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Monster Jam
2006-09-12 21:38
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees blew out the Devil Rays in the first inning last night, driving Tampa starter Tim Corcoran from the game before he had recorded the inning's second out, then touching up his replacement Brian Stokes for a four-spot. The first time through the Yankee order, only Jason Giambi, who made his first start in four games at first base, made an out, flying to left. The rest of the inning went like this: single, steal, walk, homer, walk, steal, fly out, double, single, single, pitching change, single, K, walk, double, K. Two of the three extra base hits came off the bat of Bobby Abreu, who came to the plate with five men on base during the inning and drove all of them home along with himself on a three-run homer in his first at-bat and a bases-loaded double in his second trip. All totaled, the Yankees sent 13 men to the plate, ten of whom reached base, nine of whom scored.

From there, the story of the game became Hideki Matsui, who picked up an RBI single on a bloop to center in his first at-bat since May 10, then proceeded to pick up three more singles and a walk, while scoring two runs, finally leaving for a pinch runner in the eighth having yet to make an out. Matsui looked great at the plate, keeping his weight back and powering through the ball, hitting mid-90s fastballs with authority and hooking a foul home run into the upper deck in right.

While the offense was feasting--they'd score three more in the third while Bobby Abreu came just a few feet short of a grand slam, flying out with the bases loaded to end the fourth--Mike Mussina kept the Devil Rays fasting, setting down the first ten Rays in order and leaving after 6 1/3 scoreless innings having allowed just five hits. Moose threw 70 percent of 87 pitches for strikes, striking out five and walking no one.

T.J Beam kept Tampa off the bases in relief of Mussina in the seventh and eighth while Torre turned to his bench, resulting in an eighth-inning defensive alignment that included only Melky Cabrera from the starting line-up.

The only blight on the game as far as the Yankees are concerned was Octavio Dotel's performance in the ninth. In to get the final three outs with a 12-0 lead, Dotel had nothing, surrendering four runs on a walk to pinch-hitter Shawn Riggins in just his second major league plate appearance, singles by rookies Dioner Navarro and Ben Zobrist, and doubles by Ty Wigginton and Jorge Cantu. Final score: Yankees 12, Devil Rays 4.

On the YES broadcast, Jim Kaat speculated that Dotel, who had thrown just 5 1/3 innings over eight appearances prior to last night, is in the typical dead-arm period that most pitchers experience during spring training. Given that Dotel went through a sequence in that inning in which he threw five straight pitches into the dirt in the left-handed batters box, I'd have to agree. Certainly one hopes that's what's going on with Dotel, as it provides hope that Dotel still might come around before Joe Torre has to decide his playoff roster. Whatever the cause, Dotel has really struggled with his control since being activated, and has now walked seven men in his 6 1/3 innings, one more than he's struck out.

In other news, Gary Sheffield did indeed take live batting practice before the game, taking 32 swings. He's also continuing to work out at first base, and he and Torre are now saying that Sheff could be activated during this homestand.

Finally, Philip Hughes, Tyler Clippard and J. Brent Cox, the three double-A pitchers who many hope will form the core of the Yankee pitching staff of the future along with Chien-Ming Wang, were in uniform in the Bronx for last night's game. The three will not be added to the active roster (only Hughes is on the Yankees' 40-man), but the Yankees wanted to give them all a taste of the big leagues as Hughes and Cox especially could find themselves a part of the big league roster next year.

Comments (113)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-09-13 00:15:41
1.   joejoejoe
Headline 'A King Kong performance for Abreu as Godzilla returns to Yankees'.

I can only imagine what it's like to face this lineup.

CF Damon - L
SS Jeter - R
RF Abreu - L
3B A-Rod - R
1B Giambi/Sheffield - L/R
DH Giambi/Matsui/Sheffield - L/L/R
C Posada - S
2B Cano - L
LF Cabrera - S

PH Giambi/Sheffield/Matsui/Bernie - L/R/L/S

Has any team in recent memory had that many good left-handed bats in one lineup? And the pinch hitting options make you drool. This kind of flexibility and bench are killer in World Series games in the National League ballparks. Remember Braves manager Bobby Cox complaining that the Yankees had Wade Boggs as available as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning of Game 4 in Atlanta? And you still have to deal with Aaron Guiel!

2006-09-13 02:14:24
2.   mikeplugh
1 That lineup should be locked up and never shown the light of day. I fear that if we should put it on the field it may wield enough power to raise the dead, and we'd be knee deep in zombies.....something like all of New England at this point in the 2006 season.
2006-09-13 03:25:40
3.   randym77
"I went to a boxing match last night and a baseball game broke out..."

The Royals Rumble is the top sports story on CNN this morning. Hernandez insists nothing happened, even though the fisticuffs have been repeatedly shown on TV.

2006-09-13 05:01:16
4.   jayd
Reminded of this when I was looking at the yankee blog waswatching this morning:

Former New York Yankee owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert once described his perfect day at Yankee Stadium: "It's when the Yankees score eight runs in the first inning and then slowly pull away."

You would think they could id someone (Dotel) who "had nothing" when he was warming up in the bullpen.

2006-09-13 05:20:27
5.   Fred Vincy
Dotel pretty much pitched himself off the playoff roster last night, barring a really electric performance from hereon in or a Bruney injury/collapse. And while I've been as much of a fan of the Dotel signing as anyone, at this point I have to think Joe'll be right to drop him.
2006-09-13 05:24:43
6.   Sliced Bread
Great recap and updates, Cliff.
It's probably too late for Dotel to prove his playoff-worthiness at this point.
Joe has said he plans to bring 11 pitchers into October, and unless Bruney crashes back to earth, and Octavio settles in, Dotel will probably be Karsayed (as you say).
It's unfortunate because if you and Kaat are correct, and Dotel is merely in spring training form, the Yanks would be taking a fresh, powerful, and proven arm for granted.
I have a feeling Dotel just needs innings to prove he's as effective as any Yankees reliever not named Mariano.
Proctor and Villone are starting to give me the Sturtze-Quantrill heebeejeebies.
Farnswacker, nasty as he can be, has struggled in October.

re: the three #5 starters: Wright, Lidle, and Karstens take different approaches toward back of the rotation mediocrity, which makes the pen that more important. Hmmm.

