Friday, May 19, 2006

Thompson Gets Snubbed...Again

Mitch Jones? Okay, maybe he mashes the ball (.224 ISO in Columbus). But he has struck out 41 times in 134 at bats. For those of you without a calculator in front of you, that's once every 3.27 at bats. He's also an infielder, which means only one thing:

Bernie in the outfield for the foreseeable future. Just freakin' wonderful. My guess is that the intention is to use Jones as a DH and backup first baseman (don't know if he's any good with the glove, but I've heard he's rather immobile), moving Phillips to the backup outfield role.

Apparently Cashman and Torre are fine with an outfield of Melky-Damon-Bernie. And you know what? It's going to cost them at least one game over the next 15. Melky is still adjusting, and Bernie is statue-esque in the field. But the front office doesn't care for such logical analysis.

Did Kevin Thompson rob a bank? Sleep with Cashman's daughter? Why is this man, who so obviously should be starting in right field tonight, still sitting in Columbus? Don't the Yankees think they're damaging his confidence by refusing to call him up when he's the clear cut choice?

What I want are answers. What I don't want is Bernie out in the field six fucking days a week.

Just a stupid, stupid move.

Tonight, Tonight

I have to miss most of the Cavs-Pistons game tonight. Devastating, I know (more so because it means I’ll also miss most of the Mets-Yankees). This is what you get when your chosen field is in the high supply-low demand mold and you’re forced to work a job that lets you out at 9:00 on Friday nights. Normally, 9:00 isn’t so bad; I can still grab dinner and beers with friends afterwards and not really miss anything. Well, except for Friday Night Baseball and the NBA playoffs.

Of course, I’ll be out and ready for the Mavs-Spurs game, and while that will be worth my two and a half hour time investment, it just won’t be Detroit-Cleveland. No matter how many game-changing threes Dirk makes, no matter how many times Tim Duncan schools his defender(s), no matter how many times I see Michael Finley get ball tapped, it won’t measure up to what will take place at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

This isn’t just any Game Six. This isn’t just the defending champs, once up two games to none, now on the brink of elimination on the road. This isn’t about coaching strategy, and this isn’t about five guys playing as a cohesive unit.

[MORE]This is about LeBron James becoming The Man. Because tonight is the night. He’s led his team to three straight victories, including an effort to top all efforts last Saturday, on the cusp of being down three games to none. And now he has a chance to seal it up, at home, not faced with the pressures of an elimination game. If there was ever a time to become The Man, it’s tonight.

Let’s get one thing straight: if Detroit wins tonight, they’re winning Game Seven. It’s like the 2004 ALCS (pardon my frequent Yankees allusions). Heading back to Yankee Stadium, we all knew that if the Yankees dropped Game Six, it was over. So when the final out was recorded, we all sulked and tried to muster up one last ounce of faith that they could pull out a Game Seven with Kevin Brown on the hill. But in our hearts, we knew that it was over. That’s why I drove 35 miles from New Brunswick, NJ, back to my buddy Jon’s place. I just couldn’t be around 30,000 kids when the Yankees capped their monumental choke.

The looming question is whether LeBron recognizes this. If he is to be The Man, his instincts will have to take over. He’ll have to realize, without thinking much about it, that if his team loses tonight, it’s all over. That no matter how hard he plays, no matter how many magical moves he pulls out of his back pocket, it won’t be enough to overcome the Pistons in a Game Seven. They’re too good, too experience, and too well coached (nothing against Flip Saunders, but I’m referring to the lingering effects of Larry Brown) to drop Game Seven at home after winning Game Six on the road.

One might argue that they’re too good to lose tonight, and that very well may be the case. After three straight losses, the time seems ripe for a sleeping giant to be awoken. But even if Detroit plays spot-on basketball, LeBron can overcome. That is, if he makes his final metamorphosis into The Man. He has the skills, he has the instincts, and he has the home crowd in a frenzy behind him.

Asking a 21-year-old (though he looks 30) to be The Man can be considered outrageous expectations. Jordan wasn’t The Man in his third NBA season, let alone at 21 years of age. But he sure knows what’s in the offing if he emerges victorious.



