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Cold Yanks Fall Flat
2008-04-30 05:24
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

During the early innings of the game last night, I caught up with an old college buddy. As we chatted on the phone, I became aware that his three-year-old was making a racket in the background--the same irritating noise over and again. When I asked my friend if his kid was okay he said, "He's fine, he just wants attention."

I was reminded of the child's insistent noise-making in the eighth inning of the game. The Yankees were down 6-2, their offense listless again. On the YES broadcast, Michael Kay wondered if the team's brutal schedule--they have had just one day off in April--had something to do with their flat performance. It was brick cold at the Stadium and the fans who remained were the die-hards. As Kay and Al Leiter spoke, I became aware of a loud clanging, a stick knocking on a cowbell out in the bleachers most likely. The banging did not stop all inning as a small group of fans tried to rally the team into action and to keep themselves warm and awake. It felt like the old days, when the Stadium wasn't always packed and small groups of fans felt compelled to announce their presence with authority.

Denny Bautista, a string bean of a relief pitcher for the Tigers with a propensity for wildness was doing his best to help the Yankees out. He walked the bases full and then hit Derek Jeter to force in a run. Jim Leyland looked as if he was ready to strangulate Bautista. The skinny pitcher, who has enormous teeth, thick, full lips, and a weak chin, had completely unraveled. He looked like a schlimiel as he trudged off the mound, his shirt untucked, but like a cat who has just accidentally fallen off the kitchen counter, he tried to maintain a sense of arrogance, making him look even more foolish.

Bobby Abreu grounded out weakly to third to end the inning. The Bombers managed to plate another run in the ninth but then Todd Jones, aggresive and throwing strikes, got his three outs and that was the game. Robinson Cano, who homered--a line drive shot into the right field seats--in his first at bat, whiffed on three pitches to end the game (the last pitch was over his head), in an undisciplined at bat that has become all too common this year. The Yanks left 13 men on base and deserved to lose the game.

Final score. Tigers 6, Yanks 4.

There was more bad news. Phil Hughes pitched poorly and was booed off the mound in the fourth inning. Our old pal Sheff ripped a curveball for a two-run dinger. He is now 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA and the talk is whether or not he should be demoted to Triple A. Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL and while there is no definitive news on Jorge Posada, word is that he might not need surgery after all. The best news on the field last night was another solid relief outing from Ross Olendorf. Off-the-field, the best news came when it was announced that Joba Chamberlain's father returned home from the hospital last week.

Comments (92)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-04-30 06:21:31
1.   tommyl
This was the first game this season that I had to turn it off in the middle. After Hughes was lifted I just couldn't bear to watch anymore. I kept with it on my computer but had to change the channels. Came back to see the 8th and 9th though.

Ugh, couple that with the fact that Barcelona got knocked out by Man U yesterday and it was not a good sports day for me.

2008-04-30 06:22:37
2.   rbj
I missed the Hughes part of the game, just as well. Major attaboy to Olendorf, he kept the Yankees in the game.

What the hell was Abreu swinging at that pitch in the eighth? Low and away? Grr. I always figure on a 1 LOB per inning as a dencent stat. 13 in 9 innings is at least 4 too much, which would result in an 8-6 win rather than a 6-4 loss.

Might be time to send Hughes to SWB to get whatever straightened out, rather than have him lose his confidence. But who comes up, Rasner, Igawa?

2008-04-30 06:26:45
3.   monkeypants
If some sort of Hughes demotion is really on tap, then now could be the perfect time to start moving Joba into the rotation.

That is, if the team can endure not having a designated "eighth inning guy."

2008-04-30 06:34:56
4.   Bob B
If the Yankees had taken Santana for Hughes and Kennedy and used position players to pitch the games Santana didn't pitch they'd be in First place today. Hughes looks utterly lost on the mound. He couldn't wait to give back the lead after the Yankees tied up the game on Cano's home run. Kennedy is even worse. What were Cashman and so many of you guys on this board thinking? First of all, this is an older team with a big payroll designed to win now. Arod, Jeter, Posada, Matsui,Giambi,Damon are all in or entering the downhill years. Pettite will be gone in one more year as will Mussina. Adding Santana would have given us a left handed ace for 5 years to complement Wang. What will we have next year?
2008-04-30 06:40:12
5.   monkeypants
4 No one doubted that Santana would improve the team greatly this year. The question was whether he was worth trading away multiple pitching prospects who might help the team for a longer time.

We'll see if Santana is still an ace in five years when he is 34. If he is, AND if none of the pitchers mentioned in various trade scenarios (Hughes, Wang, Santana, Joba) are toast, AND if the position players mentioned in trade (ie, Melky) are no longer productive, THEN you can come back and crow.

2008-04-30 06:41:38
6.   monkeypants
4 Also, using the phrase "designed to win now" and "Giambi" in the same sentence somewhat undermines the credibility of your argument.
2008-04-30 06:46:49
7.   horace-clarke-era
Part of the problem with Phil is IPK ... by which I mean BOTH are a mess right now and we are (as fans) living through 'careful what you wish for' as many people were noting during the Santana debates. The 'fun' of kids is not a free ticket to the excellence of kids. It can take time AND it can fail to happen. The history of baseball is littered with pitchers of infinite promise to fail to deliver or take 3-4 years to become all right.

I suppose it is worth looking at Melky and remembering that he was gone too in any Santana deal.

I think it is fair, as Alex suggests, to be aware of a brutal schedule as a reason for slack batting, coupled with missing their two best hitters from last year AND being in a hole early on a cold night. It was a bad game, and I'm kind of amazed we actually had the tying run at the plate at the end. Yes, give Dorf credit.

Article on yahoo sports about how the Jays could urgently use Bonds, having no left handed power at all, a dreadful offense ... but they took 'five minutes' to scrap the idea.

I suppose it might be less 'collusion' than chickens coming home to roost for him but it FEELS like collusion if no one offers a lowball heavily incentive laden deal. He could refuse it, but it would erase the idea of colluding wouldn't it? (Or would someone say it was like the Torre 'negotiation' making an offer he has to refuse? "If you accept we will put a horse's head in your bed!")

