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Observations From Cooperstown--What Do The Yankees Need?
2008-01-24 15:13
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

If I never hear the name Johan Santana between now and Opening Day, I will be a satisfied baseball fan. The endless rumors surrounding the premier left-hander have basically ruined this Hot Stove League season, holding several other potential blockbuster trades hostage. It’s almost enough to get me to kick the rumor habit—but not quite. The Santana rumors have so dominated Yankee hot stove headlines over the last two months that some members of the media have forgotten that this team has other concerns. Be it first base, the bench, the bullpen, or the back end of the starting rotation, there are plenty of questions to be answered by the time that the Bombers open up their final season at Yankee Stadium.

Yes, Brian Cashman has done well in playing defense this winter, bringing back critical free agents like Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera, re-signing an important complementary piece in Bobby Abreu, and holding on to all of his prized pitching prospects. (Did you know that the Yankees have 25 pitchers on their 40-man roster? That must be some sort of record.) On the other hand, he has done virtually nothing to augment the face of the team’s roster—a roster that produced another first-round exit in the postseason. Outside of LaTroy Hawkins (who will definitely make the team) and Jonathan Albaladejo and Jason Lane (who might not), the Yankees are counting exclusively on internal improvements to address the problems of pitching, first base, and right-handed power (or the lack thereof). Is that the right approach? Conservative baseball thinkers who prefer the reliance on one’s own farm system will likely say yes, while the wheelers and dealers among us will put forth a wholly different response.

With that debate providing a backdrop, let’s take a look at each positional need and what might be done between now and spring training, or at the very least, what needs to happen for the Yankees to avoid the first-half disaster that nearly drowned the team, along with the playoff performance that actually did sink the season.

First base

As he did last winter, Cashman has taken a lackadaisical approach to upgrading the Yankees’ weakest position. Resisting the temptation to trade for a big-time hitter like a Nick Swisher, Cashman seems content to shop at the discount aisle. He cut ties with noodle bats Andy Phillips and Doug Mientkiewicz only to import the Swiss cheese swing of Jason Lane. Frankly, the Yankees would have been better off with Nathan Lane, who can, at the very least, sing and dance. Jason Lane has been simply awful the past two seasons, after slugging .499 for the Astros in 2005. He’s not that young either, a 31-year-old veteran who is well on his way to a journeyman entry in Total Baseball. The signing of Lane tells me that the Yankees are worried that Shelley "Slam" Duncan might not be completely ready for spring training after suffering shoulder blood clots in November. They’re also legitimately concerned about the lack of outfield depth, what with only four real outfielders on the 40-man roster. Lane can play all three outfield positions, will learn first base in the spring, and has the kind of right-handed pop, when his swing is right, that the Yankees crave.

If Lane makes the team as the 13th and final position player, he might platoon with Wilson Betemit. While I’m no great fan of Lane, I’m a huge supporter of Betemit. If the Yankees let him play first base against all right-handers, he’ll hit 20 home runs, reach base 35 per cent of the time, and play the position with range and finesse. That kind of a package would represent a huge improvement over the 2007 trio of Phillips, Mientkiewicz, and Miguel Cairo. Then again, the Yankees might do something stupid and delude themselves into believing that Jason Giambi can play first base every day. Not a good idea. Giambi is the worst defensive first baseman I’ve ever seen; that illustrious group of stone hands includes Richie Sexson, Mo Vaughn, Don Baylor, Jack Clark, and Dave Kingman. (Keep in mind that I never saw Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart or Zeke Bonura play, but they could both be thrown into this barrel, too.) Giambi is a huge defensive liability the Yankees simply cannot afford to carry, especially with the presence of ground ball pitchers like Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte.

One other possibility is Brad Wilkerson, a free agent who has received some inquiries from the Yankees. He’s a left-handed version of Lane—he can play the three outfield spots and first base—but has loads more talent and a better pedigree. Even in an off year, Wilkerson hit 20 home runs. He has a history of drawing walks, having drawn 106 free passes in 2004, a trait that has been noted by the Red Sox, as well. (At last report, the Red Sox have offered Wilkerson a one-year deal worth $2 million.)

The Bench

This area already received an upgrade during the second half of 2007 with the call-up of Duncan and the acquisitions of Betemit and Jose Molina. Betemit can fill two roles—platoon first baseman and utility infielder—which is extremely valuable in an era when so many roster spots are soaked up by marginal pitchers. There’s simply no good reason that Betemit can’t fill both roles, backing up Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and A-Rod on days when he isn’t needed to play first base. Frankly, this is a method that teams like the Yankees need to embrace in order to become more creative, so that they can cover more positions with fewer bench players. As for the backup catcher, Molina probably won’t hit .318 again, but he’s light years better than Wil Nieves defensively. If Giambi is reduced to a reserve role, the bench becomes even stronger. The biggest question is the lack of right-handed sock, which would be abetted by a healthy Duncan but becomes problematic if Lane makes the club and continues to flail at the plate. Given Lane’s recent history, the lack of legitimate outfield depth behind the front four remains a concern, too.

Along those lines, recent trade rumors involve the outfield. There has been talk of Hideki Matsui being traded to the Padres for prospects, with those prospects then being forwarded to the Twins as part of a package for Santana. If that were to happen, the Yankees would be left with three fulltime outfielders and no legitimate backup. Ultimately, the Yankees would have to acquire another outfielder, be it Wilkerson, Corey Patterson, or some other flychaser to be named later.

Starting Rotation

At one point, I thought the Yankees might pursue a veteran innings eater like Noah Lowry (via trade) or Jon Lieber (free agency), but Cashman seems willing to roll the dice on the three prized right-handers (Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy). Lieber has already signed with the Cubs, while the trade talks involving Lowry cooled off quickly in late December. Realistically, the Yankees need one of the big three to emerge if they expect to contend with the Red Sox, and at least two of the three to thrive if they want to overtake the Sox. Mike Mussina projects as a sometime starter and long reliever, and that’s the kind of secondary role he should play at this late stage of his career. But I have doubts about him successfully becoming the Ramiro Mendoza/Dick Tidrow of the 2008 staff. "Mr. Inflexible" needs 96 hours notice to start, doesn’t like the idea of relieving, and hates anything that breaks his routine. Those aren’t exactly the character traits of someone who can capably fill the swingman role. If not Mussina, the Yankees will likely have to rely on another kid, someone like Alan Horne or Ross Ohlendorf.

The Bullpen

Raise your hand if you’re confident that Kyle Farnsworth can handle the eighth inning. With no hands visible, Joe Girardi seems to be the last man on Earth who believes in Farnsworth. Let’s hope that Girardi can convince Farnsworth to throw a sinking fastball for strikes; if not, the Yankees are in trouble. Hawkins is no more than a sixth or seventh-inning setup option; the smaller his role the better. Ohlendorf and Jose Veras each looked good in September, but their resumes remain questionable. The best hope might be the massive Albaladejo, who’s built like Tim Stoddard and throws like Brian Fisher. He’s the kind of guy that Joe Torre used to ignore but might be receive a longer look from Girardi. From the left side, the options are less appealing. Sean Henn and Kei Igawa were both horrid in 2007, a fact that leaves the Yankees searching yet again for a lefty specialist. In terms of in-house answers, the best solution might be non-roster invite Heath Phillips, who has posted good minor league numbers and has an effective assortment of breaking pitches. There’s been talk of bringing back Ron Villone for a third go-round, but he’s not the answer. Damaso Marte remains available via trade, assuming that Cashman will relent on giving up one B-level prospect in return.

Clearly, the Yankees are crossing their fingers that they can find some gems amidst the rockpile. Realistically, they need one of the unproven right-handers to step up and fill a key late-inning role, and will likely have to find a lefty reliever from the trade market or the scrap heap.

So where does all of this leave the Yankees? The nucleus of the team is set, for better or worse, with a strong reliance on aging hitters to carry the offense and on young pitchers to fill out the starting rotation. But there is still some fine-tuning to be done, especially with regard to the bench and the bullpen. Those areas will need to be closely monitored—and ultimately addressed—during the six-week marathon that is spring training.

***

Finally, I’d like to extend get-well wishes to Yankee blogger Steven Goldman, who is recovering from recent thyroid surgery. While I don’t always agree with Goldman, I find his writing style entertaining and his knowledge of history impressive. The talented Goldman’s writing makes www.yesnetwork.com a good stopping point for Yankee fans.