Rangers 6, Yanks 2


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Giambi.047Wright.048
Damon.017Villone-.010
Posada.016Erickson-.035
Crosby-.002
Cano-.021
Cabrera-.033
Stinnett-.069
Jeter-.074
Reese-.077
Williams-.162
A-Rod-.165


Can we cue up some Queen over here? Another outfielder bit the dust yesterday, as Bubba Crosby strained his right hammy, and could be DLed as soon as Friday morning (though he’s still on the active roster at the time of this writing). This would mean the triumphant arrival of Kevin Thompson, which would be much more triumphant if I didn’t have the sinking feeling that The Wrong Kevin will get Crosby’s playing time. But, there is hope that reason will prevail. As with Melky, why bring up Thompson (26 vs. Reese’s 28) if he’s not going to play every day? Of course, we’ve seen the Yankees blatantly defy logic recently with the call-ups of The Wrong Kevin and He Who Is Too Grizzled.

[MORE]I hope everyone enjoyed the parody in the previous post. That said, Cano’s error – while costly – was not the be all, end all play of the game. Error No. 1 was leaving Jaret Wright out for the seventh. He was pitching well, very well even. One of the best outings he’s had since donning the pinstripes. However, he’s had inconsistent work this year and is prone to tiring early. That’s just what happens when you pitch a guy on five days rest, then eight days rest, then seven days rest, then nine days rest, etc.

Error No. 2 is a questionable one: carting Erickson out there. First off, guy shouldn’t be there in the first place, and I think 99.9 percent of Yankees fans agree here. He was ineffective in Columbus, and his ability to get guys out is going to be compromised further with each pitch he throws in the majors. Hitters adjust to pitchers, which is why a lot of guys have initial success and drop off. I’m fearful for his next appearance.

That leaves Robbie’s error in the No. 3 hole. And even then, he still put himself on base to give his team a chance to score. The same can’t be said for Bern-Rod, a combined 0 for 8, 0 for 3 with guys on. Please, don’t think I’m saying, “man, A-Rod and Bernie really suck,” because I’m not. I’m just pointing out that they contributed mightily to this loss. According to the Win Expectancy, their flailings at the plate cost the Yanks 33 percent.

A 5-5 homestand isn’t exactly what we were hoping for, but considering our opponents were Boston, Oakland and Texas and we were down two of our best hitters, I’ll take it. Playing .500 ball just isn’t going to cut it in the 2006 American League, so the Yanks had better figure out a way to score runs in the absence of Sheff and Matsui. Because trust me, both are going to be out longer than is currently projected (Sheff another week, Matsui in three months).

The schedule isn’t getting much better this weekend, as we schlep out to Shea for three games with the Mets and then up Rt. 84 to Bahstan for three in Fenway. I honestly don’t know whose appearance I’m fearing more, Aaron Small’s against Tom Glavine on Sunday or Randy Johnson’s against Jeremi Gonzalez tonight. The Mets, I think, are just going to whale away on Randy, and we’ll be lucky to get three innings out of him. Thankfully, Gonzalez is an abomination as well, so the Yanks should be able to slug their way into the game (that means you, A-Rod).

And then in Boston, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got swept. That notion may change over the weekend, but that’s my feeling at the moment. Games 14-15 of 16 are going to be grueling. This is the first long stretch of games this year, meaning that the players are going to be extra tired (not used to the endurance test). Combine that with the injuries, and you have a recipe for zero confidence.

I hear the Royals are in town next weekend. Maybe we can squeeze off a few dubyas then.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Today's Loss

By Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Times have changed
Our stars are getting worse
They won’t hit in the clutch
They just want to strike out and curse

Should we blame Steinbrenner?
Or blame Joe Torre?
Or should we blame Jaret Wright (who pitched very nicely)?

No!

Blame Robinson! Blame Robinson!

We need to form a full assault
It’s Robinson’s fault!

Don’t blame A-Rod
For going 0 for 4
He sat next to Robinson
Now he’s making outs galore

And my boy Bernie once
Could swing a mighty bat
But now when I see him
All I see is his (shitty) OBA stat

Blame Robinson! Blame Robinson!

