Aug
17

The Yanks have been here before

By

It’s happening again. The Yankees’ offense, the highest scoring unit in the league, has hit yet another skid. In their last two games, while facing teams with the 13th and 11th most runs allowed in the AL, they’ve scored one run total. They did go homer happy the game before that pair, but the night before that they couldn’t score against the Royals bullpen. The slide has allowed the Rays to once again force a tie atop the AL East. With the way the Yankees are playing, might this be their last stand?

While those afflicted with selective amnesia might think that the end is nigh for the Yankees, it takes a memory of only a few months to realize that they have done this before. They celebrated the start of June with three wins over the Orioles, in which they scored 18 total runs. But the offense collapsed after traveling to Toronto. They scored one run in the series opener, and then scored just two in the next, spoiling an excellent Andy Pettitte start. Even in the next game the Yanks went seven full innings before scoring a run, and even then won in bizarre fashion.

A few games against Baltimore and Houston covered up for the offense, but then they hit another slide just two weeks later. It started with a lackluster effort against Jamie Moyer and carried over to the next day when they scored just one run off Kyle Kendrick. The following game against the Mets was so frustrating that it inspired an eight-word recap. The Yanks did score 28 runs in their next five games, winning four of them, but there were certainly a few sloppy ones in there. It led, unsurprisingly, to another stretch of relative futility.

The Yanks eked out a win in a game where they let a hapless starter off the hook with poor base running and strike zone management. They followed that with a two-run performance in LA, which they won thanks to CC Sabathia being awesome. They then scored three early but couldn’t add much to the total in a Burnett-induced loss. The series finale looked like a lost cause, but was only salvaged with an improbable ninth-inning comeback off one of the league’s elite closers. Then, heading home, the Yanks couldn’t score off Cliff Lee, and then were thoroughly dominated by Felix Hernandez. As June came to a close it looked like the offense had lost all life.

After that, of course, the Yankees went on a tear, scoring 56 runs in the 11 games before the All-Star break, going 9-2 in that stretch. They came out of the break in a fury, too, scoring 94 runs in 15 games and going 11-5 to finish off July. They’ve stumbled a bit in August, going 6-8, though they have scored almost four runs per game despite being shut out twice. Even with the 6-8 record they still hold a share of first place. They were in the same position 11 days ago, and both the Yanks and the Rays have gone 5-5 in their last 10 to bring things back to even. This is pretty much what we expected at the start of the season, no?

When the Yanks are going bad it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and get lost in the moment. The Yanks look bad right now, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this type of skid already this season. We have, and it was no fun. It’s even less fun this time around. But the Yankees still share the best record in baseball. Their performance relative to other teams has been superb. Isn’t that the whole idea of a baseball season?

Categories : Musings

140 Comments»

  1. Angelo says:

    Their performance relative to other teams has been superb. Isn’t that the whole idea of a baseball season?

    I heard the Yankees were supposed to win 390 games. This is just pathetic.

  2. bexarama says:

    Am I still allowed to laugh at Bret saying “look out for falling rocks”?

    Also, one of the RAB guys posted this on Twitter, I think, from when the Yankees got shut out in back-to-back games in 1999:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05.....038;st=nyt
    Teh sky was falling!

  3. Steve H says:

    This whole post is full of awesome. Relax people, relax.

  4. Troll says:

    6-9 in August.

    6-8 was nothing, 6-8 was happy-go-lucky “we can turn this around” time.

    6-9 is like we’re the Mets.

    Just so we’re clear.

  5. In their last two games, while facing teams with the 13th and 11th most runs allowed in the AL, they’ve scored one run total.

    To be fair, Bryan Bullington had virtually nothing at all to do with the Royals allowing that many runs, and Max Scherzer also isn’t the problem in Detroit.

    I’m just saying.

    • Pete says:

      no you’re not “just saying”. You’re clearly implying that the Yanks haven’t been shut down exclusively by Sidney Ponson

      • Angelo says:

        You’re clearly implying that the Yanks haven’t been shut down exclusively by Sidney Ponson

        That name will not be spoken around these parts. You are excused this time.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      You do realize the Yankees will actually have to beat good pitchers in the playoffs…just saying. Can’t shrug off the fact they get utterly shut down by good pitching.

