Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Awful Truth
2008-06-25 05:40
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Bottom Line:

"The whole game bothered me, we stunk, we stunk," Girardi said. "We keep putting [runners] out there. We have to turn it around because we are missing opportunities. We had a lot of opportunities. The defense didn't help us, the pitching didn't help us and the runners in scoring position ..."

..."I don't think he needed to express that," said Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-for-5 and hitless in two at-bats with runners in scoring position. "We all were upset."
(N.Y. Post)

2008-06-25 05:46:35
1.   flycaster
We can only hope we're not watching Rasner regress to his mean. It seems likely though. Been wondering when teams would start taking a more aggressive approach with him. And don't get me started on Jeter....
2008-06-25 05:46:36
2.   buffalocharlie
It all started with the Captain in his first at-bat. The scouting report was that Gorzelanny(sp?) has control issues, who then proceeds to open the game by walking Melky. Jeter with a 2-0 count decides to swing away, grounding into a DP! wtf? Brutal. All downhill from there.
2008-06-25 05:58:33
3.   williamnyy23
2 I happen to agree with you and would go as far as saying that 2-0 pitch was the turning point of the game. Now, there are those who will point toward Rasner's performance and the final score and scoff at that notion, but I have never been a believer in pre-determined outcomes. If Jeter stays patient and draws a walk (a very strong possibility as Abreu walked in the next AB and Gorzelanny had horrible command all game), the stage could have been set for a big inning. Then, who knows if Rasner pitches better with a lead.

When the Yankees lose, the formula always seems to be the same: play bad defense (three misplays in the first inning) and have bad ABs with men in scoring position (Jeter's two ABs and several others throughout the lineup).

In June, the Yankees have played some pretty weak teams, yet they are only 13-9. This was the month to make up significant ground on the Sox and Rays, but the Yankees seem to be letting that opportunity slip away. I don't think it's likely that the Yankees will pick up the pace and cruise to a playoff spot as they have after slow starts in year's past. Instead, if the Yankees are to make the playoffs, it looks like they'll have to win a horse race at the end.

2008-06-25 06:50:19
4.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
The other thing that bothers me is the teams continued inability to fire on all cylinders. We've still had our God lineup run onto the field what - only 4-5 times?

The OF is looking bleak with the latest on JD and Godzilla. And now finally when Cano is heating up Jeter and Abreu are stinking up the place, and ARod is in a mini funk.

You're right on William {3} we should be 16-6 oer this stretch...

2008-06-25 07:28:11
5.   Vandelay Industries
Yikes! It was ugly, and although they probably still would have lost given the pitching, the Yankees offense was pittiful.

As for Arod, future HOF'er or not, he doesn't determine what his manager expresses. He needs to keep his yap shut. Strange thing to say coming from a guy who played for Lou Piniella. I guess he just thinks Lou is worthy of respect and Joe is not. Not cool.

2008-06-25 07:31:19
6.   Shaun P
4 I had a post all set to go about how the Captain and his league-average OBP need to be moved out of the 2-spot . . . and then I looked it up, and Jeter has a .371 OBP this month. The 5 GDPs are annoying, but at least he's starting to get on base again. That has got to continue or the Yanks are doomed.

So let me transfer my displeasure to the number 3 hitter and his .272 OBP for June.

The gruesome out-making twosome of Melky and Robbie can be overcome by the other 7 guys. If those guys are firing on all cylinder. But Abreu is not, and that he gets the 3rd-most plate appearances on the whole team makes matters worse.

The problem is, I'm not sure that moving Abreu out of the 3-hole will do any good.

(Matsui's missing power stroke (2 XBH all month) is not helping either, but he is hurt, so its hard to hold that against him.)

2008-06-25 07:49:18
7.   williamnyy23
5 I think you are misinterpreting the quote. If my hazy recollection of the postgame is correct, Arod's tone was in agreement, basically say we were so bad that it goes without saying. I definitely didn't think he was questioning Girardi's statement in anyway.
2008-06-25 07:50:06
8.   Vandelay Industries
7 If that's the case then I retract my rant. Thanks.
2008-06-25 08:02:16
9.   williamnyy23
6 I think the focus is on Jeter because of expectations and the fact that he has never really had a prolonged hot streak. Over the past few days, however, Abreu is certainly more a culprit.

Another irony with Jeter is that when he is close to himself (310 .376 .429 .804), the Yankees lose. When he is awful however (.253 .304 .342 .646), the Yankees win.

2008-06-25 08:12:33
10.   Shaun P
9 I tend to agree. Jeter's seasonal numbers are awful, Bobby at least was hot in April and OK in May.

In any case, having a .337 OBP in the two-slot, and a .336 OBP in the three-slot, is not helping matters at all. These would be fine if Melky and Robbie weren't black holes, but of course they are.