2008-04-30 06:47:54
8.   tommyl
If Hughes does get sent down, it should not be to AAA but to Tampa and Nardi Contreras. I'm coming around to believe there's something mechanically wrong with him, he's walking too many guys, he's all over the zone and his fastball keeps tailing off to the right like a sliced golf shot. Let Nardi have a look at him, fix him up and then rocket him back up through AA/AAA.
2008-04-30 06:50:14
9.   tommyl
7 This is a team that released Frank Thomas based on less than 100 ABs and to save money on his option next year. The Jays can crow all they want about small market this and that but when you shoot yourself in the foot that much you have no complaint (also see, Morris, Matt and Pirates).
2008-04-30 06:51:00
10.   horace-clarke-era
5 Monkey if you are able to take a 5 year framework and accept rebuilding, missing playoffs, you are unique among Yankeedom.

What you say fits a Billy Beane paradigm, but not this team or town. The Yanks decided they could win NOW with the kids. They might, but your views ignore the reality of the town, team, media, even us. I'm not even sure Oakland can safely say 'wait 5 years then evaluate'...

Look at the panic about being .500, and it isn't yet May. (Last time I get to say THAT! Or maybe once more before end of day!)

2008-04-30 06:52:01
11.   monkeypants
8 Someone on another blog noted that his next start is against Seattle, followed by an off day when his next turn comes around. Maybe he gets one more shot, then he could be skipped the following turn and sent to Tampa.

In the meanwhile (caution: dead horse stinking up the joint), I would plan to "shadow" Hughes with Joba on his next start, as part of Joba's transition to the rotation by mid-May.

2008-04-30 06:55:01
12.   horace-clarke-era
7 Tommy, the 10 million for next year was and is a big deal and an utterly STUPID contract to have given. With that on the table, I can vaguely see a case for doing it early rather than obviously manipulating at-bats to keep him under the 360 or so that would trigger it. THAT would have been toxic.

You can say the idiocy was the contract not the early release, I suppose, given that they do vaguely hope their call-up kid can hit 20-25 hrs. If Thomas were a different person, willing to spot in and out, maybe keep him, but he isn't and wouldn't have been.

It isn't so much small market - they aren't actually, and are at about 100 million this year - it is dealing with a truly dumb deal made.

2008-04-30 06:55:58
13.   horace-clarke-era
11 TWO dead horse references in a morning ... must be yesterday's game!
2008-04-30 06:56:31
14.   monkeypants
10 Maybe I am unique. I was very much looking forward to this year even if things went awry with the kids. Part of me secretly wished the team would have tanked a couple of years ago so they would have broken it up then, rather than function under the intense pressure of filling the holes and winning this season (as all dynasties in any sport seem to want to do).

The success of the late 90s was built on the ashes of the late 80s and early 90s. Now, there is no reason with team's revenue and talent core (A-Rod, Jeter, Posada-when-not-hurt) that rebuilding should have to be as long or as painful as it is for most clubs. But the rebuilding has to come some time, whether with kids or FAs.

I prefer to rebuild with kids, warts and lumps and growing pains and all. I admit that this is an emotional and aesthetic argument, not a rational position.

And indeed, as you say, perhaps I am unique.

2008-04-30 06:57:51
15.   monkeypants
13 : )

I missed yesterday's game and game thread, so I got to get it out of my system! Giddyup!

2008-04-30 06:57:55
16.   Shaun P
4 Given that the Yanks are only 2 games out of first place, I could make about 5 different "Well if the Yanks had done ______" statements that would have them in 1st place right now.

You also forget to mention that acquiring Santana would have meant trading the Yanks' best hitter. Melky leads the team in OPS+ (133), is tied for the team lead in HRs (5 - 3 less than he hit all of last year), and has been great in CF (wonder how things would have went if he, not Damon, was out there last night; I'm thinking of the 1st). As bad as Hughes has been - hey, he's only the youngest pitcher in all of MLB right now - and since we're both dealing with just one month of data, Melky's performance alone means not doing the Santana deal was the right thing.

5 10 I'll take a longterm rebuilding process if there's a real plan and its followed. As long as it isn't like 1988-1991, I will not complain.

2008-04-30 07:05:31
17.   monkeypants
10 " I'm not even sure Oakland can safely say 'wait 5 years then evaluate'..."

My point is that it is impossible to evaluate such a (non)trade in the short term. The absurdity of the Ken Phelps-Jay Buhner trade was not apparent within the first few months of the deal, and indeed Buhner was only a part-time player for another two years before blossoming. That trade was not bad in the summer of 1988, it was bad in 1991.

So it is with the Santana non-trade. We will not know if it is a bad trade for three or four or five years, when all of the various elements involved (Santana, Melky, Hughes, et al) can be evaluated fully. Hell, he's off to a great start, but for all we know Santana could tank this year after throwing 1100 INN over the last four years.

2008-04-30 07:06:10
18.   Murray
There's a very simple reason why the Yankees chose now to "try to win with the kids." The Yankees have at least a two year free pass with respect to on-field performance: (i) they've sold out the ballpark this year, regardless of performance, because it's the last year at the Stadium, and (ii) they'll sell out over the next year or two because of the new building north of 161st St that isn't Yankee Stadium. Ratings on YES will not suffer much under the circumstances.

Thus, if there was ever a time in history when the club could afford to take its lumps while seeing what the kids can do, it's now. Moreover, in a financial environment where fans and businesses might ordinarily restrict discretionary spending on baseball tickets, the Yankees have found a way to generate cash over the next two years without dramatically increasing payroll by adding the likes of Santana. To me, it's a welcome addition to the overall pleasure of watching the Yankees play that they have gotten smarter about the way they run their business.

2008-04-30 07:07:24
19.   Deadhorse
Stuck in Lincoln Tunnel traffic backed up to Secaucus this morning, I observed two pigeons fornicating atop an Exxon sign. A third dirty bird perched close by warned me
problems are a multiplying.

Keep the Yankees struggles in perspective, people, and remember, Kenny Rogers weren't built in a day.

