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Leaving Tampa
2008-03-27 19:26
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees played their final home game of exhibition season yesterday, prior to which Legends Field was renamed for the Bossman. The Yanks now play a pair of games against Joe Girardi's old team, the Marlins, in the Fish's regular season home, Dolphin Stadium, then head north for the final Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

As for the game, Kei Igawa gave up a bunch of runs early, the Yanks didn't score much and lost 5-2 to the Pirates.

Lineup:

L - Johnny Damon (DH)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
R - Shelley Duncan (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Hideki Matsui (LF)
R - Morgan Ensberg (1B)
S - Wilson Betemit (2B)
S - Melky Cabrera (CF)

Pitchers: Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, Scott Patterson, Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bruney, Josh Schmidt

Subs: Cody Ransom (1B), Bernie Castro (2B), Alberto Gonzalez (PR/SS), Nick Green (3B), Jose Molina (C), Jose Tabata (RF), Jason Lane (CF), Greg Porter (LF), Jason Brown (DH)

Opposition: The Pirates minus Jason Bay.

Big Hits: Homers by Derek Jeter (1 for 2, BB) and Nick Green (1 for 2) and a double by Jose Molina (1 for 2). No Yankee had a multi-hit game.

Who Pitched Well: Scott Patterson had another perfect outing, this one lasting four outs. Patterson has allowed just one baserunner (a double) in 7 2/3 spring innings and struck out seven. Brian Bruney and Ross Ohlendorf both pitched around singles for scoreless innings. Bruney struck out two. Ohlendorf struck out none, but faced the minimum thanks to a Jose Molina pickoff and got his other two outs on the ground. Jeff Karstens pitched around a single for a scoreless 1 1/3 innings and struck out two, but left the game with a groin injury (see below).

Who Didn't: Kei Igawa gave up four runs on four singles, a double, and three walks in 3 1/3 innings, putting the ball back in Darrell Rasner's shoe when it comes to the battle for the long-man job in the Opening Day bullpen.

Oopsies: Morgan Ensberg's third error at first base and a wild pickoff throw by Ohlendorf.

Nice Plays: Molina pounced on Ohlendorf's wild throw and nailed the runner at second. Jorge Posada picked Nyjer Morgan off first base.

Minor Work: Mariano Rivera, Jose Veras, and Jonathan Albaladejo all pitched in yesterday's triple-A contest. Mo worked around a walk, struck out a man, and is set to start the season. Looking at the list of pitchers in yesterday's major league game, I'd say those assignments are confirmation that neither Veras (who gave up two runs in his only inning) nor Albaladejo (who matched Mo's line) is making the 25-man roster, though neither was among the players officially reassigned yesterday (see below).

Ouchies: Andy Pettitte threw long toss yesterday, will pitch in an intrasquad game on Sunday, and could start the fourth game of the season if all goes well. Karstens did not travel with the team to Miami. He'll stay behind to get an MRI and will likely land on the DL with a groin injury, leaving Darrell Rasner as the last man standing for the long-relief job. Back in the lineup, Johnny Damon (flu) went 0 for 3 as the DH. Brett Gardner needed his lip stitched up after fouling a ball off his face on Wednesday, but otherwise he's fine, though a bit tough to look at. Scott Patterson got hit in the hip by a comebacker, but stayed in the game.

Roster Moves: The Yankees cleaned house when it comes to position players, reassigning Brett Gardner, Cody Ransom, Jason Lane, Bernie Castro, Greg Porter, Chad Moeller, and Jason Brown to minor league camp. That leaves the four expected bench players (Molina, Duncan, Ensberg, Betemit) and Nick Green in major league camp. Per Pete Abe, Joe Girardi said that Wilson Betemit has made the team, which means Green will be farmed out as well. So, though it's still unofficial, you can put that four-man bench in ink. As for the reassigned players, Castro (2B), Ransom (3B), Lane (RF), Gardner (CF), Moeller (C), and possibly Porter (LF) will start for Scranton. I assume catcher Jason Brown will return to his role as an organizational soldier, though every year I expect him to retire and begin his career as a coach.

