Monday, May 23, 2005

Weekend Wrap Up

I have to say, even though we took two of three, I am not at all impressed with the manner in which the Yanks handled the Mutts this weekend. The problem really was that the team didn’t prove that they had solved the problems that plagued them earlier. And when you think about it, all they really did was beat up on a wild hurler and a guy who had pitched three days in a row – though they beat him up in the first game of the series as well.

Unfortunately, my prediction of ringing up Zambrano didn’t totally come true. How do the Yankees, with their reputation for plate discipline, not rock Victor Zambrano? This is a guy whose ERA is over five, has a WHIP of 1.82!!!, has thrown 31 walks in 43 innings, and averages just 5 1/3 innings per start? This is just unfathomable. Yet, the Yanks managed just three runs while Zambrano was in the game, and only two earned due to consecutive errors by Kaz Matsui and Mientkewicz. And I know I’m just rattling off numbers, but of Zambrano’s 108 pitches, a mere 53 were strikes. This became evident as two of the three runs scored off of him were walked batters (Womack and A-Rod).

A quick word on Kevin Brown. As happy as I am with the result of his last three outings, his stuff hasn’t really impressed me. As Joe pointed out, he kept the ball low against the Mets, and had some movement on his pitches, but what he didn’t talk to the press about was how Brown left the ball over the plate plenty of times. The movement on the pitches saved his hide, but you’re just not going to be consistently successful if you’re not hitting the corners. I’ll leave it at that, since I have a gut feeling I’ll be elaborating on this more after Browns’ next start.

It has become cliché by now, but I’ll say it anyway: we could have had Beltran. But instead, we traded for Randy Johnson, who thus far hasn’t provided the services that the team is paying for. I’m no finance major, but I would think that a guy making $16 million a year is expected to dominate, usually because he has a history of doing just that. Randy has been mediocre to good, bordering on great in his starts to this point, but he hasn’t been exceptional. Yes, Torre is quick to point out that he keeps the team in games, but come on, Joe. Randy is supposed to dominate, not keep the team in games; Javy Vazquez could keep us in games (as proven by his performance this year, not last).

If not for A-Rod’s by now infamous booting of a Pedro dinker, Pavano would have had a much easier time keeping the Mets at bay on Sunday. But, like a top of the rotation pitcher should do, Pavs settled down, allowing just one earned run throughout, a solo jack. I never mind a pitcher giving up one solo home run in a game, especially when the team scatters seven other hits like the Mets did off Pavano. Eight hits, and the only earned run came with no one on base. Quality, I’d say.

I don’t even know what to say about the hitting situation right now. The guys are getting their singles, but they just can’t seem to string them together, as evidenced by the 17 runners left in scoring position with two outs (courtesy: ESPN.com). Two of those were Randy Johnson’s fault, and even though he was in the National League for a while, we’ll still cut him some slack at the plate. So FIFTEEN runners were left in scoring position with two outs. You might be able to eek two out of three from the Mets in May with those numbers, but there’s no way you’re taking out Boston in September and October pulling numbers like that.

This especially applies to A-Rahd. He puts up numbers, and his homers and RBI do contribute to wins, but he still never seems to come up with the clutch hit. You just can’t get a good feeling from a guy who can hit the snot out of the ball early on to put the team up, but can’t even hit a deep fly ball with a man on third in the late innings. And once again, if he can’t step up in these clutch situations in May, how is he going to handle the added pressure of autumn? I’m thinking about starting a log of A-Rod’s at bats in the seventh inning or later with the team tied or down by a few. It’s not going to look pretty. This is not to diminish his RBI in the 6th, the only one off Pedro.

Keeping with his strand of excuses for his below expectation performances, Randy Johnson wants to pitch every fifth day, rather than pitch his turn in the 5-man rotation. I’m all for this. That is, I’m all for this if it brings him in his rhythm and he pitches somewhat like he did last year. I’m not for him pitching like he currently is every fifth day. My main worry here is that Joe will continue to skip Chien-Ming Wang and not Kevin Brown. If you’re going to have to skip a guy in the rotation every once in a while for Randy, you might as well divide it between the two bottom guys in the rotation, especially when your 4th starter is Kevin Brown.

Detroit starting tomorrow. We need a sweep, baby.