• June 1st @ The Tigers

    Posted by on June 2nd, 2006 · Comments (15)

    The minute that Farnsworth walked Thames with one out in the bottom of the 9th, and the Yanks up by just one, I thought to myself “They just lost this game.”

    Yes, I know that, on May 28th, I wrote:

    And, now, the Tigers. Yes, they’re playing .700 ball so far this season. But, they’ve beat up on the Royals and Twins to get that record. (If I counted right, the Tigers are 15-2 against K.C. and Minny so far this year.) The Yankees better take three of four in this next series.

    And, the Yankees took three of four from the Tigers. So, I should be happy, right?

    Sorry. There’s just too many bad things from this game to be happy.

    Yanks had a runner on 2nd in the 2nd with one out and could not score him. Yanks had runners on 1st and 2nd in the 5th with no outs and could not score a run. Yanks had the bases loaded in the 7th with one out and could not score. And, in the 9th, the Yankees had runners on 1st and 2nd – albeit with 2 outs – and did not score.

    In all of these situations – 2nd inning, 5th inning, 7th inning and 9th inning, Terrence Long was at the plate with a chance to do something and made outs.

    If Long had come through in one of those spots, then maybe the lack of Rivera and the stupid pitching of Farnsworth is a non-issue?

    Torre has to stop playing Long now – with Thompson now on the roster. There’s no excuse for running this out-maker to the plate anymore.

    Wang was terrible in this game. And, the Yankees still had a chance to win it. And, the difference between winning and losing this one could have been as simple as deciding who to play in RF.

    Yeah, Farnsworth gets the “L” for this one – but Torre gets an assist too.

    Comments on June 1st @ The Tigers

    1. MJ
      June 2nd, 2006 | 8:58 am

      At what point do we start worrying about Wang? Besides a couple of back-to-back 80 pitch starts where he was brilliant a few weeks ago, he’s been something of a crapshoot the rest of the time. Gator and Kerrigan need to figure this problem out because Wang really has the potential to be a good starter in this league.

      Separately, I wonder why the Yanks couldn’t have just met Tom Gordon’s asking price. I know that paying closer money to a setup man isn’t the most efficient use of resources but, really, when you’re at $189M, how can you start pinching pennies when you’re trying to win the WS? I like Farnsworth and I think he can make a positive contribution to the team but I just don’t feel that great about him out there with the game on the line. His K of Ortiz was AWESOME but I still like Flash Gordon a bit more in these spots. Anyway, nothing we can do about it now…

    2. Rich
      June 2nd, 2006 | 9:28 am

      MJ: The biggest problem with TG is that he wanted to actually BE a closer, not just get paid “closer money.” His career is coming to a close, and IIRC, that is the reason he wanted to be a closer. He’s making $4.5M a year to close in Philly. Farnsworth is making $5.4M a year to setup in the Bronx. Money wasn’t an issue in terms of Gordon. He didn’t want to be a setup man anymore.

      As for Wang, his success rests solely on his sinker. I didn’t see him pitch and picked up the game around the 6th when Rasner came in, but from what I hear, his sinker didn’t sink. Hopefully that situation can be rectified. Without a sinker he’s equal to RJ with his flat slider. It’s the “out” pitch, but when ineffective, it just GOES out.

    3. MJ
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:11 am

      The problem with Wang hasn’t been the sinker or the slider as much as the mechanics. Every time someone gets on base and he goes to the stretch and loses the strike zone. He’ll get behind every batter and then he’s forced to groove fastballs just to make sure he doesn’t give up a walk. From what everyone on TV and radio were saying, Gator has identified the mechanical flaw but hasn’t been able to get Wang sorted out yet.

      As for Tom Gordon, I’m sure he wanted to close but it wouldn’t have hurt to make the choice a bit more difficult. I miss Flash a lot, especially when we cough up winnable games like last night…

    4. baileywalk
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:15 am

      Steve, you’re absolutely right. Long should not be on this team. And when I was watching the pre-show, and Torre said that Thompson would come off the bench for them, I felt like putting my first through his face. Thompson is not a superstar. But he has the POTENTIAL to hit. Long was out of baseball because he’s useless. Why would you play Long over Thompson? It doesn’t make any sense. At the very worst, Thompson can do exactly what Long does. We’ve now seen that Long is an average corner outfielder and a lousy hitter. So why not see if Thompson is better? Why does Torre fall in love with guys like Long? It makes me sick.