And you're right about Matsui. Those hits weren't Devil Ray gimmes. Godzilla's looking good. With all due respect to Will Carroll, does he have a 2nd opinion this morning?

2006-09-13 05:28:17
7.   Sliced Bread
re: Dotel: 5 said 6 more succinctly.
2006-09-13 05:36:13
8.   Alex Belth
Wham, Bam, the Monster Jam...Nice headline, Cliff.

I liked this from Jack Curry this morning in the Times:

"I hope they don't expect him to get four hits every night," said Mike Mussina, last night's winning pitcher. "That might be a little much." Mussina paused before adding, "Maybe three."

Yo, Sheff will be back. I mean, when that man says he's ready, you know he's going at least give it a go. In another article that I caught this morning, Sheff was asked about the logjam of talent the Yankees will have to contend with, and he said, "That's Joe Torre's problem."

Talk about a good problem to have.

Good Gosh.

2006-09-13 05:39:19
9.   rbj
I think the Dotel signing, for "only" $2 mil, was a reasonable gamble. ISTM that he is not fully recovered. That's not a knock on him, he's not pulling a pavano. Some more rehabbing and maybe work in the AFL or a winter league somewhere and sign him again for next year.
2006-09-13 05:39:47
10.   mikeplugh
This very second, Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out Shinjo swinging to end another complete game shutout (5 hits, 2 walks). 121 pitches, 10 strikeouts. It was his 26th birthday today and he got his 16th win of the season, which is an MLB equivalent of about 19.

The Mets are busy scouting him now, in addition to a bunch of other teams. He's gonna cost someone big. Hope it's Georgie.

2006-09-13 05:45:47
11.   Sliced Bread
10 Diggin' the Hideki samurai stuff over at The Canyon today, as well as your obsessed excitement re: Matsuzuaka. Hope the Yanks are all over him.
2006-09-13 05:48:10
12.   Chyll Will
In honor of SB, I present this morning muffin:

From ESPN:

"It's September and there was some sort of misunderstanding," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "Something was said and both guys are extremely competitive, but they have to have a little more poise. We met and straightened things out."

3 Here's what went down:

Hernandez jogs off the mound and into the dugout. He immediately points at John Buck and starts shouting.

Hernandez: "Hey! YOU got chocolate on my peanut butter!"

Buck: "Oh yeah? Well, YOU got peanut butter on my choc-" WHAP!

Vigorous slapping ensues. Coach pulls Hernandez away from Buck as bench cheers on.

Poldberg: "Get a grip, will ya? We need you to go a couple more innings yet. You know our bullpen is like Reeses Pieces."

Hernandez: "Yeah, I know, it sucks. Let me go clean off my peanut butter..."

Later that inning, Buck and Hernandez chat by the moundside.

Buck: "You know, that whole thing WAS a bit cliche..."

Hernandez: "Yeah, I know..."

Buck: "Tell you what, let's win this and Buddy says we'll get us some sundaes after the game. His treat."

Hernandez: "Friendly's, right?"

Buck: "Sure thing, kid. They got this awesome PBJ..."

Hernandez: "Wow, you mean they make a real ice cream sandwich?"

http://tinyurl.com/h6673

2006-09-13 06:03:53
13.   Simone
I love Hideki Matsui. The guy is a gamer. What an incredible player. The Yankee got so lucky when he signed. Hopefully, Matsuzaka will join the Yankees next season.

mikeplugh, is Japan going wild the morning after of Matsui's heroic return?

2006-09-13 06:12:02
14.   Jim Dean
1 The only thing I'd amend: I don't think Joe would sit Matsui, Giambi, or Shef in favor of Melky. With almost three weeks to play, he'll get comfortable enough with Matsui in LF. Even still you end up with:

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

Now, that's just what I think will happen come playoff time even as I'm not sure it should. But, wow indeed! Then the bench is:

Fasano - C (of course Wilson makes more sense)
Melky
Bernie
Cairo (though Green is a better choice)
and ??? (Wilson, Guiel, Green, Phillips)

The last choice probably comes down to Phillips or Wilson as a late inning replacement for Giambi.

Talk about an embarassment of riches!

The only team that gets me scared is Minny, because of their lefites. And you know the national media would play up the story to no end as a David and Goliath.

2006-09-13 06:27:20
15.   TEX
I posted this at the very end of the last thread, my post season prediction:

I have:

C: Posada
sub: Fasano

1B: Giambi
sub (or vs LHP): Wilson

2B: Cano

SS: Jeter

3B: A-Rod

LF: Matsui

CF: Damon

RF: Abreu

OF Subs: Melky, Bernie

INF Sub: Cairo

DH: Sheff

PR/UT: Guiel or Phillips

Pitchers:
Unit
Wang
Moose
Wright or Lidle or Karstens or (ha) Pavano
Mo
Proctor
Farns
Myers
Villone
Bruney

25 men. Pretty intimidating.

No Dotel, no 5th starter/mop-up long man, but overall a pretty flexible and powerful line-up.

As suggested by another reader, the PR/UT spot might be dropped in favor of another 5th starter, especially with the flexibility of Wilson and Cairo.

As much as I hate to say it Guiel might be more useful than bernie, but that would NEVER happen.

Lineup:
Damon CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
A-Rod 3B
Giambi 1B
Sheff DH
Matsui LF
Posada C
Cano 2B

2006-09-13 06:33:54
16.   mikeplugh
13 Japan is very excited. I had a teacher ask me in the middle of class if I knew about Matsui today. I gave him that look like, "Please. I'm sure I knew before you, man."

He asked me how I knew, in front of the students and I said, "I saw it on the internet." He jokingly said that the school has a strict policy about using the internet for non-school things (I'm sure there probably is a policy).

I told him it was current event research. ;)

2006-09-13 06:34:55
17.   mikeplugh
15 I doubt Torre will put Matsui in the outfield, even in the post-season. The Yanks invested 3 more years in him after 2006, and the big wigs are being super careful to protect that wrist.
2006-09-13 06:36:21
18.   Bama Yankee
12 Funny stuff, Chyll.
2006-09-13 06:40:08
19.   mikeplugh
11 Thanks Sliced.