      • RL says:

        The problem seems to be more with the unkown pitchers, not so much the big name, playoff pitchers.

      • bexarama says:

        Can’t shrug off the fact they get utterly shut down by good pitching.

        Other teams that happens to: every team

        There’ve been games this season when they’ve done a very, very good job with/beaten Roy Halladay, David Price, Francisco Liriano, and Cliff Lee, among others. Wasn’t there a joke at some point that the Yankees easily beat good pitchers, but couldn’t hit the mediocre ones?

        When they’re on they can beat pretty much anyone. They’re just very much not on right now.

        (rocks fall, everyone dies)

  6. Rob Gee says:

    Given that winning the division might mean seeing Cliff Lee twice in five games, I’ll take the wild card.

  7. Zack says:

    Imagine how TB fans must feel- Yankees are sucking and Rays are only tied with them.

  8. The 2010 New York Yankees now have 6 games where they’ve been shut out and 8 more games where they’ve only scored 1 run.

    If only the Tampa Bay Rays offense was this anemic and struggled to score like we do… If only.

    (If you’re curious, they’ve also been shut out 6 times, but have 14 more games where they’ve only scored 1 run.)

    • Angelo says:

      They’re also 1-2 in no hitters.

    • bexarama says:

      Fun fact: the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays have been no-hit or 1-hit five times this season. That’s a modern record.

    • Evan3457 says:

      The Rays are more efficient, in that they get more runs out of less offense because of their speed and baserunning. On the other hand, they score fewer runs because they don’t hit as well, at least not consistently, over the length of the season, so far.

      The Yanks are hitting .234/.293/.388/.681 in their current 7-10 cold streak, scoring 61 runs in 17 games, or 3.6 a game.

      The Rays have hit .228/.321/.366/.687 in their current 9-8 so-so streak, scoring 71 runs in 17 games, or 4.1 a game.

      Hmmm…my point is not clear. Let me make an analogy. When I get stuck in traffic on the Belt Parkway, and I get off and take the access roads and side streets, I often find that because of traffic lights and double-parkers and left-turners and volume of cars getting off choking the access roads at the start, I don’t gain much time, if any, than if I just sit in traffic on the Belt. But the illusion of motion and activity is preferable; it’s a distraction from the monotony of sitting and staring at the back of the panel truck ahead of me, minute after minute, 100 feet at a time.

      Same thing with the Rays. Their baserunning, speed and smallball doesn’t actually score more runs because they don’t hit as well, but it looks like they’re doing more, trying more. It might regroup them, in a set of games here or there, from an ineffective 2, 1, and 8 (and a 1-2 record) into a more efficient 5, 1, and 5 (and a 2-1 record).

      The Rays are active, not passive, and that creates the illusion that they’re “getting somewhere”, even though the two teams have been more or less even the end of May.

      The Yanks have the better offense, but boy, when things bog down, they sit in traffic and look dead. The Rays will still steal and bunt and hit and run and use their bench and take extra bases on the few hits they get. It may not score more runs, but it looks better if you’re watching three plus hours on TV.

      Not saying the Yanks should play like the Rays; they don’t have the same type of personnel. Just commenting on the way the teams are perceived because of the style difference. If the Yanks outhit them, they’ll still score more, which is the point.

      If the pitching holds up.

  9. TopChuckie says:

    This is all observational, I’m not looking for arguments with the stats guys, but they just don’t seem to be taking particularly smart at bats. They seem to refuse to adjust their approach to the situation and instead go up to the plate with the same mentality all the time and are content to just get by on their talent alone.

    There have been way too many K’s with men on 3rd and less than two outs lately. Just get the bat on the ball and get it out of the infield. This was ironically the big problem in the game they won against the Rangers when Andrus led off with a triple against Mo, represented the tying run on 3rd with no outs but wound up stranded. Fortunately the Rangers are they only team that has struck out more than the Yanks with runners on 3rd and less than two outs.