Well, blame Robinson. Blame Robinson!
It seems everything’s gone wrong since Robinson came along.
Blame Robinson! Blame Robinson!
The guy has two last names, anyway

Jaret Wright could have won the game, how can you disagree?
But because of Robinson he’s now fucking 1 and 3.
Should we blame the pitch count?
Or the homer that was gone
Or Joe Torre, who allowed him to pitch on

Heck no!
Blame Robinson! Blame Robinson!
With all his fielding hullabaloo
And that geezer Scott Erickson, too
Blame Robinson! Blame Robinson!

For...
The errors we must stop
The pitching we must bash
The ballgame and fun
Must all be undone
We must blame him, smile and nod
Before someone thinks of blaming A-Rod!!!!

SABAZZ!

Yanks 4, Rangers 3


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Posada.259Wang.306
Giambi.044Rivera.155
Williams.017
A-Rod-.014
Jeter-.014
Crosby-.046
Phillips-.054
Cano-.066
Damon-.094


You know what sucks? There’s going to be a point in July or August (or June or September, for that matter) when I’m going to say “Jorge: in the same sentence as a form of the word “suck.” There’s just no way he can keep up with his current pace. The question remains, however, of whether he’ll regress to early 2006 Jorge or 2005 Jorge.

But let’s savor the hot streak while it’s still in effect. The timing could not be better, for obvious reasons. If he can keep this up until Sheff comes back (whenever the fuck that is), the offense should be in good shape. All this despite the attempts of Andy Phillips (.491 OPS), Bubba Crosby (.641 OPS), and Miguel Cairo (.585 OPS) to sabotage any run scoring opportunities (with apologies to Cairo for Tuesday night). It should also be noted that (small sample size be damned) that Melky Cabrera holds a ..666 OPS, trumping the three aforementioned rally killers, if even by a slim margin.

Why are we talking all this pessimism? There’s reason to celebrate: Chien-Ming Wang and his super ground ball powers. Of the 21 balls put in play, 18 were on the ground. Combine that effort with an 81-pitch, 55-strike performance (68 percent), and you’ve got a guy who should find consistent success. The only thing lacking of Wang is the ability to miss bats, but he’s even improved that this season. And, for what it’s worth, he uses his sinker to induce the ground ball rather than whiff batters. It all seems to work out in the end.

Other points of note:

  • Giambi’s neck doesn’t seem to be bothering him, considering his rip shot double.

  • Andy Phillips may have risen out of “worthless” status, but he’s certainly not worth more than Alex Gordon’s rookie card.

  • You think Robbie Cano will be up early fielding about 18,000 grounders off the bat of Larry Bowa? I do.



Not much time, so no real recap. I’ll try to get something up later on about today’s game.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hooray Jorge!


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Posada.969Farnsworth.107
Jeter.253Villone-.006
Cairo.252Small-.026
Damon.142Riverar-.300
Williams.134Proctor-.337
Crosby-.025Chacon-.387
Cabrera-.036
Cano-.082
A-Rod-.153
Phillips-.155


The Yankees played the role of the White Sox defiant little brother last night. After the Pale Hose triumphed Sunday despite Mark Beuhrle’s vain attempt to sabotage them in the first inning, the Yankees said, “we can do that, too! Only we’ll do it without three of our best hitters!” To which the Sox said, “shyeah right, little man.” So, utterly determined to one-up the World Series champs, the Yanks commissioned Shawn Chacon to put them in a terrible hole just so they could perform the feat of coming all the way back.

This is the kind of win you only get once a year. Last year, it was the 13-run eighth inning that overcame a 7-run Randy start against the D-Rays. This year’s version, however, was a more theatrical performance. Down 9-0 and 10-1 and absent three of their top hitters, the Yanks looked cooked in the second inning. The message of the night came after Aaron Small finally managed to down the last Rangers batter of the frame:

“Let’s watch this and see who pukes first.”

