Jun
05

The homegrown problems

By

It’s amazing what a two-out, two-strike, two-run, walk-off home run will do for a team.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Yankee fans were ready to write this game off. Chien-Ming Wang had another terrible outing; Melky Cabrera had made a very costly play in the field; and Kyle Farnsworth had just pitched yet another ineffective eighth inning, giving up a run that I assumed would be the end of the Yankees.

But the loss just wasn’t meant to be. With two outs, A-Rod singled and moved to second on what would be a costly defensive indifference. Hideki Matsui singled him home, and up to the plate strode the red-hot Jason Giambi, battling a foot problem. Giambi fell behind 0-2, and then he launched one, high and deep and far into the upper deck. Watching the game, I thought the ball was foul. I shook my head and said, “Almost.” It was the same “Almost” I had said to myself when Brad Wilkerson tracked down Johnny Damon‘s blast in the bottom of the 8th.

But somehow, the ball stayed fair, and the crowd and the Yankees erupted. It was a come-from-behind win, a badly needed W that drew the Yankees even at 30-30. It marked a comeback from five down, and it showed that, yes, Jason Giambi is a force to be reckoned with, just as Jamal has told us all for the entire season.

As the adrenaline from that victory flowed, I couldn’t help but reflect on the problems in the game that were sure to be ignored. We saw Chien-Ming Wang struggle, Melky Cabrera make a bad play and Robinson Cano fail to get down a bunt.

Cano and Cabrera are simply playing below what anyone expected. Melky’s inexplicably dropped double play line drive led to five runs. Instead of being out of the inning, Chien-Ming Wang was out of the game. It seems to me to be another sign that Melky just isn’t quite what he’s supposed to be.

Cano’s bad play came late in the game when he failed to bunt Wilson Betemit to second. We could argue night and day whether the Yanks should be bunting in the eighth (short answer: They shouldn’t be), but Cano must get that bunt down. I know he’s been a middle-of-the-order hitter for a long time, but really, a Major Leaguer should be able to bunt now and then.

We’ll end with Wang. I am officially concerned. Wang is now winless since the start of May, and he’s been utterly terrible lately. He’s given up 26 earned runs in 37.2 innings, while allowing 39 hits and 20 walks while striking out 16. That is a 6.21 ERA, and Wang is, whether we want to admit it, scuffling. Something’s got to give, and I have to believe that perhaps Dave Eiland is to blame. Outside of Mike Mussina, he’s hardly done a good job this year with Kennedy and Hughes struggling and Wang looking lost on the mound.

But in the end, the Yanks won, and they won in grand style. For a day, we’ll forget these problems, and we’ll look forward to chasing the Red Sox, just 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees. But these problems linger; let’s not forget that either.

Site Notes: Just want to say thank you to everyone who dropped by on Thursday. We had a record-breaking day on RAB.

Categories : Game Stories

67 Comments»

  1. A.D. says:

    Yeah there’s something to worry about with Wang, which we wouldn’t think we’d say at the beginning of the season, and I thought aftert the Cleveland disasters for Wang that maybe they should trade him, but in reality, i’m going to take the same stance that Jamal took with Giambi, Wang has the track record, the guy can pitch, and he will come out of it…it does ask questions if he will ever be a true ace, but hopefully we will have Joba for that.

    Why somple people cried out for position players today, especially after the Cole pick, (Dykstra was available as a supplemental pick) I like the pitching play, think this will definitly free the Yanks up for a prostpect/younger bat trade by the end of this winter as other younger pitching prostpect become available

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      trade Wang? what are you smoking?

      a player isn’t allowed to struggle without being made to walk the plank?

      there are some scary, scary Yankee fans out there.

      • A.D. says:

        If they could have traded Wang for Santana, similar to the Soriano for A-Rod deal, which no one though was crazy

  2. Adam B. says:

    Tangotiger would argue a bunt could be right in the eighth inning, depending on the number of outs and the likelihood that the defense is expecting the bunt.

  3. Rich says:

    If Melky and Cano were hitting on a consistent basis, we could more easily dismiss their mental mistakes, which is how I would characterize what they did, since their “errors” were probably caused by a lack of concentration. I would have no problem sitting both of them for a few games, and as I have said repeatedly, I would like to Gardner to get an opportunity.

    As for Eiland, I think he probably deserves to be questioned. He couldn’t “fix” Hughes or IKP, and in addition to Wang, Pettitte is struggling.

    I support Cash, and I believe that on balance his patience is a virtue, but not in every instance. These issues need to be addressed. This team should be better than their record currently indicates.

  4. Rich says:

    NJ.com has a note on Wang:

    Pitching coach Dave Eiland said Wang has the same mechanical problem he had in last year’s playoffs, when he was 0-2 with a 19.06 ERA.

    Wang said more than anything, he is confused.

