Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Statistical Correction
2007-04-11 21:03
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Okay, so that wasn't exactly a "slugfest." I was right about the Yankees having to rely on their bullpen, but for the wrong reasons. Ramon Oritiz hurled a gem at the Bombers, limiting them to one run on three hits and a walk over eight innings. That one run came in the fourth when Johnny Damon led off with a single, was pushed to second when Derek Jeter worked the only walk Ortiz issued all night, moved to third on a fly to right by Bobby Abreu, and was plated by an Alex Rodriguez sac fly.

Mike Mussina looked better than he had in his first outing, but pulled up lame in the third inning with what proved to be a balky left hamstring and removed himself from the game (more on Moose's injury below). Mussina allowed a pair of singles before coming out of the game with a 2-1 count on Luis Castillo. Pressed into emergency duty, Sean Henn got Castillo to pop out on his first pitch, then escaped the inning thanks to a fabulous play by Derek Jeter. With Luis Rodriguez running from second on the pitch, Nick Punto hit a flair to shallow left. Jeter made a great over-the-shoulder, wide-receiver-style catch, then, in one continuous motion, spun and fired a strike to Robinson Cano at second to double up Rodriguez.

Henn turned in two more scoreless frames, but gave up a ringing double to Nick Punto to lead off the sixth. After Joe Mauer bunted Punto to third, Joe Torre went to Scott Proctor to face the right-handed Michael Cuddyer only to have Proctor give up a game-tying single on his second pitch. Proctor did manage to retire Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter to strand Cuddyer, and Luis Vizcaino contributed a perfect seventh inning with the help of a fantastic diving stop by Doug Mientkiewicz at first, but what was shaping up as a white-knuckle ballgame fell apart when Kyle Farnsworth took the mound in the eighth.

Farnsworth had nothing, walking Luis Castillo on four pitches to start the eighth. On Farnsworth's fifth toss, a called strike to Nick Punto, Castillo stole second. Punto bunted Farnsworth's next pitch foul and waved over top of a slider in the dirt for the first out, but Joe Mauer singled Castillo home three pitches later, taking second on Melky Cabrera's throw home. Farnsworth's first pitch to Michael Cuddyer was several feet away from Jorge Posada's target, shooting between Cuddyer and Posada's glove straight to the backstop to move Mauer to third. Cuddyer then singled Mauer home to run the score to 3-1. Justin Morneau cracked Farnsworth's next pitch to deep right for a double, driving Cuddyer home with the fourth run, and Torii Hunter repeated the feat, knocking an 1-0 Farnsworth offering off the baggy for another RBI double. It was only then that Joe Torre relieved Farnsworth of his duties, bringing in Mike Myers to get the final two outs.

Down a seemingly insurmountable four runs against the man who, all due respect to Mariano Rivera, is likely the best closer in baseball, the Yankees did manage to mount a rally against Joe Nathan. Derek Jeter lead off the ninth with a single and, after Bobby Abreu hit a screaming liner at Castillo for the first out, Alex Rodriguez hit a booming ground rule double into the gap in left to put runners on second and third. That brought Jason Giambi to the plate with first base open and a chance to bring the tying run to the plate in the person of Jorge Posada, but Giambi hacked at Nathan's first pitch, popping out to third. No longer in a position to tie the game, Posada took four pitches to run the count to 2-2, only to pop out to short to give the Twins a 5-1 win.

Consider this game a bit of stat correction for the Yankees' unusually low bullpen ERA and unusually high number of runs scored per game. Heck, even Mussina's two scoreless innings helped shed a few tenths of a run off the starters' ERA. If there's one lesson baseball teaches us, it's that everything comes back to the center in time.

As for Mussina, he said that he felt his hamstring grab during the first batter of the third inning and, when it grabbed at him again later that inning, he decided to get out of there before he wound up with a long-term injury. On his last pitch of the game, you could see Mussina's front leg stiffen up. Rather than ending up in his usual fielder's stance, Moose hopped off to the third base side of the mound, at which point he shook his head in disappointment and gestured for Joe Torre and Gene Monhahan to come out and get him. Said Mussina after the game, "It was more than a cramp, but it's not bad. I don't limp, and I can still touch my toes." The Yankees are hoping they won't have to place Mussina on the disabled list, but it looks like Darrell Rasner will take Mussina's next turn on Tuesday against the Indians at the Stadium. The Yanks won't need a fifth starter until Sunday April 22 in Boston, so look for Mussina to make his return to the rotation during that weekend series at Fenway if he's able to avoid the DL.