2008-04-30 07:13:51
20.   dianagramr
Not that Hughes has pitched that well during the day games, but apparently he has bad night vision:

http://tinyurl.com/5v3ww9

"Joe Girardi revealed after the Tigers' 6-4 victory over the Yankees that Hughes has some difficulty seeing at night, especially at Yankee Stadium. Hughes and GM Brian Cashman both confirmed the problem, but no one was quick with a remedy.

"At night things get blurry," Hughes said."

2008-04-30 07:18:47
21.   Cliff Corcoran
0 The clanging was Freddy's frying pan.

Also, the guy who relieved Bautista and retired Abreu was lefty Clay Rapada, who came over in the Craig Monroe deal last year. That at-bat was the first time any Yankee has faced him. He's a tall, lean lefty with a viciously deceptive hurky jerky sidearm delivery. Abreu, the Yankee lefty who is least comfortable against lefties, didn't stand a chance.

As for Hughes, Leiter and Flaherty leaned on it in the broadcast, and I strongly agree: he's not using his changeup and slider enough. He's a two-pitch pitcher right now who doesn't have the control or late movement on his fastball that he showed last year and in the minors. If those third and fourth pitches aren't good enough to use, he should go back to the minors to get them to the point that they are and fix whatever's ailing his fastball (mechanics?). If it's just a matter of kicking him in the pants and saying "use your changeup more" then Girardi and Eiland need to do that.

Above all else, however, the fans who booed him are idiots. In fact, given the Stadium fans' treatment of Alex Rodriguez in 2006, LaTroy Hawkins earlier this year, and now Hughes, I think the fans should be farmed out to the minors.

2008-04-30 07:20:20
22.   dianagramr
20

His 2007 #s at night seem fine .... 2008 is another story.

http://www.bb-ref.com/pi/shareit/rUwg

2008-04-30 07:20:56
23.   Murray
22 Anybody know whether Hughes had lasik surgery in the off-season?
2008-04-30 07:30:12
24.   tommyl
21 Couldn't agree with you more on the fans. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago but the average fan at the stadium has no real understanding of the team, or really of baseball. Its just sad. Do they not realize these guys are trying as hard as they possibly can? Do they think Hughes woke up yesterday and said it would be fun to see how many HRs he could give up? You can make all the arguments you want about ticket prices, player salaries etc. but at the end of the day that was a whole smattering of people booing a 21 year old kid and a nice guy trying to honor his hero. Blech.
2008-04-30 07:30:42
25.   tommyl
23 Or borrowed Kyle's glasses? ;) I kid, I kid.
2008-04-30 07:42:49
26.   horace-clarke-era
24 At LEAST Hughes is 21 and wasn't WEARING 21!

18 With respect, I don't think it is ever about filling the seats in Yankee Stadium old or new or YES being vulnerable in any way ... during the George era it was simply unacceptable for the Yankees to rebuild - with no other issues mattering.

They could not do it. Period. It is JUST possible Hank 'n Hal are different but my guess is no, and part of the reason is the media and the idiots in the stands.

Um, with great power comes great responsibility? Something like that. Because expectations are irrational, inflated, and impatience is by now a given. They will NOT lose revenue, nor will they be a sub-.500 team, but just missing the playoffs in the first year Torre is gone, when he NEVER missed ...

Not acceptable in NYC. Alas. Media + fan firestorm. And if Boston, also old, also rejigging wins the east? Picture it.

2008-04-30 07:49:22
27.   Alex Belth
You know, after I posted this, I realized, "hey, that must have been Freddy."

Good lookin.

2008-04-30 07:53:23
28.   tommyl
26 The real question is: does Spiderman have a good curveball?
2008-04-30 08:01:49
29.   Schteeve
I believe Hughes problems are not in his arm, but in his head. I think he's scared of the strike zone. I think he's trying to be perfect.
2008-04-30 08:03:32
30.   horace-clarke-era
29 And THAT is what everyone's saying about IPK, too.

Hmm. Paging Dr Igawa.

2008-04-30 08:04:37
31.   Schteeve
20 He needs more beta carotene in his diet. It's good for the night vision. Either that or a pair of those night vision goggles that the Navy Seals wear??
2008-04-30 08:21:10
32.   Cliff Corcoran
28 No, but he can really pull the string on his changeup . . . literally!
2008-04-30 08:21:51
33.   Zack
21 24 I agree wholeheartedly, though I found myself having to defend such a statement last night on this very site. It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about baseball and really reflects poorly.

But Cliff, I think what you touched on is the fundamental issue with the "does he get farmed out" debate. If its a quality of pitch thing, then he needs to go down and work on them. If its simply a pitch selection/stubbornness, then Eiland needs to take over. At the very least he needs to TRY and throw those pitches, I have yet to see him do it more than 5 or so times a game, and that really doesn't tell you anything.

If its mechanical, than I don't see why eiland can't address the issue and work on it here. If it is so bad that he needs to be reworked, well, can't they figure that out too?

If it is a confidence/learning to pitch thing, as Eiland and Girardi thus far have stuck to, than going down to AAA won't do squat...

2008-04-30 08:25:02
34.   Schteeve
Doesn't all this angst over Hughes, IPK and Igawa, make us appreciate Wang that much more. He's really quietly a very special pitcher.
2008-04-30 08:30:00
35.   tommyl
32 Ha! Great joke Cliff. I can't stop laughing at that one.

Also, his spidy-sense lets him pick up pitches very early, and his super strength allows him to hit it out nearly every time. I think the way forward is clear, sign Spiderman!

2008-04-30 08:32:02
36.   weeping for brunnhilde
32 Ohhh, Cliff.
2008-04-30 08:32:35
37.   weeping for brunnhilde
35 Sign Spiderman!
2008-04-30 08:34:53
38.   tommyl
34 I don't need to appreciate Wang any more than I already do, which is a way of saying I think he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. What I'm most impressed with is his refusal to rest on his laurels. He could just throw the sinker all the time, instead he's learning new pitches, working more things in to make him a more complete pitcher. If his last outing is a sign of the future, then sign me up.

