Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
O's No, Mo!*
2007-08-15 19:52
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

I often wonder about the common practice of sending righty-heavy lineups against dominant lefties at the expense of starting a team's best players. I'm not saying that Joe Torre was necessarily wrong to use a day game after a night game to give Robinson Cano and Bobby Abreu days off or to give Jorge Posada a spell as the DH while putting Jose Molina behind the plate. Indeed, one of the advantages of the strong Yankee bench is that the lineup doesn't actually suffer that much when such moves are made. I just wonder if the practice artificially inflates the performance of both the lefty pitchers who face these second-rate lineups and the lefty batters who come down with what has been referred to as the 24-hour Randy Johnson flu.

Take for example some of the statistics quoted in the comments early in yesterday's game thread. Erik Bedard entered yesterday's game holding righties to a .208/.261/.335 line, and lefties to .230/.329/.385, but, as reader NJYankee41 pointed out, a lot of that left-handed production is courtesy of Carl Crawford, who is 7 for 12 with two doubles, a triple, and a homer against Bedard on the season. Even without his performance against Bedard, Crawford has a pretty even split this year, but historically he's had a more typical platoon split. Who's to say that some of the other high-profile lefties who have been sitting against Bedard wouldn't find similar success against him (or Johan Santana, or whomever) if given enough exposure? In fact, I can guarantee that some of them would simply because they're good hitters. What's more, while Bedard is undoubtedly one of the elite pitchers in the game this year, would his performance against righties be as strong if it weren't for the fact that a great many of them are reserves rather than his opponents' regular starters?

Yesterday's Yankee lineup had Wilson Betemit batting from his weaker right side in place of lefty Robinson Cano, righty Shelley Duncan in place of lefty Bobby Abreu, and righty Jose Molina pushing switch-hitter Jorge Posada to DH (Jorge's numbers are pretty even from both sides of the plate) and thus starting in place of either Jason Giambi or Johnny Damon, both lefties. For good measure, switch-hitter Melky Cabrera was batting from his weaker side as well. That lineup struck out five times before Alex Rodriguez picked up the first hit off Bedard leading off the fourth and was held scoreless by Bedard over seven full innings with Rodriguez (twice), Hideki Matsui (the only lefty in the starting lineup), and Duncan (who also struck out twice) picking up the only four hits against Bedard.

Just for yucks, here are the splits against left-handers of those various spot-starting righties and the lefties they replaced

Wilson Betemit .258/.324/.419
Robinson Cano .315/.375/.470

Shelley Duncan .308/.400/.769 (in 15 PA)
Bobby Abreu .218/.286/.286

Jose Molina .324/.316/.432
Jason Giambi .277/.320/.511
Johnny Damon .271/.347/.346

First of all, newsflash: Bobby Abreu can't hit lefties. In his career he's hit just .273/.369/.390 against them, this from a career .301/.409/.501 hitter. Last year, Abreu handled lefties pretty well (.293/.403/.437), but that was the fluke. This is the norm. The last time the Yankees faced a lefty starter (Kansas City's Odalis Perez), Shelley Duncan got the start in right field. Expect that to continue, as it should.

Robinson Cano sat because he'd started every game for the last month, all but three games on the season, and had only had one full day off all year. He'd also gone 0 for 8 in the first two games of the series. Betemit struck out three times in Cano's stead and came up short on one ground ball in the hole that Cano might have turned into an out, but the point wasn't playing Betemit, it was resting Cano, who showed his appreciation with a pinch-hit single against righty Joey Hoey Jim Hoey in the eighth.

The Molina situation stemmed from similar logic. Jorge Posada didn't play at all in the Cleveland series, but that was because of a stiff neck, and this was a day game after a night game in the summer heat. No harm done, and Molina's numbers against lefties are damn fine for a backup catcher. Still, Bedard got a break. I'm not saying he wouldn't have pitched well anyway, but that lineup helped rather than hurt his ability to do so.