    He has been “flying open” with his left shoulder as he starts toward home plate, leading him to drop his right elbow and push the ball rather than drive it down. That means no sink on his sinker and a loss of command.

    “My work in the bullpen is good,” he said, “but in the game, maybe I try to overthrow.”

    Catcher Jorge Posada said Wang has been dropping his arm angle on his slider and can’t get back over the top when he goes back to the sinker.

    “It’s a mental thing,” Eiland said. “He has to trust it. He has to trust that delivery. He had two really good side (sessions) since his last start. He warmed up very well. … He knows what he needs to do. It’s just repetition and getting it back — getting that muscle memory back.”

  5. dan says:

    Speaking of a record-breaking day, my computer crashed 3 times while navigating these very pages. Granted, it’s a piece of shit with 1/4GB of RAM, but still.

  6. Joey says:

    Lol, I’m just catching up on Neyer’s ESPN chat that I missed today because of the draft. 2nd question:

    Mark (NYC): Thoughts on Damon’s comments about Joba. Apparently a lot of veterans on the Yankees are upset at how Joba is being placed above the team and they’re not happy with the Yankees new ‘we’re playing this year to build for the next 10 years’ motto. I have to agree with Damon, when you have a 200 million dollar payroll you can’t play for next year, nor can you have a 22 year old rookie being placed above the other 24 guys on the roster (some of which are future HOFers).

    Rob Neyer: Damon’s not the brightest of bulbs nor the sharpest of knives. The Yankees are better with Joba as a starter not only next year, but probably next month. But of course the players aren’t paid to think real hard.

  7. Clayton says:

    I was at the game today and I saw the replay and the ball looked like it was going to stay fair better than tv showed, but still it was an awesome moment.

    Also, listening to the postgame on the radio during Waldman’s interview with Wang, he said that he knew his shoulder was opening up. He said Posada and Eiland told him that and he couldn’t fix it. Hopefully he fixes it sooner than later.

    • Yankees=warriors says:

      The should send him down and let him fix it in the minors. Can’t let him cost us games here in the majors anymore.
      And maybe he needs the change of scenery.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        ….because god forbid someone’s struggle may interfere with our plans to lose in the first round of the playoffs again this year….

      • r.w.g. says:

        He doesn’t need a change of scenery. He needs to keep his front shoulder from opening up. Once he does that, he’s going to win another 19 games. Like he does every year.

      • Joe says:

        Who are we going to start in his place? If that is the case, we should send the entire team down to the minors because they’re all costing us games. Just because A-Ros stirkes out or pops out with the bases loaded doesn’t mean he needs a change of scenery.
        This is why most people find it impossible to play in NY. You have 2-3 bad games and you become a target

  8. Rafi says:

    why was the diffensive indifference costly? a-rod wasn’t the tying run(hence they let him take second)?

    • BigBlueAL says:

      Yeah i didnt get that because Matsui’s hit was a clean single so it wasnt as if it was an infield hit or something where it wouldve been easier to get a force out. Plus it was 2 outs so no need for a DP. Anyway who cares, great win for the Yankees, even if it does hide the fact the bullpen still sucks. Im honestly not worried at all about Wang, or even Melky and Cano. The fact the offense looks like it may soon, especially now with Posada back, go back to its old form things are looking good, especially considering the state of the Red Sox and the fact that as bad as the Yanks have looked/played they r .500 with 102 games to go. BUT the bullpen still scares the shit out of me, and if they dont make any changes soon it could still ultimately prove to be their downfall.

  9. John From Cincinatti says:

    Cashman doesn’t agree with you on Melky. **http://tiny.cc/nHYmT**

    “I have a healthy left-hander in Andy Pettitte in the rotation, taking the spot where Santana would have pitched,” Cashman said. “I have the use of a guy [Melky Cabrera] who is playing a heck of a center field and is one of the emerging center fielders in the game today. I have two potential starters for our rotation, as well as some kids down in the Minor League system that we still retain.

    “They’re assets. That money went to Pettitte, and the remainder is still in place for us to utilize as we see fit. We made a long-term decision, and you don’t judge a long-term decision in two months or in one year. That’s not why you make a long-term decision.”

  10. mustang says:

    The thread is way to serious for me. After watching those clowns in Boston and having a great come back vs. a good team I rather watch the highlights then think of the negatives.
    You have to handed to Manny in a week where he puts a mark in the record books with his 500 HR he still manages to reminds us of what a class act he really is.
    I don’t know if I agree with the Dave Eiland comment I don’t like blaming coaches. Players still have to execute what they are instructed. I do agree with the bunting comment I have been saying that for years, but bunting in the Majors is a lost art.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Why is Manny the being blamed? We all know Kevin Youkilis has shown himself to act like a 13-year old girl more often than not, throwing hissy fits a la Dustin Pedroia when things don’t go his way. Manny can’t automatically be the one to be blamed here and I don’t for a second buy what the Red Sox coaching staff is spewing saying this was just a couple guys blowing off steam and some sort fo misunderstanding. That’s BS.