    Jeter, as always, hits into way too many DP’s. Maybe when the bases are loaded with less than two outs you put a little more upper cut into your swing? It just seems to be worse now than ever.

    And this might not be what’s costing them games now, but it represents another apparent refusal to adjust and adapt. I had the same complaint with Giambi, how does Teixeira justify not bunting past third when teams put the shift on, just to neutralize the shift? Just show you are willing to do it and teams will have to stop the shift, thereby increasing your chances of getting a hit in every other AB. Any time you can keep your opponent from doing what they want to do, you gain an advantage.

    I like Girardi, but I have to blame him for this. I really thought he was more of a teacher so I really didn’t expect the team to play like this for him. In my opinion, he just needs to teach a more situational approach at the plate.

    • There have been way too many K’s with men on 3rd and less than two outs lately. Just get the bat on the ball and get it out of the infield.

      Fun Fact: With a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, the 2010 New York Yankees are hitting .311/.385/.528 with 49 K in 290 PA (16.8%). We’ve hit 31 sac flies in those situations, and scored 188 runs.

      I don’t know about “lately” versus “previously”, because I can’t break down the split like that. Just saying, sometimes our anecdotal memory retains negative impressions more than positive ones. We don’t remember all the times we DID score with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, we only remember the times we failed. Failure sears into your memory in a way that success often does not.

    • Chris says:

      . They seem to refuse to adjust their approach to the situation and instead go up to the plate with the same mentality all the time and are content to just get by on their talent alone.

      The approach that lead to them being the highest scoring team in baseball is probably the approach to stick with. Too much tinkering can be a bad thing.

    • Angelo says:

      Just get the bat on the ball and get it out of the infield
      I’m guessing it’s not as easy as it looks. Just a guess. Maybe it’s actually very simple and I’ve been missing something all of these years.

      In my opinion, he just needs to teach a more situational approach at the plate.

      The offense has been great this year. They have been awful the past few days, but that doesn’t mean change the philosophy that got them this far. It wouldn’t make sense.

      Also, changing your approach for every specific point in a game, would involve tinkering with a player’s swing. Players have enough problems with consistency. I wouldn’t be messing with anyone’s swing. This team has talent. Trust it.

      • TopChuckie says:

        So your contention is a player should never try to hit to the right side to advance the runner? A player should never attempt to hit a sac fly with a runner on third, less than two outs, down by a run? A player should never bunt? A player should never try to pull the ball versus going the other way? A player should never try to go the other way versus pulling a ball? A player should go to the plate with the same approach against a fast ball pitcher as he does against a guy with off speed pitches?

        You’re right about one thing, you’ve been missing something all these years.

        • Angelo says:

          My point is, who says no one tries to do these things? And I don’t think a player should change his approach if he feels very uncomfortable doing it. Mechanics play a huge part in this sport. You make it sound so simple, when baseball is a much more complicated sport than that.

          If players could hit the ball out of the infield whenever they wanted to, wouldn’t they do so? Especially in a situation that they absolutely need a sac fly or a bunt? What you’re saying is ridiculous because it really isn’t that simple.

          Also, the Yankees offense has been great this year. I don’t understand why they would change the offense around. It doesn’t make sense.

          Seriously, some people have to really stop crying about the month of August so much. This team has a great offense. They will be fine.

          • TopChuckie says:

            Ok Joe Torre. Set it and forget. Guess they should never make a trade when they are in first place either? Or they should just keep running Granderson out there against lefties, because the Yankee offense has been great?

            Yes they are great, they are the best team in baseball, does that mean they can’t possibly improve? Don’t bother trying to be better? Shore up possible areas of weakness?

            Being smarter and more aware of situations doesn’t mean “change the offense around”.

            I’m not crying, I’m not even worried, I’m just saying I think they could be better if they adjust their approach in certain situations. I’m not even saying I’m sure they have the wrong approach, just that it looks that way to me.

