Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Rancid Jobbin'
2006-07-01 23:05
by Cliff Corcoran

As was readily apparent when the Mets put men on second and third before Randy Johnson had even thrown five pitches, yesterday, the 16th anniversary of Andy Hawkins' 4-0 no-hit loss, just wasn't the Yankees' day. David Wright doubled those two runners home to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead. The Yankees would tie it up in the third after Alex Rodriguez delivered a bases-loaded single for the first run, but the tying run scored on a double play off the bat of Jorge Posada and Andy Phillips flied out to strand Jason Giambi at third with the go-ahead run.

Johnson, who had looked so good in his last three games (20 1/3 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 22 K), gave the lead right back and then some, following the Yankees' aborted rally with a four-pitch walk to Wright. A Julio Franco single and a walk to Chris Woodward of all people loaded the bases and a first-pitch single to left by Ramon Castro plated Wright and Franco as Melky Cabrera's throw tailed slightly up the first base line. After Johnson battled Eli Marrero for his second strikeout of the inning (Randy needed 13 pitches total for the two Ks), Jose Reyes delivered the third single of the inning into left field to plate Woodward as Cabrera's throw sailed far over the head of Jorge Posada and all the way to the backstop allowing Castro and Reyes to move to second and third. Paul Lo Duca then followed with yet another single to left as both Castro and Reyes scored. That made it 7-2 Mets and a Marrero homer off Johnson in the sixth pushed it to 8-2. The eight runs off Johnson were the most he's allowed in a single start since 2003.

Meanwhile the Yankees were busy killing every rally they mustered against Mets starter Steve Trachsel. In the bottom of the first, yet another misguided hit-and-run attempt turned a no-outs, first-and-second situation for Jason Giambi into a two-outs, man on second situation for Rodriguez when Giambi took a 3-2 pitch low and away for strike three and, with no one standing in the right-handed batters box, Johnny Damon was thrown out by ten feet on his way to third. Rodriguez walked, but Posada flied out to end the inning. As I already mentioned, Posada's double play cut short the game-tying third-inning rally. In the seventh it was Jeter who hit into a double play with men on first and second and no outs. Giambi followed by grounding out to strand the Miguel Cairo at third.

The Yankees finally got one back in the eighth when Rodriguez, who went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and a walk, led off the inning with a solo homer off the disgruntled Aaron Heilman, but that was all they'd get. 8-3 Mets.

Rookies T.J. Beam and Matt Smith mopped up admirably, Smith having now thrown ten scoreless innings to start his major league career. With that, every member of the Yankee bullpen save LOOGY Mike Myers, who has yet to appear in this series, has thrown a minimum of one scoreless inning in the past two days for a collective line of 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Myers, meanwhile, hasn't allowed a run since surrendering a three-run home run to David Ortiz on May 1 and currently sports a 0.68 ERA.

Finally, I've just noticed that T.J. Beam's full name is Theodore Lester Beam. Better hope he never plays on a team with David Jonathan "J.D." Drew. These men are rebels. Together they could destroy our fragile initialing system altogether.

That is all.

2006-07-02 02:39:12
1.   Stormer Sports
Great post Cliff.

I know we have been more than sluggish on offense lately. However I believe solid pitching not only shuts down solid offense, but provides the pithers team's offense a comfort level that often times leads to a more relaxed and potent offense. I just wish we had a guy who could just come out and shut sown the opposition almost entirely when needed. A Cone, A Celemns, a 28(?) El Duque.

I am a big Mussina fan, I just hope he can be that guy down the stretch, but he may run out of gas carrying the load all year.

I look around the leaugue to Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago (CWS) and even Anaheim with their pitching staffs and I cant help thinking something is amiss in Yankee-ville.

2006-07-02 03:58:54
2.   mikeplugh
1 stormer, I feel the same way you do, but the numbers show that the Yankees pitching isn't all that bad actually. We're generally among the top 3 or 4 teams in most pitching categories.

I think the hard part for us as fans is that we seem to win one, lose one, win one, lose one and we feel like the team is mired in a miserable season. It certainly feels like it at times, especially when Boston has been absolutely on fire, and Toronto is tied with us in the standings. The competition is better and the Yankees are about the same.

