Yanks finding new and creative ways to lose

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Who didn't see this one coming?

In the 7th inning, Michael Kay and Al Leiter do what they do every night at that time: They read the choices for Chevy Player of the Game. As Darrell Rasner’s name garnered the top slot on their slate of candidates, my thoughts flashed, albeit briefly, on the word “jinx.” With the way the Yanks have been playing lately, how could the YES Network be so presumptuous with three innings left in a 1-0 game to start offering up names for Player of the Game?

As luck — or fate — would have it, the Yanks would not win this game, and they didn’t win in spectacular fashion. When the dust settled — and it literally settled as A-Rod was called out at second for the first out of the ninth — the Yanks were emerge 2-1 losers in a game they desperately needed to win. With that loss, they’re one game out of fourth place, 11 games out of first and, more importantly, 6.5 games behind Boston in the Wild Card with 37 games left to play. No wonder Yahoo! Sports ran this image earlier tonight.

Before we really delve into the negatives from tonight, let’s stop and tip our collective caps to Darrell Rasner. The Yanks’ righty had one of his better starts of the year. He went 6.1 innings and allowed a walk and three hits. He struck out three and kept the Blue Jays off base. His only mistake came on a 3-2 pitch that Adam Lind deposited beyond a leaping Bobby Abreu over the right field wall to tie the game at one.

With that out of the way, it’s really hard to say anything nice about the rest of this game. Again, the Yanks didn’t hit with runners in scoring position. Bobby Abreu lead off the fourth with a double and ended up staying on second as the next three batters — A-Rod, Jason Giambi and Xavier Nady — went down with nary a peep. Jason Giambi had four strike outs; A-Rod three. While A.J. Burnett, in his audition, was masterful, the Yanks couldn’t put anything together at all.

Meanwhile, I hate to say this, but in a way, I was right when I questioned Hideki’s arrival last night. Matsui’s return to the lineup — a smashing 0-for-3 performance — pushed Johnny Damon into center field where he made one error early on and then cost the Yanks the game with one of the worst plays you’ll ever see a center fielder make in the 8th inning. Melky Cabrera would have caught that ball; Brett Gardner would have caught that ball; it’s quite possible I would have caught that ball. But Damon didn’t; the Blue Jays scored a second run, and that was that.

Or, that was that until the ninth inning when Alex Rodriguez led off with a bloop base hit over the first baseman’s head and managed to get himself thrown out at second base for the first out of the inning. On the surface, I have no problem with A-Rod’s play. He was trying to make something — anything — happen for a lackluster team and got himself thrown out.

But after watching the replay, I have a problem with A-Rod’s not really running hard to first. He didn’t have second base in his mind out of the box. Only after he saw Lyle Overbay chasing the ball did he turn it on as he rounded first, and by then, it was too late. Much like this Yankee season so far, A-Rod just fell a little short. He was out; the Yanks lost. And that’s that.

DotF when you need it the most
Who didn't see this one coming?
  • BigBlueAL

    Ben, you definitely wouldve caught that ball!!

  • Rich

    I agree about YES’ almost always ill-timed player of the game vote.

    Speaking of Melky.

    • jsbrendog

      beltran got sent all the way down to single a at age 24

      there’s hope

  • Ben C

    Not only did A-Rod not hustle out of the box, he took the worst turn around first I have ever seen in my life. I learned how to take an angle around the bases in T-Ball….

    • pat

      in arods defense he thought the ball was foul and was very suprised it landed fair also lyle overbay made a HELL of a play on that. To slide and grab the ball as it was rolling away from him then get back to his feet and gun him down was amazing, most firstbasemen are not that agile and arod is safe by a mile. Or wait.. maybe just our first baseman couldnt do that, either way it was a great play.

      • TurnTwo

        no chance he thought that was foul. he stood for a second to watch it off his bat out of the box, and it was right in front of him the entire time he was running.

        it was a great play by Overbay, but ARod should have been safe, and would have been if he ran the bases properly, and right out of the box. right idea, awful execution.

