Yanks sleepwalk to the break

Nick Green wins it with a grand slam in extras
Bernie back in New York but only for his music

The Yankees really had a chance to do some damage this week. Coming off of a promising two-game sweep of the then-first place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks had four games against two fifth place teams. The future seemed bright and promising.

Well, here we are four days later, and the Yanks managed to go an utterly unimpressive 1-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays. The now-second place Rays haven’t won in seven games, and the Yanks find themselves 5.5 games behind Tampa in the Wild Card race and six behind Boston for the division. The Yanks have managed to gain just two measly games on Tampa and lose two to Boston over their last 10 days. That, folks, is dropping the ball.

Today, Andy Pettitte drew the short straw. Number 46 threw a decent enough game. He ran into one spot of trouble in the second when Marco Scutaro delivered his 34th career home run. The Blue Jays wouldn’t need anymore offense, and the Yanks lost 4-1, their lone run coming on Jason Giambi‘s 19th home run, tying him with A-Rod for the team lead at the break.

After the game, no one was too happy about the outcome, and with the extra off-day on Thursday, the team will have four days to stew this one over. “We stink right now, for the most part. As a team, we’ve kind of stunk it up here lately and we’ve got to play better,” Pettitte said to reporters after the game.

As PeteAbe noted, Pettitte’s comments were right on the money. Per the Journal-News’ beatwriter, 25 of the Yanks’ 32 plate appearances were three pitchers or fewer. The Yanks didn’t even bother to try to work the count facing a pitcher throwing on three day’s rest.

Now, the Yanks head into the break facing a lot of questions and with no answers. They still don’t know if they’re buyers or sellers; they still don’t know if they’re legitimate playoff contenders or a just a collection of overpaid and underperforming aging baseball players. We’re heading some alarming trade rumors that would address a need — middle relief — that has been one of the team’s lone bright spots these days.

The Yanks are directionless, and they collectively have a few days to forget about baseball. Other than Derek Jeter, A-Rod and Mariano Rivera, the Bombers will scatter home for the next four days. When they come back, the team could look different or they could go through the motions for the rest of the month and sell off whatever spare parts other teams want on July 31st. We’ve still got a long way to go before the season ends, but that +24 run differential suggests a team not bound for October baseball quite yet.

Nick Green wins it with a grand slam in extras
Bernie back in New York but only for his music
  • Brandon

    can anyone think of a high OBP % RHB guy that can leadoff in place until Damon is healthy ?

    • RollingWave

      No, but I can think of a super high OBP / SLG LHB guy that can fill the lineup at almost no cost. the guy hit a few HR in his career too, like 700+ of them.

      Seriously, Bonds for DH, and live with craptistic defense from Matsui / Giambi and Damon ‘s arm. option Gardner and bench Melky (or vice versa is you want)

      • Brandon

        Seriously.. No.

      • Hybrid Moments

        This isn’t going to happen. Cashman said it wasn’t going to happen. Why dwell or bring this up any longer?

      • Steve

        Of course.

        Because we don’t have enough distractions on this team and don’t have enough DH’s.

        • TurnTwo

          at least youd finally get some production for the trouble of dealing with the distractions.

        • RollingWave

          because we rather have less distraction instead of more talent?

          who cares if Cashman said no, I’m just saying it’s the right thing to do, this team is suppose to hit it’s way to teh playoff, it’s not hitting, the pitching end has actually held up a lot better than i would have dreaded considering all the things that went wrong with it. but he hitting side is just a mess that needs a big fix.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        I, honestly, would rather endure the rest of the season watching this frustrating offense than have the team win with Bonds. He’s no better than Canseco, a total piece of shit and completely unnecessary. Stats are nice, but the bad so far outweighs the good it’s not even funny.

  • brockdc

    I’m not entirely sure what being sellers would entail for this team, as the players that would yield the most return in trades (Damon, Matsui, Giambi, Mussina) have no-trade clauses and the ones who don’t are more or less damaged goods at this point in time (Matsui, IPK, Horne).

    • Steve

      The Yanks will never be sellers. That would tell their fan base that the new ownership isn’t committed to winning.

    • TurnTwo

      not to mention Damon and Matsui are both injured.

    • A.D.

      It would probably be a lack of buyer scenario.

      They could look to trade Farns before he comes a free agent, or Hawkins for a team that just needs an arm, basically minor deals.

      Otherwise it would be looking to see if Abreu & company would be willing to waive a no trade

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

    bring up Montero! it cant make the offense any worse. (yes, i’m kidding… kind of)

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

      how hard is it to take pitches? when did that disappear from the Yankee offense?

