Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
And you say New York City
2005-10-06 09:41
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Today gives a day of rest for the Yankees and Angels, as well as the New Yorkers who stayed up late to catch Game Two. As discouraging as last night's loss was, Yankee fans must feel good that Randy Johnson will start Game Three. The obvious hope is that the Bombers offense will get rolling against Paul Byrd, the veteran pitcher who bares an unusual resemblance to Doctor Frasier Crane.

I had a nightmare last night that perhaps the good doctor could have helped me with. I dreamt that the Yankee and Red Sox were playing late into the night and that I fell asleep with the Bombers ahead 12-11. When I awoke, Emily and I were surprised that the game was still going on even though it was eleven o'clock in the morning (by which time Boston had a 18-12 lead). I was beside myself. Shortly thereafter, I found myself on the kitchen floor, red in the face, throwing a bonafide tantrum. I just couldn't believe the Yanks were blowing it. Then a foul ball was hit toward the Yankee dugout where George and Barbara Bush were sitting. Jorge Posada tried to make the catch but missed the ball, which smacked Barbara in the head. This refocused my rage and I laughed at Barbara Bush. Emily scolded me for taking pleasure in someone else's pain, and that even if I didn't like Babs it was plain bad vibes to mock her. Em told me to stop crying and get my act together or else.

The truth of the matter is I went to bed before the game was over last night. At about three a.m. I got up to pee and found Emily on the couch, unable to sleep herself. I go up to her and say, "Did they lose?" She said that she hadn't checked and ordered me back to bed. Well, I knew what that meant. Course she had checked the score. Now Emily is about the most honest person I know and we often have debates about when it is appropriate to tell a white lie. Normally she just won't hear it, but I'll be damned if self-preservation didn't take hold of her in the middle of the night. Go figure. Isn't she an angel, trying to spare me like that? Now whose the crazy one? Ah-hem. (Not for nothing but when I confronted her about it this morning she replied, "I was half-asleep and I didn't know what I was doing." Right.)

Big Game Bust

Skipping around the net this morning, there is some good stuff on the Red Sox and their Game Two defeat. Tom Verducci and John Harper pin the blame on Boomer Wells, and Howard Bryant does a good job with his behind-the-scenes blog. From a fan's perspective, Evan Brunell is disappointed in Red Sox Nation's reaction to Tony Graffanino's costly miscue.

Talking Heads

Meanwhile, if you live in the tri-state area, you should consider heading into town on Saturday evening when Stephen Borelli, Jay Jaffe and Steven Goldman will all be at the Coliseum book store talking baseball (Borellis will be promoting his book on Mel Allen, while Jay and Steven--both good pals of the two of us here at Bronx Banter--discuss the new Baseball Prospectus book, "Mind Game").

2005-10-06 11:06:00
1.   debris
I don't know where Evan Brunell is getting his information. I've heard nothing but support around here for Tony G., this year's Denny Doyle. Tony bucknered the ball, but he didn't hang the hook to Iguchi.

Tony came up huge with that double in the ninth. It was up to Damon and Renteria to keep the inning going long enough to get to Senor October and they didn't. Papi died on deck, the night air primed to receive another jack from the big guy.

2005-10-06 11:24:33
2.   rbj
Hmm, with bad weather scheduled for Friday night, should Torre switch Chacon & Johnson? At the very least, have Small warmed up from the get go.
2005-10-06 11:34:04
3.   Rob
wow. sounds like someone needs to lay off the late night diner food.. that's one crazy dream! great post.
2005-10-06 11:40:58
4.   pistolpete
"Hmm, with bad weather scheduled for Friday night, should Torre switch Chacon & Johnson? At the very least, have Small warmed up from the get go."

Not a bad idea.

I think 'Yankees Nation' might be a little more down than usual due to the lack of sleep. I couldn't get mad at any one play or player in particular, but A-Rod really needs to start hitting.

I thought Wang was solid for the most part. I'd much rather have the hitting asleep right now than the pitching. This seemed to be the problem the last time we played LA in 2002, however.

One more thing - why can't Giambi work on some sort of 'slug bunt to left field' play? I must wonder this aloud every single time he comes to bat...

