• The Batting Crown Chase

    Posted by on September 30th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Now that the Yankees have home-field locked up for the post-season, and there’s nothing riding on these last two games, does Torre bat Cano and Jeter one-two in the line-up to help them with the race for the batting crown?

    I think Joe will not move Cano up – because it probably helps him not to get a lot of ABs at this point. And, if anything, I bet Torre bats Jeter third now – to try and get him 100 RBI for the season.

    And, unless the batting race is close on Sunday, or if Jeter has 99 RBI, I would be shocked to see either of them playing the last game of the season.

    All things concerned, including the weather forecast, that’s going to be some line-up on the field for Sunday’s game.

    And, Now, For Some Mets News….

    Posted by on September 30th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From Newsday:


    The hand-scrawled message hung above Lastings Milledge’s locker after Friday’s 4-3 victory over the Nationals. At the bottom of the two sheets of paper was written, “Your Teammates.”

    At a time when the Mets should be focusing on the playoffs, it was a disturbing sign.

    Milledge, as usual, ate dinner alone seated at his locker, facing inward, as the rest of the Mets crowded the clubhouse cafeteria. Someone had hidden Milledge’s street clothes, and one player thought they had been replaced by a dress.

    The reason? According to one person familiar with the situation, Milledge – whose reputation is deteriorating quickly – mouthed off to a veteran teammate in Atlanta. Friday’s rebuke followed. Apparently, his teammates are becoming more and more annoyed by Milledge’s attitude.

    “How much does it take to finally wake up?” the person said. “How long before you realize the way you’re acting is the opposite of how you should be acting? Fine. Stay asleep, then.”

    Why the Mets news here? As a “pious, self-righteous Yankee blogger,” would you expect any less from me? (Yeah, I know this was four months ago, but, on certain things I have a memory like an elephant.)

    Here’s hoping that, if the Yankees and Mets face each other this October, Milledge has a “Timo Perez moment.”

    September 29th vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 29th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Is it Tuesday yet?
    Is it Tuesday yet?
    Is it Tuesday yet?

    That’s all I can think about now. Gosh, I can only imagine how this is driving the Yankees players crazy too.

    Nice to see Moose be sharp – given the Unit news, Mussina better be wicked sharp in the post-season for the Yankees to have a good chance at this point.

    The LDS has always been a tricky beast – given that it’s the best of five. It’s OK to lose one game in the LDS – but, the minute that you lose two games, you’re one game away from going home. Therefore, just about every game in the LDS is must win. This all said, if Randy Johnson is going to be a question, it’s best to leave the Big Unit off the squad. If David Wells in 2003 and Kevin Brown in 2004 have taught the Yankees anything, it should be that you don’t show up at the marina unless you know for sure that your boat can float.

    Joe, Cash, here’s some advice for you. Better to take your chances with a possible shaky five that Wright and/or Lidle can provide than to run Randy out there on an epidural high and all of a sudden it’s the second inning and you’re down by six.

    Remember, in the LDS, once you lose one, you’re next door to losing two. And, once you lose two, you’re on life-support.

    Right now, there’s a big part of me that wants to hear that Unit tried to play catch on Saturday (meaning tomorrow) and had to quit after three throws – and then the Yankees will have no option than to pass on him.

    The Big Unit and I are close in age. (I am 9 1/2 months older.) I’ve never had a herniated disc; but, I’ve had my back go out on me, every once in a while, over the last few years. As any one with a back issue can tell you, when it goes, you’re toast. You probably shouldn’t even drive – much less start a playoff game.

    Unless the Yankees can find some doctor who is willing to staple Johnson’s back together and dab some fake blood on his jersey…….oh, forget it. There’s no way getting Johnson out there like this is going to be good for New York.

    The Yankees need to look at this Johnson news and say “Two tears in a bucket, mother [bleep] it.” Stuff happens, move on. I hope that they take this approach to it.

    Yankees Bloggers Pre-Playoffs Predictions

    Posted by on September 29th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    A couple of days ago, I made the following post-season prediction for the Yankees:

    If the Yankees win the ALDS, I can see them going back to the World Series and then winning a ring in six games. This said, the ALDS will be one small step for the Yankees this October, but, one giant leap for their overall chances.

    After, that, I was curious as to what other Yankees Bloggers thought. So, I asked. Here’s what they had to say:

    From Alex Belth of Bronx Banter:

    I think if the Yanks make it past the first round they’ll go to the World Serious. I wouldn’t be shocked if they lost in the first round to either the Tigers or the Twins. Disappointed, yes; surprised, no. But if they get past that, I like their chances to get to the Serious and even win it all. It’s been a fun season and this is as likable a Yankee team as there has been in recent years. So long as there is no Subway Series, it’ll be fun. Mets-Yanks is just too tense for me to stomach.