  • Hybrid Moments

    I would give up a lot for Holliday.

    • Chris

      I wouldn’t. His home-road splits are awful… he’s a product of Coors field (at least partially).

      • TurnTwo

        why is it so hard for people to just believe a player on the Rockies is good without automatically dismissing him for playing in Coors?

        • ChrisS

          Because he has a career .806 OPS away from Coors and a 1.106 OPS at Coors?

          Seriously, Holliday, 28, would be an .800 OPS LFer . Hooray. Currently, of MLB LFers, he would rank 12th, right next to powerhouses Fred Lewis and Luke Scott. That’s not something to give up a lot for.

          • TurnTwo

            did anyone factor in the fact that the home parks as a visitor he frequents in the NL West are some of the worst offensive ballparks in the league?

            i havent done the number crunching myself, but he plays the majority of his away games in parks that are the complete opposite of Coors; Petco, Dodger Stadium, and ATT in SF.

            and what about the starting pitching he faces in the NL West compared with that in the AL East, or whereever.

            when all is said and done, he’s not a 1.10OPS hitter full time, and he’s not a .800 OPS hitter.

            • ChrisS

              So you’re just guessing that he’s better than the numbers suggest and waiting for someone to do the extra math for you?

              • TurnTwo

                no, ive watched him play. i know he’s a better player than Luke Scott. give me a break. the guy is a perennial All Star, and a pure hitter.

              • dbroncos31

                Matt Holliday’s Road sOPS+ (park adj.)

                2008: 140
                2007: 130
                2006: 116
                2005: 98
                2004: 74

                He is clearly a good hitter, home or away, but he would be hurt by a move away from Coors.

                • TurnTwo

                  of course he would be. anybody would be. but even if you take him away from Coors, he’s an All Star caliber LF.

          • A.D.

            The issue is the Coors effect, while it does make hitters better it also makes them worse on the road than reality.

            Look up Larry Walker & Andres Gallaraga’s numbers they’re bonafied hitters wherever they went, and their splits were huge at Coors vs away

            That said (and I know I’ve posted this before) i’d rather have Atkins then Holliday

  • http://conservationvalue.blogspot.com Jon G

    Abreau, IPK and who else for Holliday??

    • TurnTwo


    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Why would the Rox want Abreu?

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        The only way the Rockies don’t hang up the phone on you if your offer is Holliday for Abreu and IPK is if the next word out of your mouth is Joba Chamberlain.

        Pass. Both on this deal and on acquiring Holliday in general.

        The OF that intrigues me the most (who will be on the market eventually, but probably not until the offseason or possibly midseason next year) is Josh Willingham. He strikes out too much (not Adam Dunn too much, but you know what I mean) but he has pop, plays a good outfield, gives you a little of everything, and he’s posted lines of .277/.356/.496, .265/.364/.463, .272/.368/.506 the past three years playing in a pitchers park.

        Florida is going to have to pay him eventually, so he’ll be available. And we need outfielders… even if both AJax and Tabata “hit”, the rest of our organization is either decrepit or one-dimensional. He shouldn’t take a Holliday-esque bounty to acquire, probably just 2 decent prospects. And the Marlins love young, projectable pitching, which we have in abundance.

  • The Scout

    When you go nearly one hundred games into the season and your record hovers just above .500, there isn’t a lot of mystery — you simply are a mediocre team. As a rule, the wild card system lets such teams remain in “distant” contention until late in the season. I expect that to be the case for the Yankees this year.

    In past seasons the Yankees have started slowly and eventually gotten hot, typically carried by their hitters. But the players have aged, and eventually that catches up. Shave twenty points off of every palyers batting average or on-base percentage, shave a few points off their average with RISP, etc., and you have the difference between scoring four or five runs a game and what we are seeing now. The failure is collective, and nearly every healthy player is responsible.

    The pitchers and especially the bullpen deserve a lot fo credit for holding up their end of the deal. It’s the hitters who have failed miserably. There is no quick fix for this, either. It is unlikely one bat will turn it around, although I admit sometimes a hot hitter can be a catalyst by taking the pressure off of the others.

    If this analysis is correct, the Yankees look more like sellers as the deadline approaches. Of course, as others have already noted, they are sellers with little to deal. Most of the corrections would have to be made after the season, when management needs to make a thorough assessment of the core of the team and its age.