Phil Hughes, making his first Yankee Stadium start that wasn't a debut of some sort, pitched reasonably well, but betrayed his inexperience. Hughes' biggest problem was that he was inefficient, needing 95 pitches to get through five innings. Hughes got the O's in order in the first on ten pitches, then struck out Miguel Tejada to start the second and got ahead of Kevin Millar 0-2. He then lapsed into an Al Leiter impression, repeatedly targeting the corners with his fastball and trying to get Millar and Aubrey Huff to go fishing after his breaking stuff despite failing to get strikes by either method. The result was seven straight balls, which put Millar on base and set-up a five-pitch walk of Huff. Hughes rallied, however, and struck out Melvin Mora and Paul Bako (the latter on three pitches) to strand his two walks, but the no-contact inning took 25 pitches to complete. In the third, he allowed a pair of two out singles that, with the help of a stolen base by Corey Patterson, made it 1-0 O's. The run was no big deal, but it took him another 21 pitches to get through those five batters. In the fourth, Huff and Mora singled with one out (Huff's hit being the one Cano might have gotten to) and moved up on a curve in the dirt that ricocheted off Jose Molina's chest protector to the backstop. Tike Redman then hit a high hopper deep in the first-base hole that Andy Phillips snagged, but Hughes hesitated before leaving the mound to cover first base. Not only did the speedy Redman beat Hughes to the bag, but Hughes' hesitation threw off the timing of the play. Phillips' delayed throw was low, and Hughes booted it, allowing both runners to score. The error only cost Hughes two more pitches as Brian Roberts lined out to left, but this time the runs hurt. To his credit, Hughes took full blame for the play after the game.

In the fifth, Hughes was both hurt and helped by his defense. Corey Patterson led off with a single and stole second. Nick Markakis then hit a grounder right through Patterson's legs as he lead off second and Derek Jeter, who appeared to be screened on the play, booted what should have been the first out. Hughes got Tejada to fly out to shallow left to hold Patterson at third, then got Millar to fly out to Shelley Duncan in right. Patterson tagged on that one, but Duncan fired home and, though his throw was up the third base line, it hit Molina chest-high on the fly and was in plenty of time to catch the speedy Patterson for a nifty, inning-ending 9-2 double play.

Duncan, whose home-away splits have thus far been the opposite of Hughes' (tremendous small sample warnings, of course), was the big Yankee hero of this game. Though both Sean Henn and especially Edwar Ramirez, both of whom were called up prior to the game, pitched very well in relief of Hughes, keeping O's within range at 3-0, it was Duncan who cashed those performances, as well as singles by Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui, in with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying three-run jack off Jamie Walker and into the seats in left. Sadly, it was all for naught as Mariano Rivera gave the lead back by surrendering doubles to the first two batters he faced in the top of the tenth (Tejada and Markakis), then gave up a hope-crushing two-run homer to dead-center by Huff a batter later. Chad Bradford pitched around a two-out infield single by Alex Rodriguez to give the Orioles the 6-3 victory and the series, both of which were brutal losses for the Yankees.

As for Mo, he's 37 and has appeared in 768 games in his career, which is more than Tommy John or Warren Spahn. He's going to have a rough outing now and again, and that's going to happen more frequently than it used to. He's still converted 90 percent of his save opportunities on the season (his career rate is 88 percent), and with yesterday's has just four loses (he's had as many or more in five of the last seven years). There are hard truths to be faced about Mo in the coming years to be sure, and the Yankees don't have a very good track record when it comes to phasing out popular players who don't make things easy by leaving as free agents, retiring early like Paul O'Neill or Don Mattingly, or by having an exceptionally awful year like David Cone. These concerns will be relevant this offseason when Rivera's contract negotiations begin. They're not right now. He had a bad outing. It's happened before. Here's a fun fact, though, the last time Mariano Rivera gave up both a home run and additional runs not driven in by the homer in the same inning was against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium just a few weeks shy of three years ago.

*I figure that'll be the back page of either the Post or the News, you night owls can place your bets in the comments.