    From Patrick O’Keefe of YanksBlog.com:

    I see no reason for us not to win the World Series, so I’ll pick us to win it, naturally. As a team, we’re good enough to go up against anyone. We have as much talent and more experience than everyone else, as far as I am concerned. If everyone is with us, the potential of our offense is astounding. Defensively, I think we’re fine. Granted, I’m not sure what to expect of Sheff at first, but I know what to expect of the rest and I’m comfortable with it. I think we’ve got the bullpen, as well. Will they perform? Who knows. Same for everyone. But, they are capable, like anyone else. Starting pitching is the one area I’m a bit concerned about. I’m fine with Wang and Mussina, but Randy and whoever goes 4th are why they made Rolaids. Still, all things considered, I’ll take our guys against their guys.

    From Peter Abraham of The Journal News LoHud Yankees Blog:

    I think the Yankees will win the Series in a walk whoever they play from the NL after nearly losing the ALCS. I’m worried about the starting pitching. But their bullpen is strong and the lineup is a monster. They could average six runs a game in the postseason. It’s an impossible bunch to pitch to and they can steal bases.

    From Phil Donohue of InsideTheStadium.com:

    The Yankees are the closest thing there is to a sure bet for winning the World Series. Their pitching (starting and bullpen) are solid and their offense is out of this world. Additionally, the Yanks are playing with a swagger we haven’t seen in years. Joe Torre has had a chance to rest some key guys who will now face opponents with no more than one dominating starter.

    From Jim Baumbach of On The Yankees Beat:

    Lose in ALCS to Athletics. Why? First reason, I picked the A’s in spring training to win the World Series, so I should stay true to that. Secondly, the Yankees’ pitching staff is a question mark. You don’t know what you’re going to get from Randy, and I wonder how Farnsworth and even Proctor will respond to a big spot. The Yankees obviously have a strong enough offense to overcome potential pitching problems, but still, in the end, I see their pitching being their downfall.

    From Joe Pawlikowski of The Sporting Brews:

    I’ve been saying for a few days now that they’ll win it all–and I haven’t made that prediction since the disappointment that was 2002.

    The logic is simple: there are no dominant pitching staffs this season. The White Sox had one last year, and that’s why they were able to shut down the offense-heavy Red Sox. This year, however, there is no such staff. One could argue a case for the Tigers, but their staff is flawed as well. Justin Verlander is a rookie and already in uncharted innings pitched territory. Kenny Rogers is Kenny Rogers, which means he folds at even the slightest hint of pressure. Nate Robertson is largely unproven. That leaves Jeremy Bonderman, whose near 4.00 ERA doesn’t really put him at a dominating level.

    There is but one pitcher who can shut down the Yanks: Johan Santana. And who’s going to pitch behind him? In order for the Twins to beat the Yanks in the ALDS, Santana has to spin two absolute gems, AND an unproven entity–Bonser, Baker, Garza or Silva–will have to shut down a lineup of unrivaled supremacy. That seems a longshot to me. Then you get to the ALCS, where the Yankees immediately benefit from a longer series. Oakland could be a threat here, but their offense isn’t powerful enough and their pitching staff doesn’t come close to that of the 2005 White Sox.

    Then you get to the World Series. We all had a good laugh at the expense of the National League this year, and the World Series shouldn’t be any different, Mets or not. No team has anything resembling a good pitching staff, and the Yankees will simply pummell any NL team into the ground, once again, including the Mets. Even if Pedro is full strength, the Mets aren’t strong at all behind him. And, as with Santana, he’ll have to be perfect for the Mets to even have a shot.

    From Brent Nycz of The Stat Boy of the Empire: B(rent):

    It’s hard to say. Last year, I had an incredible feeling that the Yankees wouldn’t do well, due to their line-up structure and my assumption that Small and Chacon will fail eventually.

    However, this year, that gut feeling has turned the opposite. I do predict and hope for big performances out of Wang and Mussina. Mo will be Mo. Proctor’s arm will still be attached. Bruney will be fire-balling as usual.

    But, most importantly, I believe that the Yankees’ bats will show up this year. This line-up can be either one of the most powerful lineups ever to win the World Series or the most powerful lineup ever to lose in the ALDS or ALCS. I hope and believe the former will happen rather than the latter. Yankees in 6 against the Mets.

