Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Pitching and Defense
2006-04-06 06:56
by Cliff Corcoran

Five unearned runs, that was margin of victory for the A's last night as they took the opening series from the Yankees with a 9-4 victory. The Yanks did well to get out to a 4-0 lead after three against Dan Haren, but from there the A's hurlers tightened up and the Yankees' pitching and defense fell apart.

Chien-Ming Wang got his ground balls (9 of 12 outs in the field came on the ground) and came through with strikeouts, K-ing three in his 4 2/3 innings for a 5.79 K/9, but he also walked three and allowed seven hits in that short span. From what I could tell watching the game on MLB Gameday (due to a misbehaving cable box), he left too many pitches up in the zone.

It all came apart in the fourth after a ground out and a single when Derek Jeter bobbled a would-be inning-ending double play ball for the Yankees' first error of the night. Dan Johnson followed by working a full-count walk and Milton Bradley singled home the two runners that should have been retired by the double play. Wang then got the final two outs, but not before a third run scored on the second out of the inning.

In the fifth, Wang had a stirring confrontation with Frank Thomas with one out and men on the corners, eventually getting Thomas swinging for the second out, but then a pair of walks loaded the bases and forced in the A's fourth run and Tanyon Sturtze was brought in to get the final out.

With his starter out of the game after five and the score tied, Joe Torre turned to Jaret Wright in the sixth. One could have argued for two innings each from Farnsworth and Rivera had Farnsworth not pitched the night before. Another option would have been to stay with Sturtze, who only needed three pitches to finish the fifth, but all of that would be second guessing. As it stood, Wright looked sharp in his final two spring starts and seemed like as good a choice as any. Indeed, Wright made Torre look good by pitching around a walk for a scoreless sixth then recording a 1-2-3 seventh against the heart of the A's order.

With the game still tied and the bottom of the order coming up, it seemed safe to let Wright have one more frame, but Milton Bradley started the eighth with a triple just beyond the reach of Johnny Damon in center and scored when Robinson Cano booted a would-be Jay Payton groundout. A pair of singles plated another run and drove Wright from the game with men on first and second and none out. Mike Myers then did his job by striking out Kotsay and Torre turned to Farnsworth to keep the A's lead at 6-4. Farnsworth's first pitch was wild, sending Jason Kendall to third, and his next three were out of the zone, loading the bases, which Frank Thomas then cleared with a two-out double to run the score to 9-4, chasing Farnsworth from the game.

And that was that. Unlike Tuesday night, the Yankees left just four men on base and Joe Torre's pitching changes were logical and timely. Last night's loss was no fun, but the loss in and of itself doesn't bother me all that much. It does, however, make Tuesday's ninth-inning defeat all the more bitter. Last night was a winable game, but the pitching and defense kicked it away. If the players lose, so be it. Tuesday night, however, was a game the manager lost, and that's inexcusable, especially when his team has an opportunity to take a series from a team as good as the A's. As it stands, the A's took two of three from the Yankees without Mariano Rivera throwing a single pitch.

In other news, Dr. Robert Watkins did not recommend surgery for Carl Pavano, which is good news for his career, though perhaps bad news for the Yankees who won't be able to recoup his salary via the insurance policy on his contract. This news makes me no more confident that we'll see Meat in action anytime before September call-ups. Pavano has returned to his core stabilization program and is throwing off flat ground in the hope of getting back on a mound next week. Brian Cashman insists it's not, but that sounds an awful lot like square one to me.

Comments (57)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-04-06 08:46:30
1.   Count Zero
How true. The Tuesday loss grew in importance last night.

I kind of posted this at the end of yesterday's thread, but I'll say it again here where it fits better:

If there's one thing that should be obvious to any sports fan, it's that games, contests, whatever -- in any sport -- usually hinge on one or two key plays. Teams / individuals who consistently make those plays, win.

