Jul
11

An offensive malaise settles over the Yankees

By

It might be Hideki Matsui. The Yanks are hitting .252/.337/.380 since he went down. It might be Johnny Damon. The Bombers have mustered a .248/.315/.349 line since he hit the DL. But whatever it is, the Yankees just aren’t hitting right now.

Nothing proved that point like tonight’s uninspired loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. While Mike Mussina threw another quality start — 6 innings, 9 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, 5 strike outs — to lower his ERA to 3.61, the Yankees bats couldn’t muster much of anything against a left-handed Paul Maholm. A brief two hours and thirty-seven minutes after the first pitch, the Yanks escaped Pittsburgh, losing an opportunity to gain valuable ground on the idle Red Sox and the shellacked Rays.

The game itself doesn’t lend itself to verbose musings. The offense looked bad, Jose Veras didn’t do the job, and the Yanks fell short. The story is in the details. In July, the Yanks bats have all but disappeared. Outside of that 18-run game against the Rangers, the Yankees, by my calculations, are hitting .230 with a .296 OBP and a .300 slugging percentage as a team in July. That’s worse than Melky. (Zing!)

Cheap shots at Melky aside, the only answer for this team right now is that they’re in a slump, and they are continually fielding a lineup with Jose Molina and the young Mr. Cabrera at the bottom. Bobby Abreu hasn’t hit much since he took out Nick Blackburn — .237/.318/.370 since the second game of that Twins seriers — and the lineup can hold up a bunch of struggling starters.

So far, the Yanks have managed to win because of their superior pitching. The bullpen — prior to tonight — has been outstanding, and the starting pitchers are, by and large, getting the job down with three of the hurlers being outstanding and two being serviceable to okay. The Yanks could have won many more games recently than they have.

At some point, something will give; the bats will come alive or the pitching will falter. I’m hoping for the former while dreading the latter. Either way, this offensive malaise doesn’t make for fun Yankee baseball.

Categories : Game Stories

42 Comments»

  1. Joltin' Joe says:

    As Matsui’s situation becomes more and more severe, is it more likely we add a hitter? Perhaps Ibanez?

    • TurnTwo says:

      IMO, i dont think so. If the team was going to add anything, itd be a starting pitcher.

      even with Matsui out, there is no reason why this team, otherwise constructed, shouldnt be able to drive in runs.

    • cult of basebaal says:

      why do we need another DH?

  2. yanks99 says:

    it’s a shame the yankees can’t have ponson on the mound every night…

  3. Adrian-Retire21 says:

    The Yankees need to hit because the starters RAsner and Ponson have and will again Implode.And Kennedy and Hughes are nothing to be happy about.

    1)Get Freddy Garcia in free agency

    2)Get Ibanez.

    It would be cool to trade for Brian Fuentes or Marte but I think in our system we have relievers(J.B Cox,Melchon,Britton,Sanchez or Bruney).

    But we don’t have starters(Maybe Hughes but no way Kennedy) to help in the strech run to the playoffs or any good hitting position players.

  4. kunaldo says:

    it’s a shame there isnt an all time great hitter available that would be very productive and cost us only peanuts…………………………………………………………

    oh.

  5. Hybrid Moments says:

    This team needs a RHB.

    • But, in a twist of irony, we probably only need a RENTAL righty. Long term, we probably need a LHB for 2010 and beyond, as Cano is the only lefty in our lineup who should be here beyond then (bye bye, Giambi, Abreu, Damon, Matsui).

      And our remaining core would be ARod, Jeter, plus at some point AJax and Montero, all righty.

  6. BigBlueAL says:

    What pissed me off about tonight’s game is the lineup put out by Girardi. The problem is, this is FAR from the first time he does this. He puts out lineups as if the Yankees are in cruise control in September waiting for the playoffs to start. You cant expect your team/lineup to play with a sense of urgency if you put out lineups like this. Ill tell you one thing, I love Molina’s arm too, but this is getting ridiculous with his playing time. If Posada is that bad throwing wise that he gets backup catcher playing time then this offense isnt getting better the rest of the season. Plus continuing to keep Moeller makes this already thin bench even worse.