    From “SG” of the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:

    My heart says they should win the World Series, but my head says they’re going to get picked off by someone, probably Minnesota. I am very concerned about the starting pitching. Wang’s been great, but he’s hittable and relies on his defense, which is not a good thing when your defense is that of the Yankees. Moose has really tailed off after a strong start, and Johnson’s fighting being 43, a bad back and the loss of a lot of his stuff. Wright and Lidle are a crap shoot. They may be able to power their way past this for a round or two, but to do it for three rounds seems just about impossible.

    That being said, I think if they can get past Minnesota they can win it all. No other matchup scares me all that much.

    From Benjamin Kabak of Off The Facade:

    If the Yankees make it past the ALDS round, then I believe they will win the World Series. Right now, it’s clear that this Yankees team is relying heavily on its offense. But which version will show up? The one-hit version or the 16-run version? We never know. In the five game series, the focus shifts from offense to pitching by a long shot. Just look at last year. The Yankees were simply outpitched by the Angels. When you’re facing Johan Santana twice in five games, you really need your own pitchers to step up because the games could very well end up 3-2 or 4-3.

    If the Yanks can make it to a best-of-seven scenario, I think the offense can take over. The Twins are weak in the back end of their rotation. The Tigers are 36-35 since the All Star break which is hardly a threat. And I think the Yanks can overcome the A’s pitching. Once they reach the World Series against the Pedro-less Mets or one of the other AAAA teams, I don’t anticipate much of a problem. Of course, we’re relying on Randy’s back and Mariano’s and Kyle’s health. But I like our chances this year more than I have in previous seasons.

    From Nick Smith of Baseball’s Savior:

    The Yankees will win their first World Series since 2000. Armed with the best and deepest lineup in the league, the Yankees will roll through whoever they play despite some spotty pitching. It’ll be a subway series with the Yankees going up against the Mets, which the Yankees will win in six games. Alex Rodriguez will get the New York monkey off his bat and win the World Series MVP, leading the way for the Yankees throughout the post season.

    There seems to be (for the most part) somewhat of a common thread here: Some concern on the Yankees starting pitching and getting past the ALDS (and the Twins). But, very little concern about losing the World Series, should the Yankees get that far.

    Since so many Yankees Bloggers can’t be wrong (wink, wink), Yankees fans should listen to what’s being said here: Beware the ALDS/Twins and just hope that the Yanks can make it to the Fall Classic. If they can, all should be fine.

    Thanks to all my fellow Yankees Bloggers for taking the time to share some thoughts on this topic. Your kindness is very much appreciated.

    Flash Gordon: J-Roll Better Than Jeter

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

    From the Post

    Former Yankee Tom Gordon claimed Wednesday that present teammate and Philadelphia star Jimmy Rollins is a better player than Derek Jeter. And while the Bombers were tactful – a sign of respect for Rollins – they counter that Jeter’s World Series wins end any comparison between the two.

    “They’re both great players, but Jeter has the rings. That’s the end of the conversation,” said third base coach Larry Bowa, who managed Rollins in Philadelphia. “That doesn’t mean he’s better, but Jeter’s been there and done it. Jimmy Rollins is still trying to get there.”

    For his part, Jeter said he doesn’t compare players, and hadn’t seen much of the NL star.

    “I don’t see him; he’s in the other league,” Jeter said. “He’s having a great year, [but] I don’t really try to gauge one player against another. You have respect for everybody, but I don’t say ‘This guy is better than that guy.’ ”

    Gordon – a Yankee in 2004 and last season – had no problem doing that.

    “I think J’s better than Jete,” Gordon said. “Every time the team needed something done, Jete did it. I see the same thing from J-Roll. Like with Jeter, the game just comes to him naturally.”

    Hmmmm….once in his career, yes, once, Rollins had a season where he had 10+ RCAA. Jeter, on the other hand, has eight seasons to his credit where he’s had 20+ RCAA.

    With the glove, yes, J-Roll is head and shoulders above Jeter. There’s no question there.

    But, in terms of hitters, Jimmy Rollins is to Derek Jeter as Jason Kendall is to Jim Edmonds. Add “idiot” next to “choker” from now on, when discussing Tom Gordon.

    Tigers or Twins?

    Posted by on September 29th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Looking at the A.L. Central this morning, and seeing the Twins and Tigers tied at the top – with three games to go – makes me wonder if I will get my wish?

    I hope the Yankees have sent their best scouts to cover both of these teams over the last few weeks. Although, since the Tigers play the Royals and the Twins play the White Sox, it looks like the Yankees will get the Twins in the ALDS.

