• The Greatest August Collapse Of All-Time?

    Posted by on August 31st, 2006 · Comments (11)

    I know that no other team in baseball history – outside of the 2006 Boston Red Sox – has ever started the month of August in first place and then went on to lose 21 games in that month.

    So, does this mean that the Red Sox winning percentage in August 2006 (.300) is the worst ever by a team for the month of August where the team started the month in first place? Seems like it, no?

    There have been some great, late, collapses by baseball teams, such as:

    The 1934 Giants,
    The 1938 Pirates,
    The 1942 Dodgers
    The 1951 Dodgers,
    The 1964 Phillies,
    The 1969 Cubs,
    The 1987 Blue Jays,
    The 1993 Giants,
    The 1995 Angels, and, of course,
    The 1978 Red Sox.

    How did each of these teams do in August those years?

    The 1964 Phillies: 19-10
    The 1934 Giants: 19-10
    The 1978 Red Sox: 19-10
    The 1951 Dodgers: 19-13
    The 1969 Cubs: 18-11
    The 1942 Dodgers: 18-11
    The 1987 Blue Jays: 17-12
    The 1938 Pirates: 16-16
    The 1993 Giants: 15-11
    The 1995 Angels: 13-17

    As you can see, in just about all of these El Fold-o’s, the bad stuff happened for these teams during the month of September – and the team hung in there during August.

    The exception here being the 1995 Angels – who started to slide in August.

    Still, 13-17 (for the Angels) in August 1995 is a lot better than 9-21 (for the Red Sox) in August 2006.

    Therefore, does this give the 2006 Boston Red Sox the title of “Worst Ever August Collapse For A First Place Team”? It’s a pretty solid case, no?

    Do they give out plaques for a title like that?

    August 31st vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on August 31st, 2006 · Comments (26)

    This game is a reason why I will not miss Joe Torre when his time is done in New York.

    Sure, Damon, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Bernie and Melky had nice days at the plate this afternoon, but, the story of today was Randy Johnson.

    Through eight, the Big Unit was the real deal – allowing only two Han Solos and an infield hit. But, after eight, he was bumping up against 100 pitches.

    At that time, the Yankees had a 4-run lead heading into the 9th. This would have been the perfect time for someone like Dotel or Myers to pitch the last frame – where a grand slam would only tie you, at the worst (or best, depending on your position).

    But, noooooooooo……..

    Joe Torre tries to milk another inning from Johnson and it back-fires. Unit allows a walk and then a homer and now it’s a 2-run contest – and then there’s a need to bring in a sore-armed Mariano Rivera for the save.

    Rivera never should have been used in this game – if Torre had gone to another, fresh, pitcher in the 9th. As bad as some of the “B-men” in the pen may be, I’m sure that one of them could have gotten three outs before allowing four runs. Or, at least try and use someone else, who is rested – and then if they allow two, then bring in Rivera.

    “Joe Torre” is to “handling pitchers” as “Clark Griswold” is to “family vacations.”

    Another Reason To Root For A Boston Loss Today

    Posted by on August 31st, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From ESPN.com -

    The Red Sox’s 7-2 loss in Oakland on Wednesday was their 21st during August (8-21). That tied the all-time record for losses in a month by a team that started the month in first place. Boston held a one-game lead over the Yankees at the end of July. Five other teams share the record: the 1971 Cardinals (8-21 in June), 1951 White Sox (11-21 in July), 1929 Boston Braves (8-21 in May), 1919 Yankees (13-21 in July), and 1908 New York Highlanders (7-21 in June).

    So, if Boston loses today, they will have the worst August, of all-time, for any team who started the month of August in first place.

    It’s so true: He who chokes last, chokes best.

    News That Yankees Fans Don’t Want To Hear

    Posted by on August 31st, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From the Times:

    [Mo] Rivera has experienced inflammation in his right elbow and will have a precautionary M.R.I. on the elbow soon, perhaps today. He earned the save in the first game yesterday but did not pitch in the second.

    After working two innings for a save on Aug. 20, Rivera did not pitch for six days, until another two-inning outing on Sunday. There was only one save opportunity in that stretch, and Rivera said yesterday that he felt good and that he had enjoyed the rest.

    Asked if the innings add up this time of year, Rivera smiled and said, “They do, they do.”

    Giambi had an M.R.I. on his left wrist between games of the doubleheader, after he went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly as the designated hitter in the opener. He missed a start Sunday in Anaheim because of cramping in his hands, and he has had his wrist wrapped lately.

    The results of Giambi’s M.R.I. were not immediately available, and he started the second game as the D.H.

    Giambi is one of the main keys to the Yankees offense. And, anyone who has visited the planet Earth in the last ten years can tell you how important Mariano Rivera is to his team.

