Thursday, December 14, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
And on a $200 million team, you have to really stand out to win the MVP. The Yanks still had Damon, Posada, and Giambi putting up excellent numbers this year. So let's say Jeter was injured. The Yanks still had enough to beat the Devil Rays and Orioles. And the way the Red Sox nosedived, they had enough to beat them, too.
And besides, as I've mentioned earlier, the key to the Yankees' 2006 was getting Bobby Abreu. After they traded for him, they got hot, the Red Sox fell apart, and the Yanks had an easy trip to the top of the division.
And I know that Morneau also had a pretty good supporting cast, with Mauer and Johan Santana. But take Morneau out of that lineup, and there's a big difference. Aside from Mauer, nobody really scares you. Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer did pretty well, but again, you have to factor Morneau's presence in the lineup. If he gets on base, they get pitched to differently. Maybe Mauer's average would've been lower without Morneau behind him.
I guess when you can't buy a series win in October, you have to harp on the MVP voting.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I don't know much about the guys they got in return (although Chris Britton will probably work 95 games this year, knowing Joe Snorre), but I've got to give New York credit for getting rid of those clowns.
Both Sheffield and Wright were disappointments. Sheff never came through in a big spot in October, and Wright's lousy performance was overshadowed by the utter disaster named Carl Pavano.
Knowing the Yankees, though, I don't see this as a shift in approach, or as an attempt to infuse the organization with some youth. This just gives the Yanks a chance to sign more big-name players.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I thought Joel Sherman took a turn for the worse when he thought Texas would trade A-Rod for Jeromy Burnitz, but he's beat that with today's stupidity. Surprisingly, Rob Neyer has good piece about how it took more than luck for the Cardinals to win it all.
Well, it's the same thing every year, Sherman, but there's a pattern. Let's start from this year, and work backwards.
One benchmark for a good playoff team is how they hit with runners in scoring position. You won't get as many opportunities against a playoff team than you will against the Royals; the key is utilizing every opportunity (and Mets fans will tell you just how good the Cardinals were at doing that).
So here are some Yankees batting averages for RISP in the postseason:
2006- Cano: 0-7, .000
Matsui, 0-4, .000
A-Rod, 0-2, .000
Yankees team RISP: .179; Detroit: .323
2005 - Sheff 2-11, .182
Matsui 1-7, .143
Yanks team RISP: .222; Angels: .366
2004, ALCS G4-7
I couldn't get the RISP splits for these games only, but I got this:
A-Rod and Sheff combined for THREE hits those four games. Pathetic.
Posada 5-23, .217
Giambi 2-16, .125
Aaron Boone 2-11, .182 (Hey, he still has more big hits as a Yankee than his successor, A-Rod)
Yankees team: .228
The Angels batted .396 with RISP - enough said.
2001 - WS
I'm not gonna bother with the RISP splits here. This was about the Yanks hitting .183 overall, led by Jeter (.148), Knoblauch (.056), and Justice (.167). Good job by RJ and Schill.
Aside from 2002, the Yanks have lost because they cannot get the big hit. They've lost because their big players haven't come through in the clutch. Or in some cases (like in '04), they haven't come through at all. This is no crapshoot, Sherman. This is a pattern that's been pretty consistent the past few years.
Ultimately, the Yanks need guys like Sojo, Spiezio, Brosius, and Mark Lemke. Guys that aren't sexy names, but guys that get the big hits in October. Because Sheffield isn't getting the job done, Shemp has failed, Posada's been inconsistent, and we've all heard about A-Rod.
But I don't care. Let the Yankee fans think it's luck. And let's watch them get "unlucky" every ALDS for years to come.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
After 2001, George thought the hitting sucked. Okay, bring in a big star, HGH-man Giambi. After '02, George needed pitching. Another big name, Jose Contreras. And Shemp Matsui to boot. After '03, the Yanks needed more offense. Call in Sheff and A-Rod. After Vazquez and Brown and everyone else choked, it was time for pitching, and big money for Wright, Pavano, and the Unit. And after the Yanks got shut down by Ervin Santana, it was time for Damon. And later, Abreu.
The fantasy team gone wrong is in full bloom. Maybe there's a Wang and a Cano to break up the monotony, with a little Phillips or Cabrera occasionally in there too. And Craig Wilson getting a start every three weeks. But this is the superstar team. The team that beats the crap out of the Devil Rays and Orioles, and does nothing in October. The team that can beat the NL All-Star team, but can't make it to the NL team in the World Series.
You would think George would try to build a team that worked, a team with guys like Brosius, Sojo, and the others that made the dynasty possible. I think this is why Jeter doesn't like A-Rod; the guy knows what types were needed to win in New York, and he knows A-Rod doesn't have it. And neither does most of the team, for that matter. When Jeter says you can't compare these Yankees to the old ones, those are his true feelings coming through.
But instead, it looks like A-Rod and Sheff are here to stay. Will A-Rod continue to be miserable in NY? Will Sheff continue to play first and make Mike Piazza look good? Will Snorre continue to be a lousy motivator in October?
So far, yes, yes, and yes. Bring on '07!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
First off, why is Rogers' win any less legit than Jason Giambi's homers? But anyway. We don't know if it was dirt or pine tar. And we don't know if it was steroids, HGH, or something else.
Also, many pitchers use the stuff. That's one of the reasons that LaRussa didn't make a big deal over the issue; he didn't want any of his guys doing it. And, a little speculation here: maybe a substance like this has something to do with the break on Mussina's knuckle-curve? If Rogers was guilty, he did a lousy job hiding his evidence. I'm sure many other players have done the same thing as Rogers, just less conspicuously. Even Todd Jones admitted to using pine tar.
And surprisingly, Joe Snorre didn't cry foul over Rogers' possible cheating. I've got to give Snorre credit here; one of the few times he's said something sensible (see the NY Post article here):
Asked if his hitters commented about Rogers doing something funky, Joe Torre said they didn't. "He would need something more than something on his hand to pitch the way he is pitching," Torre told The Post. "He is pitching his tail off. I don't know what he is doing. I certainly think his ability to get people out far surpasses anything else. But nobody came back and said anything to me about the ball cutting. To me, the difference in Kenny is that he is throwing strikes."
So at the end of the day, Snorre is right. The Yanks lost fair and square. And Johnson's performance certainly didn't help the cause, by the way.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
After a small bump in ’97, it was smooth sailing for Snorre in ’98. He didn’t need to make a move; just fill out the lineup card and everything turned to gold. In ’99, he heroically battled cancer, and his team coasted to another Series. Same for 2000. For those few years, anyone could’ve managed the team. Bobby Valentine, Dallas Green, even Buck Showalter. The team was coasting.
You look at some of the great teams of the past few years, and you can see how a manager can change the way a club plays. Jack McKeon in ’03 turned a listless Marlins team into World Champions. There were no major trades that year. Just a new manager who got much more from his players than Jeff Torborg. You look at what Ozzie Guillen did last year. And look at what Jim Leyland has done with a franchise that had turned into perennial losers. After 1996, what did Snorre do? Did his presence really make a difference? The guy had competitors in the clubhouse, guys like O'Neill, Pettitte, and Brosius, who wanted to win.
And after the third championship in 2000, the wheels came off. Once Nelson left, Torre couldn’t run a bullpen. He would have his one trusted arm work tons of innings, and then be shot come October. Whether it was Karsay, Gordon, Quantrill, Sturtze, or Ron Villone (and perhaps Rivera in 2001), Torre was about as good as Art Howe (who had a big Dave Weathers fetish) when it came to running a pen. And Snorre became an arrogant crybaby, complaining about every umpire that had a small strike zone or any opposing player that slid hard into one of his infielders.
And Snorre’s ineptitude, later highlighted by Rob Neyer, came to a head in the 2003 World Series, when he used Jeff Weaver in an extra-inning game. While Rivera sat on the bench, Weaver gave up a homer to the mighty Alex Gonzalez. (By the way, how cool was it to see Yankee castoffs Weaver and Kenny Rogers pitch great games in the Division Series this year?)
And all the intangibles of praise heaped upon Snorre, all that “calming influence,” didn’t help a whole lot in the 2004 ALCS. Even the presence of Joe Snorre couldn’t prevent the biggest collapse in sports history.
Maybe Snorre deserves credit for turning the nosediving 2005 team back into contenders. Perhaps it was more Brian Cashman, who got lucky with Chacon and Small, who had career years in ’05. Whatever it was, Joe Snorre could not wake up his sleeping bats against an Angels team whose ace went down in Game 5 of the ALDS.
And this year, Snorre again has outdone himself. Sheff was right on about this one. What the hell was Snorre thinking putting A-Schmuck in the 8th spot? A-Schmuck is no Reggie Jackson. He doesn’t need a swift kick in the butt. For a guy like Snorre, a guy whose modus operandi has been grace under pressure, putting A-Rod in the 8th spot screamed out “Panic!” And using Jaret Wright screamed out “we’re done!”
