• When Octavio Dotel Arrives…………

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2006 · Comments (7)

    You hear this all the time. When Octavio Dotel arrives……well, what? Everyone assumes that he will save the day for the Yankees bullpen in 2006.

    Will he?

    Well, let’s go back to the last year that he was sound (in 2004). In that year, he was 36 for 45 (80.0%) in terms of converting saves. This means that one time out of every five chances, he spit the bit. And, that was pitching for Houston and Oakland.

    Based on this, how do you think he will handle the pressure of pitching for New York? Factor on to that the issue of coming back from Tommy John Surgery.

    When I think of this, I can’t get as warm and fuzzy as some other Yankees fans when they drool over Dotel.

    April 22nd vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Robert Louis Stevenson would love this Yankees team. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled over the win today (and by the fine outing from Chacon). It’s just that it’s hard to believe how bad they look sometimes – when they can play so well at other times.

    What’s most amazing about all of this is that New York, despite their inconsistent play so far this season, is only 2 games off the lead of the A.L. East at this moment.

    Just luck? I’m not so sure. It seems like every team in the A.L. East can hit – but, it seems like they all also have questions about the back end of their starting rotations.

    This leads me to believe that, while most years it takes about 95 wins to take the A.L. East, this season the team that manages 90 wins might just take the flag.

    And, therefore, winning just 90 games in the east this season might just be a big accomplishment.

    April 21st vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on April 21st, 2006 · Comments (13)

    When I was in grammar school, they used to have “Book Fairs” each year. It was like a “Bake Sale” or “Plant Sale” – something they, or the PTA, did to raise some cash. At the Book Fair, the students could buy books – and they were new (although I have no idea where the school got them).

    Anyway, back when I was in the 5th grade (in 1972), I bought a book at the school Book Fair that was very important to me (at the time). I probably read the thing (at least) 50 times after I bought it. And, I still have it – I guess that I’ve kept it, all these years, just for old-times sake. Here it is:

    HowToPlayBetter.jpg

    Maybe I should make a copy of the book and sent it to Joe Torre?

    In any event, here’s one takeaway from tonight’s game: When your pitcher has the bases loaded, and there are 2 outs, and there’s a full count on the batter, don’t let your pitcher throw from a full wind-up.

    Everyday Scottie Proctor

    Posted by on April 21st, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Isn’t it amazing that a guy who only made the team because of injuries to a couple of pitchers ends up pitching in just about every game the Yankees play?

    Jose Veras

    Posted by on April 21st, 2006 · Comments (4)

    Don’t look now, but, Jose Veras has been dealing in Triple-A so far this season:

    6 games, 8.2 IP, 7 hits, 1 BB, 13 SO and a 1.04 ERA

    Then again, Scott Erickson has been pitching well at Columbus too. So, that’s probably bad news for Veras.

    Memory Lane Trip: The Complete Handbook of Baseball

    Posted by on April 21st, 2006 · Comments (2)

    When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for The Complete Handbook of Baseball to come out each year. It was a paperback released by Signet and edited by Zander Hollander. I got my first one in 1975 and picked up my last edition in 1982. By 1980, I pretty much stopped reading them – but, since I had a streak going I still felt the urge to keep buying them. As a kid, I used to refer to them everyday during the season. After a while, the covers became pretty worn.

    As an example of what I mean, to see the cover of the 1977 edition that I owned, click here.

    I also had a bad habit of writing in them. (Hey, I was just a kid.)

    Click here to see the cover of the 1975 edition – which was the first one that I owned. Obviously, I felt (at the time) that Munson belonged with the other “stars” listed on the cover.

    Click here to see the cover of the 1979 edition from my collection. Since it had a Yankee on the cover, this one was a big deal to me at the time.

    I used to really get a kick of the player bios in the handbooks. Here’s the Yankees Juan Beniquez as it appeared in the 1979 handbook:

    BBHBJuan.jpg

    Yeah, it’s “Puff 101″ stuff by today’s standards. But, as a 16-year old in 1979, I still ate this junk up at the time.