[MORE]Nauseated I was, watching Chacon self-destruct in the second. The worst part of it all is that he looked to be on in the first frame. He may have given up a pair of runs, but 1) he retired the first two batters on three pitches, 2) a Hank Blalock single that scores a run is excusable, so long as it’s only one, and 3) we all know that Chacon is wont to give up a run here and there due to his propensity to put men on base. So while putting this Yankees lineup in an early hole can be fatal, I still thought Chacon was going to be fine after the first.

Down nine, I figured watching the Nets lose to the Heat would be at least a bit satisfying. But I was still curious as to the Yanks game, especially after I was informed that, moments after bashing Phillips for being worthless, he had doubled off the wall. Next thing I know, it’s 10-5, and I’m thinking that this isn’t so bad; you can’t really fault the offense when they put up a five-spot. So blame Chacon, praise the hitters, and move on to the next game.

But then I got fired up. Down five runs in the sixth inning, Joe Torre deems it appropriate to use his fourth best bullpen arm to retire one lefty batter. I was so livid that I didn’t even bother to question why he didn’t call on Mike Myers instead, a man commissioned solely to GET OUT LEFTIES. Villone, a former starter, isn’t necessarily a lefty specialist, and as such surrendered a single to Blalock – which, as I said, is forgivable. Thanks to a Melky blunder and some fortitude on the part of Jorge, the Yanks were able to get out of it without any further bleeding (though you may want to check with Jorge on that statement).

The bottom of the sixth left all of us awestruck. In the car on a humid night, I was left listening to an oft breaking up Sterling and Waldman. Cabrera’s at bat had me a bit confident, and I wiped my brow after he blooped a single to center. Damon’s at bat is where I began thinking, “hey, this thing just might be within reach.” Five pitches later, and we’ve got El Capitan waving his bat at Scott Feldman with two runners ripe for scoring. This, of course, is the point where I hit a dead spot and hear nothing but static for three minutes. However, within that span, 880 AM managed to penetrate the humidity for a fraction of a second, in which I heard Sterling flipping out about, “gargle gargle gargle 3-run home runs! gargle gargle gargle.”

Three run home run? Three run home run?!? THREE RUN HOME RUN!! Derek Jeter had done it again, bringing the Yanks within two and forcing Joaquin “Frenchy Wild Thing” Benoit into the game. This is where the confidence began to soar. The Yanks were rolling, and with Benoit in, there was just no way they weren’t tacking on at least one more run. Oh, and did they.

After Cano pissed off every Yankees fan on the face of the earth by fouling out on the first pitch following two straight walks, Bernie came through. Now, his .239/.280/.330 batting line has been completely inexcusable, but he has come through in a few key situations. I was once again bemoaning him batting from the left side, but I guess when you’ve done it for your whole career, it’s tough to turn around and face a righty from the right side. But man, was that ever a rip shot that got me screamin. 10-9, still just one out.

Phillips didn’t look half bad in his at-bat, taking the obviously bad pitches and working the count 3-2. I was back home at this point, and was asked if I would re-open my Phillips strikeout bet from the night before. I didn’t, citing his two doubles, but I underestimated the power of an inexperienced player in a big situation. A foul tip into Rod Barajas’s glove meant I had left $20 on the table.

Enter Miguel Cairo, in whom I had exactly no faith. In my mind, I conjured up images of 2004 and how he would rip the ball over the head of the shortstop or second baseman, plating two more runs. But I realized that those days are in the past, and since then Cairo has returned to his human form. And then it came. It was almost as if his swing was in slow-motion; the perfect stride, bat slicing in a straight line through the strike zone, ball colliding with bat out in front of the plate…ball soars over shortstop’s head. 11-10. They had done it. Back from being nine down…twice.

My first thought was that Villone would be back out for the seventh, pumped and ready to shut down the Rangers and cap this marvelous comeback. But when YES came back from the commercial break, it was Proctor on the mound, leaving images of Quantrill in my head. Eight more games in a row in this streak, and Torre uses Proctor AGAIN. I need to place a few phone calls and find out what Torre has against Villone.

Anyway, Scotty wasted no time in blowing the lead, surrendering a no doubt about it homer to Brad Wilkerson. 12-11. After a Mark DeRosa (Jersey native, by the way) single, Gator got out there and said something right, because Proctor got the next three in order. It’s situations like this where I wish Gator was wearing a mic, and we could hear their conversation after the game.