And so the team with the highest payroll in the game by $80 million, a team with about as big a payroll as the other AL playoff teams combined, has not been the #1 team on the field since 2000.
So I hope the Yanks keep Snorre. He’s great for PR, great for an interview, great for the “Mike and the Mad Dog” spot. But he doesn’t help his team win championships. At least not for the past decade.
After my last post and the events of the past few days, I keep comparing this year to last year's Yankee debacle, and this year's is so much better. Last year, even though New York was the favorite, you had a feeling the Angels would beat the Yankees. They still had so many pieces of the '02 team that had manhandled the Yanks: Erstad, Molina, K-Rod (the first one), Garret Anderson, that you had a feeling they could once again prevail. And of course, in '05, they had Vlad Guerrero, too.
But this year, the Tigers have so thus far done a great '05 White Sox imitation. They limped into the postseason, and look shellshocked in game one. Then, the tables turned, and their pitching turned it on. And turn it on they did. Against the 2006 Murderer's Row. Against the team with an all-star at every position. Against the team with the .342 #9 hitter.
I was reminiscing with someone last week about how everyone was so horny over the '98 Yankees lineup, saying that even the #9 hitter, Scott Brosius, had batted .300 with 90 RBI. And Cano put the guy to shame this year.
And with a lineup like that, you had to figure the Yanks' pitching, behind Wang, Mussina, and Rivera, could pitch well enough to win.
- Another thing that makes this year stand out - the Mets' success. The Yanks came roaring into the postseason, and the Mets looked shot, especially once Pedro and Duque got hit with injuries. Unlike the Yanks, however, the Mets' bats have shown up, and perhaps those bats can carry Maine, Glavine, and Wagner to the promised land. Not to mention that Minaya has done a much better job at building a bullpen that Cashman. And more importantly, Randolph is much smarter when it comes to using him pen. For simply blowing out Quantrill, Sturtze, and Villone, Joe Snorre should get the axe. And I'm sure Scott Proctor will be all too grateful to George.
Friday, October 06, 2006
It's just like 2005, except this time Aaron Small is working at Wal-Mart.
Of course, those Angels didn't have Kenny Rogers.
Whatever it is, this is the first time since before the second Boston Massacre that, as a Yankee-hater, I'm excited. The Yanks are gonna keep getting hits, make no mistake. The key is to keep the runners stranded. Easier said than done, and a guy like Johnny Damon will occasionally jack one out of the park. But with a little help from A-Rod and Cano, the Tigers should be okay.
And I'll be rooting for some deja vu all over again.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
And let's say the Yanks win it all. Will Yankee fans even be happy? Chances are, they'll just be relieved. When your expectation year in and year out is to in the World Series, and you meet those expectations, what's the big deal? Think about the Tigers fans. Their team exceeded expectations. That's something to get excited about. That's what makes it worth being a fan, what makes it worth rooting for a medicore team through thick and thin. But meeting expectations? It makes you satisfied, but there's no thrill there.
And when you're a $210 million behemoth with an all-star at every position, how enjoyable is winning it all? When what turned your season around was getting Bobby Abreu and his $16 million contract for nothing? Is there any good feeling there? Any excitement? Why should there be any - when your payroll is $80 million more than the next team, you should be whipping everyone's butt on a nightly basis!
And if the Yanks don't win it all, there will be a sense of big, big disappointment. We've seen that sentiment for every year since 2000, much to my delight.
For me, the thrill of someone else upsetting the Yankees never gets old. The thrill of a Josh Beckett, an Ervin Santana beating the Yankees never gets old. The thrill of seeing Dave Roberts and Luis Gonzalez ruin the Yankees season never gets old. Better yet, seeing A-Rod ruin the Yankees season. Let's hope we get that thrill once again.
Friday, September 29, 2006
TIGERS - The big surprise team, making the playoffs for the first time since the juiced-ball year of 1987.
PROS: Good offensive players in Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez. Excellent pitching staff; their top four starters (Rogers, Verlander, Robertson and Bonderman) all have ERAs under 4.00. And that bullpen: Zumaya and Rodney are huge, and Todd Jones reeled off 37 saves this year. Leyland's been a big x-factor.
CONS: Kenny Rogers. Also, Verlander has been shaky of late; is the workload catching up to him? Finally, none of the hitters really scare you. Does seeing Curtis Granderson up in a big spot rank up there in the "oh shoot" factor? Not at all. And the Moneyball-heads hate the fact that the Tigers don't walk a lot.
OVERALL: Yanks can easily beat these guys. Rogers will get his butt kicked, Verlander will get worn out from throwing all those pitches at a patient Yankee lineup, and the Detriot bats can easily get cooled off by Wang and Mussina. If Detroit can keep the games low-scoring and close, like 3-2 or something, they'll have a shot.
A's - Moneyball rules again.
PROS: Zito and Haren are solid starters, though not anything close to the 2001 version of this team. Harden and Loaiza have been hot lately. Frank Thomas (38 HR) and Nick Swisher (34 HR) give this team their best home run threats since Giambi and Tejada of that year. The Yanks would not want to see the Big Hurt in a big spot. Bullpen is pretty good, with Calero, Duscherer, and Huston Street at the end.
CONS: Since the Beane era began, the A's have never won a playoff series. Like a true Moneyball team, the A's don't run; their catcher, Jason Kendall, leads the team with 11 steals. Don't hold your breath waiting for any Dave Roberts moments.
OVERALL: I think the A's can turn an ALDS series into a 5-gamer, but will they finally have what it takes to put them over the top?
TWINS -So many of us counted them out early on, but what a run they've mounted.
PROS: Minny had the best team average in the AL (.288), with some help from Mauer (.349) and Morneau (.322). With Morneau's 34 HR and Hunter's 30, there's more power here than in years past. Santana is probably the best pitcher in the AL, and is huge for a short series. Neshek, Juan Rincon, and Joe Nathan provide for a very good pen. And historically, the Twinkies have always had a big home-field advantage.
CONS: Rotation is questionable after Santana; Radke is pitching with heart now, and not much else. Losing Liriano was a big, big hit. Offense can be spotty. Haven't been able to beat Yanks in past ALDS.
OVERALL: It wouldn't surprise me if they beat the Yankees. It wouldn't either surprise me if they win one Santana game and don't stand a chance the rest of the series.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The saving grace of the '06 baseball season for me has been the success of my fantasy teams. And seeing the Tigers and Mets do so well. But as a Red Sox fan, this is just another year you file away and forget about. And for the past month, my interest in the team has waned considerably. What's there to say already? The injuries and a bunch of mistakes by Theo have killed the team. And the turning point for the Yankees was them getting Abreu and Lidle for nothing. Abreu is no Raul Mondesi. They've been red-hot since then, and they're gonna be in the playoffs once again.
And on top of everything else, hearing the news about Lester (and coming after Papi's health woes) was simply depressing. And something like that really takes your mind away from the game. Get well soon.
-- Everyone making a big deal about A-Rod's recent success ought to shut up. The Yankees have unofficially clinched the division. For the millionth time, when there's no pressure, A-Schmuck is an MVP caliber player. When the Yanks were struggling in the wild card race a few months ago, A-Rod was nowhere to be found. Now that they're 8 and 1/2 up, he's Reggie Jackson.
Let's wait and see how A-Rod does in the ALDS. That'll show us whether A-Rod has gotten used to New York, or whether he's still another Mr. May.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I think the Kazmir-Zambrano trade has left a lot of GMs pissing in their pants. For Duquette, it was a Grady Little-esque move. The guy was a serviceable GM till then, but once he made that trade, it cemented his reputation with the likes of Kevin Malone and Steve Phillips. And now, it seems like every GM in the league is afraid of losing good young talent for a mediocre established player.
But hey, sometimes, you gotta take the risks. And sometimes, you've gotta filter out the scrubs from the future stars. Look at what Stick Michael did as Yankees GM. He made a lot of trades for mediocre veterans like Melido Perez, Terry Mulholland, and Xavier Hernandez. Sure, those guys never really contributed much, but aside from J.T. Snow (who turned out to be a good fielder, but a below-average bat), would you recognize the other names they gave up? Domingo Jean? Bobby Munoz? Ryan Karp? Jerry Nielsen?
I remember when the Yanks traded for Cecil Fielder in '96. At the time, I was ticked that they gave up a young pitcher named Matt Drews. The guy was putting up great numbers in Columbus. And now, he's nothing. Everyone criticized the Yanks for trading Brandon Claussen for Aaron Boone in '03. Claussen's numbers this year? 3-8, 6.19. Looks like the Yanks still have had the better end of that deal.
