• June 16th @ The Nationals

    Posted by on June 16th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    This was a great game to win because it would have been a painful game to lose. What I hope does not get lost this evening in the win are three items of note (that need to be addressed):

    1. While Bernie Williams was the hitting star in this contest, his lack of arm in RF nearly cost the Yankees this game. Nick Johnson, not a speedster of any quality, twice (running the bases) made the point of how Williams throws weakly. Now, in Yankee Stadium, with the very short RF, having Bernie play RF is not that big of an issue. (And, it makes sense to play Melky Cabrera in LF in the Bronx – since it’s such a big field and he has the legs and arm to cover it.)

    Back in the day, when Babe Ruth played for the Yankees, for most of his time with the team, the Yankees would play Ruth in RF in the Bronx and then play him in LF on the road. Basically, this was done to keep him in the easier field to play. Why can’t the Yankees do this now with Bernie Williams? Having Cabrera play RF on the road, where he can prevent runners from going first-to-third and second-to-home, makes more sense (than having Bernie out there).

    2. As much as Jaret Wright does his best and guts it out each turn, he’s hurting the team by not being able to get through the 6th inning every time. Being a 5-inning pitcher, in the 5th slot of the rotation, is fine if you have four horses in front of you. But, just about everyone on the Yankees staff is a 100-pitch pitcher these days. The Yankees need to get someone in the rotation, to replace Wright, who can give them some innings each time out. He doesn’t need to be a star. Even if his ERA is 4.80, he would be worth it – if he can average 6.3 IP per start. At this point, even someone like Doug Davis would be an upgrade on Wright – and welcome.

    3. A-Rod. I mean, really, if you saw this in a movie it would be unbelievable. There’s no way that someone that good could be this bad. It’s the 7th inning, Yanks down by two, with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd – and he gets caught looking. Then, in the next inning (the 8th) it happens again – game tied, bases loaded, two out and he whiffs.

    For the month of June, he’s now batting .156 in 45 ABs – with 18 Ks in those 45 ABs. That’s 4 Ks for every 10 ABs.

    Remember Phil Niekro? Remember his brother, Joe Niekro (also a pitcher)? They both pitched for the Yankees at one point. In his career, Joe Niekro (as a batter) had a lifetime average of .156 and he whiffed 2.5 times for every 10 ABs.

    This is how bad A-Rod has been so far this month – he’s hitting like Joe Niekro. Over their Yankees career, Enrique Wilson, Omar Moreno, and Alvaro Espinoza hit better (in terms of a success rate) than Alex Rodriguez has batted so far this June.

    Yes, it’s only been a half-month. But, what if this is still going on (at this terrible rate) when the calendar hits July 1st? If things seem bad now, it’s going to be a hundred times worse then. It will be a circus. This is why this situation needs to turnaround – and very soon. But, will it?

    Comments on June 16th @ The Nationals

    1. baileywalk
      June 17th, 2006 | 12:11 am

      I’m telling you right now, NO ONE better say they had Bernie’s back from the start of the season. Because no one thought he had anything left. We all thought he was done. I thought he should only bat righty, and that he was done as a switch-hitter, but, boy, am I glad to be wrong. Amazingly, Bernie has picked up for the slumping A-Rod.

      This was a real step-back game for Wright. His velocity was down and he was very hittable — against a team that doesn’t have many good hitters. In most of his games, he can’t consistently throw strikes and he gets his pitch count up high. Tonight, he was just giving up hits on a mediocre fastball (the pitcher very nearly blew the game open). Plus, at this point, not only does he normally drive his pitch count so high he can’t pitch the sixth, but today Torre/Maz decided even with a LOW pitch count he couldn’t pitch the sixth. Which makes him somewhat useless. Yeah, it’s better to have five strong innings than none, but these were five weak innings. If he doesn’t pitch five lights-out innings, there is no point in starting him.

      It’s too bad this game gave A-Rod so many chances to fail. First he’s brushed back, disrespected by a rookie, and strikes out. And then twice more, with men on, he doesn’t come through. It’s almost unreal.

