Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Saturday's Game
2006-03-18 21:54
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Playing in the same Jupiter, Florida ballpark in which they lost to the Cardinals the day before, the Yankees took an easy one from Joe Girardi's baby Marlins yesterday 8-3


Kevin Reese CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Hideki Matsui LF
Gary Sheffield RF
Jason Giambi DH
Andy Phillips 1B
Wil Nieves C
Marcos Vechionacci 3B
Felix Escalona SS

Subs: Miguel Cairo 1B, Kevin Howard 2B, Ramiro Pena SS, Eric Duncan 3B, David Parish C, Mitch Jones RF, Melky Cabrera LF, Russ Johnson DH

Pitchers: Jaret Wright, Dusty Bergman, Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Myers, J. Brent Cox, Ron Villone

Big Hits: A three-run homer in the third by Hideki Matsui (1 for 3, 4 RBIs), a bases-loaded triple by Kevin Howard (2 for 4, 4 RBIs), and what Ken Singleton described as "a ringing double" by Mitch Jones (1 for 2). Kevin Reese was 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored.

Who Pitched Well: Mike Myers worked a perfect seventh, striking out one, Ramiro Mendoza allowed one hit while striking out one in a scoreless sixth, but the big story was Wright, who allowed just one run in four innings on three hits and no walks while striking out four. After the game, Wright credited his effectiveness to a new grip on one of his pitches taught to him by Mike Mussina. Which pitch that is, however, seems to be the subject of some debate, as reports it's his curve, while our pal Peter Abraham reports it's his slider.

Oopsies: Felix Escalona, Ramiro Pena and Mitch Jones each committed a fielding error.

Ouchies: Robinson Cano got beaned in the left temple by a throw from third baseman Miguel Cabrera while trying to beat out an infield single in the first. Cano was safe, but was removed from the game as a precaution (yielding to Kevin Howard's fantastic day). Cano appears to be fine. Scott Erickson was scheduled to pitch, but instead returned to Tampa with back spasms while Ramiro Mendoza, who I believe to be his primary challenger for Aaron Small's spot in the bullpen, pitched a pretty sixth inning. Jorge Posada (flu) took batting practice and is expected to be in the line-up tomorrow when the team returns to Tampa, as should be returning WBCers Jeter, Rodriguez and Williams (though not Damon, due to his shoulder tendinitis). Bubba Crosby (hamstring) is also expected to return to action tomorrow.

2006-03-19 05:22:20
1.   Shaun P
Let's hope the powers that be don't overestimate Wright's ability based on 4 innings against a lineup that will probably be the major's worst this year.
2006-03-19 06:24:18
2.   The Mick 536
Alex. Why not call the miscues Box Sores?

Thinking about my preseason picks. Haven't seen the teams playing full strength enough to know. Can always go with the chalk, but who be at the head of the line? Too much trouble keeping up with the game. Think that I will give up the NL, except for the Cubbies.

As for the Janks, good to hear that Jaret had a decent, non-BP outing.

Still rooting for Cuba.

2006-03-19 06:30:04
3.   Alex Belth
My pre-season exposure has been limited so far this spring, but I did catch a few innings of the game yesterday and was really delighted to see Bobby Meachum coaching third for the Marlins. He looked good and it's comforting to know that this is life in baseball after your playing career for many guys. Meachum, the poor bastard, wasn't ever that good, but you had to feel for him during his days in New York, as he became the defacto poster child for the "Columbus Express."
2006-03-19 07:46:28
4.   Rob Gee
Our good friends on the Sox (Varitek and Timlin) have an interesting take on the timing of the WBC - the US team was at a competitive disadvantage because the players weren't ready for action -

I'm wondering what you pro-WBC'ers think about this feedback? Before you answer, consider that the two teams in the final feature a majority of players NOT on a ML training schedule.

2006-03-19 07:49:57
5.   Rob Gee
Oh, and there's also a nice, in throw-up-in-mouth kind of way, bit in that piece about Varitek lobbying Clemens to join the Sox while catching him during warm-ups. Good times!
2006-03-19 08:09:43
6.   sam2175

Here is what Varitek and Timlin thinks will be a good time for WBC:

"If a second WBC takes place in 2009 as planned, Varitek and Timlin said they'd like to see it occur in the middle of the major league season orimmediately following the World Series so that U.S. players are better prepared."