 

Bruce Markusen, the author of seven books on baseball, writes "Cooperstown Confidential" for MLB.com.

Comments (116)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-01-25 06:56:39
1.   Sliced Bread
Nathan Lane! Yeah, when was the last time the Yanks had a bonafide song & dance man in the infield? But something tells me Joe Girardi's not down with the whimsical musical comedy thing.
2008-01-25 07:18:59
2.   YankeeInMichigan
I wouldn't put Giambi in the Kingman category of defensive first basemen. He handles throws in the dirt quite well, and his range is surprisingly good for a guy his size. On the other hand, he has zero leaping ability, and his throws to second are about as accurate as Knoblauch's throws to first.

The bigger problem with Giambi at first is the increased injury risk.

2008-01-25 07:59:10
3.   Shaun P
The signing of Lane doesn't concern me. I'd be surprised if he makes the team out of camp, but he's not bad as insurance goes at AAA.

Wilkerson might be a good add, but had injury issues the last two years, with only 338 ABs in '07 and 320 ABs in '06. I like his power/patience combo, but I'm not sure he's a better fit than Lane right now. That he's a(nother) lefty bat might be why I'm leaning to Lane.

Finally, I'm not worried about Farnsworth at all. I think with Joe G here, the days of the formulaic bullpen ("save situation + 8th inning = Farnsworth") are gone. I imagine Kyle will pitch the 8th in save situations some times, but I expect to see other guys there too: Britton (that was his main role in Baltimore in '06), Ohlendorf, maybe even Patterson, Edwar, etc.

As for a need - Jeter's glove to return to near-adequate (and stay there). What hurts a groundball pitcher more, a bad 1B or a bad SS?

2008-01-25 08:33:32
4.   tommyl
What would the price be on Nick Johnson (or Young)? Could the Nats be convinced to make a trade for salary relief?
2008-01-25 08:39:20
5.   Knuckles
I'd stay far away from Dmitri Young, and I don't think Johnson's going to be ready until May or June.
2008-01-25 08:47:04
6.   pistolpete
4 >>As for a need - Jeter's glove to return to near-adequate (and stay there). What hurts a groundball pitcher more, a bad 1B or a bad SS? >>

Probably a bad 1B - not every ball goes to SS, but every ground ball is eventually going to be attempted to thrown over to first.

That said, I still don't think Giambi is that bad with the glove. We just got spoiled with Donnie and then Tino after him.

2008-01-25 09:22:30
7.   williamnyy23
Maybe it's just me, but didn't all of the holes (back-end of the rotation, middle relief, 1st base) cited above exist last season as well? And yet, the Yankees still managed to miss the best record in baseball by 2 games.

I guess that's why I don't get the assertion that the Yankees "need one of the big three to emerge if they expect to contend with the Red Sox". After all, the Yankees 3-5 starters last season were Mussina, Pavano and Igawa!! And yet, still, they managed to "contend with Boston".

I also take exception to the notion that "As he did last winter, Cashman has taken a lackadaisical approach to upgrading the Yankees' weakest position". What would make anyone think Cashman has been lackadaisical in this area? Instead, I think Cashman has been unwilling to overpay for a veteran retread or trade prospects for a more established bat. Perhaps that's lackadaisical to some, but to me it's prudence.

2008-01-25 09:23:40
8.   williamnyy23
6 I've seen enough of Giambi at 1B...I think he is that bad, and getting worse each season. What's more, playing the field too often seems to hasten the onset of his inevitable injuries.
2008-01-25 09:24:13
9.   JL25and3
I wonder what it would take to get Juan Rivera from the Angels? He seems like he'd be a good fit as a fourth outfielder.
2008-01-25 09:24:46
10.   williamnyy23
One more note...don't forget about Juan Miranda at 1B. I wouldn't be surprised if he figures into the mix at some point this season.
2008-01-25 09:25:57
11.   williamnyy23
9 With Hunter, Matthews, Vlad and Anderson, Rivera may be expendable, but I can't see the Angels being reasonable in their demands.
2008-01-25 09:28:27
12.   ny2ca2dc
10 Good reminder, his reviews from fall ball were stellar. He's lefty though, so while I'm pretty excited about him, He doesn't address the RH power outage.

We discussed this last year, but the best option might be moving Matsui to 1B. As long as he's better than Giambi, and I think he would be, then Giambi can be the full(ish) time DH.

2008-01-25 09:28:36
13.   JL25and3
11 And Reggie Willets.
2008-01-25 09:52:07
14.   Shaun P
11 13 Why the heck do the Angels still have Rivera? Are they really going to carry 6 OF (7 if you count Figgins)? 2 Cs, 4 regular IFs, 1 backup MI, leaves 6 spots. Shoot, maybe they can carry 6.

But, if they keep Kotchman, Morales, Kendrick, Figgins, Izturis, and Aybar, plus 2 catchers, that leaves only 5 spots, which means one of the OFs has to go.

I'm kind of surprised that the Angels didn't non-tender Rivera. Sounds like a decision will need to be made soon though.

2008-01-25 10:38:59
15.   tommyl
What's the upside on Juan Rivera compared to say a Brett Gardner? How many years are on his deal? We do have Ajax and Tabata coming along in the next few years.
2008-01-25 11:25:49
16.   rbj
I was about to raise my hand re: Flameunworth, then I reread "man handle" as can handle.

I've got no sense of the bullpen, I think the bench is better than it was this time last year, and I don't think we are going to have any A-Rod drama this year.

2008-01-25 11:33:35
17.   JL25and3
15 The Angels just signed Rivera for 1 year/$2.25M. He's a free agent after next year.

With him, upside isn't the issue; he is what he is. But he's got some power from the right side, and he's got experience as a role player.

11 Now that Stoneman's gone, I wonder if the Angels will still be impossible to deal with.

2008-01-25 11:46:18
18.   Shaun P
15 17 And Gardner, in comparison, has no power. I also don't know if he's ever played RF before. Rivera can play all the OF slots, all reasonably well.
2008-01-25 13:36:10
19.   Schteeve
6 Your first point seems to be a fallacy. Yes, most ground balls end up at first base, but can you tell me that Giambi is bad at catching throws, or scooping throws? I believe the issue with Giambi's defense isn't that he can't catch throws, it's that he can't move laterally and he can't throw the ball with much accuracy.

But that said, Jeter is a shitload better shortstop than Giambi is a first baseman, so the RS/150 numbers favor Jeter significantly.

2008-01-25 13:38:08
20.   Schteeve
8 I think that's the best reason to keep Giambi out of the field, his bat is tremendously valuable when he's healthy. So do everything you can to keep him healthy.
2008-01-25 13:43:35
21.   markp
I don't think trading for set-up guys works as well as developing your own. With all of the potential in the BP, trading for them seems to be counterproductive.
I would hope Girardi (unlike Torre) can build a BP-it's part of a managers job.
In any case, after all we've invested in young starters and BP guys, I hope they're collectively a lot better than a "rockpile".
2008-01-25 17:28:11
22.   Gagne55
4 , 9 Juan Rivera and Nick Johnson can be had with Javier Vasquez. Randy Choate comes with them as a bonus.
2008-01-25 17:44:07
23.   Bruce Markusen
WilliamNYY, it's true that the Yankees had problems with the bullpen, bench, first base, and back of the rotation last year--during the first half (and then some) of the season. But when did the Yankees play their best ball of the season? That happened during the final two months, AFTER they brought up Chamberlain to address the bullpen situation, after Hughes and Kennedy came up (one from the disabled list, the other from Triple-A) to strengthen their rotation, and after they acquired Molina, Betemit, and Duncan to bolster the bench. Mientkiewicz also hit well in September, giving the Yankees better production from first base.

Teams need a bullpen and a bench to play well; when the Yankees struggled last year, it was in large part because of the lack of set-up relief and the lack of a bench. The bench looks a lot better now, but could still use another outfielder/right-handed hitter, especially if Duncan isn't ready. With Chamberlain back in the rotation, the bullpen is back to what it was--Rivera and several question marks. I agree that there's talent there, but most of it is either several years past its peak (Farnsworth and Hawkins) or not yet major league proven (Ohlendorf, Ramirez, Sanchez, etc.) The jury remains out.