    The ALDS Roster Is Just About Set

    Posted by on September 29th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    From the Post

    The Yankees won’t finalize their postseason roster until Sunday, but Joe Torre said it will likely contain 14 players and only 11 pitchers. He acknowledged the roster will be unbalanced and top-heavy with outfielders and first basemen after the return of Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.

    Let me guess – the pitchers will be: Wang, Mussina, Johnson, Wright, Lidle, Rivera, Farnsworth, Proctor, Bruney, Villone and Myers.

    This means Rasner, Karstens, and Dotel are out – and after last night, it makes sense to keep off Rasner.

    The position players will be Posada, Fasano, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez, Cabrera, Damon, Abreu, Williams, Matsui, Sheffield and Cairo – for sure. This leaves one spot open – to be filled from the following: Wilson, Green, Phillips, and Guiel.

    Torre will probably take Phillips – based on what you hear. It’s a shame – because Guiel is the more useful player.

    September 28th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 28th, 2006 · Comments (6)


    That was close.

    Needless to say, this was a game where you tried to keep yourself busy – in an attempt to ignore what was happening on the field. (Actually, to what was “not happening” – truth be told.)

    I went to this one with my friend, Willy G.

    How was it going for us? Well, during the game, poor Willy was getting text messages on his phone from his friend and his girl-friend – most along the lines of “Some game you got there.” That about summed it up.

    Game score be damned, Willy and I chatted through the innings, waiting for that first Yankees hit. And, we also struck up a conversation with two guys who were sitting behind us – one from Clifton (NJ) and his game-mate from Queens (NY).

    We four talked about the Yankees, the Mets, the Astros-Cardinals chase, the soggy pretzels at the Stadium, owning and splitting season tickets (since I do it and they do as well), the Yankees policy towards season ticket holders reselling their tickets, whether Giambi or Sheffield should play first, and some other stuff – waiting for that first Yankees hit. The fellas that we met even complimented/teased me for “almost not having” a Staten Island accent (after I shared with them where I grew-up).

    Did I mention that we were all waiting for that first Yankees hit?

    But, we were somewhat alone. Around 9:30 pm EST, I looked around the Stadium and saw many people leaving the park. I didn’t get it – why not wait, with us, for that first Yankees hit?

    By the 9th inning, the Stadium was down to about 10,000 fans – like me and Willy, waiting for that first Yankees hit. And, then, just before it was almost too late, Robinson Cano delivered. And, the wait was over.

    When I got back to my car, I turned on the post-game and John Sterling was recapping how the fans gave the O’s Daniel Cabrera a standing ovation just after he lost the no-hitter in appreciation for his effort. Huh? I don’t know about the other 10,000-something fans, but, I was cheering my butt off for Cano – and his sparing me a night without sleep and a life-long memory that was going to be very unpleasant.

    One last thing – in the 9th, after Cano singled, Torre had Jeter in the on-deck circle, ready to bat for Giambi – just before Abreu banged into the DP to end the game. Considering the score, the standings, and the fact that the no-hitter was over, why bother with that? That was sort of interesting but also strange – much like this game on the whole.

    91-Year Old Penny-Pincher Talks Smack At Yanks

    Posted by on September 28th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From the St. Paul Pioneer Press

    [Twins Owner] Pohlad said he has no preference as to which team — the New York Yankees or Oakland A’s — his Twins face in the first round of the playoffs next week. Then he paused.

    “I’d rather play the Yankees,” he said, “because I know we can beat them.”

    Privately, there is no club Pohlad would rather beat than George Steinbrenner’s Yankees.

    “That’s right,” he whispered.

    Careful what you wish for there, old-timer. Be very careful.

    Gem Of A Keystone Combo

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

    With Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano both aiming to bat better than .340 this season, it made me wonder – has a team ever had a keystone combo both hit .340+ in the same season?

    First, I decided to look at any season in which a 2B and a SS both batted over .340 – period – regardless of their team and league. This is what I found:


    When you scan this chart, you can see how special it is – just to have a SS and 2B both bat .340+ in a season – when they’re playing for anyone. Having them both play on the same team is an incredible feat.

    I hope that Jeter and Cano can both finish the season at .340 or better. Having two men playing next to second base, on the same team, and batting like Jeter and Cano are this season, is just something that you don’t see in the history of modern baseball.

    Update, 9/28/06, 11:37 am ET: Thanks to Lee Sinins for confirming that McKean and Childs were teammates on the 1894 Cleveland Spiders. And, that in 1876, SS John Peters and 2B Ross Barnes both hit .340+ for the Cubs. (I did not go back to 1876 when I did my list.) Other than these two times, keystone teammates have never hit .340+ in the same season.