Japan could possibly have the same excuse, but they had a much longer training camp to work out the kinks. Nobody asked the US guys not to do that.

As for alternative timings:

Middle of the ML season: Good luck trying to convince the owners to let guys play in an international competition in the middle of a pennant race. How many anti-WBC guys would like that to happen? Remember, Cuba did exactly that to participate, that was how much they wanted to be part of it. Can you see the US wanting it that much?

After World Series: Realistically speaking, this is the best shot perhaps. However, I see the same type of complaints coming now. If US lose, players will blame it on not having anything in the tank. And the ML owners would be shying away from committing their stud young starting pitchers from the squad.

This also does not include the arguments from other countries that play by a different schedule.

Bottomline is, there is no good time that perhaps satisfies all teams and all interest groups. The next 3 or 4 WBCs should experiment with format and timing to see what could be the most acceptable time-table. But all that is contingent on the fact that narrow, parochial interest surrounding local teams that fans support would give way to the more braoder interest in the game of baseball itself. Now that the tournament has proved that there is very little difference among the top 9-10 teams in the world (US, Canada, Japan, Korea, DR, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, PR, with Panama a little behind) it promises to make for a very, very intriguing tournament where not only spectator participation would be very high, but also quality of play will be very high. The execution of the current WBC, even if flawed, have genuinely opened this very intriguing possibility, and Bud Selig needs to be congratulated on that.

2006-03-19 09:20:58
7.   Simone
Rob Gee, I say, "blah, blah, excuses, excuses." I really don't want to hear that whiny pathetic crap from the U.S. players. MLB provided them with scouting reports on the other teams (a courtesy not extended to the other teams), gave them the easiest path to the finals (they only had to face one strong team, Japan), they even had the best accomodations and games with the most favorable times AND they still couldn't beat Mexico!? Screw them. They should be f'ing embarassed and if they aren't, I am on their behalf. The least they could have done is reach the semi-finals.

The U.S. team didn't play particularly well and didn't win because they simply didn't have the passion that the other countries' players possessed for this competition and it showed. Buck Martinez managed like it was the All Star game and players played the exact same way. As long as that is the attitude that they have, then it doesn't matter when they hold the WBC or how much time they play together before hand.

As for the WBC final not having any MLB players, I say several of those Cuban players, especially Gourriel has MLB caliber talent. Sometimes the other team is just care more and player better on the given day.

2006-03-19 10:11:05
8.   Zack
The DR had major league talent and they came very close to being in the finals. Simone is dead on, they can make excuses all they want, but they just didn't show up. And its really only the hitters, the pitchers, save Willis, pitched great, the hitters stunk it up.

With the level of talent on the US roster, I don't care what time it is, that lineup should be able to hit. Yes, you lose your timing in the offseason, but not by so much that you can't hit at all. And it didn't seem to bother them in the first round, its just that they ran into better teams...

I'm still wondering, is there any way Wright starts over Wang to begin the season, and if so, how can that be?

2006-03-19 11:52:10
9.   Rob Gee
See, I would agree that it's just US bitching, but...

Every team with ML players has lost, with the exception being the two players on the Japanese roster (and the one maybe with the Cubans). The training schedule of ML players probably prevented their best play. If you don't agree that moving the WBC makes sense, then you better expect the US team to start training in January if you want their performance to match their reps.

The other crazy thing - for all the talk about pool play - Japan beats Korea once in three tries yet makes it to the finals? How is that fair? Or representative of the sport? At least in a March Madness style tourney the results would be consistent with the team winning the most games winning the whole deal.

What a f'en's hoping some major changes are made, and not just to attitudes or competitive fire.

2006-03-19 12:12:35
10.   randym77
Fare thee well, Alois. I know most here won't miss Al Leiter, but I was kind of hoping he'd stick around one more year.
2006-03-19 14:05:37
11.   wsporter
I have to say that I did come around and enjoy the WBC. It does however seem to be the other side of Bull Sh** that Korea beat Japan 2 of 3 and yet Japan moved on to play in the finals. Additionally, I don't want Jeter et al starting to work out hard in January/February to get ready for this thing: where will that leave them but exhausted in August/September? I think Rob's November/December notion makes a lot of sense. If everyone's that worried about players from playoff teams becoming superannuated because of so many games then allow the WBC team to be formed only from non-playoff team rosters.