I went from being a fan of Matsuzaka to being a complete fanatic as I watched him more closely. What I thought was a strong pitching candidate for the Yankees, has turned into a categorical imperative! We must acquire him.

2006-09-13 06:47:23
20.   Jim Dean
Waswatching had a link to an great interview with young Philip:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/262427.html

The money quote:

BA: How close do you feel you are to being ready for the big leagues?

PH: "I think it's just a matter of innings and gaining more experience. I'm young and have time to mature, but I also think I could handle if it they called me up now. Whenever it happens, I'm looking forward to my debut."

Ah....if only....

2006-09-13 06:48:23
21.   Javi Javi
12 Well Done!! An here I thought it was the Tastes Great/Less filling debate.
2006-09-13 06:49:09
22.   rsmith51
Cliff,

I am surprised that you didn't mention Jeter's hitting streak coming to a unusual end. It is usually not ended by managers.

2006-09-13 06:50:11
23.   JL25and3
14 I'd be very surprised if Joe didn't continue to play Melky.
2006-09-13 06:51:50
24.   Javi Javi
22 Since Jeter did not have an official at bat, the streak has not ended.
2006-09-13 06:57:30
25.   rsmith51
24 Really? I didn't know that.
2006-09-13 07:02:15
26.   Chyll Will
21 It could've also gone like this:

Hernandez: "YOUR team, YOUR Town!"

Buck: "No, YOUR team, YOUR Tow-" WHAP!

2006-09-13 07:09:28
27.   Jim Dean
17 I hope you're right. But I bet he tries it within the next week.

And the more I think about it the more I may actually like it, but really it comes down to Shef and if he's ready.

If so, then the possibilities are endless. That flexibility is a good thing - I think Joe will try to see if he has it. Whereas if Matsui is only a DH that clogs things up much more.

Same deal with Shef. If he can hit, he can DH. If can hit and play 1B, he's that much more valuable. And even against LHP, Shef could move to RF, and Bobby could come off the bench.

2006-09-13 07:11:15
28.   mikeplugh
27 The only thing about that Jim, is that I don't think Matsui has been cleared by doctors to play the field. I think it's still kind of a precautionary thing that he DHs. Unless, team doctors reverse their earlier opinion.
2006-09-13 07:15:17
29.   Cliff Corcoran
No one's mentioned this, but what about keeping Matsui at DH and putting Sheff in left? They have an investment in Matsui they need to protect, not true of Sheffield, who also has a far superior throwing arm.
2006-09-13 07:28:48
30.   Sliced Bread
29 That's possible. Man, these '06 Yanks could be shaping up to be as flexible as the Cirque du Soleil troupe - with better pitching.
2006-09-13 07:44:34
31.   Bama Yankee
30 Couldn't you see Johnny Damon juggling a half dozen baseballs while standing on top of Sal Fasano doing a back bend? Could this be how Carl Pavano really got injured?
2006-09-13 07:47:32
32.   Sliced Bread
31 Pavano once dislocated his jaw trying to pronounce soleil.
2006-09-13 07:51:07
33.   Zack
I am really ahppy that they brought up the Three AA kids, I think it will be a very good experience. I wasn't one of the one advocating for Hughes to pitch in the bigs this year, and think he will need, oh, say, two months to be ready next year, but just hanging out in the stadium has got to be a great experience and calm the nerves a bit. And it does kind of make them look like our "big 3" of the future, huh?
2006-09-13 07:59:55
34.   Chyll Will
33 It's almost like being a kid all over again just thinking about it.
2006-09-13 08:01:14
35.   Chyll Will
32 Stoopid funny >;)
2006-09-13 08:09:35
36.   rbj
32 LOL. In fact, I laughed so hard, Pavano got injured again.
2006-09-13 08:13:05
37.   Javi Javi
25 Really. According to some arcane baseball rule. I am amzed that there is a rule governing hitting streaks. Here is the Daily News article:

http://tinyurl.com/ht6h2

I love it that Bernie thanked Torre for taking Jeter out, thereby preserving the tie. Funny stuff.

2006-09-13 08:26:52
38.   pistolpete
36 HA!!

37 Your link doesn't work.

2006-09-13 08:27:17
39.   Sliced Bread
Does anybody know if Joe D. benefitted from that hitting streak rule? Was it in place at the time?
2006-09-13 08:32:02
40.   yankz
39 IIRC, DiMaggio told somebody that he didn't, and it wasn't.
2006-09-13 08:36:54
41.   Javi Javi
38 Works for me. Tiny URL is being increasingly blocked by corporate filters. If you are at work, that might be the reason. You can just go to the daily news website:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/story/452026p-380437c.html

2006-09-13 08:39:04
42.   RIYank
I think something's wrong with the nydailynews.com site itself, not with tinyurl.
2006-09-13 08:43:20
43.   standuptriple
Excellent start last night. I love it when the Yanks have a 5 spot before I even walk in my door. Amazing return for Matsui. In fact, I wrote a celebratory haiku:

Best record in league
Magic number down to nine
Just waiting for Sheff

Saw on Deadspin that Bobby A. was avenging Steve Irwin's death. I love that kind of twisted humor.

2006-09-13 08:47:44
44.   Schteeve
The Yankees look like an absolute freight train right now. Let's just hope that the return of Matsui and Sheff don't disrupt some cosmic "chemistry."
2006-09-13 08:53:34
45.   standuptriple
44 I have no worries about Matsui disrupting anything. Sheff seems to have bought into the Jeter-Approved team-first philosophy too.
2006-09-13 09:07:09
46.   murphy
stoked to hear Hughes got to hang out. when i read that bat boy book alex suggested last year around this time, one of the things that struck me was the author talking about minor leaguers hanging out (jeter in particular) during the september prior to their big break.
2006-09-13 09:07:35
47.   Sliced Bread
40 Thanks
2006-09-13 09:10:51
48.   pistolpete
42 Yup, it's saying it can't find the nydailynews server. Not Javi's fault.

