A win makes everything all better except the offense

Q: Where did Charleston's offense go?
The ousted heir-apparent speaks

There? Doesn’t that feel good? The Yankees won, and they did so on a night when the second-place Red Sox lost. So despite their 20-21 record, they’re just three games — two in the ever-important loss column — in back of Boston. A win later this afternoon against Scott Kazmir could do wonders for the morale of Yankee fans.

Let’s do this one up, bullet-point style:

  • Had someone told me in March that Mike Mussina would be 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA after nine starts, I would have wondered what that person was smoking. Had I been told that Mussina would share the AL lead in victories in mid-May, I would have just laughed in your face. But Mussina was masterful yet again tonight. He used a devastating fastball-curveball-change up combination to keep hitters off balance, and one at bat late in the game really showed me how Mussina has progressed this season.

    At one point in the AB, Mussina dropped in a 64 MPH curve for a strike before coming back with an inside fastball that hit 85 on the YES gun. At that point, Al Leiter was gushing all over himself, saying how pitchers are great if they can get a 10-12 MPH separation between their fastballs and their breaking pitches. That Moose can get a 20 MPH separation and can throw these pitches for strikes leaves me rather optimistic that he can sustain this new-found effectiveness. Girardi is keeping him on a short leash in the late innings, and that’s a-ok with me.

  • Over his last five starts, Mike Mussina is 5-0. He’s thrown 29.1 innings with a 2.76 ERA. He’s struck out 17 good for a respectable 5.25 per 9 IP, but he’s issued just 3 — three! — bases on balls. It will be nearly impossible for Mussina — or any pitcher — to sustain this Cliff Lee-ian pace, but as long as he’s stingy with the walks, Moose will find success.
  • The Yankees offense isn’t exactly out of the woods yet. Despite their win tonight, the Yanks were just 7 for 31 off of Jamie Shields and the Tampa bullpen. The team is hitting just .194 this week against the Rays. Ouch.
  • There is an offensive bright spot, however. Robinson Cano is now hitting .350 on the month, and his average now sets at .205, a whopping .050 higher than it was a little over a week ago. I’m really glad Robbie’s doing well; he’s one of my favorites on this team right now.
  • On the other side of the spectrum — and you all had to know this one was coming — is our good friend Melky Cabrera. With his 0 for 4 performance tonight, Melky’s season average dips to .261. In May, he’s hitting .191 with a .224 OBP with a .319 SLG. Now that he’s hitting seventh in the order, the bottom three members of the Yankee lineup have been an offensive black hole lately, and I’m almost tempted to offer up a RAB poll: When will Robinson Cano’s batting average be higher than Melky Cabrera’s? That .056 gap isn’t as large as it seems.

All in all, it was nice to walk away from that game with a win. Shields was tough, but the Yankee pitchers were tougher. We’ll do it again at 4:10 p.m. when one of the prodigal sons returns.

Q: Where did Charleston's offense go?
The ousted heir-apparent speaks
  • whozat

    Is it really a shame to get handcuffed by Jamie Shields? He’s a good young pitcher with 2 CG shutouts in his last three starts (sandwiched around a clunker, sure, but those happen).

    I’m more annoyed by them doing nothing against Jackson’s spotty command and Garza’s fastball-only game plan.

    Do you guys think that Ensberg will actually get to start against the lefty tomorrow? And where? Will it be Gonzo at 3B, Ensberg at 1B and Duncan in RF? Bobby looks like he could do with a sit-down anyhow.

    • Rich

      When the Yankees’ offense has trouble hitting every pitcher, it’s hard to give credit to any pitcher. But hey, I may be a subnormal too, so what do I know?

  • DeMarcus

    why don’t you subnormals talk about cano, Giambi before melky, now it’s his fucking fault? WTF?!

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Subnormals? Really? That’s sure to keep you in everyone’s good graces around.

      As we’ve said ad nauseum recently, Cano and Giambi are doing well in May. They’re not the cause of the recent Yankee offensive woes. No production out of the C and 3B spots is the cause, and Melky’s not helping things either.