    September 27th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 27th, 2006 · Comments (27)

    Can the Yankees play the Mets, right now, please?

    O.K., from a Yankees fan perspective, how cool is it, at this moment, watching guys like Matsui, Sheffield, and Giambi come back to start mashing – at the same time seeing Pedro The Mango Tree Sitter and the Mets falling apart – just before the start of the post-season?

    Sure, it helps that the Yankees are playing a team that checked out a long time ago, but, they were rockin’ and rollin’ tonight. (I do think Cano hot-dogged it on his HR a bit though.)

    Congrats to Worm Killer Wang on win #19. I look back now at April 26th and June 18th – and all I can think of is how this kid should have had 20 wins this year. So, close, eh?

    A ring will make up for it.

    Gotta Have [A Good] L-O-B, If You Wanna Be With Me?

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

    One of the stats that they track over at The Hardball Times is LOB% for pitchers. This is the percentage of baserunners allowed that didn’t score a run. Here’s this stat for certain Yankees this season:


    I thought it was interesting that Mussina and Wright have the same LOB% – and their ERAs are not close. (Wright is almost a run higher.)

    This could be something to consider when it comes time to look at bringing Mussina back in 2007.

    The First Step Is The Steepest

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

    I’ve been giving this some thought now and could see the Yankees post-season results this year going down one of the following paths:

    1. Their pitching fails and the Yankees get waxed in the ALDS – somewhat like 2002 and 2005.
    2. At some point in the post-season, Damon, Jeter, Abreu and Matsui go on fire (as a group) and the Yankees win 8 post-season games in a row – on route to a ring.
    3. Each post-season series for New York goes at least up to the next to last game scheduled and via a bunch of breaks and fluke performances, the Yankees win it all.

    Now, from the Yankees fan perspective, two of these three outcomes would be fine – as they end up in a ring. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a 67% chance for a ring this year – in my mind. I would say that it’s 50-50. I believe that the odds are equal – and that the Yankees have just as good of a chance to get bounced in the ALDS as they do to go all the way.

    Winning, simply put, comes down to run differential. The Yankees pitchers will have to step up in October – meaning that guys like Wang and Mussina will have to continue to pitch well and guys like Johnson, Wright and Lidle will have to have their “A” game going at all times. Or, New York’s hitters will have to make the team’s pitching performance irrelevant. I have a lot of faith that Damon, Jeter, Abreu and Matsui are going to hit well this October. I believe that each one of them has the ability to bring it to another level in a big spot. But, that’s going to be hard – as the Yankees will always face good pitching in the post-season.

    Of course, if the Yankees don’t pitch and don’t hit, it’s all going to end fast.

    O.K., enough, here’s the final prediction for this post-season: If the Yankees win the ALDS, I can see them going back to the World Series and then winning a ring in six games. This said, the ALDS will be one small step for the Yankees this October, but, one giant leap for their overall chances.

    September 26th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Maybe Cory Lidle ’06 can be Jim Beattie ’78?

    According to Yankees.com

    Abreu’s blast gave the Yankees 200 home runs for the seventh consecutive season, tying them with the White Sox for the longest such streak in Major League Baseball history. Both are active streaks.

    Hmmm…… 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000. Something happened in a lot of those years – yeah, that’s right – no rings.

    I’d be more impressed to see the Yankees put together seven years in a row where the team AB/SO ratio for batters was 5.7 or higher.

    In any event, totally unrelated to this game, what’s going on with the Cardinals and Astros? More so, check out Andy Pettitte since the All-Star break. Wouldn’t Andy look good back in the Bronx next year? Pettitte’s been in the bigs now for a dozen seasons and has only one year on his bubble-gum card with a negative-RSAA total. I don’t think it’s a cowinky-dink that the last time the Yankees were in the World Series was when Pettitte was on the team.

    If Houston can work a miracle and get back to the Fall Classic, and the Yankees do as well, it’s going to be painful to watch Pettitte face off on New York.

    Two Things Needed This Post-Season

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    The more I think about it, the more I want to say that the Yankees are going to need two things to happen in this post-season for the team to win.

    First, Torre is going to have to manage like it’s 1996 in a series where the Yankees are in a hole. By this, I mean, he’s going to have to bench some people in spots where the lesser name is the better option. Joe was willing to sit Tino and Boggs in 1996. He should be willing to bench someone like Giambi against a very tough left-hander this year – if the situation calls for it.

    I know Torre will no longer do this – can you see him pinch-hitting for A-Rod, late in a game, with Guiel, in a contest where a flame-throwing RH-RP comes into a tie-game with a runner on 3rd and one out? But, if he wants to win, as badly as he did in 1996, Torre needs to put the team in front of the egos.