The way to look at it is that we have one of the top offenses in the sport, even with all the injuries, and we have a tough pitching lineup that ranks among the best in baseball, despite its apparent inconsistencies. Eventually the law of averages will have us go on a winning streak and close the gap on Boston. We're 4 games out of 1st, but they've been nuclear hot. If we take a series from them and pick up another game or two somewhere else in the schedule, we're tied for 1st. It's like a good week or two of baseball from our grasp, and we're due for that.

2006-07-02 04:29:56
3.   randym77
2 Good point. We're not doing that bad. It's the fact that Boston's been amazingly, blisteringly hot that makes it feel like we're struggling. There's no way Boston can keep it up all season.

And we're still doing better than last year. We were what, at .500 and in 4th place last year at this time?

I just wish they'd do the little things right. They haven't had to before, I guess, but now... Seems like we've had an awful lot of those "misguided hit and run attempts." And Melky's really got to learn to use cutoff men. I'm still not sure what to make of his arm. Sometimes he makes throws that are just unbelievable, and sometimes he misses so badly it's equally unbelievable.

2006-07-02 06:12:54
4.   singledd
If Melky works hard, plays smart, and develops some power as he ages, he MIGHT be good enough to play on the Yankees. But NOT now, with an OPS under .700 and below average defense (a few great catches withstanding).

When Stinett catches, it REALLY hurts or offense. Our 'Get Young - Veterans are for Parades' philosophy, cost us Piazza (.269/.330/.476, 11 HR... and thats with him catching, not DHing) who would have sighed for us for pocket change.

In June we scored 118 runs in 26 games, or 4.54 runs/game for a 14-12 records. 31 of those 118 were scored in 3 games... so in the remaining 23 games, we averaged 4.13 runs/game.

Bernie and Melky are both about the worst defensive OF'ers in the game. Bernies OPS, after a HOT streak is .734. Detroit, with their pitching, might, MIGHT be about to win with a Bernie and Melky, but we can't.

Last year, Cleveland collapsed and Boston slumped the last month. Is this what we are banking on for this year's post season? With the WC coming from the Central?

Of qualifying 1B'man, Philips OPS of .793 would put him 19th of 27.

So, IF (IF IF IF IF IF) everyone stays healthy (Damons foot, Giambi's back, Posada's knee), our line-up consists of 2 total dogs, and a guy on the edge of the bottom 3rd of his position. When Posada rests, we put 3 of the worst players in the league on the field. Otherwise, we are one injury to ARod, Jetes, Giambi, Posada, Cano or Damon from 3rd place.

Steve Goldman says we need TWO OF'ers, not on. If we don't resign Shef, we have 13 mil to invest. We will HAVE to trade some talend (Henn, Smith, [anybody not named Hughes or Wang]) and take on salary to get an impact guy (Abreau type).

Last year, we ONLY won because we got TWO [guys who looked like] impact players (Small and Chacon (17 wins/3 loses).

And we need 2 more guys NOW. The season is slipping away. Boston will cool down, but they area for real. Many of their questions (Schill, Papelbon, Lowell, Loretta, Youk) have turned out even better then they hoped, and there is little reason to think there will be major regression. If BOSTON get better (probably in Pitching), we will be left in their dust.

Optimism is great, but realism is better. We are NOT a 2006 postseason team as is. Forget ShefSui. It's possible if one/they come back, they will be better then BernieMelky, but not enough.

I am not ready to see our string of Penants come to an end. It's a tough situation and I know Cash (Bubba IS out CF'er) is burning the midnight oil. I have officially taken off my rose-colored glasses.

2006-07-02 06:37:36
5.   randym77
4 >>I have officially taken off my rose-colored glasses. <<

Are you sure? You predicted we'd trade for an OFer or two by the end of May. You're still hoping. ;-)

2006-07-02 06:37:53
6.   monkeypants
4 Yes, Yes, Yes. Thank you. Amen. Yes. I concur. Agree completely. Yes. Finally.
2006-07-02 07:15:08
7.   mikeplugh
4 6

No no no. I don't completely agree.

