Yanks split a series with sad Royals

2008 Draft Review
Open Thread: Melky vs. Gardner

Over their last 20 games heading into today, the Kansas City Royals were 3-17. Over his last four starts prior to today, Luke Hochevar was 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA and an 11:18 K:BB ratio over 23 innings.

So clearly the Yankees had this game in their pocket. They assumed they had won it and simply didn’t show up ready to play. That clearly must be what accounted for their pathetic 3-2 loss at the hands of a Royals team that is now 4-17 over their 21 games.

Now, in reality, we know that a pitcher — especially one with Luke Hochevar’s pedigree — can emerge to shut down the Yankees. We know that Mariano Rivera is human and threw an unnecessary inning in during yesterday’s 96-degree game only to lose today. We know that this one loss is not the end of the world. But it is a maddening sign of an increasingly frustrating Yankee team.

Over that four-start span, Hochevar had managed to throw just 241 of 420 pitches for strikes. Today, the Yanks managed to draw no walks against the young righthander, and the only blemish on his record was an A-rod home run. It was one of those days.

Meanwhile, Mike Mussina was masterful again with nothing to show for it. He went eight strong and allowed two runs on a Miguel Olivo home run. The pitch — a hanging breaking ball — was the only mistake Moose made all day. He was denied his tenth win when Mariano Rivera gave up a home run to Jose Guillen.

And that brings me to a question: At what point do the Yankees stop pitching to Jose Guillen this weekend? At what point do they stop throwing a fastball hitter fastballs? Guillen went 9 for 16 against the Yankees this weekend with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. Rivera threw him too good a pitch on 0-2, and Guillen smacked it over the wall for a game-winning home run. That was a poor pitch.

Finally, before I go throw my Yankee frustration with this game away, let’s talk about Melky. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Melky Cabrera took a ball and then pulled a Robinson Cano. He swung at a pitch, grounded out and slid into first base, out by about six feet. It was one pathetic display of hitting.

First, Cabrera shouldn’t be swinging in that situation. Joakim Soria had already walked and hit a batter. Melky must make him throw a strike and perhaps two before swinging. Second, the next time Melky slides into first base, Tony Pena should just bop him on the head. Enough.

At some point, the Yanks have to figure out what they have in Melky. Since hitting his last home run on May 4, Melky is hitting .250 with an OPS well below .500. Those are not the numbers of a Major League outfielder, but we’ll have more on the Melky debate at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Stay tuned.

Here’s to .500, once again.

2008 Draft Review
Open Thread: Melky vs. Gardner
  • JT

    This Yankee team is just plain terrible. You want so hard to root for them. You want so hard for them to go on a run. The opportunity is there, but just when it looks like they are primed to make it happen, they throw up a stinker.. or two.

    This is one of those teams that you just shouldn’t expect much from, because once you do, they break your heart. They are what they are.. a .500 team. Until they show me otherwise, I refuse to expect anything but that.

  • Jake H

    What you failed to mention was the terrible call at first when Melky made a great bunt. He was safe. If that is the case, you know damon is going to bunt. That means Bobby’s ground scores a run. Game is tied. I also thought Damon should have gone back to the wall quicker. If he’s at the wall I believe he catches that fly ball that he wind took.

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

      Two points here:

      1. I watched the replay on the home run. Damon couldn’t have caught that ball. It landed on the net well out of his reach before rolling back down.

      2. Yes, the umping was terrible. But we can’t assume that Johnny Damon, hitting over .500 recently, was going to bunt, and we have to stop blaming the umpires for the fact that this Yankee club is playing decidedly mediocre ball. Ed Montague was terrible at his job this weekend, but the Yankees were just as bad. They lost two games to a team that was 2-15 prior to this series, and they’re now 3-4 against the Royals this year. That’s unacceptable.

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

        On fourth viewing, perhaps Damon maybe could have caught it, but it would have been the catch of the year. He would have had to go a good two or three feet over the wall with his arm to snare that one. You can’t blame Damon for it.