      • Mike P

        He’s got a point though. All you guys try to find scapegoats. First Mussina and Giambi. Now Cabrera. It seems to me like the team hasn’t been able to get it all together collectively. Note: the team.

        • Rich

          I support Melky more than most people, but how is it scapegoating to point out the obvious?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          I’m not blaming Melky. I’m simply noting that he’s coming back down to Earth in a rather bad way.

  • Chip

    Wouldn’t today just be wonderful if we were talking about A-Rod coming back? O well, maybe next week. Just please let Kennedy go 6 innings, I don’t even care how many runs he give up, I’m just sick of this 3 inning crap

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    Daniel McCutchen to be promoted to Triple-A Scranton!? Per George King (Eww, I know):

    “The Yankees continue to move minor league pitchers up. Alfredo Aceves and Eric Hacker will be promoted from Tampa (Single-A) to Trenton (Double-A), and Daniel McCutchen will go from Trenton to SWB. McCutchen could be a help in the big leagues before the season is over.”


    • A.D.

      Good to see the kids getting promoted

    • mustang

      Yes…… Danimal is coming baby !!!!!!!

  • JRVJ

    IF the Yankees win today (and assuming nobody is injured), I’d consider this road trip to be a smashing success, BECAUSE of the weak offense.

    Now if I were the Mets I’d be a bit concerned, since the Yankee bats are going to explode at some point.

    As to the Moose, besides being a heck of a bargain at this point, I’d say that he doesn’t have to pitch like he has in his last 5 starts to be a boon to the Yankees – he just needs to pitch to his season average (Baseball Reference has him at 101 ERA+, but I think that this stat underrepresents Mussina’s season, since his April 17th clunker against the BoSox is depressing his numbers).

  • Chris

    Mussina = Beckett

    Over the last 3 years (since Beckett was traded to the Red Sox) their ERAs are:

    Mussina: 3.51/5.15/3.99
    Beckett: 5.01/3.27/4.21

    For a total of 4.20 for Mussina and 4.17 for Beckett.

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

      Problem is, Moose has done that over 400 innings, and Beckett has done it over 450. So advantage Beckett.

      • Rob_in_CT

        The better comparison is Wang v. Beckett. :)

      • steve (different one)

        sure, except the Yankees didn’t trade one of the 5 best players in the NL to get Mussina.

        ok, this is taking it too far, no one really thinks Moose is as good as Beckett at this point in their respective careers.

        i think the more interesting comparison is Wang vs. Beckett, since there are still Yankee fans who think Cashman blew it by not trading Wang for Beckett in 2005.

    • chris

      do you even watch the playoffs?

      no comparison – pull up beckett’s post season career numbers

      • steve (different one)

        Mussina has an outstanding postseason resume and when he was 10 years younger, his numbers didn’t look that much worse than Beckett’s.

        let’s see how Beckett’s numbers look when he is 39.

        • Setty

          Last I counted, the Moose has 0 championships. Beckett was the ace of 2 WS winning squads

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

            This is such a tired argument. You can’t get to the World Series if you don’t pitch well during the regular season. Moose’s lack of championships is not due to his failures.

          • steve (different one)

            by this argument El Duque > Beckett/Pedro Martinez/Johan Santana

          • ceciguante

            i agree completely, setty. postseason success is a huge factor. yes, you need to get there, but it is easier for a team like the yanks to get to the postseason (their roster full of premier players will eventually get their 90+ wins in most seasons) than it is to step up and win a short postseason series.

            not knocking moose’s postseason #s (not sure what they look like), but you just can’t argue with beckett’s postseason success. he almost singlehandedly beat us in ’02.

            and yes, el duque was far more valuable than his career reg season #s, b/c he brought home the bacon with alarming postseason success.

            • steve (different one)

              i don’t think anyone is arguing that postseason success is not a huge factor.

              what we are arguing is that it isn’t the ONLY factor.

              look, i’d imagine the Beckett/Mussina comparison was tongue in cheek. no one here really believes that Moose is better than Beckett at this point.

              but there are also some people who think Beckett’s postseason numbers make him the best pitcher in MLB, and he just isn’t.