As for the other two pitchers the Yankees do have on the disabled list, both Jeff Karstens and Chien-Ming Wang threw bullpens down in Tampa earlier this week. Karstens is scheduled to throw three innings in a rehab game on Saturday. If that start goes well, he could be available to bump Rasner or fill in for Mussina at the end of next week. Wang, meanwhile, will need two rehab starts before being activated. Since the date of his first start has yet to be announced, it seems Wang will not be able to return any earlier than the team's final homestand of the month, one turn through the rotation later than Karstens assuming both stay on pace.

2007-04-12 01:51:54
1.   Ravenscar
As I'm fifth in waiver priority in my Yahoo league, I'm just never going to get Hughes when he comes up if this is recurring problem.
2007-04-12 03:38:57
2.   joejoejoe
SI is reporting Johan Santana broke off contract extension talks with the Twins. He'll be 29 when he's a free agent after '08. If the Twins can't resign him they'd be crazy to keep him and get nothing after next season. Cashman should call the Twins and offer Cano, Pavano and any two prospects not named Tabata or Hughes for Santana and Castillo.
2007-04-12 03:52:39
3.   OldYanksFan
We really need Jason to start being Jason.
2007-04-12 04:35:04
4.   alasky
With all due respect to Joe Nathan, Cliff, I don't really know how you could say he's probably a better closer than Mariano Rivera. Aside from strikeouts what area is he really better in? Not saying Rivera's better either, but he's consistently shown a better bb/9 rate, incredible in this department as opposed to Nathan's just being very good. I know this was meant as a provocative statement in some senses, but given the similarity of their ERAs over the last few years, as well as Rivera having thrown an extra 15-20 iinnings over that stretch, I see no reason to say that Nathan's probably better unless overemphasizing his high k rate in comparison to Mo's.
2007-04-12 04:55:00
5.   rbj
You do realize Cliff, that you are going to be burned at the stake for such heresy.

I can't get upset at the loss. Every team loses 60 games a year, and our starter went down early with a bad hammy and Ortiz decided to do his Len Barker impersonation last night. Off day today to give the pen a rest.

2007-04-12 05:03:50
6.   C2Coke
No matter what is said about Mo. In my mind, he cannot be compared.

2 Cano, really? (I would admit it's a bit of that homegrown thing.)

Anyone like me who's prepared to see a quality start by Igawa?

2007-04-12 05:20:29
7.   joejoejoe
6 It's kind of silly for me to even speculate on things like trades. I thought the Yankees should have traded Cano for a pitching last offseason and picked up Luis Castillo in the Marlins fire sale. I've been historically low on Cano but I thought it was a compliment to suggest trading him for Santana. Santana's not bad, yes?

I tried to change the subject from Cliff's Mariano heresy. I think Cliff's a witch. We should throw him in the Hudson and see if he floats. Or build a bridge out of him. Or burn him.

2007-04-12 05:31:24
8.   williamnyy23
I have to jump on you for this one too Cliff:

Joe Nathan: 2004: ERA+ 292 IN 72IP; 2005: ERA+ 163 in 70IP; 2006: ERA+ 283 in 68IP

Mo: 2004: ERA+ 231 IN 79IP; 2005: ERA+ 323 in 79IP; 2006: ERA+ 243 in 75IP

I guess you could argue that Nathan was slightly better in 2004 and 2006 (although Mo pitched 7 more innings each year), but Mo's 2005 was much better, making the three-year comp at least a wash.

Unless the criteria is Ks, then I really don't see a reason for giving the title of best closer to Nathan. The irony in the comparison is that the older Mariano has actually pitched about 30 more IPs over that span. When you consider the high quality/leverage of the innings we are discussing, that's not an insignificant total.

Also, ask yourself this...your life is on the line and you need one closer to protect a 1-run lead in the 9th. Who are you calling on: Mo or Nathan? I value my preservation, so queue up Enter Sandman.

2007-04-12 05:38:00
9.   williamnyy23
7 Sure...Cano or anyone for Santana would make sense. That's not a slight on Cano. However, I am not sure why you'd be eager to see him jettisoned (or why you are historically low on him).

Also, why do you want Luis Castillo so badly? He's pretty much the rich man's Tony Womack…whereas Womack's ineptness reaches historic levels, Castillo's offense is only poor in the context of his own era.

As for Cliff being a witch, does he weigh more than a duck? If so, you might have a point.

2007-04-12 06:10:14
10.   Sliced Bread
Speaking of Monty Python (you know, burning witches):

it might have been the Tylenol PM talking, but while Sir Farnswacker was, um, "pitching to contact" last night I was falling asleep fast.
As Farns was getting waxed around the park, I was nodding off, amusing myself imagining Kyle as the Black Knight in "Holy Grail" getting his limbs hacked off by King Arthur, but defiantly ignoring his 'flesh wounds.'

