Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2005-05-16 05:40
by Alex Belth

On an afternoon when Randy Johnson allowed three first inning runs, and ended the game with no strike outs, Tino Martinez powered a Yankee comeback and Jason Giambi had the game-winning hit as the Bombers extended their winning streak to eight, beating Oakland, 6-4. They are now 19-19, and the win was the 1,800th of Joe Torre's career. Johnson labored through the first four innings, and lasted through six; this was the longest outing of his career withouth recording a K.

But he was helped out by Tino Martinez, who hit two line-drive home runs to right field. Derek Jeter had three hits, and Robinson Cano had four (giving him nine for the three-game set), and Tony Womack swiped four bases for the second time this season. Though he struck out twice with men on base, Alex Rodriguez made one of the crucial plays of the game. With one out in the top of the seventh, Rodriguez walked. Tino Martinez followed and popped out to the third baseman Keith Ginter deep in foul territory. Rodriguez caught Ginter off guard, tagged up, and slid into second base safely. It was the kind of play that has made Derek Jeter an icon in New York. Next, Jorge Posada was intentionally walked, and then Giambi whacked Rincon's first pitch into the right field corner for a run-scoring double.

Giambi did not talk to the media after the game, but he had a good day on the field. In addition to his clutch double, he hit the ball well in two other times. Sturtze, Gordon, and Rivera set the struggling A's down in order over the final three innings, as the Yanks have finally reached even.

2005-05-16 07:51:48
1.   NetShrine
Womack, Tino are both hot. Matsui's heating up. How does Torre get Bernie some PT in Seattle and play Giambi too? It would be a shame to bench Womack, Tino, or Godzilla one of the three games coming up just to get Giambi some more test time.......
2005-05-16 08:10:50
2.   markp
It would be a shame to sit Womack? How so? He has a career OPS+ of 75 and has a current OPS of 657. Giambi is just now heating up after his usual slow start, but already has a 51 point higher OPS than Womack.
Why should Giambi sit for Williams in any case? Jason's two years younger than Bernie, and has an OPS 87 points higher than William's 621.
Tino's OPS since 2000 are 750, 830, 775, 781, and 823. He's even older than Bernie. How likely is it that he's going to have a 900+ OPS at the end of 2005? Or is it more likely that he's in a completely out-of-context hot streak and will finish within shouting distance of his numbers over the past five years? (His OPS from 2002 to current is 792.)
While I wouldn't want to sit Tino down too often while he's hot, 37 year old ballplayer's need days off even when they're on fire. And he's not likely to stay hot for much longer.
2005-05-16 08:19:52
3.   Alex Belth
One play that was so random was in the eighth inning when Posada hit Durazo in the hand with the ball as he was attempting to throw it back to the pitcher. The announcers said they had never seen such a thing. I don't ever remember seeing that either. It was different from when Pudge Rodriguez broke his hand a few years ago knocking into Mo Vaughn on a similar play.
But man, was that ever strange. Luckily, Durazo seemed O.K.
2005-05-16 08:28:42
4.   Simone
RJ was shaky, but I thought the Yankees played a solid game. Tino's home run streak is great. Giambi actually hitting the ball gives hope that he will get on track.

Looking at the schedule, I think the Yankees can pick up at least a couple games by the time they meet Boston.

2005-05-16 08:31:12
5.   weeping for brunnhilde
markp, whoa!--way too many numbers.

If someone's swinging the bat well, they should play, that's all (I think) NetShrine's point was.

The numbers you're wielding seem like alchemy in this (more localized) context. I'm not sure what the career numbers and comparative ages of Giambi and Bernie have to do with anything.

Do you not agree?

2005-05-16 08:33:44
6.   NetShrine
//If someone's swinging the bat well, they should play, that's all (I think) NetShrine's point was.//


2005-05-16 08:41:55
7.   weeping for brunnhilde
Also, markp, Giambi's OPS is mostly due to his OBP. So he gets on more than Womack, fine, but Womack can generate runs (nearly) single-handedly when he is on. I don't know which is statistically more valuable, but I'm inclined to think it's more productive to have a guy on base 32% (or whatever it is) who comes around more often due to his speed than someone who's on base 40% of the time who has to wait to be driven in, one base at a time.

But I have no facility with numbers, so there you have it.