  • nick blasioli

    i think that jeter was the goat..he didnt get damon to third with no outs..he pops out and abreau hits a long fly ball and the yankees score a run….they just dont play small ball enough…i say bring up gardner and see what he can bring to the table..we definitely need a change somewhere….

  • BigBlueAL

    Cant wait til 7:30 to read this great Melky debate. Amazing how most of you defend the Fake Big 2 to no end, yet Melky who is only 23 and has been playing in the Majors probably prematurely since age 21 and has handled himself pretty well gets ripped left and right and you cry out for a minor-league CF who is actually a full year older than Melky who is not even on the 40-man roster and probably couldnt hit a HR in the big leagues if you let him hit from the pitcher’s mound. Perspective please, you guys are complaining about the 9th hitter in a freakin lineup full of All-Stars who all should have to do is what he is doing now, not being an automatic out while playing more than acceptable defense. You guys want younger players and here is a kid who some analysts (real ones like guys from Baseball Prospectus) believe could eventually be a very good player yet you guys want to get rid of him already. Can you say double standard. He actually laid down a PERFECT bunt in the 8th and hustled his ass off to beat the throw but was called out on a bad call. How different would this day have been if he wouldve been called properly safe on that bunt???????????

    • Newman

      Who is the Fake Big 2? Jeter? Are you really comparing Melky to Jeter right now? Clearly Derek Jeter isn’t the player he was but he’s still a damn good hitter, not to mention he has 4 rings, as well as a WS MVP. This is all under the assumption that the “Fake Big 2” is a Jeter reference. Melky can only dream he’ll become half the player Jeter is

      • BigBlueAL

        I meant IPK and Hughes. Just taking a little shot at them since this site adores them, but ive taken shots at them before here so i was just being a bit sarcastic. I actually love Hughes and think he will have a great future but i dont see anything at all in IPK for him to be considered a big anything. Just making a point that while they pitched like crap entire season they were defended here at length, so im trying to do the same with Melky since i know RAB isnt a big fan of Melky. Sorry if i confused you. Fact is if those 2 pitched earlier in the season as decent as Melky has played CF the Yanks wouldnt be at .500 and at least wouldve won a couple or even a few more games than they have so far. Have to fight fire with fire!!!

        • Newman

          All good, just a mistake interpreting on my part

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      About time someone defends Melky. He is not the problem. I do like the fact that they came back on one of the best closers in the game and made it interesting.
      The home plate umpire was not letting ANY of the hitters be patient today, obviously he wanted to get going on the road as much as the players.
      Games like this happen. I’m sure the Boys will get it going soon enough, but for God’s sake, calm the hell down. They’ve played 3, repeat, 3 games with their projected starting lineup. If they continue to play .500 ball with this team a month from now, then there is a problem.
      As for Melky, give the man a break. Brett Gardner is not the answer. Do you honestly think that he can hit better then Melky? Do you think he can throw with Melky. You have to get on base to steal them, and I personally don’t think that Gardner has the ability to do that.

    • Glen L

      Not all of us who are down on Melky want to see him replaced with Gardner … I think Melky can probably become league average at CF, but his performance this year has really been abysmal

      I still think he’s got more upside than Gardner

    • Jon

      I agree somewhat in that can come across that the guys here root for Melky to fail so they can jump all over him, which I’m sure is not the case.

      But everything they’ve said about the “Fake Big 2” is perfectly legit stuff to say.

      You’re being a bit irrational.

      • BigBlueAL

        I was just trying to make the point, which you agree somewhat with, that Melky gets ripped here yet IPK and Hughes pitch like they did so far and you cant dare rip them or take shots at them. Melky is only 23!!!!!! same age as IPK, so why the double standard???? Thats all im trying to say, and again i love Phil Hughes so i was just trying to make a point/ruffle some feathers.

    • Yankees=warriors

      I like Hughes, but I have to agree with you. Cut Melky some slack!

  • stuart

    why the hate on Melky?? I am not saying he is a star but what about the guy who made the 2nd out????

    Cano has been terrible look at his #’s compared to melky.. Melky’s are much better.

    The Montague call killed, Montague made 2 terrible calls in the series, 2.. he was out of position on the play at 1st, why???????????????