Last night, Jeter's error was that play. Take away his error and the rest of this game never happens. Wang gives up 1 run, pitches into the 6th, everything plays out completely differently. Wang wasn't "electric" last night, but he certainly pitched well enough to win. The booted double play was the turning point of the game. If you're going to hang that loss on someone, hang it on Jeter. Hey, it happens to the best of them. Shake it off and get ready for the Angels.

Let's hope the defense improves. At least Giambi turned a nice 3-6-3...which was surprising and encouraging. :)

2006-04-06 08:51:52
2.   Rob Gee
How true it is Cliff. In hindsight, Tuesday was Mo's game - not only did he not throw a single pitch during the series, but with the off day today, he could have pitched two or (horror!) three innings on Tuesday. All we needed was one run against the back of the A's bullpen. Sigh...

And thanks Ken at the Stew for the headline! Good times!

2006-04-06 08:52:34
3.   Mattpat11
2006-04-06 09:01:37
4.   Hank
I agree with Count Zero. The interesting thing is that if you just happened to see the score going across the bottom line, you'd assume the Yanks got crushed. But that ball that Jeter booted completely changed the complexion of the game. And isn't it timed we stopped this ridiculous notion of not assuming a double play? When you've got an easy ground ball bounced right up DP alley, headed toward the two-time defending Gold Glove winner at short, and Frank Thomas laboring down the first base line, I think you're pretty safe in assuming the double play.
2006-04-06 09:02:19
5.   pistolpete
Jeter's entitled, but Cano continues to make my stomach churn with his fielding - Bowa really needs to take him in a room and work him over with a phone book or something...

The play in the 4th I also pin on Cano because if you saw the replay, you'd notice that Cano stuck out his BARE HAND to try and accept the eventual flip from Derek.

Hey, Robbie - see that big brown thing on your other hand? Then of course we were treated to another miscue in the 5th with the go-ahead run on 3rd, who incidentally wasn't moving at all.

I also am losing my patience with A-Rod and his strikeouts the last few days - I think the Yanks get their momentum back if Alex drives in Sheff from 2nd after the A's came back to tie it up.

Of course, we're only 3 games into the season, but this is looking remarkably like the same exact team I was cursing at last October in Anaheim...

2006-04-06 09:09:29
6.   Cliff Corcoran
3 Meat is a nickname Alex hung on Pavano last year because he's so big and dopey, just a big slab o' meat out there on the mound.
2006-04-06 09:11:37
7.   brockdc
This team could really use another solid glove at this point, though I know it ain't gonna happen. I realize we're only three games in, but the fact stands that every time a ball is hit by an opposing player, I hold my breath. Bradley's rifle shot to CF was catchable (Damon jumped early) as was a double to Matsui in left earlier in the game.

For years I've ignored the claims of Jeter being a sub-par fielder. He's always seemed to make the clutch plays to me, and that's what mattered. Still, I must admit, he looks a bit lethargic, no?

By the way, Wang K'd Thomas on a sick 76mph changeup, which was somewhat puzzling to me. I had no idea he even had a change in his arsenal.

2006-04-06 09:17:39
8.   brockdc

Agreed about Cano. True, Jeter bobbled the ball initially, but he did have the wherewithal to shovel it to Cano for a sure out at second. All Robbie had to do was catch it WITH HIS GLOVE. The play could've easily been scored an E4.

2006-04-06 09:19:08
9.   Cliff Corcoran
7 76 MPH changeup? Were you looking at the YES gun, because it's been a good 5-10 MPH slow thus far this season.

Also, lethargic? Expect to see a lot of that this season due to the ban on amphetamines. I'm not saying Jeter used them, but then all reports are that the majority of players would pop 'em at least on occasion. It's on these West Coast swings that we're likely to see the Yanks most effected by that.

Finally, I've seen a lot of complaining about the Yankees hitting over the past two games, but no one's bothered to recognize that the A's have some incredible pitchers (Harden, Haren, Duchscherer, Street). They say good pitching stops good hitting. I'm willing to give the A's the credit rather than the Yanks the blame there.