Black Knight (Farnsworth): Oh, had enough, eh?
King Arthur(Twins): Look, you stupid bastard. You've got no arms left!

Several hours later, I suddenly awoke, gasping for air, startling my wife with a mantra I learned from Cliff Corcoran: "Giambi's splits can not be ignored!"

Not a good night's sleep at all. Then, this morning, I almost pull a hamstring jumping across a huge puddle in Times Square. Truthfully, I felt no discomfort whatsoever, but in mid-air it occurred to me that hamstrings can tweak when we least expect them to and I entered my office building with "heavy legs."

Then, I get to my desk and read that my favorite writer ever has died.

He wanted to. Heavy smoker. But he was the closest thing to Shakespeare or Twain that we had.

So long, Mr. Vonnegut, thanks for everything, especially "Cat's Cradle."

2007-04-12 06:12:20
11.   Knuckles
5 re: not being angy at last night's loss....
Farns was toast last night from the word go. If Torre would drink some coffee instead of the green tea, maybe he'd have been awake to yank the guy, and hold the deficit to 3-1 or so. They did out together a bit of a rally in the 9th, and maybe it turns out different down 2 instead of 4. I wouldn't call this a true Torre Loss in NoMaas parlance, but it was in the general neighborhood, for sure.
2007-04-12 06:22:59
12.   joejoejoe
9 After Cano's rookie year I thought the Yanks could sell high and get a lot back. I had doubts about his plate discipline and OB%. As for Castillo, I've always been a big fan. I thought he would provide better defense than Cano prior to the '06 season. I also thought he could be had for almost nothing as the Marlins were dumping salary like mad. Instead we got Ron Villone. In the trade above I just figured the Yanks would need a 2B back if they traded Cano and the Twins would want to dump salary in any deal. Castillo makes about $6M I think. All of the above is why it's silly to speculate about trades. There are too many considerations to make speculating anything other than goofy fun.
2007-04-12 06:45:00
13.   Count Zero
10 Yep. There I was watching a great 1-1 game...Flaherty offers up his words of wisdom about not putting Castillo on to start the inning...Farnswacker throws one pitch and I immediately KNOW he's going to walk him on four pitches and blow the game.

Then, I wake up to the Vonnegut news. He spoke at my Commencement. What a tremendous loss for our generation -- his no-nonsense, satirical examination of technology and politics will be sorely missed. :-(

2007-04-12 06:52:07
14.   mehmattski
10 Very sad news this morning, indeed. As perhaps he should have written on his tombstone:

So it goes.

2007-04-12 07:09:43
15.   Sliced Bread
14 Yeah, that would be fitting, but Vonnegut would probably just as soon have the title of Cliff's recap etched on his tombstone:

Statistical Correction

2007-04-12 07:13:54
16.   RIYank
On Santana:
I think it depends on whether we are now taking at least some Moneyballing into account, in which case Robbie is such a great value that it doesn't make sense to let him go even for a (presumably very expensive) Super(natural)star like JS; or whether we're still on the old model, according to which you get the Superstar even if it means spending vastly more than you would spend with your mere All-Star on the roster, in which case you have to pull the trigger. (Wow, that was a long sentence.)

On last night:
It was a great illustration of why it's so important to get quality starts. Seven innings of bullpen is incredibly hard to pull off. We got really good performances from Myers, Henn, and the Vizier, but even one 'flat' reliever, which obviously describes Farnsy last night, and your goose is cooked. An object lesson.

Vonnegut: RIP.

2007-04-12 07:19:32
17.   OldYanksFan
As a student in high school, while I COULD read, if I wasn't REALLY into it, my mind would wonder after no more then 3 sentences. I would read a book and get maybe 1/3 of it. Even when my eyes saw the words and my mind read them 'out loud', if my mind was simultaneously wondering, it didn't stick.

My first bigtime 'journey' into drugs and hippydom had me leaving Great Neck for a week in the ilds of Franconia Notch, NH. As I had not yet developed my appreciation for wildnerness and did not know how to put on a 'mello', I was bored shitless a lot of the time.

For some reason, while I 'hated' to read, I had brought ONE book up North with me. Don't know how or why I had it, but I packed it. Out of sheer, crazy, desparate bordom, I went to my knapsack, dug deep for that book, and figured I'd see if I could find some relief.

That book was 'Slaughterhouse-Five'.
I consider this the first book I ever REALLY read.
I have loved reading ever since.

God speed, Kurt.

2007-04-12 07:24:10
18.   JL25and3
15 Wow. That's excellent.