What I get:

"Safari can't open the page "http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/story/452026p-380437c.html" because it can't find the server "www.nydailynews.com".

2006-09-13 09:12:44
49.   JL25and3
37 One slight correction. A sac fly ends the streak even though there's no official at-bat. The rule's at the bottom of the page here: http://tinyurl.com/2llnm
2006-09-13 09:23:33
50.   pistolpete
49 Yeah, Singleton mentioned that last night I believe.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-09-13 10:05:06
51.   Sliced Bread
I got nuthin'. Just tired of seeing us stuck on #50 for an hour. No offense 50
2006-09-13 10:08:29
52.   yankz
The more mainstream news I read, the less I like Jeter's chances of being the MVP.
2006-09-13 10:11:48
53.   Count Zero
44 Sheff will remain silent as long as the Yankees are playing in '06. Since Cashman will almost certainly decline his option for '07, Sheff needs to be on his best behavior to make sure he has a nice paycheck somewhere come Spring. This will be the most team-oriented he has ever been in his whole career. :-)

Gary almost never raises his hands above his shoulders to catch a ball since the shoulder problems started. Watch him in the outfield -- he catches everything chest high off to the side of his body whenever possible. His shoulders are getting as bad as Bernie's. He plays more than ten at 1B and I guarantee you he will get hurt -- if it isn't his shoulder, it'll be a hammy from stretching.

I sincerely hope he helps us in the playoffs -- but no way I would bring him back for next year unless it was strictly as a DH.

2006-09-13 10:13:32
54.   rsmith51
52 Kind of like last year with the Cy Young. If they weren't going to pick the best pitcher(Santana), I was hoping they were going to pick my guy(Rivera). Instead they were overwhelmed with wins.

I think Dye gets it due to HR and RBIs. And I think he would be a fine selection. Jeter comes in 2nd, followed by the Minnesota triumvirate(sp?).

2006-09-13 10:15:04
55.   rsmith51
I think I like the idea of Sheff playing LF as long as he has some range. The late inning replacements may get frustrating as Torre may turn into Ozzie Guillen.
2006-09-13 10:23:22
56.   weeping for brunnhilde
I gotta say, the last thing I want to see is a lineup that includes Shef as a regular player along with the others. I'm of the strong opinion that the team is performing so well because of its balance. Adding a home run hitter into the middle of the line up where none is needed would in my opinion be a terrible decision.

Because in all honesty, I feel more comfortable with Melky up in a big spot than Shef. I like his ability to go up the middle and put the ball in play when all that's needed is a base hit.

The team's perfect as it is. I want to see Matsui in there, of course, preferably as DH, but I think Shef's greatest value right now is as a pinch-hitter.

Plus, I have affection for Melky and I think he deserves to see him see this season through, for better or for worse.

If he starts seriously slumping, then sure, insert Shef as appropriate, but don't put him in there just 'cause he's Shef.

2006-09-13 10:29:51
57.   markp
If the choice is between a guy with a 950 OPS and a guy with a 760 OPS, I'll take the former. The Sheffield hating is really wierd. He's one of the best hitters in MLB and loves being a Yankee.
2006-09-13 10:30:48
58.   rbj
I'm fine with an OF of Matsui, Damon, Abreu with Melky as 4th OF/LIDR. I can see that working for 2-3 years. Problem is that Giambi is going to be in NY for a while (not that I'm saying Giambi is a problem) and he's probably more of a DH than a 1B now. But do you replace a 35 y.o. defensively challenged slugger with a 38 y.o. never-played-the-position slugger? Especially when Wang's on the mound Yanks will need a slick fielding 1Bman.

This PS's bench is going to be sick, in a good sense. (It's either going to be Matsui, Sheff, Abreu or Giambi sitting there, licking his chops.)

2006-09-13 10:35:25
59.   yanklifer
56 You took the words right out of my mouth. Well said
2006-09-13 10:36:41
60.   weeping for brunnhilde
57 Understand, markp, that's your prerogative.

I don't hate Shef, I'm just not inspired by him. There's a difference.

I have feelings for Melky and when I watch a baseball game I'm much more invested in the outcome of the game when I'm actually rooting for the players rather than just their bats.

What can I say, I prefer watching Melky to Shef. I prefer his style of hitting.

Plus, I really do think that overstacking the line-up with power hitters can backfire in the postseason against superior pitching.

Whatever, it's just my opinion.

Or perhaps I can put it to you another way:

If you could right now replace this whole Yankee team, position by position, with the best OPS men in the major leagues, would you do it?

I wouldn't because for me there's more to a baseball team than the stats. There's the relationship you have with the players as individuals, and that relationship is obviously highly subjective.

I just happen to think the team is perfect as it is and enjoy watching it as it is--Melky's a big part of that for me.

If you'd rather see Shef, fine, godspeed to you.

2006-09-13 10:44:00
61.   weeping for brunnhilde
Plus, I think having a power hitter able to pinch hit (a la Strawberry) is more valuable than having a guy like Melky serve the same role.

Because the spectre of Sheffield in the dugout is liable to effect how the opposing manager uses his pen. In other words, he could influence the course of the game through presence alone, without even being used, sort of how Mo does.

Is this fair to say?

2006-09-13 10:47:44
62.   Count Zero
57 I don't hate Sheff - I don't love him, but I don't hate him. I'm looking at him empirically -- watch him play in the field and you will see what I'm talking about. He goes totally out of his way to NOT raise his hands above his shoulders. He is doing it for a reason...if you can't see that...(shrug).

Why would I pay 13 million for an unnecessary OFer who looks like he's about to break down? Why would I pay 13 million for a 38 year old DH who just spent nearly an entire season on the DL with a very dangerous (career-wise) wrist injury? It's not a LOVE/HATE thing -- it's baseball common sense.

2006-09-13 10:55:08
63.   yanklifer
FYI Liriano left the twins game in the third with an injury
2006-09-13 10:55:45
64.   weeping for brunnhilde
Here's a stat that might be helpful, but that we don't have: Ability to hit pitcher's pitches.

I notice, for instance, when we play California, a lot of their success comes from the ability to slap pitcher's pitchers for singles. These are pitches that can get out a guy like Shef and presumably you see more such quality pitches in the postseason.