Also, the 3-4-5 starters weren't really Mussina, Pavano, and Igawa. Pavano made a few starts, Igawa made a few more, and that was during the miserable start to the season. Both were long gone from being contributors by the time the Yankees turned their season around.

2008-01-25 18:16:16
24.   yankee23
Giambi at 1st - Worst 1b ever
Ortiz at 1st - ??
2008-01-25 18:29:47
25.   williamnyy23
23 Well, that's not exactly true. Over the last two months of the season, the Yankees were 36-19, but in June and July they were 35-20. So, the Yankees were actually playing at their peak from June 1 forward. The reality is the Yankees had turned it around long before Hughes returned from the DL, Chamberlain/Kennedy were promoted and Betemit/Molina/Duncan were added.

Having said that, I do agree that the Yankees additions later in the year bolstered the team, which is all the more reason why the 2008 Yankees don't really need anything special to happen in order to compete. The Yankees were the best team in baseball from June 1 on (8 games better than any other AL team). So, using your argument that the team as constituted at the end of 2007 was more like the good Yankees than the bad Yankees in April and May, well, that then lends one to believe the team should contend for the best record in the league.

Finally, your point about Mussina/Pavano/Igawa is true. As things turned out, they weren't the 3-4-5. Again, however, that's my point. If in April last year I told you that all three of those pitchers would either pitch poorly or not at all, I am sure you'd have said they couldn't contend with Boston. Well, the worst case was realized for each and the Yankees still managed to fall only two games away from having the best record in baseball.

I guess where I disagree with you is that I think this team as presently constituted is a legitimate contender that is on par with Boston. They don't need one of the Big 3 to emerge as a stud. But, if one should, I think it would catapult the Yankees past Boston instead of merely draw them even.

2008-01-25 18:55:38
26.   Just fair
I was reading Waswatching and he linked to another site which had a bunch of words and numbers I found interesting about next year's (this year's) possibilities. Halfway down is the good stuff. Sorry if it's been previously posted.
http://tinyurl.com/392nqk
2008-01-25 19:40:41
27.   Mattpat11
Ultimately, I think this is largely the same team that wasn't good enough last year, just older.

I think the bullpen will be the end of me. Our somewhat unorthodox strategy of building a bullpen around pitchers that allow a lot of baserunners (if at all possible, mainly through walks, but we'll take pitchers that give up base hits out the ass as well) doesn't sit well with me.

I have this funny feeling that while Farnsworth will always hold a special place in my heart, and I'm sure Latroy Hawkins will be nothing less than wretched, Jose Veras will be my new nemeses.

Few things bring me as much joy as watching a 27 year old man with a minor league WHIP of 1.46 "working through his problems" on a major league team in a pennant race.

And I'm sure we'll see more than our share of Kei Igawa and Brian Bruney, because the team seems to try to piss me off.

I think the offense will be good, probably good enough to make the playoffs singlehandedly again, because I think several people on Boston will come back to earth.

The key is the young starters. If they hit the ground running, I think we're in good shape. If this is a transition year for them, I think we're going to be embarrassed again come October this year.

2008-01-25 19:43:42
28.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Arrragh don't remind me of the Vazquez trade again, we would have been so much better off Keeping Nick / Juan and signing any reasonable pitcher that year. it looked espically horrid because in 04 Giambi broke down and it was the year where Bernie really really begin to play poorly.

I would definately do a Jeff Marquez or something like that for Nick Johnson. any combination of non-top prospects i'll do in a heart beat really, realistically when he's healthy he's fairly comparable to Mark Teixiera !

2008-01-25 21:07:15
29.   Mattpat11
Nick has also played in 351 games in the four years since being traded. In 2004, the year the trade looked "horrible" Nick Johnson missed the first two months and last two months of the season.

"When he's healthy" is a pretty big qualifier.

2008-01-26 05:44:03
30.   OldYanksFan
"Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, received the most lucrative contract in Twins history -- an $80 million, six-year deal. Cuddyer got three years and $24 million."

This seems like a great deal for the Twins. Getting an MVP for 6 years at $13m/yr is a steal. I was however surprised to see Justin with a career line of:
.276 .340 .498 .838.
That's slightly less then Jeter with a little more power.
.317 .388 .462 .850
It's still a good deal but makes me tkink that both Matsui's and Jeter's numbers translate to a 1bman pretty decently.

A wonder if the Twins/Santana would go for an extention of 5/$100, meaning he does one year more at $13m.

It's funny. Santana (or any other player) might jump ship for $20m. Yet that difference could easily be made up in how his salary is invested. These guys get to sit on fortures for decades. How wisely they invest their money would be a bigger factor it what they are left with then a few $m/yr for salary.

Should teams hire high end investment people to help 'rich' players grow their money? Should they get into ventures that are typically more profitable then stock/traditional investment and allow/encourage players to invest? I wounder if there are others ways to entice/keep players other then a straight dollar salary amount.

"Ninety percent I'll spend on good times, women, and Irish whiskey.
The other ten percent I'll probably waste."
- Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw, on his plans for his $75,000 salary

2008-01-26 05:50:49
31.   OldYanksFan
Ultimately, I think this is largely the same team that wasn't good enough last year, just older.
--------------------------------------------
But the team WAS good enough. They just happened to lose ONE 5 games series. That is meaningless. Also, while Jeter, ARod, Bobby, Jorge, JD and Mats are one year older, so are Phil, Joba, IPK, FrankenShelly, Cano, Melky and a bunch of other talent. All in all, this 'extra' year might be more beneficial than destructive, especially come PS.

Anyone can think and feel whatever they like, but it kills me when people make statements that they feel are 'proven' by one, or a few PS series. I thought we were pretty much agreed and understood that tiny (not small, but tiny!) sample size renders stats valueless.

2008-01-26 10:21:09
32.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
OYF I tend to agree with your assessment of the team - this year and last.

Overall, one thing that hasn't been factored in to the 1B discussion (at least not in this thread) are the questions coming down the pike. Namely:

1) Texiera - do we sign him?

and

2) Posada - not to mention Jeter - and the fact that we may have to relocate one or both of them to other positions in the not too distant future.

Tough to commit to doing "too much" at 1B now with those questions emerging IMO.

2008-01-26 10:33:28
33.   Bronxer
24 Better than Giambi ...
2008-01-26 10:50:01
34.   OldYanksFan
I ready don't think Posada can play 1B. I don't think he has any of the skills or abilities. I won't say he's clumbsy, but he ain't graceful or fleet-of-foot. Jetes, on the other hand, already has a lot of what it takes to be a 1Bman. They will both be less valuable as a 1Bman then as a SS or C, but we are 'stuck' with them. I think the best bet is to stretch Posada out for his 3 years by having him DH a bit and sit some. I think at 110 games or so behind the plate, he may still be effective for the next 3 years.

Whether Molina can hold his own or not playing 50+ games, I don't know. But unless we have a C on the farm who can be effectibe in 2010 (Posada's last year), I don't see a choice.

ARod and Jetes both are prone to bad throws.
And infield of ARod, Jetes and Posada is downright scary.

The fact that we have not gone after an offensive 1Bman, seems to indicate the Yanks plan to get what they can from Jason et al, and have plans already for 1B in 2009. It's probably Tex, but I hope it's Jete's.

2008-01-26 11:38:42
35.   Mattpat11
31 They were humiliated in the playoffs. Not good enough.

We lost in embarassing fashion when the team's not nearly good enough pitching staff imploded. The lack of a front line starter doomed game one. In the last 3.2 innings of game two, the bullpen allowed TEN base runners! Luis Vizcaino allowed FOUR in .2 IP! The lack of even a decent number three starter doomed game four when we had to throw Wang back out there.

I think the 2008 bullpen is just as bad, possibly worse than 2007. The continued, stubborn employ of Kyle Farnsworth is infuriating. The LaTroy Hawkins signing is bizarre. No more Chamberlain. Rivera is older. Kei Igawa looms. Bruney, Karstens and frigging Veras are being talked up.

Yeah, the offense can probably bludgeon bad pitching and be a contender. But unless a) The Kids hit the ground running, b) Wang learns to pitch on the road and/or c) Mussina and Pettitte decide to pretend its 1997, this team isn't going much further than last year.

2008-01-26 18:51:23
36.   markp
A very good pitcher had a lousy couple of games. A lot of very good postseason pitchers had consecutive lousy games in postseason. Saying we can't win in the postseason because Wang had two bad games is an overreaction.
2008-01-26 20:54:27
37.   williamnyy23
35 Humiliated? If not for a swarm of bugs, there would have been a game 5. I don't see how they were humiliated, but that's just me.

