Friday, April 07, 2006

Anaheim, Coming Right Up

Kelvim Escobar and Shawn Chacon make their 2006 debuts tonight as the Yanks roll into Anaheim for another night series. Normally, these games are a bother, but since I’m working until 9 p.m. most weekdays, the 10:05 games are more than welcome. In fact, thanks to the dunderheads making the schedule, I won’t have to miss a game due to work until April 18th (and since I can’t watch the full game on MLB.tv until 6 a.m. the next morning, I have a feeling I’ll be up early in the coming weeks).

I said yesterday that I would be pleased with two of three, though I have a feeling I’ll be better described as perturbed when the weekend comes to a close. Those blasted Angels always give the Yanks problems, and coming off the heels of the Oakland series, I don’t expect that to change. No one wants to be the uber-pessimistic fan preaching doomsday three games into the season, but the last two games sent clear reminders that this team is flawed in the most crucial areas: pitching and defense.

Of course, my analysis falls victim to the small sample size conundrum. But after intensely watching baseball since I was old enough to understand it, you tend to pick up on a few things. For example, I still have plenty of faith in Kyle Farnsworth, despite the ride Frank Thomas took him for. He may have been removed after that, but he didn’t seem fazed. If I’m Torre, I’m handing him the ball at some point tonight, just to prove my continuing confidence in him. I think it would do wonders for his purportedly fragile psyche.

Here are some other quick observations based on the first three games of the season. I’ll be placing optimism and pessimism on a number line from –10 to 10.

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  • Randy looked so-so in his first game and still killed the A’s. I know it’s only one game, but when you allow one run in seven innings without your best stuff, you have proven something from the get go. OP Scale: 5.

  • After a monster spring that won him a roster spot, Scott Proctor comes into the ninth inning of a tie game and blows it. During post-game interviews, reporters don’t cease asking him about his ill daughter and her effect on his pitching, leading me to hate all locker room reporters. Regardless, it doesn’t leave me very high on Proctor. OP Scale: -8.

  • A-Rod, Jeter, Cano, and Giambi have all made gaffes in the young season. We all figured the outfield defense was the biggest problem coming in, but the infield is now a concern. How much of a concern will be determined in the weeks to come. OP Scale: -2.

  • The Yanks didn’t score any runs after the sixth on Tuesday and none after the third on Wednesday. This was an enormous factor in the team dropping to 11-19 last year – scoring early and cooling off as the game wears on. Doesn’t mean it’s going to produce the same result this year, but it isn’t making me any more optimistic. OP Scale: -6.

  • Oakland scored nine runs on Wednesday. OP Scale: -7.

  • Five of them were unearned. OP Scale: -10.

  • Bernie Williams has struck out five times in 14 plate appearances while walking only once and posting a couple of rinky dink singles. OP Scale: -10.

  • Joe is using Andy Phillips as a late inning defensive replacement for Giambi. This brings me to three important points. 1) This negates Phillips’s value as a pinch hitter, 2) it means he probably won’t be starting at DH much, and 3) he takes Giambi’s bat out of the game, which I think makes up for his shaky defense. Seriously, Giambi isn’t as bad in the field as many would have you believe. OP Scale: -4.

  • Jaret Wright pitched well for two innings, and the five run surge in the eighth wasn’t totally his fault (if Damon hadn’t smashed into the wall, Bradley might have been held to a double; if Cano doesn’t bobble that ball, it’s a man on third and one out). Yet, he’s still Jaret Wright. OP Scale: 0.


In so many words, I guess I’m saying that I don’t think the Yanks will win more than a game against the Angels. They should be able to hammer out a victory on the back of Randy on Saturday, but that’s about it. It’s not that I lack faith in Chacon and Moose, it’s that I think the Angles pitching staff is going to shut the Yanks down. Prediction time:

Friday
Angels 4, Yanks 1

They strike early for a run in the second off Escobar, but that’s all they get. Meanwhile, Chacon pitches a solid game that will be forgotten in a week, because the end result will be a tally in the L column. Thankfully, Chacon’s not the kind of guy who is phased by such things, and will rebound nicely. I have the OP scale for him at a 6 or 7 for the season. Look for a Proctor appearance – and him widening the gap.

Saturday
Yanks 5, Angels 3

Not predicting a no-no from Randy, but I figure he’ll go a solid seven again, allowing two or three runs. At this point, I’ll take it, though I expect him to pick it up from here. Ervin Santana has given the Yanks problems in the past, but I think they’ll bounce back against him and get to the bullpen by the sixth.

Sunday
Angels 7, Yanks 6

I don’t think Colon can dominate the Yanks, and I don’t think Moose is going to pitch well. You can ask my why, and I won’t come up with a good reason. It’s just a gut feeling that Moose will be off his game, and the bullpen won’t really do him any favors. That could be a recurring theme in 2006.