Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Half Full
2006-07-10 08:00
by Alex Belth

The Yanks blew a 5-0 lead on Sunday afternoon and lost to the Devil Rays, 6-5. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez had poor at bats with the game tied in the seventh (Jeter fouled out attempting to bunt and Rodriguez whiffed with the go-ahead run on second). The inning concluded in dramatic fashion when Rocco Baldelli made a fantastic throw to the plate on Bernie Williams' single, nailing Melky Cabrera in the process. It was just a great play, man. Badelli later made an acrobatic catch, robbing Derek Jeter of a triple in the ninth inning. The Yanks wasted a grand slam from Jason Giambi but didn't lose any ground in the east as the White Sox finally beat the Red Sox (took 'em 19 innings, but they got the "w").

Yanks go into the break as just one of five teams in the majors with 50 or more wins. Four of those teams happen to be in the American League. If the Bombers were in the NL, they'd have the second best record in the league (three behind the Mets); in the AL, they'd miss the playoffs if the season ended today. Although I don't think anyone would be shocked if the Yankees missed the post-season this year, it's hard to down on the team right now. They have hung in there despite all of the injuries. Who knows? Maybe they go out in the second half and catch fire. Then again, they could win 95 games and find themselves playing golf in October.

It'll be fun to see how it all pans out, eh?

2006-07-10 08:47:11
1.   Dimelo
It looks like it will definitely be a fun ride.

Alex, have you checked WasWatching today? I thought Steve had a good angle on whether to trade Hughes. I was thinking about what Steve wrote the other day and it was partly inspired by a few comments Cliff wrote a few weeks back. That any pitcher before the age of 25 who has thrown more than 200+ innings, more than once before the age of 25, is good bet to have arm problems and/or turn into Javy Vazquez. Hughes is only 20 and he has a freight train of hype. I don't think he should be traded for Reggie Sanders, but if the RIGHT deal were presented to Cashman then he should definitely think about it.

I think it's going to be 3 years before we seen anything substantial from Hughes. I'd like to know what you and Cliff think about Steve's opinion.

2006-07-10 09:08:23
2.   bloodyank78
I really look forward to seeing Hughes succeed in Pinstripes, but at the same time I know that there is a good possibility that his debut in the bigs might not be the Liriano or Verlander type performance everyone is expecting. That possibility somewhat pushes me towards the idea that getting an Abreu or an Andruw Jones for him might not be a bad move. I'm kinda torn.
2006-07-10 09:34:13
3.   rsmith51
When you are batting .340+ with a good eye, is it really necessary to bunt? Jeter needs to take this out of his repotoire(sp?). Do Jeter's bunts ever produce good results?
2006-07-10 09:40:00
4.   pistolpete
I come from the school of thought that says everyone should know the fundamentals, which includes laying down an effective bunt.

If Jeter, for whatever reason, has trouble with this, maybe less time posing for teenie boppers' photos in batting practice and more bunting!

2006-07-10 09:44:12
5.   Simone
Three things from yesterday's game:

1) The Yankees' pitching is dreadful.
2) Derek Jeter needs a serious lecture about when not to bunt. Why is he bunting when he is one of the team's best hitters?
3) Alex Rodriguez is simply embarassing. The DP and the strike out were beyond the pale.

Thank goodness the Red Sox lost also.

2006-07-10 09:45:14
6.   Simone
Also, Jeter bunted on a ball. The pitcher was struggling, why didn't Jeter wait and see what he would throw before deciding to bung? Ugh.
2006-07-10 09:59:32
7.   Cliff Corcoran
4 Jeter's actually an excellent bunter. Even the best screw up now and then. That said, he shouldn't have been bunting. Bunting a player to second is never a good play unless the man at the plate is a phenominally poor hitter (say, the worst hitting pitcher in the league or the like). Jeter has been the Yankees' best hitter all year. Let him put the ball in play and hit behind the runner with his opposite field swing. That would achieve the same effect and leave open the possibility of Jeter moving the runner further than second. What's more, with a runner on second they still need a well-placed hit to score him. Jeter's the Yankee most likely to deliver that well-placed hit, so let him swing away.