As constituted, this team is a legitimate World Series contender. They definitely do not need all of things you suggested to happen. If those things do occur, the Yankees will blow past 100 wins.

2008-01-26 22:19:33
38.   Chyll Will
I agree with William. There were little decisions that were or weren't made that killed the moments, not that the team wasn't ready for them. I hope Joe can read their pulse, especially when it really matters.
2008-01-26 22:22:08
39.   Mattpat11
I don't buy the "bugs" excuse, and I never have. For one, it doesn't explain why Fausto Carmona seemed completely unaffected by the bugs.

If we're going to sit back and decide that this season would have been a success if not for bugs, we're going to be back here next year wondering what the hell happened.

Chien-Ming Wang did not just have two bad games. Chien-Ming Wang was put in to two separate situations that did not play to his strengths because the team was under the false impression that he is a lockdown ace. He's a very fine pitcher. But he has very distinct weaknesses that prevent him from being a number one starter. If we're just going to run him out in the same situations this year, we'll probably lose again.

In game two, in extra innings, on the road, in a must win game, Luis Vizcaino was our best option. Our big solution to rectify the bullpen was to replace Vizcaino with LaTroy Hawkins.

Woo.

We can dismiss it as "bugs." We can scream "short series" till we turn blue in the face. I think it goes a lot deeper than that. I see a team whose gaping flaws during the regular season doomed them in the post season.

I hope I'm wrong. I can see some scenarios where the starting rotation can really come into its own. I see no realistic situation where the bullpen isn't horrid, but if they have two out of three (A good offense and a top five starting rotation) I think they have a good shot.

If we have another team with a terrible bullpen and mediocre starters, we can probably bludgeon our way into the playoffs and bow out early again. Which I think is humiliating for this team.

2008-01-26 22:41:49
40.   monkeypants
39 "I see a team whose gaping flaws during the regular season doomed them in the post season."

Well, they finished with the second best record in baseball. The team had weaknesses, to be sure, but were they much more gaping than those of other teams? Were the Yankees' gaping weakness so much more gaping such that they won exactly two fewer games in the regular season than the Sox and Indians?

Maybe, maybe not. I'm not convinced.

2008-01-27 00:47:51
41.   Mattpat11
40 The Yankees had the best offense in the league. You can win a lot of games against a lot of bad pitching with a fantastic offense and mediocre pitching. If you average six runs a game, like the 2007 Yankees did, the pitching doesn't have to be all that good.

But when you reach the playoffs and face a team that made it on the strength of its pitching (2007 CLE, 2006 DET, 2005 LAA) that's a recipe for disaster. We're probably not going to bludgeon these pitchers. We averaged 4 runs against Cleveland. We averaged 3.5 against Detroit. We averaged 4 runs against LAA. We gave up an average of 6 against Cleveland. 5.5 against Detroit. 5 runs against LAA.

When you have an offense that's stifled by strong pitching and a pitching staff that gives up runs hand over fist, you're going to lose.

There's reason to be optimistic about the starting pitching. This year. I think it can go either way, but at least I can see the plus.

But this god damned bullpen, which was so bad last year, which was awful in the first two losses in the playoffs, has added LaTroy Hawkins. Farnsworth is still here. Bruney is still here. Igawa is still here. Karstens is still here. Henn is still here. Veras is still here. It drives me up a frigging wall.

I understand its hard to build a bullpen. I understand that its hard to find a consistent relievers. Fine. Than try something new. Throw shit against the wall. Enough with retreads. Enough proven failures. Don't sign bad pitchers solely because they are willing to sign a one year deal. That should have set off all sorts of buzzers. Other teams find these men. They exist!

2008-01-27 02:59:23
42.   markp
One of the great fallacies is that good offenses don't win in postseason. If you look at the history of postseason baseball, you see a lot of teams with superior pitching losing to good offensive teams. The Atlanta Braves are a stark example of that.
If we can't manage to construct a BP out of all of our good young arms, then Girardi isn't nearly as good a manager as I thought. One thing a lot of the teams that have good BPs have in common: they didn't buy them-they built them.
The 96-2000 Yankees have skewed expectations. If not for some luck and some key contributions from unlikely sources, they don't win 4 of 5 rings. Besides Boston, how many teams have done well in more than one postseason since?
2001 Ariz, 2002 Angels & Giants, 2003 Fla, 2004 Boston & StL, 2005 Chi & Hou, 2006 StL (an awful pitching team) & Det, 2007 Bos & Col.
The Yankees, Boston, and StL have been to two WS. None of the other teams went more than once. Quite a few of those teams didn't even make the playoffs the year after getting to the WS. The 2002 Angels and both of the Cardinal teams were built on hitting a lot more than pitching.
As far as having a great BP in postseason-twice the greatest postseason reliever of all time was responsible for our failure-2001 when he couldn't close out Ariz and 2004 when Boston had already lost three games and were trailing in two games he failed to hold the led in.
2008-01-27 06:53:58
43.   OldYanksFan
Mattpat11 - There is rarely a series, or even game, where you can't 'criticize' many events, be they managerial moves, bonehead plays, poor ABs, error or judgement, baserunning or whatever.

There are many, many individual 'events' in every ballgame. You rarely see perfection from either team. Because this team disappointed you, you harp on every weakness as if these were both avoidable and responsible for our PS loses.

It doesn't matter if Carmona was effected by the bugs (a once in a decade event), but Joba obviously was. And Posada, who is one of our most valuable players, should have blocked many pitches that cost us. Maybe we should replace him.

It is a confluence of many random events that decide the PS more then the team makeup. If not, the best team would always win, instead of the best team winning half the time or less. We were unlucky enough to catch Carmona on a very good day... much better then he had against Boston. In three years, I don't know if Wang has even been that bad on consecutive outings. Jeter had his worst PS of his career and was a negative force, but at the plate and in the field.

And nobody, NOBODY, sees Wang as a 'lockdown' pitcher. He was simply the best we had at the time. I don't know who else we could have put out there.

We had no 'flip play' by Jeter to save the series. Instead, this year's menu had bugs. Jeff Maier wasn't there in 2001, instead Mo threw a DP ball into CF. In 2004, instead of 9th inning HRs, Tony Clark's ball bounced into the stands. Was Roberts really safe at 2nd base in 2004?

Yeah, the Yankees could have put a better team on the field, but they were good enough. They simply did not play well, and still the series could have been won if Jeter had been Jeter, or the bugs stayed away.

In the 2nd half of 2007, I think we had a pretty damn good team. I think 80 games tells a better story then 5. We will have a contending team in 2008, but it is still a transition year.

Moose, JD and Giambi will have a lot to say about how 2008 turns out. As will, obviously, the Triad. There will be some farmhands that will have some say too.

But win, lose or draw, the 2008 Yankees will be one of the most exciting and youthful teams we've had in a long time. A team that looks like it will get both better and cheaper for some years to come.

Expectations are simply too high. I've been a fan since 1965, and there were many years when the 'expectation' was .500 ball. We had our run at the WS, which was aided by a number of 'good bounces'. Those years were the exception, not the norm. But we are in the process of getting back to a dynasty and I, for I, am very, very excited about the future.

2008-01-27 08:26:49
44.   Bronxer
43 "Was Roberts really safe at 2nd base in 2004?"
-- In a word - "YES". I have yet to see a reply that shows he was out, and I've painfully looked at it MANY times.
2008-01-27 08:54:40
45.   Mattpat11
43 I'm more inclined to believe that Joba Chamberlain had a bad inning than he and only he was affected by bugs. He pitched poorly in the eighth inning of game four without any bugs that I noticed. He had a bad series. He is, in fact, shockingly, not perfect. Which really isn't a problem. The problem is when you build such a horrendous bullpen around him that he must be perfect.

And the very fact that Wang is the best we had is my point. We took a fine number two starter and asked him to be an ace. It predictably failed when we had to put him in two bad spots. Add that on to a team that didn't even have a credible number three starter, let alone a four or five.

Dave Roberts was safe. I've never seen anyone credible suggest other wise.