    Again not to rant about Girardi because he has as the season has moved along improved dramatically his bullpen usage and with the way he handles the entire pitching staff as a whole. He and Eiland should be more than commended for that. BUT Jesus Christ Girardi’s handling of his everyday roster/lineups/in-game strategy on the offensive side has been so brutal it has cost this team a few games this season. Again I know its just one loss and not to over-react like has been said a thousand times so far this season, but how else should we feel when the game starts and you see the lineup he puts out tonight????

    I mean it was as if the win yesterday vs the Rays clinched the division and this was the game after where it was a who gives a shit if we win the game so who cares what lineup we put out. Now the Yankees face Halladay on Friday and have Rasner going on Saturday. That feel-good 4 game winning streak could quickly be erased just like that and its frustrating as hell if that happens because they took a 1-game trip to Pittsburgh as an annoyance instead of as a chance to gain another game on the teams they are trailing…..

  7. Rich says:

    If the Yankees trade for a hitter, it should be for someone who bats RH.

    20 wins could be the difference between getting in the HoF and not getting in for Moose. The lack of run support is taking a toll on his chances of reaching that goal.

    • Joltin' Joe says:

      I agree, but Nady is the most reasonable guy I can think of, and the Pirates don’t seem to want to move the guy. I suggested Ibanez because he plays on a team that has no chance and needs to rebuild. Also, he is a good all-around hitter, and someone who should be able to handle the pressure of NY. Nady could too, but I’m not giving up Dan McCutchen or whoever they think they are getting. They have Andrew they’re not getting Daniel too.

      • TurnTwo says:

        FYI, Dan McCutcheon is not a do-or-die pitcher in the system.

        If it takes McCutcheon to upgrade offensively, you do it.

        • Mark B says:

          No kidding….there seems to be feeling shared by most RAB readers that every single prospect we have is untouchable

  8. nick says:

    Crazy thought, there is a RHB who mashes lefties this year has recently become available for peanuts.

    I don’t know if i fully advocate the yanks going after sexson, but with both matsui and damon down, it might be worth a look. they don’t need 12 pitchers on the staff, let alone 13. Those are two spots that could go to hitters to strengthen the bench. Broussard or Lane could fill those spots on the bench, and maybe even help the offense out a bit.

    • monkeypants says:

      I like the idea of Sexson as a platoon player v. LHP. Unfortunately, if they picked him up he would only end up platooning with Giambi at 1B, because Girardi and Co. are fixated on starting Molina at catcher. Heck, he would really just end up being a glorified RH PH, but who would he PH for, since Molina never gets pulled for a PH despite Moeller rotting on the bench.

      The only RH who would play would have to be an OF.

      • A.D. says:

        I think they’re playing Molina because there is no one to DH, so they might as well, vs DHing Chrisitian or something like that. If they signed Sexson they would play him against lefties and either sit Giambi (which they pretty much do anyways vs lhb) or Posada, or have Posada catch.

        Sexson, if he’d sign would be a nice essentially free pick-up

    • monkeypants says:

      BTW, you are entirely correct about not needing 13 pitchers. Of course, they don’t need three catchers either, but…

  9. Haggs says:

    Ok, I’ll say it. Just have to tighten the strap on this flak jacket.

    The divorcee over at third base is not playing like the best player in baseball. One man does not make an offense, but he is one man quite capable of resurrecting an offense and, while he has been very good for the most part, this team needs him to be great right now, and he’s not.

    Perhaps he is a victim of his own success, particularly last year, when, if he came up with a chance to inflict pain on the opposition he very rarely missed said chance. It’s silly to pinpoint one at bat in a half a season full of them, but I’ll do it anyway. Last night he was presented with a perfect opportunity to put his stamp on a game. Following Abreu’s game tying hit, there were still two guys out there on the pond and the Yanks needed him to give them the lead. Instead, a weak grounder to third. I feel like there have been more than a few of these type moments this season.

    This offense has a million problems of course. But Rodriguez is the guy who is supposed to be the game changer. If he were performing at or somewhere near 2007 A-Rodian levels, something tells me we wouldn’t be so worried about what Cabrera was or wasn’t doing out in CF.