            And maybe the Yanks aren’t outliers in those stats, but as the best offense in baseball, they certainly have the potential to be outliers in a positive respect as opposed to wallowing around at the bottom end.

            The attitude here that they’re the best and most talented, talent will take care of everything, they don’t need to bother to play smarter, is the same attitude I fear the players have, and an attitude a manager shouldn’t allow them to have…IF they do.

            • Angelo says:

              So you think that the Yankees should bunt, hit sacfly’s, go the other way, and play “smart ball” right?

              I’ll take lines from THIS thread to prove you wrong.

              Steve H: “Any line that consists of .311/.385/.528 does not need to be improved by sac flies (outs).”

              Zack: “They are 4 behind the leaders in sac flies- so TopChuckie, stop crying.”

              TSJC (Runs per plate appearance??!): http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....nt-1042049

              You’re being ridiculous. Seriously.

        • bexarama says:

          A player should never attempt to hit a sac fly with a runner on third, less than two outs, down by a run?

          Do you really think players, like, don’t try and do this? When a player steps up with a runner on third and less than two outs and strikes out, do you think they were trying to do that, as opposed to getting the run home in some way?

          • TopChuckie says:

            Come on. No I don’t think anyone is trying to strike out. But do you really think a player has never swung for the fences when all the team needed was a single or a walk? There ARE situations that require different approaches and different swings.

            Plus, that was in response to Angelo implying a batter’s approach should always be the same, regardless of situation, as if no, a player never tries to hit a sac fly. So you should be asking him that question, not me.

            • bexarama says:

              Yeah, there are times when players have swung for the fences at a time when they didn’t need to do that. And I also think the majority of the time the players are well-aware of the situation and adjust accordingly. I can’t talk about swing mechanics or anything like that though.

              I’m not Angelo but I don’t think he was really trying to say that.

            • Angelo says:

              I never said a player should take the same approach regardless of the situation. Don’t put words in my mouth.

              I said they shouldn’t make changes if they feel very uncomfortable doing it because they will most likely not be successful then. Baseball is a very mechanical and mental game. Also, I’m pretty sure players make adjustments on their own. You’re speaking as though players never make adjustments according to the situation.

              You’re also assuming players are trying to hit homeruns when all they need is a single or a walk? Seriously? Where are the facts behind this? Or am I supposed to go off of what you’re seeing? Because everyone sees things differently. That’s super poor reasoning.

  10. TheZack says:

    Of course, you could also look at this, which doesn’t include yesterdays game so its actually worse:
    April: 5.36 RS/G, 3.59 RA/G
    May: 5.90 RS/G, 4.55 RA/G
    June: 4.77 RS/G, 4.31 RA/G
    July: 5.77 RS/G, 3.81 RA/G
    August: 3.86 RS/G, 3.79 RA/G

    RS/G: runs scored per game
    RA/G: runs allowed per game

    Sure, they’re scoring almost 4 runs per game, but that means nothing without the context of that they normally score about 1.7 runs per game MORE. This team has been bad in August at scoring runs. The AL averages 4.46 runs per game, so they’ve been really really bad in August. Period.

    • Chris says:

      Sure, they’ve struggled in August, but the point is that the 15 games in August are not as good a predictor of future performance as the 103 games from April – July.

      • Angelo says:

        So logic makes sense? I can go with that.

        • TheZack says:

          Haha, I love how when someone posts stats, logic suddenly trumps them. But when someone posts logic, stats always trumps them.

          I’m just going to cut and paste my stupid reply button fail here as this is where it should go.

          But that’s not MY point. MY point is that, well, no, they really haven’t had this kind of run before this season. You can look back at the previous 103 games all you want, but the fact of the matter is that for the past 15 games, the offense has literally been replacement level. Of course it will rebound, its stupid to argue otherwise, but 15 games is actually a long time to be hitting that poorly.

          The pitching has actually been as good as its been all year, so the putrid offense has really cost the team its chance to put the division away. The rest of August is their chance now, because September is going to suck schedule-wise

          • TheZack says:

            You can also just look at this nice chart to see how putrid the Yanks have been individually on offense in August.