What you say is true about the position players we've been throwing out there. Melky, Bernie, Phillips, Cairo, Crosby....these guys are anchors on the lineup, but it's a bit myopic to look at it that way without considering that other good teams out there are also throwing players out there on a regular basis that are complete shit.

Posada is a WAY above average hitter at a position where most teams are fielding a dead weight. Jeter is also WAY above average at SS and while he doesn't hit for power, he sports numbers that 90% of the guys at his position would kill to even sniff. Jason Giambi is basically the league's best hitter over the last 145 games. A-Rod has been crap in June, but there aren't too many hitters as good as him in the Major Leagues.

Yeah, there are holes but the White Sox won the World Series with their lead off hitting left fielder sporting a .700 OPS last year. Aaron Rowand, starting in center, had a robust .736 OPS. You can point to their pitching and defense as key factors in their championship run. That's where the Yankees need to upgrade.

Maybe we need to think about another bat, but it's not as big a disaster as everyone wants to make it that we have weaker hitters in the outfield. The need is a lights out starter. We have Mussina and Wang, plus a sometimes good Johnson. Short of adding Zito or Willis the Yankees only have Hughes to turn to as an option. I don't see any of those things happening, and so we play with what we have. It's good enough to have us sitting with the 4TH BEST RECORD IN THE AL. I put that it caps to draw attention to it, not as a shouting thing. ;)

We were far worse last year with fewer question marks. If we can get more consistent pitching from Wright and Unit, we're fine. Boston has bigger holes in their starting rotation than we do. Schilling and Beckett are a tough 1-2 punch, but Beckett has never held up for a whole season. Wakefield is 50-50 at best for the long haul. You're looking at some combination of Clement, Lester, Wells, and whoever else they try to grab off the scrap heap.

Loretta, Youkilis, and Gonzalez are doing a nice job, but they are no better or no worse than Cano, Phillips, and Melky.

The point is.....we don't need to pray for anyone else to collapse or look for some luck from somewhere. We're doing okay, and we'll probably get better.

2006-07-02 07:28:06
8.   mikeplugh
6 Plus, by the way, Phillips OPS is .793 on the season, but he only recently got consistent playing time. Since he's been in the lineup on a regular basis his OPS is more like

He had a .220 batting average and a line of .220/.254/.322/.576 on May 30th in 54 at bats over 33 games, and then he started to play everyday. Since that time he is .338/.369/.575/.944 in 80 at bats over 26 games.

Regular playing time has turned him into the hitter we thought he would be, so to pin a .793 on him is only telling a small part of the story.

2006-07-02 08:02:31
9.   rbj
Looking at the handy-dandy "Last 10 Games" column in the standings, the Yankees are 7-3. That is damn fine. Problem is, Toronto is 8-2 (um, how'd they sneak in there) and Boston is 9-1. It's not so much that the Yankees are stinking up the joint, it's that the other teams are playing a lot better. If Boston keeps up its pace (a mighty big if) then the only thing we can do is tip our cap to them. (However, I will never call them "daddy")
Unit needs to be more consistent on the good side. I'd like to see one bat for the OF, and possibly another arm for the pen.
2006-07-02 08:04:50
10.   randym77
The Post has an interview with A-Rod:

(Jaret Wright is the funniest Yankee?)

2006-07-02 09:37:00
11.   Cliff Corcoran
Mike 8, thanks for straightening out singledd 4 regarding Phillips. It should also be pointed out that Melky has a 116 Rate in left field, which is superb.

Oh and, RBJ, the Blue Jays have been there all year a game or two behind the Yanks.

2006-07-02 09:47:44
12.   dpmurphy
"If we can get more consistent pitching from Wright and Unit, we're fine. Boston has bigger holes in their starting rotation than we do. Schilling and Beckett are a tough 1-2 punch, but Beckett has never held up for a whole season. Wakefield is 50-50 at best for the long haul. You're looking at some combination of Clement, Lester, Wells, and whoever else they try to grab off the scrap heap."