    I know you’re gonna tell me about his OPS and his blah blah blah, but his numbers so far this year are soft numbers, or maybe I should say softer than what we’ve come to expect. He his missing out (often literally) on opportunities to change the course of games.

    Arod has another, higher gear than the gear he has been playing in lately. It’s time for him to shift into it.

    • mike says:

      While usually I am not Arod’s biggest fan, there is appx $100 million in offensive players other than Arod on the team this year, and even when most/all were playing they were not hitting as they should.

      In the spring, with Giambi’s frail health alkways an issue, I thought the righties on the bench would be OK, but certainly not the black hole Ensberg and Shelley became. Someone has got to be accountable for not having any other options, especially when there have been so many opportunities ( Arod getting hurt, Cano being horrible, Bettemitt out,Matsui and Damon out etc.) to slip another righty bat on the bench and get him some at-bats.

      Arod is only as good as the guys in front of him, and with Jeter and Abreu having below-average seasons (even if the numbers show otherwise) and Melky only a few spots in front of him, there is no wonder the offense has slowed to a crawl

      However, even though last night’s lineup was a joke (although what real options did Girardi have?? Giambi vs. Posada) I would still think on paper that Jeter/Abreu/Arod/Posada/Cano could get more than 2 runs in that little ballpark – thats why they play the game.

      Question I was thinking about – is the presence of 13 pitchers on the roster the reason they are all pitching so well over the last two months, or is it coincidence? Are they all stronger as no one has been abused/stretched out, or is the competition making them step-up even more? Im sure there is no way to quantify it, but the shame is that for the want of a league-average corner outfielder who hits right-handed for the past two weeks (and maybe beyond) this 13 pitchers/ 3 catchers thing would be working even better than it has!

      • nick says:

        Interesting question Re: the 13 pitchers, but i don’t believe it has had an effect. Over the last two month, pitchers 12 and 13 (Hawkins and Traber) have pitched only 15 innings, all of it practically in mop-up duty. Much of those innings could be absorbed by Giese or Robertson, without over using the “key” arms (Rivera, Farns, Veras, and Ramirez).

    • Joseph P. says:

      You’re totally, right, Haggs, and this comes from a perpetual A-Rod apologist.

      However, it’s tough to get anything done when the guys in front of you aren’t getting on base. If Abreu had his normal .380 – .400 OBP, if Jeter’s was back to normal levels, if we had a real leadoff hitter, I think A-Rod would be fine. He’d come up with more guys on base, meaning pitchers couldn’t throw around him as easily.

      From Dave Pinto:

      “During late June/early July 1992, George Bell went on a huge power streak. ESPN asked me to see if George was getting better protection from the hitters behind him. What I discovered was that the protection was coming from the hitters in front of him, Raines, Ventura and Thomas. All were posting great OBAs during that period. Opponents had to pitch to Bell, because there was no place to put him.”

      • Haggs says:

        I hear you.

        It definitely stands to reason that he would be more productive if the guys in front of him were on base more but….

        Even I know that RISP is not the greatest stat in the world, but the Yanks have been awful this year in this department, and Arod’s numbers are even lower than the team’s numbers as per Pete Abe’s post this morning. That’s a pretty damning number to me. Giambi has been worse than Arod with RISP, but he has had several game altering hits. I’m struggling to
        think of really any for Arod this year.

        Maybe last year was just a supernatural year for Arod. Because if I recall correctly, Damon got off to a very slow ’07 start and Abreu was god awful – people wanted him off the team – Melky was being Melky, and there was usually a very light hitting first baseman hitting at the bottom of the order. But somehow Arod put up monster numbers.

        This year Damon only just went down. Before he went down, he was performing at a near All Star level offensively and light years better than last year at this time. So while I acknowledge the people in front of him affect his numbers, I still say the dropoff in production is mostly on him. Abreu’s numbers at this point in ’08 are probably better than his numbers at this point in ’07, and Giambi behind Arod is way better than whoever was behind him last year I think. The only guys not performing at or above their ’07 levels are Jeter in front of him and Posada in back of him. Matusi being out hurts definitely, but the offense wasn’t exactly cooking when he was in there.