2006-04-06 09:24:33
10.   rbj
According to the YES announcers, Bowa's been working with Giambi on the 3-6-3 DP. The hitting's good enough Donnie should be taking time to work with Jason on that, Bowa needs more time with Cano.
2006-04-06 09:27:42
11.   rbj
According to the YES announcers, Bowa's been working with Giambi on the 3-6-3 DP. The hitting's good enough Donnie should be taking time to work with Jason on that, Bowa needs more time with Cano.
2006-04-06 09:28:47
12.   rbj
Ack, sorry for the double post, my computer showed a timeout (the network here is real slow lately.)
2006-04-06 09:29:44
13.   brockdc
9: Yes, 76mph. I would (almost) bet on it. After striking out, Big Hurt had this look on his face like, "What the...?"

Good point about the pitching. The A's 1-3 is as good as any team's.

By the way, if you're going to put the blame on A-Rod for whiffing last night, you've also got to look to Bernie, who watched three strike threes zip by his buckling knees last night. Then again, one could make the argument that Bernie shouldn't even be in the starting lineup, but...

2006-04-06 09:33:32
14.   pistolpete
I have very low expectations for Bernie at this point - he's still got some adjusting to do with the full-time DH role, but when you're the reigning AL MVP, you put the bat on the ball...

And I guess we're still not bunting much at all this year...

2006-04-06 09:38:35
15.   Count Zero
I didn't really see it that way. Robbie had both hands up when Jeter made a desperate flip to him that all but hit Robbie's bare hand directly. Yes, he could've caught it, but it would've been a really good play if he did, and while it would've saved Jeter an error, it still would've been a blown double play.

Robbie was in position to maybe salvage an out from what should've been a 6-6-3 DP that didn't even involve him. Don't hang Jeter's error on him -- Robbie made his own later. ;)

2006-04-06 09:49:22
16.   pistolpete
It would have required some quicker thinking, but Cano definitely could have handled that flip with his glove hand - you just get the feeling he's not paying attention out there sometimes...or paying attention to the wrong thing.

Jeter blew the DP, but IMO it didn't have to be a 6-6-3 - the ball ricocheted towards 2B off Jeter's head/body, and he fumbled with it towards the bag in hopes of getting the one out. Cano would have been near (or on) the base anyway, as that's what the second baseman should do when there's a man on first and the ball is hit to short.

2006-04-06 10:07:51
17.   Rob Gee
The LoHud blog (see right-hand links) has a post about Jeff Maier, the now senior college 3B, about to break the hits record at Wesleyan. Peter makes the point: How fun would it be to see him take the field for the Yanks?
2006-04-06 10:08:05
18.   Count Zero
I'm not disputing that's where Robbie should be -- that was my point in fact -- he did everything right except make what would've been a very difficult bare-handed play. Even if he makes it, the inning continues because no way he turns the DP.

It didn't have to be a 6-6-3? I'm not sure what that turn a DP the easiest way available. If you don't need to make a toss, you don't make one. That was as routine a "step on the bag and throw on to first" play as they come. Once Jeter booted the ball, it wasn't any kind of DP. :P

Forget it -- Jeter made an error. He's made a thousand great plays too, so I'm cool with it. But it wasn't Robbie's fault no matter how much you want it to not be Jeter's. :D

2006-04-06 10:08:50
19.   markp
I knew it. Jeter blows an easy DP ball, but it can't be his fault so let's blame Cano. If you look at the replay, even if Cano caught the ball the runner was safe. Jeter made that error all by himself.
2006-04-06 10:11:25
20.   Shaun P
14 pistolpete, IMHO, unless its the ninth inning and a tie game and the situation calls for it, this team should never bunt. The starting lineup is too good to waste outs by bunting.
2006-04-06 10:20:39
21.   tocho
9 lost somewhere in the comments on Tuesday's game I acnkowledged the "clutch" pitching by the A's. In seemed that in these two games they rose to the ocassion when in trouble. especially on Tuesday (1st. inning, then 8th. inning) they were really good. And they did it by challenging the hitters, my guess is that come June or July A-Rod and Sheff (and even Jason) will not be missing those fastballs anymore (no hope here for Posada or for Bernie)...
2006-04-06 10:31:15
22.   Kered Retej
I'm not really upset about last night's loss. For better or worse, this team is built to win on offense, defense (and pitching to a lesser extent) be damned. Going into the season, we knew that they would lose some games due to errors and generally poor fielding (especially whenever Wang takes the mound). The hope is that you get enough offense out of those same players on most days to offset any defensive lapses.