And I'm sorry, I consider "contending" and losing in humiliating fashion in the end to be a failure. Maybe I have too high standards. I'd rather have high standards than fall into the apathy that engulfs the fans and offices of some teams. Fans who, best case scenario, embrace mediocrity and moral victories like it actually means something, and more often than not, just don't care. I hope the Yankee fans have high standards. The alternative is not attractive.

2008-01-27 10:26:43
46.   monkeypants
45 "Maybe I have too high standards."

Indeed. And maybe you rely a little too much on false dichotomy. Seeing a dozen consecutive playoff appearances or a 94 win season as a measure of success rather than embarrassing failure does not mean that you must accept apathy or embrace mediocrity.

That is, unless you equate "having one of the best records in the league" with "mediocrity." In that case, you are operating in a different semantic framework.

I hope that you are not this disappointed and angry in "real" life.

2008-01-27 11:23:39
47.   williamnyy23
45 I guess you could argue that Joba had a bad inning, but when a pitcher suddenly suffers a bout of wildness and lost composure for the first time AND a swarm of bugs happens to be gnawing on his neck, well, I am more prone to give Joba the benefit of the doubt.

Also, for all the talk about how bad Wang was, what about Sabathia? His post season was awful too. Does that mean he isn't an ace? What's more, Wang pitched pretty well in his 2 previous post season starts, so maybe you are being too quick to condemn him here.

Your position that Wang was the best we had is also inaccurate. At the time, I had suggested starting Pettitte in the opener and saving Wang for game 3 at home. Many here also advocated starting Hughes instead of Clemens. Perhaps a rotation of Pettitte, Hughes and Wang would have been enough to win? Sometimes, the problem isn't the personnel, but how you use it.

2008-01-27 11:41:25
48.   OldYanksFan
47 In hindsight you may have a point, but giving Phil 2 starts and Wang 1 would have been very controversial, and certainly more then debateable as to whether it was the best way to go. While Wang was indeed bad on the road, he was also bad at home.

I don't know what kind of shape Roger was in, but he was pulled fast (abeit after giving up 3 runs) and we did win that game.

In truth, it's pretty hard to win a 5 game series when your #1 sucks TWICE. I don't know how the comparison would be just looking at the last 6 starts of each, but over the season, Wang was considerably better then Andy in basically all stats (except Ks, of course).

In our 3 loses, we scored 4,3 and 1. So bad pitching by us and good pitching by them be damned, our offense fell flat on it's face.
Over the last 3 years, we hope for good pitching but don't count on it. But we do count on our offense. We have beaten up on plenty of good pitchers.

In terms of the last 3.5 PS series, I hate to use the word choke. Tight? Scared? Intimidated? Loose-boweled? Whatever it is, the Yankees have just not looked like themselves at the plate.

2008-01-27 11:55:49
49.   williamnyy23
For me at least, starting Wang in game three wouldn't have been hindsight because I advocated it beforehand. Also, I don't think you can conclude Wang would have been bad at home in game 3 because he wouldn't have been on 3-days rest (not to mention coming off a very bad outing). Also, slotting Hughes in the 2-hole wouldn't have meant 2 starts to Wang's one because the original plan was to use a 4-man rotation (Clemens being the 4th man). The trade-off would have been 2 starts for Pettitte versus 1 for Wang. The way Torre did it was to have Mussina slated for the 4th start, which is why Wang had to be brought back on 3 days rest. It's just my opinion, but I think more of the failure for the starting staff falls on Torre's shoulders than the personell involved.

As for the offense, well, I agree with you there. I expected more runs, but that doesn't mean I don't have confidence in the same group this season.

2008-01-27 12:18:07
50.   JL25and3
OTOH, Wang started game 4 at home, and it didn't help all that much.

I think it's a mistake to dismiss a 162-game season on the basis of a short series. It doesn't really matter if Joba fell victim to flies or simply had a bad inning; shit happens. It's always possible to point to this or that that went wrong and place the blame, but it's not useful.

I'll agree with Mattpat this far: I may not see second place as an outright failure, but I have trouble seeing it as a success. The important question to me is: right now, are the Yankees better than the Red Sox? I'd lean towards no, but so much depends on the three kid pitchers that it's damn hard to be confident one way or the other.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-01-27 13:00:15
51.   williamnyy23
50 Again, Wang pitched game 4 on three days rest, so that has to be factored into the equation.

Last season, the back-end of the Yankees starting rotation crumbled and the middle relief was pretty bad (even Mariano had one of his worst seasons). On offense, two key members of the offense showed up out of shape and started miserably (Abreu and Damon), Matsui was hampered by injuries all year, Melky and Cano started very poory and the first base situation was an abject failure. Yet, in spite of all that went wrong, the Yankees were still only two games behind the Red Sox. Sure, the Red Sox may be a better team on paper in 2008, but then again, if they are, it isn't by much.

2008-01-27 13:30:31
52.   Mattpat11
46 At the end of the day, they were one of 29 losers.

51 That was my point. A poorly constructed starting rotation left us in a situation where we had to throw Wang out there on three days rest because we didn't have a competent back end of the rotation.

And I'm not a fan of the "well, we won in spite of it last year, so lets do it again this year!" approach to the bullpen. At all.

2008-01-27 13:53:21
53.   williamnyy23
52 That's way too simplistic. If only winning the World Series counts, then why bother tuning in until then. Everyone is free to set their own standards, but yours his perversely strict.

The Yankees didn't have to throw Wang out there on three days rest. They could have used a rotation of Pettitte, Hughes, Wang, Clemens, Pettitte. If the series could be played over, I'd be very confident that set-up could get the job done. Again, I think the Wang in Game-3 decision was a no-brainer and fault Torre for it, especially because he always insisted that Game-3 was so pivotal.

As for the bullpen, what exactly would you like to do. How about Ian Kennedy for Joe Nathan and Alan Horne and Austin Jackson for Huston Street. That would definitely create a killer bullpen, but I don't think I wont to unload the farm to assemble it.

2008-01-27 14:26:36
54.   Mattpat11
I tune in because I enjoy watching the game. I just don't like taking moral victories in lieu of real ones.

To be honest, Pettitte's awful September didn't leave me with a ton of confidence in him either.

I don't need a bullpen full of names. In fact, I'd take Rivera and a bunch of no name rookies. I take issue with building a bullpen around men that are repeated, proven failures.

2008-01-27 15:26:08
55.   monkeypants
[52} "At the end of the day, they were one of 29 losers."

Wow, I'd never thought of it that way.

2008-01-27 16:19:43
56.   williamnyy23
54 What exactly was the moral victory? If you enjoy watching the games, then winning isn't the only thing that matters.

As for Pettitte's "awful September", if you exclude the last meaningless game against Baltimore, it doesn't look so bad: a few good starts mixed in with a few mediocre ones.

Finally, the bullpen likely will consist of of a few rookies this season, so I am not sure what your problem is.

2008-01-27 16:36:04
57.   Bruce Markusen
Something that I didn't mention in my original analysis: Joel Sherman mentioned in today's NY Post that Chris Woodward, Cody Ransom, and Nick Green will battle for what is likely to be the 25th spot (or 13th position player) on the roster. If that's true, it doesn't bode well for Alberto Gonzalez, who would have been in line for a utility infield spot, or Jason Lane, who's hoping the Yanks carry an extra outfielder.

Woodward, signed to a minor league contract, might not be a bad fit. Though he hasn't hit the last couple of years, he did have one big season for Toronto, has shown a little power, and can play all over the infield and outfield. I don't understand what the Yankees see in either Ransom or Green, who are non-roster invitees; neither has shown the ability to hit in the majors.

2008-01-27 17:02:35
58.   Mattpat11
56 "Just making it" was a moral victory. "Being a contender" was a moral victory. Celebrating making the playoffs because the team didn't show up in the first two months is a moral victory.

I don't know why we should have thrown out Pettitte's most recent start. It was the third time he allowed five runs that month.

The Hawkins signing baffles me. Kyle Farnsworth is STILL HERE. Bruney. Igawa. Karstens. Henn. Veras. I really, genuinely thought the failures of the bullpen would lead to a purge of the deadweight. They're all still here, and we added more deadweight. Its discouraging.

2008-01-27 17:55:56
59.   monkeypants
57 A bit of a headscratcher, but I am heartened that they seem to be using 13 position players as the starting point, rather than going with 13 pitchers.
2008-01-27 18:01:42
60.   williamnyy23
58 Just making it and being a contender are accomplishments. Just because something isn't an ultimate victory doesn't make it a moral victory.

