Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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2005-10-08 06:37
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

"If I would have paid a ticket to watch me pitch, I probably would have booed me, too," said Johnson, who made the shortest postseason start of his career. "They've come to expect a little more out of me. I've come to expect more out of myself."

..."That guy, did you see the movie 'Multiplicity,' with Michael Keaton?" Jeter said. "I think they keep making a bunch of Chone Figginses. He keeps making big plays no matter where they put him."

The best news for Yankee fans came before the game yesterday when the White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the defending champion Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Former Yankee El Duque Hernandez was the hero, working out of a nail-biting bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh inning and pitching three innings of relief in all. So Boston is done. Right now the Yankees are one game better than their arch rivals and are alive to play one more day, and that's about it. With a loss today they will join the Sox as a first round loser.

Cruising around the papers here are a few links of note: Lupica and Verducci on the Big Unit, John Harper on El Duque, and Chris Snow on the Red Sox.

I'm in Vermont with Emily for the weekend. It hasn't stopped raining since we arrived late yesterday afternoon. I can only imgaine it is still coming down in New York. Though I am not overly confident in the Yankees chances today, my mood is certainly colored by the weather. And hey, they pull one out today and anything can happen tomorrow. So, nertz to the pessimissm and Go Yanks!

2005-10-08 07:15:50
1.   zakysdad1
The game really turned on the two Sheffield at bats and the Cano at bat with the bases loaded. If any of those balls are hits ( and both of Sheffields were blasts) I felt the the game breaks for the Yankees.
As to the booing, I didn't see too many regular season ticket holder in my section. A lot of come lately's booing the guy who had the best record for us at Yankee stadium this year. I know it was a clutch situation and RJ was awful, but BOOING? Jeter should have walked over to him, patted him on the back and let the fans know what the captain thought of their antics.
2005-10-08 07:31:11
2.   Max
I mentioned in the comments on the previous post that Buster Olney's account of El Duque's sixth inning (in last night's series clincher) over at ESPN is must reading, but there's also a quote from Howard Bryant's column about the same moment that's worth noting:

"Aaron Rowand, the center fielder, walked over, poured an entire can of beer on Hernandez' bald head and screamed, ``Cojones Grandes!'' which is another way for saying El Duque was still everything of legend. Down the hallway, Wells said the same thing."

Anyway, let's hope the Yanks can show some "cojones grandes" in Game 4, whether it's today or tomorrow. I feel like this is going to be the Shawn and Mo show.

2005-10-08 07:44:19
3.   jdsarduy
can't really blame the Yankee offense, this game exposed a big weakness the Yanks have and that's their middle relief. Statistics might not point to the fact that the Yanks have one of if not the worst bull pen in the AL but if you've seen the last 50 games or so nobody from that bull pen can shut down the opposition, not even a weak one like the Angels. Randy gave up 5 runs but the pen gave up 6. You can't expect to win in the play offs with such a weak bull pen. These are not the days of Stanton, Mendoza and Nelson. And there's nothing Joe can do about it. It have to wait till the off season to fix that problem. If the starters don't go 6-7, then their chances of losing are about 90%.
2005-10-08 07:56:02
4.   Simone
I wanted to comment on the Red Sox loss. Now the Red Sox fans understand how difficult it is to repeat and how great the Yankee teams of the 90s had to be to keep winning. How difficult it is for the GM to make the right moves with the roster and for the players to produce up to their past performances. Once you are the champions, everyone brings their best game to take you out.

Now for El Duque: Warrior. Ice. Cojones Grandes. Nerves of Steel. Fearless. Indomitable. Incomparable. I genuflect before his greatness.

The man's stuff is nothing to write home about, but he is all heart and nerve. Amazing.

2005-10-08 08:05:26
5.   Nick from Washington Heights
That El Duque performance was legendary. There's no hyperbole in that.

Anyone hear anything about the weather today?