33 I know and I hear you. I tried to help last night but at some point I just couldn't bear to watch anymore. If anyone missed it, the postgame interview with Phil was heartbreaking. The kid manned up, but you can see he's crushed. If its mechanical, and I think at this point it may be (a guy with pinpoint control for 3 years has close to 1:1 K/BB ratio) than Nardi might be in order. Let him work out his delivery and then send him back up, treat it like a rehab assignment. If they think they can fix it then keep him here. Just sending him to AAA will do nothing, he can K everyone there with his curve.

2008-04-30 08:37:10
39.   bp1
Funny how the reaction to Hughes struggling is so much different than the reaction to Igawa struggling last year. I guess some guys we feel are deserving of a chance to prove themselves, and others just need to be tossed aside and ridiculed?

It is hard to watch a good young man like Hughes struggle like that. The Sheffield homer was like a sharp stick in the eye. You just know he was going to sit on one of those curveballs. I called it from the couch.

Ah well. Whattyagonnado? Move on, I guess. I would bring up Igawa and Rasner and let Kennedy and Hughes work on their game in the minors. They are long term investment, and at this point it's not helping them to work through it at the majors. Rasner and Igawa can't do any worse then they have done, I don't think.

Last night's game was really depressing.

2008-04-30 08:42:21
40.   tommyl
39 Well Hughes was flat out dominant in the minors, almost threw a no hitter last year and was lights out in September and the playoffs. He's also 21.

Igawa had 4 or 5 good innings in relief against the Red Sox and the rest of the time was awful. Also Igawa was in the majors through May 4th. So sending Phil down now would be giving him less of a chance than Igawa got last year.

Personally, I never want to see Igawa pitch for the Yankees again, but that's just me.

2008-04-30 08:55:14
41.   pistolpete
21 Not saying there aren't morons who attend these games, but isn't it well within someone's right to voice displeasure when their team is playing poorly...?

After all, this isn't like the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd time Hughes has pitched poorly in this still-fledgling 2008 season. He's pretty much stunk it up almost every time out there. IMO he deserved to hear it a little – I'm sure he's fully aware that he's not doing well, but as someone said last night during the game, Hughes is a competitor and wouldn't want to be coddled or lied to when he's pitching poorly.

That said, the Hawkins thing doesn't compare - I agree that was based on pure idiocy, nothing more. Hawkins was booed during the opening day announcements before throwing a single pitch, but A-Rod & Hughes were booed because of two factors - performance and hype.

A-Rod came into '06 as the reigning MVP and the fans got restless when he didn't perform like it 'in the clutch'. Now we have - thanks to incessant media (bloggers included) hype – the "#1" prospect in our entire farm system (who was NOT traded for a true ace in Santana) and he's getting shellacked in every single start.

Not saying it's 'right', but the reasons behind the booing are out there, plain as day. This fanbase can't handle losing or rebuilding, myself unfortunately included sometimes.

2008-04-30 08:55:14
42.   pistolpete
21 Not saying there aren't morons who attend these games, but isn't it well within someone's right to voice displeasure when their team is playing poorly...?

After all, this isn't like the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd time Hughes has pitched poorly in this still-fledgling 2008 season. He's pretty much stunk it up almost every time out there. IMO he deserved to hear it a little – I'm sure he's fully aware that he's not doing well, but as someone said last night during the game, Hughes is a competitor and wouldn't want to be coddled or lied to when he's pitching poorly.

That said, the Hawkins thing doesn't compare - I agree that was based on pure idiocy, nothing more. Hawkins was booed during the opening day announcements before throwing a single pitch, but A-Rod & Hughes were booed because of two factors - performance and hype.

A-Rod came into '06 as the reigning MVP and the fans got restless when he didn't perform like it 'in the clutch'. Now we have - thanks to incessant media (bloggers included) hype – the "#1" prospect in our entire farm system (who was NOT traded for a true ace in Santana) and he's getting shellacked in every single start.

Not saying it's 'right', but the reasons behind the booing are out there, plain as day. This fanbase can't handle losing or rebuilding, myself unfortunately included sometimes.

2008-04-30 08:55:14
43.   pistolpete
21 Not saying there aren't morons who attend these games, but isn't it well within someone's right to voice displeasure when their team is playing poorly...?

After all, this isn't like the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd time Hughes has pitched poorly in this still-fledgling 2008 season. He's pretty much stunk it up almost every time out there. IMO he deserved to hear it a little – I'm sure he's fully aware that he's not doing well, but as someone said last night during the game, Hughes is a competitor and wouldn't want to be coddled or lied to when he's pitching poorly.

That said, the Hawkins thing doesn't compare - I agree that was based on pure idiocy, nothing more. Hawkins was booed during the opening day announcements before throwing a single pitch, but A-Rod & Hughes were booed because of two factors - performance and hype.

A-Rod came into '06 as the reigning MVP and the fans got restless when he didn't perform like it 'in the clutch'. Now we have - thanks to incessant media (bloggers included) hype – the "#1" prospect in our entire farm system (who was NOT traded for a true ace in Santana) and he's getting shellacked in every single start.

Not saying it's 'right', but the reasons behind the booing are out there, plain as day. This fanbase can't handle losing or rebuilding, myself unfortunately included sometimes.

2008-04-30 08:55:52
44.   pistolpete
41 42 43 Holy crap, sorry about that. I have no idea what happened.
2008-04-30 09:01:42
45.   williamnyy23
16 I stand behind my support for not making the deal, but I don't think we can really use Melky to mitigate the increasing liklihood that the decision to not make the deal could come back to haunt them. Many reports indicated that the Twins, like many other scouts and pundits, did not really want Melky anyway. The Yankees could have likely made a deal that didn't include him.

It is, however, ironic that Melky is the one who has made the splash, and not Hughes.

2008-04-30 09:12:20
46.   OldYanksFan
I don't want to make excuses, but reality is reality:
1) With any other CFer (and 1/2 of those in AAA) they score 1 run (or no runs), not 2, in the first inning.
2) Phil had Sheff frozen and struck out on a great curve, but because of Stewart standing up (crossed sign), it was called a ball, and Sheff then hit a 2 run HR.
3) I don't know if JD would have had it, but the 2 out double over Mats head... well... if WE had hit it, it would have been caught.