    Ah, good times.

    A-Rod The Straw?

    Posted by on April 20th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    I heard a stat last night on TV – and, if I heard it right, it said that A-Rod is batting over .700 when the Yankees win and around .100 when they lose. Granted, it’s only been 14 games. But, if that stat is true, it’s says something about his value to the team, no?

    Update: I went back and ran the numbers for myself. See:

    arodsplit.jpg

    Either I heard it wrong or they said it wrong – but, while the numbers are not as wide as I thought, there’s still something there.

    Sad News From The D.R.

    Posted by on April 20th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    To be honest, I didn’t even know that Oscar Acosta and Humberto Trejo where in the organization. Still, it’s sad to hear the tragic news about them this morning. You really never know what can happen every time you get behind the wheel.

    April 19th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 19th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Fourth beauty in a row for Mussina. He should be 4-0 now instead of 2-1. Gee, is it his walk year this season? (Yes, I know the team has an option, but, they’re not going to pick it up.)

    Considering that Schilling goes for the Sox tonight, and how he’s been pitching this year, this is a good win – it prevents the Yankees from falling four back in the loss column.

    Do you know that Cano now has 54 PA this season (so far) and has not walked once? Yes, you don’t walk off the Island. But, dude, you’re here now. Take some pitches.

    Do you also know that Andy Phillips now has whiffed in 19 of his 57 career big league At Bats (so far)? I think this is why Carlos Pena was signed.

    Last concern from today: The Giambi HBP in the 7th. It was enough to drive him out of a 3-1 game with another AB coming. The way he’s been driving the ball, you hate to see something like this happen.

    Now it’s nine games in a row at home to close out the month. This is the time to make a move. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Lucky 14

    Posted by on April 19th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    It’s the Yankees 14th game of the 2006 season, and Andy Phillips gets his first start of the year at 1B this afternoon.

    At this rate, he would get less than 12 starts at 1B for the year.

    The Yankees must feel that this kid cannot play at the major league level. Maybe they’re right? But, if so, do the player a favor and just cut him. In fact, do yourself a favor and cut him – then again, that might happen when Pena is ready.

    So, for the Andy Phillips fans out there, take a picture today. It could be the last time that we see him start in the field for the Yankees.

    The Big O’s Hair Do’s and Don’ts

    Posted by on April 19th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    The Chicago Tribune is running a story featuring Oscar Gamble and his famous ‘fro. Some Yankees history that I was not aware of:

    When the Indians traded him [Gamble] to the Yankees in 1976, Gamble knew it was over. Owner George Steinbrenner’s edict of neatly cut hair was already in place. When Gamble showed up in the Yankees’ locker room, there was no uniform. No haircut, no uniform.

    Gamble had a deal to do a commercial for Afro Sheen, but the Yankees won out. A team public-relations official arranged for a haircut. Gamble’s wife cried at the senseless loss.

    Steinbrenner paid for the haircut and gave him $5,000 in compensation for not being able to do the commercial.

    This is the first that I’ve heard of Big Stein kicking in the five grand. He didn’t have to do that. Cool. With inflation, I wonder what Johnny Damon would have gotten this year – if he had a hair deal too?

    The Big “One”

    Posted by on April 19th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    Today is the 365th day of WasWatching.com.

    When this blog started, back in April 2005, it averaged about 900 hits a day. These days, it averages about 8,000 hits per day. I have to take that as a sign that I’m doing something right.

    But, why don’t you tell me anyway.
    In the words of Ed Koch, How’mI doing?

    What do you like about WasWatching.com? What would you like to see more (or less) of in this blog? Anything you can share would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    Thank You San Fran Chron!

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Bummer that I missed this one! But, still cool overall. On April 6th, the San Francisco Chronicle had a mention of WasWatching.com -

    sfgate.jpg

    April 18th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    Just imagine how bad the score would have been tonight if not for all those catches that Johnny Damon made in CF. Then again, it’s a shame that he almost got himself killed (banging into the wall) in a losing effort.