        • Old Ranger

          Must say, you two have hit it on the head. No excuse just facts.
          How many times must we see some of the guys take it for granted they have a single/out…bad approach to base running. Guys in A, AA don’t do that…of course, they can’t hit as well either. Non the less, I am positive this will be addressed, to-day, tomarrow and in ST…hopefully to a few new players. Vets’ have their contracts, there isn’t much a mgr. can do with them…now rookies, that’s a different mater all together.
          If anyone is more up set then Johnny (non-catches) I don’t know who. The team and the fans are up set, but for a MLB player to do that 2x in the same game…that’s like putting sand in your shorts.27/09?

          • jsbrendog

            he was thinking about what girl hes gonna nail now that he’s getting divorced and which car he’d rather give up in the divorce…..

        • pat

          say what you want abt arod but he comes to play every day, if he didnt think it was going foul then why watch it? Obviously it wasnt a homerun. Ill give it to you that he didnt book it outta the box but he would have no other reason to look if he didnt think it wasnt going foul. Just alex tryin to do too much, trying to be jeterian.

  • bill

    This season is really ugly, and its about to get even uglier. Victor Zambrano is now being considered as an option for Saturday’s open start. Ugh. Why is he here? I would rather see Aceves. I dont care if he gets bombed. At least hes not Victor Zambrano.

  • Lee

    I read this form religiously and this is my first Yankee game I have watched all year because I have been abroad in China. I was so disappointed, I can’t imagine what it must be like watching this all season. Arod looked asleep running to first when he got thrown at second. How can Damon forget how to a catch a routine fly ball, not once but twice! People may disagree with me on this, but I feel another blunder was leaving Rasner in for the seventh inning. Rasner looked more lucky then dominate tonight and I thought to myself before the homerun, “Wow they are so lucky that their #5 starter is doing this well, why risk it when you have a great bullpen and you desperately need a win?” Here’s to hoping the Red Sox have a major collapse….

    • bill

      Wow. China. Youre lucky you missed this alot of the season because theyre done. This team is filled with a bunch of overpaid chokes. I hate them and I want to see young players here in September as we look toward 2009 and beyond.

      • steve (different one)

        People may disagree with me on this, but I feel another blunder was leaving Rasner in for the seventh inning.

        yeah, i disagree.

        it’s SOOOOO easy to say this b/c we know what happened, but i don’t see the justification for pulling a starter who has given up 2 hits and thrown about 70 pitches. at all.

        i don’t really see how Rasner was lucky. he was throwing strikes and the Jays were getting themselves out. i didn’t see a lot of line drives. just a lot of pop ups and grounders to short.

        i guess i don’t understand how it’s a “blunder” when your starter throws one bad pitch in 6+ innings.

        • r.w.g.

          I really, really want to agree with you. Everything you’re saying is logical.. but it’s Darrell Rasner. He’s not a major league pitcher, he’s a AAAA guy 100%.

          I don’t think Girardi should be criticized because even if he pulled him, because then he’s got to find 4 innings out of the bullpen and no matter how good a pen is, that can always turn dicey very quickly.

          It’s not a big deal.. you’ve already got Rasner pitching in the first place so you’re behind the 8-ball. But Rasner is somebody I would never trust to hold a 1-run lead in a must-win game, no matter how well he’s been pitching. He is so not this year’s Aaron Small.

          • Pinko

            The only mistake was really Rasner throwing a breaking ball anywhere near a left-handed batter with power, up one run late in the game. You could say he missed his location but right-handed breaking balls…break. They end up coming into a lefty’s swing plane. Fastball inside maybe but breaking ball? This is either IRod or Eiland’s mistake. From the look on Eiland’s face after the homer, seems like IRod called it. Now we see how he got his reputation.

            • r.w.g.

              Blaming it on Pudge, even if it was his fault, is just a circular argument.

              Rasner isn’t good enough to get through a game against a 4th place team without walking a tight-rope. He just isn’t. It’s not his fault, he tries and I respect that.

            • steve (different one)

              From the look on Eiland’s face after the homer, seems like IRod called it. Now we see how he got his reputation.

              i thought his “reputation” was that he called too many fastballs with men on base.

              i’ve never heard anything like this.

              we don’t really know WHERE he called for the pitch, Rasner simply could have missed his spot badly.

