostly likely mean greater (>) offense, at least from the left side. A platoon with Bernie could work too.

Shef at 1B could mean greater offense from the 1B slot but less defense than Giambi provides. Plus, Giambi hits better when he plays 1B, so having Shef there could easily work out as a negative if he doesn't offer better defense than Giambi AND hits the ball like old Shef.

All of that says nothing about the effect of defense in having Godzilla in LF. Matsui has to hit much better than .850 OPS (what Melky's giving them now) to make up for the downgrade in defense.

Adding Matsui and Shef is far from assured in scoring more runs than they allow.

2006-09-05 11:14:22
41.   jonnystrongleg
38
I was just addressing the comment that Yanks have clicked after the Sox sweep and the addition of our All Star outfielders would mess that up. I agree with you that the Yanks are playing well now, but they also were romping in run differential in the first month and that was with Mats and Sheff and they were winning enough then either. (and IIRC, the rationale here was that they weren't a "team" and couldn't do the little things in close games)

40
I agree with you. I would also point out that we were supposing Sheff and Matsui hit like they usually do. There's no defense on this team that can compete with a healthy Sheffield. Sheffield will probably not play and if he does, he will be at a reduced capacity which makes his role much less prominent in the postseason plans.

2006-09-05 11:18:47
42.   RIYank
41 I get it.
Okay, I'm with you, then.
2006-09-05 11:20:07
43.   jonnystrongleg
40 PS, Cabrera's OPS is .750ish, not .850ish.
2006-09-05 11:33:44
44.   Shaun P
BTW, if anyone still gets worried about these things, BP's Postseason odds report says:

Yanks win division: 99.91435

Sox win division: .06665
Sox win WC: 1.19935
Sox overall chances: 1.26600

Of interesting note, according to BP, the Mets' odds of winning the NL East are at 99.99935. The only team with a chance at the division, odds at 0.00065, are the Marlins. Girardi's doing some good work, huh?

2006-09-05 11:39:28
45.   unpopster
28 I caught some of the radio broadcast of Sunday's game and Sterling/Waldman were discussing Shef.

Supposedly, a a few writers asked Shef about his availability to play this month and responded that he will be ready and that all he needed is 30-35 swings to get into shape. No seriously, he meant that he wouldn't even need to play in any minor league games.

Sterling and Waldman then proceeded to gush over how confident Shef is and how he usually only needs that many swings in Spring Trainning to be in midseason form.

Friends, take that all for what it's worth.

2006-09-05 11:49:10
46.   Bama Yankee
44 That reminds me of the following from Dumb and Dumber:
Lloyd: What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?
Mary: Well, that's pretty difficult to say.
Lloyd: Hit me with it! I've come a long way to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
[pause]
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance.
2006-09-05 11:51:24
47.   Jim Dean
43 P.S. The Melk-man's August OPS was .850. Whether he sustains that is a question but his July OPS was .833.

So if anything he's may still be getting better, not worse.

Therefore, to call Matsui a plus in LF is to assume he does better than Melky. Much greater than .850 OPS would seem to be the threshold to make up for the defense.

2006-09-05 11:52:49
48.   wsporter
44 MFD you can go ahead and keep posting those numbers until "Sox win division:" is reported at 0.0000. Thanks again.
2006-09-05 12:36:10
49.   jonnystrongleg
47 Go Melky! Hope he keeps hitting like that in the next two months too!
2006-09-05 13:19:17
50.   Count Zero
36 41 et.al. ;-)

I have heard the "there's no such thing as chemistry argument many a time". I don't think you can make an airtight case either way. I admit I can't offer any evidence for "chemistry" other than what my eyes tell me.

BUT -- I will say this. I have played on Championship teams, and I have played on losing teams. One of the teams that won was far from the best team I ever played on, but it did an awful lot of winning anyway.

I remember running into the dugout in the bottom of the 9th, down 1, and guys pounding the dugout roof as they came in saying, "Let's go now...let's get it right here!" And it happened...over and over and over again. Know how guys say, "We always think we're in it"? It was far beyond that. When we came into that dugout, we flat out knew we were going to get 2 and win. Winning can definitely become contagious. Confidence in the people around you can give you strength.

Sheff is definitely an offensive weapon and a half. He's also a defensive liability, and more importantly, he's a whiny, sulky bitch who never put anyone ahead of Gary Sheffield in his entire life. Those kind of guys never build the kind of relationships and confidence with their teammates that guys like Jeter, Giambi and Damon do.

As someone has already mentioned, this team has played its best ball since 7/1 -- all of it without Shef and Matsui. I'm quite content to go into the postseason without either of them -- sitting Melky now, after all the big hits, the surprising assists, the walkoff, after the Manny robbery with Damon jumping up and down like a kid in the background -- that would be a crime. Man, that brought tears to my eyes that night I was so happy for him -- for them -- for all of us.

Tell me honestly you could walk into that dugout in the playoffs and look everyone in the eye if you brought in a lineup card game after game without Melky's name on it? Could you? If you could do that and think your players would respect you for it, then you would make a very poor leader -- in sports, business, war -- in anything.

We do not need another bat to win it all -- we need A-Rod to play like he can play, and we need to be smart, and we need the real Moose and Unit and the Wang, and mostly we need Mariano's magic and a little of that luck that never seemed to run out in 1996. Give me all of those things and keep Sheff -- the little things are worth more than one disgruntled ballplayer whose main concern at present is to come in and do something spectacular at the last minute just so he can get a nice fat contract for next year -- somewhere.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-09-05 13:33:25
51.   Dr Jonas Venture Jr
21

It's actually 6 first basemen this year. Posada had 3 innings at first in one game. grin

2006-09-05 13:39:02
52.   pistolpete
Wow, that'll learn me to go to bed at only 4 runs down and 2 innings to go.

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