As for Pettitte, he yielded 8 runs in his final start, which was intended as a tune-up. It's easy to dismiss the outing. Also, he had given up 5 ER in only one other September start. Regardless, I prefer to judeg experienced pitchers by more than just a handful of games.

I guess you just want the Yankees to release everyone? I am not sure what the solves. Just because they are on the 40-man doesn't mean they are a lock to make the big league club.

2008-01-27 18:54:23
61.   Mattpat11
60 He had given up five runs in two other starts. In one of them, it was "only" four earned runs, but five all the same.

When dealing with a man with a hole in his elbow, I think a handful of games does matter.

Yes, I think the Yankees should get rid of the men that repeatedly fail us. I don't think we should sign bad players. And I've been burned by "oh, he'll never make the team" too many times in recent years to not expect 30 Sean Henn games.

2008-01-27 20:15:14
62.   monkeypants
61 Look, it's easy to say that the team should not sign bad players--we all probably agree that's a sound strategy. It is equally easy to say that all the bad players should be cut. OK. But as Steve Goldman writes repeatedly, if you argue that players must be cut, then you are also obligated to suggest players to replace them.

So, whom should the Yankees have signed, instead of all the "bad players" and "dead wood" and "repeated failures" whom they, in your estimation, have collected? Do you have your eye on a particular set of free agent relievers? Or some young guns in the organization? do you have one or a few plausible trades in mind?

What's your plan, other than fire everybody?

2008-01-27 21:13:01
63.   weeping for brunnhilde
It's the tundra outside and I have trouble believing there ever was, or ever will be baseball again.

Winter is the cruelist month.

2008-01-27 21:21:50
64.   monkeypants
63 Ah, but baseball has the greatest offseason of any sports. Buck up, camper, think about hot stove league maneuvers and countdown to pitchers and catchers.
2008-01-27 22:21:53
65.   Mattpat11
62 The bad player in particular I was referring to is LaTroy Hawkins. That signing absolutely leaves me flabbergasted. "he's desperate enough to sign a one year deal" should set off warning bells, not entice you to sign the man. I don't like it, I don't understand it, and I think it will end poorly.

I've said this for quite some time. I'm not a fan of acquiring mediocre and worse pitching, through trade or free agency. As a rule, I don't like acquiring fourth and fifth starters, and I don't like acquiring middle relievers. I'd much rather find someone in the organization to fill that role than waste money, resources and personnel.

With that being said, if [x] internal option is clearly not working out, and maybe even has not been working out for quite some time, its time to try [y]internal option. The Sean Henn era has not been a good one. Do we really need to wait around to see if Sean Henn stops being Sean Henn? Jose Veras doesn't get minor leaguers out. Is he really worth hanging on to? Do we really think Igawa might buck the trend of Japanese pitchers and get better? Is Edwar Ramirez really going to get major leaguers out with one pitch? He was pretty damned awful with regular work at the end of the year last year.

And then there's Kyle Farnsworth, who hurts my soul. The worst of both worlds, the acquiring the bad pitcher and holding on to him.

What would I do? If a Tom Gordon December 2003 opportunity isn't out there, jump on it, by all means. If there isn't, don't just sign whomever happens to be sitting in front of you. Build the team from your minors system But don't just use the same guys that didn't get the job done last year and the year before and the year before that. Find any five men in the system that haven't been given a try yet.

Might it fail? Of course. But you also might stumble on to something you didn't know was there. And this is a personal opinion, you may feel differently. But if we're going to lose, I'd much, much rather lose trying something new than lose because we insisted on repeatedly smashing our heads against the brick wall. Its the same way I feel about the kids in the rotation. They might not do well this year. But I can stomach losing because Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy had a transition year. If we had signed Lohse, Silva and traded for Lowry and they lost, it would have driven me nuts because anyone could see it coming and we just ignored it.

2008-01-27 23:13:56
66.   Chyll Will
63 Are you in the Arctic Circle or on Mercury? "Now is the winter of our discon-... dang, I missed it" >;)
2008-01-28 00:03:19
67.   Mattpat11
And yes, being bitter online helps me to be significantly less so in real life.
2008-01-28 04:10:05
68.   williamnyy23
61 It seems as if your concern is selective because the two outing before his throwaway final appearance were just fine. There was no trend to suggest that Pettitte was not healthy in October. In fact, he was quoted as saying how refreshingly healthy he felt.

I agree with 62 . There simply are not enough good major league relievers to populate your entire bullpen with them. With good bullpen arms being at such a premium (and made more and more...just look at Dotel's astounding contract), you simply can't pluck them out of thin air. You either have to overpay for them with money or prospects.

So, unless you advocate trading for a Nathan or Street, or converting Joba to a full-time reliever, you really can't complain. As long as the Yankees give some younger arms a chance (Ohlendorf, Horne, Marquez...Melancon or Sanchez by midseason), then I don't see a reason to be so irate.

As for Hawkins, the rationale behind his signing is very clear...he is a stop gap solution in a year when younger arms are going to be relied upon. He is great? No, but that doesn't mean your portrayal is accurate either. Hawkins has always been at least a league average pitcher throughout his career, and there is definitely value in that. When your bullpen is going to be 7-men deep, they all can't be "something new". Even if the Yankees had 6 talented arms ready for the majors, I don't even think I want them all toiling in the bullpen. That can't be the best recipe for development.

2008-01-28 05:32:48
69.   monkeypants
65 The thing is, I agree with your fundamental point. I too would rather lose with the kids than keep trying the same-old-same-old. That said, I do think that you exaggerate the badness of the Hawkins signing. He has been a league average or better (and in a number of cases, far above average) pitcher in seven of the last eight years, since converting to reliever. His weakness is that he probably gives up too many baserunners, which will no doubt drive you insane (this is one of your particular peeves, as I recall).

I just don't see the signing as that big of a deal either way. And by focusing on this move without noting the sea change underway in the construction of the pitching staff as a whole, is to miss the trees for the forest (and to mix metaphors).

And hell, the fact that the season begins with neither Miguel Cairo nor Doug Mieikiewicz nor Andy Phillips on the roster suggests a a somewhat new approach to the position play half of the roster.

2008-01-28 06:14:32
70.   Rob Middletown CT
Mattpat11,

Hawkins is an approximation of Vizcaino, but for 1 year instead of 2 (or was it three?).

I'm not excited about him. He's meh. I'm hoping that some of the young arms get turned into good relievers (and no, I don't think Jose Veras is going to be any good either).

This is actually a departure from the moves that got the team into this bullpen mess in the first place (paying huge money for free agent relievers).

Farnsworthless sucks my life away too, but for the moment, believe it or not, the team needs him. If things go as we hope and others emerge, he can be relegated to a less important (and damaging) role.

I'm certainly not confident in the '08 bullpen. I'm fairly confident in the team in general.

Finally, regarding Wang... this is a guy who has a career MLB era of something like 3.7. Frontline ace? No. Very good pitcher? Yes. He has pitched well in the playoffs before. He then went out and had two of the very worst starts of his career. He was clearly out of whack - no sink. It was, in a word, unfortunate. It doomed the team, in fact. But there is no reason to believe that he's going to do that again, just as there is no reason to believe that Pettitte will suck because of game 6 in the 2001 World Series. Good pitchers have bad games. Wang did, at the worst possible time.

The idea, this time, is to have Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Joba and/or Kennedy available instead of Wang, Pettitte, broken Roger and ?

2008-01-28 09:59:26
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
64 :)
2008-01-28 10:01:30
72.   weeping for brunnhilde
66 Feels like the Arctic circle. Glorious summer?--what's summer? Sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it.
2008-01-28 10:03:07
73.   weeping for brunnhilde
69 What happened to Mientkiewicz?
2008-01-28 10:38:08
74.   Shaun P
73 He was signed to a one-year deal, and wasn't re-signed, so he's a free agent. I don't think anyone has signed him yet, or invited him to camp. I wonder where he'll end up?
2008-01-28 10:55:08
75.   Sliced Bread
Phil Hughes kicks ass. He gave a game used ball from Game 3 ALDS to a reader who guessed his favorite quote from "The Office."

http://philhughes.wordpress.com/

2008-01-28 11:07:02
76.   Schteeve
75 Don't let that guy from Was Watching hear about that, or we'll have to read a 600 word post about what a clown Hughes is for wasting his time, when he should be working on adding a few more m.p.h. to his fastball!
2008-01-28 11:10:35
77.   weeping for brunnhilde
74 Cheers, Shaun.
2008-01-28 11:18:44
78.   Chyll Will
74 His BFOG+ from last year oughtta give you a clue...
2008-01-28 11:24:47
79.   Sliced Bread
76 Funny, I was just over at Was Watching catching up on the weekend news. I can't believe "Was" gives Cashman a thumb's up for throwing Bernie under the bus.