2005-05-16 09:37:08
8.   markp
Actually, OBA is the most important stat in baseball. So Giambi's OPS has at least as much value as Womakc's while being 50 points higher. But the biggest difference at all is that Womack's OPS is right where it always is (which is why I mentioned his career OPS+). If you're not a fan of OPS+, how about just OPS? That number is .680. At age 35 (another guy older than Giambi) what Womack is doing is pretty much in line with what he's going to do all year.
Giambi's OPS in 2003 (not a very healthy year, if you'll recall) was 939. Womack's 2003 OPS was 558. His OPS in his last healthy year was 1033 in 2002.
Womack's best full season was last year. His OPS was 734. Tony Womack is a poor hitter for a 2B. For a LF he's just plain awful.
So the choice is between a 35 year old guy who isn't a good hitter for a middle IF playing LF or moving Bernie out there to get him ABs while keeping a 34 year old with a 946 career OPS and a 151 OPS+ in 2003 in the line-up.
Giambi (and Bernie) both have a history of slow starts. Giambi at 34 isn't likely to have declined to somewhere below Tony Womack in just two years. And finding out whether a guy's still capable of a 950+ OPS is a lot more important than sitting Tony Womack down for a few games.
When we got Womack, almost every Yankee fan on every blog on the internet was saying they hoped he was going to be on the bench because he was such a poor offensive player. The comment most often heard was "he can't steal first base." Now because the alternative is Giambi, Womack suddenly has value? I don't think so.
Too many numbers? Why? Because what the numbers show don't agree with your opinions? Baseball is a game of numbers. Everything is measured. And like a lot of very smart baseball people have often said, "don't look at what the numbers are in June. By September they're going to be pretty close to what's on the back of their baseball card." That applies to Womack, Tino, Giambi, and the vastly overrated (by a lot of Yankee fans) Ruben Sierra.
2005-05-16 09:41:20
9.   JohnnyC
weeping, even Bill James would agree with you and NetShrine on this particular issue. Given the alternatives that the team has right now, Womack's more productive than Giambi. After all, you can cite Womack's low slugging pct. all you want but yesterday's double was Jason's first extra base hit in almost a month. Of course, if Giambi can return to at least a shell of his former self, that changes things. But, it's May 16th and 3 for 12 notwithstanding, is there any sign that Giambi will return to that level?
2005-05-16 09:44:52
10.   murphy
also: (in defense of womack) is there something wrong with the box score, or did he actually steal 4, FOUR?!, bases yesterday?
2005-05-16 09:51:27
11.   jayd
You know how I hate to sound negative about RS, but following series with Atlanta, the Yanks, Baltimore, the Angels and St. Louis --on June 9th the wheels will be off this buggy for good. The Yanks have had their shakedown cruise and all the media yiping to the contrary, these are the AL east champs this year. The real question is whether Boston and Baltimore can beat out the AL Central team for the wildcard. The White Sox are for real and Minnesota is better than the Birds and the crimson hosers.
2005-05-16 10:08:00
12.   weeping for brunnhilde
markp, as I say, I admittedly have no facility (and therefore, little patience) with numbers and most of what you say dizzies me. That said, am I wrong that a lower OBP might be more productive if accompanied by taking the extra base and stealing a lot?

"Too many numbers? Why? Because what the numbers show don't agree with your opinions? Baseball is a game of numbers. Everything is measured."

Some things are immeasurable, though, like whether a guy is swinging well or not.

In 2002, Torre insisted on putting Justice in the postseason lineup even though he looked miserable at the bat. Just horrible. I think he should have gone with Shane instead. The numbers obviously would have favored Justice, the proven veteran, yet anyone with eyes to see could tell there was no chance of him getting a hit.

That's all my point is. Again, am I missing something?

2005-05-16 10:10:27
13.   yankeegirl26
I was at the game yesterday, and Johnson certainly had us worried. He didn't have his "stuff" at all. Tino! What can I say?! Wow. We were along the right field line and had a great view of both HR's (and the dinger the night before, too). I was so happy that Giambi got that hit. He really looks defeated and deflated at the plate, so hopefully that helped his psyche. Cano was incredible, with four base hits, and Womack did steal 4 bases, I believe. It is great to see the Yanks at .500 (finally). What a relief. I will be happy with 2 out of 3 from Seattle to start our ascend back up to the top of the AL East.

On a side note - Rivera signed for almost an hour before the game. What a great guy! No one else signed, so it was especially neat he took all that time for the fans.

Byrnes tackling that fan in the outfield was hilarious, yet scary. I'm sure Macha will give him a good talking to today. Byrnes is definitely one of my favorite non-Yankee players - he certainly is spirited!

2005-05-16 10:23:56
14.   claybeez
I like Byrnes too and am wondering if I'm the only one who can see him in our OF. Sure, he's struggling at the plate this year, but look at the team he's on. The way he plays the game just reminds me of what we had in Paulie. Paulie too didn't become the player he was till he donned the pinstripes.
2005-05-16 10:51:02
15.   yankeegirl26
claybeez - I also can see him as a Yankee (my father will be gagging if he reads this - he hates Byrnes). In my opinion, the one thing the Yankees are lacking right now is a sparkplug like Paulie - someone with lots of intensity and passion. Everyone seems so cool, calm and collected on the Yanks right now, and I liked what Paulie brought to the team.
2005-05-16 11:00:02
16.   Knuckles
I waver on Byrnes...when I see him on Sportscenter making plays against the Sox, or Seattle, or whatever, the word associations I come up with are along the lines of: hustles, nails, fire, etc.

But when the Yanks play the A's, the only word that comes to mind when I see him is spaz.