To me, Epstein's performance this year takes him out of the upper echelon of GMs, takes him away from the likes of Beane, Kenny Williams, Schuerholz, and arguably Ned Coletti. He's above average, but no longer "great."
If Delcarmen, Hansen, and Lester turn into Mulder, Hudson, and Zito, then perhaps we can put Epstein back into that category. But if those three turn into Jeff Johnson, Scott Kamienecki, and Wade Taylor, then Epstein will have '04 to talk about, and not a whole lot more. When your big midseason acquisition is Jason Johnson, you can't really tell me you're playing to win this year. Epstein is trying to win in '06, '07, and '08. And only time will tell if his approach will be successful.
Monday, August 07, 2006
On my way to a much-needed weekend getaway, I was listening to Chris Russo talk to Yankee fans trying to defend the richest baseball team getting even richer.
"Because the Yankees are in New York, they deserve the highest payroll." What's so great about New York? Stupidity.
"When you wear a Yankees cap in Europe, everyone knows what it is. You can't say that about a Tampa Bay cap." And therefore we should say to hell with competitive balance and to hell with a team that can't generate a fraction of the revenue that the Yankees-YES juggernaut does?
"Why is it any different than Exxon-Mobil making tons of money?" Comparing sports and real life? Gimme a break. Life isn't fair. But games should be fair.
"They're playing within the rules." As I pointed out on this blog a few months ago, and as Russo said the other day, NY Giants owner Wellington Mara did what was good for the game by sharing his revenues with other teams. If not for Mara, the Green Bay Packers would be in the same straits as their baseball counterpart, the Milwaukee Brewers, losing year after year and being unable to sign good players due to small market constraints (if the Brewers had the Yankees payroll, you think they would've traded Carlos Lee?).
"Because of football's salary cap, you have mediocre Super Bowl champs." Baseball isn't much better, since the advent of the wild card. The best team in recent vintage, the '01 Mariners, won 116 games, but very few people outside of Seattle care to remember. A lot of wild card teams (like the '03 Marlins) had the fortune of getting hot at the right time and thus being able to win it all. Were the '03 Marlins baseball's best team in the regular season? Far from it.
"And salary caps prevent teams from putting together dynasties." As Russo pointed out, how about the Pats winning the Super Bowl 3 of 4 years?
-- And don't talk to me about the Red Sox. They're in a different league. And if the Yankees' payroll was only $10 million more than the Red Sox, I wouldn't say a word. When the Yanks won it all in '98, it didn't bother me. They didn't spend over $85 million (more than most teams' payrolls) than the second-best club.
The fact that the Sox can spend millions more than the Royals or Marlins bothers me, and I agree that the system needs to be fixed. But at least their payroll is not a gross aberration. The Yanks' payroll, especially with the addition of Abreu, is.
- So let the Yankee fans celebrate as their team buys another pennant. If I had that money, I can do the same thing.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I hope 2006 is treating you well, as you enjoy your newfound control. With Sidney Ponson and Aaron Guiel as your big midseason acquisitions, you've stuck it to George pretty well. After all, if he had his way, he'd have put Reggie Sanders and Bobby Abreu in pinstripes long, long ago, while Phil Hughes would be rising through the Phillies' system.
I have a trade idea for you. It's a big deal, a huge one. One like you've done once before. It's like a trade you made that sent shockwaves across the country.
Trade A-Rod for Soriano. Just like in February 2004, but in reverse. Maybe you can give up Cano for Ryan Zimmerman, so you can have someone play third. Or maybe Frank Robinson will move A-Rod back to short, instead of using the erratic Felipe Lopez. And lock up Soriano long-term. The guy is still a potential 40-40 guy. For '07, you can even use him in LF and move Shemp to right.
Sure, you'll have to eat a ton of A-Rod's salary. But it's worth it. It's worth it before he turns into another Whitson, Knoblauch, Brown, Mondesi, and Pavano all rolled into one. Before you're truly desparate to get rid of the guy. Do it while his value's still up.
Besides, unlike the A-Schmuck, Sori can actually perform in October. If not for Mariano's implosion in '01, Sori's HR in game 7 of the '01 WS would've been one of the greatest shots in Yankee history, up there with moments like Leyritz, Reggie, etc. Instead, that 2-1 lead going into the 9th was the last happy moment for your club.
And we all know where A-Rod performs best: in last place! Thus, Washington would be a perfect fit. And Jim Bowden loves a splash, especially one that will grab away a whole bunch of Orioles fans. I'm sure he'd do the deal in a heartbeat.
And maybe this time, A-Rod for Soriano will work in your favor.
I hope you get to play lots of golf this October,
Sunday, July 23, 2006
They took full advantage of the weak Yankee pitching, teeing off of Jaret Wright, Ponson, and Kris Wilson. So far, Ponson is not looking like a Cashman genius move. Too bad the Sox stunk it up against Seattle.
- Great piece on Buster Olney's ESPN blog, comparing A-Rod's struggles to those of Chuck Knoblauch. I think in a year or two from now, the Yanks will try to trade away A-Rod. The guy clearly is unhappy in New York, and the Yanks may have to eat a lot of salary, but things are getting worse and worse for the A-Schmuck. Reggie Jackson he isn't.
- And with Wakefield now on the DL, the Red Sox have also had their fair share of injuries. I don't want to hear Yankee fans making excuses. The Sox have had Wells, Clement, and now Wakefield on the shelf. Not to mention Crisp and Wily Mo Pena missing significant amounts of team, as well as Foulke and Timlin serving stints on the DL. I'll concede that the Yanks' injuries had more of an impact, but the way some Yankee fans complain, you'd think all 25 players on the Red Sox roster were healthy. Come on.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The last thing I need to hear is how well the Yanks are doing in spite of the injuries. Hey, without Shemp and Sheff, they actually have some guys that can do the little things right and hit half-decently in the clutch. Maybe that's why they've done so well lately.
But it's still July, so I won't worry. Remember last year, when the White Sox nearly blew it all in September? Then they dominated in October. There's still time yet for both Sox teams to pull ahead and for the Yanks to fold.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I can't see how Ponson will do too well. He sucked in the NL, even with a great pitching coach. He reminds me of Mondesi, a guy who often doesn't seem to care about the game. And then he screwed up in a big spot with the Giants a few years back.
One good thing: he makes the Yanks exciting. How long till his first DUI in pinstripes?
I can't see how Ponson will do too well. He sucked in the NL, even with a great pitching coach. He reminds me of Mondesi, a guy who often doesn't seem to care about the game. And then he screwed up in a big spot with the Giants a few years back.
One good thing: he makes the Yanks exciting. How long till his first DUI in pinstripes?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
The hatred and enmity against the Yankees seems to be missing some bite this year. Maybe it's the fact that Shemp and Sheff are on the DL. Or Small and Chacon reverting to their old ways. Plus, the Yanks have very little personality to begin with, but this year they seem extra dull. The Boss and Snorre have been much, much quieter than usual. At least last year the Boss got mad every week, and found every opportunity to tweak Ca$hman. And the emergence of the exciting Mets? Also a huge factor.
Now, what should we expect from the Yanks in the second half?
I think one big x-factor will be if and when George steps in. Clearly, Ca$hman has been running things for now. Otherwise, I'm sure we'd long since have seen Reggie Sanders in pinstripes, and probably Bobby Abreu, too.
Seems to me like Cashman has two ways of dealing with issues like injuries: a) the farm system - bring up the Kevin Thompson and TJ Beam types, and hope for the best, or b) rely on your local ex-Royal. Heck, Cashman likes ex-Royals more than Steinbrenner likes ex-Mets! First Terrence Long, then Guiel and Kris Wilson - what's next, Frank White as the new first-base coach?
So I'd be surprised if Cashman makes a big splash before the deadline, unless he gets an offer he can't refuse, like with Mondesi in '02 (but that, of course, turned out to be a disaster and was almost definitely a George move, coming after Enrique Wilson's infamous error against the Mets). I think Cashman will try to push his luck again and look for the 2006 version of Small and Chacon. Chances are he'll end up with something more like Redding and Darrell May.
Yanks have a tough schedule coming up. They play the White Sox, the resurgent Mariners, and later on, Texas and then Detroit. Boston will give them a hard time, too. Unfortunately, thanks to the chemically imbalanced schedule, the Yanks play Baltimore and Tampa Bay about 100 times the rest of the way. Hopefully they'll be seeing a lot of Kazmir and Bedard.
Boston needs a big second half from Beckett. He was inconsistent for much of the first half, but before getting lit up by the White Sox, had pitched 5 quality starts in a row. Is he finally figuring out the AL? If he, Schilling, and Lester can keep things up, and Mirabelli can work some magic with Wakefield, the Sox will be in great shape.