            • Rob_in_CT

              Christ. First off, it was 2003, not 2002.

              Moose has good postseason numbers, and inside those numbers are several really key performances, such as: the relief appearance in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and the “flip game” in the 2001 ALDS, which the Yanks won 1-0. He also pitched excellently in the 2-0 loss in game 6 of the WS – the game Beckett won). He pitched well and was in line to win the clinching game of the 2004 ALCS until Tom Gordon & Mo blew the lead.

              Wang had decent (not great) PS numbers before getting utterly bombed last Oct. This happens, even to very good pitchers. Given more chances, the quality will win out. Andy Pettitte, who most Yankees fans think is like the best postseason pitcher ever, has taken beatings too (game 6, 2001 WS, for example).

              All of this is not to say that Beckett hasn’t been good in the playoffs. He’s been money, and deserves credit for that. But he also put up an ERA of 5 in 2006, and his team didn’t make the playoffs. No man is an island, even an ace starter.

              • steve (different one)

                He also pitched excellently in the 2-0 loss in game 6 of the WS – the game Beckett won).

                this was Pettitte.

                but Moose DID outduel Beckett in game 3.

                7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K’s, 1 BB

                which is exactly the kind of performance you get remembered for, IF your team wins the series.

              • ceciguante

                yeah yeah, “christ,” i got the year wrong by one. easy on the melodrama.

                i wasn’t bagging moose for his postseasons — i was recognizing that postseason performance is hugely important, and that beckett’s dominance in the ’03 WS was a direct cause of championship. as far as i know, beckett has an unimpeachable postseason record. moose’s may be good, too, no time to check the #s, but he wasn’t getting WS in these games you cite, while beckett was, at least in ’03, throwing a complete game WS clincher. (didn’t he beat us 3x that series?) the pen can’t blow it when you go the distance.

                but i was responding primarily to ben’s comment that winning a ring is a “tired argument” (huh?), seemingly you have to “get there” first.

                it’s a lot easier for the yanks to get there than it is to win when they are there. the last dozen years makes that point pretty easily.

                • ceciguante

                  …wasn’t getting WS *wins in these games you cite…

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  Dude, Seriously. Stop making up numbers.

                  Josh Beckett went 1-1 against the Yankees in the 2003 World Series as I’ve said a few times. The game he lost was one where Mike Mussina outpitched him. It doesn’t take long to look up the numbers, and it’s especially pertinent when they don’t support your point.

                • Rob_in_CT

                  Sorry for overreacting a bit, ceciguante. As has been noted above, I made my own mistake (game 6 – Pettitte). My bad.

                  I just get irritated when this stuff comes up, for several reasons. One is that people tend to read more into a couple of starts (playoffs) than they should, in terms of a player’s value (note: this doesn’t mean the games weren’t important – they were hugely important. But as an indicator of how good a players is, they don’t mean much). The other is the common misconception that Mussina hasn’t gotten it done as a Yankee in the playoffs. This isn’t your fault – a close friend of mine and I have this argument all the time once we’ve had a few beers. This is the same guy who will stubbornly claim Pettitte is the better playoff pitcher (the numbers prove this clearly false). I tend to get a little fired up.

                  Anyway, as has been pointed out, Josh Beckett went 1-1 in the ’03 WS. He didn’t single-handedly beat the Yankees. He had a lot of help (including some from Joe Torre). Overall, Beckett’s playoff performance has been excellent. Quite impressive. It’s just that his regular season results say more about him as a pitcher than the playoffs do – a lot more. Sample size.

                  Give a player enough chances in the playoffs and they will perform at a similar level as their regular season performance. This means Beckett, given more chances, will eventually have a bad game, and Wang (given more chances) will have good ones. Look at Jeter’s postseason stat line. IIRC, he’s got roughly 1 seasons’s worth of PAs in the playoffs, and whaddya know, the numbers are quite similar to his career line.

