May
06

Errors, lack off offense lead to third straight loss

By

Another day, another offensive struggle. On top of that, this game featured an injury to a semi-important player and two errors on plays a high school kid should make. The Yankees actually led Thursday’s game for five-plus innings, but the end result was the same as the previous two games. The Tigers came into the four-game series on a six-game losing streak, but they leave it on a three-game winning streak.

Maybe one of the mascots distracted him right before the throw? Twice? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Eduardo Knoblauch

Eduardo Nunez has always had a strong throwing arm, so strong that there were some rumblings of moving him to the mound as he stumbled through the 2006, 2007, and 2008 seasons. But a strong arm is only half the battle, maybe less. Nunez committed 167 errors in 636 minor league games (one every 3.8 games), and most of them were on throws because his arm is highly inaccurate. We saw that a little last year, and it was on full display this game.

The first error came in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Yankees up by one. Brennan Boesch grounded to short, a completely routine and otherwise forgettable play, but Nunez threw the ball in the dirt and Mark Teixeira was unable to scoop it at first. Luckily that didn’t lead to a run, but the second error did. That one came with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, with the Yankees down by one. Don Kelly slapped a ball to short, and although I wouldn’t call it routine, it wasn’t exactly the toughest play in the world. Nunez threw the ball high, over Tex’s head at first, and two runs came around to score on what should have been the third out.

We’re not asking for miracles here, those were two plays a Major League caliber shortstop needs to make. Nunez did go 2-for-4 and is now hitting .385/.429/.538 in limited playing time, but who cares? Those were his fourth and fifth errors in 22 defensive innings at shortstop. A backup infielder has to be able to catch and throw the ball without a problem, that’s the first item on the job description. I don’t break out the word “unacceptable” often, but I’m using it now: Nunez’s defensive play has been unacceptable for a utility infielder.

Might be time for a new haircut, Swish. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

More Offensive Struggles

Ten hits, three walks, and heck, the Yankees even went 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position and plated all three runs with two outs, fun situational hitting type of stuff, but they still scored just three runs. It’s the third straight game they’ve scored three or fewer runs, and the seventh time in their last eleven contests.

Know how many times they got the leadoff man on base in this game? Twice. Robinson Cano singled to open the fifth but was erased on a Tex double play ball three pitches later. Alex Rodriguez then opened the ninth with a single and eventually came around to score. But that’s it, just two leadoff runners on. In fact, only thrice did the second runner of the inning reach base. Eight of their 13 baserunners came with two outs in the inning, when they’re least likely to come around to score. The offense is straight up sucking right now, and boy is it frustrating.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

A.J. Deserves Better

The first inning as a little rocky, but A.J. Burnett undoubtedly gave his team a chance to win on Thursday. He allowed just two earned runs (three unearned) on three hits and a walk in seven innings, hitting another batter with a pitch (when he was trying to bunt, grumble grumble) and striking out five. Two of the unearned runs scored on Nunez’s second error, but the first came when Burnett threw the ball into foul territory on a pickoff play. The runner went from first to third and later scored on a sac fly. Such is life.

This is the second time in three starts that A.J. allowed three hits and two or fewer earned runs in seven or more innings of work, and yet he lost both games. Go figure. The Yankees’ pitchers have really turned it around of late, with the last three guys each going seven innings with four earned runs or less. Those are winnable games given this team’s bullpen and offense, but it’s just not clicking right now. Earlier in the year the offense was carrying a suspect pitching staff, now the pitching is carrying the offense. Too bad they aren’t winning games like they did last month.

Leftovers

Someone's happy they allowed a run in a non-save situation. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Eric Chavez tripled in the Yankees’ first run of the day (a missed dive by Kelly helped), but he managed to break a bone in his foot between second and third. No timetable for his return has been announced, but it won’t be anytime soon. Ramiro Pena is expected to take his spot on the roster tomorrow. It’s been fun Chavy, but we all knew it wouldn’t last.

Brett Gardner continued to do good things by picking up two hits in five trips to the plate, and Cano snapped an 0-for-9 skid with two hits. Curtis Granderson singled and walked, and A-Rod went 2-for-2 with two runs scored after replacing Chavez. Russell Martin and Nick Swisher went hitless but walked once each. Tex and Jorge Posada were the two most unproductive batters on the day, combining for nine outs in eight plate appearances. It’ll click soon, right? Right?!

Lefty specialist Boone Logan‘s first three batters: homer by left Brennan Boesch, strikeout of righty (and the monster hitter) Miguel Cabrera, and a 3-0 count to lefty Alex Avila. He managed to allow just the one baserunner in his inning, but yeah, not how you draw it up. Boone’s been good for a few weeks now, so he gets a pass.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Oh you teases. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Time to get the hell outta Detroit. Too bad Texas is next; the Yankees open a three game series with the Rangers on Friday night when Ivan Nova faces lefty Matt Harrison.

Categories : Game Stories

42 Comments»

  1. JGS says:

    5 errors in 22 defensive innings works out to 286.5 errors in the 1260.2 defensive innings Jeter played last year. That’s uh…not good.

    • Jericho Spade says:

      However, it is easily possible that a guy who is mediocre defensively and young should be playing everyday instead of sitting on the bench for a month and is expected to be sharp.

  2. ZZ says:

    Nunez made only 10 errors at SS between Scranton and NY last season. This is where he needs to be so he can work on his footwork with major league instruction and have guys like A-Rod and Jeter help him. Especially A-Rod as he quote regarding Nunez making his throws from too far was spot on and really demonstrates how incredibly smart Alex is on the topic of baseball.