  • JRVJ

    Two silver linings for me: 1. Great start by Moose;

    2. Hopefully this is WWWMW, and Mariano just got it out of his system….

  • Oscar Azocar

    Ben — Today’s game was excruciating, and I think you’re usually dead-on in your analysis, but why do you think that Mariano’s inning yesterday was unnecessary? It was a save situation — if Girardi had decided to go with Farnsworth or Edwar there, and they blew the game, he would have been (rightfully) skewered by the media.

    • Jon

      Not only the media, but by the guys here too.

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

        It is possible that I’m nitpicking and managing in hindsight, but I said the same thing to my parents at the game yesterday when Rivera came in. There was no need for him to pitch, seven pitches or not. I thought Joe Girardi was supposed to be a different kind of manager. So far, all we’ve seen is more of the same old by-the-books approach.

    • BigBlueAL

      I think all the outings were unnecessary considering they were playing the pathetic Royals and needed Mo to pitch in 3 straight games vs them. The fact they couldnt at least win 2 out of the 4 games in easy fashion was terrible. These are the teams, and in the past the Yanks wouldve if not swept taken 3 out of 4 by a combined 20 runs, you shouldnt struggle with, especially at home. Now they play the next day in Oakland and i cant imagine Mo will be available. Playing in Oakland you would expect all close, low-scoring games which is acceptable considering their pitching and playing in that ballpark. Not acceptable is playing, and losing, low-scoring games at home to the freakin Royals.

      • Mark B

        I find your comments confusing….you call Hughes & IPK the Fake Big 2, yet you say you love Hughes…….Throw IPK under the bus, when you praise Melky for the same reasons – young, inexperienced and inconsistent. Doesn’t make sense to me.

        Also think you need perspective…..Royals may stink on paper, yet we can’t expect to blow them out 10-0 every game. If Mo is pitching, I find it a good thing as we are leading or in the case of today, the game is tied. Beats the alternative.

        • BigBlueAL

          Im not praising Melky, im just saying why all the hate towards him. And ive admitted i was half-joking about the Fake Big 2, its really only a Fake Big 1 in IPK. My whole point is like you said, the same things people here say about IPK and Hughes they fail to do so with Melky when he actually has a decent major league track record unlike those 2. Im just defending Melky because ive gotten into arguments with people here due to their defending of IPK and Hughes and the shots they take at people who even hint that IPK may just be a 4th or 5th starter at best. Again, just standing up for Melky against the RAB haters!!!

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

            Why the hate? Because he’s just not that good, and nothing that we’re seeing is very promising. You can compare him all you want to Bernie, but by age 23, Bernie had an OPS+ of 113. Melky’s is 96 — below league average — and that was with a hot start. He’s been utterly terrible lately.

            Brett Gardner isn’t the answer, but neither is Melky Cabrera.

            You can have your opinions on the Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Who knows if they’ll be any good? Our point in defending them isn’t that we think they’ll all be Cy Youngs; our point is that you have to give this a chance, and you can’t keep trading the farm for over-the-hill, over-paid veterans. A lot of these young players won’t stick, and a few will be great. But there’s only one way to find out.

            With the pitchers, we haven’t seen enough to pass judgement. With Melky, we’re in year three of his career. We know what we’re getting, and it’s nothing too impressive.

            • BigBlueAL

              3 years makes a career???? Isnt he only 23???? Why does someone like Joe Sheehan, who lets face it is probably a bit smarter than u and me combined, before the season speak very favorably of Melky’s future. Melky had a great April and horrible May. We basically just started June, no time to start throwing Melky under the bus now. Its funny that i am defending Melky the way you guys defend IPK (remember i like Hughes too) for almost the same reasons in a way. My main point though really is all Melky has to be is a sold defensive CF who bats 9th and isnt an automatic out who can do a bit of everything which he does, has some power, runs reasonably well and can put down a bunt when needed. To me the 9th hitter in the lineup is the least of the problems really. Thats my main beef i guess, why rip on Melky when there are alot of other problems. If the Yankees need their 9th place hitter to play at an All-Star level, they are in bigger trouble than we think.