      • Jon says:

        But you also have a man crush on Manny.

      • mustang says:

        I know you like the guy, but he is a clown and when he stops hitting homeruns you will see how fast people dump his ass and forget about him.
        You might be right and maybe Manny is not to blame, but from the way he handled himself it wouldn’t be a big leap to assume that he wasn’t a saint in this.
        When you’re a team you handled your problems in house no matter what.
        It was wrong when Reggie and Billy did it and it still wrong today.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Eiland’s been terrible. even worse than Guidry. this guy was supposed to be the MLB bridge to the young pitchers, and not one of them has produced this year. yes, it’s the players who go out there and pitch, but there’s not one thing i can point to that shows me that he’s been able to get a smidgen of improvement out of any of these guys.

      Dave Eiland: AAAA pitcher, and perhaps AAAA picthing coach.

    • Bo says:

      Agreed with mustang.

      Remember that everyone blamed Long last yr when the offense didn’t hit in April and May. How did that turn out?

  11. mustang says:

    Congrats on the record-breaking day the coverage of the draft was exceptional.

  12. Jamal G. says:

    You know what really pisses me off sometimes, look at the seasons Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds has had since 2005 (I consider that year the beginning of the Clean Era). Bonds at 99 years old showed great power last season, why the hell did he need to take PEDs? Same for Giambi, he was an absolute slugger in 2005-2006 and was well on his way to the same last season before falling to a nasty plantar fascilitis. Now look at him re-surging this year, these guys did not need PEDs and yet they ruined their respective standings in baseball lore by doing so. Especially Giambi because he seems like such a cool dude, really sucks to see.

    • mustang says:

      “why the hell did he need to take PEDs?”
      I think I have an idea because guys like Aaron and Ruth were better.

    • mike says:

      and lets not think for a sec that some guys stil aren’t doing something….BALCO was around long before most of us heard about it, and I am in pharma

    • r.w.g. says:

      You ought to read Garret Broshius’ article over at sportingnews.com about the major league drug testing.

      Apparently diluted samples don’t really get flagged and nothing of consequence comes from producing a diluted sample.

      I’m not saying anybody is or isn’t using PEDs, but it really doesn’t sound like the testing program is terribly hard to beat.

  13. Jamal G. says:

    It’s amazing how much better the AL East is over everybody else.

    • Rich says:

      Credit the Yankees. They have motivated other teams to be better in order to compete.

      • Bo says:

        No credit goes to the team that has won 2 titles in 4 years??

        • Rich says:

          That team changed their approach on response to the four WS. So it strengthens my point.

          • Whitey14 says:

            Red Sox fan here and I agree with Rich with regard to the Sox becoming more focused on OBP and getting to bullpens quicker as well as not being afraid to play a little small ball on occasion. thos elittle things like taking anextra pitch here and there and laying down the occasional bunt were what made the yanks better than the Sox. Those things and mariano rivera of course.

            I will say though that the Sox are the team that stopped trading away their top notch young talent about four years back which reminded the yankees how important it is to mix old and young if you want success over the long haul, which is, of course, how then yankees won their titles in the 90′s.

            • Bo says:

              The thing that made the Sox good was getting better pitching. Getting Schilling, Beckett, Okajima, Papelbon, etc.

              Small ball and taking pitches and what not always looks better when you got great pitching.

  14. Jamal G. says:

    From forums at nyyfans.com:

    “The kid who covers the Stanford baseball team says that Bleich’s been pitching 93-94 lately as he’s gotten farther away from injury.”

    Cool.

  15. Jamal G. says:

    Can someone say what breaking ball Gerrit Cole throws? I keep hearing Slider or Curveball. BA says Curveball, his HS coach says Slider, WTF?

  16. rafael says:

    Something’s got to give, and I have to believe that perhaps Dave Eiland is to blame. Outside of Mike Mussina, he’s hardly done a good job this year with Kennedy and Hughes struggling and Wang looking lost on the mound.

    Honest question, no sarcasm intended:
    Didn’t people give a good amount of credit to Eiland for developing Hughes and Kennedy? If so, it doesn’t seem to make sense that would we blame him for Hughes and Kennedy struggling. Essentially, that’s like saying he helped make them successful initially and now…he’s somehow not.

    • LiveFromNewYork says:

      I agree.

      But if Wanger responded well to Gator maybe we should bring him back as his personal pitching coach. Gator would be happy to do it. Maybe Eiland/Gator is the way to go.

      I think that Girardi has GOT to stop going to Farnsworth but then I was screaming for him to sit Giambi for the rest of the season. But I don’t know if he can keep proving me wrong. I think Farnsworth is a lost cause and he got WP yesterday…irk.