  • brockdc

    Add centerfield to the list of necessities for next year. To get an impact one, however, they’d need to deal some prospects, as the impending free agent crop is pretty lackluster.

    • http://salarydump.wordpress.com Joltin’ Joe

      I guess the Yankee brass will have to decide if it’s worth taking lumps while they await Austin Jackson, or deal prospects (possibly himself) for Mark Kotsay, Chris Young, Nate McLouth, et cetera.

      • http://www.thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

        Brett Gardner can play CF next year. Damon will be in LF and Nady will be in RF. I think that works just fine.

      • Steve

        Or you could get a veteran stopgap player like Cameron or somebody like that as you wait for Jackson.

        Personally, I’m not all that high on Jackson so I wouldn’t mind dealing him in a package for a long term solution.

        • ChrisS

          Jackson is a long term solution.

          Otherwise who? You want some established guy? He’s gonna cost a lot more than Jackson. Prospect/prospect swaps are rare.

          Being impatient with younger players is what gets the Yankees into these doldrums where they have little to no ML help available in the minors. They deal off their middling prospects and kids that fail to be all-stars out of the gate. Then a few seasons later, they wonder why they have to, oh for example, sign a 37 year old catcher to a four year deal.

          • Old Ranger

            ChrisS…
            I and most of us fans, agree with your supposition.
            What is it with Cameron, that has some going ga ga over him? Use what we have, Brett in CF, is NOT a Black Hole. He may well hit only .260/.270 avg. with .350 OBP (actually, good #s) but hell, that’s better then Melky…and the team put up with that for 3-4 months. 27/09?

  • Haggs

    There’s no defending those botches by Damon. All of us assumed his problems would be throwing the ball, not catching it.

    I might add though, that if Gardner was in CF tonight, then it’s quite possible and probably likely that Damon would have been on the bench. And if Damon was on the bench, then he would not have led off the game with a walk and scored the Yankees only run.

    Those plays by Damon were freak plays. It’s not like the Yankees sent Betemit to the outfield to maximize offense (as if). If a slow runner scored from second on a sharp single, or if a ball got over Damon’s head or into the gap that Melky or Gardner could have run down, then putting Damon in CF could be genuinely second guessed. But those were plays that Damon always makes, so you curse at the television and chalk the game up to the baseball gods.

    We knew going in we were trading offense for defense, it just wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    • Steve

      Thank Johnny Damon. If he catches those balls, we have another excruciating 13 inning game where we can’t score any runs.

      This time a loss, since were on the road.

      • steve (different one)

        lol. so f’ing true.

        same with A-Rod.

        it would have been MORE frustrating to watch him not move off of 2B the entire inning.

  • http://www.thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    Honestly, that last play (the costly one in the 8th inning) by Damon wasn’t a routine play, although the ball should have been caught (and could have been caught). It looked like he was a bit timid knowing that the wall was behind him and after having several bad collisions throughout the year, I think he hesitated for a second.

    Anyways, can Girardi actually try something new with the lineup? He loved moving guys around a few weeks ago, how about now? Why not try Nady behind A-Rod or even Abreu behind A-Rod and Nady in front of A-Rod. Anything at all would be a big help, as long as Giambi doesn’t have to stand at the plate with RISP.

    • Steve

      How about getting Giambi and his .207 with RISP out of the 5 hole? Put Matsui there, put Nady there, put anyone there.

      The worst (everyday) hitter with RISP is batting in the run producing 5 hole. Look it up. Only Melky (.204) was worse, and he’s gone.

      • nick blasioli

        only 37 more game to watch giambi,,,anything will be an improvement…cant wait….

      • Slugger27

        i just hate giambi…. he has his once (sometimes twice) per week homers, he grows hilarious mustaches, he somehow seems to have a .400 obp every year, he wears gold thongs…. but i just hate the guy. its easy to say it after a 4k game, but ive said it the whole year. actually like 5 years. he cant play (no range) defense, he cant consistently get base hits, he cant run, he doesnt drive in runs, hes inconsistent, and hes fat. god i hate him.