Bernie's music, which he's been playing since he was a kid, was somehow responsible for his diminished baseball skills in 2005? Holding hands with boy Theo was nauseating enough for me, but bashing Bernie? Not good, Cash.

Even if Cashman is correct in his assessment that music was a distraction for Bernie why is this the first Bernie's hearing about it from him?

Terrible job there, Cashman.

2008-01-28 11:57:30
80.   Shaun P
78 Don't let the DT folks hear you say that! Or do you mean Seattle might be in the market for a backup 1B, seeing what happened to Miggy Mantle?

79 Maybe there are some things less fun than discussing the 532nd mention of Johan Santana and the Yanks.

2008-01-28 12:07:56
81.   Chyll Will
79 Agreed, utter BS. Some people like the no-class model of business, and think CYA is an integral part of managing. The more I read things like this, the more I'm of a mind to advocate corporate punishment. (Applied to corporations, for all you fellow smart-alecks >;)
2008-01-28 12:09:56
82.   Sliced Bread
80 Definitely not a fun discussion, but I couldn't ignore it.

For me, Cash's remarks about Bernie were the icing on the three-tiered crap-cake that is this Yankee offseason.

2008-01-28 12:14:16
83.   Chyll Will
80 T. Hee

Okay, I take back what I said in 81 but only out of respect for 80 . Excellent point.

2008-01-28 12:23:45
84.   JL25and3
Bullpen depth is pretty much a crap shoot. There just aren't a lot of reliable, consistent middle relievers around, certainly not enough to fill out a whole bullpen.

Even the relatively good ones tend to be inconsistent, which is why I hate signing middle relievers to expensive or long-term contracts. But you can't really count on filling the bullpen from the minor-league system, either, because you end up with Sean Henn and Jose Veras.

I think sheer volume is the key. Get everyone you can to spring training - rookies, minor-league free agents, journeymen trying to hang on, Rule 5 picks, whatever - and do your best to sort them out. Don't take any of them too seriously; as soon as one of them sucks, ditch him and find another. If you're lucky, once in a while you'll find Brendan Donnelly.

In that context, the Hawkins signing is just fine. One year, on the cheap, and maybe he won't suck completely. He's not expected to be the key to the bullpen; he's just another guy, and his pitching will determine his role. If he does completely suck, release him and try another.

What's the big downside? Yeah, I know, seeing him pitch too many times. But as others have suggested, who's the great alternative?

2008-01-28 12:49:30
85.   markp
2 things

Why do posters on sports blogs so often have to deal in extremes? Either a guy is great or he sucks. Latroy is a perfect example. Since 2002 his ERA+ are 210, 243, 167, 113, 102, and 140. While a 200+ ERA+ isn't likely, he's more likely to do that than to reach a level that can be called 'suck'. I would think he's likely to end up between last year's 140 and the prior year's 102. One pretty good while the other is slightly above average for all pitchers (being over 100), but a bit below the average for relievers. He's not Bruney or any of those guys. He's actually had a pretty successful career.

The notion that we're going to continue using RPs as we have. This one I really don't get. Torre (and a few others) are destroyers of BPs. Girardi has a very brief history as a manager, but he seems to have gotten a lot out of the BP in Fla despite some pretty slim pickings to choose from. I imagine he can find a role for Farns and Latroy and build a good BP from them and the multitude of talented young arms available to him.

2008-01-28 12:50:12
86.   weeping for brunnhilde
84 Aha, but there's the rub: how do you establish just when a guy irredeemably sucks? Does "As soon as one of them sucks" mean when he walks the bases loaded in March?

Or when he allows three or four well-struck hits in a row?

I basically agree with you, JL, but the problem comes when someone is spotted as having "potential." Do you really think such a pitcher should be on such a short leash?

2008-01-28 12:52:22
87.   weeping for brunnhilde
And btw, I've been quite out of the loop--speaking of sucking and potential, I don't suppose my prayers have been answered and Farnsworth has shipped out, huh?

sigh

2008-01-28 12:58:55
88.   Sliced Bread
87 Girardi says he might be able to fix Farnswacker. They worked together on the Cubs. Certainly worth a shot as F-wacker's stock couldn't be much lower than it is now.
2008-01-28 13:23:59
89.   JL25and3
86 Other than the rookies - who you can presumably option out - most of the guys I'm talking about won't be high-ceiling types. "Potential" won't be a big issue; either they do the job or they don't.

You let them go as soon as you have an alternative that looks better, even if that's another replacement-level pitcher. (In fact, it usually is.)

2008-01-28 13:25:40
90.   Shaun P
88 I'd hope that Girardi's solution involves lots of time with Farnsworth pitching low-leverage innings to work on his stuff.
2008-01-28 13:47:56
91.   cult of basebaal
if anyone hasn't had a chance, they should check out this really interested email chat with royals pitcher brian bannister over on MLBtraderumors in which talks about pitching using count-specific DIPs analysis ... worth a read http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/01/brian-bannist-2.html#comments
2008-01-28 14:18:33
92.   OldYanksFan
piss and moan.
moan and piss.
piss and moan.
... and our towel boy sucks too.
2008-01-28 14:27:57
93.   spudrph
79 Oh, absolutely. I don't know how anyone could possibly think a hobby like music has anything to do with it. What, you think he just "stopped trying" so he can sell 50 CDs a month? Really?

65 Very well said. I'm a Sox fan, but I know whereof you speak. A track record is a track record. Does anybody really think LaTroy Hawkins can get out major league hitters consistently any more? If so, what, exactly, tells you that? The old Frisch (I think) axiom again-have a good year, so the next five years they'll expect you to have another one.

2008-01-28 14:38:32
94.   weeping for brunnhilde
88 Ha ha ha ha hah ah ah !!! Oh, that's a good one, Sliced, tell another!

Oh, man, you slay me.

When he gets through with Farnsworth, perhaps, for the good of humanity, he ought to turn his magic hand towards climate change.

2008-01-28 14:45:57
95.   weeping for brunnhilde
92 Yeah, fuck him, RI, fuck him! Turn him out, he's fooled us long enough!
2008-01-28 14:52:21
96.   horace-clarke-era
Hey, OYF, that towel boy works HARD! He's lost weight in the off-season, has bumped up his triple-fold skill! Whatcha want from the man?

I confess I find it hilarious - and I'm sorry Mattpat, maybe you are just purging winter blahs - but a signing as innocuous as LaTroy Hawkins is hardly the sort to elicit 'this isn't going to end well' comments. That's just an over-investment in the process - as I think OYF is suggesting. He is, as has been said here for awhile, a rollover from Vizcaino at same price and shorter contract. Who will be better? Damned if any of us really know.

Farnswhacker? Just the seduction of 96+ on the gun with occasional sliders pretzeling Big Papi. Me, I'd back off, let the guy throw 5th and 6th innings for awhile, see if he can be a Joe-project without the fanbase climbing all over him. I see zip in our system to suggest he's way worse than what we have AND we are about to have 3 starters on VERY short leashes which means a lot of bullpen innings.

Does this please us? Nope.

BTW, Cliff's over on si.com saying he thinks Bonds is a best fit in San Diego.

2008-01-28 14:58:35
97.   weeping for brunnhilde
92 Hey, OYF. I called you RI. Don't know why I did that.

All the same...

:)

2008-01-28 14:59:59
98.   weeping for brunnhilde
96 Ftw, I have no objection to using Farnsworth in the 5th or 6th. That I could live with.
2008-01-28 15:05:44
99.   weeping for brunnhilde
98 Ftr. Btw. Fwiw.

Good lord.

2008-01-28 15:23:59
100.   OldYanksFan
Yup, being a professional musician, writing, composing and arranging music doesn't really take much time, dedication or emotional energy.

We will have to ask TheAlarmist, but it doesn't seem like it would take time away from something like.... a professional sports career.