      Now I’ll be the first to admit that Kyle Farnsworth, who I was excited to have on the team, has been a disappointment. And he did lose that game last night (if I remember right, he gave up two singles in the inning). But…

      Why in the HELL is Posada calling for three straight sliders to the-catcher-formerly-known-as-Pudge? They had him looking foolish on two straight sliders. Why not then pump in the fastball? Instead he went back to the slider and Pudge hit it. Also, why must Posasa set his glove on the outside corner of the plate when Farnsworth is pitching to a righty? Farnsworth consistently overcompensates and throws it outside. Why is Posada asking a guy who throws 100 miles an hour to hit the corner? Just let him throw that effing fastball. When he just hurled that thing, people were swinging and missing.

      That was a really rough inning for Farns. I’m sure Torre is now completely disgusted by him. His confidence is probably shattered. He already looked uncomfortable on this team — how does losing this game affect him?

      Yes, Farns gave up those two runs, but I put a lot of the blame on Posada. He simply doesn’t know how to get the best out of Farnsworth, and he’s almost contributing to his failure. He handles Proctor so well (you don’t see Posada asking him to hit the outside corner). Someone needs to take the leash off of Farns and just let him pitch.

    5. Raf
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:26 am

      Yes, Farns gave up those two runs, but I put a lot of the blame on Posada. He simply doesn’t know how to get the best out of Farnsworth, and he’s almost contributing to his failure.
      Regardless of what sign a catcher puts down, the pitcher has the option of shaking him off.

    6. baileywalk
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:40 am

      Regardless of what sign a catcher puts down, the pitcher has the option of shaking him off.

      Yeah, that’s true, and I’ve heard it a billion times, but you do realize that a catcher’s job is to help the pitcher, right? If a catcher calls for a pitch that would be right where the hitter likes it, but the pitcher shakes him off and throws something else, does that erase the fact that the catcher doesn’t know what he’s doing? No.

      Plus — and this is purely speculation on my part — I think Farns is still trying to find his place on this team, and he feels his manager’s disgust. I think he’s throwing what Posada wants because he’s still uncomfortable here and trying to fit in.

      From what I see it looks like Posada doesn’t trust Farnsworth’s stuff. It’s like he thinks if he doesn’t make a perfect pitch, he’ll get hit. With Thames up, Farnsworth throws outside for a ball. Posada goes right back there and sticks his glove on the outside corner. Farnsworth instead just throws the ball, at about 97, and Thames swung right through it. Mussina, with this great control but average velocity, needs to hit the corners. Pedro and Glavine need to hit corners. So do guys like Chacon and Small. Farnsworth does not.

      All you have to do is look at how Papelbon and the guys coming out of the Tigers’ ‘pen (Zu, Rodney) pitch. They take that fastball and ram it down your throat. And then, while you’re geared up for the fastball, throw something off-speed. It’s the simplest formula there is. And Posada seems to know how to do it with Proctor. If Posada doesn’t figure out how to work with Farns soon, the Yankees are going to have a really expensive sixth- or seventh-inning guy on their hands.

    7. JohnnyC
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:43 am

      This is an issue that has been brewing for a few seasons now with the Yankees…who exactly calls the pitches? In this case, we have Torre himself making it clear that he thought Farnsworth was throwing too many sliders from Spring Training on. So, you’d think they’d call sliders sparingly. But, as we’ve seen, this is not the case. Like most teams, the Yankees (Guidry, Torre, Kerrigan, whomever) game plan the opposing hitters. Pitching patterns and defensive alignments, etc. They believe you can get Pudge, for instance, out with breaking pitches out of the zone. And here is the crux of the issue: what if the pitcher on the mound doesn’t throw a particularly good breaking pitch or simply hangs it? In a high leverage situation, I’d go with my pitcher’s best pitch (Farnsworth=fastball)every time. The rare occasions where you completely fool someone (Ortiz)shouldn’t embolden you to try this all the time. Lest we forget all those 2 strike no-spin sliders hit for moon shots off Weaver, Vasquez, and Pavano. All, I’m sure, called from the bench.

    8. MJ
      June 2nd, 2006 | 10:52 am

      Not to sound naive or anything but how do we know Torre hates Farnsworth or that Farnsworth feels Torre’s disgust? Just asking.

