Sunday, April 30, 2006

April 30 vs Toronto W 4-1

1st place feels so sweet. It took us almost the entire season until we tasted 1st place last year. This year, we aren’t digging ourselves that same hole. The onus is on Boston for once.

I attended today’s game, my first in nearly a year. I have trouble getting to games from July through August, and I am live in Providence during the school year, so I don’t get to see too many games. Luckily, I was home this weekend for the Game 5 of the Devils-Rangers series (which, thankfully, wasn’t necessary. Let’s go Devils!).

It was a good game. Lots of positives today. First, it’s real good to see Torre display some emotion. I never bought into the “cool, calm, collected” baseball team. Give me some 1978 fire any day.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Moose so confident. Despite an inconsistent strike zone called by home plate umpire XXX, usually a catalyst for a Mussina-breakdown, he overcame a couple of tough jams to limit the Jays to one run in six innings. Continuing with the trend that he has been setting all year, Moose struck out seven. He looks to be in his 2001-2003 form again. If his elbow holds up, expect big things.

Giambi got a huge, much-deserved, curtain call for his massive home run. Phillips tapped one to the opposite field, something that hopefully will take some pressure off the guy. Once he stops pressing, he should be a very productive hitter. Conversely, Bernie looked just as washed up he did on T.V. He actually got some good contact, but he very obviously now lacks the power to turn fly balls into anything more than majestic outs. Maybe a few days without Gary Sheffield will finally change the Yankee’s minds about Bernie.

Ah, the first Red Sox series of the year is tomorrow. Doesn’t it feel great to have some confidence this year?

Amount remaining on Joe Torre’s contract: 12,196,296 dollars.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 29 vs Toronto - W 17-6

These four hour games get old quickly... if the Yankees lose. If they pull out a win, I'll take a 7 hour 27-walk game.

Damon pulled out of his semi-slump in a big way, with two home runs and five runs scored. Giambi and Sheffield also had huge nights. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Hideki Matsui continue to struggle. I wouldn't worry too much about them though.

I would however worry about Randy Johnson. Watching today, he didn't just struggle because his nemesis team was batting against him. His slider and fastball was dead-flat. His location was terrible, as he walked 4 today after walking that many in his previous 5 starts.

I wish Torre had used Matt Smith a little bit more in his brief time with the Yankees. The kid could be a big part of our bullpen in years to come. He just seems to confident out there, attacking hitters. Probably would have been better to save Ron Villone for a meaningful appearance, as Smith is likely to be sent down as soon as Aaron Small is good to go.

Assuming the Devils hold on to their 3rd period lead over the Rangers, I should be at the game tomorrow before returning back to Providence College to finish the semester. It's been awhile (last June) since I've been to Yankee stadium. Hopefully it'll be a good game.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,233,950 dollars.

Friday, April 28, 2006

April 28 vs Toronto - L 7-2

Tonight was a bad night for the Yankees. Why?

I said to myself prior to the game "Please, oh please, don't let Jaret Wright pitch well enough for us to just barely lose the game".

Why? Because Wright sucks. We all know it. But he just bought himself a start or two. Why is this a bad thing? Maybe his performance could have been genuine? He pitched 5 innings with zero strikeouts and four walks. He got lucky tonight.

What else went wrong for the Yankees? Bernie Williams hit what at the time was a big clutch home run. Now, this could mean that Bernie is actually coming out of his slump, or it could just be one of the 15 home runs he'll hit over the year given regular playing time. He just bought himself a few more weeks.

We just can't beat Halladay, can we? The Big Unit is starting on an extra day of rest tomorrow. He usually has trouble with Toronto, but maybe the extra day will give his fastball some more zip.

This is going to sound like a broken record, because it is, but our batting order killed any chance of a comeback tonight. It's not even that difficult to see. Halladay exited by taking out the righty Arod. Schoeneweis, a lefty, came in to face Giambi, Matsui, Bernie (Who finally hit something), Cano, Stinnet (pinch hit for by Posada), and Damon. The Jays then brought in righty Speier to face Jeter, Sheffield, Arod, and Giambi. Lefty closer Ryan finished off the lefty-heavy bottom of the order again.

Look, the Yankees have the talent to hit well no matter which arm a pitcher hits from. Thing is, they could hit better. Joe Torre is not getting the most out of his hitters. Giambi needs to be moved up, especially on days when Posada is sitting. We shouldn't be making things easier for opposing teams.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,271,604 dollars

Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 27 vs Tampa Bay W 4-1

Fun game. Yet again, the Yankee pitching allows only 1 run in a game. That brings our ERA down to 3.50. Wow.

Derek Jeter continues to party like it's 1999. He went 3-3 with a walk and a double. His batting average is not sitting pretty at .408, with an OBP over .500. He's never started this hot before. Does Jeter have another MVP caliber season in him? Maybe. If he's still playing very well late into May, we'll know.

Shawn Chacon... and to think I was worried about you two starts ago? Chacon continues to walk people, strike few out, and not allow hits. Lots of infield popups, lots of easy ground balls. And isn't fun to watch a guy with two dozen different breaking pitches?

Why was Sturtze in the game in the 9th? Torre, if your going to put a pitcher into a situation like that, at least have some confidence in him. Maybe he was brought in just to face the one batter? Who knows. Mariano recovered from a bad outing last night. He's probably unavailable tomorrow.

We come out of the Tampa series 2-1. Pretty good, considering last season. It could have been 3-0 very easily last night if a little more luck comes our way.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,271,604 dollars

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26th vs Tampa Bay - L 4-2

14 walks. 2 runs. It's like a Nolan Ryan no-hitter...

Oh well, it happens. Mo is clearly suffering from the "I need to pitch more in the early season to get my arm strength back again because I didn't throw in the offseason" blues. Hey, if he pitches like last year, I'll take some early struggles again.

Ok, first the negatives. Matsui is officially in an all-out slump, now batting .257 after going 0-4 with a walk today. Posada and Arod also had sub-par nights. It happens. A little luck and we win the game easily.

Positives? Well, Giambi continues to get on base like it's nobody's business (0-1 with 4 walks tonight). The problem? Giambi, with Matsui slumping, has no one to bat him in. I'll talk about that in a second. Wang pitched pretty well, though he did allow a lot of fly outs, walks, and only had three strikeouts. Still, he pitched better from the stretch than last game, which is encouraging. In typical Wang fashion, he kept his pitch count down despite allowing a lot of baserunners. Oh, and Damon tore up the bases, to little affect.

Two Yankees weaknesses were exposed tonight. First, Bernie Williams is our top bat off the bench. He comes in with a man on and one out, and strikes out. We need someone better than Bernie for situations like that. Second, our batting order is flawed. We saw it tonight. What happened? Giambi got on base time after time and there was no one behind him to bat him in. We're batting the #1 on base threat in the game behind our RBI guys. I cannot comprehend why Joe Torre doesn't move him to the #3 spot except for gross incompetence.