    So, Game 1 of the 38 Special ones was not so special for the Yankees.

    Personally, this one is painful for me because I’ve disliked Troy Glaus since 1998. I never enjoy to see him do well – and it’s worse when he does it against the Yankees.

    Yes, it stinks to be below .500 again. And, yes, it’s painful to see the defensive play of Bernie in LF (running into Damon), Giambi at 1B (throwing away a ball), and Sheffield in RF (hot dogging an out into an error) today. And, yes, it’s upsetting to fall another game behind the Red Sox. And, yes, it looks like Chacon’s clock has struck midnight. But, all that takes a back seat to the “big” problem from today’s game – Randy Johnson’s lack of command.

    As a standalone game, you can write off Unit’s performance tonight. However, given his situation in his last start, you have to now wonder about Johnson. And, without an effective Johnson, the Yankees are in Lo Mein City.

    Hopefully it’s just a matter of Johnson and the old SkyDome not getting along.

    Francisco Butto

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From a Trenton Thunder Press Release:

    The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced that RHP Francisco Butto has been transferred to Columbus (AAA).

    Butto was signed by the Yankees as a free agent on December, 18 2005. He posted a 0-1 record with and a 3.18 ERA for the Thunder in three games this season.

    Butto split time in 2005 between Clearwater (A) and Reading (AA) in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He had a 1-2 record with a 3.49 ERA in 17 games with Clearwater. Butto notched a 2-5 record and a 3.65 ERA in 36 games with the Reading Phillies. In 2004, Butto appeared in 36 games, including 14 starts for Clearwater. Butto was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by Philadelphia (2/9/99).

    I’ve never heard of Francisco Butto. But, I can tell you that he’s now one step closer to the Bronx than he was yesterday.

    I wonder why the Phillies gave up on him? Could it be because he lied about his age when he signed? Could it have something to do with him being involved in a murder investigation in Venezuela?

    This is a strange case, at least to me.

    Checking The Roots

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    I was just using the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to see the RSAA and RCAA totals for A.L. teams to date:

    0000rsrc.jpg

    Sort of amazing that the Yankees are only 6-6 so far this year, huh?

    So, what happened?

    Blown games, my friends, blown games. With a little better defense and effort from the bullpen, the Yankees could easily be 9-3 right now – and that would have them in 1st in the A.L. East, by a half-game, with the best winning percentage in the league.

    The really sad part may be this: Can we expect the defense and pen to get better? It’s possible on the latter – but the former could be an issue all season long.

    Is Carlos Pena A “Slick Fielder”?

    Posted by on April 18th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    This morning, I read what I think is the 147th reference (over the last five days) about how (recent Yankees pick-up) Carlos Pena is a “slick fielder” and how he will help the team with his glove.

    Will he?

    Let’s look at his last two full seasons in the majors as a first baseman. According to The Fielding Bible, he’s a middle of the pack guy in those two seasons – at best.

    In 2004, while not in the class of Todd Helton or Darin Erstad, Pena was fine – he placed within the range of Sean Casey, John Olerud, Nick Johnson, and Tino Martinez. That’s OK.

    But, in 2003, Pena ranked about the same as Jason Giambi, Shea Hillenbrand and Carlos Delgado. That’s not OK.

    So, which is it? It’s not clear. Maybe we should look at his data from 2005, albeit based on a partial year in the bigs, as a tie-breaker?

    In the Filed under The Airing of Grievances · ·

    Alvaro Williams?

    Posted by on April 17th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    I was just using the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to see the Yankees hitters to date:

    000yanks417.jpg

    Bernie Williams’ Offensive Winning Percentage stands out the most to me here. Two-oh-seven?

    If Williams does that for the season, and qualifies for the batting title, it would be an all-time low mark for a Yankees player.