  17. Manimal says:

    The redsox are weak. David ortiz is hurt. They are fighting themselves and other teams. They yankees NEED to take advantage of that. The redsox can’t consistantly win like that.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      ….except that we’ve got a decade’s worth of problems coming back to bite us in the butt this year, Manimal. we can’t be worried about the Sox. we have to worry about how to build a team that fixes the flaws we’ve got for this year and beyond.

  18. LiveFromNewYork says:

    is it true that Garrit Cole loses it on the mound? The pressure in NY should be fantastic for him.

  19. Rob_in_CT says:

    Obviously this problem is a recurring issue. He was clearly all out of whack in the playoffs, then he was ok, then he’s out of whack again. He & the team have got to figure out a way of snapping him out of it. Somehow, he needs to be able to make an adjustment mid-game (instead of reeling off 3+ bad starts in a row before fixing the problem). This is all rather obvious, of course.

  20. Bo says:

    Anyone that wants to go “young” and build from within had better learn to be patient with young players.

  21. JRVJ says:

    Cano has played badly this year, but there’s still reason to believe he can turn it around (he did go 2-4 yesterday, you know).

    Melky made a bad play. It happens. He’s made quite a number of good plays this year, so we should allow him a defensive brain cramp. And he did go 1-3 yesterday, with a BB.

    CMW is the one that truly screwed up last night (even if Melky didn’t help), though I also think Girardi needs a long man, because it was pretty clear in the 5th that CMW didn’t have it.

    But hey, the Yankees won it. They lost a crazy game in Baltimore Tuesday last week and they lost a game in Minny on MOnday they shouldn’t have. The fates balanced out.

    Now if the Yankees can start driving in RISP (which they have plently of), things will even out.

    (I’m starting to get the feeling that the 2008 Yankes are going to be a fluke to a number of sabermetric truisms regarding playing for the big inning and such. But let’s wait for the next 102 games and see what happens).

  22. Bruno says:

    How about bringing in Leo Mazzone and shifting Eiland to Bullpen Coach?

    While we’re at it: DFA Hawkins, trade Britton and a couple minor pieces for a set-up man (Britton, E.Duncan, C.Wright, PTBNL for Rausch?), and only use Farmworthy as the LAST guy out of the ‘pen.

  23. Rich says:

    Maybe Nardi should be considered for the ML pitching coach job.

    • JohnnyC says:

      Nardi was the guy who really developed these kids. Eiland was basically the pitching coach of record when they climbed up the system ladder. I’m thoroughly underwhelmed by Eiland so far. Disappointing. I’m not sure Nardi would want the job though. Gil Patterson is in the system now. I know Leiter swears by him…and Patterson’s specialty is fixing mechanical flaws. Plus, Gil’s a really good guy with a Yankees pedigree.

  24. Z1m says:

    Wang will be fine. He’s struggling and hasn’t gotten any breaks. If Melky makes the play that inning never happens. Wang sometimes has that empty look when things don’t go his way. That play could have really messed him up yesterday. I think he’ll find himself next time out. I’ll take the track record of the last few years over 4 starts.

    They need to make a big push right now in the division. Yanks are getting stronger and hopefully help will be on the way out of the pen. Boston is having just as many if not more problems now then the Yankees did. They don’t need to play lights out just be consistent. Like I said before, by July they’ll either be in first place or 2 games out.

  25. pete c. says:

    Say what you want about Melky at the plate, yeah he swings at to many bad pitches in the dirt,but that was his 3rd error on the season, yeah it was boneheaded, but how many other Yankeeregulars have fewer? Jamal’s man crush Mr. Giambi has how many.

  26. r.w.g. says:

    Melky and Cano should just be dropped to 8th and 9th in the order now that Jorge is back. Take pressure off them, but explain to them that they are expected to produce and will have to execute better at the plate and get better pitches to hit. Play them everyday and hope that pairing them in the order helps spark them.

    • Sam P. says:

      Agreed, and when they do start to have better at-bats all it does is make the bottom of the order that much more of an asset as the top of the order comes to bat. We could actually see the Yanks start to take more pitches (gasp!) and focus on getting the other team’s pitch count up.

      Obviously it’s not something that will happen overnight, but it’s gotta start somewhere.

  27. steve (different one) says:

    i can’t blame this on Eiland.

    Wang had a stretch of starts last August where he was VERY shaky plus the playoffs.

    so how is that on Eiland?

    he has shown the tendency to lose his arm slot BEFORE Eiland.

  28. Bo says:

    How was Eiland doing with Wang in April??

  29. John Leach says:

    Too bad Torre and Guidry are gone; we could blame it all on them.

  30. [...] Yankee approach to winning is becoming quite the theme. For the second time in three days, the Yanks pulled out a walk-off win to emerge victorious. By winning dramatic [...]

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