Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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Atta Baby
2008-05-04 16:32
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Carlos Silva? Nah, son. Chill. After beating Seattle's two best pitchers on Friday and Saturday, the Yanks poured it on Mr. Silva beating him about the face and neck to the tune of eight runs in three innings. The Bombers scored six in the third--the first time they've scored more than five in an inning this year (they did it thirty times last season). Melky Cabrera hit a moon shot in the frame, and his best pal Robbie Cano, the Heckle to Melky's Jeckle, momentarily broke free of his horrid slump by homering as well (Silva had him down in the count and then did him a favor by leaving a fastball up in Robbie's happy zone). That makes six homers for Melky; he hit eight all of last year. The boys at the top of the lineup did their job and more for the second straight game: two hits for Damon (who also made a nice catch), three for Bobby Abreu and four for Derek Jeter. Even better, Darrell Rasner gave up just a couple of runs over six innings and the Yanks completed the three-game sweep of the M's, 8-2. Smiles all around on what turned out to be a sunny afternoon in the Bronx. New York's record is now 17-16.

Ian Kennedy was sent to the minors and Kei Igawa will rejoin the big league club.

According to Anthony McCarron in the News:

As Joe Girardi said, it's up to Kennedy how fast he returns to the majors.

Apparently, he told Kennedy, it could be a couple of starts or 15 starts, depending on how he does. As Kennedy put it, "If you want to pout or moan, that's what will happen. A couple starts, I'd rather have that happen."

The Yankees are concerned with Kennedy's confidence, though he said he had plenty. At the same time, he admitted that he doesn't have as much confidence as he did last September or during his meteoric rise through the minors. He also seemed to be uncomfortable with the idea that each of his starts here are magnified and "under a microscope."

Believe it or not, the team actually has a day off on Monday. Cleveland is in town for a three game series starting Tuesday night.

Comments
2008-05-04 18:35:27
1.   Mattpat11
Nothing more exciting than smashing our heads against the Igawa brick wall.
2008-05-04 18:37:36
2.   tommyl
Rasner coming up I had no problem with. He's underrated and a decent arm. Igawa, please no. He gave up multiple HRs today in AAA. I'd much, much rather watch IPK struggle than Igawa. Seems like a rash decision to me.
2008-05-04 18:48:20
3.   Jeb
I'd rather leave IPK in AAA to work things out. why not sign a vet like David Wells if we're only talking about a 5th pitcher?

I have friend who was at the Derby this weekend. He met wells and told him the Yanks needed him and Wells responded, "They need a hell of a lot more than me!" Maybe they do...but I'd take Wells over Igawa anyday.

2008-05-04 19:07:44
4.   Shaun P
3 Not me. Igawa has the advantage of having actually pitched to pro hitters in the last 8 months. (Note: not a knock against the NL, even though it could be read that way.)

I won't even get into Game 5 of the '03 Serious. I am not rational when it comes to that game and Wells.

In any case, I wish they had rigged Igawa to take IPK's Wednesday slot, because Cleveland doesn't hit LHP, and Detroit does, but c'est la vie. At least the game is in Detroit, so giving up a ton of flyballs shouldn't hurt him as much as it would in, say, Fenway.

2008-05-04 19:56:34
5.   RichB
Hey, who says Ross Ohlendorf needs to be in the bullpen? He's a potential starter too, and he's done very well in long relief this season. I say stick Igawa in the pen and Ross in the rotation and see how he does.
2008-05-04 19:59:53
6.   RichB
Also, quick question for anyone who might have this info (someone here, I'm sure).

I've seen Robbie Cano's babip mentioned, but I don't know where to find the info myself. If I wanted to find that and also the league average babip and somehow be able to figure out what Robbie's BA would be if he had an average babip... where would I get that info?