The batting order should be changed to:


The current lineup wastes baserunners. 14 outs and 2 runs?

Amount left on Joe Torre's Contract: 12,384,567 dollars

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25 vs Tampa Bay W 9-1

Wow. This game can be considered a landmark in two ways. First, the New York Yankees started their season against Tampa Bay, after going 8-11 last season against the perennial losers, with a big resounding W. Second, the Yankees officially pulled into 1st place in the American League in ERA, with a 3.63 mark.

The former is important for a host of reasons. First off, in a competitive division it's never a good idea to go 8-11 against a 70 win team. That just means that you need to pick up additional victories against better ball clubs. But more importantly, it shows the Rays who is boss. In hockey, there is an old saying about playing against perennial losers: "Beat them early, and you they won't give you trouble later in the season". Confidence is the one thing that the Devil Rays are in most need of (besides starting pitching...), and the last thing that the Yankees need to do is give them reason to hope.

The latter is important, but heed warning before you celebrate. Yankee starters have given up 63 earned runs in 156 innings this season over 18 games. Our bullpen has been solid, our starting have been great, and our defense has improved. The warning? These statistics are misleading because Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina, thanks to a plethora of off days, have started ten of those games. Most other teams have had their versions of Jaret Wright on the mound every fifth day, and rest assured more Jaret Wright will not help our team ERA.

Still, the Yankees are coasting right now. Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi are having their best starts ever. Arod, Sheffield, Posada, and Cano are looking very solid. Let's hope it keeps up. In addition to being first in preventing runs in the AL, our 6.33 runs per game is also first in run scoring.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,459,876 dollars

Monday, April 24, 2006

WBC and Pitching - Part 2

Ok, in my previous installment of the WBC and Pitching analysis, I looked at every pitcher who went to the WBC. I rated them based on how they began their season, based on being better or worse than past performance.

This time, I took a look at every starting pitcher who qualifies for the ERA title in the major leagues. Because of the size of the undertaking - 79 pitchers - I won't be posting the entire table here. If you want the spreadsheet, I would be more than happy to email it to anyone.

So, the results:

Of the 79 pitchers I looked at:

  • 21 (26.5%) Exceeded expectations
  • 29 (36.7%) Performed as expected
  • 29 (36.7%) Performed under what is expected

(note: I added Tony Armas, who exceeded expectations, to the WBC set of data, raising the rate of WBC pitchers exceeding expectations to 16%)

So, to conclude:

  • Of the 103 pitchers who qualify for the ERA title, 24 went to the WBC
  • A pitcher who went to the WBC is 10% less likely to be doing well, and 10% more likely to be performing poorly.
  • Of the 42 pitchers who are struggling, 31% went to the WBC.
  • If no pitchers went to the WBC, and trends existed at the same rate of non-WBC pitchers, 37 pitchers would be struggling.
  • If no pitchers went to the WBC, 27 pitchers would be exceeding expectations, two more.
  • Roughly the same amount of WBC and non-WBC pitchers are performing as expected

Looking at these numbers, it is pretty clear that although the WBC did have an impact on pitchers who went to the tournament; it had a very small impact upon run scoring throughout the league. Some other factor is at work to cause of the offensive outburst.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

WBC and Pitching - Part 1

Offense has been explosive in April so far this year. Guys like Pujols, Thome, Shelton, Ensberg, and Gomes are tearing pitchers up at an astounding rate. Home runs are up over 15%. Only four teams are managing ERAs below 4.00. Teams like Atlanta, Oakland, Minnesota, Cleveland and Toronto have seen their should-be amazing pitching staffs torn up by this offense. All five clubs have a team ERA over 5.00.

The World Baseball Classic has been a common area of blame for this offensive explosion. The logic is that pitchers did not get their usual supply of Spring Training innings, and therefore were a step behind the more ready hitters when the season began. So, I decided to do some original research.

I took the 22 starting pitches from the rosters of the US, Dominican, Venezeulan, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, and Korean WBC teams and gave them a rating. I mostly did this by eye. If a pitcher currently has an ERA exceeding his career norm by 3/4 of a run or better, I rated him "Exceeding", if his ERA is generally in line with career norms I rated him "Average" and if he is performing poorly, I rated him "Worse". Here are the results.

Name Exceeding Average Worse
Jake Peavy

Dontrelle Willis 0 1 0
Javy Vazquez 0 1 0
Johan Santana 0 0 1
Joel Pineiro 1 0 0
Danny Cabrera 0 0 1
Bartolo Colon 0 0 1
Jorge Sosa 0 0 1
Miguel Batista 0 0 1
Odalis Perez 0 1 0
Bruce Chen 0 0 1
Freddy Garcia 0 0 1
Carlos Silva 0 0 1
VictorZambrano 0 0 1
CarlosZambrano 0 1 0
Kelvim Escobar 0 1 0
Gustavo Chacin 0 0 1
Erik Bedard 1 0 0
Jeff Francis 0 1 0
Rodrigo Lopez 0 0 1
Chan Ho Park 0 1 0
Total 2 7 12 21

9.5% 33% 57%

The results look relatively definative. Over half of the starting pitchers who participated in the WBC are off to a bad start. Not only that, but if you look at pitchers who went farther into the tournament (Venezeula, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic [USA didnt have a lot of starting pitchers who we can analyze]), they have a much better chance to have a worse start.

Interesting numbers. I'll take a look at a similar sample of non-WBC starting pitchers in the next few days to see if the trend is any different.

April 23 vs Baltimore W 7-1

Unfortunately, I could only catch the first four innings of the game today. I was actually in the city seeing the play The Cain Mutiny. It was one hell of a play, but let's talk baseball.

Randy Johnson quelled all doubts about his injury status. Besides the one start against Toronto, Johnson has allowed only six runs in 28 innings, striking out 21 while walking just one. His ERA in those other four starts is 1.92. He's acting like the ace he is.

I witnessed two terrible missteps by Torre in the 3rd inning tonight. Derek Jeter led off the inning with a walk. With Gary Sheffield batting, Jeter was caught stealing by Bruce Chen's pickoff move. Gary Sheffield then proceded to hit a single. Instead of Jeter being on 2nd and Sheffield on 1st with Arod batting, only Sheffield was on first. Sheffield was then thrown out by Ramon Hernandez trying to steal 2nd. Arod, now batting with the bases empty, was able to reach on Melvin Mora's error. Instead of the bases being loaded for Jason Giambi, only Alex Rodriguez scored on Giambi's home run.