2005-10-06 11:44:58
5.   tom yf
pistolpete, a-rod walked three times last night. he'll start hitting when pitchers have the grapes to throw him something in the zone.
2005-10-06 12:01:27
6.   pistolpete
tom- I realize he's still contributing, but you can't tell me he's gotten nothing decent to hit in the last two games...

I distinctly remember a few foul balls...;0)

2005-10-06 12:11:28
7.   Shaun P
Sturtze = Sometimes Takes Up Relieving, To Zero Effect

Just read it in Rob Neyer's chat transcript of today. I don't know where he came up with it, but that's hillarious!

(And for the Neyer haters out there, he went on to say that "Sturtze isn't a terrible pitcher. But the Yankees' middle relief . . . is awful." Sounds 'bout right to me.)

Alex, man, if I was a p-shrink, I think I could have a lot of fun with that dream. Great post.

2005-10-06 12:17:57
8.   pistolpete
Neyer need not look any further than the Sox for an awful bullpen.

Leiter's actually been looking pretty decent in 1 or 2 batter situations. I can't see any need for Embree in a potential ALCS if Al can come in and get the lefties in certain spots...

2005-10-06 13:17:32
9.   debris

Actually, the Sox bullpen is quite fine since the restructuring, thank you. Worst in the league? Yes, if you included the numbers of the dear departed: Mantei, Embree, Schilling (saves, yes; good numbers, gawd no), Foulke, and a few bit players. Timlin has been lights out when starting innings; Papelbon has been at least as good as Gordon. Torre would kill to have Myers and Bradford, each of whom has an ERA more than a full run better than anyone Torre has now, short of the eighth inning. They're still a long man short, but noone other than Clement seems to need one. And, actually, when he gets done, it's mop up time anyway.

The Sox have problems but the pen is now not one of them. Their defense is nearly as grim as that of the Yankees. The starting pitching is woefully inconsistent. But the real problem is the offense.

Yes, they led the league in runs scored, but the runs have stopped. Damon's batting average and obp have come down to the point where they are good, no longer great. Renteria is a double-play machine. Senor October and Manny are positively scary, but can't do the job themselves. Varitek hasn't hit since July. Nixon hasn't hit since he got hurt. Millar hasn't hit since 2004. Mueller and Graffanino are solid and steady and good as gold fromthe 8 and 9 holes, but you're not going to pitch around either of them.

The Sox have become a two man offense. And as good as they are, they can't carry a team over the long haul.

One more thing, while the bullpen is finally in order in Boston, I still wouldn't entrust it to Terry Francoma.

2005-10-06 13:18:38
10.   JohnnyC
But even Torre should realize by now that Leiter loses effectiveness after a couple of's as if the adrenalin rush of coming in in relief dissipates after he accomplishes his singular task of getting the lefty out. He should never be asked to pitch into a second inning in relief. BTW, if Gerardi gets the Marlins job, he'll totally explode the belief that you have to have some actual experience to even be considered for a major league managerial job.
2005-10-06 13:20:55
11.   JohnnyC
Gosh, I feel so bad about the Sox's problems. Maybe I'll just go over to one of the Red Sox blogs and see if they'll commiserate over our mutual tsouris. Yeah, right.
2005-10-06 13:32:25
12.   debris

My interpretation of this site is that it revolves, for the most part, around intelligent discussion of the Yankees and their immediate universe. Last I looked, the Red Sox fell within that orb. My post was not looking for commiseration; I was giving my sense of the real problems they face and the flaws in their current makeup. My sense is that, at the moment, the bullpen is the least of their problems.

And by the way, it's Girardi.

2005-10-06 13:38:13
13.   JohnnyC
Still, I DO feel bad about the Red Sox's problems. Really I do. I do.
2005-10-06 13:46:59
14.   Dimelo
Apparently Manny might be seeking out of Boston.


2005-10-06 13:47:07
15.   Max
From the Bryant link:

"Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated walked over and asked, "Is this the official end of the myth of David Wells, Big Game Pitcher? I know three of the runs were unearned, but he did have a 4-0 lead.""