Thanks

2008-05-04 20:48:16
7.   tommyl
5 He's not stretched out really at all. He's done ok in long relief, but its not the same as facing a lineup three to four times through. He was originally converted because he was struggling as a starter. Maybe something has changed and he could go back, but I don't think its as simple as flipping a switch. I don't even know the last time he pitched more than 3 or 4 innings at a time.
2008-05-04 20:52:40
8.   Shaun P
6 The Hardball Times (link on the side) has BABIP data for hitters, though, IIRC, they and another source (ESPN maybe?) differ slightly. You'd think baseball-reference.com and baseballprospectus.com would have it too, but for some reason, I don't think they do. I might be wrong; I remember going to look for it at those two places last year and not finding it. I might have been looking in the wrong place.

The guys over at River Ave Blues have a post about Cano, and what his BABIP is (or was, its a couple of days old) and should be:

http://tinyurl.com/5u9zwz

Short version - no reason to panic.

2008-05-04 21:16:35
9.   YankeeInMichigan
Kennedy's problems seem to be in the mental battles involved with long at bats by professional hitters. He's not going to be able to work on that in AAA. Then again, a confidence boost from a couple of lights-out outings against lesser hitters won't hurt.
2008-05-05 00:24:13
10.   monkeypants
Cripes, I go out the country with limited internet access; a couple of days later I find a decent connection, log on, and find Hughes on the DL, Kennedy down, Rasner up and Igawa on the club. Cripes.

Well, let's see how long this experiment lasts. By the way, I haven't beaten this dead horse since I left: Time. To. Start. Transitioning. Joba. To. The. Starting. Rotation.

Ciao.

2008-05-05 04:27:57
11.   OldYanksFan
"I'd much, much rather watch IPK struggle than Igawa."
Second (and third!)
Iggy is just giving up to many runs, and especially HRs, at AAA.
4 I really think IPK pitched better then his numbers. In his last 3 games, it was always a big inning that killed him. Aside from that inning, he actually pitched well. He was also the victim of bad D a numbers of times. He was often just a pitch or 2 from a decent game.
2008-05-05 04:29:17
12.   OldYanksFan
10 They won't screw with Joba because of Phil or IPK. They have a schedule... I'll guess it's the ASB.
2008-05-05 05:30:53
13.   monkeypants
12 You trust that they have a schedule, which means have faith in the organization as a whole (at least when it comes to developing young players). I don't trust them at all, so my guess is that he will be stuck as the "8th inning guy this year," start the year in the BP again next year, then replace Mo as closer when he gets hurt or needs a few days rest. Then Joba will be successful, and everyone will say how important it is to a closer, and we're looking at Righetti all over again, only without the 8-4 rookie record and no hitter.
2008-05-05 05:56:56
14.   tommyl
Good to see the patience with the kids lasted a whole freakin' month. IPK himself said he was surprised because he thought he'd been improving his last few starts. If they think he has some mechanical flaw that's one thing, but if its just a mental issue I fail to see what AAA will do for him. If they were bringing up someone like Horne (not possible right now of course) I'd also be more positive but to bench IPK for Igawa is just stupid. There is no way Igawa is the present or future of this organization. IPK has a chance to be both.
2008-05-05 05:57:28
15.   tommyl
13 But think how great those teams dead with Rags closing out games, oh wait...
2008-05-05 05:57:50
16.   tommyl
15 err...did, not dead. Freudian slip there.
2008-05-05 06:09:14
17.   Just fair
After reading all the quotes out of IPK's mouth this week, he definitely seems to be losing the mental battle of pitching in the bigs. Sure he's made improvements in recent starts, but if he feels "microscoped", he's beaten before the 1st pitch. I hope this serves as a kick in the ass and a reminder that, "Hey, I don't effin' belong in SWB. I do belong in the Bronx."
If we gotta suffer with Igawa for a few starts, then so it be.
Maybe, he might win a few. You never know.
2008-05-05 06:30:11
18.   OldYanksFan
13 Mo is signed through 2010 and they have a number of young arms on the farm slated for the BP. Sanchez, Cox and Melancon come to mind. Horne I believe is slated to be a starter.