Overmanaging cost us 2 runs. Look, base stealing is not always a bad strategy in baseball. A successful steal is never a bad thing. That said, an out on the basepaths is always a bad thing. Although Jeter likely did attempt to steal without a direct order from the bench, Joe Torre does give him the green light in almost all situations. When you have guys who hit 34, 48, and 32 home runs last season sitting behind you, stealing is not that neccessary. A home run is indiscriminate; it cares not whether you are on 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. You still score.

The Big Unit was on fire so the move didn't cost us, but in a different context those two runs could have been very big. We lost 6-5 Friday night. 2 more runs and we win.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,535,185 dollars

April 23 vs Baltimore W 6-1

Well, I didn't catch a second of the game, so all I've got to analyze is the box score. Can't do much with that.

When it rains... it pours. Robinson Cano hadn't drawn a walk all year, but managed to draw two today. Shawn Chacon not only pitched well, he was lights out. He allowed only 4 hits, all singles. Lots of fly balls though.

Can anyone who watched the game tell me if those fly balls included a lot of infield flies? Chacon last year was the best pitcher in the majors at inducing infield fly balls - which are practically as good as strikeouts in terms of value. He can be useful again if he continues to induce so many.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,572,839 dollars

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Going to the first game of the Devils-Rangers game this afternoon. I'm a huge, Devils fan, and I haven't been this pumped in a long time. I can smell the Stanley Cup.

I won't be able to watch the Yankee game today, so don't expect much commentary. However, I'd like to talk a little bit about pitching depth.

Last year we had a period where Wang, Wright, Pavano and Brown were all down. We weren't prepared at all for such a disaster. We traded for Tim Redding and Darrell May. Sean Henn, called up from AA, stumbled. At one point, we didn't know who would be starting as little as two days in the future. Then we caught lightning in a bottle with Small and Chacon, and started to make our impressive comeback to win the division last year. On top of all of this, we had to call on guys like Wayne Franklin, Scott Proctor (pre-Godly Scott Proctor), Alan Embree, and Jason Anderson to pitch in big spots for us as our TanGorMo bullpen tired out.

This season, the situation is much different. Brian Cashman spent the offseason assembling more pitching depth than we could have imagined one year ago. If things go wrong, here are some names that the Yankees will call upon:

  • Darrell Rasner - a convienent gift from the game's worst GM: Jim Bowden. Rasner is performing well at AAA, after a successful major league cup of coffee last year. Rasner is a sinkerball pitcher with decent control and strikeout numbers. All sources point to Rasner being an average major league starting pitching. Who knows why Bowden let the 25 year old go.
  • Matt DeSalvo - DeSalvo is the first of many Yankee homegrown pitchers who should make an impact at the major league level. DeSalvo lit up AA last year, pitching to a 3.02 ERA for Trenton. He's a sinker/changeup pitcher, but struggles with his control quite a bit. He's got a knack for striking out people and getting ground balls. The 25 year old, if he can cut down on his walk rate, could be a very effective major league starter. If the control problems persist, he'll at least be able to perform at replacement level.
  • Jose Veras - Veras made a lot of people laugh after he was signed when he claimed that he was to be Mariano Rivera's setup man, but he is still a quality reliever. Another 25 year old, Veras is built for power. His 6'5", 240 pound body propels a power fastball at the batter in classic form. He has dominated AAA so far this year, pitching 8.2 innings, giving up only one run and striking out 13 (walking only one). When a guy this good is in AAA, your in luck.
  • Scott Erickson - The Aaron Small of 2006? It's possible. Erickson was argueably the worst starter in the major leagues last season, but has been impressive in Spring Training and early into 2006. He has pitched to a 1.54 ERA in 11 2/3 innings of relief for Columbus this season, allowing only 5 hits and striking out 8. He's probably the 15th or 16th pitcher on the Yankee depth charts, but Aaron Small was too.
  • Matt Smith - Yeah, he's on the big league roster, but only in a minor role right now. Smith dominated AA and AAA last year, after being converted to relief. He struck out 92 in 83 innings between Columbus and Trenton, with an ERA under 3. This season, he has yet to allow a run in relief. If Villone or Myers become ineffective or are touched by the injury bug, Smith could fill in quite gracefully.
  • Colter Bean - Bean has dominated AAA for a long time, but his sidearming status has kept him off the major league roster. Want to talk power? Colter Bean has 255 pounds of power. The 6'6" righty has been flawless at AAA this year, allowing only one run in 13 innings while striking out 13. On most major league teams Bean would be in a middle relief role. On the Yankees, he's way down in the depth charts.
Having too much pitching is a great problem to have. If things go wrong this summer, the Yankees finally have an effective plan B.

Friday, April 21, 2006

April 21st vs Baltimore L 6-5

Another loss. Not a bad loss, but a loss. I wouldn't be too worried about tonight. A few of the close calls go our way and we easily win that game.

Positives: Jeter continues to "party like it's 1999", Sheffield had a nice night, Matsui had his first big game in awhile.

Proctor looked good for a little bit, until he started to walk the ballpark. He's allowed 9 walks in just over 11 innings this season. If his control problems don't recover, he will end up looking a lot more like the Scott Proctor we all know and hate. At least he's eating innings for now.

Was it just me or did Wang fall apart each time he had to pitch out of the stretch? That is something that Guidry needs to address. He looked good until he fell apart in the 6th. He just lost the strike zone with men on base.

Andy Phillips is quickly proving pundits like myself wrong. Maybe he can't hit at the MLB level after all. Refer to my a prior post of mine about our need for a real DH.

Oh well. Now the onus is on Chacon tomorrow to keep the Yankees in the game tomorrow.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,572,839 dollars

Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles @ Yankee Stadium

Should be an interesting series. The Yankees are looking to start off their homestand with a couple of wins. The Orioles are playing pretty well right, now especially on the offensive side of the ball. The matchups favor the Yankees however, so let's take a look at the individual games.

Friday night: Kris Benson vs Chien-Ming Wang

Benson beat us last season. I remember it clearly because I was at Shea when he out-dueled Randy Johnson (And Dae-Sung Koo somehow managed a double, a steal, and a crazy play at the plate in his first professional baseball at bat ever), and I lost 25 dollars to my best friend.

Benson has been pitching well this season, as he usually does in the first half. He is exactly the kind of pitcher who seems to always kill the Yankees: he who throws a junk sinkerball, doesn't walk a lot of people, and lets his defense do their jobs.

In other words... he's a lot like Wang. Injured a lot... mild amount of strikeouts... these guys are almost exactly similar! The good news? Well, the bullpen is well rested.

Prediction: Yankees win 3-2. Big game: Johnny Damon.

Saturday: Danny Cabrera vs Shawn Chacon

This one could get ugly. Chacon has looked lost out there recently, unable to throw the baseball for a strike. Danny Cabrera, luckily, is the kind of pitcher that the Yankees usually hit well. Lots of heat, no control.