2008-06-25 08:19:42
11.   pistolpete
4 We shouldn't have to have the 'God' lineup out there every single night to win games. The Sox have been without Ortiz for how long now? Somehow they keep managing to beat the teams they should.

Last night was just putrid. A new low point in a seemingly never ending series of low points.

2008-06-25 08:19:49
12.   williamnyy23
10 Which makes the decision to move Melky(.314 OBP) up to lead off last night all the more curious. I realize that Damon and Matsui not playing limited Girardi's options, but why not simply move Jeter and Abreu up one and allow Arod, Giambi and Posada the chance at an extra AB (if you are unwilling to do something drastic like move Abreu or Jeter after that trio).
2008-06-25 08:31:13
13.   ChuckM
Girardi probably figured he could get away with it considering the way Gorzelanny has been pitching and boost up Melky's confidence a bit in an effort to get something going from him. At least, that's my guess.
2008-06-25 08:34:01
14.   monkeypants
12 Moving Jeter to lead-off was the obvious choice. Even in his struggling form he gets on base more than Melky. Unfortunately, Abreu apparently can't be pried out of his beloved #3 slot, so someone else would have to bat #2, which would probably end up being Melky or Cano.
2008-06-25 08:38:12
15.   doslobo38
I think everyone is a little to quick to jump on Abreu. Bobby has been hitting good all year (even when nobody else except maybe Matsui were hitting anything). He is in a mini-slump but those things happen during the course of a season and he will break out of it (as his 2 run homer last night shows). I am more concerned with Jeter's ongoing problems and Cano and Caberra's season-long slump.
2008-06-25 08:41:07
16.   monkeypants
13 I am not convinced Girardi's decision was based on the specific context of the game. In 77 games, Damon has led off 68 times, Melky 6 times, and Jeter 3 times. Clearly he sees Melky as the regular back-up lead-off hitter. Sadly, I suspect that he has based this decision on baseball orthodoxy: when in doubt, the lead-off hitter should be a speedy OF, regardless of his OBP skills. For comparison, see Pierre, Juan and Wilson, Preston.
2008-06-25 08:46:41
17.   williamnyy23
15 It's not really a mini-slump. Here are Abreu's numbers over the following intervals:

7 days: (.167/.231/.292/.522)
14 days: (.156/.208/.267/.475)
28 days: (.235/.299/.388/.687)

That's a pretty big hole to have in the #3 slot for almost 1 month.

2008-06-25 08:55:37
18.   Shaun P
14 16 I was thinking that the real problem is that no one can pry Jeter out of his beloved #2 spot and into the leadoff spot if a "real" (from Jeter's standpoint) leadoff hitter is available.

That's a problem with having such a veteran lineup. Its hard to move guys around, because they don't like it, and I'm not sure if messing with a vet in a slump by moving him out of "his" spot in the lineup is helpful, or harmful. I'm not sure if there is a way to figure it out.

Something doing nothing is the best course of action. So if Girardi feels its best to leave Abreu and Jeter where they are, that moving them is likely to do more harm than good, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He has far more knowledge of all the variables than we do.

2008-06-25 09:09:14
19.   doslobo38
17 Perhaps slump is more appropriate than mini-slump, I was really refering to the fact that Abreu started June batting .299 and as of 6/11 he was batting .298 so in the last 11 games he has dropped his BA 25 points (in my mind that's a mini-slump). I think sometimes because Abreu is less flashy than some of the other "big-time" players he gets taken for granted. It's been my experience that when it's all said and done Abreu's numbers come through and I am glad he is on the team (that being said let me add "c'mon Bobby get out of the goddamn slump!")
2008-06-25 09:10:51
20.   doslobo38
18 Good point and nice analysis
2008-06-25 09:12:43
21.   Raf
18 I don't know, it's not as Jeter is incapable of batting leadoff.
2008-06-25 09:13:33
22.   monkeypants
18 But that's historically not true. He has batted lead-off in 442 games, 2nd in 1172 games, and 3rd in 128 games. He has also batted in every spot in the lineup 5-9, but presumably those were early in his career. Still, he has spent significant time not in #2 spot. Also, he has never (as far as I know) objected to being moved in the lineup, at least not to leadoff. Meanwhile, Abreu (again, if I recall) has made some noise about being a #3 hitter. He did not complain when Torre finally dislodged him briefly last year, but when restored to his accustomed spot:

"I didn't want to say that I didn't feel comfortable in other spots," Abreu said. "But that's the spot I've been hitting in all my career."

2008-06-25 09:15:26
23.   williamnyy23
18 I really hope Girardi is not making out his lineup based on the "feelings" of his players instead of their performance. If his hands are really tied in that way, maybe the Yankees are not as professional a club as we'd all like to think.