        My finger keeps looking for other people to blame, but more often than not it lands on # 13. He’s got to carry more weight.

    • A.D. says:

      Its true he’s only hitting .238 w/RISP and .200 w/2 outs RISP

  10. kunaldo says:

    i understand we need a right handed bad, b/c we have a surplus of lefties……..but just last year, lamar OPS’ed .991(!!!!) against lefties………so uh….ya know….sexson can’t even come close to that

  11. kunaldo says:

    *bat

  12. Ben K. says:

    Let me toss something out there:

    Acquiring a bat would be a reactionary, unnecessary move. Acquiring a pitcher would address a real need of the team’s right now.

    • kunaldo says:

      uh….come again? granted, we’ve had our fair share of injuries, and the guys that havent been hitting should regress to back to about their career averages…..except melky career avg isnt great to begin with, abreu has been in decline for the past few years, ditto jeter(but i think he should be good in the 2nd half), and who knows when damon and matsui will be back(if at all for matsui)…….not to mention we have to start a backup catcher everyday

      we’ve been winning for the most part BECAUSE of our pitching, not in spite of it….i mean, i agree that ponson and rasner arent to be trusted….but are top 3 are DAMN good….and i think we have options in the minors

      Look, if we could pick up a solid pitcher that isnt too expensive(prospects wise), then I think we should def do it(but only a starter, our pen is fine)…….

      but Barry Bonds could be our for FREE damn it!!!! The whole “distractions/cancer in the clubhouse” arguement doesnt apply to a veteran clubhouse either…you think any of these guys will put up with his shit? more importantly, given his low cost, you think the FO will put up with it? if he does well, he stays, if not, he goes….theres NO RISK!

    • TurnTwo says:

      i totally agree.

    • Mark B says:

      Here is the flaw in you rthinking, Ben:

      1. Ponson is here to stay – as a 5th starter, he has more than earned it after his last start and overall record for the year.
      2. That leaves the pitcher we pick-up would replace Rasner, though would love to know who is available and wouldn’t cost us any of our top prospects. The answer is, no one.
      3. We potentially have 4 players – Wang, Kennedy, Hughes and Pavano- who could come back by September making a trade a waste of time and talent. I could be 0-4, though you have to plan for one of the them contributing by September.
      4. Our biggest issue is the donut hole we have in our outfield now until Damon comes back. We are among the MLB’s worst in hitting at each position. Assuming Matsui is out for the year, our replacements in Gardner and Christian can’t hit a lick and we have no one else to step in and provide some pop.
      5. Outside of Jorge, whom we can’t seem to find a home, we have no other right-handed bat with any home-run pop.

      That said, what would you give up for a starter?

  13. JohnC says:

    forget Sexson. We have enough guys who strike out too much as it is.

  14. steel says:

    At some point the New York Yankees will have to realize that the best and cheapest way to solve their offensive malaise is to sign mr. bonds the fact is there is no other real option out there that will not cost them a arm and a leg. All of baseball knows that their one weakness is hitting posada matsui melky on and on there are a lot of dead wood in the lineup and They have to address it.

  15. BillyBall says:

    Can we dissect this accurately please. I have read posts blaming Girardi for putting Molina and Melky in the everyday lineup. Well 1st of all the pitchers are pitching good because of Molina, so he stays in the lineup. Until you find another right handed bat to replace Melky, Melky stays as well. The problem is many of the games have been close games where the Yankees pitching has kept them in reach but the offense led by A-Rod’s right handed bat is pathetic. Add in an injured Posada who has clearly lost his position and he may need that surgery more than he is letting on. You need to add a RH bat. Adding Sexson would help. He provides pop if he could straighten out his swing. He also provides top defense. So that negates Betemit over at first. Now truthfully we do not need Betemit. His bat has sucked for the most part as well. Trading him would be enticing if only we would get something nice back in return. We still need a RH bat for the OF. Nady would be nice but the Pirates will not trade him or trade him for quality propsects which would not be worth it.