The good news? Well... Proctor will be ready to relieve Chacon. Hopefully Chacon can turn his bad season around, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Prediction: Baltimore wins 8-5. Big game: Brian Roberts

Sunday: Bruce Chen vs Randy Johnson

Chen actually had a two year stretch where he was pretty good. This year, he's been his old self. I wouldn't worry too much. The Yankees should pound his junk into the ground. Randy has a tough assignment for himself. The O's lineup is righty-heavy, and has been on fire lately. At least he avoids the Devil Rays next series.

I'm going to predict a decent performance for the Big Unit, and Chen getting pounded.

Prediction: Yankees win 10-3. Big game: Hideki Matsui

Now we see if my predictions hold up...

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,610,493 dollars

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yankee GCL manager dies

From Yahoo sports:

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Yankees minor league manager Oscar Acosta and team official Humberto Trejo were killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Acosta, the manager of the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie League, and Trejo, the Yankees' field coordinator in the Dominican, were killed in an accident on a highway outside of Santo Domingo on Wednesday night, the newspaper reported.

"Not much is known at this time," Mark Newman, head of the Yankees' minor league operations, told the newspaper.

Acosta, 49, was the pitching coach at Triple-A Columbus from 1996-98, and served in a similar capacity at the major league level with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He was in his third year as manager of the Gulf Coast team, which he led to league championships the last two seasons.

Trejo, 38, was in his 16th season working for the Yankees, serving in a number of capacities, including as a manager, coach and coordinator of the team's Latin America player-development program.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Designated Hitter

Bernie is probably done. As I've stated before, I'm willing to give him until May to "warm up" and prove that he isn't completely spent. That said, it's time to start exploring other options.

I am going to assume for the moment two things: a) The Yankees stay with a 4 man bench following Small and Dotel's return and b) Bernie Williams bows out gracefully, retiring in mid-May.

We have the following options to replace Bernie at DH: a) Promote from within b) Trade for a DH c) Trade for an outfielder and move Sheffield or Matsui to DH.

I'll get to promotion from within in a minute, but let's look at some trade options. I'm going to identify some players who are going to be free agents in the next few years, and therefore are likely targets for trade. Most of the players are also on teams who are unlikely to contend.

Mike Sweeney - Yeah, he's popular in Kansas City, but he can hit and is being wasted on the young club. Not likely to be traded, but wouldn't cost us too much if he were to become available.

Craig Wilson - For some reason, Pittsburgh was in a rush to get rid of Wilson, their second best batter, during Spring Training. Wilson responded by starting the season hitting .391/.413/.927 with 6 home runs. He's an average outfielder who can also play 1b, and a free agent at the end of the year.

Matt Stairs - Stairs is a free agent after this year, and Kansas City is almost certain to contend. Can play a decent OF and 1b. Not an amazing hitter, but better than Bernie.

Aubrey Huff - Not a great OF, but we know he can hit. Would probably come at a huge cost though, coming from Tampa Bay.

Carlos Quentin - It seems like the Diamondbacks never want to call him up. He tore up AAA last year, but was blocked by a loaded Diamondback outfield. He could put up similar numbers to Craig Wilson, and is still young.

Barry Bonds - I can dream right?

Ok, those some of our trading options. However, promotion from our farm system is probably the better option. Melky Cabrera is batting .380/.448/.540 with only one strikeout on the season for AAA Columbus. This after a successful season of winter ball for Melky should signal his readiness for another major league shot. Hopefully he doesn't debut against the Red Sox in a pressure-packed series again.

Melky should be a primary RF, pushing Sheffield (and occassionally, Matsui and Damon) to DH. The Yankees also have Carlos Pena signed to a minor league deal in extended spring training right now. Pena will probably replace Andy Phillips on the roster.

Last year the Yankees promoted Robinson Cano in early May to fill in for a struggling Tony Womack at 2b. Robinson Cano was off to a very hot start (batting .333/.368/.574). This situation is no different, except that Bernie is actually performing worse than Womack was.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,610,493 dollars

April 19 @ Toronto - W 3-1

After a day that positively scared Yankee fans - that is one that their 40+ year old ace looked like Jose Lima on the mound - Mike Mussina brought us exactly what we needed: dominance.

Mussina's line - 7.1 innings pitched, 1 Earned Run, zero walks, 7 Strikeouts.

Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera followed him up with rock-solid performances.

But how did Joe Torre perform? Joe Torre decided to pinch hit for Jason Giambi with Bernie Williams. That is correct, in a close game where we could still use another run or two Joe Torre took out the reigning AL player of the week, who hit currently has a Ruthian battling line of .343/.540/.829 for a spent ex-star who is currently batting .262/.295/.286. Yeah, I understand that Bernie is a switch hitter and Giambi was facing a tough left-hander... but come on! How could Torre possibly believe that Bernie would be better off in that situation than Giambi, who has managed a .500 OBP against lefties this season? Correction: I was in the bathroom for the Giambi HBP. My bad. If he was injured, he should have left the game.

Ugh. Oh well. At least we won, with good games by Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Cano, and Posada. Cano now leads the team in batting average at .340 (though with no walks). And the Yankees finally won a game without scoring at least 9 runs.

Homestand coming up. Hopefully we'll kiss the .500 mark goodbye by the end of it and never look back.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,610,493 dollars

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18th @ Toronto - L 10-5

Ok, just when I was getting optimistic.

Randy Johnson just broke down. For some reason, he cannot beat the Blue Jays. He's got an ERA above 12 at Rogers Center.

Not many positives to speak about. Scott Proctor showed his skills yet again. I am a little worried about him being overused though. He threw 50 pitches just games ago. Tonight he tossed another 48. He's going to need some rest. I'm a little concerned about Torre wearing him out, as he did with Sturtze last season at this time of the year.

Why was Chacon out there in a close game?

Oh well, not a lot of time to write tonight. The big news for me is that the New Jersey Devils completed the most amazing comeback that I've ever witnessed in hockey to win the Atlantic division in the NHL. They play the Rangers on Friday in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Get your Sigs here

I know pretty much everyone here is a message board fiend. So, if you support the fire Joe Torre movement, here a new signature for you. Remember, an online blog was able to get Johan Santana out of the bullpen. Spread the word, grow the movement.

Right click and hit "file save as". Don't just link to the picture. Blogspot doesn't give me that kind of bandwidth. Thanks to MoRivera of the Yes and NY Yankee Boards for making this sig for me. My photoshop skills are lacking.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,648,148 dollars

Monday, April 17, 2006


I'd like to take this time to make my predictions for 2006. I'm going to cautiously predict us heading into the playoffs as the favorite to win the World Series. I'm not going to predict the playoffs, because they are truely a crapshoot. But I think that we do have a legit shot this year.