And on that offense note, I am generally encouraged by the hitting. Yes, there could have been more timely hits and fewer untimely K's, but overall, for the first 3 games of the season when bats are still a bit rusty, not too bad. In a playoff situation, I would probably be thrilled with 3 runs in 5 innings and 4 in 6 off of Oakland's top 2 pitchers (not to mention 7 runs off their "ace"). Plus Unit, Moose, and yes, even Wang, pitched decently. Of course, you can't win if your best pitcher sits on the bench.

As with most of you, I am still upset about Tuesday's loss, and Joe Torre. No need to rehash what has already been (better) said by others, but is there any chance Torre will hear at least a filtered portion of what is on every Yankees blog? Can Brian Cashman call Torre into his office and tell him to cut that s%@! out? In a perfect world, Joe would handle the media, and someone else would handle the day-to-day lineups, pitching changes, etc.

Finally, if Beckett stays healthy (big if, of course) and pitches like he did last night, the Red Sox will make this another race to the wire. Good stuff. Let's go, Yankees...

2006-04-06 10:36:18
23.   Knuckles
Has the rise of the Internet made me a better Yankee fan, because I'm more tuned in, and have a more widespread community of fellow fans to banter with?

Or has it made me worse, because instead of my immediate friends and family telling me to shut up, I now have a forum to b1tch unceasingly about the second (or third) game of a new season?

These are the things I think about when I go to bed at 1am on a weeknight.

I need to stay out of the 'comments' section during West Coast games...

2006-04-06 10:38:19
24.   Shaun P
Joe Sheehan has a fascinating article up at BPro (premium, so you've got to be a subscriber I'm afraid):

He takes Torre to task for his nonuse of Rivera the last 2 nights. If you can't read it, follow the link below and see what happened on Opening Day in 1978, before the 'pitch a closer only when he can get a save' garbage plagued MLB:

I'd like to see a prominent national columnist write an article about how getting wins, not saves, should always be the primary goal of the baseball manager.

2006-04-06 10:41:19
25.   Sliced Bread
Is it just me, or has Posada seemed to be in a funk since Opening Night? Perhaps he's suffering a residual hangover from his busted beak, but to me he didn't look comfortable at the plate this series.

Behind the plate, he hasn't been taking charge, doesn't seem to be engaged and communicating with the pitchers, not his usual self.

Wang is as cool as they come, but he really looked rattled after the Jeter error. Did Posada go out there to settle him down? If he did, I missed it because I left the room for a moment.
I saw Guidry come out later, but that was only to get Sturtze ready.

Anybody else observe Posada as a little disconnected? Maybe the day off today and Saturday will do him good.

2006-04-06 10:55:35
26.   Cliff Corcoran
Re: 24, Jon Weisman quotes a good half of Sheehan's article in his latest Dodger Thoughts post.
2006-04-06 11:04:30
27.   Larry

Out of curiosity, did the Yanks ever say why they took a pass on Thomas?

Sure, it's only been three games, but it's already clear Bernie is going to be an offensive black hole in the DH slot, and it's damn frustrating to think we could've had Thomas' bat in our lineup for $500k cheaper.

2006-04-06 11:19:08
28.   Zack
Kered Retej,
From what I gather, Beckett used good defense and some timely outs to get around a lot of hits. Which of course still translates to only 1 run, but not sure he can count on that all season. We shall see...

