• June 9th vs. The A’s

    Posted by on June 9th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    Watching this game, well, if it was a movie, it would have been called Deconstructing Randy.

    Flash, Kay and Murcer in the YES booth were having a great go at it – discussing what’s wrong with Randy Johnson. (By the way, I think John Flaherty is a rising star in the booth, if you ask me. I really enjoyed listening to him this evening.)

    And, then, the rain came. With the rain-delay, along came a Yankeeography episode filler – the Catfish Hunter story. As I was sitting through that, and factoring in how terrible Johnson was this evening, it dawned on me: The Yankees do not have that “Games 1, 4 & 7” pitcher on their staff right now (like Hunter was for the A’s).

    Really, it’s not Johnson, Wang, or Chacon – they’re too inconsistent. Jaret Wright? Com’on now. That leaves Mussina.

    Now, I do agree that Mussina has been great so far this year. And, he was great in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS and Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. But, he was toast in Game 5 of the 2005 ALDS. And, he was knocked out of Game 3 of the 2002 ALDS as well. So, in the past, he’s been a mixed bag in the big game. Plus, he’s a 100-pitch pitcher. He’s not going to be the guy to throw 120 pitches and then come back on three days rest in the time of need. And, that’s what you want from your “ace” in the big series.

    I still think the Yankees are going to have a great season and win close to 99 games this year. But, seeing Randy Johnson tonight, I now have to question their chances in the post-season against a team with a legit-ace who is going to make 3 starts in a series.

    Randy Johnson was supposed to be that guy to match up against their best in the post-season. Right now, the Big Unit couldn’t even match up against Dave LaPoint. (And, this is considering the fact that LaPoint is almost 48-years-old now.)

    Aw, what the hey? At least Johnson gives the guys in the booth something to talk about during the game, right?

    Comments on June 9th vs. The A’s

    1. JeremyM
      June 10th, 2006 | 1:06 am

      Other than Johnson laying an egg, I think this is one you can pin on Jeter’s inury–if Phillips gets those 4 at bats instead of Cairo, I think the Yanks win. Hopefully he can play the field pretty soon.

      This is the second game this year delayed in the middle of it, where the Yanks come close to coming back but can’t quite pull off the win. And this is why, for now, Small gets the nod over Erickson in mop-up. Erickson would’ve given up 3-4 during those 3 innings.

      And I agree on the front-line starter (Mussina has pitched like one, but who knows how long that will last, not to doubt Moose here, just being realistic), but where’s this guy going to come from? If Johnson can just raise his performance to Jimmy Key-level in 96, and Wang can keep up the Pettitte-like performances, they might not need that guy as long as Mussina can fill the Cone role, and he can. Just so long as someone doesn’t take the Kenny Rogers role…

    2. James Terry
      June 10th, 2006 | 1:07 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised to she Johnson retire if he can’t turn this around by say the All Star Break. He’s not competitive right now and that’s got to hurt someone who’s had the success he has.

    3. Yu Hsing Chen
      June 10th, 2006 | 3:46 am

      We have Carl Pavano…. oh wait, let me jump out the window for saying that 😛

      Seriously though, you are right that the Yankee’s chance in a short series right now is just bad,

      Moose right now is obviously about the best you can have at one.

      Wang is decent enough at the 3 spot if he can improve his consistency a little more (which he most likely would.. consistency from the stretch isn’t exactly a career long issue… at least not at the unbelievable level it is now for Wang anyway)

      But RJ… ack, we need him to find his groove, seriously. and even though his 43, I think 9 out of 9 Yankee fan will still agree this is more likely to happen than Pavano returning healthy and effective enough to fill this role.

      Agreed also on needing Jeter back at SS. this game was completely winable despite RJ’s implosion (partially thx to the somewhat unexpected performance by Small…) but we left too many guys on.

    4. baileywalk
      June 10th, 2006 | 10:05 am

      The way people talk about Moose reminds me of that infamous “Post” headline when A-Rod won the MVP. It said “MVP, BUT…”

      When people praise Mussina now, it’s, “He’s great, but…” Moose is having a Cy Young-like season. And he’s been amazing in the post-season for the Yankees (and was for the O’s, too). You can’t be in the post-season every year since ’01 and NOT have a bad game on occasion. You ARE facing good teams. The worst game Mussina put up was in ’03 against the Sox, but he bounced back and struck out ten in his next start. He was huge in Oakland, against the Red Sox a few times (’03 and ’04), and he outdueled Beckett in the ’03 World Series. That game last year wasn’t his fault — if Sheff and Bubba don’t crash, who knows what happens. Anyway, at 37 Moose is not a short-rest-in-the-playoffs guy, but you were fooling yourself if you thought RJ still was that even two years ago. Right now Moose is one of the best pitchers in the AL and we should be happy about it and not predict his eventual downfall.