A guy like Melky seems, as far as I have observed him, to handle these pitches pretty well. No, he won't hit them over the fence, but he'll always have a decent chance of getting a clean single.

Isn't this a valuable skill to have in the postseason?

2006-09-13 10:56:43
65.   JL25and3
57 I'm the one who loathes Sheffield. Never wanted him on my team, can't wait till he's gone, don't care how well he hits. As to why - you don't want to get me started.
2006-09-13 11:07:02
66.   jonnystrongleg
Liriano came out after a pitch to Bobby Kielty in the third. If there is even a hint of a problem, I can't see the Twins using him again this year.
2006-09-13 11:10:23
67.   jonnystrongleg
I love Sheff, but I think the Yanks would be well served to play Melky in LF for the remainder of the year. He is the only one who can handle the position defensively and it's highly unlikely that either Sheff or Matsui will be 100% this year. If both Sheffield and Matsui were full strength, it would be another debate, but I really don't think it will come to that.
2006-09-13 11:14:23
68.   TEX
btw, anyone with a season plan looking to sell 2 tix for ALDS home game #2?

I'm coming home to NY for a few days and will be able to go to that game (first all year). And I'm willing to compensate as generously as a student can...

2006-09-13 11:15:02
69.   Sliced Bread
I imagine Joe will actively juggle/platoon as he did with left field and 3rd base in the 2000 Series.

He used 3 left fielders in Game 1: Bellinger, Justice, Hill and swapped Bellinger and Justice mid-game throughout the Series.

Brosius and Sojo split time at 3rd throughout the Series.

Obviously, the platoon won't take place at 3rd, but at 1st this year, while DH, left and right field will be shared as well.

This, of course, is all providing Sheffield, who has yet to step to the plate, comes back swinging like the monster he was.

2006-09-13 11:23:02
70.   Sliced Bread
In other words, as long as the Yanks keep winning next month, there will be plenty of at-bats, innings, and situations to keep everybody busy.
2006-09-13 11:32:02
71.   jonnystrongleg
Very likely to face the best left hander (make that best pitcher - either handed) in baseball, Johan Santana, in game one of the ALDS. You need LF, a RF, a DH and 1B out of these 7 players: Abreu (L), Giambi (L), Bernie (S), Melky (S), Sheffield (R), Matsui (L), Wilson (R).

I would go Abreu RF, Giambi 1B, Melky LF and Bernie DH. Matsui to pinch hit for Bernie as soon as Santana is out.

Unless Sheffield has proven to be 100%, or Matsui is just crushing lefties over these last 20 games. Otherwise, I don't think they'll be able to handle Santana at less than full power (not to mention don't want to take a chance on the surgically repaired wrists checking their swings on the changeup).

Who would you like to see?

2006-09-13 11:33:54
72.   seamus
what a bummer for liriano. This cannot be good.
2006-09-13 11:39:32
73.   Sliced Bread
71 Sounds about right to me. Who's your Game 1 starter if it's home/road?

I think I might go with Wang in 1 at home. And if it's Wang, does Giambi play first?

2006-09-13 11:45:50
74.   jonnystrongleg
73 I'm banking on home. And I would have no problem with Wang at home in game 1, also no problem with Moose at home in game 1.

Giambi at first base means to me: No DPs started by the 1B, and no 3-2's, 1B to C to pick off a run. Little range, but otherwise good hands on short hops. Could factor into a low-scoring Wang-Santana match-up, definitely.

My gut is Giambi at first, but I would listen. I guess Giambi DH's, no Bernie and Wilson at first in the other case?

2006-09-13 11:47:46
75.   mehmattski
Long post alert.... Hmm. I've been watching the Sheffield debate wondering if I can add anything to the discussion. Cliff's Shef in Left suggestion originally intrigued me, and historically Shef's RF/LF rate stats aren't different. Of course, YS's left field is traditionally considered the more difficult corner position.

I am in the camp that does not consider Gary Sheffield a scourge on the face of Yankees history. Not once have I seen him make a comment, as a Yankee, that instills in me the sense of selfishness that other people find in him. As someone else said, he truly enjoys being a Yankee, and the only controversial statements I can think of are those where he didn't want to be traded from the team he loved. I understand that he has rubbed some posters here the wrong way, and that's fine. But I have enjoyed seeing Gary Sheffield swing his bat in the Yankee lineup.

On benching Melky: he can handle it, he's proven that he's a big boy. He shows promise as a young outfielder; I hope he can continue to improve. But his lack of identification as a standout prospect always gives me doubt-- just because he's a fan favorite does not mean he is the best player to put on the field. Exhibit A: Bernie Williams. Many of the people on here have debated about how to put the best possible team on the field. Offensively, few can deny that a healthy Gary Sheffield is worth nearly a run a game more than 22 year old Melky Cabrera.

60As for the all-OPS team... here's the 2006 OPS all-stars, with current ages and salaries. Please tell me which ones you wouldn't want on your team:
C: Joe Mauer .996 (23, $400,000)
1B: Albert Pujols 1.102 (26, $14 mil)
2B: Ray Durham .911 (34, $7 mil)
3B: Miguel Cabrera 1.012 (23, $472,000)
SS: Derek Jeter .952 (32, $20.6 mil)
LF: Manny Ramirez 1.048 (34, $18.3 mil)
CF: Carlos Beltran 1.005 (29, $13.6 mil)
RF: Jermaine Dye 1.026 (32, $5 mil)
DH: Travis Halfner 1.097 (29 $2.7 mil)
Total: $82.1 mil (2006 Yanks: $118 mil)

Okay, I'll spot ya Ray Durham and substitute Chase Utley (.899, 27, $500,000). Yeah, I'm sure the team chemistry in that clubhouse would be soooo awful that the team wouldn't score 1200 runs. And I'm sure you'd have trouble rooting for them as they won 120 games.

2006-09-13 11:54:07
76.   markp
mehmattski excellent post.
2006-09-13 11:55:58
77.   jonnystrongleg
75 The OPS all stars would be a tough lineup. Hope they have some understanding pitchers, or Beltran pulls a Kelly Leek, cuz otherwise, they wouldn't catch too many ball on defense.