It's not faith in the FO as much as I take it they know that starters are MUCH harder to find then a guy who is effective ONE inning at a time. Moose is gone after this year. Pettitte may be too. They did NOT get Santana, which seems to be proof there're dedicated to developing their own rotation.

Is anyone else here 'scared' they might KEEP Joba in the BP on a permenant basis?

2008-05-05 07:12:43
19.   RichB
17 I agree. Sometimes you just need to step back and gather yourself. Being with the team everyday, I imagine you feel like you're under a microscope whether it's your day to pitch or not. 14 Yes, IPK is part of the future of the organization, but that just means you have to do what is right for him. Maybe sending him down for a regroup is just what he needs.

I'm all for analysis and chatting here as we do, but everybody needs a little different handling and that's something we can't see from our perspective. From IPK's retelling of the discussion, it did not seem like a mollycoddling, it seemed like challenge. Maybe Girardi felt him out and sensed that he needs a kick in the pants. He's been around a lot of young pitchers and I'd trust him in this one.

2008-05-05 07:18:52
20.   Chyll Will
I wonder if anyone thinks there wouldn't be so much "mental issues" about pitching in the bigs if it weren't New York they were pitching for. Honestly, being this young and with the ridiculous expectations piled upon them from the start by the media and fans (and the FO regardless of what they would say IN the media), I'm not surprised the two are breaking down the way they have been. Did anyone catch how Tabata bolted the game and the team (and was suspended for three days) after striking out in the seventh, then returned and explained that he left because he felt under pressure to perform up to his billing (since he wasn't, he questioned whether he even belonged in baseball). The kid's nineteen years old. Now you can say Mantle did the same thing, but that's my point. Why is there so much pressure, expecting these kids to be superstars right out the box? What, because there's precedent? That's quite a small sample size to bank on. I don't blame the kid for bolting, if for nothing else than that it highlights some of the bad things we do to people in order to win ballgames they haven't even played yet.

I reread a quote from El Duque when he was asked about the pressures of pitching in New York during a playoff run. "In Cuba," he said, "you win or you die." Now I have to wonder if George, being the competitive fellow he was, decided to either challenge or adopt that notion and bring that kind of pressure about in the Bronx after the 2001 loss. It seems like that's when he went crazy and reverted to Ol' Dirty Boss mode.

I dunno, I know I'm a sentimentalist about the human factor of baseball, and that's why I'm reminding you about that when it comes to the kids, because amid the wave of publicity and statistics, we tend to forget that they are not programmable automatons. And the Yankees are not the same as they were little more than a decade ago as an organization, either. I really miss the "professional at every position" plan and loathed the "Traveling All-Stars" method that replaced it, not to mention how much the economics of going to the game have changed to almost elitist levels. Yet I root for things to start making sense again soon...

2008-05-05 07:36:00
21.   ms october
20 nicely said chyll.
and haha - another ODB

some of the quotes from ipk do seem to suggest that the scrutiny in ny has gotten to him a bit. hopefully he can make some peace with it and adjust.
ipk, hughes, and even joba (though he has more of his own identity and success) need to be able to grow as individuals.

18 certainly hank has made it known that joba belongs in the rotation - which most of the banterers agree with - i don't know if i am exactly "scared" he won't get in the rotation, but i am concerned that circumstances this year (bruney injury; any other pen injuries; difficulty figuring out how and when and where to stretch him out and incorporate his other pitches; etc) will make it difficult to make the transition and the longer he stays in the pen the more likely it is he will never get out

2008-05-05 07:38:49
22.   Zack
20 Well you're dead on Chyll. Playing in NY of course means added pressure and stress, but lately its gotten way worse. Or rather, way more microscopic. Tons more Yankee fans who suddenly think they are qualified to make decisions and know pitching/hitting, tons more attention to the minor leagues, often only given in brief mention in the papers so, again, tons more people with the most passing of knowledge about the farm, combined with no knowledge about the realistic expectations for that farm.

All that, plus the usual media circus, now hell bent on proving that the Yankees should have traded for Santana to prove them right and shouldn't have "gotten rid of" Torre and fans demanding a WS every single year and perfection every game, and you have too much pressure.