    Look at it this way: If Giambi can’t go, you’re looking at a combination of Aaron Guiel, Craig Wilson and Bernie Williams replacing his bat. And, if Rivera cannot go, Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor are closing games for you in the post-season.

    In both cases, the drop-off is huge.

    I would rather see the Yankees shut them both down for the next 2-3 weeks, and have them rest/heal that way, than try to milk them through the next month. The season is pretty much done for New York. October baseball is the next important thing for the Yankees.

    And, without Giambi and/or Rivera, New York’s chances in October get a lot slimmer.

    No Love For Pavano

    Posted by on August 31st, 2006 · Comments (8)

    I think this story in the Times says it all:

    Cashman sent Pavano to Tampa, Fla., where he will do no more than play catch on flat ground for two weeks. Taped to his locker at Yankee Stadium were the back pages of several New York newspapers mocking his latest injury, which Pavano did not report to the Yankees for 11 days.

    “Stuff like this — hiding injuries — loses credibility and loses respect,” Cashman said. “Clearly, he has a mountain to climb to get back in the fold. That’s on him.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, the players have spoken. To them, Pavano is a joke.

    I wonder how ol’ Carl will do when the Yankees vote on post-season shares this year?

    August 30th vs. The Tigers – Game 2

    Posted by on August 30th, 2006 · Comments (29)

    Damn, just one out away from a “W”………

    But, really, rather than blame Proctor, or what may be a developing “he said, she said” situation between Torre and Farnsworth, the fact of the matter in this evening’s contest was that the Yankees had just 3 hits and 3 walks, on offense, in this game – and it’s real hard to win a ballgame when you put so few runners on base.

    Speaking of Everyday Scottie Proctor, I noticed something this evening that could be a concern for the Yankees.

    Proctor had a lot of pine-tar on the bill of his cap this evening – both on the top and the under-side. And, Scott was going to the bill of his cap just about before every pitch.

    Now, this is nothing shocking – lots of pitchers use the stuff to get a better grip on their breaking pitches in very humid or cold conditions. I’m sure that Proctor is using it to help get that big twelve-to-six curveball of his to do its thing.

    I’m fearful that some smart manager, say, in a post-season game against the Yankees this October, could point to the pine-tar cap and get Proctor ejected from a game – and maybe suspended. It’s happened before – just last year, with Brendan Donnelly.

    Hey, if it happens, I warned you.

    OK, let’s move to the bright side of things: Jaret Wright got an out in 7th inning! And, the Red Sox (and Curt Schilling!) got beat today.

    Add the Yankees win this afternoon to these two items and it’s not such a bad day today, after all, even with this tough loss.

    August 30th vs. The Tigers – Game 1

    Posted by on August 30th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    Vintage Worm Killer Wang.

    By the way, I suggested the “Worm Killer” handle back on July 17th of this season – and, it seems like Yankees fans on the ‘net are, pardon the pun, diggin’ it. Coooool…..

    Seven and two-thirds.
    Three hits, two walks.
    No runs.
    109 pitches – 67 for strikes.
    And, 13 groundouts.

    Worm Killer’s record is now 16-5 for the season. Since 1973, only four Yankees pitchers have had seasons with 16+ wins and 5 losses or less:

    David Wells, 1998 (18-4).
    Roger Clemens, 2001 (20-3).
    Jimmy Key, 1994 (17-4).
    Ron Guidry, 1978 (25-3).

    I think that tells you how special Wang has been this season.

    In Theo “We” Trust

    Posted by on August 30th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    The Yankees have not played in the last two days, yet, thanks to the Boston Red Sox poor play, New York was able to register two more clicks (during the last two days) off their magic number for the 2006 A.L. East crown.

    Before the start of today’s games, the Yankees now have 33 games left to play, and their “magic number” to win the A.L. East is down to 25.

    It’s amazing – less than 23 months ago, the Red Sox could do no wrong, and, now, Boston is a mess.

    At this rate, the Yankees might be able to clinch this thing when Boston comes into New York on September 15th.

    No Record Of Pavano Crash

    Posted by on August 29th, 2006 · Comments (16)

    From the AP:

    Authorities have no record of an August car accident involving New York Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano, who told the team Monday after learning he broke two ribs in an Aug. 15 crash.

    Pavano said he was hurt while at home in West Palm Beach when his car went through a puddle, spun out of control and hit a truck at a stop sign.

    Lt. Tim Frith of the Florida Highway Patrol acknowledged Tuesday the accident may not have been reported to authorities.