    • Pinko

      Girardi’s alternating righty-lefty, normally a good idea, so I wouldn’t kill him about the line-up. As for Damon, someone like Long or Pena, who were here last season, would have known that Johnny broke his toe against the centerfield fence here last season. Perhaps Damon was leary of that and screwed up those catches because of it. You know Damon himself wouldn’t cop to it. Once again, the coaching staff is ill-prepared.

  • Bart

    I have to stop this — may the I is the collective us

    — thinking Rasner is awful – an accident waiting to hapen – and he pitches a great game — the best start sice Joba in Boston against Beckett – a must win pressure game against another starter who has been terrifc for a fourth place team.

    — picking on Ponson who has been more than sturdy

    — and saying only yesterday that Damon’s bat would make up for any loss in CF compared to Gardner — have to eat those words for last night

    Does Eiland get any credit for these guys or the game plan pitch selection??

    Is Rasner already IPK or what IPK can be?

    Hope Andy ids the good Andy today — 2 runs may be too much for the 0 fers in the lineup

    Play today win today — the first win of the 18 game win streak

    • ChrisS

      Rasner is a 4/5th starter, always has been. He’s got a 2:1 K:BB ratio and he can eat innings occasionally. The guy’s not some flash-in-the-pan Aaron Small that comes up and surprises people for a few months with smoke and mirrors and then disappears. Ras is the typical journeyman starter that’ll have a 5-10 year career chewing up innings at the back of the rotation.

      He’ll take his lumps occasionally, but he’ll throw some gems like last night.

  • Mark B

    Thankfully college football begins in 8 short days. I can’t take many more heartbreaking losses like last night. What a disappointment….

  • Batty

    2008 seems to be a failure in a lot of ways. If we didn’t make the playoffs but was able to develop IPK and Hughes that would be something. A good draft would be something. Seeing Girardi develop more as a manager would be something. Even the stadium is being knocked down to make way for higher paying friends of friends of fans since most of the real fans are going to be priced out.

    I guess Joba is a very promising development this year but now he’s injured you have to wonder if this is a sign of things to come.

    • mustang

      “If we didn’t make the playoffs but was able to develop IPK and Hughes that would be something.”

      That’s a real good point I think a lot of us were sold on the idea that if we didn’t make the playoff that we would at least develop some of the younger guys. And yes Joba and a few of the bullpens guys have developed, but Hughes is almost back to square one. IPK I don’t even know and the younger position player’s look like back ups at best. It’s been a long season.

  • Axl

    Call it a “jinx” if you want. But it’s bigger than that. This club is cursed. They don’t care about anything anymore. We’re getting constant quality starts out of Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner and we’re STILL losing ballgames. We can’t blame pitching this time. Our hitting is HORRIBLE. The entire way we are playing this game is unbelievable.

    We deserve 4th place. These pathetic players need a wake up call for next year. The Damon play sums up how the entire team feels. Tired, careless, unenthusiastic. And for a 200+ million dollar team. That’s not acceptable.

    I’m pissed off. These guys are pathetic. We’re paying them 200 million dollars to be in 4th place?!?

    Fire them now. Don’t wait until the off season. Embarrass them! Teach them a lesson!

    • Setty

      What does “fire them” mean? You can’t go up to Johnny Damon and say “you’re fired”. It doesn’t work like that, this is baseball, not Wall Street. Although I shouldn’t be surprised hearing this vantage point from a person who truly believes that the Yankees are somehow cursed.

  • ChrisS

    This place is starting to give the LoHud comment section a run for its money.

  • mustang

    Forget about jinx or curse it’s ” Jason Giambi had four strikeouts; A-Rod three.” That’s 7 strikeouts from the 4th and 5th spots in the line up more then half of Burnett’s strikeouts.
    It’s like a black hole runners check in, but they don’t CHECK OUT !!!!

  • Bo

    Let’s face some facts.

    This just isn’t a very good team.

    They are a solid 84 win bunch.

    Which will lead to a lot of retooling this winter like Boston after the ’06 season.

  • Bo

    If they would have signed Beltran when they had the chance to do it a few years ago this isn’t a problem.