    One more point: I keep reading the same reports of the Yankees’ interest in left-handed bullpen help. If this season has shown one thing clearly, it is that having a left-hander in the pen has little impact on winning and losing. The righties besides Mariano have given us everything we could have expected and then some. To deal a valuable chip for a lefty makes no sense. Cashman has refrained from throwing prospects at high-level starters; I woudl be surprised to see him suddenly throw the at a lefty set-up guy.

    • Steve

      “To deal a valuable chip for a lefty makes no sense. Cashman has refrained from throwing prospects at high-level starters; I would be surprised to see him suddenly throw the at a lefty set-up guy.”

      Not just lefty relievers, straight rentals in general don’t make much sense for the Yanks. You’re paying twice for someone you could just sign as a FA in a few months. Giving up prospects makes sense if your making a deal that is in the long term interest of the club, and that would mean an extension.

      You could push all of your chips to the middle if you have a real sense you can win it all this year. The Yanks are rebuilding on the fly, trying to compete and get younger at the same time. I’m not sure they know at this point who they are, what they have and which pieces they want to keep and which they want to deal.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Why? Why is a lefty reliever so important? It’s a luxury, not a necessity. This team has bigger problems than Billy Traber’s ineffectiveness.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      When you go nearly one hundred games into the season and your record hovers just above .500, there isn’t a lot of mystery — you simply are a mediocre team.

      …unless you’re a team beset by injuries who’s starting to get healthy. Then you’re a team that’s artificially mediocre.

  • Steve

    I would question whether or not this team is playing hard for Girardi, but the team looked like it was sleepwalking all the time under Torre as well. And there are just too many obvious flaws to this team that to blame anyone but the players themselves and to a lesser extent the GM who assembled them would be missing the mark.

    Lets be honest, its a small miracle this team is still competing for anything. Yes we have a 200 mil payroll, but how many teams could withstand losing their #1 starter, cleanup hitter for a month, LF/DH for a month, #4 starter for 3 months, a key setup man for 2 months and still compete? Then add all the slumps/declined production of Cano, Melky, Jeter, Abreu and a few others and its amazing were in this thing at all.

    If you assume we get healthy and those players approach their career averages, we have a lot of good Baseball ahead.

  • monkeypants

    There is often a major risk when “buying” at the trade deadline that you will overpay for a rental player, unless it is a salary dump scenario (lie Abreu). The Yankees must be cautious not to blow valuable prospects on some middling player.

    On the other hand, a team with a $200 million payroll full of aging and pricey stars is not in much of a position to be a “seller,” either. Who on this team would be attractive to other teams? What teams are in a position to take on salaries? Maybe Abreu is movable. Maybe Giambi, but he has a NTC.

    With this in mind, I think that the Yankees should approach the deadline as extremely cautious buyers. Maybe they can pick up a RH bat for cheap, who can play corner OF/DH. Maybe they can luck into a decent hitting catcher (like Greg Zaun), move Molina to the bench and Posada to full time DH, and wait out the return of Damon. Maybe they can pick up a middling starter to replace Ponson and/or Rasner.

    Otherwise, the best thing they can do, probably, is to stay put, ride out the season, and re-evaluate then. A whole lot of money comes off the books after the season, and the more important questions for the long term will involve how to use that resource.

  • A-Point

    I think it depends more on who they might be able to get that would make the Yankees buyers or wall flowers. I don’t see them dealing away many of these players.

  • Rich

    If the Yankees could trade Matsui, Damon, and/or Abreu (which is highly unlikely given health, no trade clause, and contractual issues), they should do it in heartbeat for reasons apart from whether they should be buyers or sellers, but if they are going to be buyers, their primary need is for another bat.

    The larger issue is getting value in any deal. I would trade anyone on the roster if it made the team better in both the short and long term.

  • pat

    ok lets be honest here the chances of reasonably trading for a good young bat are shot to shit. there seems to be a new trend in the trade market which is to be completely irrational in your demands of yankee prospects and then settle for much less than what you were asking from us… santana and cc as my examples.

    also how can anybody in their right mind look at a lineup that in a short time will feature damon jeter abreu arod giambi posada and cano and say we need another bat? what we need is everbody to start progessing towards their career means ( strange to hear that in a positive sense i know).

    • A.D.

      Well it’s not just Yankee prospects, this happens for all teams, because trades have happened like Kazmir – Zambrano & Bartolo Colon for Lee, Phillips, Sizemore, and co. So as a GM you might as well ask for the moon because someone might just do it.