                • Rob_in_CT

                  To illustrate my point about sample sizes…

                  Jeter’s PS line: .309/.377/.469 in… 554 PAs, I think (495 ABs + 51 walks + 5 HBP + 3 sac flies). That’s basically a season.

                  His career line: .317 /.387/.461.

                  Strikingly similar, wouldn’t you say? Now we all give him some extra credit, b/c in the playoffs you’re typically facing better teams, so matching his career stats is good. Yay for him.

                  Beckett has been amazing in his 10 games (9 starts) in the playoffs, no doubt about it. Mussina has been good (3.42 ERA) in his 23 games (21 starts). Wang’s sporting an ugly line in his – get this – 4 starts. Four.

                  To round out my comparisons, I give you Andy Pettitte:

                  35 games and starts, 218 1/3 innings, 3.96 ERA. His career ERA? 3.85. How about that…

          • chris

            he also has about 4 f the most dominant post season games ever and pretty much single handedly beat a yankee team that was far superior in 2004.

            his numbers are not just good – they are all-time good. – up there with gibson – take a look

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

              He singlehandedly beat the Yankees in 2004? How? Josh Beckett didn’t even play in the playoffs in 2004.

              And if you mean 2003, that’s a ridiculous statement. He won 1 game and lost another. He may have beaten them in a clinching game, but he didn’t win his previous start against them. That’s not single-handedly doing anything.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Melky’s in a slump, unfortunately. He’s had long stretches of above-average (for a CFer) hitting, but so far he’s always crashed & burned for a month (or two) per season. Sorta like Cano, actually, except Cano’s a better hitter.

    Nice to see Cano start to get hits. He needs to go ape on the league for a few months. With ARod coming back soon, the team should start scoring.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Obviously the offense will continue to struggle if 44% percent of it continues to be automatic outs. As much as I like Robbie and Jason (Yes, I like Giambi), they really hurt the team in the beginning. Now that they are hitting, Melky , the two-headed catcher, Chad Molina, Morgan Ensberg and Shelley Duncan have become automatic outs. With the exception of Melky, those guys are bench players for a reason.
    No reason to panic. If they continue to struggle when Arod and Jorge come back, then I will personally start handing out the cups of kool-aid.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Shelley hardly plays. So it’s not like he’s the problem.

      • steve (different one)

        it’s hard to say that Molina is really the problem either.

        he is simply hitting like Jose Molina.

        the biggest problems with the offense are Abreu, Cano, and Jeter, since those guys are SUPPOSED to be performing better than they have have.

        Jeter has escaped almost any criticism so far, but he’s quietly on pace for a really crappy season.

        he’s hitting .300, but he hasn’t walked, hasn’t stolen a single base, and has almost no power.

        i have faith that he will turn it around, b/c he always does, but the season is 25% over and he has 9 XBH’s and 6 walks. yuck.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          Oh yeah. Jose Molina isn’t the problem; the problem is that the Yanks have had to rely on Molina and Ensberg instead of Posada and A-Rod. Jeter’s numbers are pretty unimpressive too.

  • chris

    i think it is time to stop lookinjg at where the yanks are at with espect to boston. i think tampa will be around all year. they are a great young team who’s pitchers are matuing — by the way – yankee fans panicing about hughes and kennedy — look no futher than the entire tampa staff – it took each one a while to get where they are now

    • ceciguante

      no chance. boston is still the team we’re chasing. this excitement around tampa bay is cute, but i’m not penciling them in as a contender yet. improved? sure. long haul? i consider us 3 GB of boston right now.

  • Cam

    Cano will top Melky’s average on May 21st in his 3rd at bat. Book it.

    • ceciguante

      u should get a prize if that happens

      • Cam

        You RAB editors hear that? I like the way this guy thinks.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          If this happens, Cam, I have a spare copy of The Greatest Game I’ll send ya.

          • Cam

            You’re being held to that. I am making room on my shelf right now.