    Another mistake by Cashman.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      George wanted Randy Johnson, and Yankee brass was unable (or unwilling) to budget the money for both. You can’t harpoon Cashman for that.

      • mustang

        Agree.

    • r.w.g.

      With respect to Cashman, George Steinbrenner kind of drew the line in the sand and said the team was going after Randy Johnson or Carlos Beltran that off-season, not both.. and the Boss wanted Johnson.

    • Count Zero

      Another uninformed comment.

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

      beltran’s had about a 120 OPS+ with the mets. damon’s been about 110. is that really worth 3 more years and $70 million?

      • steve (different one)

        if Cashman had his way the Yankees would have had a Matsui/Beltran/Guerrero OF the last 3-4 years.

        and they may have won another WS.

        what happens in 2005 if Vlad is on the Yankees and not on the Angels?

        we’ll never know.

        but we absolutely do know that George personally signed Sheff instead of letting Cashman sign Guerrero.

        cleaning up this mess doesn’t happen overnight. hopefully this offseason will really bring some change.

      • ceciguante

        well, damon can’t play CF — which he was signed to do. beltran can. right now, the yanks’ biggest positional hole is the lack of a CFer. so the answer to your question is probably yes.

  • xkevinx

    The silver lining?

    If the yankees continue to slide, their !st round pick will be protected and they would only lose the second rounder for signing Sabathia. They would have 2 1st rounders, one of which would be top 15.

    If they manage to beat up on Boston, maybe they can cause the Red Sox to miss the playoffs.

  • r.w.g.

    The team needs big changes in the off-season. I know some guys (Damon, Matsui) have guaranteed contracts, but the team just needs change.

    The basic core of Alex, Derek, Mo, Posada, Giambi, Matsui, Sheff/Abreu, Bernie/Johnny, has been given multiple chances and they have slowly been winding down. They had terrific chances in 2003, 2004, and 2007, but these cats are finished.

    I hope the team is smartly active in free agency. Cashman had better not talk himself into not spending cash in favor of leaving a spot open for somebody like Kennedy, Hughes, or Jackson. This team needs serious young veteran help (Sheets, Teixeira, CC, Dunn.. got to get at least one of those guys). I don’t want them trading the farm for stop-gaps but we’ve got to have our prospects bust the door down, not have them put up dainty innings totals in the minors and be annointed the next big thing.

    • steve (different one)

      if they sign CC and either Pettitte or Moose, i don’t mind leaving one slot open for Hughes. he’d be the 5th starter, and there would be plenty of backup in case he struggles (the Yankees have gotten tons of 5-ish ERA innings from guys like Rasner/Ponson, that’s ok in your #5 slot. it’s not ok in your #4 slot).

      but i am 100% positive they won’t start the season with Kennedy in the rotation. positive.

      then they need a big time bat, be it Manny/Tex/Burrell/Dunn and a CFer.

      • r.w.g.

        Hughes as the 5th starter would be fine. I still believe the kid can be very good as long as his breaking pitches maintain their bite. I’m a little worried about injuries with him, but I still believe in his ability to miss enough bats to help us win (which I can’t say about Ian Kennedy).

        If I could pick any 3 free agents for the Yanks to just go all out on, it would CC, Tex, and Sheets. Dunn would look good batting second behind Jeter.

        What I’m most worried about is bypassing Teixeira because the FO decides Jorge will have to play some 1B.

        Of Matsui, Damon, Giambi, and Abreu.. Abreu is really the only guy I’d want back. Matsui has been a gamer but we really need to finally resolve this DH logjam.

        • Patrick

          I think the Posada question will partially dictate how our offseason goes. If he can catch, then it will be him and Molina. If not, then you wonder about a Pudge/Molina contingent or some other guy coming in, then Posada plays 1B and possibly splits DH time with Matsui, which may cut into any pursuit of Tex.

          Another factor is the good old Melk-man. I wonder if he realized the history of playing CF for the Yanks. In fantasy speak, he doesn’t need to be a five category guy. Hell, if he just hit for average, that would be good enough for me.

          Wonder if Godzilla could play 1B.

          • r.w.g.

            Everything you’re thinking and milling over…

            Can Godzilla play 1B? How healthy will Posada be? These are the WRONG things to be thinking.