There has to be better a way to schedule this thing. But for a first time through I'd say it's worth doing again. Now if the geniuses at MLB can just learn from their mistakes; oh wait, what am I saying? Sorry.

2006-03-19 15:55:15
12.   brockdc
I watched the Cuba-DR game, just to catch some of the WBC "excitement" that some of you guys were talking about; and I must admit - that was some pretty intense, hard-fought baseball. Still...

A. I'm glad the U.S. is done and no Yankees were (seriously) injured.

B. I don't pretty much care if the WBC is ever played again.

C. One solution to 6 is that they could play the tournement in a paralell universe wherein U.S. participants wouldn't lose spring training reps or overtax their bodies following a long, hard 162-game campaign.

D. Watching the Cuba-D.R. game on ESPN, who was broadcasting the game from PETCO field, provided a stark reminder that the U.S. is rapidly becoming a country that consumes everything but produces nothing.

E. I watch ESPN news once a freaking week - tops. The one day I watch it (this morning), they show a graphic of Ortiz called "Makin' 'em Count," or some such B.S. The graphic indicates that, although Ortiz hit .150 for the entire tourney, all his hits were HOMERS. Wow! That David Ortiz is something special!

2006-03-19 16:16:03
13.   unpopster
UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE!!! - "Jaret Wright hurt his back fielding bunts during a pregame drill and will be reevaluated Monday.

The day after his best outing of the spring. If Wright didn't have bad luck... well, he is making $7 million this year, so he could be worse off. Mar. 19 - 5:42 pm et"

2006-03-19 16:16:58
14.   Zack
Hey Alex/Cliff, in light of today's roster moves signaling the end of our fun with the "kids," what is the difference between optioning someone to AA or AAA or whatever, and reassigning someone to the minor league camp?
2006-03-19 19:18:32
15.   brockdc
J. Wright's more delicate than one of those creepy Precious Moment figurines.
2006-03-19 19:18:57
16.   Cliff Corcoran
Zack 14: Non-roster players are on minor league contracts and are "reassigned" to minor league camp as they are merely on loan from the minors. Players on the 40-man roster need to be "optioned" down to the minors. We had a discussion about options in the comments a little while ago. If you need me to summarize let me know. Simple way to think about it: non-roster players need a transaction to play in the majors (being added to the 40-man roster), while 40-man roster players need a transaction to play in the minors (typically being optioned down).
2006-03-19 20:06:59
17.   mikeplugh
All the BS about the US team can get thrown right out the window. Here's why:

1. Japanese players play nearly as much ball as Major League players and they routinely throw pitch counts in the mid 100's. They train hard and they play hard and they're ready to go even though it's still Spring Training in Japan too.

2. It's not BS that Japan gets to move on even though they lost to Korea twice. It's not smart that the organizers didn't criss cross the Semi-Finals so that Korea and the Dominican Republic would play while Japan and Cuba slugged it out. Playing a team 3 times is not good for an event, but that's the way they set it up. The Koreans hit .131 in the first two games against Japan and won thanks to timely hitting. They hit .129 in the third game and they lost. That's baseball.

3. The reason that the US lost is exactly what Simone said earlier. They played the games like it was an All Star game. Martinez managed like it was an exhibition. I know these guys aren't getting paid to play, and that their loyalties are to their jobs, but then they shouldn't whine when teams leaving their blood and guts on the field advance and they don't. I don't think a lot of the US players know what it means to leave their blood on the field. They live in mansions and drive sports cars and have air conditioning in their dugouts. Is it any wonder that a team from Cuba is grittier and tougher than them? Not in my mind.

4. Why does the US have to win everything? I want them to win because I'm an American, but when they lose I think..."Damn. That's too bad." and I get into the other teams playing. As Americans we have this conscious or sub-conscious impression that we should win everything, like it's our birth right. Like it's a colossal failure if we don't. Certainly we should be disappointed at how little fire the team showed and how little effort they exhibited as compared to the players from other countries, but that should be the knock on them. No guts. No effort. Losing is not the problem.

The timing of the WBC is fine. If the US players can't do what every other country in the world did this time around and spend a little time getting ready, then fine. Don't expect to win. It obviously doesn't mean as much to the US players as it does to everyone else so let the crown live on foreign soil. They clearly care about it more, and are willing to work for it. That is the American way after all, right?

2006-03-19 20:44:12
18.   Zack
Cliff 16 So they all end up over at the minor league camp, its just a matter of the process/term?

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