Cat's Cradle was his most fun, but I think Slaughterhouse Five was his truly great book. It begins, Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. It ends, Poo-too-weet?

2007-04-12 07:46:17
19.   Jim Dean
3 What if "Jason being Jason" means him playing 1B?

Maybe that's a decision when all the OF's are relatively healthy again. But if he has a sub .200 AVG then, it's hard to arue otherwise, even if it means he's injury prone.

It may not be choice by the time Matsui returns.

2007-04-12 08:39:11
20.   Zack
Ugh, if getting Sanatana means giving up Cano and having to start Castillo for more than a week, I'm not sure I could take it. Castillo is awful, period. With our depth of pitching, just offer them a whole bunch of them, plus, say, Melky and someone else...

That was one of those games last night that by the 5th you knew exactly what would happen. No offense, and Lord Farnswhacker would find a way to blow it...

2007-04-12 08:51:49
21.   OldYanksFan
Well... it was a crappy loss, but there was some good news.
Outside of F-Wack, our pitching was pretty good. If Henn becomes a legitimate longman, that will help us a lot.
ARod got a double in the 9th to keep things alive
Our defense is not great, but it has been very solid in above freezing temperatures.
The Melkman is hitting line drives, and looks 100% better at the plate.
He really looked totally lost for a while.
2007-04-12 08:54:26
22.   OldYanksFan
Minky has taken a lot of crap here. Along with last nights diving catch, how many baserunners has he saved? If you added a hit to his average for each out he's saved, how would he be looking?
2007-04-12 08:54:39
23.   Cliff Corcoran
Why not just wait until after 2008 and try to sign Santana as a free agent and then you can have both Santana and Cano in 2009. Not that I expect that to happen, but this was the same problem I had with Javy Vazquez (not that Javy's comparable to Johan). Why not wait the extra year and sign him without giving up Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera?
2007-04-12 08:55:21
24.   JL25and3
If Santana is under contract through 2008, why would the Twins trade him this year? They have a chance to win the division - with Johan and that bullpen, they always have a chance to win the Central - and he's not going to lose value if they wait.
2007-04-12 09:03:08
25.   RIYank
Cliff, the worry is that someone else will jump in with a sign-and-trade deal, someone willing to pony up a bunch of dough for Johan and some prospects for the Twins. Of course the prospective partners for a sign-and-trade are few, at least fewer than the partners for a straight trade.

JL25and3, Santana surely will lose value if the Twins wait, because barring a sign-and-trade the trading team would be getting just a year of Santana, rather than a year and a half (and the half would include October). Still, I suspect you're right that they strongly prefer to keep him as long as the think they're in the hunt this year.

2007-04-12 09:08:17
26.   Sliced Bread
The NY papers are connecting the dots (six Yanks suffer muscle injuries this spring) and drawing an arrow to Marty Miller, the team's new "director of performance enhancement" (glorified title for strength and conditioning coach).

The NY Post reports Miller de-emphasized running drills this spring, which of course would have nothing to do with Abreu's tweaked oblique.

I'm no Will Carroll but a shortage of time on the track and treadmill could result in the various leg injuries sustained by the Yanks, no?

The New York Post and Daily News have quotes from Mussina and Joe downplaying the possible Marty Miller connection, but Damon admittted to Pete Abe "It raises some eyebrows."

Careful doing those eyebrow raises, Johnny, wouldn't want you to strain anything.

2007-04-12 09:21:15
27.   joejoejoe
23 I was thinking the Twins might trade him next year, not this year. I agree with you that it's best to wait out the contract but if the Yankees are 3 games out of the playoffs next August 1st I think some phone calls will be made regarding the availabilit of Santana.
2007-04-12 09:34:13
28.   rbj
25 Don't worry, if the Twins GM is shopping Santana around/entertaining an offer, he'll be sure to call Cashman, just to see what another deal might be, or at least to drive up Johann's price.

If he doesn't, he would be an idiot.