And I would also like the Twins to get hot, just in case Detroit starts stinking it up. But if Santana has another huge second half and Liriano stays red-hot, Minnesota will have an excellent chance at the wild card.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Unfortunately, Tampa Bay is in the same situation. Kazmir did what he does best, killing the Red Sox. And the Sox stunk it up again last night. At least with the Yanks' struggles, the Sox haven't lost any ground in the East.
Friday, June 30, 2006
The Yanks play the NL's top team, the Mets, over the weekend. Boston has a chance to extend its winning streak, playing Florida and then TB. This can get good, very good.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
It will take a miracle for the Braves to make the postseason this year. The Mets are red-hot, the Phillies are a decent team, and even the Marlins have proven that they're not a $15 million pushover. So the Braves find themselves in a pretty competitive division. Very hard to imagine an October without them, but with the season almost halfway done, they've got almost no shot.
The Yanks are still within striking distance, but this year looks a lot different from years past. First of course is the injury factor, with the Yanks missing so many players and having no bench or farm system. Second, for the first time ever, it looks like the wild card will come out of the AL Central. Detroit has been so hot for so long that everyone is taking them seriously. And the White Sox are as good as ever. Unless the Tigers collapse, chances are both teams are going to October. That would mean that this year would be the first year without both Boston and New York in the postseason since 2002.
- Gotta love how the Red Sox have been playing lately. The Mets series is a big test; if they can beat them 2 out of three, I'll be thrilled.
Hard to take the Yanks-Marlins and Yanks-Braves too seriously. The Yanks are playing two bad teams. It was cool seeing Yankee Stadium empty on Sunday night. I know, I know, it was a makeup game, but with New York turning into Mets town, the Yanks better get used to it.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Fast forward four starts:
Red Sox: 4 ER in 6 IP
Oakland: 3 ER in 7 IP (not horrible)
Cleveland: 6 ER in 5.2 IP
Phillies: 5 ER in 5 IP
Works out to an ERA of 6.85.
If the "ace" of your staff is pitching as such, forget it. You're sunk.
Give props to the Junkee offense - yes, Arthur Rhodes is 100 years old, but they got it done, and kept pace with Boston, who looks like they have a better chance THIS YEAR to dethrone the Yanks than last year.
And with the Tigers and White Sox doing great, the wild card is no sure thing.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
RJ was better than I thought he'd be in the bandbox, actually pitching decently. And the Yankees drew six walks, outhit the Phils, so on paper, it looked like an easy one for Old York. But it wasn't to be, as they squandered one opportunity after another.
So RJ lowers his ERA to 5.21, Farnsworthless is now at 4.70 after his wild pitch strikeout allows an insurance run to score (not to mention two walks prior), and I know the fans are going to cry injury. Hey, you know what? If the guy can't pitch, DL him! But once he's out there, I don't want to hear it.
So now Snorre is starting to realize that Farnsworthless is no good in a big spot, so watch him come in during the 8-0 blowouts.
Anyway, Red Sox win, Yankees lose, Yankees are two games out of first.
Monday, June 19, 2006
First, Alfonso Soriano. What a job he did stealing second, stealing third, and coming home on Ringo's throwing error to tie the game. Charlie Brown blew it! Boy, those throws by Ringo - reminded me of Mike Piazza with the Mets....
And Sunday had the making of a here-we-go-again game until Wang coughed up a game winning homer to Ryan Zimmerman.
These past two games were the types of games the Yankees used to win for so many years.
I must say, I am a little jealous, though, because Manny's prediction came true before mine did. He predicted that Aaron Small would be selling cars come July, and I said that Shawn Chacon would be out of the rotation by June. Well, if not for the DL, there's a good chance I'd be right, too, but here's where I think Ca$hman really blew it - he should have put Small in the rotation. Who knows - maybe he's better starting than he is coming out of the pen. I guess we'll never know.
- I know Boston swept the Braves, thus overtaking first place, but the Red Sox pitching is just lousy. I'm not going to sit here and be arrogant (after all, I'm not a Yankee fan) and say that hey, the BoSox are the team to beat. But a win is a win, a loss is a loss, and second place is second place.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Well, as usual, I was right! Small was designated for assignment yesterday. Earlier this year, one of my Yankee fan buddies called Small his favorite Yankee. Tough year for these guys. First, Sturtze goes down for the year, and now this. And with Melky in a slump, who's gonna be the latest Yankee cult favorite? T.J. Beam?
Friday, June 16, 2006
And then comes a game like Thursday's, where we think it's a lock with ace Mike Mussina going against a pitiful Indians offense and presto! The Moose stinks, A-Schmuck strikes out in a big spot, and I can finally relax. Nice.
Then you look at the Mets, and they're dominating right now, and after sweeping the Phillies, they're pretty much a lock to win the NL East.
At this point, you don't know that the Junkees will even make the playoffs, especially now that Toronto is right there. Watch George panic. Prediction: Royals trade Reggie Sanders to the Royals for Phillip Hughes.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Red Sox signed Tavarez, and he's been awful. Every time I watch Baseball Tonight and I see him in there I know it's a bad sign. Yes he's a power pitcher, but come on. With his 5.83 ERA, he ought to be in there only in 8-0 blowouts. Comes in last night with a 2-1 and can't shut the door. Gives up a grand slam and goodbye sole possession of first place.
You can't tell me that you'd do worse with a guy from AAA. You might not do better, but you won't do worse.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Well, not so fast.
The good: The Yankee starters. Chacon allowed 3 ERs in 5, which I know the Junkee fans are going to say is good, but his ERA is 5.23, which proves that my prediction may be true - that he'll be out of the rotation by June. Mussina is not invincible, as he allows 3 ER is 7, and Randy Johnson has proven that his start against Detroit was a fluke. Finally, Jaret Wright allows 4 in 5 on Thursday, bumping up his ERA to 4.44.
The great: The Junkee bullpen. Snorre's boyfriend Proctor has been hideous. Snorre likes to take a pitcher, use him a hundred times a season thereby blowing out his arm (see Tanyon Sturtze and Steve Karsay for more details), and Proctor has been in there way too much. Farnsworthless is just a pleasure to watch, allowing 29 hits and 18 walks in 29 innings, and now we're seeing some clowns from AAA trying to get the job done.
The awesome: The Junkees in the clutch. They're getting guys on base but not bringing them home. I realize that the Sabermaticians will say that it's all luck, and at the end of the day everything will even out, but a loss is a loss, a losing streak is a losing streak, and that's what they've got on their hands.
Remember when Melky was hitting .328 back on May 30th? Since then he's 8 for 39 with zero homers, which is a .205 batting average. Have the pitchers figured him out? We'll see.
The Junkees face the Indians on Tuesday. Now would be a good time for George to panic and go get a slugger. Prediction: Jeromy Burnitz starts in right field on Tueday.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
If I want to look at a bright spot, and this is really stretching it here, it's that Mussina broke his string of 3 earned runs per start or less, by giving up 4. Whoopie.
Thank God it's only one game. We'll see what happens Tuesday night.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Bad: Randy Johnson's 4 earned runs in 7.1 innings is now considered a "good" performance. Sorry, but 4 in 7.1 is BAD! (And yes, I know he did well against the Tigers, but with a 5.33 ERA, I wouldn't get too excited.
Ugly: Farnsworthless. Two blown saves over the weekend. Let's face it - he's been lousy.
Yes, the Yankees went 5-2 during their roadtrip, but a lot of those games could have gone either way. Just when they started playing better ball, and I started getting nervous, they show me that I don't have that much to be worried about.
And of course, the Junkee fans will cry injury, ignoring the fact that they still have A-Schmuck, Damon Revere, Giambaby, Ringo, and of course, Bernie Williams. And I bet Cheater comes back. I'm surprised Snorre didn't call the HBP a dirty play.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Before Curt Schilling, Pedro, Manny, Papi and Dave Roberts put the choke on the Yankees back in '04, there were Cone, O'Neill, Tino, Bernie, and the rest of the '96 Yankees.
I've just read Joel Sherman's "Birth of a Dynasty," and what struck me most is how much things have changed in the Yankee world since then.
Joe Torre's face aged about 5,000 years. There were no juicers on the team back then (interestingly, before the Yanks got Fielder, Sherman says they were interested in Giambi), and very few jerks. Stick Michael made a point of getting rid of jerks like Mel Hall, and when Ruben Sierra started popping off, the Yanks traded him away. Sure there were a few selfish players, like Wade "I'll get my 3,000 hits elsewhere" Boggs, but at least Torre commanded respect back then. He had the guts to sit future HOFer Boggs for the mediocre Charlie Hayes and not worry about the repercussions of the move. (Imagine Snorre taking out Sheffield for a defensive replacement. Or benching Shemp when his streak was intact.)
