• Cashman Makes Like The Three Little Monkeys

    Posted by on May 24th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Via the AP, Brian Cashman on Carl Pavano, now that Pavano’s Yankees career is done:

    “I never once thought that he laid down on this club,” Cashman said.

    Here’s a time elapsed multiple exposure photo of Cashman making this statement:

    CashmanOnPavano.jpg

    Schilling’s Comments After Losing To Yankees

    Posted by on May 24th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Curt Schilling speaks about the Red Sox chances this year:

    Players on both teams know how far is left in the race, neither team is even remotely thinking it’s over one way or the other. Bottom line is that we have complete control of our own destiny. Playing this schedule means that when you get a lead this big you’ll play the teams behind you enough to finish them off, or let them back in. Throw out my inconsistency and I like our chances. Obviously we need to stay healthy, but we have a solid deep team with tremendous character and those two things are tremendously important over the course of 162 schedule. Add to that a front office that you know will fill any hole we might have come the trading deadline and you have to feel good about this team.

    OK, let’s look at the facts: The Sox have 116 games left and the Yankees have one more than that total. Boston is not going to go 78-38 in their remaining games (as their current pace would suggest). However, the Red Sox could go 68-48 in the games that they have left…as their team is that good.

    This means the Yankees would have to go 79-38 (which is a .675 clip in terms of winning percentage!) to pass the Red Sox. And, that’s not going to happen.

    Bottom line, if the Red Sox play well, New York won’t catch them.

    As I have stated many times this season, the only way the Yankees catch the Red Sox at this point is if Boston chokes.

    In 2005, the (first place) Red Sox lost 12 of 18 games from June 27th to July 18th. And, in 2006, the Red Sox lost 21 games in August (and went 8-21 on the month). Those 21 losses 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 New York at the end of July 2006.)

    Assuming New York plays well in their remaining games, Boston will need to choke for the third year in a row for the Yankees to finish first this season. Can that happen? Sure. But, it’s far from a given.

    Schilling should like his team’s chances this year. But, to come out with these statements now, to me, is the same as someone saying “I like the sun’s chances to rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow” with the intent to make themselves look like some kind of hero because they are willing to ‘stick their neck out’ against all those who may dare make claim that the sun will not come out tomorrow.

    Heck, Manny Ramirez makes bigger reaches than this when he goes to pick his nose.

    I guess the paint-myself-the-hero moves are all downhill after the mercurochrome “stained” sanitary sock trick – if this is the best that Schilling can offer now.

    May 23rd vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Oh, it’s going to be fun to read the next entry to 38pitches.com

    SchillingTree.jpg

    Going To See An Ex-Yanks Pitcher In The Bushes Tonight

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Actually, it’s two ex-pitchers. (And, neither is Roger Clemens.)

    Yes, there’s a big game in the Bronx tonight. But, I’ll be in Somerset, watching Sparky Lyle’s Somerset Patriots take on Tommy John’s Bridgeport Bluefish. Of course, I’ll try and keep tabs on the Yankees game – and will listen to the end of it on the radio, most likely, on my way home. And, I’ll check all the reports on the game that are available once it’s final.

    Nonetheless, if you’re watching the game, and happen to be one of those folks who is on-line at the same time, and you notice something in the game that stands out, and you’re willing to share it here (in the comments section), it would be appreciated. Hearing big game news from a fan watching the game is always better than just reading a news story or seeing game highlights (alone). Thanks in advance to those who share something tonight! Hopefully, it’s all good news!

    Some ‘What If?” Questions On Mussina

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (17)

    Since August 1, 2006, and to date, batters are hitting .294/.327/.454 against Mike Mussina (in 313 AB).

    From April 2006 through month-end July 2006, batters hit .227/.268/.363 against Moose (in 564 AB).

    Clearly, since August 2006, Mike Mussina has not been the same pitcher that he was during the first half of last season. This begs the following questions:

    If Clemens joins the Yankees and pitches well, and if Clippard/DeSalvo/Hughes do a decent job in the rotation (in addition to Wang, Pettitte and Clemens), and if Moose continues to pitch this poorly, does Mike Mussina then become the fifth man in the Yankees rotation (when they line-up again after the All-Star break)?

    Further, if Mike Mussina pitches his way into being the 5th-worst starter on the Yankees staff, and if the Yankees make the post-season this year, should the Yankees remove Moose from the rotation in the post-season?