2005-05-16 11:51:46
17.   markp
"Some things are immeasurable, though, like whether a guy is swinging well or not."
No, they're not. Whether a guy is swinging well is measurable.
But every observer on the scene says Giambi IS swinging that bat really well. The review at the top of the page cites his two other drives as examples.
Yankee fans have so far stated a strong desire to toss guys like Mussina, Giambi, and Brown in the garbage. They've whined about Arod and insisted Rivera was finished. Each time a Mussina or Arod blows their negative comments out of the water, they move on to the next guy.
To not expend every effort to determine whether a 34 year old who had a 151 OPS+ in an injury plagued season just two years ago still could be a productive ballplayer in order to keep a banjo hitter like Womack would be a criminal waste of resources. WHat guys did over their careers, and especially their last 1,500 ABs or so is a lot more predictive than what they did over a six week stretch. And even over those six weeks, Giambi has the better numbers.
2005-05-16 13:15:51
18.   DaveinMD
Markp is 100 percent right here. Womack should be a pinch runner/utility player. I'd rather run Andy Phillips out there than him.
2005-05-16 13:20:39
19.   unpopster

I hear you on the RS, but have you seen Baltimore's schedule for the next month plus? From tomorrow, May 17th through June 23rd, they have exactly ONE series against a team with a .500+ record. In that stretch, they play KC, Philly, Seattle, Detroit, Piits, Cincinnati, Houston, and Toronot. WOW!

The Yanks may be in 2nd place by the end of June, but I just don't see us taking over the AL lead from the Orioles so fast.

2005-05-16 13:59:19
20.   singledd
On Womack VS Giambi/Bernie
Womack is doing about as well as we can hope for. Giambi is all-but-gone. This being said, Womack will not get much better, while Giambi could make a HUGE difference. Even in his 'almost-gone' condition, his OPS in not that much lower then Womack's. And lets not forget the 80 mil/4 years we have riding on Giambi. He must be given every chance possible to see if he can still play... on both financial and what-could-be levels. As bad as Giambi has been, I feel better with him at the plate then Womack. No insult to Womack intended, but Giambi's worst (unless he is done) is better then Womacks best.

The real issue is Womack VS Bernie. Matsui is a CF by expeience, and feels more comfortable there (as there are fewer 'wall shots' in CF then LF). Bernie will be slightly less detrimental in LF then CF.

Lets hear it people.....
Bernie in LF batting 2nd between Jetes and Sheff, or Womack in LF?

Again, like Giambi, Bernie has a greater potential, and will hit more extra base hits then Womack.

PLUS... Womack on the Bench gives us a great pinch runner who can be used anytime/at a crucial time of the game.

So.......... LF...... Bernie OR Womack???
Lets hear it!

2005-05-16 14:13:27
21.   JohnnyC
Bernie wasn't taken out of the line-up because of his bat (actually from the right side he was doing well) but because his elbow made it impossible for him to throw. Add to this his loss of at least two steps in range and you've got someone who may be worse defensively than Womack in leftfield. Bernie's best position right now is DH...which, of course, is Giambi's and Ruben Sierra's (remember him? Torre's new love interest?)as well. If Giambi doesn't start to hit, you can talk OBP until you're blue in the face but you won't be able to put the best 8 men on the field, fill out the best 9 man line-up AND give everyone decent PT. There are too many puzzle pieces to fit this particular puzzle.
2005-05-16 14:59:47
22.   weeping for brunnhilde
markp--your points are well-taken and yes, Giambi is swinging the bat well these past couple of days. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise, nor did I mean to issue any absolute judgments about who should play between now and (hopefully) October and who should not.

The initial comment was "It would be a shame to bench Womack, Tino, or Godzilla one of the three games coming up just to get Giambi some more test time......." and that's all I was agreeing to. You said it would in fact, be no shame and appealed to Giambi's career stats in support of that position.

Since no one has to decide now and for all time who to play, I think career stats are irrelevant and we should rather consider who's swinging the bat how.

With that as the criterion, the question becomes who's more likely to swing the bat well in the near future, Giambi or Womack. Then the question is, presuming Giambi swings the bat well, is it well enough to make up for his lack of baserunning. You still haven't made an argument one way or the other addressing the value of Womack's production on the basepaths vs. Giambi's lack thereof. I'd be curious to know what you think on this count.

That's all I'm really saying, and those being the questions at hand, I still don't see how career stats are relevant to the equation, which has to do with anticipated short-term performance.

But I do tip my hat to your command of the stats, God knows I have none.

2005-05-16 19:03:14
23.   brockdc
If you're going with the baseball card theory, then you HAVE to play Tino and Womack right now, at least until their production starts waning, since, based on this theory, they will both return to earth in the near future. At that point, we can tinker with Giambi and Bernie getting more ABs.

But I'm inclined to think that you can't assess players like Bernie and Giambi based on their past stats. If they were both in or close to their respective primes, then, yes, you could do a reasonable job at extrapolating. But there are too many other circumstances (age, mounting injuries, health, etc.), beyond career stats, that should be factored in to determining how affective they will be for the balance of the season.

Also - and this has already been said - Bernie is a serious defensive liability, in CF AND LF, whether his arm has healed or not.

2005-05-16 23:06:09
24.   brockdc
I spelled "effective" wrong. Yikes.

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