The Yankees also played a lot more small ball back then. Coming after the Buck Showalter years, when the Yanks stole about as often as Riccardi's Blue Jays, Snorre, along with Zim, brought his NL style to the Yanks and made them a lot of fun to watch. Now it just seems like they're just waiting for a homer.
The Yanks had one of the top payrolls in the league, but it was in the same range as teams like Baltimore and Atlanta. The Yanks weren't $80 million ahead of everyone else. They had to pick and choose their free agents, and couldn't sign every guy they were moderately interested in.
And ultimately, the Yanks wanted to win. And they came through in the clutch. There were no gaudy numbers being put up back then, the types that Sheff and A-Schmuck annually produce. But I'm sure many Yankee fans would rather have O'Neill or Tino up in a big spot.
The Yanks also had depth back then. The bench was full of solid major-leaguers like Raines, Strawberry, Fielder, and Hayes. A far cry from Andy Phillips, Bubba Crosby, and Melky Cabrera. That was back when Cashman was just an assistant GM, by the way.
Like '06, the Yanks had their fair share of injuries. Pat Kelly and Tony Fernandez were out much of the year, Melido Perez didn't pitch at all, and at one point they were stuck with Matt Howard at second. And don't forget that their ace, David Cone, was out for much of the year with his aneursym. And Jimmy Key, too, spent a lot of time on the DL. In a key doubleheader vs. Cleveland in June, Ramiro Mendoza and Brian Boehringer started both ends. But there were no excuses. The team just kept winning.
Sherman does a great job bringing back the drama of that year, both on-the-field and off. The eventual Series victory overshadowed George's antics throughout the year. While George didn't give Snorre that hard a time, Sherman discusses how he put then-GM Bob Watson through hell.
My beefs with the book: There are a few typos ("editions" instead of "additions"), and the highly annoying use of the phrase "Calm Bombs" to discuss how Snorre defused tense situations. Cheesy! Besides, Ozzie Guillen didn't need any "Calm Bombs" last year, and his team did just fine. There's the usual Jeter glorification, but he won Rookie of the Year that year, so I can't kill Sherman for it. And thankfully, Sherman doesn't spend a million years on Jeffrey Maier.
- What a difference a decade makes. Sure, the Yanks have made the playoffs every season since then, but this is not a team built for October. It's a team full of superstars who fade in the clutch, a very suspect bullpen, and not nearly enough depth for a duel like game 4 of the '96 World Series. Besides, when your payroll is the highest in the game by millions, it's not even fun to win it all. Yankee fans would just be relieved if their team wins it all, and the sensible ones among them would realize how, when the highest payroll in the game wins the championship, that's not very good for the game.
And Snorre has jumped the shark since then. Big-time. Torre's intuition worked out huge on many, many occasions. Did he just get lucky that year? Or did he just get dumb after '96? Who knows?
- But once upon a time, the Yankees were fun to watch. And hard NOT to root for.
So against a AAA-team with a 13-game losing streak, Farnsworthless (with a little help from Chuck Cabrera) showed that the Ortiz moment was just a fluke. He gave up a homer to Angel Berroa, and just like that one of the AL's lowest payrolls beat the $200 million behemoth. Not only that, but the embarrassing loss overshadowed Mr. Intangibles' 2000th hit.
The Yanks tried mounting a comeback in the 9th, but the slumping Giambi (batting .197 in May) grounded into a double play to end things. How long till Victor Conte gets his next phone call from Juice-on?
Too bad the Yankees were back to normal today, blowing out the crappy Royals. Of course, when it's the Royals, A-Schmuck shows up, and hits a couple of dingers. At least Schilling and the Sox won to hold their ground on New York.
- One more thought: do you think Joe Snorre could ever do what Jimmy Leyland is doing with the Tigers? The Yanks and Tigers have a four-game set coming up, in what should be the most exciting Yankees-Tigers series since the days of Jack Morris.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
That said, the Junkees won for two reasons:
(a) Matt Clement stinks. But at least he was cheaper than Pavano!
(b) Ortiz has an off night. Congrats to Farnsworthless.
But a win is a win and a loss is a loss.
Anyone notice that A-Rod is batting .270? And Giambi .260? Just pointing out.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Well, what good can we take out of this game?
(a) Junkee bullpen. Scott Proctor finally gets smacked around. He was starting to get the Tanyon Sturtze treatment of '05, everyone thinking how unbelievable he is, what geniuses Snorre and ca$hman are... uh, not quite.
(b) Farnsworthless pretty much being himself.
(c) Terrence Long is now 0-8. I say another game or so and then he's a goner.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Of course when Long hits a home run, Sterling, Kay, and all other Yankee fans will be calling Ca$hman a genius, but anyway.
Wang gave up 7 earned runs in 6 innings, striking out a grand total of one player. Anyone who thought Wang was a future superstar was completely delusional.
A-Schmuck hits yet another meaningless homer, so the stats look good, but do it when it counts, then I'll be impressed.
In other news, Chacon goes on the DL. So now when the Junkees continue to stink, they'll have another excuse. Can't you just hear Sterling say something like, "The Yankees have been ravished with injuries. First Sheffield, then Matsui, then Crosby, then Sturze, then Chacon ... how the Yankees continue to play competitive ball is just absolutely astonishing." You know what? I don't want to hear it. Injuries happen. To everyone. The good teams make do.
Truth is though, I'm a little concerned. The Yankees just picked up Erubiel Durazo, so AL East, watch out!
Bad: Ninth inning of Game 2.
Ugly: Billy Wagner turning into JohnFranco/ArmandoBenitez/BradenLooper.
Well, what can I say about Randy Johnson that hasn't been said? That trade and subsequent signing to the extension may go down as one of the greatest blunders in Yankee history. Pretty soon it'll replace the punchline Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps.
Charlie Brown continues to look hittable. Yes, he was pretty good in Game 2, but his swoons usually don't last this long. My prediction? He's going to turn into a middle of the road closer, but the Junkees will pick up his option for next year for PR, and he'll be lousy.
And the Junkees will continue to have those games where they score 17 runs off hideous pitching, and struggle against the good teams. So their numbers will say, hey, they're third in the AL in runs scored! And they'll have the games where they score a lot and lose, so our buddies like Alex will point to their torrid on base percentage, which is tops in the American League. But put it all together, and they don't necessarily have the making of a championship team.
See you in Boston!
Friday, May 19, 2006
The Yanks are in trouble. The injury-prone Damon is hurting again, Pavano has a sore arm, the bullpen gave out a Trout-esque 7 walks in two innings yesterday, and when was the last time Yankee fans were so excited about a routine Rivera save as they were Wednesday night?
And the Yankees' latest injury may have ended their season, as well as their playoffs. The Grand Tanyon has been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and will have surgery next week. His year may be over. I really don't know how they'll manage without him.
And the Mets may even have the edge in Friday's pitching matchup - Jeremi Gonzalez vs. the Old Unit. I do think, however, that Johnson may have enough left to step it up a notch and win.
Mussina vs. Pedro? Looks like the game to watch this series.
Sunday night the Yankee fans cult hero after Tanyon Sturtze - Aaron Small - goes to the hill. He's been mortal this year, so I can't imagine he'll do much better than Chacon. The Mets have Glavine, who's been excellent so far. The Mets are the reverse lock here.
In the "what might've been department": going Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Benson, Seo, and Kazmir.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Again, the Yankees' offensive outburst doesn't impress me, even with Giambaby being out last night. Ringo Posada is still being paid $10 million a year, and it's about time the guy got a big hit. When was the last time he got one? I think he had a single in that horrible inning in the '03 ALCS against Pedro. Then again, anyone could've hit Pedro that inning. But otherwise, Posada maybe gets a big hit once or twice a season, in May and August. Who will even remember this game in years from now, except for YES addicts?
Besides, Texas's bullpen, aside from Otsuka, is awful. Maybe some of them have been off to good starts, but c'mon, nobody in there can do a whole lot. Benoit, Bauer, and Mahay are scrubs. And that guy Feldman. Who's next, Steve Rosenberg?
- If anything, I was glad to have an SITYS moment with Chacon. I knew all those baserunners allowed would catch up to him. Facing a good offensive team like Texas, Chacon had to know he'd get hammered.
And the other Cashman genius move of '05, Aaron Small, now has an ERA of 8.71. Somebody predicted he'd be done by June. Keep it up, Small!
And again, Rivera looked far too human. It's already been six weeks into the year. While nobody will confuse Rivera's decline with Bonds, Lidge, and the Big Unit, however, Charlie Brown is clearly losing it. If you would've told me a year ago that batters would be hitting .294 against him for any 6-week period in the season, I would've laughed at you. Even as a Yankee hater.