2005-10-08 08:32:15
6.   Rob
El Duque proved exactly how to handly Ortiz and Manny.. You pitch right to them. Brilliant game. That was the stuff of legends right there. As for the Yanks, RJ put them in a heck of a hole. They showed guts coming back like they did, but the soft middle relief just isn't strong enough to hold.
2005-10-08 08:56:13
7.   JohnnyC
What's with this Renteria dude? He's making a bad habit of ending seasons for his team, isn't he? Just another product of the Red Sox's brilliant front office, I guess. Must have been one of those sabermetric skills on the extreme right side of the spreadsheet that caught Theo's eye...seasons ended above league average.
2005-10-08 09:00:30
8.   JohnnyC
As we watch the Yankees' season tick away, it's interesting to note that Red Sox fans have already begun their revisionist take on the Red Sox management. Now many of them see dark days ahead as they assume those carpetbaggers Henry, Werner, and Lucchino will nickel and dime them to oblivion as they maximize their profits until the day when they unceremoniously unload the Old Towne Team to another one of Bud Selig's patsies. Probably by 2007. Saw it all coming.
2005-10-08 09:11:14
9.   atc
2 points:

1) while the majority of blame for last night goes Johnson, Tom Gordon should not escaped unscathed. He destroyed us last year and has consistently proved he's untrustworthy under pressure. Even in game 1 on Tuesday when he got the outs, he still banged Sheffield into the wall twice. Obviously, we have to keep going to him as we have no better option, but it's at the point now in these playoff games where I'm suprised when he DOES the job.

2)Re: Olney, I just wonder if El Duque had done the same thing yesterday but had been pitching for the Yankees, if Olney would have heaped upon him the same praise. I listen to him on the radio and on t.v. and his analysis is so erratic, and so negative concerning the Yankees, it makes you wonder what behind the scenes history exists.

2005-10-08 09:18:07
10.   JohnnyC
Buster is an interesting case in that I think he truly thinks he's being objective in covering the Yankees (as he did for a few years at the Times). He's not a guy I think has the sharp knives out when speaking about the Yankees but it's clear that he's not an admirer of the "awe and mystique," if you will. He grew up in New England, supposedly a Dodgers(?)fan, a Red Sox and Yankees hater. His negativity stems more from his vested interest in the title of his book retaining its factuality. If the Yankees had won another WS in the last few seasons, Game 7 of the 2001 WS would, of course, not have been the last night of the Yankees' most recent dynasty. That said, Buster doesn't like the Yankees. But that ain't news, is it?
2005-10-08 09:20:26
11.   Max
I don't want to pile too much on the Red Sox, because we are looking at the same fate in the next 24 hours...but the whitewash of last night's defeat with the refrain of "we'll always have 2004" seems a little disingenous, given that they worked with a pretty hefty payroll of their own, yet made claims that they pressed their financial advantage more "smartly" than the Yankees.

The fruits of Epstein's work with the minor leagues may justify significant optimism for the future, but I think young Theo should certainly be held accountable for a less than stellar 2005. Saving money on pitchers like Wells, Clement, Miller and Mantei (who made zero or negative impact in the final month and postseason) so that you can overspend dramatically on a shortstop and catcher (ditto on underproduction) doesn't seem savvy, it's just silly. By the end, pitching acquisitions like Remlinger and Stanton were not just head-scratchers, they smacked of pure desperation.

If the rumors are true that the Red Sox and Epstein are far, far apart on a contract, it's easy to see why. I think the club has quite a bit of ammunition to tarnish the golden boy's reputation.

2005-10-08 09:21:27
12.   atc
Johnny, no I don't think it's news, I just can't read his analysis of El Duque and take it seriously.
2005-10-08 09:23:34
13.   atc
BTW, is it raining in NY?
2005-10-08 09:27:28
14.   Max
Re Olney, I'm probably sentimental, but I think the guy is trying to maintain his distance from the Yankees given he was covering that beat for a while. Also, like many writers who move into the ESPN orbit, he has become less compelling as he is forced to morph into a "personality".

I like the guy as a writer who can really get the little details and the emotion in a game, and he made many Yankee games live longer in my mind when he was covering the Yanks for the Times. I also don't think he's nearly as mean-spirited as someone like Lupica, nor do I consider him one of the real "Yankee-haters" (he probably hates Steinbrenner and a few of the more mercenary Yankees, but he's hardly unique in that regard).