    Secondly, someone on the Yankees staff is going to have to pull a “Jim Beattie 1978” – meaning someone who has not been a huge factor this season, for the most part, is going to have to step up in the post-season and make big pitching contributions in at least two games.

    Maybe it’s Jaret Wright? Maybe it’s Cory Lidle? Maybe it’s Darrell Rasner or Jeff Karstens? But, given the situation with Randy Johnson, the Yankees are going to need someone outside of Wang and Mussina to hold down the wins for them.

    If these things don’t happen, this year could just be another dead stone in the string of 2002-2005 post-season letdowns.

    Will Larry & Theo Be Watching The NL Playoffs?

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    If the Dodgers win the N.L. Wildcard this year, and somehow L.A. and the Mets go on to play in the NLCS, and the Yankees win the A.L., how much fun will it be for Boston Red Sox fans to watch Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, and Grady Little battle Pedro Martinez for the rights to face the Yankees in the World Series?

    Anchors Away!

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Now that Randy Johnson’s 2006 regular season seems to be a closed book, I decided to use the CBE to try and find a modern day Yankees pitcher who best equates to what the Big Unit did for the Yankees this year – in sabermetric terms. This is what I found:


    Yes, the man who Dallas Green once called the (Yankees) “anchor of the staff,” Andy Hawkins, was the best match. This is the level of pitching quality that Randy Johnson provided in 2006 – an “Andy Hawkins circa 1989” effort.

    This confirms what I thought three weeks ago – it’s time for Randy to retire.

    Yanks Cannot Count On Unit

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (16)

    From the S.I. Advance

    His back “locked up,” Randy Johnson will skip his final regular-season start for the Yankees and be pushed back to Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

    Johnson had allowed five runs in each of his past three starts, with a 7.64 ERA over that time. He had been scheduled to pitch Thursday and then in Game 1 or 2 of the Division Series. Now, he will have 12 days between starts.

    Manager Joe Torre revealed the Johnson issue after last night’s 16-1 pounding of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

    “It’s a crapshoot,” Torre said of scratching Johnson. “But we feel that the rest probably is going to do more for him than just the fact that he can stay on schedule and pitch regularly. We’ll take a chance not pitching him in hopes that he’ll feel good. I’d rather have him when he feels at his best.”

    Johnson, who turned 43 earlier this month, said he has been suffering back spasms, getting progressively worse since the start of the month. He also has been dealing with “upslip,” in which his right (landing) leg gets pushed into his hip, causing the pelvic bone to tilt and affecting his back.

    “It’s a little tighter,” he said. “I’ll get it taken care of.

    I think Yankees fans all over the place are having flashbacks to David Wells and the 2003 World Series this morning. And, it’s not pretty.

    I’m going to the game on the 28th (at the Stadium). So, it would have been fun to see Johnson pitch. But, given this news, I’ll be happy to see someone else – and give Unit the rest.

    But, more importantly, I think this situation brings cause for having someone like Darrell Rasner on the post-season roster now. If Johnson does pull a “Wells” and has to exit a game early, you need someone who can come in from the pen and offer you some length – and still be a quality pitcher.

    Since there’s no news at all on Cory Lidle, I have to assume that he’s out of the picture these days. This leaves Darrell Rasner and Jeff Karstens as people who can pitch 5+ innings out of the pen in a game. Rasner seems to be more seasoned at this point. So, I would give the nod to him.

    And, the Yankees should look for another SP for next year.

    Wang can take one slot in 2007. And, hopefully Mussina can come back for another year too. Either Rasner or Karstens can be a third starter. Ideally, the Yankees can pick-up another quality starter next season to allow them to count on Johnson or Pavano for the 5th slot. If the Yankees assume that they can could on Johnson to be one of their “Big Three” starters next year, that’s a mistake.

    Yes, right now, given his overall performance this season, his age, and his recent history of injuries, Randy Johnson is in the “Carl Pavano” class of reliability. That may be cruel – but, it’s the truth. It’s time to stop counting on him. You wouldn’t want to have to count on a Mark Redman or Casey Fossum in the Yankees rotation next year – and that’s the level that Johnson is pitching to now – and he’s a lot older than those guys.

    Back to this post-season, it now looks like the Yankees are back to:

    “Wang and Mussina and a precipitation novena.”

    How those two go, so will the Yankees this October.

    September 25th @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 25th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Well, that’s more like it, huh?