Who knows? Rivera may still turn things around and return to old form. But if the playoffs started tomorrow, how would Yankee fans feel about Rivera coming into the 9th in a one-run ballgame? Hey, maybe we won't have to hear Sterling say "it's amazing how Rivera turns it into an 8-inning game" anymore.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
But you know what? They still shouldn't whine. Let's see what they have position by position:
1B - Giambaby - above average (I know he may miss some time, but let's see some more positions)
2B - Canoe - above average (at least according to John Sterling)
SS - Cheater - above average
3B - A-Schmuck - above average
LF - Melky - this year's Chuck Knoblauch is below average
CF - Johnny Damon - current slump notwithstanding, above average
RF - Bubba Crosby/Bernie Williams - way below average
C - Ringo - above average
So 6 out of the 8 positions and above average. Keep in mind that when the Junkees won all their titles in the late '90s, they had plenty of average to below average players on their roster. Only recently do they need an all-star at every position. Then you look at a team like the Cardinals who have only one player above average, but they get it done. So now I have to be annoyed as every outfielder is rumored to be going to the Junkees.
Bottom line - you have to be able to win with 6 out of 8 position players above average. And even if you lose Giambaby, you have 5 out of 8, so no excuses, people! "Oh, but they're missing out on 60+ home runs, 200+ rbi...." So they won't score 1200 runs - they'll only score 1000. Boo hoo.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Bad: Junkees take 2 of 3 from A's.
Ugly: Wright and Wang have good starts. I guess the law of averages says that it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Then again, the A's offense is no great shakes, despite Billy Beane being a genius. They're hitting .242, and their OBP is .326, slugging .406. That's 13th, 10th, and 9th in the AL respectively.
So it's not like they shut down a super offensive team.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I don't want to hear about how tough it will be for the Yanks without Sheffield and Matsui. When you have the highest payroll in baseball by $80 million, you oughta have the depth to deal with injuries.
Look at the Sox. They've been without Crisp, their leadoff hitter, for a month. When Wells went down, everyone was ripping Epstein for trading away Arroyo. But with the emergence of Wily Mo Pena as a solid replacement for Coco, you've gotta give Theo credit. The guy made sure to have a deep bench, because you never know who'll get hurt.
The Yankees' bench is pitiful. There's no pinch-hitter that scares you. Bernie's lost it, as that play in right showed earlier this evening. Phillips and Crosby are good for defense, but can't hit. Cairo can hit for average, but has no power. And Melky Cabrera seems to handle New York about as well as Chuck Knoblauch. Cashman once again has proven to be nothing but a buffoon.
How long till George regrets kissing and making up with the guy back in November? Heck, he's probably kicking himself already.
- Sweet game tonight. I was in the car listening in the 6th, when Villone got out of the inning. Sterling and Waldman were all horny, and I was thinking, "damn, here we go again!" But Loretta and the Sox pulled through. Farnworthless had another lousy outing. And I'm starting to agree with Yankee Despiser about Charlie Brown. Rivera had another rocky inning tonight, giving up a costly insurance run. Is he going the way of Randy Johnson?
So when all is said and done, the Sox win two out of three, overshadowing A-Schmuck's heroics from last night.
Yanks now play Oakland for the weekend. They face Zito tomorrow night, the same guy they ripped apart on Opening Night. But the Yanks trot out their three shakiest starters -- Wang, Wright, and the Old Unit.
(a) Jeter's error in the 1st. Nice.
(b) Shemp's streak is over! Listen, I have nothing personal against him and I hope he's okay, but that streak was ridiculous! Joe Snorre's hands were tied because he had no choice but to put him out there every day, and didn't want to tick off the Japanese media. And you knew he'd get all horny if Shemp ever approached Cal Ripken (even though the Japanese games don't mean squat anyway!) so I'm glad that's over with. Now watch the clowns in the booth go nuts when the Junkees win WITHOUT SHEFFIELD and WITHOUT SHEMP! Uh, Jeter? A-Schmuck? Giambaby? Ringo Posada? Hello? How many other teams have all those expensive free agents? But you know they will go bananas. Don't say I didn't warn you.
(c) Chacon - 5 walks, 1 strikeout. Excellent.
(d) Bernie Williams's error, allowing Boston to take the lead. Great.
(e) Charlie Brown. One inning, two hits, one run. Thanks for the insurance run!
What more can a Junkee despiser ask for?
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
I know Junkee fans got horny after his strong start, saying that 2005 was a fluke, and that the old Randy is back, but let's be real - he's done. Those good starts were fluky.
And Aaron Small continues to show why he was a journeyman 33 year old last year, the Junkees got extemely lucky, but ca$hman doesn't know when to cut his losses, so granted, he never pitches in a big spot, but still. Time for him to go.
But I can't complain. Now I realize that even if the BoSox win the next two, it doesn't mean the Junkees are down and out. The season's a marathon, and I'll be shocked if they're not in it right up to the end. But when they can't pitch, can't field, and hardly hit, it gets me excited that a repeat of the past few postseasons is to be expected.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Bad: Junkees have third best winning percentage in AL.
Ugly: The way the Junkees have played during their 5-game winning streak, but it's 5 w's nonetheless.
Who'll be the first jerk to point out that the Junkees are doing great even though Sheffield is out of the lineup?
(a) Michael Kay
(b) John Sterling
(c) Suzyn Waldman
Props to Charlie Brown, who's given up 15 hits in 13 innings this year. Keep up the good work!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
But the last two nights, it hasn't been pretty. Friday night, Moose continued his resurgence, but the Yanks almost blew the game. Small and Farnsworthless were awful, and even Charlie Brown ended up doing his best Mitch Williams imitation to get out the 8th.
And last night, Chacon ended up with a nice outing - 6 1/3 innings, one run. But those four walks allowed? Not good. It seemed like he had runners on base every inning, but managed to get out of it. I was listening to the game, and Sterling said something like "it doesn't matter how many hits you give up, as long as you keep the runs down." Which is basically the same thing as saying, "it doesn't matter if you drive 90 MPH, as long as you don't kill anyone." At some point, all those baserunners will burn you. Chacon won't always get that big out. So his start last night is probably more of an area of concern than something to get excited about.
One thing I'm already looking forward to? The Subway Series. The Mets finally are starting to look like a winning ballclub. And don't think George hasn't noticed. This one should be fun.
Friday, May 05, 2006
But the bright spot was Randy Johnson's performance, which raised his ERA to 5.02. And if he keeps getting lit up, it'll prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is finished.
Come on, can you see him dominating the good teams in October? And Snorre will have to send him out, as much as he won't want to.
I'm not thrilled that the Junkees have won the last two nights, but I'll take what I can get.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
BOSTON - Joe Torre said the Red Sox fans who booed Johnny Damon lacked respect for what Damon accomplished here, but David Wells said the Yankee manager is out of touch.
"Awww, poor Joe," Wells said yesterday. "Sorry. I don't feel bad for him. For Joe? No. For Johnny, he knows what it's like. When you put the 'B' on and you're in N.Y., they're going to hate you. It happened to me. I went in as a Padre and got a standing ovation. I come in as a Red Sox and I'm the anti-Christ. That's fine. Joe's been around for a long time. If he's going to have remarks for that, I guess he's getting a little too sensitive."Gotta agree with Wells on this one. Snorre loves complaining.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Wang had another bad start last night, pitching only 5 innings and exposing the Yankees' weak pen. And while Small pitched two good innings, again - we saw this last year in September and the playoffs - the guy is not a reliever. He had a bad start to the 8th and opened the door for Boston. I still think '05 was a fluke for the guy, but even last year, he couldn't pitch out of the pen. I think in a few weeks, he and Jaret Wright will switch places, with Small taking the #5 slot in the rotation and Wright becoming the long reliever.
Chacon goes for the Yanks tonight, facing Beckett, who had a lousy outing last week against the Indians. Beckett, of course, is responsible for one of the top ten moments on any Yankee despiser's list. Let's see if he can take away the aura and mystique once again.
Monday, May 01, 2006
The Yankees won more games during the 1980s than any other team, but didn't win a darn thing when it mattered, namely, in the postseason. Heck, they only made it once, and that was in 1981.
Then they were hideous for a while, back in the early '90s, when George was banished from baseball. Then he came back, but kept quiet, and the Junkees went on to win in '96, '98, '99, and '00. Then he opened his trap and the Junkees couldn't win the big game.
Okay, there were a couple of incidents back then, like calling Hideki Irabu a fat toad, but those were few and far between. In fact, the local papers got all horny because there was finally something juicy!