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

                No offense to Sheehan, but he is a huge Yankee apologist. Just like we are, Sheehan is a biased Yankee fan. There’s no shame in that, but his belief in Melky is simply from the fan-boy perspective.

                If you want the unbiased BP perspective on Melky, look at his five-year PECOTA projections. Having a centerfielder in his mid-20s — at his peak — putting up consecutive season of sub-.800 OPS and a career VORP peak of 20 is not going to cut it on the Yankees.

                I love the kid for his enthusiasm and that arm, but I just don’t see him cutting it as a regular on the Yankees. Maybe I’m wrong, but outside of a month of his career, I’ve yet to see anything convince me otherwise.

          • Mark B

            Be careful with IPK, I was one of the ones spewing venom last year about Mussina still pitching at the end of the year, let alone still staying with them this year. While the situations are entirely different, I think the conclusion is the same, give the guy time. The Yankee brass which obviously has better eye for talent than you and I, seem to be high on him, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt given their past record of success. My beef is that he should be pitching in the minors this year, to work more on his game as it seems pitchers take longer than hitters to become MLB ready.

            As for Melky, I am of the side that thinks it may be time for a change with him. While he will provide a Web Gem every now and then, his lack of discilpine at times (dropped catches, swinging at the first pitch today, 12-13 SBs/yr with 7 CSs and a .390 aren’t helping.

            With Gardner having a .871 OPS and 25 SB down in Scranton, I think the future is now….

            • BigBlueAL

              Whats Shelly Duncan’s OPS in Scranton???? Not for nothing, i could care less about what he is hitting this season at Scranton. I doubt very much Gardner will be able to come anywhere near those numbers at the major league level, let alone hit as good as Melky.

              • Mark B

                .957 in 91 games last year…..you need to prove to me why Gardner can’t hit better than Melky. Duncan is a corner outfielder with power and plays defense like a statue, so I think the comparisons are few between the two

                I just don’t think Melky is either statiscally or mechanically a good hitter. Defensively he is incredible with few equals.

                The Yanks are searching for answers right now and Cabrera and Cano are the arguably the only two starting position players whose performance can be questioned this year (some may say Jeter, yet I think he gets some major leeway given his history).

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

      In short, here’s my thinking on Mariano. He had throw on Saturday in a close game, and on Sunday, with another 96-degree day upon us, Girardi had a three-run lead against the Royals’ 6-7-8 hitters. It was a save situation in definition only and hardly a pressing contest. Jose Veras was throwing well, and Girardi should have kept him out there for another inning. Had Veras struggled from the get-go, Rivera’s in the pen and ready, quickly, to come in. But it was hardly a close game or a save situation.

      It’s just rote bullpen managing. Just because it is, by the rule book’s definition, a save situation doesn’t mean you have to go to your closer. The situation did not really dictate Rivera’s coming in. But I’m a firm believer in non-traditional bullpen use.

      • BigBlueAL

        Now that i look back at it, Giese couldve pitched the 8th and Veras the 9th. But i cant blame Girardi too much for that. I know im being unreasonable to expect the Yanks to kill the Royals every game, but hell last season Mo went stretches where he couldnt get work cause all of the Yankees wins, and losses, were blowouts. My point is honestly the Yanks shouldnt have had to play 4 nail-biters basically with the Royals at home. It may sound stupid, and logically it does sound stupid, but to me its the truth. Now like i mentioned, going to Oakland where you would expect all close games and there is no way Mo will/should be available for all the games in the series.

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


          I agree with your second point too though. The Yankees really shouldn’t have been playing nail-biters against the Royals for four days. That’s not the sign of a good team.

          • Mark B

            Ben – how long do you think it will take for the Yanks to make a major move to shake things up, or do you think they will wait and see if they will hold out to see if Hughes and/or IPK will be the only answer?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    Am I the only one who sees this game as just one of those contests you just did not win? Not every loss is of the result of a shotty play or errs in judgement, this is one of those losses. Were there things that could have ben done better in this game? Absolutely, but not to the level where blame should be rested upon those things for the loss.