            Warning, may cuase blindness.

            http://www.rlyw.net/

            • Angelo says:

              I’m kind of confused. How are we disagreeing?

              You and I both agree that the offense will rebound, and we both agree that the Yankees offense has sucked in August. Obviously if the Yankees play badly for the rest of August they will have a very tough time winning the division.

              Sucking for a month always makes things difficult.

          • Zack says:

            Not all stats are created equal

            • Jobu says:

              So what exactly are you saying? That stats are created to look at different aspects of the game or that you are stat prejudice?

              Just out of curiosity, which stats do you hate? How can you tell them apart? Is it something like rate stats are not as good as counting stats because the have small hands and smell of cabbage? Help me out here.

          • Chris says:

            The rest of August is their chance now, because September is going to suck schedule-wise

            I actually disagree with this. The Yankees will be playing all of the other contenders in September. That could be a tremendous opportunity to gain ground or open up a bigger margin.

            A win against the Tigers is just a win. A win against the Rays is a win and a Rays loss.

            Of course, if they play like crap in September, it could go the other way.

          • If you picked 15 games out of June you’d probably have something similar to that 3.77 runs per game. But June consisted of more than 15 games. So does August.

  11. Pasqua says:

    Yesterday, I listened to Francesa and Steve Phillips (I know, I know) praise the Red Sox for “hanging in there” despite their injuries. They gushed about Francona and the steadfastness of Boston for a good few few minutes. Sorry, but it doesn’t take a stat geek to understand that the only reason the Sox still have a pulse is because of mediocre play by the Yankees and Rays of late. This post essentially emphasizes that.

    • Chris says:

      Right now, the Red Sox are playing on pace to win 91 games. Only 7 teams in baseball have better records than the Red Sox, and all of them are leading their divisions (or tied). With their record, the Red Sox would be tied for the wild card in the NL, and would be leading the wild card in the AL if not for the Yankees/Rays.

      The fact that the Red Sox still have a pulse has nothing to do with the struggles of the Yankees/Rays.

      • Pasqua says:

        While, of course, the Red Sox are charting their own course by playing their own games, the fact that the Yanks and Rays are both playing at a poor / mediocre clip (in the last couple of weeks) has most certainly helped to keep the Red Sox relevant in the standings. So, I think it’s incorrect to say they haven’t benefited from the mediocre play of the teams in the front of them.

        And that they “would be leading the AL wild card if not for the Yankees / Rays” is one of the oddest points you can make in this case. The Orioles would be leading the East if not for the Yanks, Rays, Red Sox and Jays.

  12. TheZack says:

    But that’s not MY point. MY point is that, well, no, they really haven’t had this kind of run before this season. You can look back at the previous 103 games all you want, but the fact of the matter is that for the past 15 games, the offense has literally been replacement level. Of course it will rebound, its stupid to argue otherwise, but 15 games is actually a long time to be hitting that poorly.

    The pitching has actually been as good as its been all year, so the putrid offense has really cost the team its chance to put the division away. The rest of August is their chance now, because September is going to suck schedule-wise

  13. TheZack says:

    WTF, my reply button isn’t working

  14. nsalem says:

    Yankees 13th loss in 1998 was to Pedro on May 31,1998.
    On June 21 1998 they were 50-18 which is still an amazing .732 WP

  15. Matt says:

    As an example of how this offense is struggling to be consistent this year:

    Number of times scoring 3 runs or fewer:

    2009- 41
    2010- 39 (In 44 fewer games, on pace for 54)

    Number of Times scoring 7 runs or more:

    2009- 54
    2010- 40 (On pace for 55)

    So while this team is scoring runs in bunches just like last year’s team, they are getting shut down a lot more often. It’s good that you guys are optimistic, but this year’s offense is simply more inconsistent than last year’s, and these slumps are happening more often.

    Their record is so good despite it because their pitching is better than last year’s staff, but interestingly they are 10-29 in the games in which they scored 3 or fewer runs this year, but were 11-30 last year in such games. It’s always hard to win games in which you barely score, regardless of how good your pitching is.