Incidentally, in that Pete Abe post, Pete writes of Scott Patterson, "The other thing to keep in mind is that he hasn't been used in any particular role. He's been the guy who gets two outs after the starter reaches his pitch count. That role doesn't exist once the season starts." That role absolutely exists in the regular season (or should). It's called a "stopper." He's the guy you bring in mid-inning to get out of whatever mess the previous pitcher (be it the starter or another reliever) has created to allow a less reliable reliever (think: Farnsworth) to come in the next inning with a clean slate. One of the problems with current bullpen construction is that it typically overlooks the stopper, instead building backwards from the closer, but properly utilized, the stopper is even more important than the closer himself. Of course, back in the day, the stopper and closer used to be one and the same, which is why Goose Gossage is going to the Hall of Fame.

And while I'm picking on poor Pete, here's another clip that rankled me, "There is very little speed on this team. Damon is probably the fastest guy. A-Rod and Abreu can run. Jeter sometimes. If they make the playoffs, they'll need a pinch runner (hello, Brett Gardner)." First, let's worry about the playoffs in September. For now, the starting lineup includes five men who stole 13 or more bases last year, all of whom bat consecutively: Melky Cabrera (13), Johnny Damon (27), Derek Jeter (15), Bobby Abreu (25), and Alex Rodriguez (24). There are no Carl Crawford's there, but plenty of team speed. The Yankees were fourth in the AL in steals last year. I think what Pete meant was that there's no speed on the bench. That's true, but last year the Yanks got just eight stolen bases from their bench, all by Miguel Cairo and they were a better team after Cairo was released. Besides, Gardner is just a phone call away if Girardi decides he wants to repeat Joe Torre's tendency to take Jason Giambi's bat out of close ball games.

More: I got it wrong yesterday. Hideki Matsui isn't getting married, he got married, and punked Jeter and Abreu in the process. Classic. Here's hoping Matsui gives the money to a good charity.

Comments
2008-03-27 21:30:26
1.   Chyll Will
Whoops, you have Brett Gardner staying and going at the same time.
2008-03-27 21:30:45
2.   Cliff Corcoran
By the way, who does that drawing (drawing?!) of Mrs. Matsui look like? I just can't put my finger on it.
2008-03-27 21:31:57
3.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Whoops. Fixed. He's going (or rather, gone).
2008-03-27 21:34:33
4.   Chyll Will
1 Wait a minute, I'm confused... he's been reassigned, but he's staying in the major camp, yet the photo shows him going to the minors?
2008-03-27 21:35:24
5.   Chyll Will
3 Okay, never mind; thanks Cliff! I should go to sleep now ZZzzz...
2008-03-27 21:38:02
6.   Chyll Will
2 Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones!
2008-03-27 21:48:35
7.   Cliff Corcoran
6 Hmmmm, not quite. Closest I can come is Maura Tierney.
2008-03-27 22:06:07
8.   rilkefan
0 I learned English reading Tolkien and Jane Austen - can someone translate "punked" into something equivalent for me?
2008-03-27 22:07:09
9.   Chyll Will
7 Yeah, around the eyes maybe, but Maura's chin is sharper and her cheeks more angular...
2008-03-27 22:25:16
10.   Chyll Will
8 the correspondent tricked, fooled or otherwise engaged in chicanery and deception for the sake of merriment at the victims' expense (i.e. shadenfreude)...
2008-03-27 22:25:23
11.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
8 "I say guv'ner, they had the wool pulled over their eyes right and well. A right bit of tan-o-shanter Tom Foolery, guv'ner!"

Morning news here spent 45 minutes covering Matsui's marriage...yawn...

2008-03-27 23:31:56
12.   Chyll Will
11 Yunnow, I've been watching "The Yakuza Papers" the past couple of weeks and I can't help but notice that TOKYO and KYOTO are almost palindromes of each other. What gives? >;)
2008-03-27 23:38:47
13.   Cliff Corcoran
8 I'm sorry one of the 1,100-odd words in the post above was not to your liking. I learned English from Dr. Seuss and Richard Scary, so how about "flamboozled."
2008-03-27 23:42:05
14.   Cliff Corcoran
12 Okay, my turn to nitpick: those two words aren't even close to palindromes (OYKOT? OTOYK?). They're anagrams only.

Hmm, something tells me I'm grumpy. Apologies to all. And good night.