    I know that both Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright have some lucky wins this year. But, with his 11th victory this evening, Wright has given the Yankees 4 starters with 11+ wins on the season.

    The last time the Yankees had 4 starters with 11+ wins each was 2003 – also the last time they made it to the World Series.

    There were a lot of good things to see in the game. But, for me, the highlight was watching Andy Cannizaro be interviewed by Kim Jones in the YES post-game.

    Let’s not kid ourselves – Cannizaro is not a prospect. Andy is 27-years old. And, he’s been in the minor leagues for six seasons now – basically, he’s this decade’s Andy Stankiewicz (just an inch taller).

    Nonetheless, anyone who saw that post-game interview with Cannizaro has to come away from it just loving the guy. What a great personality. I have no idea what his baseball future holds for him – but, I’m now an Andy Cannizaro fan and will be rooting for this guy.

    Questions, Questions, Questions……

    Posted by on September 25th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Via the Baseball Musings Day By Day Database, I was just looking at the stats of some key Yankees hitters since the big series up at Fenway:


    Some random thoughts (in the form of questions) looking at these numbers:

    – Is there any question that Jeter is the MVP of this team?

    – Maybe there is some sense to starting Matsui in LF over Melky in the post-season?

    – Has the league caught on to Abreu?

    – Should Bernie not be on the bench in the post-season – and should Williams be the Yankees October DH?

    – Can Cano and Posada keep this up in the playoffs?

    – Where’s Johnny been the last month?

    Am I the only one (?) who thinks the answers here are:

    No. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. I hope so. And, I dunno.

    If not, do these answers bother you (outside of the Jeter one) as much as me?

    Two 13’s and a 10

    Posted by on September 25th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    I was just looking at Alex Rodriguez’ career Yankees stats, to date, and I noticed something. For a guy who hits a lot of a lot of homers, it seemed like he doesn’t hit a lot of doubles or triples.

    O.K., yeah, triples are rare anyway. But, the doubles thing still had my attention. So, I pulled out the CBE and asked it to tell me, since 1961, for guys with (around) the same number of Yankees career PA (as A-Rod, to date) who has hit the fewest doubles? This is what I got:


    This is interesting. In the last 46 years, for guys who had about 2,000 PA in their Yankees career, Jim Leyritz, Alex Rodriguez, and Rick Cerone have hit the fewest doubles.

    Now, Leyritz and Cerone were slow catchers. They have an excuse. But, Rodriguez has a ton more homers to his credit than those two. So, A-Rod is still trotting around the bases a lot.

    There’s nothing really here, to say, in terms of the three of these players being at the top of this list as a group.

    If anything, what this data tells us is, if someone were to ask you “What’s he going to do?” when Alex Rodriguez steps to the plate, your answer should be one of the following:

    1. Make an out.
    2. Hit a single.
    3. Get a walk.
    4. Hit a homer.

    You should probably never say “Hit a triple” and if you say “Hit a double” then you’re working against the odds.

    And, if A-Rod should hit for the cycle someday, that would be something – given these stats.

    The Twins It Will Be…….?

    Posted by on September 24th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    According to the folks at CoolStandings.com the odds say that the Yankees will face the Twins in the 2006 ALDS.

    The Yankees beat the Twins, 3-1, in the ALDS in 2003 and 2004. Will this be the year that Minny gets payback?

    I think the Yankees should be able to score 4-5 runs per game against the Twins, on average, if everyone in the line-up does their normal thing. So, it should come down to pitching.

    Mussina owns the Twins, or, at least he has in the past. That’s good. And, if the Yankees can give Wang his starts at home, that should help.

    Put it this way – the Yankees should win this match-up.

    But, then again, this Yankees squad (meaning the main guys on the team) has lost 7 of their last 9 post-season games. So, nothing in the post-season should be considered a lock.

    September 24th @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 24th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    I missed this game. Or, should I say that I was spared this game?

    We took the kids to see “Everyone’s Hero” this afternoon. Review to follow herein.

    The Yankees are now 18-14 since that big series up at Fenway. Not exactly building some momentum here, huh? There are seven games left to the season. It would be nice for New York to start showing some more life soon.

    Regarding the movie, I’ll let my kids be the guide.

    My 2-year old son was into it for the first 30 minutes. After that, he was more interested in playing the “Hey, Dad, want to see what it’s like to wrestle a live alligator?” game. We did that for about 45 minutes. And, he was totally bored and wanted out of the theater by the time there was about 10-15 minutes left of the movie.

    My 4-year old daughter was more into it. In fact, during some of the scenes where there was some tension she said (during the movie) that she was “scared.” After the flick, she said that she “liked the movie.” I asked her what was her favorite part and she said “The talking baseball.”