Then after 2001 - and Manny and I think it was when they got Raul Mondesi in 2002 - was the turning point. Okay, maybe it was Giambi. The Junkees became the laughing stock of all Yankee despisers. The Junkees assembled a collection of jerks, idiots, stinkers, and punks, and it was one comedy show after another. Every season Snorre would age 15 years. George would fire some coaches to shake things up. Kimberly Jones would ask Snorre questions that came from George just to tweak the skipper.
But in 2006, nothing exciting has happened. Sure, they don't have the best record in the AL, but quietly and professionally playing the game of baseball. And that is what scares me.
Bad - Mussina's been doing well. I know that he has never been able to keep this up consistently, but a couple of screw ups will make me feel much better.
Ugly - Charlie Brown is back to his old tricks.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
The guy's been a mixed bag this year, with some very good starts and some bad. The thing that I find intriguing, though, is how low his K/9 IP rate has become. While nobody expects the guy to have 12/9 IP like he had in his best years, even in '05 he had a very good 8.42/9 IP average.
But so far this year, Johnson has 25 K in 36 IP, good enough for a 6.19 K/9 IP ratio. If this lasts the whole year, that would by far be his lowest career total. And for a guy like Johnson, whose repetoire is all about fanning batters, that's got to be worrisome. This is not Chien-Ming Wang we're talking about here, a guy who can rely on his sinker to get people out. Johnson is simply not blowing his fastball past hitters anymore. Even in his gem against Baltimore, he had only 5 Ks in 8 IP. Very un-Unitlike.
If Johnson keeps stinking it up, the Yanks better hope Mussina keeps doing well. He's had a great April, and will be finishing off his April later today. His start so far reminds me of his April in '03, when he went 5-0 with a 1.70, and helped the Yankees get off to a great start even though Jeter was injured, as Michael Kay would be quick to note.
But his ERA in other months that season: 3.90 in June, 4.78 in July, 2.76 in August, and 4.45 in September. And people wonder why I call the guy inconsistent, even after his performance so far in '06. But I guess compared to everyone else in the rotation so far, the guy's been the only reliable starter for New York. After Moose, the lowest ERA in the Yanks' rotation is Chacon's 4.56 mark. So if and when Moose gets injured or starts struggling, Yankee fans will have to worry. Or pray for Clemens, or the 2006 version of Aaron Small.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Well, in the six games he's pitched so far, only once did he record a 1-2-3 inning. He's allowed 10 hits and 2 walks in 7.1 innings. Granted, he's entitled to some stinkers here and there, and as long as he gets the outs when they count (namely, in September and October), the Junkee fans won't care if he screws up many times throughout the season.
The bottom line is the Junkees are going to be the race all season, as none of the other teams in the divison have shown dominance. Boston looked like it had the potential to make things interesting, but I can't trust Wakefield anymore, and they need another starter to replace Wells.
Toronto has no bullpen, and the Orioles are a joke. So the Junkees will have those big games where they win 11-9 and will coast into September. The question is, if Charlie Brown isn't the same (and I call him that because he looked like CB in Game 4 of the '04 ALCS when he blew the lead - remember how he was all stretched out during the game-tying hit up the middle?), and the Junkees are in a close game with the White Sox or Red Sox during the playoffs, can you trust him to get out Thome, Konerko, Manny, Ortiz, et cetera?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The reason the Rays won was the explosive offense; and that hasn't changed much since last year, except for Randy-killer Eduardo Perez going to the Indians. For better or worse, the Rays miss Johnson this series. And the rest of the offense is picking up where it left off; Gomes is off to a torrid start, with 9 dingers already. The pitching, unfortunately, is pretty much the same, except for a couple of guys they got in the Danys Baez trade.
Game One is a pretty good pitching matchup - Kazmir vs. Mussina. Moose has been good his last few times out, so he's due for a bad outing. Kazmir did pretty well against New York last year - 1-1, 2.77.
Game 2 looks like a slugfest - McLung, who has a 6.75 lifetime ERA, goes for TB. And Wang, who, as Joel Sherman put it, looks "ordinary" this year - goes for the Yanks.
Game 3: Chacon, who struggled worse than his numbers showed on Saturday, vs. former Net Mark Hendrickson. Mark went 3-0 vs. the Yanks last year.
Friday, April 21, 2006
But as things stand today, the Yanks are 7-7. Will they stay a .500 team?
I think this year, it's very possible. After all, how many players are currently underperforming? The offense is pretty much all there. The Yanks are hitting .298, third-best in the game. They're not going to score 15 runs every night. Maybe they'll score 9-10 runs twice a week, maybe 3 times if they're facing crappy pitching. Which is exactly what has gone on so far.
And the pitching has been what you'd expect. Mussina has been inconsistent as usual, though he pitched a great game Wednesday. Johnson can dominate occasionally, but isn't reliable. And the rest of the rotation is still a question mark. In fact, they might be overperforming; the Yanks' 4.05 team ERA is second-best in the AL.
So clearly, the Yanks can hit and occasionally pitch. They're playing pretty much up to par so far this year. Will they turn into a 100-win machine? If the numbers in the early going have any relevance, then I don't think so.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
The Twins are a pretty good team, but they've slipped over the past couple of years. The emergence of the White Sox and Indians, along with the lack of cash catching up to them, have turned them into another has-been. Their pitching is still their strong point, even though Santana usually starts off a bit slowly. But their hitting has always been weak. This year, the lineup consists of a mix of decent young guys like Mauer and Morneau and mediocre-at-best vets like Luis Castillo and Tony Batista.
But they've managed two impressive wins against the Yanks. On Friday, the inconsistent Moose had his usual bad start. And some guy I've never heard of managed to hold the Yanks to a run.
And Saturday was a combo deal from both Wright and Rivera. You knew Wright would suck. Seems like everyone knew, except Ca$hman and George, apparently.
It's always a treat to see Rivera blow a game (though I don't think anything will top the thrill of Game 7 of the '01 WS). But I can't get too excited. Last April, he blew two saves against the Red Sox. There were murmurs that the guy was losing it. And then he proceeded to have another dominant year. So unless Rivera has six blown saves come June, I have no doubts as of yet.
It's only April, and maybe after enough games against the Orioles, plus a few times facing Seth McClung, the Yanks will move up in the standings. But as we've seen the past few Octobers, the Yanks always have trouble with the good teams. And in '06, that's as true as ever.
- The Yanks made another couple of "nothing-to-lose" moves, picking up 1B/DH Carlos Pena (who was part of the Jeff Weaver deal) and RP Jesus Colome (a guy who's gotten his butt kicked by the Yankees on many occasions). I don't see these guys having nearly as much impact as Chacon and Small. Pena might be an improvement over Andy Phillips, and Colome is just insurance for Farnsworthless and Villone.
But if these guys turn out to be any good, I don't want the Yankee fans to talk about Cashman's genius. The Yanks just gave these scrubs a few thousand bucks more than anyone else was willing to offer, and figured, "why the hell not?" Just like with Chacon and Small.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
But Cheing Ming Wang had a lot of trouble with that AAA team's lineup. And after two starts, I know it's a small sample size, but the numbers aren't good. Opposing batters are hitting .326 against Wang. His control has gotten worse, too. He used to average about 3 pitches per batter; the number so far this year is close to 7.
Maybe Wang is just off to a slow start and will turn back into the guy who baffled hitters for most of '05. Or maybe all the opposing teams and their scouting reports have the guy figured out. At one point last year, YD said that Wang would be done in '06. I disagreed, thinking that Wang would have a long career as a #3-type starter.
It's still to early to tell how things will turn out, but getting hit hard by the Royals is not a good sign at all.
UPDATE: I guess you can't trust ESPN.com with numbers all the time. So yeah, batters are "only" hitting .326 against Wang this year.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I never got what the big fuss was all about. Aside from Damon, the Yankees didn't really improve the team over the offseason. And no, all those scrubs in the bullpen don't count. And last year's surprises of Small, Chacon, and Wang didn't mean a whole lot.
But after that first game, when they absolutely battered Barry Zito, I thought "wow, maybe all the pundits are right. Maybe the Yankees actually will score 1,000 runs this year." In the four games since that game, however, the Yanks haven't scored 15 runs altogether.
Having a good hitter like Damon on top of the hitter helps somewhat, but too many other guys in the lineup are struggling. You knew Posada and Bernie would suck. And Giambi's bat has slowed. Is BALCO gonna get another call in May? And Cano's batting .200. You can't get too excited about a rookie year. And I know it's only been a week, but you can't tell me for certain that Cano will heat up.
And right there, that's almost half the lineup. And guys like A-Schmuck and Sheff have, as usual, not gotten the big hits. Doesn't sound like a 1,000 run-scoring machine to me.
I have a feeling once the Yanks come home and face crappy teams like Baltimore and Tampa Bay, the hitting will heat up. So I'll enjoy this while I can.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
After all, who does he think he is to go co-opting Jackie Robinson's #42? Did Rivera ever have to face the tremendous task of breaking baseball's color line? I don't think so. Did he ever deal with racist taunts from opposing players? Not quite.