2008-03-28 00:47:30
15.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I have to agree with the stopper . which is why I think we abosalutely ened to carry Patterson.

some teams are starting to catch up to the concept too. teams like the Indians and Tigers don't use their best RP as the closer. the Red Sox didn't strictly use Okajima in the 8th.

Pete's a commited professional and is a lot better about his baseball knowledge than a lot of the so called journalist out there (i'm looking at you George King , Phil Rogers ) but he's wrong there. the stopper is probably THE most important role.

while it's true that leverage is higher towards the back innings, it is clearly THE highest when you come on in jams instead of starting a clean inning. the biggest problem with a lot of modern day bullpen use is that they put in crappy reliever when their starter get into a big jam, with predictable results.

Scott Proctor was sort of the stopper in 06. and that worked out pretty well because he was pretty good that year. and once he wasn't. our bullpen was in big trouble in 07.

2008-03-28 04:25:08
16.   williamnyy23
Without being too optimistic, this could be the best Yankee offense in a long time. I think they have the potential to approach and even pass 1,000 runs. Who knows...maybe even 1936 isn't out of the question.
2008-03-28 05:42:50
17.   RIYank
Cliff, great point about the stopper role.

Chyll, it's a kind of syllable palindrome. Start with KYO-TO, reverse the order of the syllables: TO-KYO.

KYO means 'capital'. TO means 'east' in TOKYO, but I think it means something else in KYOTO -- Kyoto isn't in the east, but it used to be the capital.

2008-03-28 05:58:16
18.   Sliced Bread
Could Bridezilla be some sorta life-sized, battery operated animatronic doll? Hence the sketch? Instructions, and warranty info on the flip side?
2008-03-28 05:59:24
19.   tommyl
0 Thank you for pointing that out about Patterson Cliff. When I read Pete's post I was thinking to myself that apparently in the regular season, starting pitchers (and relievers) are only allowed to come out at the end of an inning. Must have been another crazy rule change ;).

I feel bad for Patterson, I know spring training means sh*t but the guy has gotten every single hitter out but one, with a bunch of strikeouts. I'm not quite sure what else he can do. I know its small sample, but in a couple of weeks when we're watching Krazy Kyle implode on the mound yet again, I'll be thinking about it.

2008-03-28 05:59:57
20.   tommyl
18 Maybe he just married his favorite porn movie?
2008-03-28 06:27:26
21.   Bagel Boy
"One of the problems with current bullpen construction is that it typically overlooks the stopper, instead building backwards from the closer, but properly utilized, the stopper is even more important than the closer himself."

I couldn't agree more. Seems like they're doing the same thing in forcing themselves to take a "long man". Why not long-er men, like Ohlendorf and/or Patterson, who you can stretch out to two or three innings (i.e. once through the lineup). Heck, if they're serious about making Joba a starter, they should be looking to stretch his appearances as much as possible too. Between two of those three they could mostly cover a blown or missed start and without killing any one guy for later in the week. Point is: I'd much rather two decent arms that give three innings max than a long guy and a short guy who are both mediocre (Rasner and Bruney).

More importantly, I hope they don't fixate on one inning jobs for Joba only to wait until June to stretch him out. It's silliness. Start the season with him throwing 20 to 30 pitches twice a week. By June he could be giving 50-70 pitches an appearance and still twice a week. The kid needs to learn how to properly exert himself on every pitch. What better way than not telling him when he's coming out? It could be one inning today, two next week, and four by June.

"Besides, Gardner is just a phone call away if Girardi decides he wants to repeat Joe Torre's tendency to take Jason Giambi's bat out of close ball games."

I'm sorry, but the problem is taking out Giambi and then having the runner sit on first (Torre's specialty). In tie games late, there's a good chance Giambi or Jorge or Matsui would walk to start an inning. Doing nothing means you need two hits to get them home (or one productive out and a hit). They're station to station runners, and none of the three score from second on a single to any decent OF. In those situations I'd much rather see a pinch runner like Gardner, who can not only steal a base or two, but who could score from first on a double or from second on a single. And I'd much rather that all season than just in October, especially over two guys who are almost exact replicas of each other.