You're taking it for granted that beckett will have problems. He might not. Wakefield no better than 50/50? He's actually pitched well. Lester has been great. To throw him in with wells and clement I'm guessing you haven't seen much of him. There's questions, but schilling, beckett, wakefield, lester looks pretty good. It's at least the equal of the yankees rotation, and if they stay healthy, probably better.

2006-07-02 09:49:22
13.   Jeteupthemiddle
So I looked at Johnson's Game by Game log this morning and discovered that in games Johnson allows a first inning run, his ERA is 8.25 (1 of 9 are quality starts)

In games that Johnson does not allow a first inning run, his ERA is 2.33 (6 of 9 quality starts).

So, we just gotta hope he gets through the first inning without damage here on out.

And on another note, 4, it is my understanding that Melky is actually above average defensively.

2006-07-02 10:01:44
14.   randym77
Yikes. Maybe we should just pull RJ in the 1st if he gives up a run. At least if we want to win. :-P
2006-07-02 10:21:35
15.   Zack
12 Schillng, Beckett, Wake, and Lester vs. Moose, Wang, Johnson, and Wright, if all goes well is a tough matchup. Moose has been better than Schill, Wang better than Beckett. At their best, Johnson is better than Wake, and Lester I would give you, except that his problems are about the same as Wright's: too many pitches thrown...
2006-07-02 10:22:31
16.   Ravenscar
As a side note, in order to demoralize the Mets perhaps and do anything they can to eke out a series win, YES is showing game one of the 2000 World Series. ;-)
2006-07-02 10:30:09
17.   rilkefan
11 - Cliff, this:
has Melky with a subpar Zone. Did SG screw up? Are defensive metrics just random?
2006-07-02 10:35:34
18.   Zack
And on another note, what is it going to take to get Torre to start using Beam and Smith a little more, and, perhaps, allow Proctor some rest? Oh wait, what am I saying!
2006-07-02 10:54:18
19.   brockdc
Watching the Sox-Marlins game on EI, I can't help but notice the Florida fans incessant oohing and ahhing every time a Sox player gets a hit. Ditto for the Marlins announcers.

So much for the hostile home crowd.

2006-07-02 11:45:03
20.   monkeypants
7 There is no doubt that the Yankees are way above average at a number of positions (SS, C, 1B, 3B), and even above average at a couple of positions (CF, 2B when not injured). But that does not justify carrying below average players at three positions (or four or five, when starters rest). And not just below average, but well below average. I keep quoting from Goldman, but to truly take advantage of superior players at some positions, you cannot counteract those advantages with bad players at other positions. Are we serious that a team with Bubba, Melky, Bernie, Stinnett, and Cairo and/or Green on the bench AND absorbing starting ABs is OK?

It is simply untenable to advocate standing pat when this team has so many holes--unless we are simply to write off the season as a rebuilding year (and that is a viable position to take). It is blind faith to assume that 'hot Bernie' (who is subpar at his position anyway) will stay hot; that Matsui and Sheff will return, let alone return and be effective, at the same time Giambi, Jeter, and Posada all continue their 30+ y.o. resurgence..oh yeah, and Mussina continues his renaissance.

Oh yeah, 4th best record in the AL doesn't matter all that much if we are talking playoffs. There is every chance that the WC comes from the central, so the key will be for the Yankees to have the best record in the AL East. How many games will this team have to slip behind the Sox before the decision is made to act?

2006-07-02 12:19:17
21.   singledd
5 My timing may be off, but I believe my philosophy is correct.
7 Mike... what you say is correct, however:
We have a terrible defense, the Sox have very good defense. We have a .577 WPct, the Sox a .628. If we DONT make the PS, will you feel fine because we made it LAST year? Last year has nothing to do with THIS year. If the Sox get a BP guy, or Foulk somehow recovers, they can add Papelbom to the rotation. I give up a slight edge on Pitching, as the teams stats show. But so far, they have been playing better ball. And they have some guys on the farm. Who's to say they won't get a serious impact player or 2? (by the way, I like your Blog).
8 It's true, with regular time, Phillips may end up in the middle of the pack. Certainly, an .850+ OPS from Phillips will help us, but not put us over the top.
9 It's not a 10 game season. We have a .577 WPct. Will that be enough after 162 games?
11 Todays post at RLYW by SG has a ZR graph on Melky and Bernie. I'm not real sharp on these higher level stats, but they don't look too good to me. Melky has never been touted as a very good fielder.
20 needs to be re-read again, as well as Steve Goldmans recent posts. Getting an 'A' in English does not make a 'F' in Math look better.