            If Posada can’t catch full time, he can DH and backup Molina. Matsui and Damon and whoever else is gumming up the lineup can get shipped out of town. This is not the off-season to get cute or live with the hand we’ve been dealt.

            We have a real chance to get some SERIOUS talent into the team and miss that because we’re worried about where 38 year old Jorge Posada fits in is misguided. The team gave him the contract, they can’t take it back now. The big key is not making it any worse by letting that contract dictate the addition of talent.

            If Tex wants a 8-10 year deal, I’ve got no problem with the Yanks saying ‘no thanks’. But if we miss out on him because of Posada, I’m going to be pissed.

  • Old Ranger

    My wish list for this winter is to get rid of these guys; Jason, Bobby, Wilson, and trade; Johnny. Offer arbitration to Pavano, Jason, Pudge, Bobby…take the draft #s and run.
    We need a team that can play fundamental baseball, that’s how one wins. This idea of having a guy bat .230 and hit 25-28 HRs’ with a .370+ OBP, and .200+/- WRISP ain’t gona’ cut it anymore. Having a guy say; “I don’t bunt”…ain’t gona happen. Having people come out of the batters box, trotting…ain’t gona happen. Players pushing it (as A-Rod did) will be the norm…put the pressure on the other team, not yourself. 27/09?

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Here’s the thing, Old Ranger: batting with RISP is not a repeatable skill. I repeat: it is not a repeatable skill. Staticians have done studies, and they have concluded that if a player has hit well in RISP before, it does NOT indicate whether that person will hit will in RISP in the future.

      Indeed, as a player gets more and more opportunities to hit in RISP, staticians have found that their overall batting lines, from batting average to on-base percentage to OPS, the numbers will trend towards a player’s career numbers.

      For example: I just checked A-Rod’s career splits for “Late-and-Close” situations (7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck). Here are his stats: .279/.375/.531 (.906 OPS). That’s in 1191 PA (roughly 1.5 seasons worth of Plate Apperances?), and he has 242 total strikeouts.

      Here are A-Rod’s career averages, regardless of situation: .306/.389/.579 (.968 OPS). While yes, there is a 50 point drop, a .900 OPS is NOTHING to snuff at, since that’s still performance that’s over 50% better than league average. And again, remember that the sample size we’re working with for A-Rod’s career Close-and-Late situations is only a little more than a season – and a variance of 50 points of OPS is not all that unusual, season-to-season, in any player’s career, A-Rod’s included.

    • xkevinx

      to state the obvious to almost everyone – there will be no draft picks for Pavano. Players have to play and perform to net draft picks. If there were type D draft picks for players ranking in the 10%-20% range of players, Fragile Karl would still not net them picks.

  • JohnC

    I’m inviting the Yankees to Festivus dinner this year, specifically for the ‘Airing of the Grievances’

    • ceciguante

      lol, well said.

    • Slugger27

      pavano would run into the ceremonious pole and hurt himself

  • Patrick

    The thought of 2009 (after watching last night) brings up an interesting question…what the heck is our rotation going to look like? We face a possible glut of starting pitching (although there is no guarantee that it will be effective). Assuming you’ve got Wang and Chamberlain plus assuming one of the Brewerse (CC/Sheets) signs, what does that leave us with? Two openings in the rotation. Our options are Moose (if he re-signs with the Yanks), Pettitte (if he re-signs with the Yanks), Hughes, Kennedy, and Rasner. I wonder if Cashman (assuming he re-signs) is a little gunshy after this year with how the kids turned out. If he wanted to sign another starter instead of Rasner, any shot at giving Ponson some $$$ to be a long-man or fill-in starter? It seems like Moose has something left in the tank, but I wonder about Andy. Even with a rotation of Wang, Joba, Moose, Hughes and [CC/Sheets], does Cash-Money have enough faith in the kid (and even IPK as a backup) to go with that rotation and nobody signed as a Plan B?

  • Patrick

    And for some reason, none of the other posts had come through, so I feel like somewhat of a tool because it seems like some other guys (steve and company) have posted the same thing.

    Whoops.