      In reality the best trades are made in the off season, so if the Yankees are looking to buy, or have a prospect swap they’ll most likely be waiting until then

  • BillyBall

    Once again I agree with you my man. I was saying to trade 1 of the 3 at the beginning of the year. We have too many players that fill the same position. In Abreau case his defense can easily be replaced and when Matsui gets back he is a patient hitter, he can be plugged into the 3 hole as the DH. If we can get something for Abreau and eat some of that contract I would do it. But we need a good defensive right handed bat in RF!

  • BillyBall

    You know who I would I would be interested in but he is now on Oakland. Matt Murton. Billy Beane would want our whole farm as he despises the Yankees and always asks for the world. Matt Murton is young and has decent numbers in his limited at bats in the majors aside from this season. He may be one of those diamonds in the rough.

    • A.D.

      Yeah I imagine Beane sees Gonzalez, Sweeney & Murton as his OF of the future

    • TurnTwo

      there was a rumor i read this morning which said that Beane was thinking of now turning around and packaging Murton with Huston Street, and that the Rays would be interested in that type of deal.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Yeah I saw that too. Makes a ton of sense for the Rays because the wouldn’t just be rentals. Murton destroys lefties.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

          Guarantee you that Beane takes back at least one of the Price/Davis/McGee pitchers if he makes that deal.

          • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

            It won’t be Price, Friedman’s not that stupid. McGee just had Tommy John surgery, so count him out. But a package highlighted by Davis for Street and Murton? That’s reasonable.

  • Brad K

    The Yanks are at an interesting crossroads. We clearly won’t be able to sell much at the deadline. The NTC and the bloated contacts pretty much guarantee that. In addition as noted by Pat there are clearly two price lists for would be traders. There is the Yankee’s price list and then there is the rest of baseball. The price for the Yankees boarders on insanity. It clearly is starting to look like collusion amongst the other 29 teams to jack up the price for any Yankee deals. The Santana and CC examples show this.

    I don’t know where we go from here. It’s clear you can’t bet the farm on the farm. Hal’s comments not withstanding how do you know what the right mix of free agents and home grown talent is if you don’t know what your home grown talent is capable of. In my mind with the injuries to Hughes and IPK and with Joba in uncharted waters we are nowhere near where we needed to be in terms of preparing for ’09. My fear is that this rebuilding on fly program might turn into a multi-year process which rally brings into question the contacts we gave to Posada, MO, and even A-Rod.

    • Setty

      How the hell are you questioning Mo’s contract?

      • A.D.

        Agreed, but better yet how are you questioning A-Rods….its 10 years it spans any type of rebuilding

        • Brad K

          No disrespect to MO but closer is the last thing this team needs to worry about. You have to have the lead after 8 innings to get the ball into the hands of your closer. Right now that’s not the issue. Let’s be honest MO is pitching much better then a lot of people expected he would this year and this year is most likely a lost cause. What will next year or the year after hold for a 40 year old closer?

          As far as A-Rod goes that is more difficult to say given the length of his contact but one thing is clear, hitters get old too. If we can’t put the team in a position in the next few years to capitalize on his power then we will be on the burden side of this contract.

          If asked I would give a kidney for MO or Posada so I am not questioning their character or what they have meant to this team. On the other hand baseball is a business and you have to factor that into your thinking.

    • A.D.

      I mean the collusion comment is a bit redic, why I completely agree that the Mets package was inferior to the Yankees, they also had the luxury of having less talent, so basically they gave Minnesota all they had after the Yankees publicly dropped out.

      C.C. price tag was expensive, though the Brewers did give up LaPorta a better hitting prospect than the Yankees have at any minor league level & the number 23 prospect in the game (maybe you could make a case for Montero, but LaPorta is much closer) for a half-season rental. So that’s a pretty big price.

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

      you can sure question the Arod and Posada contracts, but not Mo. he’s having the best season of his career. if he’s anywhere near this for another 2.5 years, we’ll be fine.

      it’s Posada and Arod that are going to be burdens.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Alex Rodriguez is in amazing physical shape. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he continues to hit well for a long, long time.

        He doesn’t turn 40 until midway through 2015. At that point he’ll only have two and a half years left on his contract. A contract that is frontloaded, btw… the three years in the deal where he makes less than 25M are the three at the end, when he’ll likely be the least productive. And, in by 2017, damn near every team in baseball could have a 42-year old hitter on the decline making 20M…

  • Steve S

    At this point they are struck because the offense has been the biggest problem for the last two months. I think they do need to find replacements for Rasner and Ponson but they do have Hughes in the background and could have Wang back by September. The bats are the problem and there arent any immediate fixes on the trade market and there arent that many open spots for people. Unless you are willing to bench certain guys. I think they have to hope that Abreu, Cano and Jeter go on a tear in the second half and they get Johnny Damon back.