19 Forget about the .BA, what is worrisome about Abreu is his OBP is much lower than normal. Still, I agree that Abreu has had significant stretches of productivity. Having said that, I don't think he is entitled to hit third.

2008-06-25 09:17:04
24.   monkeypants
19 But his BA, like Jeter's, is somewhat empty. His walk rate (and therefore OBP) are way down, and he is not hitting with much power at all, despite the HR yesterday. He certainly is not hitting like a #3 batter (ideally your best hitter) should. This forces better hitters such as A-Rod, Giambi 2008, Posada, and Matsui-with-healthy-knee further down the lineup and costs them ABs.

I would like to see Abreu bat #2 or maybe #5, so that A-Rod and Posada/Giambi can take over 3-4.

2008-06-25 09:22:22
25.   Andre
yes, the game sucked, yes the team sucked, yes the team is frustratingly inconsistent and underperforming.

However, we're STILL only 5-6 games back. If the SOX are SO much better, how come they haven't pulled away? If you attribute the 5-6 losses to horrific performances by Hughes and IPK, I'd say we're pretty much in this thing. We only need a little jump to catch back up.

I think all teams are down from previous years' performance but our bad play is magnified because that's who we watch, but it's still a pretty close race and it's still early enough.

2008-06-25 09:26:53
26.   monkeypants
23 And by the way, stop agreeing with me so much (for ex. 24 ). Between this thread and the next one up ("Ouch"), you're starting to freak me out. ; )
2008-06-25 09:27:30
27.   Vandelay Industries
22 Thank you. Any speculation that Jeter would make a single peep about being moved in the lineup is not only laughable, there isn't a stitch of evidence to back up a claim of that nature.
2008-06-25 09:35:57
28.   williamnyy23
25 5.5 games better over 80 is pretty significant. Prorated over a full season, that's an 11 game edge, which I think everyone would agree is a definitive bulge.
2008-06-25 09:38:20
29.   williamnyy23
26 I guarantee we'll find something upon which to disagree before you get too uncomfortable.
2008-06-25 09:38:22
30.   Vandelay Industries
24 That sure is a tough call for a manager to make. Do you move guys around based on a small sample size and risk upsetting the apple cart? Sometimes the increase in production is due to the lesser pressure of a lower sop in the lineup, its hard to say. I do agree re: Posada. I don't think anything bothers him, and moving him up is a no brainer if it doesn't have deliterious effects on other players. I think Joe is attempting to fight back his urges to overract to the situation.

However, a quick seven game win streak followed by reversion to the way the team was performiong earlier in the season doesn't leave me optimistic. But I don't want to argue that the streak was the aberration, rather than the poor play that has followed. If we don't pitch we won't win, as cliche as that sounds. If Joe wants to actually mix things up and do something out of the box, move to a four man rotation, use a fifth guy when days off dictate, trim two pitchers from the roster, and get some better bench players, whether they come from AAA or via a trade.

2008-06-25 09:39:42
31.   Vandelay Industries
28 But not good enough to make the playoffs.
2008-06-25 09:50:09
32.   williamnyy23
31 I think you missed my point. I was actually arguing that being 5.5 back at the halfway mark is a pretty significant deficit.
2008-06-25 09:56:02
33.   Vandelay Industries
32 LOL. Then we are in agreement. If we don't finish in second place in the east, we don't make it. If it isn't the Yankees, I will secretly be rooting for the Rays to plow the flyng Epsteins out of the playoffs.
2008-06-25 09:57:04
34.   Raf
32 Bigger leads have been blown;
2008-06-25 10:05:27
35.   williamnyy23
34 Yes, but I am also pretty sure many more smaller leads have been maintained.
2008-06-25 10:06:23
36.   Vandelay Industries
34 Agreed. But none of those teams had the pitching that Boston does, and that is what prevents them from suffering prolonged losing streaks. While the Yankees on the other hand . . . .
2008-06-25 10:10:15
37.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
11 Unfortunately the increasingly long history of this season has shown us that doing so is our best chance of winning for exactly the reason I cite: an inability to fire on all cylinders over any prolonged period. If one (or even 3) spots in the lineup are slumping, then we need the others to be our best bats, regardless of who they are or where they hit in the order.

It would be better if Joe showed a propensity for greater flexibility in the lineup when it comes to Jeter and Abreu, but I don't see that happening - especially not with Jeter.

The problem is that we tend to have two-three things hampering us at a time, just about all the time: 3+ slumping bats, 1-2 bats missing due to injury, a poor SP outing, poor BP relief, defensive miscues.

We don't need to cure all of them all of the time, just most of them most of the time.