Actually, I thought that myth died back in Game 5 of the 2003 World series. But it's fun to see Wells writhing as he declines gradually but decisively. Parading his self-absorption and complete lack of professionalism on the way down, down, down.

I wouldn't put it past the White Sox to collude in reviving the myth, though, by allowing a Game 5 to happen.

2005-10-06 13:50:21
16.   Nick from Washington Heights
debris, from a afar it looks to me as if the lack of solid starting pitching and poor defense is the team's biggest problem. Clement has fallen apart, Schilling is playing on fumes, Arroyo has declined from last year. Wake and Wells have been solid, if not spectacular. In other words, the staff is similar to the Yanks staff of the first month.

Interesting point about the offense. But even with only two guys hitting (and Graffanino and Mueller) the offense is still above average.

2005-10-06 13:51:11
17.   Knuckles
I'll say it again: Senor October does not play for the Sox. He retired in the late 80's after a long and distinguished career with the A's, O's, Yanks, and Angels.
2005-10-06 14:05:46
18.   Dan M
I actually dreamt last week that the Yankees lost a postseasong series to Anaheim on a Juan Rivera home run (this was before the Yanks had even qualified for the playoffs). Imagine my horror last night watching him hit a bomb to wake up the team, and then to reach and eventually be the go ahead run (even if a PR scored for him). Frightening.
2005-10-06 14:20:39
19.   randym77
The weather report doesn't look good. Rain for both Friday and Saturday. Nuts.
2005-10-06 14:35:21
20.   Shaun P
I'm not as sold on the solidness of the Saux bullpen as you are, debris. Papelbon has a very nice ERA and 34K in 34IP, but his walk rate is rather high (17BB, and a 1.47WHIP) and he gives up about a hit per inning (33H, .260BAA). That's nowhere near Gordon, who has a slightly worse K/9 ratio but a microscopic WHIP (1.09) thanks to only 29 BB in 80.2IP, and a tiny BAA (.203).

Myers does his job rather well (get lefties out), but not much better than Leiter (if he just faces lefties). Bradford, meanwhile, has terrible stats, his 3.86 ERA aside - a 1.41 WHIP, a .312 BAA, and a horrible K/9 (10 in 23 IP).

And I won't mention the middle relief since you didn't, but we all know its pretty bad.

The Sox's offense is in the doldrums for sure right now, but even if it was performing at average (5.6 runs/game) they still won't win with the pitching giving up an average of 9.5 runs a game.

Finally, mad props to AL Comeback Player of the Year Jason Giambi.

2005-10-06 14:36:19
21.   Shaun P
Let me repeat that, since its at the end of a comment that talks about the Saux:

AL Comeback Player of the Year, Jason Giambi

2005-10-06 14:38:20
22.   sam2175

A few days back you said you would take the Red Sox rotation over ours.

Moose did his stuff, and were it not for Sturtze and a bad Mo, it would have been a shutout. Wells' performance was good, and I dont think he deserved to lose, but from where I stand, Wang's performance was equally effective.

It seemed like at the time you were making your observations, you were willing to put your bets on Wells, Schilling and Wakefield having good reputations (in case of Wakefield, actually a solid Spetember), but unwilling to give much credence to that of Mussina's. I understand why, Moose's last start was just awful, but one of the more underappreciated things about Mussina is how good of a big game pitcher he has really been. His post-season ERA now? 3.02.

But the real thing was underestimating Chacon. I dont know if I would take him over Schilling, but there is not much to choose from the stuff that comes out of each pitchers hand, and Chacon has executed his pitches brilliantly for most parts. So I guess, the real point is, Yankees starting pitching was no worse than the Red Sox counterpart, although there is not much to separate the two.

2005-10-06 14:47:48
23.   debris

I'd pretty much agree with everything you say. Moose was far better than I'd expected, give the aches and rust. He his spots, fastball had zip, and the curve he located well. Pretty shocking considering how little he's pitched.

I expect Schilling to come up as huge against Chicago as he did against NY. His velocity has been fine; his command spotty.

2005-10-06 14:49:58
24.   debris

5 of Papelbon's walks were back in August in his MLB debut. After being sent down to Pawtucket, he came back and walked 11 in 28.