    Even if Bernie only gets 300 PA, that mark would be the lowest (for those with at least 300 PA) since Alvaro Espinoza posted a mark of .217 in 1990.

    For what it’s worth, in 1985, Bobby Meacham had an OWP of .317. Maybe that Bernie Meacham mention I had the other day was an insult to Meacham?

    Unit Needs An Oil Change?

    Posted by on April 17th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From BP via SI -

    Apparently, Randy Johnson didn’t think his shoulder stiffness was a baseball decision. Johnson was lifted from his start after five innings and 87 pitches, something that has less to do with his shoulder and more to do with his knees. When Johnson’s knees are pain-free (or, more likely, pain-reduced) in the effective period of his Synvisc injections, his mechanics are smooth. While I do not know when Johnson had his last series of injections, his mechanics in tonight’s game implied that he was due for a new series of Synvisc. If you want a key, watch the chest of his jersey. When he’s right, the jersey pops out as he’s about to release the ball. When he’s not, his delivery is much more of a long arc that stresses — you guessed it — the shoulder. Johnson’s quick hook was a baseball decision; the Yankees can’t afford to stress his arm in this condition if they intend to win. It would be interesting to know when Johnson’s last series of injections was, to gauge whether or not the lubrication is having a shorter period of effectiveness.

    I missed this report over the weekend. And, as far as I know, none of the New York media is running with it. It will be interesting to see if the guys in the YES booth make any mention of it in Johnson’s next start.

    Yankee Ugly?

    Posted by on April 17th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    The Phoenix, out of Boston, has released their “100 unsexiest men in the world” list. Randy Johnson made # 2:

    2. Randy Johnson: If he couldn’t throw a ball 100 miles per hour, Johnson would be wearing a wife beater and getting hauled into a squad car on Cops. Could you imagine the nights when he pitched to Otis Nixon?

    They’ve also listed Big Stein at # 71 and Godzilla Matsui at # 91.

    Funny, David Ortiz, who would be a pimple on the butt of ugly if ugly was a living entity, didn’t make the cut. Shocking, huh?

    And, am I wrong, or, is Manny Ramirez looking more and more like something stuck in Bob Marley’s arm pit hair these days? Yet, he’s not on the list.

    Also, Trot Nixon looks like the son of the banjo player from Deliverance. But, he missed the list too.

    I guess you’re only noticeable when you have “New York” written across your chest.

    Manny’s Start In Beantown

    Posted by on April 17th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    At his current pace, to date, Manny Ramirez will bat .214 this season with zero HRs and 41 RBI.

    Then again, Ramirez hit .211 with no homers and four RBI through the first 10 games of last season. Then, he hit five homers and had 12 RBI in his next 10 at-bats.

    Still, how nice would it be for Yankees fans this year if Manny slumps for an extended period this season?

    The Blame Game

    Posted by on April 17th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the Post:

    Blame Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees’ inconsistent ways. At least that’s what A-Rod says.

    “I feel when I swing the bat well, the team does better. I need to swing the bat better,” A-Rod said after the Yankees suffered a killer, 6-5, loss to the Twins last night thanks to going 3-for-13 in the clutch. “I need to elevate my game. I am the one guy to blame for what has been happening. I have been [ticked] at my game for a week now. I expect a lot out of myself. I have to get better.”

    What I feel is deep inside
    This is real and I won’t hide
    Go ahead, use my name
    I’ll be proud to take the blame

    You just did what I made you do
    You love me and I love you
    So if the way they talk can bother you
    Put the blame, put the blame on me

    So, who sings it better, A-Rod or Elvis?

    April 16th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 16th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    I was nervous for Wang at the start of this game. Something about his sharp ground-ball ratio and the Twins’ turf was concerning me. But, Chien-Ming figured out a way around that – with a career high 8 whiffs. Great timing too – the Yankees are now just two games behind from having the best record in the AL (wink, wink).

    Still, if you were to listen to the last seven Mets fans that I’ve run into this season, it doesn’t matter what the Yankees do – since they’ve all told me that the Mets are going to win it all this year.