I know I’m getting a little long-winded here, but these last few innings were just so packed with drama that it would be a disservice to graze over any of it. So we’re in the bottom of the seventh, and Damon leads off with a screamer towards Teixeira, which takes a terrible bounce right in front of him, raps him in the shoulder and caroms off into right field. It was scored an error, which I think is complete and utter BS. This is especially so in the wake of Jeter’s at bat, a bunt attempt that was overthrown by Barajas, allowing Damon to advance to third. Had the throw been on target, Jeter was clearly out, yet was awarded a bunt single. Just ridiculous.

After A-Rod advanced Jeter on a check-swing, Posada knotted it up with a sac fly. Cano followed this with a rare walk, but Bernie just couldn’t come up with one more clutch hit. It’s okay, though. We’ll forgive him on this one.

I was kind of surprised to see Farny in the bottom of the eighth, but it all worked out in the end. Three up, three down, and it looks like Farny has learned a bit from his mistakes from a night prior.

The bottom of the frame featured the bottom three of a depleted order, but that was okay. Mo was warming, meaning that we’d have top of the order in the ninth inning of a tie game. The first part of the plan went off without a hitch – Phillips, Cairo, and Crosby all fell victim to Ron Mahay, leaving the game in Mo’s hands.

But a double by Rod Barajas? The guy who couldn’t handle Small or Proctor rocks Mo for a go-ahead double? The fates were certainly against the Yankees, temping them and laughing in their faces as the fool-proof weapon failed once again. 13-12, bottom of the ninth…but the top of the order are waiting in the wings.

After Damon made like Speed Racer down the first base line, the game was left to Captain Clutch. And while he might not have come up with ideal contact, he advanced Damon to scoring position with one out. We all know that the sacrifice is questionable baseball strategy, but down one in the bottom of the ninth I’m actually surprised Jeter didn’t bunt.

Up strolls A-Rod, and all I can pray for is a hit, just to say, “look, he came through with the Yanks down a run in the bottom of the ninth.” And when he made contact with that pitch, I half knew it was a fly out, half wanted to believe it would drop in the gap. Hits like that are subject to a ton of luck, and as the lady would have it, A-Rod’s stroke landed right in the glove of Gary Matthews. A few feet either way, and it drops in. But hey, at least it wasn’t a dinky grounder or a strikeout. That would have really pissed me off.

The rest, as they say, is history. Two outs, bottom of the ninth, man in scoring position, down by one. Players dream of this moment for their entire careers (though the implications are usually greater than a non-division game in mid-May). And Jorge lived the dream. My eyes lit up when I saw the delivery, and I was out of my seat before the ball landed in the bleachers. Jorge had come through, and the Yankees overcame adversity thrice to defeat the Rangers, 14-13.

Now, let’s ride this crazyy little thing called momentum and snag a couple of wins while three of our best hitters rest their injured bodies.

Hey, at least Randy isn’t pitching today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rangers 4, Yanks 2


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Cano.061Mussina.197
Crosby.059Proctor.033
Giambi-.031Farnsworth-.340
A-Rod-.034
Jeter-.035
Phillips-.042
Williams-.068
Cabrera-.092
Damon-.094
Posada-.115


After Jorge popped out to end the game last night, I had this feeling of empty dejectedness. We had lost yet another winnable game. It hurts in a different way than when you lose 6-1, and certainly different than losing 4-3 to the Red Sox. But after last night’s loss, I could hardly tell the difference. Pissed off, I began thinking of how to rip the Yanks a new one in this here space (they’re swinging at bad pitches early in the count, they don’t score runs after the seventh inning, etc.). After a conversation with my buddy Andy, though, I decided to wait until morning.

Great freakin’ idea.

[MORE]Don’t get me wrong; I’m still pissed that we lost a winnable game. But I’m much less, “these Yankees effing suck” at this point, which is a good thing. They don’t suck. In fact, had Giambi been able to stay in the game, I might not be so pissed. Not only would he have been hitting behind Jeter’s 8th inning 2-out single (I had an open $20 bet that Phillips would strike out), but he would have been able to handle said Jeter’s slightly errant throw in the 9th. Not that it made a difference in the score, but if the ump doesn’t give Proctor that called third strike on Young you have a different scenario.