I think the spirit of 60 was that he wouldn't want to replace a guy he's been in the trenches with all year for an OPS bump from a stranger. More or less, I agree, but Sheffield is no stranger. He's been in the trenches for 2 years and is fighting to get back and help out again this year. I don't think Melky deserves to be displaced for a number, but Sheffield is more than a number.

That being said, left field on Yankee Stadium is a tough position. Not a place I want to experiment in the Post Season with Gary Sheffield.

2006-09-13 12:01:45
78.   weeping for brunnhilde
75 If I were playing a computer baseball game, sure, I'd take 'em all.

But as I said above, there's a lot more to rooting for a baseball team to me than just getting "the best players." Call me old-fashioned, but I like a team with some sense of continuity, character, individuality.

I enjoy forming relationships with specific players and I enjoy the dilemmas that crop up with players like Bernie. It's what keeps the game human for me.

If tomorrow you were to put all those players you listed into pinstripes and throw them on the field, I'd lose all interest in the Yankees per se.

Very few if any of the old Yankees were the best at their positions in terms of numbers. Bernie, Jeter, Tino, Brosius, Knoblauch.

That's why it was so thrilling to see them win.

I'd much rather see a guy like Brosius step it up in the postseason than see a guy like Sheffield perform as expected.

But again, that's just me. Much of my love of baseball is mystical and emotional.

Winning's great, but under some circumstances I'd rather lose with a team whose players I cared about than win with one I didn't.

Is this really so bizarre?

2006-09-13 12:02:00
79.   Max
75 Nice job, mehmattski. We really don't know what we're going to be getting from Matsui or Sheffield, even though they've progressed very nicely from a health perspective. I love Melky myself, and want him to be a huge part of an outstanding playoff run from the Yanks, but I'm not sentimental enough to prefer him over Sheff for a crucial at-bat if the guy is truly back to 90 or 100 percent. I don't think Torre is either.

And if a big part of the pitcher-batter matchup is psychological, then there is no question what Sheffield brings to the table. Melky's still going to be overpowered by superior pitching...Sheffield will stand right up to it if he's anywhere near what he used to be.

But I'm going on historical performance here...let's see how the guy does once he starts seeing major league pitching again.

2006-09-13 12:10:34
80.   weeping for brunnhilde
77 Thanks. You've expressed it far more concisely than I.

And you're right, Sheffield is no stranger, which is why I'd even have this conversation.

But, relative to Melky, he is a stranger in the sense that watching Melky all year has excited me a lot more than watching Sheffield ever did.

When Sheffield came over he was a known quantity and for me, personally, known quantities simply aren't as compelling as unknown ones.

I don't know what kind of potential Mattingly had when he came up I was only 11 in his first full season so wasn't too engaged with the scouting reports and whatnot.

But I do know that suddenly here was this guy who had played some in '83, and played well, but then in '84 he set the league on fire.

To me, it was most unexpected and that's what made him such a mythic figure, at least in my mind.

Yes, of course, known quantities can be good and are often necessary, but I don't like when my team is dominated by such people siphoned off from the rest of the league. Frankly, I find it boring and contrived.

It's not about Sheffield per se, it's just about not wanting to tamper with success and wanting to watch a more balanced team than a less balanced one.

And as I say, I like watching Melky hit. I enjoy his approach to the game and look forward to his at-bats.

Sheffield's swing is thrilling, of course, but that's about it. I'm much more interested in watching a hitter like Melky, but that's just a matter of taste.

2006-09-13 12:17:55
81.   weeping for brunnhilde
79 You may be right, of course. I'm not sure who I'd rather have up in a critical at-bat. I'm not really that sentimental either.

Back in 2001, remember the postseason? Remember how Justice was just horrific at the plate?

Well, he'd been one of my favorite players from 2000 and I remember being furious, just furious with Joe for trotting him out there in very meaningful games when it was clear he had no chance in hell of hitting the baseball.

So no, I'm not that sentimental.

But in the case of Melky, it's interesting, because I'm not sure he'd be that much more vulnerable to superior pitching than Sheff. Maybe, but I'm not sure.

So much of that just depends on who's swinging better at any given time. My argument is simply to not replace Melky with Sheff just as a matter of course, but to make him earn it.

And maybe I'm seeing different at-bats than you, but I don't have that much more confidence with Sheff against superior pitching.

I don't know, that walk that Melky drew in what, his first game? Remember? At the Stadium against Shilling in the late innings?

That at-bat showed me so, so much about this kid.

And Sheff can be a little wild with that swing and start chasing sometimes whereas I think Melky might chase a bit less and make contact a bit more.

This is how my memory serves, anyway. Maybe I'm inventing.

Cheers.

2006-09-13 12:18:09
82.   Sliced Bread
79 You're right that Melky will usually be overpowered by the top guns at this point, but let's not forget he's batting 1.000 against Papelbon (1 at bat!) and owned Lackey as I recall. Kid can hit and play the field. If/When he doesnt start, he'll be the best bench player Joe has had in years.
2006-09-13 12:23:27
83.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ok, I think I got it.

I think Sheff would obviously be less vulnerable to a superior fastball than Melky, but as to breaking stuff?

Or superior pitching that's based on location rather than power?

Sheffield's a dead-pull hitter which means you make the slightest mistake and he'll hit it into the parking lot, but as to quality pitches made on the edges and up and down?

I don't know, I think Melky's got better bat control for those kind of pitches, though sure, he'll swing through the high heat.

Does this sound plausible?

2006-09-13 12:34:35
84.   Sliced Bread
83 It sounds like the kind of decision Joe gets paid $6 mill per to make.

Let's see how Matsui comes along, and what Sheff is cookin', before filling Mr. Torre's October suggestion box.

For what it's worth, you present a great case for Melky.

2006-09-13 12:36:17
85.   rsmith51
So play Sheff against a good fastball pitcher and Melky otherwise? Of course Sheff can hit junk a mile too.

I am glad I don't have to make this decision.