It was well known that Bernie was last-in, firs-out of the clubhouse. When he came up, he was a lousey baserunner, took bad routes to balls and couldn't throw. However as time progressed, by the end of his career, he was a lousey baserunner, took bad routes to balls and couldn't throw.

I love Bernie, but he has been criticized for his commitment, or lack of, before. As a matter of fact, a year ago (or 2?), we had a thread here discussing an article that was written, that didn't name names, but said 'one well respected veteran' didn't like and was upset with another 'well respected veteran' because of a lack of commitment and refusal to work on his weaknesses. (There were a few other hints, but I can't recall them).

After quite a bit of Bantering, the concensus was it was Mo talking about Bernie. All heresay mind you, but this is not that new.

Anyone remember how Bernie used to run out groundouts? He was somewhat Mannyesque.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2008-01-28 15:41:21
101.   Sliced Bread
Bernie's album came out in 2004. What that has to do with his diminished baseball skills in 2005 only Cashman knows.

Oh, perhaps it was Bernie's world tour and his endless talk show appearances that distracted. Oh wait, there wasn't any tour, and maybe two interviews. Perhaps Cashman has no idea what the fuck he's talking about then.

2008-01-28 15:51:35
102.   monkeypants
101 "Perhaps Cashman has no idea what the fuck he's talking about then. "

Perhaps. Perhaps he is wrong about the cause (music career), and perhaps he was impolitic by speaking about it in public. But Bernie--my favorite player from the dynasty years--was shit awful in 2005, and Torre did play him too much. And he probably should not have been signed for 2006 (Cashman's bad, it would seem), though he was not quite so awful when reduced--at times--to a RH platoon player.

Bernie's unwillingness to come to grips with his own precipitous decline is understandable, but kinda sad.

2008-01-28 16:08:16
103.   Sliced Bread
Bronson Arroyo's album came out in 2005. In 2006, he threw 240 innings/ 3.29 ERA, 142 ERA+. I'd say Cashman has no idea what the fuck he's talking about here.
2008-01-28 16:11:46
104.   OldYanksFan
101 Perhaps Sliced... but considering Cashmans position with the team management, players and coaches, odds are really much higher that you have no idea what the fuck your talking about.

First off, I wish Cash had NOT said what he did. I will take him on his word, but it was inappropriate and could only do harm.

Do you have some basis, other then our general love for Bernie, to defend him and assume Cashman was being unfair? Does Cashman have a history of trashing his players?

Do you know that Bernie is STILL not retired, and when asked if he might still play ball, he can't yet say NO?

FWIW. a commenter from Lohud:
I've got a little inside info on this. One of my college buddies helped produce Bernie's 2003 album 'The Journey Within'. The release coincided with the 2003 all-star game here in Chicago, and I went to the release party at the House of Blues. The record company had a lot of promotional stuff for the record, dating back well before the release. Bernie was injured for much of the middle of that season. I think he had his knee scoped or something and was out from 5/21 til right before the all-star game.

When the record company kept pushing him to make more promotional appearances Bernie was very reticent. He told my buddy that the Yankees were getting really pissed that he was doing all the record promotion stuff. They felt it was taking away from his rehab. So . . . Bernie was aware of the Yanks feelings well before 05. What Cashman said wasn't anything new, re: the Yanks and Bernie, but something old and no doubt festering."

Cashman has been GM for 10 years and part of the Yankees organization for 18.

2008-01-28 16:34:08
105.   Sliced Bread
104 aside from having the release year wrong, (pretty sure it was 2004, not 2003) what does this "inside info" prove? That Cash and perhaps others in the organization had problems with Bernie's side-gig from day 1? now we're supposed to appreciate Cash's disparaging remarks about Bernie made 3 years later in public? Classy.

and please spare me Cash's 10 year resume, Old Yanks Fan. That bit of condescension doesnt help your defense of his betrayal of Bernie. Just because he's been around forever doesn't mean he's not capable of uttering nonsense.

2008-01-28 16:34:14
106.   Sliced Bread
104 aside from having the release year wrong, (pretty sure it was 2004, not 2003) what does this "inside info" prove? That Cash and perhaps others in the organization had problems with Bernie's side-gig from day 1? now we're supposed to appreciate Cash's disparaging remarks about Bernie made 3 years later in public? Classy.

and please spare me Cash's 10 year resume, Old Yanks Fan. That bit of condescension doesnt help your defense of his betrayal of Bernie. Just because he's been around forever doesn't mean he's not capable of uttering nonsense.

2008-01-28 16:34:56
107.   Sliced Bread
I repeat myself when I'm distressed.
I repeat myself when I'm distressed.
2008-01-28 16:41:54
108.   OldYanksFan
So you think Cashman made this stuff up? Exaggerated it? Trashed a Yankee hero in public with lies?

Because you didn't like what he said, you feel that your knowledge of the situation is greater then Cashman's?

Your said: "I'd say Cashman has no idea what the fuck he's talking about here"

Do you have ANY basis for this statement? Do you have anything at all that even remotely contradicts what Cashman said?

If not, are YOU simply shooting your mouth off?

2008-01-28 16:45:53
109.   Sliced Bread
108 see 103

Recording an album did not hamper Arroyo's game, but it hurt Bernie's? No. Age hurt Bernie's game.
I think it was a petty and stupid thing Cashman said. He has some explaining to do, and not just to me, but to a Yankee great.

2008-01-28 16:58:05
110.   OldYanksFan
"Recording an album did not hamper Arroyo's game, but it hurt Bernie's? No. Age hurt Bernie's game."

This is your 'logical' retort? This is your backing 'evidence'? OK Dude. Ya got me.

2008-01-28 17:26:29
111.   Sliced Bread
110 Yes, I maintain that recording an album had nothing whatsoever to do with Bernie's decline, and offered an example of another player who had one of his finest seasons the year after releasing an album.

By your logic, or Cashman's, one could say recording an album helped Arroyo's baseball performance. (just as ridiculous as saying it hurt Bernie's, follow?)

OK, maybe Bernie's album was more physically/emotionally demanding than Arroyo's which threw his game into a tailspin? Would that be your "logical retort?"

Look, please, just take Cash at his word, and go on believing whatever he says about Bernie.

Have a good night.

2008-01-28 18:50:39
112.   Just fair
Hey, Garth Brooks skipped the Grammy's in 1999 because he was going to spring training with the Padres. Let's hear Cashman comment on that. Or since Peter Gammons is the music expert, he could comment on how Brooks' love of baseball affected his country singing prowess. :)
Just a couple more weeks, guys.
2008-01-28 19:21:50
113.   Mattpat11
70 The mediocrity of Vizcaino and his inability to keep runners off base was a large reason we lost game two of the ALDS. Telling me that Hawkins is the new Vizcaino doesn't light me up with joy. What am I supposed to say?

We acquired yet another pitcher that allows 1 and a half baserunners ever inning! WHOOOOOOOOOOO!"

88 Girardi knows how to take Kyle Farnsworth and make him not Kyle Farnsworth? Is Joe Girardi a witch?

2008-01-29 07:03:45
114.   horace-clarke-era
113 Mattpat, no, the point was (from me, anyhow, others had other points) that attaching such gloom and doom to the signing of a MIDDLE RELIEVER was just out of proportion. Mediocrity, applying to a middle reliever? Oh my saints and suffering summer stars! Mattpat, that is what middle relievers ARE. That is WHY they are middle relievers. Yes, sometimes one finds gold, more often one finds it for a month or two then reversion to the mean happens, or a pitcher takes the next step - and starts costing a lot of money. OR he appears to take it, gets the money, and reverts. A one year deal instead of 2-3 for Viz seems - to me - to simply be tidier housekeeping.

Will I hope that the Yanks find strong relief arms in the system? Well, who doesn't? Really? Farnswhacker's an easy whipping boy, and my use of the nickname shows I'm in on the whipping, but unless and until those 'strong relief arms' show up, makes sense to me to back off the assault and give a new regime a chance to let him play a role. If someone better shows, Farns is gone, I'll wager. Till then ...

2008-01-29 08:45:00
115.   ny2ca2dc
111 Moving to the weaker, non-DH league might also have had something to do with Arroyo's baseball performance...
2008-01-29 12:11:25
116.   Raf
111 Yes, by the time it came down to it, Bernies knee & shoulders had more of an impact on his game (or lack thereof) than his music career.

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