Everytime I start to bitch about Torre, which is often, I then sit back and realize that it ain't gonna change until he is gone. For ten years he has done the exact same things, and now that they are grooming Donnie to replace him, He'll probably follow in those footsteps.

Torre has never been a great in game manager, and that has certainly shown up the last season or so. I have always wondered if another manager could get more out of these guys. Yes, Joe is a great ego manager, and that can't be underestimated, but this is also a team that should be able to win at least 90 games just by showing up, so has Joe actually been limiting their potential? Who knows...

2006-04-06 11:45:04
29.   Rob Gee
28 It's tough because we remember the atmosphere that was the Bronx Zoo. I really liked Buck but I was also too young to really know better.

The funny thing is Torre's success probably has more to do with having the greatest closer in history who's numbers actually improve dramatically in the post-season. Indeed, we could have won maybe three more Serious if Mo doesn't blow crucial save opps (1997, 2001, 2004). And if he performs like typical closers, or even at his season averages, we win only one or two Serious and Torre is less a Saint/HOF and more a good manager.

But you're right - we have what we got.

Any one know if there's SABR stuff looking at the effect of managers and GM's? But that's a tough analysis.

2006-04-06 12:00:54
30.   pistolpete
>>But it wasn't Robbie's fault no matter how much you want it to not be Jeter's.

I didn't say Jeter wasn't to blame - he definitely screwed up the DP. However, it's my opinion that Cano screwed up the chance to get the one out...

And yes, Jeter didn't have to take the ball himself and step on the bag - it's not unheard of for a SS to flip to the 2B within a few feet of the base.

>>The starting lineup is too good to waste outs by bunting.

Personally, I'm tired of that excuse. If you've done poorly the entire game against the opposing pitcher (see: A-Rod last night), I'd rather see a bunt laid down in the late innings than a completely unproductive strikeout.

2006-04-06 12:10:03
31.   Cliff Corcoran
Steven Goldman and Christina Kahrl included an essay on managers in Baseball Prospectus 2006 and hope to expand to manager comments in future editions (if space allows). Of course Bill James did his manager book a while back.

Meanwhile re: 27, I'm sure the Yankees passed on Thomas because of his injury problems. It's a minor miracle that Thomas was healthy for opening day and will be a far greater one if he hasn't hit the DL by the All-Star break. He's a huge guy on a very bad ankle. Watch him "run" if you catch the A's on TV again. One bad step and he's done. That's not to say he wasn't worth the risk the A's took on him, because as long as he can stand, he can hit. The Bernie signing, meanwhile, remains the worst move the Yankees made this offseason.

2006-04-06 12:10:44
32.   Marcus
Hey Rob Gee,

I have to hand it to you for holding back the "I told you so's" with MIL-ton BRAD-ley having his coming out party last night (you did give the shout out to Ken at Catfish Stew I saw). I know I had some pangs of jealousy last night thinking about him patroling center field for the Yanks, but maybe sometime this year he'll blow his top and make me forget all that.

By the way, I don't think I've ever noticed a player take a walk like Milton. He launches the bat to the dug out, and runs to first in such a way that it almost seems like a home-run trot or some other kind of show boat manuever. I'm sure that's just my emotions talking because he got some hope-killing walks the last two days.

2006-04-06 12:13:18
33.   Cliff Corcoran
A bunt in the late innings of a tie game with a rested Mariano Rivera in the pen is not a bad play. What really gets me, though, is the death of the suicide squeeze. Moving a runner up a base in exchange for an out usually drops your run expectency, but I'd trade an out for a run any time, especially, as I just said, with Rivera looming.
2006-04-06 12:32:28
34.   Rob Gee
31 Thanks Cliff - more stuff to add to my reading list.

You know, I still think the Cairo signing was the worst, but the Bernie effect will be far far worse. i.e., I can understand why Bernie was signed - Cairo I can not.