The only bunts that make sense are 1) those that advance a runner to third where he can score on the second out of the inning (say bunting with a runner on second or men on first and second). It's also important that the bunter in those cases is a terrible hitter or the game situation is crucial (late and down one, tied, or with a small lead), or 2) the late lamented squeeze, the benifits of which are obvious.

2006-07-10 10:41:14
8.   brockdc
5 Relatively speaking, the Yanks' pitching is not dreadful, which isn't to say the staff doesn't have some issues - as does every team in the majors not named the Twins.

With that said, if Cash can somehow finagle a halfway decent starting pitcher either by trading or, more likely, through the waiver process, it could save the season.

2006-07-10 10:42:12
9.   DarrenF
7 Cabrera was on second base with no outs, tie game, seventh inning. The situation is right for a sac bunt and Jeter certainly has the capability. It's still the wrong thing to do because a .350 hitter is passing the baton to a .260 hitter (who happens to strike out a lot).

If the sac is successful, I'd have to think the D-Rays intentionally walk Giambi and then go after a (slumping) ARod. I'm not trying to be anti-ARod or bring up the whole close-and-late angle. It's just bad baseball strategy. .350 hitters who sacrifice themselves are doing the opponent a favor. Get a hit.

2006-07-10 10:44:41
10.   pistolpete
8 That, and the defense has to tighten up - I'd say that's the biggest thing separating us from the Sawx right now.
2006-07-10 10:44:41
11.   Alex Belth
I can recall times that I've been frustrated that Jeter chooses to bunt, but I don't remember many times when he's botched a bunt attempt. During his "bad year" in 2004, Jeter got crazy with the sac-bunting, but I think that was as much a product of his awful early-season slump as anything else. He hasn't been horrible about it in the past year and a half, least as far as I can tell.

I haven't read Steve's bit on Hughes yet so I can't comment on that.

A Rod had a terrible weekend. I don't think I found his play embarrasing though. Yesterday's loss was a bummer for sure, but Friday and Saturday's victories were impressive.

2006-07-10 10:55:31
12.   pistolpete
I didn't get to watch the game until the later innings - did Wilson look that bad to warrant a 3rd-inning removal?

Couldn't have been any worse than Chacon lately...

2006-07-10 11:04:07
13.   JohnnyC
Mr. Torre gave him the bunt sign. Read the write-up of his post-game comments. And Torre thought Proctor "looked good." Nuff said.
2006-07-10 11:10:35
14.   Zack

This article has soem interesting, and probably already known #'s since last year's AS game. Giambi is second in the majors in HR, behind Ortiz by quite a bit (which, inanely, makes the writer claim, I kid you not, that Ortiz is "the most devastating offensive force in the game right now, maybe even more so than Pujols." Yeah, is there anyone out there not from Boston who would NOT take Pujols given the choice?). Also, Wang has allowed the fewest HR at 9. More interestingly, Jose Guillen, one of those trade rumor targets, has the 3rd lowest BA, so its not just this season that he has been awful...

2006-07-10 12:31:30
15.   unpopster
Though I haven't actually seen it with my own two eyes, supposedly the Phila Inquirer is reporting that even Lieber is on the trading block.

Any thought on the Yanks taking the rest of his contract off of the Phils and brining Lieber back as a very solid #4 starter, thus moving Wright down to the #5 spot?

Would Cashman do the mea culpa and admit his original error of not resigning Lieber by trading for him?

Looks like the Phils will become major sellers very soon. I'd take Lieber back in a heartbeat. I was at Game 6 vs. Boston of the 2004 ALCS (a.ka. "The bloody sock game") and Lieber pitched his heart out. His only mistake was a pitch to Bellhorn that JUST made it over the left field corner wall (where I was sitting).