    Back in October of 2006, I was against the Yankees re-signing Mussina. When Mussina signed with the Yankees, I was OK with it from a money standpoint. Looking at the numbers now, I’m beginning to wonder if I was right the first time and wrong on the second one.

    More Leaks On Giambi Now Than In The UI Wing Of A Nursing Home

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Reportedly, Jason Giambi failed a test for amphetamines. Shocking? Really? Even from the man who believes in better living through chemistry? No, it should not be shocking.

    And, Giambi is probably not the only Yankee to pop a greenie or two before this season.

    The bigger issue here is that the story was leaked. The source has to be Major League Baseball. Is this payback for Giambi’s comments the other day that Major League Baseball should have apologized years ago for its widespread drug problem?

    Sure sounds like it to me.

    Giambi would have been better off to just leave the issue alone – and not stir this whole thing up. Now, it appears that he’s going to be on Bud’s whipping list for a while. And, that’s not going to help the Yankees – with everything else going on this year.

    Was He Expecting A Tickle?

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 · Comments (11)

    I know, some people do expect that after a slap.

    From the Boston Herald -

    It doesn’t take Alex Rodriguez long to make enemies.

    The New York Yankees infielder drew the ire of rookie Dustin Pedroia in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 7-3 win last night at Yankee Stadium by throwing an elbow at him as he slid into second base.

    With one out in the eighth and the bases loaded, Jorge Posada hit a ground ball to third baseman Mike Lowell, who fielded the ball and fired to Pedroia for the force on A-Rod at second base. Pedroia came across the bag and threw to first base, just barely missing pulling off the double play, and was stunned when Rodriguez slid on the infield side of the base and threw his left elbow into his left side as he popped out of the slide.

    “He went in late and kind of threw an elbow,” Pedroia said. “It was a little cheap but no big deal. I’ll remember. I play second base. I’ve got to turn two with the Yankees 19 times a year, so I know now when he’s coming in, my (arm) slot gets dropped to the floor. That’s it.”

    Hey, maybe it was just payback for this slide into Jeter on a double-play during the second inning last night? I didn’t see the play in the second. But, I’ve read that Pedroia went out of his way on that one. (Hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org.)

    May 22nd vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Julian Tavarez, coming into this season, has been a Freddy Lima type hurler – meaning he looks like Freddy Krueger, acts like Jose Lima, and pitches like some hybrid of the two. Basically, he’s only on the Red Sox because Manny Ramirez wanted a puppy. There’s no excuse for being shut down by him…therefore, the Yankees offensive performance this evening (against Boston and Tavarez) is inexcusable.

    And, as much as I want to say “I told you so” and point to Mussina’s oreo performance tonight – crunchy start, sweet middle, crunchy end – and blame Moose’s hits and runs allowed for this loss, at the end of the day, it was the Yankees weak bats against a weak pitcher which makes Mussina’s failure today a moot item. (And, yes, I know about the blown call in the seventh on the Crisp steal. Sorry, that doesn’t give Moose a pass for allowing all those hits in this game.)

    This loss sets-up an interesting match-up tomorrow. Will Curt Schilling win and put a huge nail in the Yankees hopes to get into the A.L. East race? Or, will Andy Pettitte perform CPR for the Yankees and allow New York to prove that their overall streak of poor play in 2007 is coming to an end?

    Five days ago, I made the following prediction: “If, at the close of business on May 23rd, the Yankees are 13.5 games out of first (or greater), there will be an organizational meeting in Tampa on May 24th and Joe Girardi will be managing the Yankees on May 25th.”

    A loss tomorrow would put the Yankees 11.5 games back of Boston at the close of business on May 23rd. As such, I do not think a loss tomorrow will cost Joe Torre his job. However, if the Yankees lose tomorrow and then split their next 6 games, or worse, you still might see that organizational meeting – just a week later (being held on May 31st).

    The Yankees play Boston again on June 1st – in Fenway for three games – including a FOX game on Saturday and an ESPN game on Sunday. I would have to think that Big Stein would want the ship to be right by then – or have a new skipper at the wheel (if Team Torre has another bad week).

    It’s a good thing Andy Pettitte has broad shoulders. There’s a lot riding on them tomorrow. Of course, if the Yankees bats pull another no-show, even Pettitte may not matter.