2007-04-12 09:39:24
29.   Max Nomad
21 Villone was supposed to be a long man too, and he died off at the end (typical of him, career-wise, but still). Plus, Torre said he would spread the bullpen work a bit more to avoid last year's Villone, and to me it just seems like he's gonna overwork Henn now.
2007-04-12 09:57:33
30.   Ben
Yo Sliced! 15. Is the funniest thing I've read in weeks. The old man would've been proud of that one.
2007-04-12 10:11:30
31.   Cliff Corcoran
29 Villone wound up being an alternate set-up man in the Proctor-Farnsworth rotation, that's how he got burned out. Long men don't typically get burned because you don't need them daily like you need a set-up man. I'm not worried about Henn getting burned, and am thrilled to see that Torre's found a role in which he's willing to use him and in which he's thus far excelled. Good stuff all around.
2007-04-12 10:12:02
32.   Bama Yankee
26 I was not aware of the new coach, but I have been wondering if the injuries could be related to a lack of conditioning (or even a change in their usual program). We had something similar happen to the Alabama football team a few years back. We got a new strength coach and ended up with a string of devastating injuries. It seemed like the guy might have actually been working the players too hard. Of course, the next coach came in and went the other way and our players have seemed to lack the conditioning that they needed (evidenced by the fact that during the last several years we never won a game where we were behind going into the 4th quarter).

Surely, with all the resources at the Yankees disposal, a strength and conditioning coach couldn't be to blame for these injuries. Please tell me that with all that is riding on the health of the players, our new coach has got them in the best shape possible.

2007-04-12 10:17:49
33.   Sliced Bread
30 Thank you, Ben.

I've been reading Vonnegut interviews all day. has a bunch of great links up. The best one I've seen so far is a classic from McSweeneys (2002?)

Dig a little of this:

Q: You were one of the few people to walk out of Dresden. Now, some fifty years later, you're among the last men standing.

Vonnegut: Every so often I run into someone on the street who announces to me that they are really a survivor. I mean, who the f-ck isn't? If you're not dead, you're a survivor. [Laughs]

Q: You seem quite sure that there is no afterlife. But do you think it's even worth the wishing?

Vonnegut: Well, yeah. I've met a lot of interesting people in this life, and I've lost most of them — friends and relatives. I'd like to see some of these people again. I'd love to see my old war buddies. I'd like to see my college roommate. And my brother and my sister. On the other hand, they probably all died because they were sick of my old, familiar stories. [Laughs]

Q: When I was reading "Dr. Kevorkian," I was reminded a bit of a Japanese film from a couple years ago called "Afterlife."

Vonnegut: I haven't heard of it.

Q: It's premise is that those who have recently died are taken to a waiting room for one week, during which time they must choose only a single memory from their entire lives which will endlessly replay for them, while all of their other memories are erased.

Vonnegut: So everybody's f-cking, right?

Q: See, that's the peculiar thing. Maybe in your world or mine, everybody's f-cking. But in this movie, some of the memories are much simpler, almost elegant. Many people can't choose a memory at all.

Vonnegut: See, that's a whole different culture. I don't know anything about it.

Q: Any idea what memory you might choose?

Vonnegut: [Long pause] I think it would be the moment where I was doing everything right, where I was beyond criticism. It was back in World War II. It was snowing, but everything was black. The trucks were rolling in. I was surrounded by my buddies. And my rifle was between my knees, my helmet on my head. I was ready for anything. And I was right where I belonged. That would be the moment. It would have to be the moment.

Q: There are not many moments in a man's life like that, I would imagine.

Vonnegut: No. But you know who gets those kinds of moments all the time? A musician. They're doing exactly what they're supposed to do. I look at a symphony orchestra and everybody's doing exactly right. How the f-ck do they do that? It's like watching somebody's who's just inherited a big bunch of money. "Well, enjoy yourself.... I'm just gonna f-ck off — you know what I'm saying."


Vonnegut was a trip.

2007-04-12 10:18:51
34.   Sliced Bread
Sorry about the ridiculous length of that last one, guys.
I couldn't edit Vonnegut.
2007-04-12 11:06:44
35.   Shaun P
Re: Santana, I tend to agree with Cliff, if the Twins aren't going to re-sign him, just wait until he's a free agent and blow him away with a huge offer.

BTW, if you read, you'll see that Santana (via a Twins beat writer for one of the MN papers) denied everything Heyman said in the SI piece. My guess is the Twins re-sign him to a huge deal, especially with the new park on the horizon and their otherwise meager payroll.

And Nathan has one other advantage on Mo besides K-rate: Nathan isn't 30 yet.

2007-04-12 17:12:03
36.   David
Two questions about Farnsworth:

1. 2006 ERA 4.36. 2007 ERA 10.80. Even including his great years in 2004 and 2005, his lifetime ERA is 4.47. He can't pitch more than one inning or on consecutive days. The question is: Why should we think he's more than mediocre?

2. Some say he's good most of the time, but occasionally has nothing (as he did last night). If so, why can't the combined brain power of Torre, Guidry, Kerrigan and Farnsworth himself recognize those occassions when he as nothing? Why can't they take him out quickly enough to prevent him from blowing the game? Or, better yet, why can't his bad days be recognized while he's warming up in the bull pen?

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