2008-03-28 06:36:36
22.   Knuckles
Someone should remind Pete Abe of a guy called Ramiro Mendoza…
1997-2002, he appeared in 265 games (46 starts) ERA+ raning from 106-136.
Sub 2.50 ERA in 26 postseason innings over that time period.
Stopper.
2008-03-28 06:48:07
23.   williamnyy23
21 I don't think the problem is taking Giambi out AND not stealing a base with the pinch runner. The problem was taking Giambi out too early and having his spot come up late in the ballgame without a pinch hitter to use.

One note on the use of "stopper". I grew up with stopper being alternately used to describe the closer and the ace of a staff who "stops losing streaks". I've never heard anyone refer to a middle reliever as a stopper.

2008-03-28 07:15:31
24.   Chyll Will
17 mm-mm-mmm, ya learn something new every day! Thanks, it makes better sense than the 7th Avenue crossover...

Sorry about that, Cliff! I thought the wink would be a giveaway that I was kidding around >;)

23 Same here about the stopper. No need to repeat what a stopper's role is, but more often than not I believe Andy's been the stopper on our team; yet I suppose given a set of circumstances (i.e. a close game or a losing streak), a stopper could interchange between starter and reliever. That being the case, yes on Mendoza, and I'm surprised he doesn't get more regard for his role with the WS teams; coincidently since he'd left, the titles stopped too.

2008-03-28 08:15:13
25.   OldYanksFan
I'm going from memory, but it seemed to me last year that taking Giambi out in the 7th or earlier was a failed move. Matsui, Posada and Cano are all doubles hitters. Giambi is slow, but I want his bat in the lineup in close games.

Tied or 1 run behind in the 8th or 9th? OK.
But the 'Dave Roberts' situation doesn't really happen that often.

If we are ahead by 2 in the 5th or 6th, but they have 2 on and no out, and we need a Stopper, Joba is my man. The idea of always 'saving' for him for the 8th is nuts. How many times did Torre save Mo for a 'Save' that never happened? Joba should be used for these hi-leverage situations.

Hopefully, Joe Jr. (JJ?) will be a little more creative with our BP.

2008-03-28 08:22:16
26.   OldYanksFan
Confessions of an OldYanksFan:
Hello.... my name is OldYanksFan... and I participate in the Lohud Blog.
There are actually a few insightful posters there, you just have to weed through the trolls, bandwagoners and gosipers.

Pete is a Godsend to the Yankee community, but he is off-base a lot, and hears about it from his commentors. He has a number of guys he doesn't like, ARod tops amongst them, and does not offer fair analysis when posting about this group.

He also predicted the Yankees for THIRD place, with a whopping 87 wins. He was VERY for the Santana deal (You have to do it!) but flip-floppy later in the process when saner minds did a real analysis of the move.

2008-03-28 08:26:56
27.   ny2ca2dc
23 24 "Fireman", for which Goose was perhaps the archetype, might be another word/role to use/re-appropriate.

We're in this situation because they're making the bullpen formulation more complicated than it needs to be. Breaking the pen into roles and billets is how you get to deciding between Rasner vs Igawa vs Karstens AND Patterson vs Ohli vs Bruney vs Edwar AND Traber vs Henn vs Phillips. Traber has shown something this spring, and has a reasonable enough track record to take along. But while a good righty is better than a bad lefty (though a bad righty is probably not better than a bad lefty, as you might as well use the platoon split when there are no good options), a crap 'long-man' who gets pulled after giving up 5 runs in 2 innings plus a Bruney ain't better than just taking Patterson and Ohlie and letting them both pitch 2.x innings. One thing I like about Francona is his willingness to let his relievers pitch longer outings, which from what I've read is better for their health than a million appearances.

err, in other words, I agree with 21 etc. re: relievers.

2008-03-28 15:28:19
28.   rilkefan
13 - I'm sure it's a fine word, it's just not in my lexicon. I was wondering if friend A can punk friend B and expect no hard feelings or expect observer C to not look down on B (or A).
2008-03-28 19:56:36
29.   tommyl
Holy hell. Pettite starts on the DL (though presumably its retroactive so he can start on Saturday). And...its as if Joe is channeling the Banter. None of Rasner, Karstens and Igawa on the team. Its Dorf, Albajedo, Traber and Bruney. I'd have preferred Patterson, but still, thinking outside the box, excellent. Presumably then Albajedo will be sent down when Pettitte comes off the DL. Excellent!

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