      A few things became official last night.

      1) Dan Haren OWNS the Yankees. (Which is weird, because he mostly throws hard stuff, and they can usually handle those guys.)

      2) Miguel Cairo CANNOT be in the lineup. He is just an awful hitter. ’04 was a fluke. This guy is a bench player — and probably not even that.

      RJ takes the loss, and deservedly so, but the lack of a comeback is pinned on Bernie and Cairo. Bernie had the tying running on third and couldn’t get it in. And Cairo struck out with the bases loaded.

      Here’s what I don’t get: the Yankees have an extra infielder on the staff right now, Nick Green. He’s not going to be here for long. Why not pinch-hit Phillips for Cairo and let Green play short? Cairo can’t hit — but Torre doesn’t care. And even if you don’t do it when the bases are loaded, why not do it in the eighth inning?

      After the dramatic home run and then a triple, it was kind of disappointing Cairo, Melky and Damon went down so easily in the eighth. You knew that Jeter, Giambi and A-Rod weren’t going to hit Street. To think a little dunker from Bernie in the seventh could have justified all those people hanging around for two extra hours…

      By the way, I was at the game, and though Randy’s radar gun readings were coming in 88-94, he didn’t seem to have much life on his fastball at all. He had no command, his velocity was lacking, and his slider was flat. I’m surprised he only gave up six runs.

    5. JeremyM
      June 10th, 2006 | 10:19 am

      bailey, that’s an excellent point on pinch-hitting and it’s weird. In 1996, Torre would pinch-hit for anybody and everybody if it made sense-Tino, Paul O’Neill, even Wade Boggs. There’s been games this year where he could’ve pinch hit for Long and Stinnett in key spots and he’s declined–and part of it seems to be his refusal to use those 25th man types like Koyie Hill and Nick Green. If those guys are going to be on the roster, you might as well make use of them when you can.

      And you’re right on Mussina. To be honest I’m being superstitious about the whole thing, he’s been throwing so well and I want him to finally get that Cy Young-year that I don’t want to jinx it by pretending this will last!

    6. baileywalk
      June 10th, 2006 | 10:43 am

      Jeremy, I’m right there with you and the superstitions. I know exactly what you mean. I guess I’m just protective of Moose.

      It is weird how Torre won’t do things like pinch-hit anymore. He really was a different manager back in ’96. People say it was a different team with different players, but we’re not talking about Gary Sheffield here — it’s Cairo. It’s not like he going to worry about hurting his ego. It really is an odd thing that Torre won’t use those bench guys. It’s similar to the way he uses the bullpen. Isn’t it even odder, though, that he won’t pinch-hit for Cairo, but he finds nothing wrong with sitting Cano to give Cairo an occasional start?

      Joel Sherman was on WFAN recently talking about his new Yankee book and he said something that absolutely shocked me: Torre once benched O’Neill because he did something Torre didn’t like. Could you imagine the Torre of today benching a Sheffield, A-Rod or Damon? Or could you imagine him pulling Johnson from the rotation? The ’96 Torre might have done that, but this truly is a different man on a different team. (Now he just beats up on the young guys. I still don’t get his distrust of youth.)

    7. brockdc
      June 10th, 2006 | 6:54 pm

      I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I get the feeling that Joe’s mailing it in. Which is not to say that he doesn’t care anymore – rather he just wants a smooth ride into the sunset. It’s proven in his actions: Don’t piss off the vets by placing them in unfamiliar conditions/situations; defer to vets at all times, even when it means compromising the integrity of the roster and possibly stunting the development of a younger player; and, finally, always choose known commodities over the unknown, even if the known commodities no longer hold much value.

    8. brockdc
      June 10th, 2006 | 7:03 pm

      I want to ammend what I wrote above by saying that I watch a crapload of baseball (thank you, MLB Extra Innings package) and Joe Torre is hardly the worst manager in baseball – or even one of the worst. I know we like to bash him here and justifiably so, but there are many, many managers out there who haven’t a clue.