His interview with Alex on this blog reveals him to be a thoughtful guy. I'll take him over a garden-variety Yankee beat columnist like Heyman or Sherman any day.

2005-10-08 09:34:57
15.   atc
Max, that last sentence brings up a good point. Most teams have at least one local columnist whom their fans respect and enjoy reading, like Gordon Edes in Boston. Who's ours?
2005-10-08 09:54:01
16.   Simone
atc, Gordon totally deserves all the criticism that comes his way. Gordon is just lucky Randy Johnson was so bad that his massive failure was given minor attention. Gordon spit the bit. He was the anti-Duque and has been ever since last season and his whole post-season career. I wonder if he puked before this game like he did last season.

So what is the latest on the weather?

2005-10-08 10:03:35
17.   Max
atc, that's a great question.

During and after a Yankee game, I commiserate here and (sometimes) one or two other blogs/forums. The Times has their story up first, so I usually go there, but Tyler Kepner's stories are pretty pro forma -- when I've seen him expand on the Yankees in online chats or a feature story, he seems better and quite insightful, but as an everyday writer he's just OK to good (by Times standards).

Chass, Vescey, Araton...nothing special, though Chass tries to stir the pot once in a while, but it all seems pretty toothless.

The Daily News...Lupica, Madden, Harper, Bondy etc etc. Harper is the only that seems really fair to me -- everyone else seems too bent on assuming the bipolarity that is so characteristic of big market media coverage (biggest sports disappointment ever! most amazing Yankee team ever!) Harper, by contrast, actually seems to care about the Yankees perspective and puts some thought into what he is writing.

But Harper has only a small voice among all the egos on that paper.

The others -- Newsday, Post, Star Ledger -- don't do much for me. Klapisch in the Bergen Record might be the only one I respect, but he's spread a bit thin and doesn't seem wired into the daily pulse of the team the way Edes is with the Sox. Nevertheless, when Klap gets his hands on a story and gives it some time, I usually enjoy his take.

2005-10-08 10:04:46
18.   Simone
According to ESPNews, today's game is postponed until tomorrow at 7:30pm. Does Chacon still start?
2005-10-08 10:06:33
19.   sam2175
I know Yankees are in a war, and at times like this you put sentiments aside, but...

Today could be the actual day that Bernie Williams puts on Yankee uniform at Yankee Stadium. I wonder if at the end of the game Bernie will get some well-deserved ovation.

2005-10-08 10:28:34
20.   sam2175
Bummer, no game today, so the point is moot for at least a day.
2005-10-08 10:30:43
21.   Max
Yup, reports game is postponed until tomorrow. ESPN scoreboard does not list the game in their schedule today.

Major advantage Angels. Their bullpen is their biggest asset and they get a day rest. Meanwhile, no one can be comforted by the fact that Gordon gets an extra day rest himself.

Wow, this truly sucks.

2005-10-08 10:49:08
22.   Jen
sam2175 , don't worry, I think Bernie will get plenty of love. Much like he did during the last regular season home game.
2005-10-08 10:53:07
23.   debris
Welcome to Vermont, Alex. Sorry about the late leaf season.


re: post 11. I don't think you'll be seeing any Theo bashing from Beantown. Yes, he overspent on Renteria, who had a tough adjustment year. But Cabrera would have only save a few million. Mantei and Miller were cheap crapshoots that didn't pan out. (The last cheap crapshoot, a guy named Ortiz, did.) Wells gave the Sox exactly what was expected of him, a whole pile of innings at league average. Clement wound up stinking the joint up, but nowhere near as badly as Pavano and Wright. As for Clement's post-season performance, it was remarkably like Unit's.

Theo cannot be blamed for the loss of the team's ace and closer, effectively for the season. In fact, losing Schilling and Foulke, seeing the demise of Bellhorn and Millar, losing Nixon, who never came back from injury, for half the season and still winding up tied for the division lead is quite a feat.

All the while this was happening, the minor league system was making major advancements. Theo parlayed the arbitration system into 6 of the first 60 picks in the draft, stealing Craig Hansen with the number 23 pick.