AL East - Yanks / Sox / Jays / Rays /O's
AL Central - Indians / WSox / Tigers / Twins / Royals
AL West - A's / Angels / Rangers / Mariners
AL Wildcard - WSox

NL East - Mets / Braves / Phillies / Marlins / Nats
NL Central - Cards / Brewers / Astros / Cubs / Reds / Pirates
NL West - Giants / Dodgers / Rockies / Dbacks / Padres
NL Wildcard - Braves or Brewers

On the Yankees, I think that we will see a fairly similar trend to last season - but with a higher starting point. Last season, the Yankees fell into a big hole, but climbed out by playing like a 105 win team after they fixed their pitching problems. This season, I see the Yankees struggling with the back end of their rotation, but not nearly as much as last year, and then they will start sailing like they did last season once the kinks are worked out.

Right now, we are lucking out. We have so many off days that we have a chance to work out the kinks. Randy Johnson is getting extra starts. The bullpen is being rested. We don't need to start Jaret Wright every 5th day. But that will change. Our May schedule includes a total of 8 games against the Red Sox, with 5 of them in Fenway. The kinks have to be worked out by then.

Shawn Chacon may need to be replaced. I am willing to give him a couple more starts to turn things around, but as of now I am going to assume that he is a problem that needs to be fixed. We have a lot of options. Carl Pavano is almost certainly one. I am cautiously predicting that Pavano makes all of his starts following his return from the DL and pitches to an ERA of around 3.90-4.10. Pavano has the added bonus of being an innings eater when healthy, which will do good things for our bullpen. Other options include Scott Proctor, Aaron Small, Matt DeSalvo, Darrel Rasner, and a mid season trade. For once, we have a surplus of tradeable assets which do not include our big gun prospects (Duncan, Hughes, Tabata).

By June, I predict that we will be sprinting to wins. We've have settled on five starters. Dotel will be back, improving our bullpen. Hopefully Wright and any other struggling pitchers will not be clogging our roster. If Bernie continues to struggle, we will hopefully find another DH. Things will fall in to place.

Come September, hopefully we will have a fairly safe hold on the AL East, and we will get to see the likes of Melky Cabrera, Eric Duncan, T.J. Beam, Steve White, and others when they get their September call-ups.

Shawn Chacon

Is anyone else a little worried? His control seems to have deserted him. His breaking balls are either bouncing in the dirt or are flat and hittable. He doesn't have control of his fastball. He's walking people left and right, and then giving up extra base hits.

I bought in to the Chacon turnaround. I figured that he would be able to pitch a lot of league-average innings for us. But if he continues to pitch like this, the Yankees could have some problems. Not to mention our problems if Jaret Wright keeps pitching poorly. Unlike last season however, we have good options to replace them. Matt DeSalvo and Darrel Rasner are pitching well for Columbus. Scott Proctor is making a case for himself. Carl Pavano and Aaron Small are on their way back. If things go wrong, and it looks like they will, at least we have alternatives.

Off day

I elected to take the day off yesterday, as I was spending the holiday with my family. I hope everyone who celebrates Easter enjoyed it. I certainly did.

I caught little bits of the game. Things are definately looking good. Home runs by Cano (who before tonight hadn't shown a lot of power this season), Arod, and two by Giambi. Jeter and Damon continue to roll. Sheffield has shown signs of breaking out of his slump, though he would be encouraging to see him take his normal quota of walks. Wang had his best outing of his Yankee career, going 7 inning and allowing only two earned runs, while striking out 8 and walking none.

In honor of Wang, I'd like to talk a little bit about the Yankee farm system. Wang and Cano were the first of what hopefully soon will be many recent home grown Yankees. I'd like to focus in on two farmhands today: the Yankees top two prospects, Phil Hughes and Jose Tabata.

Tabata is one of those child prodigies. In a different context, Tabata would be solving the Gordian knot at age 6, doing calculus at 7, and disproving E=MC2 at 10. In baseball terms, he's a 17 year old tearing up every aspect of A ball. To put that into perspective, Robinson Cano (who also signed at age 16), was still in rookie ball at age 18.

Tabata has the highest ceiling of any position prospect in the minor leagues. At a young age he shows the ability to hit for power (currently leading A ball in doubles and RBIs), average (Currently leading A ball with a .390 average, and batted .314 last year), discipline (had more walks than strikeouts last year), speed (25 SBs in just 197 minor league at bats), range in the outfield (he's been compared to Andruw Jones in that regard), and a cannon for an arm (compared to Ichiro ). Oh, and he turns 18 in August. Yeah, that is what a super-prospect looks like.

What is his ETA? Well, it depends on what the organization wants to do with him. If he does not stumble significantly, Tabata could progress to High A ball by mid season (It looks like Tim Battle may be sent down to Charleston, which opens an outfield spot for Tabata), and maybe even grab a spot at AA by the season's end. If that happens, the majors are only a good spring training or AAA performance away. I'd like to cautiously project that he will be ready by early 2008, at which time he'll be just 19 years old.

When Tabata is not your organization's top prospect, your in luck. Phil Hughes, the 19 year old (20 in June) fireballer, holds that honor. If Tabata looks like Andruw Jones, Hughes looks like Curt Schilling. He throws in the mid to high 90s (touching 97 on occasion), with pinpoint control (one walk in 10 innings this year, only 21 in his 101 career minor league innings). He strikes people out at very good rate (9.7 per 9), and has yet to allow a run in his first two starts (2.19 career minor league ERA). Oh yeah, Hughes looks good.

He's spent some time on the disabled list, but the Yankees were merely being cautious with him. Some have said that in a less cautious organization, Hughes would be in the majors this year. The sky is the limit for Hughes. He has the power, control, and secondary pitches to be as good as his model, Curt Schilling. He could be ready as soon as next year, as he is expected to move up to AA Trenton after a few more starts. Hughes is by far the best pitching prospect at the A ball level, and has been labled as high as the 2nd best pitching prospect in baseball.

The Yankee farm is looking good. On other off days, I'll write about some other highlights.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

April 15 @ Minnesota - L 6-5

Ugh. This game makes me feel like crap.

It seemed like a glorious comeback. The Yankees rally late in the game to grab a lead off two very good pitchers in Santana and Crain. Mariano Rivera is in the game, albeit early. We win, right?

Nope. The umpire squeezes Mo, who had Luis Castillo struck out, and eventually it leads to Morneau's big single. Mo did the best he could, getting two strikeouts. But my question was... Torre, where was the IBB to Morneau? Hitting behind him is Tony Batista, who managed to get cut from his team in Japan. Not to mention a force out at 2nd isn't a bad thing on a turf field.

Oh, and bunting Jeter, who hadn't made an out all game, in the 8th? Stupid move. Plus, the weakness in our batting order was definately exposed tonight. I mentioned recently that some lefties need to be tossed in between the righties. A reader pointed out in a comment that Giambi and Matsui kill lefties, so who cares right? Lefties aren't the only hitters who suffer from a platoon split. For the second night in a row Minnesota brought in their power righties to pitch against Jeter, Sheffield, and Arod in the late innings, while switching to Liriano after the righties go down.