    The West Palm Beach Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office had no record of any traffic incident involving Pavano during all of 2006, according to their records departments. FHP, which often responds to vehicle crashes, also had no record of a car crash involving Pavano during the month of August.

    A baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the team’s ongoing investigation, said Pavano did not tell the club about the accident until Monday, when a scan revealed the injury.

    Hearing this, I’m really starting to think this is like the time that Jeff Kent said that he broke a bone while washing his truck. This is a cover story for Pavano.

    If I’m parked at a stop sign, and I get rear-ended by a famous millionaire baseball player, I’m telling everyone that I know about it – and then the story would probably make it to the media eventually. The fact that we heard nothing on this for two weeks is fishy, at best.

    If this accident happened, I would have expected to see the other driver on ESPN the next morning wearing a neck-brace.

    I would love to start seeing some facts to back up Pavano’s claim. But, I suspect that we will never see them.

    Update, 12:44 pm ET: Benjamin Kabak has alerted that Pete Abraham is reporting the following:

    There is an Associated Press story out there that claims there is no record of Pavano being in an accident. That is untrue. I just spoke to somebody with the West Palm Beach PD. There is a record. It’s just that their records department is closed because of the tropical storm approaching.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Update, 4:52 pm EST: There is a report.

    I now believe it.

    Amazing. A millionaire gets into an accident causing $50,000 worth of damage and it doesn’t make the news when it happens. Go figure.

    Sorry Carl. You’re not a liar. Unless, of course, one believes in lies by omission……then, it looks like you were just a liar until you got caught.

    The Three Faces Of A-Rod

    Posted by on August 29th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    Three things that we know to be true about Alex Rodriguez this season:

    1. He does not bat well when the Yankees are trailing (in score) and it’s a close contest.

    2. He does not bat well when facing a pitcher in a game for the first time.

    3. He does not bat well when there’s a runner on third base and there’s less than 2 outs.

    These three facts, when examined together, support the theory that A-Rod is pressing this season – and that’s his biggest problem.

    Basically, in spots where Rodriguez feels that he has to make something happen – he fails. I wonder if Jim Fannin is focusing on these areas with Alex?

    This all also makes me think that, if the Yankees can get A-Rod into a spot where he doesn’t need to be “the man” – like in 2005 – then perhaps Alex will rebound once that happens.

    But, until that happens, I suspect that we will continue to see what we’re seeing from Rodriguez this season – strikeouts and double plays in big spots – and a failure to step up when needed.

    This whole thing reminds me of the best baseline in the history of modern popular music. I won’t say it – because then it will stuck in your head for hours.

    And, as the three faces of Alex Rodriguez has shown us this season, having something stuck in your head can be a bad thing.

    The Voice In A-Rod’s Head Speaks – To Us!

    Posted by on August 29th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Jim Fannin speaks, via the S.I. Advance, on Alex Rodriguez:

    [A-Rod] “Never had a slump,” Jim Fannin said.

    “He was player of the month in May,” Fannin noted. “He played very solid in July. And he’s having a very solid August. He had a June that was not him, but that’s long in the past.”

    When told that others — ignorant as they may be — have pointed to his past seven games, during which A-Rod has gone 4-for-28 with 16 strikeouts, as a sign that perhaps August has not been so ducky for the reigning league MVP, Fannin replied: “August is not over yet.”

    “(Rodriguez) is the most dedicated, most positive client that I’ve ever had,” Fannin said. “I’ve coached Grant Hill, Frank Thomas. I’m coaching Barry Zito now. I’ve coached 22 baseball All-Stars and four Cy Young Award winners. A-Rod is at the top in terms of preparing to get on the field.”

    “Will there be bumps in the road? There will be,” he said. “Will there be potholes where you don’t reach your standards? You hope not, but there will be. This is a marathon. I’m not phased by any point of the marathon.”

    “Alex is awesome,” Fannin said. “I have confidence he’ll do whatever he needs to do. He is just awesome.”

    I’ve heard this before……..it went like this:

    The mind is a strange thing, men.
    We must begin by asking it… …
    “What is losing?”
    Losing is a disease…..as contagious as polio.
    Losing is a disease…..as contagious as syphilis.
    Losing is a disease…..as contagious as bubonic plague…… attacking one… … but infecting all.
    But curable.
    Now, I want you to imagine…..you are on a ship at sea…
    …gently rocking.
    Gently rocking.
    Gently rocking.
    Gently rocking.

    Man, what ever happened to see the ball and hit the ball?

    Damon: It’s Go Time

    Posted by on August 29th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From the Daily News today:

    “I think we’re the best team out there,” Johnny Damon said. “We have to show it. We have to go for the jugular. We have to start abusing people.”

    In terms of a battle cry, it’s not “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” – but, it will do.