32 Marcus -

After one night, nah! I'm saving that for our post-season analysis (with a brief stop at the All-Star break). That however doesn't wash the bile taste from my mouth. Each hit and headline makes me throw up. And even when that temper rears, I saw that as a benefit - this is a team of PUSSYcatS. They could use the fire.

27 Thomas would have a been nice. Better than Nomah and there was serious consideration there.

2006-04-06 12:33:49
35.   nick
I read the Sheehan piece, and basically agree--no good reason to not use Mo in game 2; and then, since Torre didn't, with him fresh & off day coming, no reason not to bring him in in the 8th. Or at least after the triple--I mean think about it: no outs, man on 3rd, tie game--why wouldn't you want your stud reliever who can get a K or infield popup in there, given a single run is likely to beat you at that point? It's just infuriating--
2006-04-06 12:40:23
36.   JL25and3
My view of last night's game was a little different. I pin the loss much more on Wang (and Wright) than on Jeter. Yeah, it was a bad error, but errors happen. Wang fell apart after that, though, and that concerns me more. Bradley's hit was scorched, Payton hit the ball well - and the fifth inning was just a meltdown.

The Yankees were lucky to stumble upon Wang last year, but I'm not sure he's really a known quantity yet. His strikeout rate is very low, so he has to be just about perfect to do as well as last year.

And on another note: I wouldn't ever have expected to say this, but that was a pretty nice 3-6-3 Giambi turned yesterday. Granted, he looked a little terrified when he turned to run back to the bag, but all in all it was pretty sweet.

2006-04-06 12:42:09
37.   Shaun P
33 Cliff, exactly my point in 20 - late in a tie game with a rested Rivera ready to go is certainly "a situation that calls for it". However, IIRC, the research done shows pretty clearly that you don't want to be bunting outside of the 9th.

As for A-Rod's swinging K in the 8th, I don't see what a bunt would have done there. Duchscherer, not Haren (who had given A-Rod trouble all night), was pitching. Chavez is an excellent defender at third. Kendall is a very good defensive catcher. What are the odds that A-Rod, who probably hasn't bunted in years, lays down a perfect bunt and beats the throw/whoever fields it screws up the throw? Probably a hell of a lot less than the odds of A-Rod getting a hit.

Again, I'm not against bunting, but with this lineup it should happen only when the situation calls for it. To me, 1 out in a tie game in the top of the 8th, a man on second and your best hitter at the plate is not such a situation.

2006-04-06 13:02:19
38.   Cliff Corcoran
Shaun we're in complete agreement on your bunting points in 37. Rodriguez at the plate and the runner already in scoring position, already one out, no reason to bunt there.
2006-04-06 13:10:20
39.   brockdc
Man, the more I think about it, the more I'm disturbed by the fact that we only have 1 truly reliable starting pitcher.
2006-04-06 14:36:52
40.   Marcus
I'm relaxing myself by thinking about the start to last season. It was actually quite similar. The Big Unit starts the season off with a nice performance in a blowout. The second game comes down to the last batter with the home team winning a nail-biter. The third game is lost in embarassing fashion due to a series of errors that, if played correctly, would have kept the game going.

The only difference is, the Yanks are the away team this year. The A's are a great team, and Ken Arneson is right; they are going to sit back and wait for opposing teams to make mistakes. They've got the pitching and the defense to do that. The Yankees are designed to pound the ball around the field. It will happen, I'm relaxed again.

Someone please tell me that the Angels suck this year. Please?

2006-04-06 14:45:32
41.   Shaun P
Marcus 40, the Angels suck this year. Their offense is even more reliant on singles than in the past. F-Rod is an arm injury waiting to happen. The bullpen isn't as good. They have Jeff Weaver.

