For fear of becoming a homer (d’oh!)

Yanks looking up ... at everyone
Is Cashman the problem or the solution?

Ozzy Osbourne, in his final offering with Black Sabbath, sang words that ring so true for the Yankees season:

“Don’t you ever, don’t ever say die.”

It’s easy to give up on the team, to say “the season is over.” But what is accomplished by this? Is it that we’re showing how rational and logical we are? Are we trying to be super-pessimistic, so that if things do turn around we’ll be glad to say “I was wrong”? Or is it the ever-present fear of being viewed as a homer?

Baseball is a funny game, though.

The bats are all cold now, which is always unfortunate. You’ll see a few guys hitting well in the “Last 7 Days” bit at the end, but when the majority of the team is hitting below .260, you’re going to have trouble scoring runs. OBP is great — the most valuable single offensive statistic in baseball — because it means more men on base. But sooner or later, you’re going to need to drive those runs in, and only on rare occasions will a walk do the trick. The guys gotta start hitting; it’s that simple.

But what if the bats all get hot at once? Yeah, Jeter and Posada already lead the league in hitting. What if they go on a two-week tear where they hit .500? What if — God Forbid — Giambi finds his stroke and starts planting homers and gappers? What if Cano stops swinging at pitches at his eyes? What if Bobby finally finds the groove he was in last August?

I’ll tell ya: the bats all getting hot at once is just as likely as the bats all getting cold at once. So if the Yanks can string together two weeks of hot-hot hitting and can mix some down days (three or four runs) in with some solid pitching performances, they can still go on a tear. The Oakland A’s won an AL-record 20 straight games in 2002. Our team is better than that. So who’s to say we can’t rattle off 22 straight? Probable? No. Possible? Certainly.

This happened in 2005, remember? Yeah, people point out that we were 27-23 on May 29, 2005, and that we’re 21-28 this year. Well, on June 7 of that year, we were 28-30, seven games behind the surging Orioles. So it’s not like we were rolling at this point in the season that year, either.

(By the way. On May 29, 2005, the White Sox were 33-17, whereas the Red Sox are 35-15. Chicago ended at 99-63. We ended that season at 95-67. Four games. And we were running around with bottles that year, trying to catch lightning. We should — and yes, anything can happen — but should have a more established and solid pitching staff in the second half.)

In 2005, things weren’t working out at second base. So the Yanks dipped into the minors for Robinson Cano. He had been passed over by the Diamondbacks twice: once at the trade deadline in 2004, once over the winter, both in trade proposals for Randy Johnson. Yeah, he tore up AAA in April, but to think he could sustain that would be silly given the small sample size. But he came up and made a difference.

In 2007, first base isn’t working out. While there seems to be no solution in AAA, why not give Eric Duncan a shot? I know, I know. He’s hitting just .234, and has a .683 OPS. But in his last 10 games, he’s walked eight times to just two strikeouts. For some guys, it just clicks. Maybe we can catch that lightning again with Duncan. Or hell, even give a shot to Shelley Duncan, who is just hammering the ball. We’ve already infused some youth into the rotation — and may have found a useful starter in Clippard. Now it’s time to try the same thing with the offense.

It ain’t over. And so what if it is? Are you going to just stop watching? If you do, we don’t want you back when the Yanks start winning again.

Last 7 Days
Cano: 304/333/435
Jeter: 296/321/407
Minky: 294/368/529
Posada: 286/286/381
Matsui: 261/320/565
Damon: 222/263/278
Alex: 190/320/429
Melky: 167/267/167
Abreu: 143/280/143
Giambi: 125/300/125

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Yanks looking up ... at everyone
Is Cashman the problem or the solution?
  • Ct Rob

    How is Joe Torre still managing this team??? It’s obvious that they aren’t about to move any players in order to check up this flat-lining squad, so making a change at manager is more necessary than ever before. As each game passes and they remain lifeless on the field and in the dugout, it’s becoming more and more puzzling to how the same manager is in control.

  • http://www.yanksblog.com James Varghese

    “And so what if it is? Are you going to just stop watching? If you do, we don’t want you back when the Yanks start winning again.”