In Cleveland, how many hits and maybe runs, did their CFer take away? How many times have we been beaten by excellent defense. Yet with us, we don't take away runs, we give them away.

I read an article on Hardball times that said FAR TOO LITTLE CREDIT, when looking at ERA, is given to defense.

Earlier this year, Matsui missed a ball that landed in the lap of someone sitting in the first row. He missed another ball that led to a SIX RUN INNING. So, what looked like terrible pitching, what ultimately became a slaughter, should have been a tight ballgame.

I laughed when the Sox gave away Nomar, who was still an offensive force, and got Cabrera. I laughed when Coco Crisp barely hit his weight. But Crisp and Cabrera stole hit after hit, and the whole team seemed to solidify behind their defense.

I don't know if it was Steinbrenner or Cashman that constantly went after big bats, regardless of their D. I too, am seduced by a big bat (no comments please). But it's getting hard to watch our defense at work.

I am a big Giambi fan and believe he will post a .850-.900 OPS (which we badly need) if he stays healthy. But even I am beginning to believe his potential O isn't worth his horrible D.

I believe that simply by having Molina and Melky in the game last night, the game would have had a totally different outcome. This is not to excuse a poor performance from Phil, but the team is supposed to HELP him... not hurt him.

Matsui is a fine ballplayer, but he is no different then Giambi in that he is a liability in the field and can't run to save his life. Mats will post .100 OPS pts better then JD, but I'll take JD for his D (only in LF) and his speed.

I believe Phil and IPK will get better, but our defense won't. It needs to be addressed. Remember, we lost in 2001 NOT because of Mo's pitching, but because he threw a DP ball into CF.

If I'm Cashman, I fine Cano $2,000 for every swing on pitches radically out of the strinke zone, and give him $5,000 bonus for every BB. Jeter should have the TAKE sign on EVERY 1st pitch. Giambi needs to spend EVERY SECOND of BP bunting down the 3rd base line. ARod needs to start looking at right-center again, as this is when he hits his best. Matsui needs to stop trying to pull outside pitches.

This team is beating itself.
The pitching will work itself out.
So (I pray) will the offense.
But our mental approach and defense are killing this team.

2008-04-30 09:14:32
47.   weeping for brunnhilde
It's a little painful to watch our pitchers underperform, but hey, that's what we signed up for.

I'm prepared to give these guys all the time they need. I do not think Hughes needs to be sent down.

Let him work it out on this level, with the understanding that he's under no pressure.

I can't believe that panicking at this early stage and hinting about sending him down is in anyone's interests.

If he's still performing like this in June or July, maybe then we can be concerned, but until then, this is what we signed up for so let's show some patience.

2008-04-30 09:15:31
48.   williamnyy23
21 We went back and forth on this yesterday, but I don't think fans booing anyone are idiots. Quite frankly, I'd guess that a good percentage of the fans who attend games don't really care about the overall success of the team. Their priority is to see the Yankees win that night because they are there. Because they pay their way in, I have no problem with fans who boo without using vulgarity. As diehards, we are looking at it from the standpoint of supporting the team, etc., but like it or not, that isn't the sentiment of everyone in attendance. Besides, the boos Hughes received were a smattering. I am sure Hughes can deal with it.
2008-04-30 09:17:49
49.   OldYanksFan
12 Hoss.... I agree that the Thomas affair was driven TOTALLY by the option and not by his current performance. He wasn't even in a 'season long' slump, as he hit 3 HRs in his first week. If there was no option clause, Thomas would still be a Blue Jay.
2008-04-30 09:19:16
50.   williamnyy23
38 That misses the point though. If the Yankees let Hughes K everyone with the curve, then that's their fault. Instead, if he was demoted, they should insist he work on his mechanics and develop the slider and change.

Based on what we have seen from Hughes this season, he simply doesn't have enough to be a successful pitcher. Now, we know he has had in the minors and for flashes last year, so the question becomes, where did the "stuff" go. Personally, I don't think it will be productive to give Hughes 2-3 innings per start to try and figure that out. A demotion early on might save his season, whereas waiting too long could really set him back.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-04-30 09:24:14
51.   williamnyy23
47 Where I differ is I didn't sign up to watch Hughes get hammered because he has C+ stuff and Kennedy get hammered because he is afraid to throw strikes. If Hughes was getting beat, but flashing dominant stuff, or if Kennedy was commanding the zone, but being sloppy, I'd be very patient. My greater concern comes from the fact that both men are showing no signs of their reported strengths.
2008-04-30 09:24:19
52.   OldYanksFan
14 "I prefer to rebuild with kids, warts and lumps and growing pains and all. I admit that this is an emotional and aesthetic argument, not a rational position."

I agree with you, however, because there are so many contracts coming off the books next year, as well as a number of kids who may be on ready for the team in 2009, that next year is a 'defacto' rebuilding year. So I can understand the Yankees trying to 'gut out' a PS appearance this year.

By 2010, Mats and JD are gone, and maybe Tabata and AJax take their place. So again. simply by dint of our current contracts and state of our farm system, the team WILL be very much rebuilt in the next year or 2.

2008-04-30 09:30:29
53.   OldYanksFan
31 Absolutely! Look what it did for Buggs Bunny.
2008-04-30 09:30:53
54.   williamnyy23
As serious as the Hughes situation is, in the short term, it pales in comparison to the loss of Posada and Arod (at least for the next 15 games). Arod and Posada were the reason the Yankees could survive trotting out guys like Karstens, Igawa, Wright, etc. Without them, and with no one seemingly prepared to step up, the Yankees could have a very rough next 15 games or so. It almost feels as if we'll be saying once again that all things considered, the Yankees are lucky to be 20-20, or something like that. The only problem with that is at some point, you can't be happy to be .500.
2008-04-30 09:32:42
55.   OldYanksFan
21 I want to know: WHO was calling the pitches last night?
2008-04-30 09:41:54
56.   Bob B
54 William, the way things are going we'll be saying we're lucky to be 81-81
2008-04-30 09:42:39
57.   Rob Middletown CT
46 I totally agree about the defense and the cross-up that cost him strike 3 against Sheff. The crossups really pissed me off, because they were so amatuerish. I don't know whose fault they were, Phil's or the scrub catcher's.