    Whats real sad is that this team might be better suited for the playoffs than the last three teams. They seem to have put together a nice bullpen and Joba really gives this rotation the capability of being special (assuming Wang comes back). Cashman needs to try and add some complimentary pieces without giving up big pieces and stick to his plan. Allowing his roster and specifically the pitching staff to turn over and get younger. The only thing that sucks is that it means they pursue Texiera in the offseason and I just dont know if he is worth it at a Boras price tag. Handing out big contracts to a 1B seems like a waste of resources. Especially if they believe that Montero will be there circa 2011-12.

  • Charlie C

    I don’t think these guys have any heart or competitive guts. Bobby Murcer wasn’t the greatest Yankee, but when a great Yankee (Thurman Munson) died, Bobby put on the show of his life. When Bobby Murcer dies, what do these pampered primadonnas do…..lose 5-1 to a team with 1/2 the talent on the field.

    I have been a Yankee fan for 50 years and this group makes me wanna puke.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Charlie C:

      If you’ve been a Yankee fan for 50 years, I salute you. I’m barely over half that age, and I’ve been damn fortunate to have seen more ups than downs in my time rooting for the Yanks, so you certainly have a perspective and a history that deepens your fandom, I’d assume. However…

      …your comment is just nonsensical. How do you think that the Yankees losing 4-1 (not 5-1) has anything, anything at all to do with Bobby Murcer dying? And how does a 4-1 loss, against a pitcher who’s actually pretty damn good and has nasty stuff, make anybody on this team a “pampered primadonna”?

      If any part of your head thinks that there’s a single player in any level of this organization who heard about the death of Murcer (who was NOT one of their teammates, btw) after his battle with cancer and subsequently thought to themselves anything even vaguely along the lines of “You know what, who cares about Bobby Murcer, I’m making a fat salary, I’m going to go mail this performance in and I hope we lose today because I just don’t give a shit about anything but me”, you are so far detached from reality that I don’t know what to do with you. It’s a baseball game. They’re players, they want to win. They wanted to win on Saturday when Bobby Murcer was alive, and they wanted to win Sunday when he wasn’t. Since all of them are human beings, I’d wager that most of them probably did want to win a little more, to “win one for Murcer”, but they didn’t. Not because they weren’t trying, but because they’re human beings, who are fallible, playing a competitive contest where sheer will guarantees nothing and where failure is more common that success. It’s baseball… somedays, it’s just not your day, no matter how much you burn in your heart for it to be your day.

      You don’t know any of these players or how hard they compete or how big their “heart” is. And you don’t know how what they’re feeling, how they’re coping, or how that translates into their play on the field. I’m so sick of people complaining about the Yankees not “trying” or not playing with “heart”, because it’s stupid, idle, baseless, unknowable, counterproductive speculation, but to try and tie those vague inanities into the death of a Yankee announcer (again, not even a teammate that these guys are practicing and playing and rooming with and going to the club with and interacting with like family, but an announcer who is 30 years their senior and who lives a completely different life than they do) and proclaim yourself offended that the Yankees lost to a guy in Burnett who probably would have struck out Bobby Murcer himself 4 times is just horrid.

      Drivel like this is ten times as offensive as any player actually not having “competitive guts”.

      You make me want to puke.

      • Jon

        Well done.

      • Charlie C

        I am honored to have gotten a response from a 25+ year old expert on all phases of the Yankees. You were not even born when the really great Yankees’ teams played so I can and will ignore your ignorance.

  • Setty

    Was everyone this upset last year when we were in worse shape at this time than we are now? I don’t see how or why this team would be sellers. With all that’s happened (injuries, ineffectiveness of Kennedy/Hughes, etc.), they’re still only 5.5 games back with 2.5 months to play. Once Damon gets back and hopefully Matsui, the offense could easily start rolling. If Cashman could grab one more innings eater type of starter at an affordable price, I see no reason why this team can’t make a similar run to the one last year

  • Charlie C

    These guys are too busy wondering if their hair looks OK and their uniform fits right to play the game the way it should be played. They get way too much media attention for their mediocre performance.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Sorry to post this off topic, and to post a story from the New York Post (please don’t ban me), but Joel Sherman said that the Red Sox may be “gauging the catcher market” in hopes of upgrading Jason Varitek.

    If an All Star gets benched later in that same year because his team made a trade for Paul LoDuca or Brad Ausmus, shouldn’t he be banned from ever being referred to as a “good player” ever again?