    And, I would guess that Boston fans probably feel the same way about the Sox so far this year.

    The more that I think about the Mets and the Red Sox, the more that I have to consider that the Yankees have faced some tough pitchers in 9 of their first 12 games. And, all of those tough games have been on the road. Yes, they have not faired well against those tough pitchers. But, when you look at some teams that are doing very well at this point in the season, you have to consider the teams that they’ve faced, and where, as well.

    If the Yankees win two in Toronto, and sit at 8-6, heading into a nice long homestand, I like their chances (now) to be sitting pretty on May 1st.

    On the flip side, if the Yankees are not, say, 14-9 on May 1st, then I suppose the Mets and Red Sox fans might be right.

    April 15th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    You have a meeting in Montclair, N.J., at 9:00 am. You live 45 miles south of Montclair. With zero traffic, you can get there in 55 minutes. But, you know, on average, it takes you around 80 minutes (with traffic) – so, you leave at 7:30 am.

    You get on the Garden State Parkway at Exit 114 and it’s just about stopped dead. Nothing but bright red tail-lights. It takes you 35 minutes just to go 10 miles – and, as far as you can see, there’s nothing by traffic in front of you.

    Screw it. You throw in the towel and realize that you’re going to lose this one. There’s no way that you can go 35 more miles, in this traffic, in 55 minutes. At the pace so far, you’ll be just lucky to get to Montclair some time today.

    But, then, when you least expect it, around Exit 135, the Parkway opens up. For some reason, there’s no traffic. And, you start flying up the northbound side, doing 85 MPH. Before you know it, you’re at Exit 153 and it’s 8:45 am. You start to think “I just need to jump on Route 3 for around a mile, and then Route 46 for a second, and I’m there. I’m going to win this thing after it looked like I had no hope at all when I started out!

    Then you get off the Parkway to enter Route 3 – and, it’s a parking lot. You’re so close to Montclair that you could probably hit it with a rock, but, you’re sitting on Route 3 with your car in park. You’re stopped, dead, and there’s no way off or out. It’s 8:50 am, then it’s 8:55 am, then it’s 8:58 am, then it’s 8:59 am……..and you still haven’t moved since you got on to Route 3.

    It’s over, you’re totally screwed, you miss the meeting, and the middle miles from 135 to 153 was just a great big f’ing tease.

    You know, this has happened to me countless times over the last six years or so. It used to make me want to rip the steering wheel right off of my dashboard when it would happen. But, through the years, I’ve learned to deal with it. It’s traffic. What can you do? It happens.

    You would think this would help me with a game like tonight. It’s the same No Hope/Great Hope/Turns Out It Was A Tease scenario. Yet, I still want to rip my cable connection out of the wall now. Why is that?

    When will I learn that….It’s the Yankees. What can you do? It happens…….?

    Jesus Colome

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    If you’re not good enough to pitch for Tampa Bay, you suck. The fact that the Yankees would take a flier on someone like this tells you volumes around how bad they are hurting for pitching.

    Damon Pitches For Hunter?

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    I saw a link to this story over at BaseballThinkFactory.org -

    Just because the New York Yankees signed Johnny Damon to play center field doesn’t mean there isn’t room for Torii Hunter.

    Damon told the Pioneer Press he would be willing to move to right field if the Yankees were to acquire Hunter. Hunter has talked openly about playing for the Yankees if the Twins do not show a commitment to winning beyond this season.

    “I know how good Torii Hunter is, and he would be a good fit,” Damon said before Friday night’s game at the Metrodome. “We still have Gary Sheffield (in right field), which Gary may end up moving to the DH spot. I’m sure there’s a lot that we can do. Whatever makes the team better.”

    “I had to do it for Carlos Beltran to make his job easier in the big leagues, and he seemed to do pretty good,” Damon said. “Yeah, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever needs to be done. It’s all about going out there and trying to win. (Hunter is) definitely one of the game’s best players, but I’ll leave that up to (Yankees general manager) Brian Cashman. I can’t be running my mouth.”