2006-09-13 12:36:25
86.   JL25and3
80 When Mattingly came up, he was an OF-1b who was expected to hit for a good average without much power - a Mark Grace type.
2006-09-13 12:40:05
87.   Sliced Bread
What I was trying to say in 69 is that Joe has effectively platooned in the postseason, the 2000 World Series being the most recent example I could think of.
He has superior talent to juggle this year.
2006-09-13 12:41:31
88.   weeping for brunnhilde
84 Thanks. :)

Indeed, all this is contingent on how the respective players are actually performing in the batter's box when the time comes to fill out the line-up cards in October.

If Melky does go into some horrific funk come October, no, I don't want him in there.

Oh, and speaking of funks, I've been meaning to point this out for awhile.

Has anyone noticed just how damned consistent CAno's been?

He came back hitting around .328 and for weeks and weeks his average hovered between that and like .332. He's just pulled away an these last days, and last I saw was up around .338.

But to have your average hover within a five point spread over such a long period is just remarkable.

All the more so when you consider that he does on occasion take ridiculous swings, grounding outside pitches weakly to second base.

But for whatever reason, he's managed to see to it that those swings are the aberration, as if it only takes him one or two at-bats to remember that that's not how he's supposed to be hitting.

2006-09-13 12:41:38
89.   mehmattski
83, etc... I absolutely agree 100% that Sheffield has to earn his lineup, and postseason roster spot. Torre could use scouting reports on various pitchers much like you suggest, playing various OF/1B/DH combinations based on which player matches up better with which pitcher. And I don't mean in the small sample size sense (woo, alliteration!), I mean how you describe: will Shef be neutralized by Santana's deadly circle change? Does Sheff have a better chance against Bobby Jenks? That sort of thing.

In general, I agree with you about the mystique of baseball and on rooting for favorite players. I don't like the idea of signing the best players regardless of age or price. The Tampa-faction of the Yankees front office had been using that strategy- I guess what I was trying to show with my all-OPS list was that you can get elite talent for cheap. I hope that Melky, Cano, and Wang are joined by other young players who I can root for in years to come. If these players come up through the Yankees system, like your favorites (and mine) Jeter, Bernie, Mo... or through free agency and trade like Tino, Brosius, Knobby. I agree that team building should follow the mid-90s approach and not the early 00s approach.

All of that said, I simply agree with the notion in the beginning of this thread.... oh to have these problems is joyous indeed! What a fearful lineup to behold, even without Sheffield. I'm excited for the playoffs.

2006-09-13 12:45:03
90.   Sliced Bread
as others have noted: great stuff, mehmattski.
2006-09-13 12:49:56
91.   weeping for brunnhilde
89 Hear, hear. Very well said. :)
2006-09-13 13:05:26
92.   JL25and3
75 I've been trying to resist, but I can't help myself. For everyone's sake, I'll try to keep it short.

First: "I know who the leader is on the team. I ain't going to say who it is, but I know who it is. I know who the team feeds off. I know who the opposing team comes in knowing they have to defend to stop the Yankees. I know this. The people don't know. Why? The media don't want them to know. They want to promote two players in a positive light, and everyone else is garbage."

Second: Sheffield never said that he didn't want to be traded because he loved being a Yankee. He felt he'd made financial concessions by deferring some salary, and he'd demand big money if he got traded. ''I'll ask for everything. Everything. You're going to inconvenience me, I'm going to inconvenience every situation there is.'' And he didn't just say he didn't want a trade, he said he'd undermine any team who dared to trade for him.

Third: his past behavior was so reprehensible - strictly in baseball terms - that he needs to make some sort of amends. The fact that he hasn't chosen to undermine the Yankees - though reserving the right to do so - is irrelevant.

To me, at least. Vox clamantis in deserto.

2006-09-13 13:12:13
93.   Max
92 "Third: his past behavior was so reprehensible - strictly in baseball terms - that he needs to make some sort of amends."

Uh, no, not least of all for "fans" like you.

2006-09-13 13:19:16
94.   JL25and3
93 Not to me. To the game.
2006-09-13 13:23:15
95.   JL25and3
93 And please, don't try to pass judgment on my fandom. You can disagree with my opinion, but my passion for the Yankees is, um, reasonably well-established.
2006-09-13 13:25:09
96.   3rd gen yankee fan
16 Met a Japanese client today for the first time and the first thing we started talking about was our boy Godzilla. He didn't realize that he was back in the game yesterday and asked how he did. "You know he's a big star in Japan?" "Yes yes, I know." :-)
2006-09-13 13:27:39
97.   Bama Yankee
I'm not sure how this year's ALDS roster will shake out but compared to last year's roster it looks like an upgrade:
Wilson or Phillips instead of Tino
Guiel or Sheff instead of Bubba
Damon instead of Bernie
Bernie instead of Ruben
Abreu instead of Sheff
Melky instead of Womack
Cairo instead of Bellhorn
Fasano instead of Flaherty
2006-09-13 13:28:42
98.   David
Mauer was 0 for 1 (as a pinch hitter) in the Twins' 1 to 0 loss today. Mauer's batting average is .348.
2006-09-13 13:30:47
99.   JL25and3
97] Nicely catalogued. That's one hell of an upgrade.
2006-09-13 13:33:26
100.   mehmattski
"I'll throw my darts and shoot my arrows at the world. But where there is a righteous man, no arrow strikes."

I don't want to get into a specific argument about Gary Sheffield, but I want to try and douse the flame war before it gets too bad. I suppose we all have a couple of players that we absolutely detest and would have trouble rooting for. Actually, I was going to try and come up with an example, but I can't really think of one. Bonds, maybe. As I said on another thread recently, if the Jets signed TO, for example... I'd root for him. If the Nets signed Ron Artest... I'd root for him. If the Yankees signed Milton Bradley... I'd root for him.

One of the most important lessons I've learned while reading this blog is that there are many more types of fans out there than I had previously imagined. Sure, I knew there were bandwagon-type Yankees fans, and some female fans who only knew Derek Jeter (not all female fans are like this, of course). Most specifically, I have learned that there are fans who do not root for the whole of the team, in the sense that every individual player is a part of that whole. The A-Rod bashing this year has made this blatantly obvious- some people just don't like a certain player, and will do everything they can to knock that player down a peg, even if they happen to play for a favorite team.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's great that there are all these types of fans... stat-heads like myself, mystique-loving fans like "weeping," people who root for (or against) individuals. And I think we can all admit to having parts of the other categories in us as well.

