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Chien Up
2008-03-11 13:02
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Chien-Ming Wang made a nice rebound from his ugly second start as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 6-1. Lots more below, so let's get to it . . .

Lineup:

S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Jason Giambi (DH)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
R - Shelley Duncan (1B)
R - Jason Lane (LF)
R - Jose Molina (C)

Pitchers: Chien-Ming Wang, Edwar Ramirez, Kyle Farnsworth, Darrell Rasner, Brian Bruney

Subs: Morgan Ensberg (1B), Wilson Betemit (2B), Cody Ransom (SS), Nick Green (PH/3B), Chad Moeller (C), Greg Porter (RF), Brett Gardner (CF), Chris Woodward (LF), Jorge Posada (DH)

Opposition: The Jay's starters save for Alex Rios.

Big Hits: A pair of no-doubter homers; a two-run shot to the right of dead center by Alex Rodriguez (1 for 2) in the first inning and a solo shot far over the left field wall by Jason Lane (2 for 3) in the sixth. Also doubles by Bobby Abreu (2 for 3), Cody Ransom (1 for 1), and Melky Cabrera (2 for 3). Melky's double came batting lefty, of course. His other hit was a perfectly placed bunt single to lead off the game, which came batting righty. Jose Molina was 2 for 2.

Who Pitched Well Everyone, really, but the big news was Chien-Ming Wang, who tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings showing good velocity, late movement, and improving as the game went on. After getting roughed up in his last start, Wang worked with pitching coach Dave Eiland to tweak his mechanics, incorporating a double tap in his glove just before separating his hands. Apparently the problem in his previous outing was that he was overstriding and thus leaving his pitches up--death for a sinkerballer--the same problem he was having in the ALDS last year. In the first inning, David Cone, announcing his first game of the year for YES, and John Flaherty commented that Wang's arm appeared to be dragging and, indeed, his pitches were still staying up, but he was popping the mitt in the mid 90s and as the game progressed he found his arm slot and rediscovered his sink. The two hits he allowed in his 3 2/3 innings were both singles, one a broken bat shot into left by Vernon Wells, the other a hard grounder up the middle by Lyle Overbay. He also got eight of his eleven outs on the ground and ended his day by striking out Scott Rolen on three pitches. Along the way, Wang worked on his slider and changeup and threw a total of 58 pitches, this after throwing a 75-pitch bullpen session a couple of days ago.

Beyond Wang, Edwar Ramirez got his only batter, Frank Thomas, to pop out. Brian Bruney pitched around an infield single and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings, though two of his three outs on balls in play were hard line drives that were caught.

Who Didn't: Kyle Farnsworth allowed a double and walked one in a scoreless inning, struck out none and one of his three outs was a hard fly to the warning track in right center. Darrell Rasner retired the first five batters he faced in order and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings, but with two outs in his second inning of work issued a walk and allowed an RBI double. He was pulled with one out in the next inning following a Reed Johnson single. The outing was enough of an improvement over his last two to earn Rasner another outing in major league camp, but he remains on a short leash.

Nice Plays: A perfect throw by Jose Molina to catch Vernon Wells stealing in the first inning. A nice diving snag of a line drive off Bruney by Morgan Ensberg at first base. The best play of the game, however, was a catch against the wall in dead center by Toronto's Buck Coats off a booming drive by Jorge Posada, who has just one single in 15 spring at-bats.

Ouchies: Johnny Damon fouled a ball off his right foot in Monday night's game and skipped yesterday's contest to get x-rays of the foot, which came back negative, which is a positive. The official diagnosis per his manager is a "bruised toe." He'll likely sit out until the toe's feeling better. He's not listed on today's travel roster. Francisco Cervelli, who has been in a full-arm hard cast, will have surgery on his fractured right wrist/forearm (I've yet to see mention of the actual bone that was broken) today. Finally, some news on the rehabbing Humberto Sanchez. He's playing catch from 120 feet and hopes to start throwing bullpens at the end of the month.

More Cuts: Juan Miranda was optioned to triple-A, where I expect he'll be the starting first baseman. P.J. Pilittere, who should be the starting catcher for Trenton until Cervelli's back in action, and outfielders Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, and Colin Curtis, who will be the Thunder's starting outfield, from right to left, were reassigned to minor league camp. Jackson and Tabata are the top two position-player prospects in the system right now, but did nothing of note in camp. Curtis showed a great glove in camp and went 2 for 6 with a double. Miranda was hitless in camp, but was victimized by a few excellent plays on drives deep in the gaps and could find himself called up as an injury replacement later in the year if he performs well for Scranton.

More: As expected, Joe Girardi is setting about busting Billy Crystal's hump. Joba Chamberlain is working on adding a Chien-Ming Wang-taught sinker to his arsenal. In fact, he got three groundball outs with it in Monday's game. That pitch would be his fifth after his unhittable slider, high-90s fastball, above-average curve, and developing changeup. Wow. Speaking of Joba, Pete Abe sums up the starter/reliever debate perfectly. Meanwhile, the YES crew was pounding the regrettable "Generation Trey" nickname for Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy during today's broadcast, but Hughes says the three of them would prefer "The Three Amigos." Hughes was born the year that film came out, which means he probably doesn't remember that the Denver Broncos beat them to it. Speaking of the YES crew, Cone sounds like he's going to be a headache on the air this year. He spent a lot of time talking about how pitch and innings limits are unnecessary (come back Jim Kaat, all is forgiven!) and praising the Blue Jays for focusing on "chemistry" by signing "character" guys like David Eckstein and Scott Rolen, while failing to note that Rolen's such a great character guy that he's bitched his way off both of his big league teams. You might remember that Cone was also the guy who thought Scott Strickland was likely to make the team out of camp. Strickland was reassigned without throwing a single exhibition pitch. Off to a great start, Coney.