    Hilligoss Almost Half-Way To Joe-Dee

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2007 · Comments (8)

    From the PA SportsTicker -

    Mitchell Hilligoss, a New York Yankees farmhand playing at Charleston, South Carolina in the Class A South Atlantic League, extended his minor league season-high hitting streak to 27 straight games with two doubles on Monday at Columbus.

    The 21-year-old leadoff hitter is 42-for-112 (.375) during the stretch with nine doubles, a triple and 11 RBI. He is batting .325 with 11 doubles, no homers and 17 RBI for the season.

    Hilligoss, a converted shortstop who has made 13 errors in 40 games, finished 10th in the Class A New York-Penn League last season with a .292 average. The lefthanded hitter was MVP of the league All-Star Game on August 16.

    Back in October 2006, I shared that “…Hilligoss’ forté is getting the barrel of the bat to the ball consistently, driving balls to the gaps and driving pitchers crazy with an advanced two-strike approach.”

    It’s nice to see him keep it up. At this rate, his Bronx ETA should be 2010. If A-Rod does opt out after this season, maybe the Yankees only need a two-year patch at third before Mitch is ready? Boggs-Lite anyone?

    Do The Red Sox Have Moose’s Number?

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2007 · Comments (12)

    I was just looking at Mike Mussina’s stats against Boston, over the last five years. Here are his ERA and Batting Average Allowed (BAA) against the Sox each season:

    Year – ERA – BAA

    2002 – 3.12 – .215
    2003 – 3.04 – .163
    2004 – 3.50 – .268

    2005 – 7.20 – .369
    2006 – 4.77 – .305

    Clearly, Mussina owned the Sox from 2002-2004. But, since 2005, Boston has beat up on Moose.

    Further, from 2005-2006, the Red Sox have an OPS of .923 against Mussina at Yankee Stadium.

    You may be seeing Matt DeSalvo in the game tonight pretty early…if this trend keeps up for Mussina.

    Pick A Story, Any Story

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2007 · Comments (6)

    The Yankees get a Metro-North Station.

    The Angels had an interest in trading for Jason Giambi.

    Suzyn Waldman and Peter Gammons get pissy – but not at each other.

    Tyler Clippard takes the Pepto-Challenge.

    Trains, Rumors, Hissy-fits, and Amusing Tales. Just another day in Yankeeland.

    May 21st vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2007 · Comments (15)

    We’ll start with the traffic report. It took me 90 minutes to drive 55 miles into the game today. But, that was with me leaving at 4:15 pm for a 7:00 pm game. Had I left later, I’m sure it would have taken longer – considering how many empty seats could be found inside the Stadium during the first inning or two this evening. Going home was a little better: 80 minutes to travel 52 miles. However, I had a couple of breaks there. First, I stayed until the last out of the game – and many, many, people left before that. Secondly, I drove out of the parking garage against the direction arrows and that led me to an exit that everyone seemed to forget…and I saved a ton of time that would normally be wasted sitting, snaked in line, trying to get out of the garage. (I also drove a tad over the speed limit on the NJT and GSP – given it was so late in the night as I was driving home.) So, other than the price I’ll pay for leaving work early, overall, it was not all that bad coming and going today – even with it being a Sox game.

    I attended this game with frequent WasWatching.com commentor “MJ” – and that also made going to this game a pleasant event. “MJ” is an astute and zealous Yankees fan. And, what’s not to like about going to a game with an astute and zealous Yankees fan?

    Lastly, on top of the favorable traffic results and top-notch game-mate, and, before I forget to mention it…the Yankees won!

    Looks like I got the hat trick.

    There were so many positives in this game. A-Rod’s homer in the first primed the pump. Wang’s whiff of Youkilis in the second took Jeter off the hook. Cano’s two-out triple in the fifth was clutch. Bruney getting Manny on strikes in the seventh was a huge moment. Cano’s play on Lugo’s grounder in the eighth saved the day.

    I was surprised to see Torre have Wang come out to start the seventh – given his pitch count. And, during the seventh and the eighth it seemed like Torre had the reliever-go-round running on full steam. Most importantly, from the fourth inning until the last out, this game had a nervous feel to it…as it seemed like Boston was too close for comfort, in terms of the overall score.