How was that? =)

2006-04-06 15:12:01
42.   Marcus
Ahhh, much better. Torre may have Jeff Weaver Syndrome, but the Angels have Jeff Weaver. Very good point Shaun P.
2006-04-06 15:16:28
43.   yankz
The Rollins streak is over.
2006-04-06 16:03:04
44.   weeping for brunnhilde
30 I agree wholeheartedly, Pete. 1) Cano: the replay seemed pretty clear: he didn't expect Jeter's throw and so just kind of waved at it barehanded in reaction when it came--iirc the runner would have been out easily had he snagged it.

2) bunting and such. Yes. It makes me crazy to see all of these "great hitters" fail to do the timely little things. Especially in the Post Season. Somehow I know how this is all going to turn out in the end.

2006-04-06 16:49:19
45.   Paul in Boston
I hate off-days after losses!!!!!

There, I said it. I feel better now.

2006-04-06 16:54:34
46.   Simone
LOL! Me too, Paul.
2006-04-06 17:05:41
47.   debris
I wonder if Torre would have used Foulke rather than Papelbon last night. I've never been a fan of Francoma, but must say that last night was his finest moment. Not so for Joe.
2006-04-06 17:08:57
48.   Simone
Okay, if last night was Francona's finest moment then that is pathetic beyond words.
2006-04-06 17:26:42
49.   tocho
koyie hill?
2006-04-06 18:26:14
50.   Marcus

"Yankees claimed catcher Koyie Hill off waivers the Diamondbacks.
Extra catching depth for the Yankees, who were worried about losing Wil Nieves, who was also out of options, on waivers. Nieves will probably be sent down on Friday to make room for Hill on the active roster, and then Hill could be demoted when Aaron Small comes off the DL in a week or two. As long as the Yankees are able to keep one of the two players, they should be content."

I don't get it though. If Hill has options, which the item above suggests, why would Arizona DFA him? Sounds like Hill is a better option than Nieves. Possibly even better than Stinnett? Probably not, but it sounds like Hill was highly regarded when he was in the minors, so maybe he'll show us something interesting.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-04-06 18:59:00
51.   Marcus
Apparently he doesn't have options, so this means Torre's sticking with 3 catchers. Until Small comes back, and then I guess they send Hill through waivers again?
2006-04-06 20:11:52
52.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Consider that the only true strike out pitcher the Yankees have at the moment is RJ (barring major improvements from Chacon or a pure miracle on Wright/Pavano), the Yankees better be playing serious defense this season.

At the moment the entire right side of the field is a liability, Giambi is a below average fielder at best (and that's putting it kindly.. if u saw he's cartoonish scramble back to first to make that double play last night), Cano seems to make silly mistakes with alarming frequnecy (although unlike Giambi.. his mistakes are fixable once... espically for one he's age) Sheff is getting old with poor field coverage and a reduced (albit still very impressive) arm

Then they have Matsui, who is also not a great fielder.. he have good enough read and discipline, but just not enough range... (that game 2 walk out dunk was certainly catchable by better OFs..)

It would seem reasonable that unless Bernie can find he's DH roles soon they should just make Crosby take turns switching between right and left field to give Matsui and Sheff more time DH... Crosby isn't a great hitter but neither is Bernie right now, but Crosby certainly give them at least another reliable OF that have range and someone that can actually run (and someone that you might actually want to put down a bunt with)... and keeping Matsui and Sheff healthy is going to be a major major issue for the Yanks this year who got off really lucky in terms of fielder injuries last year.

In terms of pitching, Wangs outting last night wasn't terrific but it was certianly far from horrific , it's was an outting that was enough to keep the team in the game... espically if Jeter didn't boot the big play.. he gave up 7 hits but none of them were extra bases and only one was even close to being extra base... he basically had nothing that made the outfielder even moving backwards after the first inning...

In fact, until the Jeter error he gave up 2 singles in 3+ innings with 1 k retiring 7 strait using less than 20 pitchs, and no BB, which is very good for a #3 starter.. Frank Thomas got nothing off him even when he's struggling (but belted a big double off Farnsworth)

Out of he's 3 walks, 2 were full count, and he was ahead in the count in both, one could attribute those walks more to somewhat bad luck than to actual control problems.