Comments
2008-03-11 23:09:16
1.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
It's hard to believe that announcers still go on and on about "character" guys..can we all direct them to firejoemorgan.com asap? I always loved watching Cone pitch, but sounds like I'll be watching games with the Japanese announcers again this year...but hopefully Ken Singleton will still be featured enough to make it tolerable..
2008-03-11 23:32:14
2.   weeping for brunnhilde
"I'm assuming he's an infielder," Girardi seems to have deadpanned, speaking of Crystal.

Joe's hilarious!

2008-03-12 01:57:09
3.   Bagel Boy
If Cone works in some of his bullpen and night-on-the-town stories, all will be forgiven, from me at least. If he tries to be strictly an analyst, it's going to get old fast.
2008-03-12 03:29:41
4.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Rolen in Toronoto should be hilarious... on the one side you have a guy who exlempify Philly baseball (hates everything) and on the other you have a guy that challanged a player to a fist fight and then got into a fist fight with another.... hmmmmmm.
2008-03-12 05:09:18
5.   Sliced Bread
not to change the subject, but the photo on the front page of the Post...

I'm not saying what he did wasn't profoundly wrong, and incredibly stupid, but the price doesn't seem so outrageous now, does it?

2008-03-12 05:52:14
6.   ms october
glad cmw was able to bounce back.

the key idea for me this season is "adjustment" - i think some of the past few years there just hasn't been enough adjustments made by coaches or players to take into consideration what is working and what's not. i'm really hoping this is different this year.

the article someone linked to recently about greg maddux discussed how he adjusted his approach (i'm certainly not saying pitchers or hitters need to adjust their mechanics or swing unless something is messed up) to each pitch based on what the hitter did in the previous pitch - that might be extreme for a lot of guys, but it is something to work toward.

2008-03-12 06:01:01
7.   rbj
"Hughes was born the year that film [The Three Amigos] came out,"

Oy, git me my Metamucil, Martha. I'm gonna sit on the porch.

2008-03-12 07:30:50
8.   williamnyy23
While I didn't really enjoy Cone's performance either, it should be noted that he said pitch counts within games were unnecessary, he did see merit to innings limits for younger pitchers.

I also didn't mind his mention of character guys because, like or not, those "qualities" seem to be important to ex-ballplayers and older career broadcaster types. Quite frankly, I don't mind such benign commentary on a broadcast because I am there to watch the game. As long as the commentator doesn't become irritating, I can abide simplicity in analysis.

What disappointed me more about Cone was how soft spoken and uninteresting he sounded. I am hopeful he'll break out of both those shells as the season goes on, but right now, Al Leiter is a much better analyst.

2008-03-12 07:39:03
9.   Sliced Bread
8 Yeah, there's nothing distinguishing about his voice. He's not a natural broadcaster, that's for sure, but it's a steep learning curve. Because he's a bright, knowledgable, and outgoing guy I think he'll be better than adequate with some good advice, and seasoning.
2008-03-12 08:27:02
10.   tommyl
Wait, Cone, the man who was almost literally killed from overpitching doesn't see the point of innings limits? Seriously?
2008-03-12 08:43:00
11.   williamnyy23
10 He did say he saw merit to innings limits. Where he bristled was when discussing strict pitch counts. Like Kaat before him, Cone mentioned that the number of pitches is not as relevant as the nature of the pitches thrown. Quite frankly, that does seem to make a lot of sense. Where I think Kaat and to a lesser degree Cone miss the point is that in today's offensive minded/line-up stacked era, almost every pitch is thrown with full intent. While a Jim Kaat may have been able to take an "inning off" against the bottom third of a lineup, today's pitchers generally can not.
2008-03-12 08:50:52
12.   tommyl
11 Ah, was confused by Cliff's wording I guess. Still, you'd think Coney would be the biggest advocate of babying pitcher's arms there ever was. He came as close as anyone in baseball to pitching his arm off, in a literal way.

I've never understood all this backlash against science in baseball. No one is claiming scouts or intuition or whatnot are useless. However, many people seem to willfully ignore actual data and studies. In any other industry that would get you fired right quick. Its just weird, I guess is the word.

2008-03-12 09:07:40
13.   williamnyy23
12 Yes, but by the same token, he had a very long and successful career, and only pitched his arm off because that is what he wanted to do. I can't imagine Cone abiding a 100-pitch limit.

I think the problem many have with"baseball science" is that while a lot of it is inexact (and some is downright junk), its proponents offer it up as gospel.

2008-03-12 10:31:28
14.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
what do you guys think of oneil's visits to the booth? he is one of my fave yanks of all time.

but while the words he spoke i found pretty great, the voice and interest with which he seemed to speak them were . . . wanting. like a sort of shy guy not sure of his place in the booth. i would love more of him so he has an opportunity to put the passion behind the words.

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