Early season observation: Hacking away

Edwar Gonzalez 6, Sarasota 5
Putting Paul O'Neill's number in perspective

The book on the Yankees is that they’ll make your pitchers work. However, we have not seen this early on in 2008. As a team, they have seen just 3.05 pitches per plate appearance, after seeing 3.88 last year. Derek Jeter is particularly troubling in his hacking, seeing a hair over 2.5 pitches in each of his 25 plate appearances. Clearly, this is something that will change as the season matures. But it does begin to explain the Yankees’ current offensive drought.

We saw this from the get-go yesterday. Johnny Damon hacked at the second pitch of the game, and Derek Jeter at the third. A-Rod swung at the first pitch of the second inning. Through two frames, James Shields had tossed just 17 pitches. This is not what we’re used to seeing from the Yankees.

Things got a bit better in the third inning, though. Three of the four batters took the first pitch, and it looked like they were putting together some sort of inning before Betemit decided to try for third. In the fourth inning (when we scored runs!), four out of the six hitters took the first two pitches. Cano took the first pitch before fouling off a ton en route to a single, and Jorge took the first pitch to the warning track. So thing weren’t looking all bad.

Still, you’d like to see a bit more patience from the team in the next few games. This is quickly starting to feel like late April/May of last year, when the offense was underperforming and as a result pressing. They really seem to be lunging for balls out of the zone, and otherwise taking poor swings. There’s little left to say, other than: I hope they settle in and get into a groove.

Johnny Damon has the same idea: “When I go, this team goes a lot smoother.”

Well, then. Get to it, Johnny.

Edwar Gonzalez 6, Sarasota 5
Putting Paul O'Neill's number in perspective
  • JD

    If I recall correctly Wilson Betemit struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch…

    • steve (different one)

      yup, and the 2nd (or maybe the 3rd) strike was clearly low.

  • doty

    we do not need a repeat of last yr. we did not hit for close to 3 months, which wore out the pitching.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    We have two starters (Wang/Hughes) going good and a bullpen minus Farnsworth & Hawkins that has been dominant. Let’s not waste this strong beginning by the arms with an extended offensive slump. Relax at the plate, take a pitch, and let’s work the count guys.

  • Rich

    I think more plate discipline will be a by product of the upcoming extended road trip because the players will probably be able to relax and revert to their dominant response, which is a patient approach.

  • GoYankees

    Good point, Joe. This cold weather does not help the Yanks’ older arms and older bats. Especially playing at night, or on cold, windy days there’s that impatience to swing early. But that takes the pressure off opposing pitchers to throw strikes with their second best pitches. Which adds up to great pitching against the Yanks and a hitting slump.

  • Joseph C.

    Un-related note guys, but I think something’s wrong w/ the mobile version of the site…

  • Joseph C.

    Huh. That’s weird. Right after I posted, the problem went away. The problem was that I was repeatedly getting directed to the regular version of the site instead of the mobile version. Oh well, it seems to have corrected itself.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I hate seeing Cano swing at a first pitch over and over again. It’s like let it go by dude. You haven’t been hitting them. This line up has got to be patient. I saw so many Pettitte wins turn into losses because he had no run support. This sort of thing cannot go on.

    I understand it’s early but I can’t believe the hitters are already driving me crazy. The post season last year could be summed up this way: 2 lousy starts by Wang, bugs, but a hauntingly silent offense including zero from Jeter and Posada. Captain Clutch was not so clutch and, after blazing into the post season, Jorge looked terrible in the Cleveland series.

    It would be nice if they could hit at some time other than the second half of the regular season. Try April. Try October. That would be nice.

  • Mike P

    Go Johnny, go, go, go.

  • mustang

    I actually think they are starting to come out of it. At bats are starting to get a little longer. The pitching is the key and they are not looking bad. For those of you fitting Mr. Hughes for the Cy Young take a look at Wang. The guy can pitch and he never gets the credit he should. A win today and they go on the road 4-3. For the way they have looked that’s not too bad.

  • MD

    it appears they are not running much either….maybe a little agressiveness on the bases might spring the bats a bit…..do we have any steals yet?

  • RichYF

    Maybe the AL East has taken a different approach to the Yankees. To me, it seems like Toronto and Tampa were pounding the zone early vs. players that are normally considered to be patient (which is most of the lineup). This may have thrown them off a bit and forced bad at-bats.

    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that every time I look up it’s 0-2 or 1-2. This isn’t ALWAYS the pitcher pounding the zone (Jeter), but it seems like a solid approach vs this team.

    • http://deleted Seamus O’Toole

      i agree. it seems every pitcher that has faced the yankees thus far has been pounding the strike zone, knowing that they are “patient” team. why take the first pitch if they’re gonna groove a fastball for strike one?

      i think the problem is that their swings are not in sync yet, since they seem to be fouling off a lot of good pitches to hit.

  • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

    I went to the game on Saturday and was amazed at how many Home Run swings I saw late in the game when we were down by 5, and again when we were down by three. The funniest part about all of these swings was they all came with no one else on base and in terrible counts. It seems like that curse/blessing of a short porch in right field is getting into everyone’s head. Girardi needs to tell these guys to just put the bat on the ball and just get frickin’ base hits. Waiting for a pitch that they can drive and putting it in play, not in the seats. When they start putting the bat on the ball they can try and hit home runs, but until then it just looks like they are trying to spin out of their shoes, or hit insanely high pop ups to the infield. No one has any timing, or any idea of what they should be doing at the plate, least of all Johnny Damon who just looks lost. I hope he, Derek Jeter and everyone else can start putting the pieces together because we are going to need our offense, especially tonight with Mussina on the mound.

  • steve (different one)

    think about it like this: if the Yankee offense started last season like they have started this season, what would their record be right now?

    i’d say 0-6. *maybe* 1-5.

    aside from Sonnanstine, who seems to give them trouble for some reason, the Yankees have seen a steady parade of some really solid arms.

    top to bottom, the Jays probably have the best staff in the AL. Jackson isn’t there yet, but there is a reason he was a #1 prospect not too long ago. he has good stuff, and Shields is pretty good.

  • r.w.g.

    6 games into the season.

    6 games into the season.

  • Alan

    So..has anyone seen Morgan Ensberg? I’m wondering if he took the wrong flight to the Bronx or something, because he’s nowhere to be found.

  • http://keephughes.blogspot.com/ Larry

    The team’s offensive woes along with Giambi’s latest injury compelled me to dust off Save Phil Hughes and ponder whether the Yankees should take a flier on Bonds.

    I mean, could you imagine Bonds batting behind A-Rod? I’d say that would kickstart the offense and then some.

  • Art Vandelay

    Fun with small sample sizes!

    Also, didn’t anyone ever teach Shelley Duncan how to throw a baseball? Did you see that toss into the outfield? He looked like I look when I throw the ball left-handed. That is, like a retard.

  • Art Vandelay

    Sorry, that was in Saturday’s game, not yesterday.

  • Rob_in_CT

    A large part of the # pitchers/PA so far is the opposing pitching pounding the zone. No surprise when you look at the pitchers, with the exception of Jackson. The Yanks can’t sit there and take if the opposing pitching is throwing strike 1, strike 2…

    • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

      agreed. the opposing pitchers seem to be taking advantage of the Yanks patience. instead of being down 0-1 every time, take a hack, be aggressive. anyway, it’s good practice for the playoffs when pitchers pound the zone and the Yanks patience doesnt mean as much.

      oh, and we’re 6 games in and cold weather usually doesnt help hitters.

  • http://yankeesfuture.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    They all look like Girardi at the plate!