Both the Sox and Yankees need to get younger. It's tough to get younger throwing overlong contracts at veteran players. I expect the next overlong contract Cashman's successor will be throwing out, at George's request, will be to Johnny Damon, $55 million, 5 years, beating Epstein's offer by 2 years and $25 million.

2005-10-08 10:55:03
24.   randym77
If today's game will be played tomorrow night, what happens to Game 5?
2005-10-08 11:10:27
25.   Max

You make it clear why it's so pointless discussing anything with you. It's already clear from numerous posts on this blog and other forums what the failings of the Yankee front office have been. Cashman and Tampa have been effectively taken to task by the New York media for Johnson, Pavano, Wright and Brown.

Yet, by your logic, the lovable Mr. Epstein deserves no criticism for throwing money at a bunch of underachievers like Clement, Miller, Mantei, and Renteria...comparing them to the Yankee underachievements is pointless, because the latter have been duly recognized while Theo continues to get a pass because he got lucky on one bargain basement acquisition (Ortiz). Again, you measure yourself by what your adversaries are doing, which is why your team is sitting at home not having won a single playoff game.

It's one thing to have a pretty full deck and miss plugging a few holes when thinking about the future, but the holes in starting pitching and relief, not to mention significant parts of the offense, were so huge that management and the GM can't be absolved. As usual, your blinders are on way too tight to see that.

I saw pretty clearly in the last couple of months that the Red Sox were not a playoff team, and benefited from a better Tribe team tanking. The Yankees are only slightly better, but they were a better team the last few months and their playoff spot is earned.

2005-10-08 11:51:46
26.   unpopster
I don't think it'd be considered pessimism if I said that I think the Yanks' season ends tomorrow...the writing is on the wall.

The bullpen ineffectiveness has gotten the bulk of the blame. And Randy's performance last night deserves every ounce of the venom I threw at him in last night's thread. When it is all said and done, last night was biggest failure of Randy's Hall Of Fame career. Given the stage on which he is now playing, it's hard to find a darker stain on his resume than 10/07/05.

But when it's all said and done, the Yankees have quite obviously succumbed to the exhaustion that we all worried about when they were owning September. This is an old team that had a magical last couple of months of the season. But all the concern about playing so many consecutive games in the last 2 weeks -- with each and every one crucial to their playoff hopes -- has caught up with them. The East Coast-West Coast-Back to East Coast journey that they took this past week just put the icing on the cake.

This is evident in Sheff's play in this series, it is evident in the way Randy pitched last night, and it is evident in the poor fielding. It's no coincidence that the one player that has shined the brightest this series is also their youngest everyday player, Robinson Cano. Unlike the 35+ year old vets on this team, he's the only player with anything left in the tank.

We need to get younger next year. Oh, how a healthy and effective Pavano-Wright combo could have helped us!!! Thank god for Chacon, Cano, and Bubba Crosby. I may even throw Proctor in that group because I still have faith that he'll learn how to harness his fastball and pick up an effective breaking pitch.

But, as much as I love Bernie, I think this offseason may require us saying our goodbyes to him, as well as Tino, Sierra and yes, maybe even Posada.

2005-10-08 11:53:00
27.   Alex Belth
Yo Max, I don't get ESPN insider. Would someone be kind enough to e-mail me the Buster bit on El Duque? I'm at Thanks.

I think Olney has some bad feelings about the Yankees, and I also think it's fair to say that because of his book he's got something invested in the current team not being successful.

I wasn't crazy about the first day or so, but I think Howard Bryant's blog was a really good read.

2005-10-08 12:00:37
28.   sam2175
I think the only place where Theo could be held accountable is not being aggressive with problem solving mid-season this year. You start a year with a plan, and at the beginning of the season there was not much you could say against Theo. I personally thought Wade Miller at that price was a brilliant pick-up, although Halama did not scare me at all. Renteria was overpaid, for sure, but Cabrera also got tons of money. The major blunder, IMO, was letting Pedro go, when he could be had at a 3 year Schilling type deal even before the Mets got into action. Clearly, that was botched due to reasons other than baseball.