Is Rivera trying to fancy himself as some sort of revolutionary here? Trying to put himself on the same level as Jackie Robinson? Does he think that he's revolutionized the game in the same manner? What a conceited ass.
Maybe the Yankees are just trying to be like the Brooklyn Dodgers here. The Dodgers have been gone for almost 50 years, but they're still a huge part of the city's nostalgia. There are plently of exhibits and displays of Dem Bums, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges, and all the rest. Perhaps the Yanks are just trying to steal the Dodgers' thunder. And what better way than to have their player wear #42, the only number retired by all of baseball, the number that is immediately associated with Jackie Robinson.
And don't tell me "Oh, Rivera had it first." I don't care. After April 15, 1997, when #42 and Jackie Robinson became forever intertwined in baseball history, Rivera should've stood up and said, "#42 is now Jackie's number. I can't wear it anymore." But no! I guess the Yankee mystique won out.
-- And that is all I have to say about the Billy Wagner "Enter Sandman" controversy.
But we can't just blame Farnsworthless for this disaster. Jaret Wright gave up the triple to Bradley to begin the inning, and Cano picked up right where he left off last year. All throughout the spring, we heard about how the Yankees' new incredible coaching staff was going to turn Cano into a Gold Glove. Hasn't happened yet.
-- And after Tuesday's game, I was wondering, "why didn't Snorre put Rivera in there in the 9th?" Instead, the guy went to Scott Proctor. I still don't know what Snorre is horny over Proctor. The guy stinks. So why bring him in against a contender?
And I know what Yankee fans will say, "what do you mean, it's only April! Torre didn't want to wear Rivera out!" But hey, this is the regular season. And every game counts. And if the Yankees fall one game short of a playoff berth, the fans ought to look back at this game, which Joe Snorre botched up.
And for you ESPN Insiders, Rob Neyer agrees. In fact, in his latest book, he rips Snorre a new one for Game 5 of the '03 World Series, when Rivera was left unused. Instead, Weaver gave up a homer to Alex Gonzalez.
As Fred Hickman would say, those who forget their mistakes are condemned to repeat them.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
It's one of those baseball cliches, but it's true: if your team runs into a hot pitcher, forget it. You can have great hitters, but a pitcher who's got his stuff going will take care of your team rather quickly.
And in a scene all too reminiscent of last year, the Yanks went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position last night. Hey, these guys can hit. But if they can't string it together, what's the use?
So, at least for a day, the 2006 Yankees playesd just like the old teams.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Not quite. They came back down to earth. Yes, they won the division, but Snorre aged fifteen years that season.
Also, we know that when you buy all stars at every position, you're going to score a lot of runs every day. The question is how their pitching will do (and I disagree with Manny - I think Chacon is back in the pen by June), and how they'll fare against the White Sox in October.
So as much as I'd like to write them off and enjoy a Junkee-free October, I know it's not likely.
- Let's also remember that their 15-2 win is just as good as if they'd won 15-14. In other words, it's just one win, the same as Boston's win on Monday.
- Gotta like that Ron Villone stunk up the joint in his one inning of work. Let the carousel begin.
Maybe it's good that the Yanks started with a bang. In '98, they had that 1-3 start and everyone was freaking out. We all know how that year turned out. Even last year, the Yanks had that awful April, but turned into the Yanks of old for the second half of the season. So maybe the Yanks start fast this year, and then fall off as the season progresses.
Besides, even if the Yankees sweep the A's, I can't get too excited. For a few years already, we've seen how the A's can be slow starters. They don't pick up the pace until June, maybe July. In fact, last year, the A's went 1-5 against the Yanks in May. The lowlight there had to be when Kevin Brown pitched 7 shutout innings against them. And in '04, the A's also went 1-5 against NY (the immortal Donovan Osbourne getting the W in a game there). Go back to '02, back when we thought Art Howe was the next Casey Stengel, and the A's went 2-4 in April/May vs. NY.
So beating the A's in April or May doesn't mean a whole lot. Especially when you've got the true Moneyball team, all $200 million worth, going up against them.
Monday, April 03, 2006
- Johnny Damon does pretty well in his first year as a Yankee, but Coco Crisp puts up better numbers.
- Cano's numbers drop off somewhat from last year, but he still ends up as one of the better 2B in the league.
- The Yankees' most consistent starter in '06? Shawn Chacon.
- Aaron Small will be out of baseball by the All-Star break.
- Farnsworth will be the latest newcomer that can't handle New York. Dotel will develop as a setup man, but the Yanks will have the usual revolving door of Buddy Grooms and Gabe Whites.
- With his new contract and no rest, Shemp Matsui's numbers will slip. Not too much, but they won't go up.
- Posada will suck.
- Bernie will be on the bench come August. The Yankees will look for a Glenallen Hill-type to take over at DH.
- The Yankees will end up with the wild card this year. A healthy Schilling and Beckett lead the Red Sox to the top of the division.
- The Big Unit will blow another playoff game, A-Rod will forget how to hit, and the Yanks will have another first-round loss.
- And the White Sox will repeat as World Champs.
-- I liked what I saw from the Red Sox today. Especially coming against one of the AL's top offensive clubs. If they have more games like that, they'll be in very good shape.
And I always get a little pleasure when the Yanks start off the season on the road. It's nice to see Opening Day being celebrated in Shea. Especially when half of New York is asleep by the fifth inning of the Yankee game. Looking forward to seeing the Mets on the back page of the tabloids this year (in a good way), and hopefully a lot more than in years past.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The Yankee-fan anxiety is on as usual. Many fans almost had nervous breakdowns when Wang got hit in the knee. Unlike other fans, Yankee fans don't have to wait till Opening Day to panic.
You had typical reactions from Giambi and Sheffield about the steroids allegations. You realize what a jerk Sheffield is when he actually makes Juice-on look like a good guy.
But come Opening Day, we can focus on the games on the field, where it counts. I'm looking forward to another season of Yankee-hating, and all the ups and downs that come along with it. And the Yankee Despiser and Manny Ortiz will be here to fill you in on all the gory details!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
LAKELAND - Carl Pavano might not be ready by April 15, the first time a fifth starter will be needed.
Jaret Wright spent yesterday on a trainer's table getting treatment for back spasms.
Aaron Small is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
And Mike Mussina gave up 10 runs on 12 hits in four innings against the Tigers yesterday.
Opening Day is 13 days away and the Yankees pitching is a bigger question mark than ever.
When Pavano wasn't able to join the regular throwing program at the start of camp, it was assumed he would be available April 15. However, Joe Torre dampened that the ory yesterday, say ing he wasn't sure Pavano would be ready.
While Pa vano insists he feels great and Torre didn't say there was a physical problem with the right- hander, the ques tion sur faces in regard to Pavano having the required work.
"I'm not sure he will have enough innings by then," Torre said of Pavano when the fifth starter issue was broached. "I don't want to count on somebody and then have to look around for somebody else quickly."
Since Pavano is expected to make one start before camp ends a week from Thursday, it would be difficult for him to get the normal 30 innings a starter extracts from spring training. And since Pavano hasn't pitched in a big league game in nearly eight months, Torre thinks he might require more frames.
"He may need 35 (innings) because he hasn't pitched since the middle of last year," Torre said of Pavano, whose last start was on June 27 due to a shoulder problem that didn't require surgery.
Pavano, who threw to batters who weren't swinging Sunday at Legends Field, may not make his 2006 debut until April 29, the second time in the young season the Yankees play five straight days. Or he could be held out until May 5.
Since Torre explained the situation after the Tigers handed the Yankees a 15-2 loss yesterday at Joker Marchant Stadium, Pavano wasn't available for reaction.
"We have been conservative the whole time and we aren't going to force it," Torre said.
So who faces the Twins in the Metrodome on April 15? Wright and Small are the favorites if they are healthy. Triple-A right-hander Matt DeSalvo could be next in line.
And so, the Yankees continue to wait for a dividend on the four-year, $40 million investment they made in Pavano after the 2004 season. He was 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA in 17 games last year, when he was shelved with rotator cuff tendinitis and associated humerus pain.
Monday, March 20, 2006
I think there's more urgency than there was a few months ago (when the rumors started), with Pavano and Small on the shelf. But unlike in the past, the Yanks will not be able to blow past everyone with money. Clemens has his family on his mind, and New York is much further from home than Arlington or Houston. But if Clemens wants the cash, then get ready for another "here we go again" moment.
And with Wells staying in Boston, I don't see the Sox getting too serious about Clemens. They already have seven guys who can start.
But if Clemens does go to the Yanks, I just hope he has another bad postseason. This time in pinstripes.