Comments (74)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-08-15 22:06:21
1.   yankz
God, I hate the Orioles. Nice recap, btw, thanks. Those Abreu splits are terrifying.
2007-08-15 22:08:02
2.   yankz
Sorry, I don't mean to double post, but I can't see my first one. Test?
2007-08-15 22:11:57
3.   Cliff Corcoran
The best part is that they still have, not one, but two series left with the O's.
2007-08-15 22:54:38
4.   bartap74
Great recap, but no Edwar mention? Unlike the 12-0 routing the other day, there were a few silver linings in today's game. Duncan proved himself a potent right handed bat off the bench, even in high pressure situations, as well as a versatile emergency fielder. Hughes pitched much better than any 21 year old has any business doing in his 5th(?) major league start, and Edwar made some very good hitters look very foolish indeed. We can only hope that Joe was actually paying attention this time and won't bury him for two weeks before using him again. Now if we could just get Cash to swap Britton in for Farnsworth, I think we'll have the makings of a potent pennant contender.
2007-08-15 23:00:35
5.   Cliff Corcoran
4 See penultimate paragraph. Meanwhile, I'm holding Hughes to a higher standard, as indeed he is himself (he was very disappointed in his performance after the game).
2007-08-16 01:54:01
6.   Yu-Hsing Chen
couldn't they rested Cano against a weaker righty and played Betimet to his strength ? :/

Duncan had a good night though, Phillips wans't that terrible, at least he made a few solid contact (as did Melky )

Still though, if Hughes hadn't made that error at first the Yankees woulda won walk off style in the 9th, arragh.

2007-08-16 02:21:32
7.   Mattpat11
My alltime favorite example of the Randy Johnson flu was Trot Nixon. When Trot was with the Red Sox, he never, ever sat because the team was facing a tough left hander. Everytime the Red Sox faced a left hander, Trot came up with a strained something or other than was healed by the next day. Like frigging clockwork.

It was hilarious by the end.

2007-08-16 05:31:44
8.   Sliced Bread
Great No Maas headline: "Yanks Brass Smuggle Ramirez Past Torre"

Yeah, Edwar looked sharp yesterday, even if afterward the kid had to run around the shower to get wet, and strap a 2X4 to his waist lest he get washed down the drain.

re: Mo. Look in your wallets this morning. His mug is still on the money. "In Mo We Trust."

Now, let's whup us some Tiggers.
Moose and the pen are gonna have to step it up, and keep it the eff away against Sheff. I recall the second I heard about the trade I envisioned Sheff in a road-gray Detroit uniform obliterating a Proctor fastball into the upper deck -- so I'm counting that as a 3-run bullet dodged today.

2007-08-16 05:50:22
9.   williamnyy23
Even though they lost, Duncan's HR was still a big one. I know a lot of people don't subscribe to momentum and psychological impacts in baseball, but facing Verlander on the heels of two straight shutouts would have been less than ideal.

Still, the Yankees need to score runs today. If they get shut down again, the Colorado effect could take hold. Considering the juncture in the schedule, that would be a disaster.

Over the next 14 games, the Yankees have their most difficult gauntlet. I think going 8-6 is a minimum (with 2 wins against Boston included) requirement. Considering how difficult the Angels have been, it would be wise for the Yankees to start on a good paw with the Tigers.

2007-08-16 06:02:42
10.   Chyll Will
NY Daily Rues headline: "I'm Only Human"

The truth for a slight change of pace?

2007-08-16 06:10:59
11.   NJYankee41
Hey I'm famous!

Its a tough call on who should have played or not, but there are good arguments on both sides. Personally, I may have found another day to rest Cano despite the fact he may have needed one. I would have also liked to Giambi in there somehow. I don't blame Torre for his decisions, but I also do not discount the other possibilities.

I hate to play according to the past, but I'm sure glad they swept the Indians. It would be awesome if they can now do some damage to the struggling Tigers.

2007-08-16 06:17:46
12.   williamnyy23
One bright side on Mo's stretch of three shaky outings is that the Yankees wound up winning two of the games. Hopefully, Mo will get a couple of days of rest and return to his usual self. I also hope Torre will bring an end to Mo's ridiculously high number of appearances with the team ahead or behind by at least four runs.
2007-08-16 06:24:52
13.   unpopster
BIIIIG series against Detroit and the Yanks may just be catching a break. From ESPN's recap of yesterday's Tigers-Indians game:

"The Tigers were undermanned and under the weather. All-Stars Ivan Rodriguez and Placido Polanco sat out with a flu bug that infested Detroit's clubhouse. Outfielder Craig Monroe and closer Todd Jones were also sick and didn't play, and the Tigers were hoping Justin Verlander, scheduled to start Thursday's series opener in New York, would shake off his symptoms in time to face the Yankees."