I just want to make sure all us children get along... Father Cliff is watching.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-09-13 13:47:59
101.   JL25and3
Generally, I'm willing to give anyone a chance as a Yankee. Hell, I still have hope for Carl Pavano. And it's not a question of personality - if it were mere arrogance, I'd have no problem accepting him, or anyone.

For me, the best analogy is Pete Rose.

2006-09-13 13:49:57
102.   Bama Yankee
100 Well said mehmattski. Don't forget those fans (like me) who pull for players (like Andy Phillips) because we went to the same university ;-)

For the record, JL25and3's dislike of Sheffield is well documented on this board and IIRC it goes back to Sheff's early days with the Brewers. I for one, admire the fact that JL25and3 has stuck to his feelings about Sheff (whether I agree with him or not) even after he became a Yankee. Being a Cowboy fan I have even started rooting for TO this year (never thought I could do that) so I have no room to talk. BTW, I also thought I could never root for Wade Boggs or Johnny Damon when they became Yankees. But once they put on the pinstripes I changed my tune. I guess I just root for the cloth and not the man, but I surely don't begrudge those who stick to their guns on principle.

2006-09-13 13:58:07
103.   bobtaco
100 "Actually, I was going to try and come up with an example, but I can't really think of one. Bonds, maybe."

How about Schilling?

2006-09-13 13:59:20
104.   mehmattski
I've gotten "well said"s on 3 consecutive posts... I think I should quit this thread while I'm on a roll. Onto the game thread, where I return to choppy, silly comments!
2006-09-13 14:01:30
105.   Bama Yankee
Sorry JL25and3, I posted 102 before I got to read your 101. I think I understand your point and I'm still with you.
2006-09-13 14:03:38
106.   Bama Yankee
104 Well said mehmattski, move on to the game thread ;-) Hey, I had to keep your streak going...
2006-09-13 14:13:18
107.   JL25and3
103, 105 Schilling and Bonds would be tough, but I could do it. Boggs and Damon - where it's strictly a laundry issue - no problem at all.

My apologies for getting testy.

And well said, mehmattski.

2006-09-13 14:21:10
108.   singledd
Random thoughts:
In 1983, Mattingly was less of an offensive threat then Melky is now. I don't think anybody knew what was coming. Donnie MADE himself a great ballplayer.

Until Shef gets 40-50 ABs, to talk about his role is silly.

When talking about ShefSui's offense over Melky, while I agree, you have to consider Melky's superior glove and arm... especially in the PS.

Unless someone is very cold, or very hot, I believe Torre will mix-n-match the lineups.
ShefSui could always pinch-hit and replace Mely in the lineup if more offense is needed.

I watched Sheffield circa 2004 & 2005. Regardless of his past, he has more then earned his stripes. While Mats, Giambi and ARod all had slumps, Shef was very consist... consistantly dangerous.

We are 0 for 5 in the PS the last 5 years. Torre is going to manage to win. Shefs 'history', Melkys feelings, whatever... Torre will field a team to win.
He can deal with overcrowding issues in 2007.

However, as Torre favors veterans, we may see Melky on the bench... it will depend on how ShefSui hits over the next 19 games.

2006-09-13 14:26:11
109.   Simone
I'd be surprised if Sheffield will be able to do more than occasionally DH and PH in the playoffs. Unless Sheffield can turn back the clock 8 to 10 years, I can't see how a man of his age with his injuries can learn to play 1st base even to Giambi's level. Matsui may be able contribute in the playoffs, but it is unlikely that his wrist will allow him to produce fully.
2006-09-13 14:28:40
110.   singledd
Upcoming thoughts:
Bernie wants to play in 2007.
Do we resign him? Or do we watch him play, after 16 years, in another uniform.

Will ARod get to 500 HRs next year?

Shef has 453 HRs. You know he wants 500... which means 2 more years.
He may want to finish his career as a Yankee, and play for a discount... or go to an AL team with a shorter LF.

As a DH, I have no doubt Bonds will hit #756 next year. Will Steinbrenner be able to turn this down?

As far as position players go, aside from a backup catcher, will we need/get anyone in the off-season?

2006-09-13 14:33:30
111.   Max
94 My apologies for getting testy as well. This isn't personal. But who makes the determination of what's best for "the game"?

I don't feel like rehashing arguments about Sheffield as a player and human being. In fact, I have some anecdotal evidence from a colleague who's spent time around him that he may (surprise!) not be the most likeable person.

As fans, it's certainly fun to have opinions and make judgements about a game and players we care so much about. But I get off the bus when the pronouncements become too grandiose. Saying that Gary Sheffield owes something to "the game", on the basis of his behavior as a player and teammate throughout his career, isn't anything I'm willing to get on board with. In fact, it's unbelievably arrogant.

I dislike David Wells for the way he quit on the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2003 series and felt he let his team and coaches down, and there's plenty of evidence to support the supposition that he was not a model teammate. Therefore, I want nothing to do with him, but I don't feel he owes anything to "the game" -- he's just a clown I don't want on my team any more.

There's just so much self-importance from fans in judging players -- I see this most insufferably from people in Boston who invoke God and some higher moral order too frequently in talking about a game and cussing out the Yankees as well as their own players. I'm not opposed to principles, and there are certainly players like Bonds with such a high profile that a moral discussion is almost inevitable. But I've always wondered about suffocating self-righteousness regarding players we really don't know as human beings, and to what degree fans really allow the objects of their affection to be human, to make mistakes, to be forgiven.

2006-09-13 15:15:14
112.   Bama Yankee
"The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. . . . I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I'd say, 'OK, here's a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose.' "

I think a player owes "the game" more than that.

2006-09-13 15:52:53
113.   kdw
112 Wow. That's pretty ugly. And given that it's fans who make professional sports possible, I'd include the Brewers' fans as part of "the game" in this instance.

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