That said, he didn't pitch well. He doesn't have command of his fastball, and he desperately needs that to succeed. I absolutely love his curveball. I also think Leiter has a point about him needing to use his change more.

2008-04-30 09:43:24
58.   Rob Middletown CT
Oh, and props to Ohlendorf. I've criticized him before, but last night he was excellent. I hope to see more of that.
2008-04-30 09:54:55
59.   jkay
I was lucky enough to hang out with Freddy Sez for a few minutes before the game last night. I don't know how he does it--he is the iron man of mascots. He is good peeps. I don't know if it is his regular route but we ran into him in the upper deck section 12 concession area 10 minutes before game time. If you are up there, keep an eye out!
2008-04-30 09:58:35
60.   rbj
21 Good points. I suggest Chilicothe for the worst, the others can be sent to Lehigh Valley (off to 2-23 in the IL). Didn't know that about Rapada, as soon as I saw Abreu swing I was screaming "No."

I think Girardi has to pair Hughes & IPK with Molina, who at least is a veteran and give them some consistency.

2008-04-30 10:02:01
61.   weeping for brunnhilde
51 Understandable, William, but to me, the risk of atrocious performances is what we signed up for.

We all (I think) recognized that of course there's great risk in relying on youngsters with short to no track records of success.

I guess my thinking on this is kind of "in for a penny in for a pound."

I was totally prepared for these failures so I'm not taking them so hard.

As I say, if they persist into the mid to late summer, we can re-evaluate, but until then, this is all par for the course as far as I'm concerned.

I can understand a legitimate argument being made that Hughes would benefit more from going down than staying up, though, but I don't know the guy's psyche or really what the heart of the problem is, so I'm not prepared to make a judgment about what's best for him at this point.

Send him down, if necessary, but not out of frustration. If there's a clear plan as to why that would be the wisest course of action, sure, just don't do it out of panic or frustration is my only point.

2008-04-30 10:02:53
62.   bp1
40 I really don't understand the Igawa hate. You think he wanted to come to the US, play for the Yankees, and suck real bad? I honestly don't know why he gets hammered and Phil gets a pass. Just 'cause Phil is 21? They were both accomplished in their non-Yankee playing time. I'd say Igawa had a longer track record, in fact.

What counts is what they do on the major league squad. My recollection is that Igawa has a lot more swing-and-miss pitches than Phil, but also a lot more home run balls and wild "high and outside" zingers. But man. I don't hate the guy. If he can get his act together, I'd rather see a return on the $40 investment on the Yankee roster than in Scranton. If he can help - he's welcome. I'll cheer every strikeout.

On the flipside, New York is not a training camp and never will be. Nurturing is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Yankees or New York. If Phil needs more seasoning, he needs to do it elsewhere. Phil already had his cup of coffee. This isn't "wow, I'm in the big leagues" anymore. That was last year, and he handled it well. This is something else, and someone needs to get it solved of the kids career is going to stall. I'd hate to see that happen.

2008-04-30 10:03:15
63.   weeping for brunnhilde
54 No one's "happy" with .500, William.

It's a long season, is all.

2008-04-30 10:07:27
64.   weeping for brunnhilde
Part of why I want to see him stay up on the big club is that I see the arc of the season as having tremendous potential for him to learn in a way that will make his career stronger.

Being allowed to deal with failure at such a young age and (hopefully) work through it just has unlimited upside.

If we're patient and allow him to fail and (hopefully) turn it around and succeed, we're looking at the stuff of greatness.

This is what Cone and Leiter and people who know talk about all the time: the value of character-building to major league success.

I just don't think 6 starts or however many is enough to pull the plug because then we're caught in a cycle where sure, he'll have his success in AAA but then he has to start from scratch again when he comes back up.

Let him work through this and it will pay off huge in the long term, I suspect.

2008-04-30 10:16:33
65.   Zack
64 Wonderfully stated. To me, the value of having Hughes work through these issues now and against these hitters is really huge. So much of it seems to be the effect of facing them on his mind and body: throwing his mechanics out of whack and not being able to repeat them due to stress, pressure, frustration etc. That is quite likely to pop up again when he would come back up...

I really don't understand the pitch selection thing. I understand the need to locate the FB and thats a major issue, but they need to be forcing him to throw his change and slider more, at the very least to allow him to not be thinking so much about the FB

2008-04-30 10:25:20
66.   williamnyy23
61 I expected some bumps and bruises, but certainly not an ERA of 9.00 after 5 starts. It's not like he struggling because he can't control dominant stuff. He is struggling because he can't pinpoint a decidely mediocre fastball. That concerns me. Hughes has been so bad, that even if the offense wasn't doing so poorly, he wouldn't be giving them much of a chance to win.

Also, others have raised the Maddux comparison, but if you look at his game logs, he was starting to have decent outing by the end of April, and actually was solid until seemingly tiring out at the end of the year.

Right now, there are four general possibilities:

1) Hughes stays up, rights himself and is successful.

2) Hughes stays up, continues to struggle and sets his progress back.

3) Hughes is demoted, works on his comman, and returns a better pitcher.

4) Hughes is demoted, sulks, and sets his progress back.

I don't #4 is likely, so that leaves three possible choices. Because 1 and 2 have both negative and positive consequences, I am growing more inclined toward having Hughes figure things out in the minors, with the intention of being promoted after 3 or 4 starts on the farm. I'd much rather have Hughes returning from the minors in June, as opposed to be being shipped out at that time.

2008-04-30 10:30:55
67.   weeping for brunnhilde
66 Fair enough. As I say, if it's the considered opinion of his coaches that sending him down is best for him, fine.

I just don't want that decision made out of panic, especially if there's an attempt to placate fans screaming for blood.

I'll accept continued losses and the risk of not making the postseason if it allows for serious development of our young talent.

It'd be great to both win and develop the talent, but I'm prepared to sacrifice the former for the sake of the latter, at least for this year.

That's what I signed up for.