Look, we have a very good team. But very good is not the issue.
1) We need to have the best team in the division.
2) We need to win 2 series against 2 good teams that will out-pitch us.
3) We need to win 4 of 7 from the best the NL has.

Get it? A very good team that finished 2nd doesn't cut it. A very good team that loses a playoff series doesn't cut it. A very good team that loses the World Series doesn't cut it.

One simply question. Look at our current team. Do they look like World Series champs to you?

As the Captain says: You either win it all or you fail. I want this to be our year.

2006-07-02 13:11:58
22.   randym77
Is our defense really that bad?

BP's "defensive efficiency" rankings show us at #5 in the league. (Boston's #12.)

2006-07-02 13:39:42
23.   mikeplugh
Sometimes I wonder if Yankee fans are simply too greedy. Do you realize how good this team is with "holes" in our lineup that are "inexcusable" and threatening to the very fiber of all that is good, pure, and holy?

I agree that carrying guys like Bubba and Cairo is wrong. Stupid. The thing is we have had two major injuries to Sheff and Matsui. With those guys we are obscenely good, beyond what is our fair share. I'm not complaining, but no team has more resources than we do to dominate.

With Melky and Bernie as replacements, we are suffering a bit, but the season is 162 games and over the course of that time the numbers are going to even out. We are going to win about the same number of games as the Sox. Sure, we need to explore some moves to see if we can get better, but we shouldn't give in to panic about how awful this team is now. It's simply not.

2006-07-02 13:52:01
24.   randym77
BTW, if anyone's wondering...the "J" in "TJ Beam" stands for "Junior."
2006-07-02 13:57:43
25.   singledd
23 One simply question. Look at our current team. Do they look like World Series champs to you?
And yes, this year I am greedy.
But I also live in NH, surrounded by the enemy. Sox stuff in every store, smiling faces all around. It's enough to make one sick.
2006-07-02 14:03:03
26.   monkeypants
23 Mike, I actually agree with you on this, and I admit that I am very gredy when it comes to the Yanks. Partly I am spoiled by their recent success. But partly I demand more because their payroll is so damned high (and some of that cost is picked up by me via the exorbitant ticket and concession prices I pay to go to the park).

Yes, the Yankees have suffered two terrible injuries, which would be difficult for most any team to overcome. But the Yanks could do a heckuvalot better at addressing the injury situation than they have so far. Moreover, this 'crisis' has been two or three years coming, with all of the bone-headed personnel moves that have been made. I am not talking about the silly midseason acquisitions--I mean the calculated decisions to bolster a bench with Stinnett (or Flaherty) and Cairo (or Green or Womack or Enrique), to carry Bernie (or Ruben) as the primary DH/fourth outfielder, to bury replacement level players like Philips, etc. Finally, are two major injuries so unexpected, considering this teams dogmantic pursuit of the oldest and brittlest starting line-up possible?

Is this the best that 200 million dollar payroll can buy?

2006-07-02 20:04:34
27.   dpmurphy
"Schillng, Beckett, Wake, and Lester vs. Moose, Wang, Johnson, and Wright, if all goes well is a tough matchup. Moose has been better than Schill, Wang better than Beckett."

Moose has been better than schilling, I agree. But come playoff time, I'm ok with schilling vs. moose. They're close. Wang has been better than becket, I agree. Beckett has the potential to be better than wang. I'm not convinced RJ is back to normal based on a game against atlanta. In my opinion, lester is the wild card. Right now, he's much better than wright (look at today).

If things keep going in the same direction, lester is the key. He pitches well as the 4th, the sox will be tough to beat.

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