    But, in the end, the win is the only thing that matters. The Yankees needed this win. I knew it. “MJ” knew it. The polite Boston fan sitting in front of me wearing the “Wakefield” road uniform knew it. The concession stand vendors throughout the Loge who told me the Stadium was out of hot pretzels by the sixth inning today knew it. The many, many, young drunk fans at the game tonight knew it. The nuts involved in the half-dozen (or so) fights which broke out in the stands this evening knew it. And, the Yankees knew it – as did the Red Sox.

    This is now two big wins in a row for the Yankees. Can they make it into three? We’ll know for sure in about 24 hours. Until then, enjoy this one Yankees fans. Enjoy the stuffing out of it.

    Posada: Yanks Need To Change Loser Mentality

    Posted by on May 21st, 2007 · Comments (6)

    From Bob Klapisch -

    …[Paul] O’Neill says that when he watches the Yankees from the broadcast booth, he’s looking at a team that’s gotten used to losing.

    Jeter strongly disagrees, but Jorge Posada says O’Neill’s assessment was depressingly accurate.

    “Paul was right, when you lose, lose, lose, all of a sudden you don’t know how to win anymore. You look around and start to wonder, “What’s going on here?” Posada said. “When you win a lot, or when you lose a lot, you get used to the same feeling. And we’re losing, so we have to change that. We’ve got to want it more than the other guys.”

    Posada stopped short of saying the Yankees aren’t trying. Quite the contrary, he says, “We’re all on the same page here,” And, again, maybe Clippard’s six crisp innings changed everything. But Posada described the “mentality” of losing — that’s the negative habit that O’Neill was talking about — and said, “We have to change that mentality.

    “We have to do something to overcome the losing,” Posada said.

    There you have it. This is not some sports-writer claiming it. This is not some blogger writing it. This is not some TV-talking-head or sports-radio-jock saying it. This is coming from a key member of the Yankees team.

    Posada knows the team. He knows the old players and the new ones. He knows the pitchers and the position players. He knows the coaches, etc.

    When someone like Jorge Posada is saying this about his own team, it means there’s something there.

    Now, the trick is, of course, turning it around. It starts with the next three games. If New York does not show for those, it will be just another log on the losing fire.

    Is The URL “19Pitches” Available?

    Posted by on May 21st, 2007 · Comments (11)

    Click here to see Tyler Clippard’s MySpace page. (Hat tip to Jim Baumbach.) Tyler needs to get a better picture on the site for all those little kids reading at home!

    Papi: “What, Me Worry?”

    Posted by on May 21st, 2007 · Comments (5)

    From mlb.com -

    “We don’t have to worry about nobody right now,” said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “Everybody needs to worry about us.”

    “It’s [the Yankees] problem right now,” Ortiz said. “We’re playing well. We’re doing our thing right now. They have to figure out what they need to do to beat us.”

    As much as it pains me to say this, he’s right. It’s up to the Yankees to make something happen over the next 2 ½ days. Basically, the Yankees need to win three to make this interesting again. If New York wins two, they only gain one game in the standings. That’s no sweat for Boston now. And, if the Yankees lose two or more games in this series, the Red Sox have an even greater lead – and still nothing to worry about.

    Since you can’t win three without winning the first one, tonight is a biggie. Let’s hope that Worm Killer Wang has the goods tonight. Getting to the seventh would be key: That keeps Luis Vizcaino, Ron Villone, and maybe Mike Myers out of the game. If that happens, it helps the Yankees chances to keep the score down this evening. Then Moose and Pettitte need to do the same on their turns. (Maybe Matt DeSalvo can be a sleeper out of the pen in one of these games too.)

    In any event, we’ll know all the answers on this soon. Buckle up!

    Let’s Hope This One Works Out Better Than The Other Two

    Posted by on May 21st, 2007 · Comments (0)

    In the “D.H.” era (since 1973), prior to Tyler Clippard last night, the only Yankees pitchers to hit safely in their big league debut, where they also were the winning pitcher of the game, were Brandon Claussen (June 28, 2003 at Shea Stadium) and Brad Halsey (June 19, 2004 at Dodger Stadium).

    That’s a pretty good trivia question. I think many would struggle to remember Halsey doing it.

    May 20th @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 21st, 2007 · Comments (12)

    Excusing me for gushing, but, I’ve been a Tyler Clippard fan for a while now – so, last night was fun.