2006-07-10 12:38:10
16.   RZG
15 I've heard Cashman in an interview when he admitted it was a mistake not to resign Lieber so another mea culpa wouldn't be painful.
2006-07-10 12:41:01
17.   brockdc
15 Agreed. But if you're Cash, what would you give up for him? I mean, Lieber's decent, but is he worth White and Smith, for instance? To that end, does White have the requisite skills/poise to give us the same quality and quantity that Lieber would for the balance of the season?
2006-07-10 12:52:48
18.   Max
15 The pitch wasn't great, but there was a very generous wind that got that ball out. Second straight year those swirling fall winds hurt us in a Game 6 at YS.
2006-07-10 13:46:53
19.   Cliff Corcoran
18 I too was at that game. The wind was ridiculous. The footage of Matsui standing there with the wind whipping hot dog wrappers hard and fast out toward the LF foul pole sums that up nicely.

9 My bad.

10 The Yankees defensive efficiency is better than the Sox's. The Yankees are sixth in the majors, third in the AL in turning balls in play into outs (they do it 71% of the time). The Sox are 12th in the majors, 7th in the AL, they do it 70.3% of the time. The difference is significant as 6.3% separates the best and worst teams in the majors. For all the failures of defensive statistics, the ability to turn balls in play into outs is pretty iron clad.

2006-07-10 15:55:56
20.   rilkefan
19 - couldn't that be an effect of having groundball-inducing pitchers? I would probably want to see the gb/fb rates normalized. CMW alone probably makes a big impact in catchable BIPs...
2006-07-10 16:43:25
21.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
I agree that the weak grounders Wanger induces must have some effect -- also the fact that batters slug very well against Beckett, e.g., so any ball in play against him is probably hit pretty darn hard.

That said, the difference between the 2 teams in terms of defensive efficiency is pretty wide as those things go. I think the common wisdom -- common esp among Sawz fans -- that they have a great defense and the Yanks a crappy one, doesn't hold up.

2006-07-10 17:09:58
22.   dpmurphy
"I think the common wisdom -- common esp among Sawz fans"

That's pretty much the common wisdom among the entire baseball community. So disagee with everyone, not just sox fans. Besides, after boston came within an out of sweeping the white sox at their home I'd pretty much take anything you said with a grain of salt. It probably 'doesn't hold up'. :)

"The Yankees defensive efficiency is better than the Sox's."

There comes a point where you get yourself lost in stats.

Put it this way, would you rather see a hard groundball hit at lowell or arod? A grounder to jeter or agon? And now that damon is going into his 30s, have fun watching his range become smaller by the year.

If you took a poll among pitchers regarding which defense they'd rather play in front of, I have no doubt most would choose the sox defense.

2006-07-10 18:00:13
23.   unpopster
22 people throw hard, indesputable facts (e.g. defensive efficiency) at you and you counter with a phantom poll of pitchers? Dude, you really are drinking the red (sox) kool aid these days.

Again, I point you to the Sons of Same Horn website.

2006-07-10 18:16:56
24.   brockdc
22 Why do they keep stats anyway? Hell, why do they even keep win-loss records? From here on out, all MLB stadium scoreboards whould be summarily removed and replaced with applause meters or, better yet, giant mood rings.
2006-07-10 18:21:02
25.   Jen
24 Applause meters and Giant mood rings? St. Louis would win every year.
2006-07-11 00:38:46
26.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
Uh-huh. Sad as it is to say, since Jeter's a below avg fielder, I'd rather have Jeter than A-Gon behind me. Just like I'd rather have Cano at 2nd, Melky in left, and, again sadly, Damon in center. I'd also rather have Posada at catcher. So that leaves 1st base, 3rd base and rf to that great Sawx defense.

Yeah, that was a great game on Sunday. To bad the Sawx blew leads of 3 runs and 2 runs to blow it.

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