• July 29th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on July 30th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    I totally missed this game. We went to see the Simpsons movie (it was just O.K. – and we’re fans of the show) and we then went out for an early dinner (where my Chicken Penne Alla Vodka was excellent, if that matters). But, from the highlights that I’ve seen – and by the accounts that I’ve read – this one doesn’t seem to have been a clean and impressive win.

    The Yankees had guys picked off base, guys thrown out at the plate, guys failing with men on base, guys failing out of the pen, and got a somewhat struggling but gutty start from Wang. (Although, if you pay attention, you’ll know that Wang on the road is rarely lights-out.)

    O.K., on the bright side, Damon got some hits and made a nice play in the field. Matsui continues to drive in runners. And, Melky’s batting average is nearly .300 for the season with another big day from him. Cano is also knocking on the door of that mark.

    And, the Yankees are returning home – where they play well, as compared to how poorly they play on the road this year (24-29). Also, the Indians lost – so, New York is now just 4 back in the loss column of the Wildcard.

    The Wildcard is still right there for the taking. It’s just up to the Yankees to play like champions and put the race to bed. For those who did see this game, you tell me, did this team look like that type of squad – one that is capable of grabbing the Wildcard and nailing it down in the next month or so? Me, I’m still not seeing that – even with the win here.

    I wish that I felt different here. But, the three full games before this one, plus all the other slides following winning runs this season, have left me with a “I’m not falling for it again” attitude. I need to see it now, before I can believe it.

    Comments on July 29th @ The Orioles

    1. baileywalk
      July 30th, 2007 | 7:40 am

      They looked like a team that can mash bad relief pitching. Despite the early runs, they let Daniel Cabrera off the hook.

      I also worry a bit about Wang. This is four or five starts in a row where he’s been off. Clearly, something is up with him mechanically. His sinker isn’t sinking like it normally does. He hasn’t gotten beat up, but he hasn’t been as good. He seems unable to stay away from a big inning, too.

      This is why I get a little restless with Guidry. He seems incapable of helping his pitchers. Outside of the obvious (“Keep your arm up,” “Keep the ball down”) it doesn’t seem he can help tweak mechanics. Wang has had this issue for a month. Is anyone doing anything about it?

      Farnsworth, even when bad, is a strikeout machine. His velocity is down this year and his strikeouts are gone. Anybody working with him? Bruney’s control has always been lousy, but now it’s just horrible. Is anyone working with him? Myers can’t get out lefties anymore. Is anyone watching video to see what he’s doing different?

      There seems to be an attitude of “work through your problems” on this team.

      I know no one is a miracle worker, and Guidry can’t paste wings on a pig and ask it to be a bird, but look at the difference Mo made on Proctor and Vizcaino. If it’s a confidence thing, pitch-selection thing, or a slight mechanical thing, working with people helps. And I just wonder if all these guys get to do is stew in their own failures.

    2. wally26
      July 30th, 2007 | 9:18 am

      After this series it is hard to believe that this team can contend with the bullpen as it is presently constituted. Farnsworth has to go, he is un-usable and un-watchable, I cringe when he comes in. I wonder if Cashman and Torre have a disagreement about whether he can turn around. He was warming up for a high leverage situation in a must win game (can’t get swept by Baltimore). So, the answer Steve in my mind is no unless they make a move to help Mo and Viz. Torre’s overuse in the first month of Bruney and Proctor fried them, so they now have to look outside.

    3. MJ
      July 30th, 2007 | 9:28 am

      I was at the game and I can tell you that I’m not feeding into the “Wang’s not right” theory. Not only were many of those hits little bouncing bleeders up the middle but his interior defense — I’m calling out Cano here — played poorly and didn’t even make passing attempts at very playable balls. Furthermore, I thought the homeplate ump was squeezing both pitchers which led to Wang’s and Cabrera’s 9 combined walks.

      Do I think the Yanks can make the playoffs? No, personally I don’t. But not because they’re not talented enough; only because they dug themselves a hole that’s going to be a bit too hard to dig out from. I don’t think today’s game was particularly well played all around but it’s not that which has me feeling pessimistic about their chances. It’s simply that sustained winning streaks like the one the Yanks have been on in the second half STILL don’t provide much cover for the team. There’s no margin for error here.