      Most of them seem to fall into one of two categories: Either they are stuck in the past, managing like it’s 1977, or they try to ape the style of a successful team, i.e. the 05 White Sox, with complete disregard for the composition of their own rosters.

    9. June 10th, 2006 | 9:00 pm

      I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I get the feeling that Joe’s mailing it in. Which is not to say that he doesn’t care anymore – rather he just wants a smooth ride into the sunset. It’s proven in his actions: Don’t piss off the vets by placing them in unfamiliar conditions/situations; defer to vets at all times, even when it means compromising the integrity of the roster and possibly stunting the development of a younger player; and, finally, always choose known commodities over the unknown, even if the known commodities no longer hold much value.

      I disagree completely. Today, for instance, I don’t think there was one thing he could have possibly done differently than what he did (Have Mussina pitch the 6th and 7th innings, have Thompson play RF, pinch hit for Cairo, pinch hit for Green). It is just an example of the players are the ones to play the game. The manager can only do so much. Not to mention the sheer amount of questioning that Torre gets from every single source ever.

      He isn’t packing it in. The team just can’t win everyday.

    10. baileywalk
      June 10th, 2006 | 11:04 pm

      I’ll no doubt repeat myself once Steve recaps today’s game, but anyway…

      Jete, I have to disagree with you. The fact that Torre did everything today that he should have done yesterday just shows how random he is. It’s almost like he figured out what he should have done a day too late.

      This is why Torre drives me nuts: yesterday, with a tough righty up, Torre allows Cairo to hit. Today, with a soft-tossing lefty, he pinch-hits him with Bernie. Now, I like that he lifted Cairo, but why didn’t he do it yesterday, too?

      Torre’s use of the bullpen was abominable today. Torre really is becoming incomprehensible.

      He brings out Villone. Villone walks the first guy he faces, then strikes out a lefty. Villone and his sub-2 ERA are made to walk Thomas. You have two lefties coming up. What does Torre do? HE BRINGS IN PROCTOR TO FACE TWO LEFTIES. What is he thinking here?

      This is idiotic on so many levels. First you have the bizarre decision to take out a lefty to put in a righty to face a lefty batter. Also Proctor has had trouble with lefties his whole career. If you’re going to take out Villone for Proctor, then let Proctor face Thomas, the righty.

      Exactly what is Torre telling Villone here? That he thinks he’s so awful he won’t let him pitch to someone with a man in scoring position while the team is down? How do you take out a lefty who just struck out a lefty to put in a righty to face two more lefties? It was the dumbest move I’ve ever seen.

      Giambi made an error, and then Proctor, predictably, gave up a run.

      By far the weirdest bullpen managing I’ve ever seen. And in the next inning, after a single given up by Proctor, Torre calls on Myers. Oh, NOW he wants some lefty-on-lefty action. If this is his thinking, then why not use Myers after Villone? Isn’t it more important to keep it a two-run game?

      People think we “pick” on Torre, but he makes so many boneheaded decisions that it’s hard to watch the games. After suffering through this I was seriously considering just hanging out in Trenton with the Thunder until Torre retires.

    11. JeremyM
      June 11th, 2006 | 12:19 am

      bailey, now you see why I’m so superstitious about Mussina. The stars just seem to be aligned against this guy ever getting that big Cy Young or 20-win season. Here you have him with nothing but quality starts (13 if the unearned run doesn’t count against that stat), other than the blowout against Boston, yet he has 8 wins. If he’s ever going to hit that 20 plateau, this is the year, but they have to win games like today for him. Now the Yanks are one game away from getting swept by the weak hitting A’s.

      And Torre’s usage of Villone and Proctor has to be the most baffling thing of the season. Then again, Cairo had 5 or so starts at first. And T-Long was on the team for 2 weeks. And Scott Erickson is STILL on the team despite being utterly worthless.

    12. brockdc
      June 11th, 2006 | 3:09 am

      Jete, you may be right – Torre may have had a fine day managing today (I couldn’t get the game on the Extra Innings package), but I was more referring to his pattern, or, should I say, his predilection for giving so much deference to veterans, whether they deserve it or not. Sure, playing K.T. is fantastic – I’ve been clamoring for that for weeks – but it’s also just one day out of many more where he’ll otherwise opt for the “safe” choice, i.e., Long over Melky, Bernie over Thompson, Erickson over Smith or Bean, Cairo over Phillips, et. al. One thing I can almost guarantee is that, irrespective of how well he is playing, Thompson will be sent down or permanently benched the moment Crosby’s back.

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