    Johnny, dude, you don’t have to answer every question they ask you.

    Besides, Hunter’s had one good year in his career – and that was 2002. Sure, he’s great with the glove. But, otherwise, he’s an average stick at best.

    I’d rather leave you (Damon) in CF until Brett Gardner is ready.

    He’s No Idiot

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From the Journal News:

    “We need to know how to win close games, and this was close most of the way,” Damon said. “We need to know how to push runs across.”

    You tell ‘em Johnny.

    Matt Smith

    Posted by on April 15th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Smith is ten times more valuable than a 3rd string catcher. So, I like this move.

    Interesting, in Yankees history, only once did they have a season where three LHP pitched in 40+ games (in the same season) – 1990 with:

    Lee Guetterman
    Greg Cadaret
    Dave Righetti

    If Smith can stick, he, Villone, and Myers should be able to join the club. The big question is: Will they do it before the All-Star break?

    April 14th @ The Twins

    Posted by on April 14th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Just two days ago, I wrote:

    Of course, against good pitching, the Yankees need to find another way to win – because you’re not going to get the chance to try and wear down the other team. But, that’s a topic for another day.

    Boy, I was hoping to have a few more days than two before that ‘nother day came around.

    I really have no issues with the Yankees pitching today. If you watched the game, you may have noticed that there were a few plays where the Yankees could have helped out their pitchers tonight. Giambi on that foul pop. Bernie in RF on a ball that dropped in front of him. A-Rod on the bouncer down the line. And, there were a couple of key balls that were just out of Jeter’s reach too.

    I bet, if you took the best fielders at 1B, RF, 3B, and SS in the league, and gave them those same chances, you’re looking at three (or maybe four) big outs being made as opposed to balls falling in.

    Still, at the end of the day, even if the Yankees held the Twins to just one run tonight, at best they’re still playing, and, for sure, it’s not a win (as I write this). You’re not going to win many games when you only score one run.

    There’s a problem when you live and die by walks and the three-run HR. When you face great pitching, you’re not going to get the walks and then you’ll have less chances for that three-run HR.

    It’s the reason why the 1969-74 Orioles did not win more rings. Ditto the 2000-04 A’s. Once they faced great pitching teams in the post-season, they were unable to find ways to score (outside of the 3-run HR).

    To be a champion, you need to be able to find a way to win against great pitchers. It’s either throw an ace against their ace, or find a way to get some runs on their ace. Since the Yankees don’t have many aces, and even when they do, the defense usually hurts them, New York needs to be able to find a way to score runs outside of waiting for the walk and the homer.

    It’s either that, or, two things: Pray that you can play the Kansas City Royals everyday, or, get used to losing games against teams with very good pitching.

    Damon Shirts In Beantown

    Posted by on April 14th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    From the student paper at B.U. -

    Ever since the New York Yankees snatched Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, Red Sox fans have harbored a deep resentment toward their division rivals, and since that time, “Yankees Suck!” chants became a fixture of New England sporting events.

    Although the Red Sox banned the popular “Yankees Suck!” T-shirts in Fenway Park two years ago, T-shirt vendors tapped into their creative energy this off-season to come up with new digs against the Evil Empure.

    While Yankee captain Derek Jeter and all-star third baseman Alex Rodriquez have long suffered the wrath of Red Sox Nation, Sox fans, not surprisingly, have found a new punching bag.

    And the T-shirts show it.

    Boston’s former center fielder and fan favorite Johnny Damon, who led the renegade Red Sox to a World Series title in 2004, is now the subject of T-shirts that read “Johnny Who?”, “From Jesus to Judas” — on his betrayal of the Sox — and “Johnny Demon.”

    I wonder – where were the shirts for Boggs in 1993 and Clemens in 1999? Maybe it’s a “you can only do this after you’ve actually won one” thing?

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