At least there are some positives from the game. Jeter and Damon looked great. Proctor pitched his heart out. Although he eventually tired, Mo looked pretty good. Several Yankees almost hit home runs in the big Metrodome. Giambi got a full day of rest, and both Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson tore it up for Charleston.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,685,802 dollars

Friday, April 14, 2006

April 14th @ Minnesota - 5-1 L

Joe Torre does not get the 'L' today. Scott Baker pretty much just gets a 'W'. That said, Joe Torre did destroy any chance that the Yankees had to win the game.

As a note, my sleep-deprived self did manage to fall asleep from the 3rd inning through the 6th, so if something happened in between, feel free to post it in the comments section.

Top of the 8th inning. Jorge Posada walks. Robinson Cano singles. Bernie Williams to the plate. Now, in the rare situation where a bunt is actually a good idea (your worst hitter at the plate, two men on, no outs, and your best hitters are coming up), Torre lets Bernie hit. Bernie grounds into a double play. That was the last good chance that the Yankees would get.

Overall, the Yankee bats were ineffective. As I said before, this batting order needs to be fixed. Push back Gary Sheffield. Sprinkle some left handed hitters among the righties.

At least Moose pitched well. And maybe Matt Smith got on Torre's good side. Why can't we beat rookie pitchers? We always seem to lose our discipline against rookies.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,723,456 dollars

Matt Smith called up

Brian Cashman, good job.

Matt Smith is a 26 year old lefty reliever from Columbus. He was previously a starter, but lacked the secondary pitches and endurance to compete at the higher levels in that role. Last season, he struck out 59 in 54 inning and pitched to a 2.8 ERA for Trenton, and then struck out 33 in 27 inning to a 2.6 ERA for Columbus. He has allowed just one baserunner - a walk - in 3.2 innings so far this year.

He's a pretty good reliever who could go multiple innings in an outing fairly well. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Mike Myers and Ron Villone have both been used a lot lately, and while they have been effective, they can't keep pitching so much so well. It's too bad that the Yankees have bullpen slots clogged up by Wright, Small and Sturtze, because otherwise Smith would help round out a very balanced bullpen of Villone, Smith, Myers, Rivera, Farnsworth, and later Dotel.

At least the organization supports him. Now Torre just needs to utilize his asset.

Carlos Pena

From Newsday:
With defensive flaws exposed at the start of their season and alternatives being weighed to shore things up, the Yankees have entered into serious discussions with former Tigers first baseman Carlos Pena.

The Red Sox, Dodgers and Chiba Lotte Marines also have shown interest in Pena, but baseball officials indicate the Yankees may be Pena's most likely destination.

Bobby Valentine's Marines have considered Pena, but the Yankees may be too great a lure for the lefthanded-hitting Pena, who's spent most of his brief career with the losing Tigers.

While Pena was an inconsistent hitter with the Tigers, he is considered adept defensively, which is what piques the Yankees' interest. It has quickly become apparent that defense is an area of worry on their $200-million team.

The Yankees made no serious move to sign Pena in the first days after he was released March 26 by the Tigers. However, according to people with knowledge of the situation, manager Joe Torre has become increasingly concerned about defensive liabilities and now favors signing Pena.

Signing Pena in isolation would not be a bad move. He's a major league average hitter. He's a good defensive 1st baseman. He hits lefty. In a strictly platooned role (he doesn't see an at bat against a left handed pitcher all year), Pena can be a good signing. Over the past three years, Pena hit .253/.352/.479 against righties. And he's just 27 years old.

The problem? The only way to make room for Pena is to kick Phillips off the roster. With 11 pitchers right now, Pavano and Small back in a month, and Dotel not long after that, we only have four real bench spots. Those spots are taken by Phillips, Cairo, Crosby, and Stinnet. Unless we dramatically cut back our bullpen (cutting two of Wright, Pavano, Small, Proctor, and Sturtze), we won't have room for both Phillips and Pena. Now, these two would actually be a pretty effective platoon at 1b, if Giambi goes down, so we'll see what happens in the long run. I just fear that Torre simply refuses to use Phillips for no good reason, and has ordered Cashman to find him a grizzled veteran.

Look, Phillips may or may not have the ability to hit in the major leagues. We can't determined that yet. We do know that Phillips could flat out destroy AAA pitching, and the only reason that he hadn't done so at the majors so far was because we couldn''t find a defensive position for him. But we won't know if Phillips can hit major league pitching or not until he is given a chance.

Torre, give the guy a chance, or have Cashman trade him. He deserves a shot at making a career for himself.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

April 13 vs Kansas City 9-2 W

Good game overall today. A couple of questionable managing decisions to analyze, but first let's talk about the positives. Gary Sheffield hit his second home run in as many days. Bernie Williams is now hitting .323 after going 3 for 4, all singles. Randy Johnson was dominant, allowing only one run on four singles in five innings. Giambi is showing for the third straight game that last year was a true comeback. And sans one bad pitch by Tanyon Sturtze, the bullpen held Kansas city to just two runs in four innings. Oh, and Al Leiter is a great broadcaster.

All good. The bullpen is especially encouraging. Scott Proctor looks like he may actually have some value. But I want to talk about a couple of questionable management decisions.

First off, Joe Torre yanked Randy Johnson after just five innings and 87 pitches. According to the Yankees, there is nothing physically wrong with him. This is a bad decision by Joe Torre. At this point in the season, with a big road trip coming up and a bullpen coming off a 3-inning set last night. Randy Johnson could easily have pitched another inning, considering that two of the three singles hit against him in the 5th were weak. Now Mike Myers is probably unavailable tomorrow, after having pitched two days straight, not to mention our other lefty Ron Villone, who had a tough 9th inning after pitching the 9th last night. If Moose can't give the Yankees at least 6 innings, it's going to be a difficult night.

Giambi is now hitting .308/.571/.652. Torre, can you please hit him 3rd?

Quote of the day: Al Leiter - "A two seemer isn't supposed to go 100"

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,761,111 dollars


As far as I can remember, it's happened three times this year. You know the situation: 4th or 5th inning, Yankees are tied, and the leadoff man gets on base. Joe Torre decides that one of the Yankees hitters should sacrifice their at bat to advance the runners. The logic? Get a man into scoring position and let the hitters behind you do the work.

The problem? This almost certainly means that the opposing team will be given a free out. Bunting is almost always a bad idea. It's an old tactic left over from dead-ball era baseball. The Yankees have maybe two players - Miguel Cairo and Bubba Crosby - who are so bad at hitting that it is worth giving up that free out for the extra base. Bunting with Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon, as both have been called upon once this year to do, is probably the dumbest move that a manager can make, unless it is in a very specific situation, which I will explain later. Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon are not only excellent hitters - both are capable of posting on base percentages of around .400, but they also are both adept at staying out of the double play.