The Sox missing Ortiz (among other issues they've had including missing some SP'ers) have not overly hurt them precisely because they have been firing on all remaining cylinders. Have you looked closely at some of the seasons the other guys are having?

2008-06-25 10:16:47
38.   Vandelay Industries
37 Yes, yes I have. And that is precisely why I believe the Yankees have to catch Tampa and forget about the Sox. It isn't impossible, but certainly not likely that the Yankees catch them this year or next.

I do agree with your analysis. Just when one guy gets hot, two begin to slump. When one pitcher shows promise, another gets shelled. Melky and Robbie appear to be coming around a tad, but Abreu and Jeter have been garbage. It is difficult to watch.

I often tune to the Red Sox game on Extra Innings when I have already watched the Yankee game, or during games like last night. Anyone who thinks the Yankees have anything close to that offensively, is, to quote Ozzie, "fucking kidding themselves."

2008-06-25 10:18:32
39.   monkeypants
36 Ummm, the Sox are 6th in the AL in ERA and 8th in runs allowed. Their pitching is really not that good. Also, I would point out that the 1978 Sox were 4th in the AL in ERA and R/G, and the 1993 Braves led the NL in both ERA and R/G by a wide margin. I didn't bother checking the rest.
2008-06-25 10:22:09
40.   Shaun P
22 27 When does Jeter gripe about anything publicly?

Those 442 games hitting leadoff happened:

1996 - 40
1997 - 102
1998 - 3
1999 - 1
2000 - 21
2001 - 26
2002 - 10
2003 - 20
2004 - 62
2005 - 154
2006 - 0
2007 - 0
2008 - 3

I love Jeter too, but he's a human being, and many ballplayers like their roles. He didn't move off SS when A-Rod was acquired because, by gum, he was the SS, that's that. So let's leave all illusions about "Jeter the team player above all else god" aside.

When has he hit leadoff in his career? The data seems to say, when there was no one else to do it. Maybe that was Torre (and now, Girardi) shoehorning guys into the roles he thought best, or they asked for. Maybe not. There a chicken and egg element to this, for sure.

But I find it strange Jeter has led off 3 times the last 3 years, and I think its fair to wonder if he himself has played a role in that. I can't prove my hypothesis, but I think its a fair question to ask.

2008-06-25 10:22:32
41.   Raf
36 Believe it or not, Boston has been doing it with their offense; the pitching for both the Yanks & Sox have been relatively close.
2008-06-25 10:28:30
42.   monkeypants
40 It is a fair question to ask. I would only point out that there is much stronger positive evidence that Abreu is more attached to his #3 spot in the line-up, including direct statements by the man himself. So if I, as a historian, am to draw conclusions about players and lineup inflexibility, I would have to say the evidence suggests Abreu rather than Jeter.

Also, you will recall that we are not talking about a permanent line-up change vis-à-vis the lead-off spot, only so long as Damon is banged up. In this context, given the historical data, I have a hard time believing that Jeter would not bat lead-off for 5 or 10 games.

Thus, I can only conclude that the decision to lead off Melky this season has more to do with Girardi's perceptions or philosophy than #2's resistence.

2008-06-25 10:32:21
43.   Shaun P
23 Its not feelings, it that there is no data. Take Abreu. We know he's slumping the last month, in the 3 slot. But that didn't happen the first 2 months. So do you move him down?

If he was moved, say to 6th, we can surmise the effect on the team, at least until Abreu starts hitting again - it will score slightly more runs, because the hitters performing better are getting more PAs than the hitters performing worse.

Of course that is a temporary solution at best. We can all agree that the team performs best when Bobby Abreu is hitting well, wherever he's hitting in the lineup. So the goal is to get Abreu back to hitting well.

Does changing his spot in the lineup do that? I don't know. I'm not sure how to accurately measure that, or if its even possible. My guess is, because Abreu is so used to hitting 3rd, that it might do more harm than good. But I don't know Abreu personally, I don't know what motivates him or affects him. Girardi (presumably) does, or can get that information. If, using as much info as he has before him, Girardi concludes Abreu is most likely to come out of his slump by leaving him in the 3 slot, then he should.

2008-06-25 10:37:27
44.   Shaun P
42 That is an entirely fair analysis. I'm still not sure I draw the same conclusion as you do, though. =)

Along the lines of 43 , Girardi may well "feel" (there's that word again) that leaving Jeter in the 2 slot is the best way to get him going, and the pressure of hitting him 1st and breaking out of his "slump" could lead to bad results, even if for only 10 games.

While this has been an interesting theoretical discussion, and a good exercise, I don't think there's anymore meat on these bones, so I'm done.

Now watch Girardi bat Jeter lead-off tonight. =)

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