  16. [...] outlines the recent offensive struggles had by the Yankees. The team’s pitching has been getting the job done but the hitting has [...]

  17. Count Zero says:

    You know…there is one other intriguing bat out there that appears to be available besides Reggie Stocker…a certain guy who makes a lot of board games. ;-) OF/DH…mashes LH pitching.

    Rangers need cheap pitching…

    • A.D. says:

      Rangers are going to want a lot for him, and why he’s been a good citizen this year he can easily blow-up again….especially in NYC

      • Count Zero says:

        Agreed – question is: How much is a lot? He is only a rental after all. Would you go as high as IPK+ if it came down to it?

        His temperament doesn’t really put me off…

        • A.D. says:

          My issue with the temperment isn’t if he goes off, its if he goes off in a way that gets himself hurt, suspended, or starts to play poorely. Then you’ve given up an arm for a rental that did nothing

  18. Count Zero says:

    MB can play any of the three OF positions (and has). That gives you a lot of flexibility vis-a-vis Melky, Damon, Gardner and even Abreu. He’s also a switch hitter. So your point — basically that we would be saddled with another inflexible DH – is completely wrong. MB would actually give us much more flexibility than any of the players named above.

  19. Bart says:

    OBSERVATIONS

    The Yankees need on base percentage form everyone
    Note how most starting pitchers struggle from the stretch – getting on base by iteslef makes big difference — last night after the 1st inning everything was 2 outs before forcing Maholm to work

    when you get runniners in position move them – do not waste out — required is a plan and level of unselfishness needed to execute

    They need a right hahded bat – Matsui was bale to handle left handed picthing — he helped balance the lineup.

    Giambi is a better option against lefties than playing Posda and Christian (although the kid came through) – better G and Posada at DH – (not an option due to NL last night)

    ARod is swinging and missing slop curve balls, sliders and change ups and he is guess hitting – for fun chart his swings on 2-0 counts — he assumes he is going to get a FB — gears up and lets fly — this is making him jumpy — roll your recorder in slow mode and watch how quickly he is opening his left shoulder – that is just enought to turn HRs in Fly Outs

    Pitchers are not challenging him – they are willing to walk him – making him jumpier — Giambi is some protection but without a bat behind Giambi pitchers will pitch careful to both

    Missing Damon and Matsui the lineup has to be jeter 1, Abreu 2, Arof 3 Giambi 4.

    Therefore the need for s big hurt RHB

    And all my Yankee buddies are drinking Guiana Kool Aid if you think the team can get through July, Aug and Sept with Mussina Pettit and Chamberlin alone picthing lights out. The 4 and 5 guys have to be better than Ponson and Rasner.
    OR
    It will all be over before Wang, IPK and Hughes can return and return to form — if the Yankees can do Better than Ponson and Rasner then those three coming back could solidfy and provide options for Post Season – they wil need routine work and they wil have bad days — the run before they come back is essential to give them time

    I don’t mind trying kids from the minors —

    Molina has contolled the opponent running game – the Yankees don’t win close games against teams that run wihtout him -

    I love Jorge but if hhe can’t throw he should not catch — I would belive with the investment in him they have a Dr. opinion on doing further injury if he goes too many innngs behind the plate. If he can’t throw without risk he should at least DH.

    While you are all praising Moose — how mnay of those hits were 1-2 0-2 2-2 counts. he has been able to get key Ks and DPs — he needed a few more Ks and some help from Jeter — stil 2 runs is somethin you’d take if the Ynakees were hitting — how do you go 2-1 against the Pirates???

    Graphic showed Yankees with 3rd fewest errors but it seems jeter’s have all had game changing implication (I am not anti Jeets at all — just an observation)

    ISUUE – there is not much time to line up the Bat or the Arm if we are going to acquire help with a view to winning the 2nd half. If we use Minors for Arms we might strike pay dirt; we can’t get much worse than Rasner – Trouble with Ponson is now Giradi will give him multiple starts forgiving the return to form as somehting to work out of. If Eiland made him consistently as effective as he looked against TB — I will eat those words.

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