    I mean come on, Melky swinging at an 1-0 pitch in a non-situational AB? Mentioning a seven pitch outing by Mariano Rivera yesterday? Those are not really things you can harp about. When it all boils down and those are our two biggest beefs in the game then you should come to the realization that the team just came out on the short end of a 3-2 pitcher’s duel. There is absolutely no shame in that, Kansas City Royals or not. This is baseball, where the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals can win a championship (beat that David Strern!).

    • BigBlueAL

      Jamal, you should be the PR guy for the Yanks!!!! I admire your optimism. But damnit you r still a young kid who only knows winning!!!!! I am not that old but i remember when the Yanks constantly underachieved in the mid-to-late 80’s and have lived thru the heartbreak that was the Knicks in the 90’s. Before the Yanks became champions i had been wounded by too many heartbreaks. Therefore i am always looking for reasons to explain the tough losses, helps you deal with them easier!!!

    • Mark B

      Amen…..that is why baseball is such a great game. This is not football where we can always point fingers at why you lost, let’s tip out hat to the Royals today who beat the Yanks with a little help compliments from Mr. Montague, but basically fair and square.

  • mike

    Cano’s last at-bat was pathetic – it looked like he was being toyed with, and if he cannot drive a fastball the other way when its out over the plate (twice in a row) he needs to be sit down. I know he has hit almost .300 the last month, but its probably the softest, Mattingly-at-the-end .300, we have seen.

    Gotta be honest, our up-the-middle (Jeter, Cano, Melky) is looking a little weak….

    • Mark B

      Aren’t we throwing Jeter under the bus just a tad bit early? I understand about Cano and Melky, but Jeter? Doesn’t his polished resume give him a bit of leeway for his slow start to this year or should we just DFA him and bring up Gonzalez?

  • steve (different one)

    yeah, i don’t understand your comment about the unneccessary inning yesterday.

    i love this site, but you guys are turning into Abraham with the Girardi bashing.

    like the outrage yesterday b/c Posada was playing 2 days in a row. so now you guys are the team doctors?

    give me a break.

    Mo threw a bad pitch. there is no one to blame for that besides Mo. are you guys implying that Girardi should tell Mariano how to pitch to Guillen?

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

      That was fake outrage. No one’s that outraged about Posada. Chill, steve.

      • steve (different one)

        in that case, i will chill. my bad.

        just seems like you guys are taking a lot of potshots at Girardi. i know it’s easier to blame the manager than the players we all love, but sometimes it’s just no one’s fault but the players.

        the yankees lost on friday b/c twice they couldn’t score a man from 3B with less than 2 outs.

        today they lost b/c Mo made the wrong pitch. he didn’t make the pitch because he was tired. did you see him throwing AFTER the HR? he was ridiculous, as usual.

        it happens.

        honestly, the only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth about today’s game was that call at 1B. it was clearly wrong, and i think they had a scoring opportunity taken from them.

        • BigBlueAL

          Im actually glad the people here take shots at Girardi since they all took shots at Torre for not being able to handle a shitty bullpen the past couple of seasons. At least they are being consistant with criticizing the managers.

          • steve (different one)

            i have no problem with valid criticism. left pettitte in too long? fair game.

            “ordering” Jeter to bunt? not really. everyone here knows Jeter does that on his own.

            using Rivera in a 6-3 game? ehhh. that’s a 20-20 hindsight thing. it might be a little excessive, but it’s not something i would have ripped Torre for either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    Congratulations Ken Griffey Jr. He is easily my all-time favorite player in Major League Baseball.

    • BigBlueAL

      Just bought over the weekend 3 of his rookie cards for 10 bucks. They all book at 6 bucks each, so technically i made 8 bucks!!!! Woohoo!!!! BTW, i LOVED his Nike commercial when he chased Mattingly’s shot out of Yankee Stadium and across the country, caught it and threw the runner out tagging up from 3rd, then i believe Rizzuto says, “The kid’s got an arm”. Great commercial.