    Now that he’s said it, I want to see it.

    Time To Send Pavano Packing

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (19)

    This is a true story.

    At 5:14 pm ET today, a friend in my office (who is a fellow Yankees fan) dropped me an e-mail which simply read:

    “Confirmed – Carl Pavano was in a car accident a few weeks ago and may have a broken a rib.”

    Thinking that this was a total joke, I wrote back to him and said:

    “Either that, or, on the day of his first start, he’ll say that his period is really heavy and the cramps won’t allow him to pitch.”

    I had no idea that what my friend was telling me was a fact. I mean, come on now – everyone jokes about the next Pavano story, but – a car accident story, now, seemed way too far out to be true.

    And, just now, I see that my friend was not kidding meat all. This is incredible.

    Worse, Pavano never told the Yankees about the accident until 2 weeks after it happened.

    This is not the same as Aaron Boone’s basketball knee. There, Boone got hurt doing something that he was no supposed to do. Here, Pavano got hurt doing something within his rights – but, he was supposed to tell the team about it when it happened.

    While this might be a tougher fight to get Pavano’s contract voided, I hope the Yankees do go after him. I see no reason to pay this dud another $20 million dollars.

    Reportedly, but from fair sources, many Yankees players view Pavano as a joke. And, they are correct. The Pavano situation is an embarrassment to the ballclub. Brian Cashman needs to live up to the fact that this was a bad signing – even if the Red Sox, Tigers and Mariners wanted Pavano too – and cut his losses while given this chance.

    And, if the Yankees opt not to get rid of Pavano now, then, going forward, every stupid thing that Pavano does should be blamed on Cashman (and company) and not Pavano.

    If you’re standing around in the park and a bird poops on your head, it’s O.K. to curse the bird. If you go to the park another day, and the bird poops on your head again, even though you’re standing in a different spot, it’s still O.K. to curse the bird. If you go to the park a third time, and it happens again, it’s still probably O.K. to curse the bird.

    But, if you have a chance to go to the beach, and decide to stick with going to the park, and, when you do, the bird poops on your head again – it’s your fault for being a moron when you had a great chance to get out of it (and do something else).

    Don’t be a moron Yankees. Here’s your chance. Do the right thing.

    And do it before this bird poops on your head again.

    A-Rod Now A Mistake Hitter?

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    I was just looking at some of Alex Rodriguez’ “splits” to date – and this jumped out at me:

    ARodFresh.jpg

    When A-Rod faces a pitcher for the first time in a game, he’s terrible.

    Really. When facing a pitcher for the first time in a game, Rodriguez whiffs nearly one-third of the time – and when he manages to make contact he’s batting a whopping .197.

    Yes, one-ninety-seven.

    But, when Alex faces a pitcher in a game for the second time, or more, he’s superhuman. (Here, we’re talking about an OPS of greater than one superhuman.)

    So, what is it about fresh pitchers that A-Rod doesn’t like?

    If I had to guess, on average, I would say that a pitcher has his best velocity and control when he’s first in a game. And, with these skills, I want to assume that a pitcher can get his fastball in a good spot on Alex – say, up and in. (Based on watching games this season, it does appear that anything with some speed, up and in, is the pitch that Rodriguez struggles with – most of the time.)

    This makes me wonder – is Alex Rodriguez now the type of hitter who can be pitched to, if you have your stuff and command, and who will only crush a mistake?

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Many hitters have had great careers with this approach: Make your pitch, beat me. Don’t make your pitch, I beat you.

    But, typically, these types of hitters, on very good teams, tend to bat lower in the line-up – somewhere around the range of 6th or 7th.

    You know the type of hitter and the range we’re talking about here. If not, think “Jorge Posada.”

    In fact, this season (to date) A-Rod has 19 RCAA in 561 PA while Posada has 14 RCAA in 445 PA. That’s pretty close, no?

    Maybe it’s time to move Alex Rodriguez down in the line-up (at least until he proves that he can hit good “pitcher’s pitches” again)?

    Maybe Torre should use Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Giambi and then someone – and bat A-Rod 6th? Of course, the question is “Who’s someone?”

    This is where the Yankees miss Matsui and/or Sheffield.

    It appears that the Yankees have no other option now than to bat Alex Rodriguez in the top five of the line-up – and just hope that pitchers make mistakes against him (and that he takes care of them when they do).

    Final Post-Season Touch?

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    This time last year, the Yankees picked up Matt Lawton and Mark Bellhorn via deals. And, I’m wondering if New York will pull a pre-August-31st-post-season-roster-deadline deal again this season?

    If I had to guess, pitching would be of interest. But, what are the odds of some decent pitcher passing through waivers?