    Clippard was entertaining to watch. He was more animated out there than I recall seeing from him in the past. Not like Mark Fidrych or Pascual Perez – but, he was pumped for this game, for sure. And, Tyler had a great sense of timing too – waiting until after The Sopranos to get his first big league hit.

    When you factor in Clippard, Hughes, DeSalvo, Karstens and Chase Wright – the Yankees, without question, have some very good young arms that should be peaking at the big league level just in time for the new Stadium.

    Nice to see A-Rod go deep for the second game in a row. And, it appears that Abreu may be coming around. The Yankees will need them with Boston in town now.

    This game was a big win for Torre. Even if he just wins one game against the Red Sox this week, Joe should be safe for a while. But, if he lost three against the Mets and then two (or more) to Boston, it would have been bad news for him.

    I’ll be at the game tonight. Funny, I’m more nervous about getting there in time for the first pitch, because of work and traffic, than I am about the game itself. Being 10.5 games back will do that to you, I suppose. Actually, I do have some fear about the game: Tim Wakefield. If he’s on, he could put the Yankees hitters (who appear to be coming around) back into a funk. Let’s hope that his knuckler is flat tonight. According to the forecast, the winds will be SE at 6-15 MPH this evening. That means they will be blowing out to right-center and not all that strong. That should help. A strong wind from the north-west would help the knuckleball dance more. Let’s hope the weather man got this one right.

    Delcos: Yanks Clubhouse Sedate

    Posted by on May 20th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    From The LoHud Mets blog -

    The Mets clubhouse is a lot looser than the Yankees. They are a more free-spirited group. They are more approachable than the Yankee players. Not all Yankee players, but the majority.

    Yankee players are more guarded. Derek Jeter is about his image. He’s not one you can shoot the breeze with. Neither is A-Rod. You can with Mussina and Pettitte. But forget Randy Johnson when he was here. And no way with Clemens, either. Conversely, Glavine, Wright, Delgado and Reyes are easy to speak with.

    Players on both teams can get a little uptight when they lose. The Yankee clubhouse was much better when they were winning. Then again, they were younger then and didn’t have the issues they have now such as drugs (Giambi and Sheffield) and the recent losing.

    The chemistry in the Yankees’ clubhouse is different without O’Neill and Williams and Cone. It is more staid.

    The Mets are easier to be around. Glavine is always interesting to talk with, as is Delgado and Wagner. Wright is always in a good mood. All of them are polite.

    John Delcos was on the Yankees beat for eight seasons – before spending the last two with the Mets. So, he should know what he’s talking about here.

    The days of O’Neill, Stanton, Tino, Pettitte, Brosius, Cone, Knoblauch, Nelson, Girardi, Mendoza, Curtis and Wells are long gone. Long gone, indeed.

    MIA-Rod’s Impact On Yanks Woes

    Posted by on May 20th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From Elias Says

    Alex Rodriguez’s eighth-inning home run [yesterday] ended a drought of 43 consecutive plate appearances without an RBI, his longest streak since May-June 2005. Before that line drive over the left-field fence, A-Rod had hit only one home run in a span of 82 at-bats, the third-longest single-season stretch of his career in which he hit no more than one homer. He hit one dinger over 87 at-bats in 1998 and one in 93 at-bats in 2005.

    So, A-Rod went from May 9th through May 18th without an RBI. The Yankees record during that time? New York went 3-6 in those nine contests.

    Clearly, Alex is not the main reason for the Yankees record over their last 10 games. But, he’s had as big a hand in it as anyone else. Hopefully, yesterday’s game will be a turning point for him – and the team.

    Yanks Hope To Void Giambi Contract?

    Posted by on May 20th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    From the Daily News -

    Jason Giambi’s admission to USA Today that he once used steroids could lead to the Yankees taking another shot at voiding his contract.

    According to baseball sources familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the Yankees will revisit the possibility of terminating Giambi’s deal if it is determined that he used illegal drugs after they signed him to a seven-year, $120 million contract in 2001.

    The commissioner’s office is investigating Giambi’s comments to the newspaper and will summon him to a meeting to discuss them. What he says in that meeting – or doesn’t say – may go a long way toward determining how the Yankees proceed.

    Good luck with this one.

    The Yankees owe Giambi another $26 million after this year. With basically one year left on his contract, after this season, it makes more sense to try and reach a settlement with him.