But thats besides the point, as the kids simply have to deal with that to be successful. The honeymoon of last year is off, and Joba has the luxury of coming in for one inning and looking great (of course when his inevitable starting problems come, the fans/media will immediately claim that it proves he should stay in the BP and rot).

Were this elsewhere, pretty much anywhere else save perhaps Boston, the kids could toil for a year or more and "figure things out." Lots of pitchers have come up and struggled, or come up, done well, then struggled, etc, but been given the time to work it out.

Heck, Verlander looks like absolute poop this year but nobody is calling for his demotion. Chad Billingsley has been quite inconsistant to the tune of a 5.2 ERA in the NLW, which is all pitcher's parks and weak offenses (even Coors has a weak offense there)...

People just can't accept struggle and regression here and demand immediate success, or at the least minimal struggle. Ideally, this would be a full rebuilding year. But with that payroll, with that onwership, and with these fans, thats impossible...

2008-05-05 07:45:50
23.   Schteeve
I really believe that sometimes a change of routine can help change results. Hopefully the demotion gets IPK straightened out, I really am rooting for the kid.
2008-05-05 08:13:17
24.   tommyl
20 Well said. So far this season has been a bit like my worst case scenario, not because of the record but because of how things have gone with the kids. I signed up for letting the kids struggle no matter what, at least for 2-3 months before cutting bait on them. Looking at how other young pitchers have done, it seemed reasonable to me. Well its been a month and we're already talking about Kei Igawa in our rotation and no kids. If they have an actual plan for IPK then that's fine, but having watched what typically happens to young kids who get demoted in our organization, I'm less than positive.
2008-05-05 08:24:49
25.   horace-clarke-era
I was thinking of a post along the lines of Chyll's but he said it first and better. My expansion would simply be to note that everyone NEEDED to factor this in projecting the kids, going forward this year. It is the same point about Girardi needing to learn how to handle NY ... someone said a week ago 'not part of the job description' in reply to a post to this effect, and I was going to jump in but (for once?) stayed mum. Of COURSE it is part of the job description and Torre excelled in it most of the time ... and you have all heard me on how large a role I think that played in the team surviving the dreadful start last year and running into the Playoffs.

In the same way, starting in NY, handling the microscope IS part of the job description. Analogy? Golfers dealing for first time with leading entering 4th round at Augusta. The intensity of playoff hockey experienced for first time. It is NOT a deep character flaw to find these things a little disorienting. It is a LOT easier working into the Show in KC.

One more comment, on 14 ... Tommy, May has only 2-3 fifth starter slots. If he's going to get regular facing batters work it won't be with the team, it'll be in AAA for next 3 weeks, for 4-5 steady starts. I would NOT call this giving up on a pitcher.

2008-05-05 08:31:21
26.   williamnyy23
20 Being in New York does heighten expectations, but I don't think it's as extreme as you suggest. Also, the Yankees are a perennial World Series contender. There is a lot more pressure stepping into a situation like that. In cases like this, I always remember Moose Skowron's old welcome to rookies and trade acquisition: we're counting on that World Series check...don't screw us up!

I also don't buy that somehow George ramped up the pressure after 2001. The team won over 100 games in 2002, made the World Series in 2003 and came within inches of going back to the WS in 2004. Added pressure hasn't been the problem...weaker pitching has.

24 I don't think the Yankees ever signed up to let the kids struggle no matter what. You'd have a point if Kennedy was showing flashes and pitching to an ERA around 5.00, but he has been very bad. An ERA over 8 doesn't happen by accident. If Kennedy is going to be a MLB pitcher, he should be able to quickly regroup himself in AAA. It would be irresponsible for the Yankees to keep trotting him out to take a beating. Rasner has already shown that he may be a solid short-term answer and Igawa might be able to stem the tide as well.