      The worst part of the night was seeing Farnsworth limp off the field. The last thing the Yankees can afford is another injury — especially one to a pitcher. Someone said he has back spasms, won’t be on the DL, and they will send someone down and bring up a pitcher. I hope to GOD it’s T.J. Beam — because he’s deserved it and he’ll stick. Dotel is also on the way back. He struck out three in Columbus tonight. Though people who think he’s going to go from rehab assignment to setup man are kidding themselves.

      And, Steve, EVERY pitcher in MLB is a 100-pitch pitcher. It’s about what you do with those 100 pitches. Moose averages about seven innings a game. Wang just under that. It’s the rest of the staff that is killing the bullpen.

      Anyway, I think Chacon will do alright tomorrow, and I’m really curious to see what Wang does — Webber dominates the NL with similar but much less stuff, so Wang should be just fine.

    2. JeremyM
      June 17th, 2006 | 12:32 am

      I kind of thought Bernie had a little left in the tank when spring training started, and then he hit a couple bombs in the World Baseball Classic (it’s somewhere on this site if you don’t believe me:). But I didn’t really think he still had an almost classic Bernie tear left in him–the comparison I would make would be Tino last year. But hopefully he won’t go completely to hell like Tino did last year when the run was over. Also, I figured that Bernie would perform better by being the DH and staying rested, which isn’t really how things have played out so far.

      Someone on the Banter compared A-Rod to Knoblauch, and I’m thinking that is starting to sound about right as far as his mental state. The good news is I think he will turn it around and be fine–slumps happen and some guys look worse than others. The bad news is my opinion is worth squat!

    3. RICH
      June 17th, 2006 | 7:28 am

      Well Steve, time for YOU to predict what will happen with Arod.

      I think it’s just a 2 week (horrible) slump. If it isn’t a temporary slump it goes against all history I know of for hitters – an all time great hitter having a month decent enough to be voted player of the month and then falling off the cliff never to do anything even mediocre after that.

      Regarding Wright – he’s the fifth starter. It’d be nice if he could go more innings per start but I think when he pitches you need to be ready and treat Wright and another pitcher (Small in games Wright doesn’t pitch well?)as your pitchers to get through 7 or so.

      A pitcher like Davis wouldn’t be much of an upgrade but if he replaced Wright in the rotation you’d only be buying 2 innings a turn. What would you give up for that? And why would a team give up one of their regular starters in mid-June?

      It’s a good thought but unless Cashman is able to glom on to a Chacon-Small windfall like last year my bigger fear is one of the starters going down with an injury. It’s Wang I worry about. He has a history of physical problems and he’s on pace to pitch more innings this year than he ever has.

      Yes, try to pick up a mediocre starter but not to necessarily replace Wright but for the inevitable next injury.

    4. June 17th, 2006 | 9:38 am

      I wish I could predict what will happen next with A-Rod. But, who knows? Talent says that he won’t hit .156 forever. But, the mind is a powerful tool – and a powerful weapon too. For all we know, he could end up having to go on the DL if this gets too bad.

    5. baileywalk
      June 17th, 2006 | 9:58 am

      The stars aligned or something, because my boy T.J. Beam got called up to the club. Boy, I nearly had an orgasm when I read that this morning. (It’ll be pretty embarrassing after all this if he comes up and bombs, huh?) I know it’s only for a few days, and I know that Joe Torre doesn’t “trust” him and won’t use him unless the score is, oh, 22-1, but I just hope he can show Torre a little something like Smithy showed him a little something and stick with the team.

      The bullpen is crowded right now. And Dotel will make it more crowded. In a perfect world Proctor would take over the longman role (which he is so good at) and they would dump Small back in AAA. But as it is, the only guy who doesn’t have a big-league contract in there is Smith, and Myers and Villone aren’t going anywhere (which they shouldn’t). So if T.J. sticks, it’s at the expense of Smithy, which is counterproductive, though he is more talented.

      If ever there was a perfect time to come up as a pitcher, it’s during interleague (for an AL guy). These NL lineups don’t exactly inspire fear.

    6. June 17th, 2006 | 10:26 am

      baileywalk – where did you read he was recalled?

    7. baileywalk
      June 17th, 2006 | 11:16 am

      Steve, I read it in the “Post.” Also, fix your profile of him. He throws his fastball in the 93-96 range. If you got that info from John Sickels, he was wrong; he confused Beam and Bean and had Beam as a guy with an under-average fastball. The exact opposite is true.

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