    Offer him $13 million, with the promise of not trying to take him to court to void his deal, in exchange for immediate free agency after this year. Or, ask him to waive his no trade clause – and then send him back to Oakland with $13 million in cash for a bag of batting practice balls – in exchange for the promise not to try to void his deal.

    But, if you just try and void the deal, the MLBPA will fight it to the end. And, it’s a fight that the Yankees would be lucky to win.

    Cash Under Question Within Organization

    Posted by on May 20th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From the News -

    A major storyline of the Yankees’ season has been the rash of injuries to young pitchers, but the issue is not confined to the big-league roster. The two prized young arms the Bombers acquired in a pair of major offseason deals are hurt.

    The perplexing thing for many in the organization is that, according to a club source, general manager Brian Cashman was fully aware that both top prospects – Humberto Sanchez and Ross Ohlendorf – were serious injury risks and chose to make the deals anyway.

    Sanchez was acquired in the deal that sent Gary Sheffield to Detroit and is missing the season after having Tommy John tendon-replacement surgery in April. Ohlendorf, who came in the trade that sent Randy Johnson to Arizona, is 1-3 with a 5.19 ERA for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and contending with back problems.

    When Sanchez had surgery, Cashman was forthcoming about making the deal despite the concerns. “I knew that there was a potential problem with the elbow, but I also knew that if there was one, it would be correctable,” Cashman said. He hasn’t said as much about Ohlendorf. As of Friday, the pitcher had allowed 42 hits and 19 walks over 34-2/3 innings and opponents were hitting .309.

    Pavano at the big league level. Sanchez at the minor league level. Hey, Cashman never met an injury-plagued pitcher that he didn’t love.

    May 19th @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 19th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    This afternoon, I had to run the usual Saturday errands: Go to the bank, the Post Office, the dry cleaners, the supermarket, etc. And, everywhere I went, I saw tons of Mets gear…most looking like it was right out of the box. Boy, when things are going good for Mets fans, those guys can break out the blue, black, and orange stuff faster than a cockroach runs for cover when the lights go on. This afternoon should have been a sign for the pain that was to come later today with this game.

    I have to admit, when the Yankees were running their hurry-up offense in the 8th and 9th of this game, part of me was thinking “Just watch, they’ll tie the game and then let the Mets win it in the bottom of the 9th.” Since that prediction did not come true, I guess that means, as painful as this game was for Yankees fans, it could have been worse out there today. How’s that for thinking positive?

    Still, in the end, another close loss for the Yankees. As Peter Abraham wrote today: The Yankees are now 4-13 in games decided by one or two runs this season. Man, perhaps with a little better defense and/or the ability to manufacture some runs, the Yankees could be a lot better off this year.

    And, why are Juan Acevedo, Antonio Osuna, Felix Heredia, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Vizcaíno all starting to look alike to me now?

    Tough “break” for Darrell Rasner today. But, it could be a tougher “break” for Tyler Clippard tomorrow. The Yankees are putting him in a very rough spot. First big league game. Against the Mets – in Shea Stadium. On national TV. And, in a game that the Yankees must win. The only thing else the Yankees could throw at him is to make him pitch the game blindfolded and in his underwear.

    Well, thanks to John Smoltz, the Yankees now sit “just” 10.5 games back of Boston in the standings. That’s better than eleven, right?

    Two down, four to go.

    The Truth Behind Torre Saying “Remain Calm. All Is Well!”

    Posted by on May 19th, 2007 · Comments (21)

    Via Jeff Pearlman (with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org) -

    Unfortunately for Torre, times have changed. With the departures of coaches like Stottlemyre, Willie Randolph and Don Zimmer, he is left with a cast of failed managers (Tony Pena, Larry Bowa) and future failed managers (Don Mattingly) as his assistants. Whereas once the Yankees built a team primarily through player development and small- and medium-scale trades, now it seems like the team (with rare exception) is built on other franchises’ blocks. When you nurture and develop the Jeters and Riveras and Jorge Posadas of the world, those men will live and die for those pinstripes. On the other hand, when you shell out fat wads of cash for Alex Rodriguez and Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi, are you buying skill and passion, or just skill?

    Watching the current Yankees — 9½ games behind Boston and going nowhere fast — answers that question. They are a flat tire, with nary a jack for miles. Here is a team in dire need of pizzazz, of intensity, of spirit, of soul.