Thankfully, we can take a positive from this game, and that’s yet another top-notch outing by Moose. It’s hilarious how he’s pitching to the expectations we set for Randy, while Randy is, as they say, pulling a Moose.

But, Randy did show signs of life yesterday despite giving up four runs over six innings. If he can perpetuate the adjustment he made after the first, the Yanks might be able to compensate for the loss of Sheff and Matsui for the time being.

Though, nothing can compensate for the loss of Giambi. I haven’t gotten wind as to whether he’ll play tonight or not, and I’m sure that will be contingent on how sore he is this morning. The safe expectation is that he’ll DH, which means Bernie will likely be in the outfield and Phillips at first. So right off the bat, I’m not so confident about tonight’s game. The Rangers are a hard-hitting team that puts the ball in the outfield consistently. The outfield tandem of Cabrera-Damon-Crosby seems ideal for this four-game set, and while I understand the urge to mix things up out there, to do so is to compromise the effectiveness of the grass roamers.

That brings us to tonight’s starter, Shawn Chacon. Normally, I’d give some schpeil about how I’m shaky on him facing a hard-hitting Rangers lineup, with his propensity to put men on base and all. But he adequately handled Texas last time out, and he pitched okay against a similarly threatening Red Sox lineup. I’m not predicting a gem here, but I think Chacon will be just fine out there. He might even make things interesting, make you bite off a few of your fingernails. And then you can all watch after he’s pulled after the sixth for a high pitch count and we see Proctor AGAIN. Though, I don’t know what would be worse, seeing Proctor make yet another appearance, or see Scott Erickson take the hill.

While last night’s game shouldn’t have riled me up, a loss tonight very well could. That would be three in a row, and we all know that means a losing streak. Compound that with the fact that Baltimore simply cannot beat Boston, and you can just picture us sliding down the standings.

It’s just mid-May. It’s just mid-May.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Little Early for Celebration?

Ramiro Mendoza's line from Columbus this year:

IP ERA SO BB WHIP
11.1 0.00 11 1 0.44


This includes six innings of shutout ball yesterday. In reality, this is just Reason No. 13,231 why Tanyon Sturtze should be thrown the door. Another reason to ponder his release:

IP ERA SO BB WHIP
18.0 2.50 22 7 1.28


Not quite as impressive, but not bad for Jose Veras. In time, my friends, in time.

And Scott Erickson didn't look as disastrous as I had feared in his appearance yesterday. Walking guys, however, won't win you appearances late in tight games.

Just because I'm already on the Clippers website and because I really am warming up to these guys, I figure I'll post the stats for Darrell Rasner and Colter Bean.

Rasner
IP ERA SO BB WHIP
35.2 2.52 34 6 1.09

Bean
IP ERA SO BB WHIP
23.1 0.77 30 11 1.07

Athletics 6, Yanks 1


PlayerWEPitcherWE
Posada.020Erickson.022
Crosby.004Small-.003
Cano-.010Villone-.028
Damon-.021Johnson-.152
Jeter-.039
Williams-.063
A-Rod-.066
Cabrera-.079
Giambi-.085


In one of my dorkier moments, I’ll point out that not only did the Yankees take two of three from the A’s, but Randy Johnson pitched four effective innings out of six total, which can be reduced to 2/3. And, if that wasn’t enough, Dan Haren threw 67 strikes out of 100 pitches, which is also 2/3. Yes yes, Meatloaf would have been proud of this weekend.

Unfortunately, I was not. Out to brunch with my mother yesterday morning, I had to bottle in all of my Randy Johnson related comments as he struggled through the first. It would have been much less painful had the TV not been on. Then again, I can’t imagine how I would have been feeling had I come home to see the score at 3-0 in the top of the second.