He did leave the ball up there a bit too much though, but it really didn't burn him until after the error.. again...

Cano already have 2 error in 3 game (And it's actually 2 and a half error).. in the 3rd inning the 3rd run could have also been saved if Arod and Cano pulled a double play, it would be a very tough play, but not an impossible one for MLB players...

We could look on the brighter side of things though, Wright pitched better than most of us dreaded ... Proctor's disastor is certainly more than forgivable from a guy who's daughter just had surgery... Wang's problem is really not THAT big and if he is really as calm as they say he is, it should be fixed very soon. While RJ pitched wonderfully and Moose appears to be good enough for another year (as many of us feared he might not be)

Not to meantion, the Yankees were playing against the A's, whom many pick to be super hot favorites to win it all this year... at their best... winning the first game in a blow out... and lose the other two that were both entirely winnable... I mean we can really start to panic if the Yankees drop the home opener series to the [b]ROYALS[/b] but i don't see that happening....

in another word, there are positive signs, and with the exception of Joe Torre's genius pitching change decisions and he's apparent concept that small ball = "making the ball look small as it cruise out of the park", all the other problems are still very fixable.

2006-04-07 06:06:14
53.   rbj
I don't get the Koyie Hill claiming. Nieves is out of options (which is why the Yankees kept him on the ML roster) so he will have to clear waivers to get sent down. Why claim one third string catcher off of waivers and have to put your own third stringer on waivers to keep him on the bench in AAA? I can't imagine there is much difference between the two-- that's why they're both riding the pine and the waiver wire. Unless Stinnett is hurt/really sucks, and Nieves isn't any better.
I see they sent DePaula down.
2006-04-07 06:46:16
54.   Levy2020
I agree with Rob Gee about GOB. I think Bernie is a huge upgrade over Ruben Sierra - but not an upgrade over Giambi, which is what he's doing.

And everytime I hear about a Diamonbacks catcher coming over to New York, I think "Unit Caddy," even though this "Hill" has probably never caught for Randy.

Still, I always think it's heartening to claim players off of waivers. It's not like there's a limit, right? So if you don't like him, throw him back. But if it turns out he has something in him, he's ours.

And it shows - at least - that Cashman is aware of the BUC situation, and trying to think of something economical to do about it.

Hey, now that John Flaherty is retired, do you think we could convince him to. . .?

2006-04-07 07:01:40
55.   wsporter
I get the sense that we may be getting ready to do something this summer with the catcher position. They also acquired a catcher from Texas named Keith McDonald who I can find nothing about. Any one know anything about McDonald?
2006-04-07 07:24:22
56.   Shaun P
I'm no prospect maven, but IIRC, Hill was a highly regarded Dodgers prospect once upon a time.

My fellow Dutchman 55 - Cliff had a post near the end of March that gave a little history on McDonald ( Bottom line - ugh.

Cashman is clearly thinking about depth at catcher, as he should be, and mining the free talent market, as he should be, to improve the Yanks' pathetic catching ranks. What happens if Jorge gets injured this year and misses a month (or more)? Stinett is not a viable option. Nieves is worse. The Clippers starting catcher is David Parrish, who, to put it politely, blows chunks. Hill once showed some flashes of brilliance - which is more than any of the others can say - and he's 27, so if he's ever going to do something offensively, it'll be soon. Great move.

2006-04-07 08:49:35
57.   wsporter
56 M.F.D.? Works for me. Thanks for the link. I missed that couple of days. Thats what happens when work gets in the way of the important things.

The Clips rocked last night check out the game at BBA or MLB. Checking out the Minor League Boxes on the Yankee affiliates became a welcome pastime of mine a couple of years ago. It's one more thing I have to look forward to in the Spring. I try to get to as many of the games as I can which makes it even more enjoyable. K Thompson rocked last nigh which may make our friend Rob G feel good about things. I hope he gets a shot at the Bronx this year. K.T. not R.G. that is.

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