    One Big A-Bee

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    As we all know by now, in his last 5 games, Alex Rodriguez has come to the plate 21 times and has struck out 14 times (in those 21 PA).

    If there’s good news for A-Rod here, it’s that this happened some 3,000 miles away from the Bronx.

    However, starting tomorrow, the Yankees will now play 6 games in a row at home.

    What do you suppose will happen if Alex whiffs his first time up (for the Yanks) tomorrow against the Tigers?

    I’m pretty sure that the fan reaction will be ugly, and that might lead to more pressing from Rodriguez and then more whiffs…….and the cycle will continue.

    Therefore, A-Rod’s next At Bat might just be the most important one that he’s had this season. A nice clean hit could just be what the doctor ordered.

    At the least, solid contact is a must.

    It’s an interesting sub-plot to what is a pretty big series for New York.

    3rd Not The Charm

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    I was just reading, over at Baseball Musings, how the Red Sox are starting to fold up like a cheap suit.

    And, this made me wonder – if the Red Sox finish 3rd in the A.L. East this season, does that take David Ortiz out of the MVP race picture?

    The Blue Jays are only 2 games behind Boston now.

    It’s possible.

    Move Over McGriff & Emanski

    Posted by on August 28th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    I just found out that Brian Cashman is endorsing a DVD called “Power Yoga For Baseball” – see below:

    CashYoga.jpg

    And, now, Don Mattingly is also hawking his own line of baseball bats and training tools.

    What’s next, Derek Jeter pushing perfume? Oh, wait, never mind……..

    For Those Scoring At Home

    Posted by on August 27th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    With the conclusion of today’s games, the Yankees now have 33 games left to play, and their “magic number” to win the A.L. East is 27.

    Hey, it’s never too early to start a countdown…….

    August 27th @ The Angels

    Posted by on August 27th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    Watching Bernie Williams have a big day in this game reminds me of something that I saw the other day over at Yankees WPA Rundown.

    The study there was through August 19th. But, if you look at it, in terms of WPA, when the Yankees win, Giambi, A-Rod, and Bernie bat well. But, when the Yankees lose, Giambi and Bernie do very poorly in terms of helping with the bat.

    Does this mean that Bernie Williams is the MVP for the Yankees this season?

    No, it does not. What I think this all means is that it’s another confirmation of the theory that the Yankees are very capable of beating bad pitching – but, if they face someone who has the stuff to get you out (which is the kind of pitcher that Bernie dies against now) then New York will lose.

    The next 9 games will be another test for this theory – since the Yanks will face good pitching for the next six games and then bad pitching for the three after those contests.

    While I would love to see the Yankees go 6-3 over their next 9 games, I am also prepared to see them go 3-6 as well.

    Boston still has 10 games to play in a row now. Hopefully, the Red Sox will go something like 4-6 and that will help offset what the Yankees really do in their next 9 games.

    Pavano Out – Again?

    Posted by on August 27th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From the Post -

    Carl Pavano is running out of body parts to break down.

    Following his rehab start for Columbus (Triple-A) Friday night, Pavano talked of a problem with an oblique muscle, and there is the possibility he will be shut down.

    Asked to confirm the problem before yesterday’s game, Joe Torre said he couldn’t until he talked to GM Brian Cashman. After the 12-7 loss to the Angels, Torre said he still hadn’t gotten in touch with Cashman.

    I guess it could be worse.

    Just imagine a player with the head of Alex Rodriguez and the body of Carl Pavano.

    It’s much better to have these issues spread out over two ballplayers – then, at least, it’s not all bad news all the time with one specific player, I suppose.

    August 26th @ The Angels

    Posted by on August 26th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    I’m guessing that the Yankees game was rained out today. I turned on the T.V. to watch it on FOX this afternoon, but, instead of seeing the current first place team from the A.L. East play a 5th place team from the A.L. West, I saw a replay of one of the games between the Yankees and Angels from the 2002 ALDS instead. Weird, huh?

    O.K., back to being serious, tomorrow is the end of the “21 games in 20 days Gauntlet.” Back when this journey started, I wrote:

    Personally, I believe, if the Yankees go 13-8 in the next 21 games, that would be amazing. And, it would probably lock up the A.L. East.

    Basically, the Yankees need to go, at least, 11-10 over the next three weeks – just to hold their ground.

    And, how have the Yankees done, to date?

    After this mess today, the Yankees are 10-10.

    I guess it’s now up to young Mr. Jeff Karstens to try and get New York to that 11-10 “hold your own” mark.

    The Yankees are very lucky that Boston stinks this season.

    Lastly, here’s a little fun fact for you in closing. Coming into this game, A-Rod was batting .283 for the season.