2007-08-16 06:30:42
14.   ric

i dont think thats true becasue 1. nixon almost never faced any lefty starters and 2. he was legitimately very frequently injured.

2007-08-16 06:31:45
15.   Shaun P
10 Even a broken clock is right twice a day. =)

What did the Post's back page say?

13 Verlander is due for a bad start, isn't he?

2007-08-16 06:35:11
16.   NJYankee41
15 "Moe is Woe"
2007-08-16 06:40:03
17.   Shaun P
14 1998: 1 game vs LHP, 1 AB (he didn't start the game it seems)

1999: 44 games vs LHP, but only 43 AB

2000: 44 games vs LHP, but only 53 AB

2001: 81 games vs LHP, but only 105 AB

2002: 86 games vs LHP, but only 116 AB

2003: 62 games vs LHP, but only 96 AB

2004: 13 games vs LHP, but only 15 AB
(Nixon missed most of this year due to injury; only 149 AB in 48 G overall)

2005: 58 games vs LHP, but only 85 ABs

2006: 63 games vs LHP, but only 93 ABs

The numbers sure suggest that Mattpat111 is right.

2007-08-16 06:44:01
18.   Shaun P
17 ARGH - hit submit before I finished;

"is right. Because every year except 2004, he had plenty of games and AB vs RHP."

2007-08-16 06:51:39
19.   williamnyy23
17 I don't think it was a case of Nixon asking out against lefties...he was basically a platoon player for a good part of his career. Also, games against LHP is a bit misleading as that could refer to one AB appearances.
2007-08-16 06:56:14
20.   Chyll Will
16 They must have an allergy to even the slightest hint of cleverness.
2007-08-16 07:00:08
21.   JL25and3
20 Really. Even "Moe is Less" would have been better.
2007-08-16 07:00:27
22.   Cliff Corcoran
16 Actually, it was "Woe is Mo," but the Mets got the back page with "'Burgh of Prey," which made me think the Mets lost to Pittsburgh, but apparently they won.
2007-08-16 07:14:59
23.   Raf
"He (Hughes) then lapsed into an Al Leiter impression, repeatedly targeting the corners with his fastball and trying to get Millar and Aubrey Huff to go fishing after his breaking stuff despite failing to get strikes by either method."

I guess this means he calls his own game? I was under the impression that the team/catcher calls the game.

2007-08-16 07:15:18
24.   rbj
I think yesterday was the proper day to give those guys a rest -- they are going to be more needed against the Tigers, whom the Yankees are battling for the WC spot (as the back up to winning the division). The Tiger games are more important.
2007-08-16 07:15:44
25.   Chyll Will
22 Well, that deserved a "cricket,cricket..." >;)
2007-08-16 07:19:04
26.   Chyll Will
24 That actually makes sense. Fortunately, we didn't lose ground in the process...
2007-08-16 07:20:55
27.   NJYankee41
22 Yeah, I butchered it pretty badly. Since when was Mo spelt with an "e". Geez.
2007-08-16 07:26:09
28.   Chyll Will
27 If they put it like this - "Woe is M(o)e"; it could have had double significance. But if they had the notion, it was quickly supressed for space considerations.
2007-08-16 07:27:24
29.   Chyll Will
28 ...and in consideration of those allergic to cleverness >;)
2007-08-16 07:44:32
30.   Chyll Will
29 : 25 applies to you, too...
2007-08-16 07:58:02
31.   NJYankee41
29 HA!