    The Yankees, meanwhile, are blah. No spunk. No fire. No urgency. Torre is the best calming-influence manager in the game, perhaps in major league history. But when it comes to getting something out of nothing, he’s no different than Don Baylor or Bill Plummer or any other run-of-the-mill skipper.

    Amen.

    Did anyone see the Torre post-game on YES last night? Torre looked like he just got back a nice day shopping at the mall or something. All the while, he kept offering lines like ‘I’d be upset if there was a lack of effort. But, I’m not seeing that. The effort is there…it’s just that the results are not there.’

    Know what? Torre’s air and reaction would be great if the Yankees were 5 games over .500, three games out of first, and had just lost three in a row after having won six of their last ten games.

    However, when your team is 10 games out of first place on May 18th, four games under .500, and have lost 6 of their last 10, it’s not time to be “Joe Cool.” It’s time to say results are all that matter and that this situation is unacceptable and needs to stop, immediately.

    Of course, if Torre says that, and the Yankees continue to fail, Joe is setting himself up to be fired. See: Torre is smart. He’s not making these post-game statements out of ignorance to the big picture. He’s making these comments because he’s trying to protect his job.

    And, that’s why he should be fired now. Once a manager is more focused on offering excuses/rationalizations instead of taking ownership of the situation, admitting that it’s unacceptable, and committing to making a change, it’s time to get a new manager.

    May 18th @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 18th, 2007 · Comments (22)

    Another fine Andy Pettitte outing wasted.

    Losing.
    So easy, a Yankee could do it.

    Credit Willow for getting the Mets a win today. He took off the bunt in the 5th and that was the difference in the game. Amazing what a thinking manager can do, in terms of helping his team. (Joe’s counter? “Hey, I made a double-switch in the 8th!”)

    On the bright-side, it was a quick killing today. Giambi made the final out at 9:28 pm ET. That gives bloggers like me a chance to write this and then go watch “NUMB3RS.”

    One down, five to go.

    Of Joe And Cashman

    Posted by on May 18th, 2007 · Comments (20)

    From Bob Klapisch -

    But there are telltale signs of trouble for Torre, starting with general manager Brian Cashman’s stark admission that the season is indeed slipping away.

    “I don’t want to use the word ‘worried,’ but we have to start playing to our abilities and we have to do it sooner than later,” Cashman said by telephone on Thursday. “It’s a long season, but you can play your way out [of the race] early, and we can’t allow that to happen.”

    When asked to describe his state of mind, the general manager said he was “frustrated” although he quickly pointed out, “We could get right back in it” if the Yankees win both series — or, even more profitably, sweep Boston.

    For his part, Cashman says, “I have to focus on what I can do to get this right.” But the GM has made his move, signing Clemens to a prorated $28 million deal. The ATM is dry. The roster is frozen with expensive, long-term contracts. Who, for instance, would touch Abreu and the $16 million he’s earning this year?

    Unfortunately for Torre, he’s the most vulnerable component in the equation. This is the last year on his contract, and the way the Yankees are sinking, it might be his last month.

    Here’s a prediction for you: If, at the close of business on May 23rd, the Yankees are 13.5 games out of first (or greater), there will be an organizational meeting in Tampa on May 24th and Joe Girardi will be managing the Yankees on May 25th.

    Giambi: “I’m Not Hiding Anything.”

    Posted by on May 18th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From Bob Nightengale -

    New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi, saying he’s likely tested for illegal performance-enhancing drugs more often than anyone else, believes Major League Baseball should have apologized years ago for its widespread drug problem.

    “I was wrong for doing that stuff,” Giambi told USA TODAY on Wednesday before playing the Chicago White Sox. “What we should have done a long time ago was stand up — players, ownership, everybody — and said: ‘We made a mistake.’

    “We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. … Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it.”

    He said Wednesday he’s thankful for MLB’s steroid and amphetamine testing program that was revised before last season. MLB does not test for HGH, but Giambi said he does not use the drug, either illegally or with a doctor’s prescription.

    “Unfortunately, (the rumors) are going to be a part of it. But that’s OK. I’m probably tested more than anybody else. I’m not hiding anything,” said Giambi, hitting .273 with five homers this season. “That stuff didn’t help me hit home runs. I don’t care what people say, nothing is going to give you that gift of hitting a baseball.”