    As Mom had the girl and Dad had the boy, I missed some parts of the movie. But, I will say that some of the scenes, up on the big scene, were beautiful – at least to me.

    If your kids are 4-and-older, and like baseball, it’s probably not a bad movie to go check out. Put it this way, it’s probably a thousand-percent better time than watching a game like the Yankees played today.

    Nice Young Company

    Posted by on September 24th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Only two Yankees, in the entire history of the New York franchise, have hit .340 or better in a season (where they qualified for the batting title) at the age of 23 or younger:

    Joe DiMaggio in 1937 (.346) and Don Mattingly in 1984 (.343).

    Robinson Cano can become the third one this year. Impressive.

    September 23rd @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Well, Torre wanted a “squeeze” play, and, tonight, he got one.

    Personally, this game reminded me of another old song.

    Looks like it’s now an 8-game season to see who gets the best record in the American League.

    Pssssst! Buddy! Wanna Buy A………?

    Posted by on September 23rd, 2006 · Comments (5)

    From the Daily News (with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org) –

    Furious that fans are reselling their tickets online, the Yankees have started revoking the contracts of season-ticket holders and banning them from buying playoff seats this year.

    The team has fired off at least eight letters to season-ticket holders who resold their ducats on the popular StubHub.com Web site and several others who used eBay.com – the two largest ticket resellers in the country.

    Their days with decent seats at the House That Ruth Built could be over forever.

    “Please be advised that you will be neither invoiced nor entitled to any tickets to the 2006 post-season,” Yankees associate general counsel Alan Chang said in a letter to one season-ticket holder. “And you will not be offered a license for the 2007 baseball season and beyond.”

    The letter, obtained by the Daily News, doesn’t accuse the ticket-holder of doing anything illegal when he sold the ducats to games on May 28 and June 9. But according to the note, the sale, resale or transfer of tickets at any price is a violation of the license agreement.

    StubHub officials said they were told by customers that they had received the letters in the last 45 days or so. They said the license revocation was a competitive strike intended to put fear in Yankees’ ticket-holders.

    Most of the ticket-holders who got caught were nabbed after forwarding e-tickets through yankees.com to StubHub, a source told The News.

    So, the lesson here is clear. If you’re going to sell your tickets, better to do it in a dark back-alley somewhere rather than through a nice, clean, safe and secure on-line mechanism.

    Then again, from the Yankees-side, it’s their tickets and they can decide who they want to sell them to, going forward, at any time. It’s their right.

    In any event, it’s things like this that make me wish that the Yankees only drew 20,000 fans a game and were lucky to sell out a big game. The ticket business, from the fans angle, was much nicer in those days.

    September 22nd @ The Devil Rays

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 · Comments (10)

    This kid Wang looks like he might be a keeper, eh?

    O.K., on to the serious stuff from tonight:

    1. Gary Sheffield is a ten times better 1B than Bernie Williams is a CF (at this point). That Perez single that Bernie played into a “double” in this game was obscene. And, then, just to show his range (in terms of badness), Williams allowed a catchable Young drive to go over his head for another “double.” It’s so sad to see Bernie in CF now. Shame on Torre for doing this at this stage of Williams career.

    2. Speaking of Torre stupidity, you have the A.L. MVP on third, late in a meaningless game where you’re winning, and you send him home on a suicide squeeze? If Jeter had got hurt on that play, Torre should have been fired before he left the dugout at the end of this game.

    3. Watching that shot that Posada took in the 9th was frightful. I think it’s time for Jorge to start using the Charlie O’Brien hockey-catcher’s mask. It just offers more protection.

    4. Please tell me there’s a way that Aaron Guiel makes the post-season roster.

    5. Yankees fans around the world should hit their pillows tonight and hope that they wake up tomorrow and hear that Mo Rivera feels great. He looked pretty good tonight. But, as Kay and Murcer said on YES, how he feels tomorrow is the bigger story. Cross your fingers, toes, and anything else that you can, for good news on Saturday.

    Torre Lays It Out For Pavano

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From the Times:

    To the Yankees, getting in shape is the least Pavano can do. Torre made it clear that he expected nothing less.

    “I’m not accusing him of anything, but baseball has got to be his life,” Torre said. “He’s got to live his life that way and come to spring training and be ready from day one.”

    Just about 5 months until “Day 1” 2007. I don’t think Pavano can make it.

    Oh, Baby!

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 · Comments (14)


    Too Close To Home

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 · Comments (4)

    This one came from the Pearls Before Swine crew last week.


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