    But, he’s batting .165 (in 79 ABs) against the Devil Rays and Orioles, combined, this year. If you take out what Alex has done against Tampa and Baltimore this season, then Rodriguez is batting .307 coming into this game – with a slugging average of .565 (according to my rough math) against everyone else.

    I wish someone could tell A-Rod that he’s only stunk against the D-Rays and the O’s this season – and that, otherwise, he has nothing to be stressed about now. Maybe that would help him relax?

    Because, right now, Alex’s head is more messed up than Vlad Guerrero’s hair on game day. If Rodriguez doesn’t start to chill soon, he’s going to end up acting like Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys.

    August 25th @ The Angels

    Posted by on August 26th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    Jaret Wright did well for the Yankees this past May. But, it’s time to face facts. Over the last three months, Wright has pitched like former Yankees Rich Dotson, Joe Cowley, Dave LaPoint, Andy Hawkins, Chuck Cary, and Hideki Irabu. And, as crazy as this sounds, it’s also time to replace him with Carl Pavano.

    Taking it a step further, I would not include Jaret Wright on the post-season roster at this point. He just cannot be counted on – as you never know how he will pitch in a given appearance.

    As to this game, for a Yankees perspective – let’s just say this: “Every Yankees fan in the world should cross their fingers that the Yankees do not have to face the Angels in the post-season – because the Angels play with a ton of confidence against the Yankees.”

    Lastly, according to some “Golden Sombrero” stats that I’ve been able to locate, Alex Rodriguez is the first Yankees player to ever have two 4-strikeout games in the same season. And, only he and Bernie Williams have ever done it twice ever in a Yankees uniform. One more time and A-Rod will be the king.

    GoldenARod.jpg

    Ortiz: Yanks Helped Send Me To Hospital

    Posted by on August 25th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From the AP via Yahoo -

    Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said stress and nearly a week of sleeplessness caused dehydration and eventually the irregular heartbeat that landed him in a Boston hospital last weekend.

    The major league leader in home runs said he was “stressed out about everything” — including the New York Yankees’ first three wins of their eventual five-game sweep of the Red Sox last weekend that has turned both team’s seasons. A team doctor advised him to go to Massachusetts General Hospital last Saturday evening.

    “I stress a lot, sometimes,” the usually gregarious, outwardly jolly giant said before starting again as Boston’s designated hitter in the series opener against the Seattle Mariners.

    “We got to play all those games against New York. You know, there was a lot of stress going on,” the 30-year-old Ortiz said. “And then to go out there and receive that (butt) kicking … I wasn’t feeling good.

    “I was beat.”

    When Boston’s Manny Ramirez was told of Ortiz’ condition, he went to him and said:

    There is this little song I wrote
    I hope you learn it note for note
    Like good Manny sure can
    Don’t worry, Big Papi

    Listen to what I say
    In your life expect some trouble
    But when you worry
    You make it double
    Don’t worry, Big Papi……

    OK, in all seriousness, imagine if Alex Rodriguez went to the hospital for an irregular heartbeat and he said afterwards that it was the stress of playing the Red Sox that brought it on.

    A-Rod would be s’mored alive.

    Back to point, does anyone think that the Yankees could stress Big Papi some more if they ever started to make him move his feet in the batter’s box?

    Or, at the least, maybe New York can get “The Amazing Kreskin” to convince Papi that those pitches from Yankee hurlers left out over the plate are really coming right into his belt buckle?

    Hey, the guy has confessed to a crack in his armor, you have to jump on that, no?

    Melk’s Ilk

    Posted by on August 25th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    A recent entry to WasWatching.com has generated several comments in regard to who is a comparable player, in terms of demonstrated talent, to young Melky Cabrera.

    I decided to use the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to find a match, in terms of relative career production, at the same age, for Melky (since 1973). This is what I found:

    Interesting, huh? It’s our old friend Willow.

    Yes, sure, Randolph was a second baseman and Cabrera is an outfielder. And, yes, Willie batted right-handed and Melky is a switch-hitter. But, in terms of “what did they do with the bat in the majors, up until the same age,” this is a pretty good match.

    Willie Randolph went on to collect over 2,200 hits in his career – to go along with over 1,200 walks. I think Melky Cabrera would sign on for that right now, if you gave him the option of taking that or taking his chances.

    And, if Cabrera did that all wearing a Yankees uniform, he would join some nice company. Here are the current men in the Yankees career “2,000+ hits & 1,000+ walks” club: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams.

    That’s it – just four, to date. (But, I would guess that Jeter will make it five in another four years or so.)