2008-05-05 08:34:41
27.   williamnyy23
25 The issue wasn't whether it was "part of the job description" but whether it was a primary part of the description. Dealing with the clubhouse and managing a game are much more important than keeping writers happy, IMHO.
2008-05-05 08:43:02
28.   yankster
18 It was scary when Damon said it was a no-brainer that Joba should be in the pen. It made me think that the emotional/psychological appeal to the others players of a lights out set-up man might somehow weigh against the sabermetrics obviousness of having Joba in the rotation. Damon doesn't have a say, but I wonder if it might reveal something about Girardi's intuition - I hope not.
2008-05-05 08:46:59
29.   Rob Middletown CT
I'm fine with the demotion. It may help. It sounds like he was overwhelmed.

As for Billingsly, if IPK had a 5.2 ERA, he'd still be in the Bronx. If he had Verlander's track record and stuff, he'd have more leash. He has neither.

I'm not giving up on him and I don't think the Yankees are either.

2008-05-05 08:51:47
30.   tommyl
25 You make a valid point. If I thought that was the only reason they were sending him down I might agree with you. It was the response IPK gave, when he said he was surprised because he felt he'd been improving in his last few starts. That last bit is true, no he hasn't been great, but I have seen slow, but steady improvement. His last start was really one bad inning that did him in. He recovered nicely for the most part after that.

We'll see how he bounces back. I just have visions of Chase Wright and Clippard (who admittedly weren't in the same class as IPK) who were ruined for a year or more after getting sent down. Clippard has never been the same and Chase is still at Trenton.

More telling will be what they do with Hughes when he starts getting healthy again. I really hope when he starts throwing they send him to Tampa and let Nardi fix his mechanics once and for all. Maybe we should all log into Phil's blog and post links to all those articles analyzing his mechanics?

2008-05-05 08:52:30
31.   tommyl
29 Its not the ERA that was the worry, it was the BB/9 and K/BB ratios. A command pitcher can't survive walking that many guys.
2008-05-05 08:54:43
32.   tommyl
28 I doubt its Girardi's intuition. I said this a few days ago, but the easy response to the Joba question is to ask why we don't make Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett into 8th inning guys? I mean, they'd be pretty damn good at it, it would shorten the game greatly for their teams. The answer is that you don't waste a top of the rotation starter in the pen.

Put another way, next year we'll be without Moose and likely Pettitte. Which is easier to replace? Bruney and Farnsworth or Moose and Pettitte?

2008-05-05 09:00:15
33.   Shaun P
30 Yes, Clippard seems to have lost "it", but Wright is only at AA now because there were too many people ahead of him on the pecking pole for AAA. Before injuries hit, White, Igawa, Karstens, Rasner, Horne, and Marquez all were vying for a rotation slot at SWB. Wright was just the odd man out.

His numbers at AA are pretty good, too: 4-1, 2.95 ERA, 42.7 IP, 36 H, 2 HR, 9 BB, 27 K, 1.62 GB:FB, .228 OppAVG. He seems just fine.

I am not worried about the demotion hurting IPK.

2008-05-05 09:03:01
34.   tommyl
33 Fair enough, and there's a point to be made that if Kennedy can't bounce back from this he really doesn't have the BFOG or whatever to pitch in the fishbowl of NYC. I guess the problem is that last year he did that, down the stretch where every game was important. Time and his performance will tell. I hope you are right and Hughes and Kennedy bounce back and contribute down the stretch. If they don't, we might be in real trouble next year when it comes to making up a rotation which will be Wang, Chamberlain and ummm....who knows?
2008-05-05 09:04:31
35.   Rob Middletown CT
31 True enough. I actually don't know IPK's ERA. I do know that his WHIP is horrible. He's been walking the ballpark.

He needs to get back in a groove, and AAA may be the best place for it.

2008-05-05 09:06:39
36.   Rob Middletown CT
34 My recollection of IPK's September starts is that they were against below-average offenses that were pretty right-handed... teams that playing out the string. Toronto was one of them. Seattle too? I can't quite remember.

He was very good, mind you. But I think quality and timing of competition had something to do with it.

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