[MORE]My first inclination was to blame the ho hum offense on a lack of patience, allowing Dan Haren to plow through the lineup on a minimal number of pitches. But the more I think about it (and the more I watch the archive on MLB.tv), the more I realize that Haren was truly on yesterday. It was all location, as he placed unhittable strikes early in the count and utilized his fastball/splitter combo to keep the Yanks lineup off-balance. The kid looks to be coming around, which is consistent with his fantasy profile at CBS Sportsline:

Haren has traditionally been a slow starter, so hopefully this is the start of good things to come for the young Oakland pitcher.


The problem with this analysis: they’re basing it off one freakin’ year. And while April and May weren’t stellar months for Haren (4.11 and 4.45 ERAs, respectively), they weren’t his worst either. After settling down and posting a 3.09 ERA in June, he faltered in July, surrendering 6.09 runs per nine innings. So when Haren struggles for a few games in July, Sportsline will be quick with a, “Haren is notoriously ineffective in the month of July.” You know, guys, we can check game logs from last year, too.

There’s no sense in fretting over a loss like yesterday, so we might as well focus on the task at hand: knocking Kevin Millwood senseless. If the Twins can do it, the Yanks should have a field day. Milwood’s success last year was based on consistency; he allowed four or more runs just four times over the course of 30 starts. This year, he’s already done it thrice. In two outings against the Yanks last year, Millwood pitched well once (8 IP, 2 ER) and horribly the other (6 IP, 6 ER).

The coming week and a half will be very telling for the Yanks. The Mets and the Red Sox loom at the end of what will be a trail of 16 games in 16 days; their roster is slightly depleted; they’re forced to start two guys that scare the bejeezus out of me a combined four more times. And at the end of that, MAYBE we get Sheff back. If he’s feeling up to it. Which is doubtful.

And at the end of the day, we’re still atop the AL East.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mini Minors Update

I just finished updating the minor league stats, and I’ve come to an important conclusion: I’m no good at picking out minor league talent. Not yet, anyway, as I had quite a few pre-season picks who are now batting on the interstate. Fret not, for this is my first foray into the world of minor league baseball, and my ability to pick out telling qualities in prospects can only rise from here. But instead of continuing to beat myself up over it, I’m just going to do what I do best: take a look at what’s happened to this point.

First off, while this section will still be titled, "Quest for the 2008 Roster," I’m going to add and subtract people who could be there well before 2008. For example, I’m tracking Darrell Rasner in this space, though it’s quite possible that he will make his pinstripe debut in 2006. Mainly, it’s just a way to keep tabs on the minor leaguers. Unfortunately, I’m neither the first to do this nor the best, as there are quite a few other Yankees sites taking a look at the farm.

As if his writing wasn’t enough to keep me glued to his site, I’m absolutely enamored with Mike A.’s Down on the Farm section over at In George We Trust. Also of note are Pending Pinstripes and the always useful Yankees Prospects. All are highly recommended if you want to keep up with what’s in store for the future.

Guy in jeopardy of losing their spots on the table in the right sidebar: Eduardo Nunez, Tim Battle, Jose Gil, Kyle Larsen, Edwar Gonzalez, Justin Christian. Sure, there are other guys performing as bad or worse than these guys, but most of them are legitimate prospects (read: Vechionacci). Another week or two of fleeting performances, and they’ll find themselves replaced by better performing players. But for now, I’ll stick with my original list.

Guys I want to see move up: T.J. Beam, James Conroy.
Guys I want to see demoted: Eric Duncan, Justin Christian, Nunez, Battle

Normally, I’d make a case for the promotion of Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata, as they are among the elite players in Low A ball. However, seeing as they’re still teenagers, keeping them in Charleston may be for the best. I just can’t justify promoting a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old before at least a half season in Low A. If they’re still rapping base hit after base hit by the All-Star break, we’ll talk. But there’s no reason to rush anything (::ahem:: Eric Duncan).

And while I do like Duncan, he’s clearly overmatched in Columbus. Send him to Trenton, let him get comfortable and begin to beat up on AA pitching, and then think about re-promoting him. Especially with Carlos Pena in the fold for the next month (as well as an able Shelly Duncan available for promotion from Trenton), this is the prime time to give Duncan his chance to get in a groove. Actually, it was prime time a few weeks ago; now we’re just seeing the window narrow.