    9. JohnnyC
      June 2nd, 2006 | 11:09 am

      MJ, you’re right. We can’t assume that. I don’t think that’s the case. I do think, however, that Farnsworth is the type of relief pitcher the Yankees, under Torre, doesn’t handle well. Do you really think either Zumaya or Rodney, for instance, would be pitching for the Yankees? Fat chance. Torre hates walks and he hates relievers who walk batters especially. Nothing wrong with that conceptually but, if you’re going to throw 100 mph, you can’t expect to hit corners. Simple as that. (BTW, I don’t think Bruce Sutter, who didn’t throw nearly as hard, tried to hit corners either) In fact, most notorious out-pitches (including Rivera’s cutter)end up out of the strike zone. They just look good coming in. That’s the point.

    10. baileywalk
      June 2nd, 2006 | 11:43 am

      MJ, I don’t know anything for a fact, and I said it was speculation on my part, but I’m going on body language. Farnsworth LOOKS uncomfortable, and Torre consistently scowls and looks like he has even more indigestion than normal when Farnsworth is on the mound. Can you ever remember Torre angrily speaking to his pitching coach about a pitcher while he was on the mound? Torre’s Mr. No-Expression, no matter what is going on, but when Farnsworth walks someone, he turns to Gator (or even Maz) and seems to be saying, “What’s with this effin’ guy?”

      Just my take on it. If you saw Farnsworth in either Detroit or Atlanta last year, you saw a completely different pitcher. I guess the silver lining is that the year isn’t quite half over and he still has time to unf-ck himself.

    11. JohnnyC
      June 2nd, 2006 | 12:26 pm

      Actually, Torre’s been very animated on the bench this season, more so than I’ve ever seen him. He throws his hands in the air, grimaces, glares, etc. But not just when Farnsworth is on the mound. It’s a sign of something…don’t quite know what. Whatever the reason, it’s clear as day that he’s no longer Mr. Cool, as his reputation has been built up to be. Of course, maybe it’s like Francesa claimed when YES cameras supposedly avoided Zimmer in the dugout. Maybe George is trying to set Torre up by having YES cameras “catch” all of these “uncharacteristic” moments and gestures. That’s certainly one way to look at it.

    12. rbj
      June 2nd, 2006 | 1:16 pm

      I’m happy with 3 out of 4. The Tigers have been playing really good ball this year.

    13. Raf
      June 2nd, 2006 | 1:55 pm

      Yeah, that’s true, and I’ve heard it a billion times, but you do realize that a catcher’s job is to help the pitcher, right?
      That’s part of it. But the point still stands that Farnsworth has the final say, lest Posada gets killed with a 100mph fastball if/when he gets crossed up.

      I can see the reasoning that Farnsworth needs Posada’s help if he just got called up, but Farnsworth has been in the majors for a while, and has had a run closing with both the Tigers and the Braves. Farnsworth should know what works for him (as well as everyone in the organization, for that matter) by now.

    14. baileywalk
      June 2nd, 2006 | 2:38 pm

      My point is this: Posada’s call for that third strike — if Farns throws it or not — is a mistake. Farnsworth should have shaken him off, but he didn’t, but the fact that Posada is calling for a third straight slider in a two-and-oh count is still incredibly dumb. Farns has the final say, and Farnsworth has to throw what he feels comfortable with, but having a catcher who understands how to get a hitter out helps a lot.

      I think Posada is a good catcher and he calls a fine game. I just don’t like how he handles Farnsworth. I don’t like how many sliders Farns throws and I simply hate that Posada sets up on the outside corner.

      They always say the same thing — the pitcher gets the “L” next to his name, not the catcher, so the pitcher better throw what he wants — but the importance of the catcher is overlooked quite a bit. Some people trust their catcher implicitly and throw whatever the catcher wants.

      And when I mean “help,” I’m not talking about learning how to pitch — I’m talking processing all the information — count, batter, pitcher’s strengths — and putting down the right sign. In other words, thinking along with the pitcher. Or, to put it another way, not calling for a third straight slider when you had the guy swing and miss at two and he’s waiting for one more.

    15. Don
      June 2nd, 2006 | 2:38 pm

      Farnsworth is basically the same guy he has always been. But no shock(!) that a certain poster blames Torre.

      And I believe Farnsworth has pitched 7 of the last 9 games. That you can blame on Joe.

      But this loss is on Wang. That was twice in the series a starter gets a nice lead and blows up. As I pointed out last year those third-of-an-innings add up over 162 games. Two-thirds of an inning add up to 108 total over the course of a season. Better to get those 108 from the starters then the pen. The bullpen is being burned out thanks to these kind of poor starting performances.

      While peope exulted over the RJ start he only gave the team six innings. The pen was really taxed these four games — over taxed. Thankfully Mussina went nine.

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