    Obviously, Gehrig, Ruth and Mantle are in one class of player and Bernie Williams is in another. But, if Cabrera comes close to a Bernie Williams type Yankees career, that’s nothing to turn your nose up on, for sure.

    In any event, based on what he’s done with the bat to date (given his age), and when you factor in his defensive ability, I’m sure that Melky Cabrera will go on to play in the major leagues for at least another dozen years (barring injury) and have several productive seasons to his credit when it’s all said and done.

    The kid can play.

    What, Trade Matsui?

    Posted by on August 25th, 2006 · Comments (21)

    There have been some recent comments made by readers of this blog that the Yankees should consider trading Hideki Matsui (in order to ensure playing time for Melky Cabrera in 2007).

    As much as I love Melky Cabrera, I do not agree with this suggestion.

    Matsui is a winner. In 33 career post-season career games with the Yankees, Hideki has an OBA of .377 and a SLG% of .556 (in 135 AB). Further, in 2004, Hideki Matsui led all Yankees batters with 44 RCAA. (And, last year, he was 5th on the team in RCAA).

    Matsui’s been out for most of this season and all of a sudden some people think he’s turned into Craig Wilson. Absence does make the heart forget, I suppose.

    There’s no reason why the Yankees cannot rotate Cabrera, Damon, Abreu and Matsui in the outfield and D.H. next year and get everyone enough PA to keep them happy.

    Saying hello again to Matsui does not mean having to say good-bye to Cabrera. What it should mean is saying good-bye to Bernie Williams.

    Also, look back at Bernie Williams career. In 1991, Bernie got 320 ABs. That was cut back to 261 in 1992. Bernie then became a full-time player in 1993 – and, then, two years later Williams was a star.

    I can see Melky doing the same – about 400 AB this season, a little less than that in 2007, then he takes over for Abreu in 2008 (and becomes a full-timer). And, around 2010, he’s an All-Star.

    There’s no need to move Matsui to make this happen for Cabrera.

    August 24th @ The Mariners

    Posted by on August 25th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    Look at the bright side, the bullpen got the night off.

    The Yankees played this game like a team that was hung-over and suffering from jet-lag.

    New York’s 3-4-5 hitters went 0-11 with 6 strikeouts in this contest.

    Now, the first reaction to this outcome would be to say “They’ve been playing everyday for a while now. And, they’re just coming off the tough Boston series. And, the move to the West Coast always hits on the second or third day. It’s only natural for them to be playing like lead weights now.”

    But, on the other hand, let’s not forget that, in the three series before the Red Sox series, the Yankees were playing poorly (against normal expectations). If you look at their last five series, it goes like this for New York:

    @ the White Sox – lost 2 of 3
    vs. the Angels – split 4 games
    vs. the Orioles – lost 2 of 3
    @ the Red Sox – swept 5 games
    @ the Mariners – lost 2 of 3

    As you can see, the only series that the Yankees have won, out of their last five, was the set up at Fenway.

    It does make me (and others?) wonder, just a wee bit, now, if the result of the series in Boston was the Yankees being a great team, or, just the Red Sox being a poor team.

    Now, it does seem silly to wonder this – even just a wee bit of a wonder – because the Yankees are playing .600-baseball this year, and, only one team has more wins than them in the A.L. right now.

    The Yankees are 26 games over .500 at this moment. Is there something inside that number that we should be concerned about?

    New York, this season to date, has a 26-10 (.722) record against three teams, combined – the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Rangers. This means that the Yankees are 50-40 (.556) against everyone else.

    It should be noted that the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Rangers are 10th-11th-and-12th in the A.L. right now in team ERA. (Only the Orioles and Royals are worse than these three teams.)

    Does this mean that the Yankees can only man-handle teams with very weak pitching, and, against other teams, New York is more like a barely-90-win team (in terms of pace) than a team that would win close to 100 games?

    I’m starting to think that the answer here is “yes.”

    This is not to say that the Yankees will not make the post-season – because they will, without question.

    But, this does make me strongly consider the notion that, once the Yankees are in the post-season and start facing teams with better than average pitching, each series is going to be a challenge for them – and, I expect them to have to struggle and push the series to the max (in terms of the number of games) in order to win (and advance). Also, they’re going to need some breaks in the post-season to succeed.

    Yes, I’m talking “Jeffrey Maier HR” and “Tim Welke Block” type breaks here. A “Mark Wohler’s Slider” would be helpful as well.

    These things can happen – they did in 1996 – but, without them, when the Yankees hit the playoffs this year, it’s going to be just like 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 all over again (when they reach the teams with pitchers who can stop them).