    Amen to that…Yankees fan through the good and bad.

    Still, these last games have just been brutal…and you’re right (as is Steve L.), something…anything…has to be done.

  • mg

    Yep, like them this season or not, they’re my Yankees and I’ll be there for damn near every game, win or loose. That said, I don’t like loosing.

  • http://mehmattski.blogspot.com mehmattski

    “In 2007, first base isn’t working out.”

    Well… sorta. Baseball-reference.com has the splits by position for the Yankees, and at first base their OPS+ is 100; meaning that compared to the rest of the league, the Yankees get 4% more OPS at first base. So, despite Minky (OPS+ 89) and Phelps (OPS+ 104 in limited time), first base has simply been average.

    No, the bigger problems have definitely been 2B (OPS+ 77), CF (OPS+ 59) and RF (OPS+ 77), with league-average production at 1B (100), LF (97), and DH (101). Comparing the Yankees to other teams’ offensive production at the same position is much more illuminating that simply saying that Minky sucks.

  • http://mehmattski.blogspot.com mehmattski

    Er, forget where I said 4%, I misread the OPS+ for 1st basemen originally.

    Bottom line, Yankees firstbasmen have been average compared to other ML firstbasemen, and the giant holes in the offense are at 2B, CF, and RF.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    The question is, though: what are you going to do about those positions? Where’s the upgrade?

    There’s still a chance to possibly upgrade at first. It’s an outside shot, but it’s a shot nonetheless.

  • Pat

    dumbest post i’ve ever seen in my life…

    All of the numbers you throw out are very accurate and would certainly give hope to any team that was playing .500 or .520 baseball. The Yankees are playing .429 ball and 49 games is a large enough sample size to be able to say that this team just, simply, is not very good this year. I think caps should be tipped to the Red Sox for what they have been doing this year. The Yankees will not catch the Sox and will have to play out of their minds for any chance of even making the wild card race close. That is all…

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Thanks for the compliment, Pat, and for stating the obvious. I’m just trying not to fall into the trap everyone else is: “boo hoo, we’re not making the playoffs, wah wah.” I lived through the 80s. I know what a terrible team looks like, and know how it differs from a struggling one.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Additionally, if 49 games is a large enough sample, then why don’t we just play 50-game seasons?

  • Pat

    Large enough sample size doesn’t mean that it is officially over. What that means is that 49 games is enough to be able to tell what this team looks like. And it looks like crap.

  • John

    Pat,
    I disagree.
    The Yanks are 5th in the majors in OBP, 6th in OPS, and 5th in Runs Scored.
    The WHIP is an ugly 1.43 (9th in the AL), but the pitching has improved lately and will improve farther when we add Clemens to the mix next Monday.
    What I see is a team that is snake-bit. When we’ve pitched we haven’t hit, and vice versa. But in the next 113 games, we’re gonna play at closer to our true ability. It might be too little, too late, but I’d rather make a late charge than sell the season and start talking about how to get the best trade value for Scott Proctor.

  • Tyler Simons

    On May 29, 2005, the White Sox were 33-17, whereas the Red Sox are 35-15. Chicago ended at 99-63. We ended that season at 95-67.

    …and we all remember how the 2005 White Sox campaign ended with Chicago looking on disappointed as the Yankees pulled off a difficult American League Championship series.

    Oh, wait…

  • Luddy Bazcej

    SELL THE HOUSE

    SELL THE CAR

    SELL THE KIDS

    IM NEVER COMING BACK!!

    Col. Kurtz wrote that to his wife in Apocalypse Now, just before he lost it and became a rogue cult leader in the jungle. Unfortunately that’s the vibe I get from alot of people in Yankee land. Fans that is. Ready to sell off our stars, chop the heads off the leadership, anything, because the season is over.

    We started out shitty, but we still have June – September in front of us. I wish people would realize that it will most likely get better.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    I don’t know why I’m responding, but Tyler, the playoffs are a goddamn crapshoot. Gotta get there. That’s the important part.