  • BillyBall

    Un-Bullllievable! Why is it that most RAB junkies keep knocking Gardner when not one person in this forum has seen him play. Yes he is 1 year older than Melk, but he brings a different dimension to the game that Melky lacks. 1-top of the line speed, 2-outstanding defensive range, 3-above avg. arm for a CF, 4-good On Base Percentage. In a lineup filled with stars why does Gardner have to hit better than Melky. Your adding him for an entirely different reason. To shake up the opposing teams pitching and defense. If he reaches base just 1 time each game via walk, hit, or error, with his speed he is gonna change the way teams play this boring base to base offense we now have. If all of Y’all are so down on Gardner as Melky replacement why don’t you go over to SWB Yankees Blog with Chad Jennings and ask him his opinion of the player since he watches him on a daily basis. I’m not saying get rid of Melky, that is unless you can make a trade to help the team. I’m saying make room on the 25 man roster by booting Hawkins or Duncan and bring this kid up as a 4th OF. If you are worried that it will stunt his development sitting on the bench you couldn’t be more wrong. He is 24 years old and he will be the late inning defensive replacement for a Damon and a pinch runner. Think about that hard!

    • BigBlueAL

      Thats a different story. Bringing him up to be the 4th of’er and pinch-run and spot start here and there is fine by me. He certainly would be a batter bench player than Duncan or obviously a 3rd catcher when Posada is back to catching his full load because he would bring a different dimension. BTW, dont tell me he has an above average arm for a CF as a positive considering Melky had 14 assists from CF last season, including a couple in the playoffs vs the Indians. I just think its crazy to give up on Melky.

      • steve (different one)

        does Gardner have an above average arm? i am not saying he doesn’t, but i didn’t think that was the case. anyone?

  • Mike W.

    Did you guys all see this today:


    Interesting to think about ways to fix our Yanks…

    • steve (different one)

      that column is absurd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    LSU just went back-to-back-to-back versus Irvine. Ouch babe.

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

    for the second time in this series: Ed fucking Montague! how many games is one ump going to lose for us?

    is there still anyone out there who opposes instant replay?

    Melky was clearly safe. i didnt even NEED the replay, and fucking montague is three feet from the play and blows it.

    i hate these bad day losses because the next chance to get the sour taste out aint for almost 36 hours.

    it infuriates me to no end to have the game taken out of the hands of the players.

    instant replay and it’s eventual sire (questec (or something similar) calling balls and strikes) cant get here fast enough.

  • Eric

    I’m starting to regret not getting Santana for Melky and Hughes and Kennedy.

    These 3 have shown me nothing and I think we got waves of talent behind them.

    • Mark B

      Ask SF how much they liked signing Zito to that monster contract…..on paper it would have looked great for the Twins, but Santana’s ridiculous contract demand and upside of Hughes and Kennedy killed the deal. Give Hughes and IPK some time…..

    • LiveFromNewYork

      We don’t know that was the deal. The Twins rejected all of our deals. So regret away. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE TWINS WOULD HAVE TAKEN.

      In my mind they were yanking the Yankees. So can we please stop the stupid Santana talk?

    • nick blasioli

      eric,,ive been regretting not getting santana since last winter..cashman is no gm like epstein…..the yankees as door mats make me sick…

  • BigBlueAL

    OH boy, the Melky vs Gardner debate thread is up, i guess i have to head over there!!!! BTW, sorry for all my comments today, have been able to be home all day and have nothing to do tonight so ive been typing away!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    Dontrelle Willis sucks. Also, Dave Dombrowski is an idiot.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    It should have never gotten to the place where they had to depend on Melky to bring them through. Or even Mo. There was bad umping but this offense should have been way out in front so that

    1. A bad call isn’t going to matter.
    2. Another day of being human by Mo isn’t going to matter.
    3. Melky hacking at the plate isn’t going to matter.

    I could see this game going south against a competent ball club. but the ROYALS? Why we weren’t 3 runs ahead and all of this wasn’t moot is beyond me.

  • Rich

    The Yankees are making some really stupid decisions, the latest being the decision to not pitch around Guillen in the 9th despite the fact that he absolutely killed them in the series.

    I thought that replacing Torre with Girardi would end this nonsense. Apparently, I was WRONG.

  • WRT