2005-10-06 14:56:14
25.   randym77
NBC Sports has a "pitching analysis" up:

FWIW, they rate the Yankees bullpen at 3 stars (out of five). The Red Sox get 2-1/4 stars, because only Wakefield has been both good and consistent.

The hapless Padres rate only 1-3/4 stars, while the Astros are the cream of the crop, with 3-3/4 stars.

2005-10-06 15:00:36
26.   randym77
Er, that's the starting rotation, not the bullpen. But I did want to comment on the bullpen. Yes, our bullpen is really weak. But I feel pretty good going into the weekend. We have Small available as a reliever now, which helps a lot.
2005-10-06 17:35:46
27.   Zack
If Tomorrow gets rained out, O hope Torre keeps the rotation the same and allows Mussina an extra day of rest, as that seems to be very important for him right now. Still line up Johnson for game 3, Chacon for game 4 since he is so rested already what is one more day, and then Moose for an if needed game 5 or, knock on wood, game 1 of the alcs again, with Johnson oging game 2, Wang 3, Chacon 4. That is getting way way way ahead of myself, but back to the original point, I think getting Moose an extra day of rest would be a good thing
2005-10-06 18:20:47
28.   JeremyM
Just read a stat that reads like a bad omen: Johnson has lost his last 7 division series starts.
2005-10-06 18:30:32
29.   randym77
Darn rain. Looks like it's going to be a pretty wet weekend all around. The remains of Hurricane Tammy, I think.

It's great that Jason Giambi won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. I confess, I was one of the doubters. I didn't want the Yankees to sign him in the first place. After he came to NY, I still thought he was a waste of money. And I was ready to write him off for dead at the beginning of this year. I was wrong, and I hereby eat my words. Congratulations, Jason.

And for those were complaining that Bernie never gets any love...The Sporting News gave him some:

The article is about "Players to watch in MLB playoffs: Here's who will make a difference when it counts."

// Bernie Williams, Yankees. Tied with teammates Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada for most postseason games played since 2000 (65), Williams is tops in offensive production. He leads all players in homers (11), RBIs (42) and runs (43) and has a .360 on-base percentage. //

And ye gods. The Rocket is getting shelled tonight. The Braves ain't dead yet.

2005-10-06 19:04:48
30.   Harley
Manny wants out? Can't blame him. Here's an easy call. The Mets and the Sox swap Beltran and Manny. The Sox let Damon go.
2005-10-06 19:40:28
31.   JeremyM
Geez, since when has Manny not wanted out of Boston? This hardly qualifies as news guys. And as soon he's out of Boston, he'll want out of wherever they trade him. The guy was born to be miserable. He should be pretty damn happy he is where he is. So maybe he was behind the Pope comments after all?
Boy Clemens got rocked. I expected better out of him, but he was known to lay an egg or two in the playoffs.
2005-10-07 02:45:58
32.   debris
I don't see how the Sox trade Manny. I expect that they'll lose Damon. As much as they want to sign him, the Sox, unlike the Yankees, don't like to give contracts that extend beyond a player's expected useful life. (Although they might have overestimated Clement's.) They probably won't offer Damon more than three years; the way Damon plays, he gets hurt and wears out. His defense is already in the decline phase. His offense will certainly be before three more years are out. I expect that he'll likely get a five year deal from Steinbrenner.

With Damon gone and a weak free agent pool, the only thing the Sox could get from a Manny deal is payroll relief at the expense of roster strength. Given the price of tickets in Beantown and the fact that they haven't had an unsold ticket in nearly three years, the folks won't stand for it.

2005-10-07 04:02:51
33.   randym77
ESPN2 reports that "inside sources" say Clemens' hamstring injury is a lot worse than the Astros are letting on. That might explain his bad night.
2005-10-07 05:23:26
34.   rbj
From this morning's NYTimes:
"Tonight's game could be postponed altogether and played tomorrow, meaning that Game 4 would be at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. If a Game 5 were necessary, the two teams would play Monday in Anaheim."

Ugh. Play a game (probably late into the night), fly cross country, then immediately play again. Yankees need to sweep the two games at home.

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