2008-04-30 10:39:21
68.   williamnyy23
Also, I don't think this debate is really about the win now crowd versus the develop the kids camp. Ironically, those arguing to keep Hughes up because they don't have anyone better are actually following a win now approach.

My main motivation for seriously considering demoting Hughes is first and foremost the resumption of his development as an ace. If you could guarantee Hughes would reach that destination by struggling at the major league level, I'd accept the losses. I just don't think such a guarantee can be made.

2008-04-30 10:40:59
69.   monkeypants
46 OYF, I dig your jive to a degree, but the following is pretty much a fallacious argument:

"Earlier this year, Matsui missed a ball that landed in the lap of someone sitting in the first row. He missed another ball that led to a SIX RUN INNING. So, what looked like terrible pitching, what ultimately became a slaughter, should have been a tight ballgame."

That's just BS. Yes Matsui or whoever might make an error, but why should that exonerate the pitcher from ALL SIX RUNS in a SIX RUN INNING? So if Matsui drops the third out, and then the pitcher gives up a series of home runs and screaming liners in the inning, it all hangs on Matsui?

I agree with you that defense is often overlooked, but you place way too much importance (IMO) on defense when it comes to evaluating players, especially at the corner positions. You focus on one or three balls that you deem a player should have caught, then blame that same player for all the damage this one supposed misplay caused.

It is this type of thinking that leads to teams signing Doug Mientkiewicz to play 1B because he supposedly "saves" ten runs a game or whatever.

2008-04-30 10:46:34
70.   monkeypants
66 You of course miss two possibilities:

5) Hughes stays up and continues to struggle but does not set his progress back.

6) Hughes gets sent down and nothing really changes--he does well, returns, and struggles.

Everyone assumes that if he is demoted (for example) it must either help him (ie, fix his mechanics, build confidence) or hurt him (ie, demoralize him, make grow soft against weak opponents. And vice-versa with keeping him at the MLB level.

It is, however, possible that the struggles are "fixable" nor are they a "problem". Perhaps they are necessary for a few months or a year until he grows into MLB pitching. or perhaps we have seen the best he can do against MLB hitters.

2008-04-30 10:52:07
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
68 No guarantees in this life, William.
2008-04-30 11:04:12
72.   OldYanksFan
I stil want to know: WHO was calling the pitches last night?
2008-04-30 11:07:17
73.   monkeypants
70 Grrrr..

"...are not fixable, nor..."

2008-04-30 11:13:45
74.   OldYanksFan
"That's just BS. Yes Matsui or whoever might make an error, but why should that exonerate the pitcher from ALL SIX RUNS in a SIX RUN INNING?"

It's just a matter of perspective. What you said above is true. But had he caught the ball, it's 1-1 instead of 7-1 (or whatever). So now, it's a pitchers duel instead of a 'horrible performance' by our guy.

The point is, very small events can have large consequences. Did Phil pitch that much worse then Rogers? Should they release Rogers? If JD catches that ball or holds it to one run, and Shef is called out on strikes, and Phil gives up 2-3 runs instead of 6... might he have pulled it together? Would we be Bantering about an 'improved performance' instead of talking about AAA?

I believe our defense is both losing us games AND making our Pitchers look worse then then were.

Again, Phil did not pitch well last last, but sometimes the difference between a 'terrible' outing and 'progress' is very small.

RCNB. It's why I don't rush to judgement.

2008-04-30 11:17:30
75.   JL25and3
64 , 65 Maybe yes, maybe no. There definitely comes a time when continuing to get bashed around doesn't help anyone. Yes, great pitchers and great players have had rocky starts; great pitchers and great players have also gone back down to the minors to work things out. Willie Mays; Mickey Mantle.

I'll say what I said before: give Hughes another 2, 3 weeks. If this keeps up, I don't see how it helps. Excuses aside, he's getting hammered.

2008-04-30 11:20:00
76.   monkeypants
74 I agree with you regarding Hughes' performance. I am commenting more in general on your use of such anecdotes when evaluating the relative value of players. Matsui has become your whipping boy for bad OF defense, and indeed he is not good. But when he hits his bat carries his glove, and it is a bit misleading to "blame" him for six runs (for example, in this case) for a non-play that another OF may or may not have made.
2008-04-30 11:32:44
77.   OldYanksFan
"You focus on one or three balls that you deem a player should have caught, then blame that same player for all the damage this one supposed misplay caused."

This is NOT an issue of blame, but a matter of OUTCOME. I don't BLAME players. Mats is a fine gentleman. But I fear for the OUTCOME of games when he is in LF.

It's bases loaded and 1 out.
There is a hard GB hit towards SS.
1) It's just pastaDiving Jeter and 2 runs score. Maybe before the inning is over, a dribbler or fly ball makes it 4 runs.
-OR-
2) The ball is gloved by Jeter and we turn a DP. No runs score.

Both the score and the emotional feel of the game are hugely different in those 2 scenerios. But the difference the Pitcher made? He can't control if the ball is at Jeter, or 3 feet more in the hole for a hit.

Also with Matsui... "You focus on one or three balls".... there can be 3 questionable plays by Mats in LF in a week of playing time. JD plays CF for the first time this year and poof... it costs us a run or 2 and gets Phil off to a shitty start.

Have you watched Matsui? See that throw yesterday? The guys looks horrible even when he MAKES the catch. Giambi is costing us singles and bases. Mats is costing us doubles and more.

Conversely, with bases loaded and 2 out, WE pound one to the gap. Their CF makes an excellent running catch (like in Cleveland). We have ZERO runs, our O stinks, our RISP stinks, and Mattpat sets himself on fire. It could have been 3 runs, or more, if not caught, and now instead, our offense is 'clicking'. And ONE play is often the difference in the game.

It is truly a game of inches... and we are giving up too many inches.

2008-04-30 11:38:01
78.   OldYanksFan
"Matsui has become your whipping boy for bad OF defense, and indeed he is not good. But when he hits his bat carries his glove"

Do you feel the same way about Giambi?
How about when Bernie hit pretty well his last year and Joe stuck him in CF?

And again, I'm NOT hating on Mats. On a team with good D but weak O, he might be awesome. I just think on our team, especially with Bobby, Melky and JD, that he is not the most effecient use of a 'spot'.