30 I got rid of the crickets.

2007-08-16 08:00:16
32.   alterity
Supercool analysis of Edwar's change-up at Baseball Think Factory, complete with downloadable video (wmv format; sorry Mac users):

2007-08-16 08:06:08
33.   Chyll Will
Thanks, but it still looks like it's gonna be a long day until the game starts. Should've been there for you guys last night, but my roommate hogged the computer in order to write a short story I was then harrassed into editing. Oh well, I'm sure Cliff & Alex get that all the time at work >;)
2007-08-16 08:09:01
34.   Bama Yankee
27 I thought you might be talking about one of these guys:

(BTW, congrats for getting mentioned in the recap)

2007-08-16 08:11:24
35.   Chyll Will
With all these control-freak superball pitchers making their way into the fold, I have to speculate:

"Nard I. Contreras, Super Genius?"

2007-08-16 08:20:37
36.   Chyll Will
34 You mean, not these?

2007-08-16 08:20:47
37.   Yankee Fan In Boston
the following onion article had me giggling...

...right up until the last line.

then i sighed.

2007-08-16 08:28:00
38.   Chyll Will
37 Yep, I'm bored. Uncle Woodrow actually showed me this one, in case you want to wash the taste of that last line out...

(I'd better go surf somewhere else a while or else this thread will be be thrown out because of me overusing it >;)

2007-08-16 08:36:35
39.   NJYankee41
34 Actually I thought this guy was still playing:

Thanks, but you will still have to pay the $50 for me to sign anything smaller than a bat.

2007-08-16 08:37:29
40.   Yankee Fan In Boston
38 i read that a little while back.

i couldn't believe it.

2007-08-16 08:38:38
41.   Cliff Corcoran
37 That article is fantastic.
2007-08-16 08:41:57
42.   Bama Yankee
35 I just hope he doesn't get a box in the mail from the ACME Corp. that is labeled "Gyro Ball"...
2007-08-16 08:55:12
43.   Chyll Will
40 Neither could we. How usual!
2007-08-16 08:58:12
44.   NJYankee41
40 I guess I'm in the minority. I could believe it.
2007-08-16 09:02:02
45.   ric
the number of at bats vs lefties you posted sort of proves my point. theyre probably mostly relievershe faced. platoon players suck. jd drew sits vs tough lefties often as well.
2007-08-16 09:07:11
46.   Chyll Will
42 Damon Oppenheimer = Bugs Bunny?
2007-08-16 09:12:19
47.   yankz
37 I could totally see those quotes being real.
2007-08-16 09:13:03
48.   Chyll Will
44 I read recently where they wouldn't like you in Malibu...
2007-08-16 09:13:09
49.   YankeeInMichigan
Perhaps the Tigers are just what Mo needs right now. The Tigers' last earned run against Rivera was in Tiger Stadium (July 6, 1999 - game tying homer in 9th by Higginson - Yanks came back to beat Jones in 10th).
2007-08-16 09:15:59
50.   Fritsthestud
Any updates on Verlander this morning?
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-08-16 09:28:20
51.   JL25and3
46 Speaking of which: if anyone here hasn't read Derek Zumsteg's analysis of the famous game between the Gas House Gorillas and the Tea Totallers, treat yourself.
2007-08-16 09:32:44
52.   JL25and3
Also, I found my copy of O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto. If no one minds, I'll post a couple of excerpts today. The book is available at Amazon, and worth every penny.

Reversal of Opinion
And he hits one in the hole
They're gonna have to hurry.
They got him.
How do you like that.
Holy cow.
I changed my mind before he got there.
So that doesn't count as an error.

2007-08-16 09:36:13
53.   Chyll Will
51 Wow JL, if anyone hasn't read that here by now, they need a spanking >;)
2007-08-16 09:37:21
54.   williamnyy23
Does anyone know what's up with the Angels pitching staff...according to some sources (including the sidebar), the Yankees are going to catch all three of the Angels top pitchers. That doesn't make sense though because Weaver is pitching Saturday. Also, why isn't Lackey pitching Friday in Boston (or at any point until next Wednesday against the Yankees)?

It would really suck if the the Sox avoid Escobar and Lackey, while the Yankees wind up facing them.

2007-08-16 09:38:28
55.   Jersey
50 Verlander is still scheduled to start. Here's hoping the flu has drained him...
2007-08-16 09:39:30
56.   williamnyy23
54 Sorry...just realized Boston plays a DH on Friday, so Lackey likely gets the opener. That still means the Yankees catch him on Wednesday, but at least he also pitches against Boston.