Cash had a bad off-season, but was pro-active about Yankee problems throughout the season. Maybe that moved the Yankees to the post-season this year.

At the deadline, the Sox, however, failed to get a major starter (to supplant Schilling) and a good reliever (to replace Foulke) who could make a difference. Graffanino was a good pick-up, but not a difference maker. And that crap about Manny was just that, crap. The real hilarious part was reading about how that thing was meant to be a "little tough love" for Manny. The guy was not hitting as well as he had, and hence all the drama. He tore the cover off the ball in the late season, and he was a major reason why Sox even played a single post-season game.

I want them to trade Manny, I really do. If Theo does that, that really would be stupid unless they get Todd Helton to replace him.

2005-10-08 12:19:55
29.   Max
Alex, story sent.

Though I've defended Olney, I mainly appreciated the good things he did, and the fact that he's still a good writer -- Tyler Kepner rarely, if ever, writes anything that gets my blood rushing, despite having covered some pretty amazing highs and lows for the Yankees the last couple of years.

However, I'm guessing that Buster's book created a huge fault line in his relationship with the Yankees -- both in his public positions toward the team, and probably privately as well, since I'm guessing he received a fair amount of flak for the book, from team officials, from fans, from media...and even the praise he got was no doubt a mixed bag motivated by self-interest on the part of people vested in seeing the Yankees image take a huge hit.

And as I said before, Buster Olney the media personality is much drearier than Olney the sportswriter, and unfortunately, the two have merged increasingly since his time at ESPN.

2005-10-08 14:02:28
30.   singledd
Being a Yankee fan in New Hampshire has me living in 'enemy territory', so my desire to see less-then-good things happen to the Sox is as strong as anybody's. However, as I watch almost ever game (I don't get the Yanks on TV), I have come to know and respect them. It is OK to respect your enemy.

Like the Yanks, their pitching looked good on paper, and fell apart... as Schilling and Foulke, there 2 BEST pitchers, were no longer Schilling and Foulke. Luck, fate and injury play a big part in the season.

Losing in the PS, whether Yankees or Red Sox, is not in itself a failure of front office. Theo had put a $100 million team on the field. We have also put a $100 million team on the field, but have paid $200 million to do it.

All in all, the Sox FO, of late, has done a great job. Manny and Edgar are overpaid, but they get decent value out of most of their players.

While many (and I mean MANY) of our players are overpaid (in a bang for the buck analysis), we put players in long contracts, which has kept them in NY, kept our 'nucleus' together, and have given us, the fans, the pleasure of getting attached to these guys. This is, after all, one of the bennies of having money.

However, it is time for our FO to see that 'buying talent' has it's place on a case-by-case basis, but you can't build a winning team this way. We have gone to the well too often, have depleted our farm, and have said goodbye too many talented young players. Our money will always give us an above average team, but will never guarantee us the WS (as I bet George was SURE he would get with Randy, Pavano and Wright).

Our Stud teams of 96-01 had their hired guns, but also talented farm hands, smart trades, solid personalities/players and hard work. Our FO has gotten away from this formula, and hopefully this year will be the straw-that-broke-the-camels-back.

You can't buy good judgement. It's time to get the Man-of-Cash and Gene Michaels back to running the show... taking chances... building the farm... and doing all those things that brought us to 1996.

We the fans might eat some crow for a few years. The PS will no longer be our right.
Part of Yankee tradition it 'doing it right'.
I think its time to get back to tradition.

2005-10-08 23:29:37
31.   brockdc
Some weeks back I posted about the downside of reaching the playoffs, which is, if I may reiterate, the sense by George and his cronies that we are merely a Randy Johnson/Jason Giambi/Gary Sheffield away from winning the WS. This year's edition of overpriced blue-chip veteran would probably be Damon.

At any rate, NOT making the playoffs would've made the massive rebuilding effort far easier for George. We'll see what happens, but my bet is that he'll ink a few overpriced vets to long-term deals, thereby stunting the growth of guys like Cabrerra, Duncan, and Bean.

2005-10-09 03:27:36
32.   debris

Don't know why I'm even responding to you as you clearly can't discuss the Sox rationally, but...