2008-04-30 11:44:17
79.   Zack
66 Thats funny. Where you see a "decidedly mediocre fastball" I see a fastball that just needs to be controlled. Up until last night, everyone talked about how much movement and life his FB has, and even last night he was throwing 91-93 according to gameday, which is generally considered the most accurate. Sure, his fastball isn't effective, but thats not because of its "stuff" its because of its lack of control. See, its comments like those, the way you like to phrase everything on the negative that gets grating. Not that you have to be a positivist by any means, but you come across sounding like Mattpatt bashing Igawa....

70 See, those are the two options I see as most likely.

But I think everyone is pretty much in line with 75 , but with varying degrees of length. Me, I give him at least to the end of May. I don't think there is anyone who doesn't see a trip back to the minors as out of the question. But I am definitely in the camp that simply demoting him isn't going to solve anything. If you are sending him down, have a plan and a reason. Send him to Nardi, work things out, rebuild him if thats what it takes...

2008-04-30 11:49:42
80.   Shaun P
Off topic from the discussion, but who's going to replace A-Rod on the roster? So far, the only thing I can find is Chad Jennings speculating that Sean Henn is on the way up, but he says "that's just my gut".

Are the Yanks really going to play the next two weeks with a 3 man bench, and an 8-man bullpen? Betemit might be healthy before then . . . OTOH, the only hitter on the 40-man, not injured, and not in the bigs, is Juan Miranda. He's hitting .267/.389/.367, so maybe the answer is "yes".

2008-04-30 11:52:00
81.   monkeypants
78 I said corner OF, so the comparison with Bernie does not hold. But since you bring it up, Bernies bat (OPS+ 107, 108, 85, 96) was in no way carrying his glove for years. However, OPS+ 141 in 2002? That's a different story, depending on what the other options were in LF and RF.

As for Giambi, yes I do feel the same way. When Giambi hits (or hit, in the past tense) like Giambi, I say play him at 1B every day. I'll take the statuesque D and weak throws if he is OPS+ 150 or 160. In fact, I am more willing to endure Giambi's poor defense at 1B, because 1B defense just isn't that important. When you add it up at the end of the year, that position's value is in the bat.

2008-04-30 12:13:41
82.   weeping for brunnhilde
74 Well said, OYF.

Your point is well taken.

2008-04-30 12:16:31
83.   weeping for brunnhilde
75 Fair enough, but why the magic 2 to 3 weeks?

I guess I'm just not sure how we decide on the turning point, is all I'm saying.

You say 2 to 3 weeks, I say 2 to 3 months.

I think there are potential advantages to both cases, but the real question is which is likely to serve Hughes as a pitcher better.

That's a matter between him and the coaches, I think.

2008-04-30 12:22:03
84.   weeping for brunnhilde
80 Oh God, yeah, and by the way...

Man, we're in a sorry, sorry shape.

I'll gladly take .500 ball.

We should feel grateful we've made it this far.

2008-04-30 12:31:33
85.   tommyl
Also on A-Rod, I can't see how this injury will be better in 15 days. A grade 2 strain is what Robbie had two years ago and it took him what, a month+ to come back? We could be without A-Rod for most of May, and certainly without Posada. I guess all those people who think A-Rod isn't as good as Brosius will get to see what their team will look like. Hopefully it treads water.
2008-04-30 13:03:21
86.   Shaun P
85 A-Rod may be a faster healer than Robbie. I hope.

My other hopes are that Cano stops hacking, and that A-Rod doesn't come back too early again. The word is that he aggravated the injury by coming back too fast, saying he was OK when he wasn't. I understand why A-Rod probably did it, but it was stupid nonetheless.

84 At least the schedule this month isn't as bad: 16 of 28 games vs teams the Yanks ought to demolish (Seattle, Baltimore, and the Twins). The other 12 are vs Detroit, the Rays, the Indians, and the Mets. (The Mets? In MAY?!?! Have I mentioned how much I hate interleague play?)

2008-04-30 13:07:35
87.   Shaun P
Oh, and word is that Moeller is back, so that probably fills A-Rod's spot, especially if Molina is still hurting. A month in, and the bench now includes:

BUC1 - Moeller
BUC2 - Stewart
BUMIF - AG
BUOF - Duncan

D'oh.

2008-04-30 13:08:12
88.   tommyl
86 I don't see why A-Rod was given that much say in the matter. The Yankees seem woefully behind the times when it comes to their medical and training procedures. The second A-Rod pulled up lame he should have been given an MRI and a doctor/trainer combo should have had the final say in when he was allowed to play. Players should be allowed to ask out of playing, but never beg their way back in. So instead of losing him for 5-10 days with his original grade 1 strain he's on the DL with a grade 2.

Apparently Bruney's injury was only discovered when he insisted on seeing a specialist. Seriously, who is in charge here? How is a team with a $209 million dollar payroll not using every advanced medical diagonistic and treatment possible?

2008-04-30 13:09:30
89.   tommyl
87 Presumably Stewart will be sent away (if Molina is ok). His entire worth is in his defense. Last night he was unable to call a game, catch a ball or throw out a runner. Yeah I know its small sample but seriously he is easily replaceable by Jason Brown or even Eladio Rodriguez.
2008-04-30 13:31:18
90.   Shaun P
88 I am as confused by that as anything else. The Yanks ought to have the best medical staff and equipment money can buy. That they don't surprises me.
2008-04-30 13:55:29
91.   monkeypants
90 Whatever the state of their medical staff, the organization has shown a clear pattern over the last few years of trying to "hide" injuries by "resting" players for a few days, all the while going into games effectively short-handed. They did it again this season and they may have aggravated the conditions of said injured players.
2008-04-30 15:28:25
92.   OldYanksFan
88 Obviously Dr. Vinny Boombache. But you are so correct. It's almost beyond belief that the Yanks could have screwed up this badly. ARod had the same thing as Jetes, who was out a week, and was still lame afterwards, and ARod is out 4 days?

By the way, I know they are expensive... but shouldn't the Yanks own their own MRI machine? They could also use it on Cano's head to see if anything is inside there....

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