Either way, it looks as if the sidebar as the Tuesday and Wednesday matchups wrong.

2007-08-16 09:41:20
57.   JL25and3
53 You're right. But it is essential reading, so I figure it's worth mentioning every once in a while, just in case.
2007-08-16 09:53:18
58.   Chyll Will
57 If it comes to pass, I suggest sending AbbyNormal with a big paddle inscribed "R.I.F.", along with standuptriple to read the passage aloud as she dispenses the proper punishment.
2007-08-16 09:53:31
59.   AbbyNormal821
38 Further proof that use of the the 'f-word' in every day writing & conversation makes for funny, more punctuated reading. That article was great! Long live the Onion!

...oh yeah, and F**K the last paragraph of that article!

2007-08-16 10:02:57
60.   Chyll Will
59 Good to see ya (see? She'll do fine!) >;)

You know who else I miss?

2007-08-16 10:08:48
61.   JL25and3
60 If it's who I'm thinking of - actually, so do I, deceased equines and all. I wonder where he disappeared to?
2007-08-16 10:18:26
62.   Chyll Will
Nah, not as much as whom I'm really thinking of; although I grant you he does have the board hopping when he's here and that is essential at times...

I was thinking of the one Mr. Yankz exposed as a disciple of the only modern author I can think of who had a candy bar named after him... and there I thought it was a not-so-subtle reference to Little League, go figure...

He did say he may come back under another assumed name; perhaps he has and the plot has thickened. We would also have to enlist the incomparable Shaun P. to detect his wereabouts if he is here...

2007-08-16 10:20:56
63.   Yankee Fan In Boston
60 karim garcia?
2007-08-16 10:22:58
64.   Yankee Fan In Boston
60 carl pavano?
2007-08-16 10:24:27
65.   Yankee Fan In Boston
60 wait!

i got it...

butch wynegar?

2007-08-16 10:24:39
66.   Bama Yankee
61 I was also wondering what happened to our buddy the sausage king...

I miss him too, I hope everything is okay with him.

Maybe after all the latest moves made by the FO to shore up the bench he just hasn't had anything to complain about... Nahhhh, that can't be it. ;-)

2007-08-16 10:30:56
67.   Chyll Will
66 You're right, I do hope he's okay.

63 ,64 ,65 Stop that >;)

I was talking about wsporter.

2007-08-16 10:36:58
68.   Bama Yankee
63 Hey, that's my line...

Check this out:

2007-08-16 10:40:21
69.   thelarmis
63 68 who?
2007-08-16 10:41:36
70.   Chyll Will
When Pedro goes into the HoF, that should be embossed on the bottom of his plaque...
2007-08-16 10:42:35
71.   AbbyNormal821
60 Likewise!!! Have been in lurk mode for a while, because my JOB keeps interrupting me too much to post much lately - I hate it when that happens!
2007-08-16 10:43:23
72.   AbbyNormal821
68 Niiiice! HAHA!
2007-08-16 10:50:23
73.   Shaun P
62 "Incomparable? I do not think that word means what you think it means." ;) You're too kind, Chyll. BTW - did you know that once upon a time, the Scooter was a spokesperson for Yoo Hoo?

I really thought that day YFiC (I think) posted about the group trying to buy the Cubs - led by a guy who graduated from RPI but was NOT an engineering major! - would have brought wsporter out of the woodwork. But no. We Union folks do like to poke fun at RPI (all friendly I promise as IIRC randym77 is an RPI grad) . . . but no dice.

I know JD had mentioned before that he might be moving to the Boston area sometime soon; maybe the move has kept him busy? In any case, I hope he's well too.

They'll come back - everyone does eventually.

2007-08-16 11:47:49
74.   JL25and3
67 finally I get the references to the meaning of his name.

"...the only modern author I can think of who had a candy bar named after him..." I'm not sure I'd think of him as a modern author - but in any case, are there other, less modern authors who'd qualify? I mean, was there a Sophocles candy bar or something?

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