  16. Mr. Sparkle says:

    It’s funny that this post paints those who are genuinely concerned about the frequency of Yankee offensive slumps as standing on the side of the bridge ready to jump off. It IS possible they don’t slip out of it. Don’t you think the Mets in 2007 were thinking the same thing during the final 17 games?

    That said, I have a feeling that, without injuries, the Yankees will eventually snap out of it. The question is when? They just entered an easy stretch of 24 games where arguably, a 17-7 record was realistic. To achieve that now, it will take a much tougher 15-4…and that’s with three games in Chicago where they can be tough.

    I think that’s where a lot of panic is coming from. It was a lot easier to take 5-7 against some of the best teams in the AL because…they’re the best teams in the AL. Also because everyone saw the next 24 games. When instead of sprinting out of that gate, the Yankees stumbled, I think people started thinking, “What if this Yankees team just isn’t that good?” I don’t think people should be chastised for those feelings. I think it’s a valid question.

    So, you may see those saying, “The season’s over,” as teetering on the edge of the bridge, ready to jump, I can also paint a picture in my mind of the “We’re going to be OK crowd.” I picture them curled up in the fetal position on their beds, rocking back and forth, saying over and over, “It’s going to be alright…we’ll start hitting tonight. If I post to enough forums and keep telling myself, it will happen!”

    Seriously, I’m just pointing out the ridiculousness of chastising those who are concerned. As long as it’s not the “This is the worst team I’ve ever seen” crowd and instead they make valid arguments, It’s OK to express concern.

    • bexarama says:

      Of course, it’s okay to express concern. Just, the concerns I’ve been seeing over the past day or so consist of a borderline troll Orioles fan telling us to watch out for falling rocks, literally, and someone saying they’re more disgusted with the team than they were after the 2004 ALCS. That’s lunacy.

      The reasons to think they’ll snap out of it? Well, the entirety of the season before August. Sure, a 2007 Mets-type thing could happen, but that kind of collapse is so rare if it’s going to happen, it’s going to come out of pretty much nowhere.

      I guess I just don’t get the “we’re dooooooomed” POV, especially for a team we all want to see succeed. This is a pretty darn good team that’s in a slump right now.

    • Jose the Satirist says:

      “As long as it’s not the “This is the worst team I’ve ever seen” crowd and instead they make valid arguments, It’s OK to express concern.”

      Yup. Sometimes people on here go a little overboard when someone points out weaknesses or that the team is in a slump.

  17. Eric says:

    Call me crazy but does anyone think girardi giving all these days off is hurting? i think we need to pick a lineup and stick with it. i think the days off are ruining any rhythm the players are getting at the plate. i say if a player gets hot no days off until he starts slowing down.

    • CBean says:

      they’re playing 36 games in 37 days. If Girardi doesn’t give them any off days, we’re going to see players burnt out/hurt themselves before we get to the playoffs.

  18. Sal says:

    call up Montero!! Enough already!!

    • poster on another computer who happens to be a deuce bag says:

      You’re not the Sal of Sal/Bo/Grant/Lanny fame are you?

      • jsbrendog (returns) says:

        can’t be. no vitriol towards brackman or wondering why we bother talking about this at a yankee baseball blog

  19. DanMizer says:

    Right now Jeter is the biggest issue in our lineup. over 40% of his outs are groundouts.. he leads the MLB in groundouts and is I believe 8th in mlb in ground into double plays(gdp)he needs to get the ball off the ground.. hes rolling everything over to shortstop.. its almost comical.. kevin long needs to get some extra work in with him.. im sorry but he doesnt have the speed to beat out infield hits and grounders like a lot of other leadoff hitters in the majors can do..

    how much are the yankees going to pay him??? his power has dropped, especially with the alarming rate of groundballs and hes not going to steal 30 bases a year anymore. i really hope he doesnt require more then 12 mil a year.

    also i didnt have time to read all 135 messages so if im repeating i apologize.

    thanks and good day.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/leagu.....Frame=2010

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