Theo didn't have the money to toss that Cashman did. Should he take a hit for Miller and Mantei? They were small risks at the end of the roster. It's not like he gave $21 million to a guy who'd just failed his physical (can you spell Jaret Wright?). It's not like he took on the final two years and $30 million of a 39 year old man with a chronic bad back who missed 36 starts over the previous three years (Brown).

Theo decided that he wasn't going to bankrupt the farm system, Yankee style, at the deadline. At that point, there was still the hope that Foulke and Schilling would get healthy and Clement hadn't tanked at that point. I've stated it before and here again. The pitching wasn't the problem. The Sox allowed 6 earned runs over the last two games of the playoffs. The problem was the offense after Ramirez.

Despite it all, the Sox still managed to tie for the division lead. The Yankees are watching the playoffs if they don't get lucky with a 33 year old career failure who had been released by 11 teams. Small wasn't even pitching well at Columbus when the Yankees made the desparate call for him. Clearly the baseball gods were with the Yanks this year. You think Small is penciled into the rotation for next year? You think Small is on the 25 man roster that goes north next April?

2005-10-09 07:31:14
33.   Max
Actually debris, I'm not really debating with you, since your arguments are basically a variation on "our moves weren't as bad as the Yankees". I'm sure Theo will go very far in getting a nice contract with those arguments.

Saying that filling your team with 3rd and 4th starters is acceptable because they didn't perform as poorly as your division rival's busts doesn't go very far.

What is reasonable for a team with over a $100 million payroll? The Yankees will no doubt be taken to task if they don't at least make the World Series, as should any team with a $200 million payroll. Every starter had injuries? Well, there's not too much sympathy for that is there in these parts, is there? Wright and Pavano are busts, Johnson has been erratic, no one is feeling sorry for Cashman because they're injury prone or old.

Isn't is reasonable that a team with the second highest payroll should be a lock for the playoffs and should be competitive in them? And shouldn't they be questioned on some of their personnel decisions if, as ALL accounts have had it, they clearly were not built for the playoffs this year?

I have a lot of respect for the Sox, and I will grant that Foulke's injury was probably the biggest killer. But please don't tell me that management couldn't be expected to see what was coming with Schilling or Clement (somewhere Dusty Baker is laughing) or Miller or Mantei or Halama or Remlinger. This isn't a question of filling the roster with multi-million dollar All-Star's a question of having at least one ace and some semblance of a relief pitching staff.

I will give Theo plenty of credit for his commitment to the minors and some good young players look like they will be stars for the Sox in years to come. But like the Yankees, the management has an obligation to field not just a competitive team, but one of the better teams if not best team in baseball. They've made some of the same mistakes as the Yankees in terms of overreliance on aging players. They were not a playoff team in the last two to three months in baseball, they were extremely lucky to get in, and I think it's reasonable to ask whether money was smartly spent as a result.

2005-10-09 11:38:05
34.   debris

There were three premium free agent pitchers on the market last winter, Pavano, Wright and Clement. The Sox clearly got the best of the three, although they lucked out and were outbid on Pavano, whom they also wanted.

You say the Sox weren't a playoff team the last half of the season, yet the Yankees only managed to gain 1.5 games on them in the standings in that period. Were the Yanks not built for the playoffs either?

There was a price to be paid for the World Championship in '04 and that was the risk that Schilling wouldn't be ready to pitch in '05 (if ever.) It was a risk the Sox took and it paid off in the short term, if not the long. Then again, I don't expect them to win a championship every year.

When I look at this year, with all that went wrong, what with injuries to Nixon, Schilling, and Foulke and the decline/demise of Bellhorn and Mueller, I'm quite satisfied with the season the Sox had.

Do I fault Theo and company for not draining the farm system at the deadline? Not really. For one, there wasn't much available and for two, like the Yankees, this is a team that sorely needs to get younger, and quick.

With Papelbon, Lester, Sanchez, Delcarman, Hansen, Pedroia, and H. Ramirez on the horizon, the Sox could be fielding a team with seven or eight homegrown players as soon as '07.

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