    When asked, “So why did you take steroids?” Giambi said: “Maybe one day I’ll talk about it, but not now.”

    If you’re going to make statements like these (which Giambi is making), then you better make sure you don’t test positive…ever…even if it’s by accident. (See: Palmeiro, Rafael.) I hope Jason knows what he’s doing here.

    Who Am I?

    Posted by on May 18th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From Gene Wojciechowski’s fun “Scouts had some unique takes on baseball’s stars” feature today at ESPN.com…a scouting report on a current Yankee, back when he was in High School:

    “A super-nice kid. Homebody type. Very smart, wants to study medicine. Loves a challenge. Wants to be up in tough situations. Plays with fun. Teammates love him.”

    “This player will be complete. Like not only physical tools, but the way he plays the game. This guy is a ballplayer. Ball jumps off bat. Has speed. Can throw and field. Nothing not to like.”

    No, it’s not Carl Pavano.

    Two Reasons To Think “Wildcard”

    Posted by on May 18th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Think the Yankees can catch Boston? Think again. From Elias Says

    - The Red Sox won both ends of their Cole Porter affair — night and day — against the Tigers, and reached the 40-game mark with a 28-12 record and a 9.5-game lead over the Yankees.

    Boston’s pitchers have allowed only 136 runs in 40 games. Only twice in the American League’s DH era (that is, since 1973) have teams won at least 28 of their first 40 games while allowing as few runs as have the Red Sox. The 1984 Tigers started 35-5, with 120 runs allowed, and the 1990 Athletics started 28-12 with 130 runs allowed.

    - Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Alex Cora all produced hits with two outs and runners in scoring position for the Red Sox on Thursday. Over the team’s last 11 games (nine wins, two losses), Boston hitters are batting .444 (28-for-63) in those situations.

    - The Yankees will arrive at Shea Stadium for the start of a three-game series with the Mets trailing the Red Sox by 9.5 games in the American League East. It’s the most games behind that the Yankees have been out of first place since Sept. 6, 1997, when they trailed the first-place Orioles by 9.5 games (but nonetheless held a six-game lead in the Wild Card race).

    The Yankees have not faced a double-digit games-behind deficit since Joe Torre took over as the team’s manager in the 1996 season.

    For the record, the Yanks now trail the Tigers by 5 1/2 games in the Wildcard. If New York starts to play better, the wildcard is a doable goal.

    Tino, Justice, Paulie, and Girardi Agree – Yanks Lifeless

    Posted by on May 17th, 2007 · Comments (14)

    The old guard is letting the new guard have it. From Johnette Howard -

    A couple of weeks ago when I happened to run into [Tino] Martinez in an airport restaurant in Cincinnati and the Yankees happened to be playing — and getting routed — on television right above us, I asked him what he thought was wrong with the team and he just shrugged amiably and said, “Aw, they’ll get it together. There’s still time.” But by this week, Martinez’s assessment dramatically changed. During an appearance Tuesday on Michael Kay’s ESPN Radio show, he flatly questioned the Yankees’ effort and desire.

    Justice, who worked the Yankees’ loss Thursday for the YES Network along with O’Neill and Girardi, cited the same things. Justice said when he looks in the Yankees dugout now, “You don’t see energy in there … too many guys here are just laid back, expecting it to happen. And it isn’t going to just happen. We’re in the middle of May and their longest winning streak is just three games.”

    Already, Boston owns its largest division lead over the Yankees at this point in the season since 1912.

    “Someone has to fight — or show they’ll fight,” Girardi said.

    O’Neill agreed, then added: “A few years ago, it seemed like the Yankees almost seemed to be surprised to be losing in a game or in a series. Now it seems like [losing is] something they’re almost used to doing.”

    No “effort” or “desire.” No “energy.” Further, “too many guys here are just laid back.” And, it “seems like losing is something they’re almost used to doing.”

    Ouch.

    Don’t you usually fire the manager when you start to hear things like that about your ballclub?

    The Jeter-Meter

    Posted by on May 17th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From the Times today -

    Derek Jeter singled in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader to give him hits in 92 of his past 100 games. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, no player in the 1900s had a hit in as many as 92 of 100 games.

    The last player to do it was Wee Willie Keeler, who hit in 93 of 100 games 1898 and 1899.

    Watch out Pete Rose.

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