    BP’s UTK On Sheffield

    Posted by on August 24th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    From Will Carroll -

    Over the past two weeks, I’ve been hearing whispers, over and over from disparate and independent sources, that Sheffield was slowing his rehab deliberately, feeling no pressure to return. “He says he’s not needed,” one source told me, “and that he’s got to worry more about next year than this year.” Several people I spoke with that have knowledge of his rehab process claim that Sheffield shouldn’t be behind Hideki Matsui. “[Matsui']s busted his [rear] and [Sheffield] is negotiating his contract. He talks more to his agents than he does the trainers.”

    Here’s the thing for me:

    Sheffield has a torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his left wrist.

    Matsui has a fractured left wrist.

    It’s not the same injury. More so, Sheffield bats right-handed and Matsui bats left-handed.

    For a right-handed batter, the left wrist is everything. It’s the power wrist. The other hand, the right wrist, guides the bat. But, it’s the left wrist that provides all the strike-force and which requires the most strength and movement – again, for a right-handed batter like Sheffield.

    For a left-handed batter, like Matsui, the right wrist is more important – as that’s the strike-force, etc. The left wrist to a left-handed batter is the same as the right wrist to the right-handed batter (meaning it’s a guide hand and not the fulcrum wrist for the swing).

    A left-handed batter can get by with a left wrist that’s not 100%. But, for a right-handed batter, you need your left wrist to be 100% to be effective.

    Comparing Sheffield’s recovery period to Matsui’s is like comparing apples to oranges – because they do not bat from the same side of the plate.

    It’s a big difference.

    As far as Sheffield feeling not needed, I think this shows that he has a brain. It’s the truth. The Yankees are fine with Abreu and Cabrera in the outfield.

    Yes, Sheffield could help at DH – when Giambi plays 1B. But, only if he’s able to hit. And, again, to hit, he needs to have his wrist at 100%.

    Anyone who has read this blog in the last 16 months knows that I’m not shy about getting on the case of a Yankees player. In fact, I’m ragged about doing it – all the time. Yet, I just don’t see the reason to get on Sheffield at this time. Like I wrote yesterday, when it comes to Sheffield, it’s ‘thanks for the memories and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.’ He’s old news.

    Just say good-bye and leave it at that.

    Starting To Noodle This Year’s A.L. MVP Debate

    Posted by on August 24th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Using the data for this season, as of yesterday’s games, in the Baseball Musings Day By Day Database, I was able to put together the following chart for the fan/media M.V.P. favorites out of Boston and New York this year:

    JeterAndPapi.jpg

    First, yes, without question, David Ortiz hits for more power than Derek Jeter. We don’t even need numbers to come to that conclusion.

    But, what I found interesting here is where these two players are “making out.”

    Boy, that doesn’t sound good. That’s a mental picture that neither the fans in Boston or New York would want to see.

    OK, let’s try another way to paint this picture.

    When the score is tied, both of these players “reach base” (is that better?) around the same rate.

    But, when the Red Sox are leading by 1-3 runs, this is where Ortiz really excels at reaching base (and not making out). Jeter, on the other hand, is an on-base monster (to the tune of reaching base half of the time) when the Yankees are trailing by 1-3 runs.

    So, what’s more valuable – not making outs when your team is up by 1-3 runs or not making outs when your team is losing by 1-3 runs?

    Of course, it should be noted that Ortiz still gets on base when the Sox are down 1-3 runs – just as Jeter still gets on base when the Yankees are up 1-3 runs. But, they both take it to another level in certain situations – Jeter when his team is down in a close game and Ortiz when his team is up in a close game.

    Excelling in both of these game-score states has value. Doing well when you’re up, but close, helps put the game away for your team. Doing well when you’re down, but close, helps your team get back into the game.

    For me, the latter state has more value – helping to try and turn a loss into a tie or win. Adding to a game where you’re already winning, albeit a close game, is nice – but, hey, the team was still winning the game when you did it, no?

    It will be interesting to look at the Ortiz-Jeter debate, via this type of view, when the season is over and the stats are final.

    August 23rd @ The Mariners

    Posted by on August 24th, 2006 · Comments (17)

    What can possibly be said about Worm Killer Wang that hasn’t already been said this year? If you want to say that “Mussina=Schilling” and “Johnson=Beckett,” then Wang is the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox this year. And, it’s a big difference.

    Watching the Yankees man-handle “King Felix” last night (who, this time last year, was the best pitching prospect in baseball) and how the Yankees battered the Red Sox pitching prospect jewels Craig Hansen and Jon Lester this past series in Boston, is actually a good primer for Yankees fans to (again) level set their expectations on Philip Hughes.

    It’s one thing to star in the minors and it’s another thing to get that to translate into big league success.

    And, it also tells you how special it is to see Wang doing what he’s doing now – just in his second year.

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