A hit or a walk does the same job as a bunt, but without giving up an extra out. Jeter and Damon have Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi following them in the batting order. This helps support what is called the "big inning offense". Essentially, the Yankees, with so many strong hitters, have the opportunity to put 3-4 runs on the board fairly regularly if the middle of the lineup can come up to the plate with men on base. Baseball commentators may like to badmouth the three run home run, but big home runs are a reality when you have a combined 137 home runs between your 3-6 hitters.

What does bunting screw up here? Well, instead of Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, and Alex Rodriguez getting their shot at the big hit, with Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui following them up, one less batter gets a chance at the big swing. Not only that, but the walk heavy middle of the order may a) Get the leadoff man to 2nd without the bunt anyway and b) May end up walking with 2 outs more often, decreasing the value of that hit (Any base hit with 1 or zero out is more likely to lead to a run than one with two outs).

I'd like to close with one simple statistic. Despite the talk of small ball, during the years from 1998-2003 Derek Jeter sacrificed just 3.3 times per year. From 2004-2005, Derek Jeter sacrificed an average of 11.5 times per year. Draw your own conclusions.

Amount remaining on Torre's contract: 12,798,765 dollars

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

April 12 vs Kansas City - W

Unfortunately, I missed most of the game. These 1 PM starts are killing me. I missed the first four innings because I had a pair of classes, then listened to the game on the radio on the ride home from school. I live in New Jersey, but go to college at Providence College. It's Easter break, so I'm home.

Since I didn't observe much, there is little that I can say that cannot be determined from the box score. First off, the big Torre move of the night, starting Miguel Cairo over Robinson Cano. I don't totally disagree with Torre on this move. Cano had trouble last year both against left handers and at the stadium. Cairo had a big night, so it worked out. Cairo might grab 100 of Cano's at bats this year against lefties, which isn't entirely a bad thing. I also wouldn't mind lighting a fire over Cano, forcing him to defend his position by playing more attentively in the field, or working harder to take pitches and draw walks at the plate. So congradulations Torre, you've made a good move.

Should we be a little concerned about Shawn Chacon? Prior to the start of the season, I was one of those stat guys that believed that Chacon could be an above average starter despite the bad peripherals. I still stand by that statement, though Chacon hasn't done anything to help me out. At least he managed a 5/2 K/BB ratio tonight.

Everyone is on fire right now. Damon, Jeter, Giambi, Matsui, Posada, and Arod. Sheffield was cold prior to the game, but going 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs can help a cold streak pretty well.

Randy Johnson has a chance to put the Yankees above the .500 line tomorrow night. This season definately doesn't look to be starting like 2005.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,836,419 dollars

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 11 vs Kansas City *Opening Day* - W

Wow. I was giving up hope at one point. Bernie went down 1-2 and I go "Damn, incoming double play". Then, to my surprise, Bernie lines one into the outfield. I am not ready to throw Bernie to the lions just yet. If he can put up numbers similar to his 2003-2004 seasons, he might just have some value left in him.

Fun game overall. Definately had some excitement to it. I don't know about you, but I was screaming when Jeter hit that beautiful 3 run home run. It's also nice to see Giambi have some success.

This game definately did expose a weakness in the Yankee's batting lineup however. In the 8th, the Royals brought in left hander Andrew Sisco. Sisco pitched to Giambi (walk), Matsui (single), Posada (walk), Cano (RBI groundout) and Bernie before being yanked. Luckily for us, he was not on his game. If Sisco was a Mike Myers-esk lefty killer, we could have been in trouble there. Torre needs to stagger the left handed hitters in our batting order. Since Gary Sheffield is cold, this would be a good time to do so. My suggestion:


Overall, not much else to say. It definately does feel good to see the Yankees score 9 runs in a game where they needed more than two to win it.

Oh, and the quote of the night from Jeter, "Mariano needed some work, so he let a few men on and worked through it"

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,836,419 dollars

Monday, April 10, 2006

Joe's Boys Club

Since it's an off day, I'm going to focus on Torre's favoritism toward fringe players for invalid reasons. Just to note, I am not talking about favoritism toward prospects - I am going to cover that on another off day - but favoritism toward guys like Ruben Sierra, Wayne Franklin, Tony Womack, and recently, Miguel Cairo.

Joe Torre like's his boys. What makes you a Joe's boy? Well, it's difficult to tell. You either have to be a) Old b) A journyman lefthander, or c) Percieved as "clutch" or "an energy player".

Disclaimer: The next part of this analysis does not rest solely on Torre's shoulders(the front office carries some blame), though he has an immense amount of influence in their execution

In 2005, the collective group of Tony Womack (329), Ruben Sierra (170) and Bubba Crosby (98) produced a total of 597 at bats, or the equivilant of one major league player playing 162 games. This group had a total 148 hits, 187 bases, and 25 walks for a batting line of .247/.289/.313.

So, essentially, Joe Torre played these players so much that it equates to playing one player every game with the batting ability of Cristian Guzman. Why did he play these players? Well, Ruben Sierra was "clutch", Tony Womack was "A speedy leadoff guy" and Bubba Crosby was "The plan B to Tony Womack in Centerfield". At least Crosby contributed defensively. Sierra and Womack were among the worst outfielders in the AL.

Now let's talk about relievers. Joe Torre was obsessed with finding a lefty reliever for the bullpen last year. He started the year with a greatly-reduced Mike Stanton. After proving that he was unfit for big spots, Brian Cashman correctly dropped him (And Buddy Groom). So who does Torre turn to? Lifelong journyman Wayne Franklin, the last guy who fell to the Yankees on waivers Alan Embree, and straight-fastballer Scott Proctor. These three relievers a pitched a total of 72 innings, allowing 51 earned runs for a collective ERA of 6.375. So, Torre gave about the equivilent playing time of Mariano Rivera (6 more innings) to a group of pitchers who were about as good as Eric Milton that year.

I am not going to go into details at this point, but Joe Torre did have options other than Franklin, Embree, Proctor, Womack, Sierra, and Crosby. One of them is still sitting on the bench in Andy Phillips.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,874,074 dollars

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Today's starting lineup just showed up on Joe Torre is starting Miguel Cairo over Andy Phillips at 1b.

Phillips better be injured. If not, Torre is begining to slip into senility.

Update: Cairo went 0-4 for the game. Torre claimed that he "wanted energy" out of Cairo. It's hard to be an energy player when you go 0-4.

I really feel sorry for Phillips. He must have been foolish enough to think that he would actually be getting some regular at bats as a Yankee.