    4. Joel
      July 30th, 2007 | 9:42 am

      This team will be fine. Along with Detroit, this is the best team in baseball. All Cashman needs to do is plug one more hole in the bullpen. 4 out with 57 to go is no big deal for this team. If Cashman can swing a deal for Gagne to be the 8th inning guy, and we can move Vizcaino back an inning–this race is over.

      Hopefully that was Farnsworth’s last performance in a Yankee uniform. Besides almost killing Posada by missing an easy sign, he then had the chutzpah to complain about how he has been used to excuse his crappy performance.

      In reality, Farnsworth should be thanking his lucky stars that Joe Torre is a classy guy who doesn’t publicly tear into his players. Could you imagine how Farnsworth would have fared with Lou Pinella or Ozzie Guillen as his manager?

    5. baileywalk
      July 30th, 2007 | 9:51 am

      I was at the game and I can tell you that I’m not feeding into the “Wang’s not right” theory. Not only were many of those hits little bouncing bleeders up the middle but his interior defense — I’m calling out Cano here — played poorly and didn’t even make passing attempts at very playable balls. Furthermore, I thought the homeplate ump was squeezing both pitchers which led to Wang’s and Cabrera’s 9 combined walks.
      —-

      Wang’s groundball/flyball ratio isn’t what you’re used to seeing. He’s gotten the ball up in his last two starts and got a lot of flyball outs. Steve may be right about pitching outside the Stadium, though: his last dominant groundball start with against the Blue Jays in the Bronx.

      The ump missed three or so pitches with Wang (including taking two strikeouts away from him), but Cabrera’s wildness had nothing to do with him. He couldn’t hit a state sign with a soccer ball. Cabrera has to have the worst control in baseball. He wasn’t missing by inches; it was feet.

      I can’t think of anyone else who combines such a frustrating mix of talent and lack of execution. If Cabrera could learn how to throw anything near the plate he would probably be one of the top pitchers in the league. He throws 97 without effort with movement.

      The Yankees are only four games back of the Indians. The Yankees, despite their flaws, are better than the two teams ahead of them in the wild card race. The Indians have issues in their starting staff and bullpen.

    6. Raf
      July 30th, 2007 | 10:01 am

      look at the difference Mo made on Proctor and Vizcaino.
      =============
      Do you really think he made that much of a difference? Viz is right around his career mark, and Proctor is doing what he’s always done. He really needs to keep his walks down, because he doesn’t strike anyone out.

    7. Raf
      July 30th, 2007 | 10:20 am

      I can’t think of anyone else who combines such a frustrating mix of talent and lack of execution.
      ==========
      Farnsworth? Bruney?

    8. baileywalk
      July 30th, 2007 | 10:43 am

      Do you really think he made that much of a difference? Viz is right around his career mark, and Proctor is doing what he’s always done.
      —-

      Yeah, I think it made a different. HE thinks it made a difference, which is all that matters. I’m not saying Mo made Viz into a good pitcher — he already was one. But whatever he did (and maybe it was mental) it turned him around.

      Also, Viz’s slider does look tighter.

      Proctor, to put it mildly, was a piece of garbage when he first came up. He had nothing but his straight, hittable fastball. A lot of people get credit for Proctor (Mo, Leiter, etc.). But the bottom line is that Proctor had nothing those first two years and then came back reformed: he had more pitches, better command and wasn’t just trying to overpower guys. I don’t know who gets credit for Proctor (maybe it was just Scott himself) but I think he shows that mental and/or physical change can help a lot. Even with his struggles now, he’s still better than the guy we first saw.

      -
      I can’t think of anyone else who combines such a frustrating mix of talent and lack of execution.
      ==========
      Farnsworth? Bruney?
      -

      I’ll give you Bruney. It is annoying watching someone with such a good fastball walk so many. But Cabrera is in another league, I think. His fastball has so much life and movement on it. It almost looks like if he just aimed for the middle of the plate he’d pitch a no-hitter most nights. Cabrera just seems to me to be one of those guys with all the talent but none of the know-how. He probably should have spent more time in AAA learning how to pitch instead of walking in runs in the majors.

    9. Pete
      July 30th, 2007 | 11:06 am

      Strange to see no mention of Pettitte here – I believe he even admitted himself that he’s not been ‘right’ for more than a few starts now…

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