Amount left on Torre's contract: 12,874,074

April 9th @ Anaheim Loss 3-2

I've never been so encouraged by 4 straight losses. After scoring 15 runs in their first game, the Yankees have scored have njust 2.5 runs per game against Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Bartolo Colon, Ervin Santana, Kevin Escobar, Scott Shields, Justin Duchscherer. Why am I encouraged? Well, over the past five games, Yankee starters have allowed an average of 2.6 runs per game. The bullpen has been fantastic too. Villone, Myers, Sturtze, and Farnsworth have been very good, and Mariano has yet to see a game.

The hitting will come. I am a little concerned in Giambi, Posada, and Cano, but it's only five games in. Bernie on the other hand looks out of place out there. We may need to trade for a real designated hitter, especially if Giambi doesn't hit like his revival last season. Giambi at least hasn't looked overmatched, just a little late. Posada has actually looked pretty confident out there, despite batting .158. Cano hopefully will start hitting again after we stop facing every ace in the AL West.

The Yankees have been pretty flat against the powerful bullpens of the Athletics and Angels. The Yankees have handled the starting pitchers pretty well, but the Scott Shields and Justin Duchsherers out there shut them down. Luckily, we won't be facing bullpens like this every series. If the Yankees continue to knock pitchers out in the 5th or 6th inning, they will score a lot of runs off the soft underbellies of their opponent's pitching staffs.

I'm going to complain about Torre's batting order after tonight game probably, but he hasn't made any glaring mistakes this week after Game 1.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Minor League Opening Day

I love the minor leagues. On an off day, where there are no Torre mistakes to speak about, the minor leagues are a good thing to write about. Yesterday the minor league season kicked off.

Not an amazingly eventful day. Sean Henn pitched 5.1 innings of 1 run, 4 hit, 4 strikeout ball. Kevin Thompson went 4-5 with a double. Vechionacci had 3 hits for Class A Tampa. Besides that, not a lot of eventful things to speak of. Except, we know where everyone is now.

Columbus: AAA Columbus has, for the first time in years, an effective squad of young potential major leaguers. Their impressive pitching staff includes Sean Henn, Matt DeSalvo, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Jorge DePaula and Scott Erikson. Eric Duncan, Kevin Thompson, Kevin Reese, and Melky Cabrera are also on the team.

Trenton: AA Trenton isn't nearly as impressive, but still features some interesting characters. Tyler Clippard and Steve White are starting, while the initial crew of J.B. Cox and T.J. Beam are in the bullpen.

Tampa: High-A Tampa is where the story really starts to get interesting, demonstrating how potent the lower Yankee farm system actually is. Phil Hughes, expected to be moved to AA Trenton after a few starts, headlines a starting rotation also featuring Zach Kroenke, Christian Garcia, Alan Horne, and Brett Smith. In the field, the young phenom duo of Marcos Vechionacci and Eduardo Nunez man the left side, with Tim Battle in the outfield. One hell of a team.

Charleston: If you want to talk about a stacked team, just look right at low-A Tampa. Charleston features uber-prospects Jose Tabata, C.J. Henry, and Austin Jackson. Not to mention 2005 pick OF Jon Poterson, the only good catching prospect in the organization Jose Gil, 1B Kyle Larson, and OF toolsy prospect with an awesome name, Wilkins De La Rossa.

Overall, this should be one hell of a minor league season for the Yankees. We could very well end the season with major league ready prospects in Eric Duncan, T.J. Beam, J.B. Cox, Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Sean Henn, Darrel Rasner, and Melky Cabrera. And this is all without the 2006 Draft.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,987,037 dollars

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 6 @ Oakland - Loss 9-4

Well, I can't blame this loss solely on Torre. A rare fielding error from Derek Jeter (Jeter's problems usually involve getting to the ball, but if he manages to get to it, he rarely botches a play), and a typical Cano error (the ball is coming right to him at a critical point in the game, but he misses it by a few inches), caused the game to unravel for the Yankees.

It looked very good heading into that 5th inning. Wang was cruising - the only baserunners he had allowed up to that point were erased by a double play. On top of that, his pitch count was in the low 60s, so it appeared that he would go 7 innings or so. Then Jeter botches a potential inning-ender and the floodgates open.

There were some encouraging signs last night. After not getting the neccessary innings in Spring Training, Jaret Wright pitched pretty well out of the bullpen. He started to come apart in the 3rd inning, probably because he was getting a little tired. I'm not going to second guess Torre on bringing Wright out for a 3rd inning, because he was really cruising at that point. Robinson Cano didn't make it any easier on him.

Am I the only one really concerned on our complete offensive ineptitude after the Sheffield's home run? Maybe it was just Haren turning it up a notch, but the batters looked pretty foolish out there.

We're not 1-2 after our first series. I wouldn't worry too much. The Yankees have shown some pretty encouraging signs. The starting pitching has been very good and the bullpen has at least been fairly solid (minus Proctor). It does look like Octavio Dotel is going to be needed by mid-season though.

The offensive is encouraging. Against a trio of very good pitchers - Harden, Zito, and Haren, the Yankees did three things very well. First, they got on base. Second, they hit for power (Doubles as well as home runs), and third, they made the pitchers work. Neither Haren nor Harden were able to get deep into the game, despite both pitching well. The A's have one hell of a bullpen, but not every team has such solid middle relief. If the Yankees continue to force good pitchers to exit in the 6th inning, they will score a lot of runs off the Tanyon Sturtze's, Scott Proctors, and Ron Villones of the league.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 12,987,037 dollars

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Torre gets his first 'L' of the season.

It didn't take long. In just his second game of the season, the moronic managing of our friend Joe Torre caused the New York Yankees to lose the game.

So, it's the 9th inning of a tie game. In the 8th, Torre brought in Kyle Farnsworth, who did his job while only throwing ten pitches. Top of the 9th... the Yankees fail to score after the Athletics bring in Huston Street. So what does Torre do? Tie ball game, with a couple of switch hitters coming up?

Joe Torre brings in the 24th man on his roster, Scott Proctor. Now never mind that Proctor had spent the last 48 hours racing around the country caring for his injured daughter. Never mind that prior to the game Torre stated that he probably needed another throw day before going into a game. Even if these two factors weren't in play, he still brought in Scott Proctor into a 3-3 game in the 9th inning. Torre exercised the worst option he had. Torre could have a) Allowed Farnsworth to remain in the game b) Brought in Mariano Rivera c) Brought in Tanyon Sturtze, or d) Brought in Ron Villone. Each option would be infinately better than bringing in a 29 year old journeyman with a 95 mph straight fastball.

Joe has lost his touch. He is currently surrounded by a group of coaches ready to supplant him. Bowa. Pena. Mazzili. Joe Torre has constantly proven that he does not know how to manage a bullpen in the major leagues.

Amount left on Joe Torre's contract: 13,024,691 dollars.