    When you consider that a third of the Yankee lineup are basically automatic outs this season I definitely care how well Nunez has looked at the plate. The Yankees will stay confident in him, he will fix this easily correctable problem, and in the long run it will pay off.

    • Rookie says:

      Exactly, ZZ. Exactly. If what another poster said about how well he’s played defensively in the minors is true, then after some growing pains it should translate into the majors.

      By contrast, after some struggling at the plate and in the field, a 37 (and 38 and 39)-year old shortstop’s body will continue to break down more and more and his performance in the field and at the plate — and even be available to play — will only get worse and worse and worse.

      If you don’t believe me, check out the screen that Mike Axisa did of players after (I believe it was) age 37 or later. (I’m too lazy to look it up and link it here right now, but you can do it for yourself). It’s very obvious that the performance of shortstops in the season they turn 37 and older isn’t pretty. And it doesn’t improve as they get older.

      Again, as ZZ says, by contrast, there’s a good chance that Nunez makes it through his growing pains and has many years of serviceable performance ahead of him before age catches up with him, too. And long before that time comes, I think the odds are quite high that the Yankees will grow or acquire in trade or free agency a shortstop who is much better than serviceable.

      • OldYanksFan says:

        I also think of all the skills needed to be a ‘decent’ Defensive SS, that fixing ‘throwing’ is the easiest. It may be lack of concentration. Ya know “this throw is easy”, so you nonchalant it, and boom… it flys errant.

        Also, while ARod cam make strong, accurate throws sidearm, throwing over the top creates less movement and better accuracy. Maybe he can work on that.

        I like Nunez’s speed and bat. He will never be great, but he looks like he can post a .750 OPS, and with average defense, that ain’t bad for a cost controlled SS. And frankly, if Jeter doesn’t pick things up, we might need Eduardo this year.

        Hey…. here’s a crazy thought. Imagine Nunez starting games, and Jeter put in as a LIDR. Ain’t that a bitch!

    • Rookie says:

      Sorry, ZZ. I should’ve given you credit for pointing out that Nunez only made 10 errors at SS between Scranton and NY last season. (I guess I’m simply too sleepy and in a hurry to get ready for bed.)

      You also make what sounds like an important point about ARod’s contribution to Nunez’s development. I don’t think ARod gets nearly enough credit for helping to turn Cano into the beast that he appears to be today (subject, of course, to him keeping up the OBP improvement that he managed last year for the first time — maybe mostly about staying or becoming more selective at the plate).

  3. bakekrukow412 says:

    Hmm, this pitching rotation is starting to wear thin. I know it hasn’t been the problem recently, and it hasn’t even been that bad, but just the fact that we’ve lost three in a row, and now have to send Ivan Nova to face the Rangers in Texas, already gives me a bad feeling. If we had Pettitte, or that idiot who signed with the Phillies going, it wouldn’t seem as bad. Maybe I feel this way because I have a sinking feeling that this patchwork rotation is doomed to fail at some point…..

    • jsbrendog says:

      you have no reason to feel bad about the pitching., the pitching has been lights out the past week or two. it is the awful looking offense, the shit defending and horrible baserunning that should scare you.

  4. bakekrukow412 says:

    On another note, Kansas City called up Hosemer, which is a good move. The Yankees feel old, I think we need to find a spot for Montero’s bat in this lineup. Give ‘em a jolt.

    • Pat D says:

      Can’t see that happening unless Posada gets hurt.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Unless Montero can play short, I’ll pass.

      • Thomas Cassidy says:

        Anyone can play short better than Jeter, right?

        • BigBlueAL says:

          Apparently not Nunez.

        • Rookie says:

          The screen I linked to from FanGraphs isn’t perfect, but I think it makes the point that I and others on RAB are saying — that Jeter’s playing like a 37-year old shortstop. And anyone with a positive WAR is playing better than Jeter right now — even BEFORE his recent apparent injury. And that’s what happens to soon-to-be-37 (and 38 and 39)-year old shortstops. They get injured a LOT, miss a lot of games, and play like 37-year-old shortstops.

          I challenge you or anyone else to find four seasons by Hall of Fame shortstops since 1901 with WARs of 4.0 or more. I don’t believe that they exist — and that’s even if you include the Steroid Era!

          Jeter’s human — and a 37-year-old (vastly overpaid) human thanks to Levine and the Steinbrenners, not to Brian Cashman.

        • David, Jr. says:

          Just about anybody, except for Eduardo Knoblauch. The Yankees are in a difficult position at shortstop.
          They will need ARod, Cano and all of their other bombers to make up for that, and Jeter can bask in that glory if it happens. He will get most of the playing time, hit about .270 with almost zero power, be a mediocre shortstop, and collect huge checks for rarely positively affecting games.

  5. dkidd says:

    hello muddah
    hello faddah
    what is wrong with
    jorge posada?

    • Thomas Cassidy says:

      Age.

      • Rookie says:

        Thomas, if I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying, let me apologize in advance. But if you understand that Posada’s problem is age, then how is that you don’t seem to understand the point that I and others are trying to make respectfully that age is Jeter’s problem, too?

        • The BIG 3 says:

          Everyone understands Jeters age. What most do not is your constant badgering of the man.

          Get a clue, Rookie. Not only are you referring to one of the 3 best SS’s ever, but any bitch you have about his pay is also irrational because he was paid squat his first 3 years. Well, relatively, anyway.

          Show a little respect, you spoiled putz.

  6. Rookie says:

    No Thomas, not anyone can play short better than Jeter.

    Only 11 out of 12 shortstops with 120 or more plate appearances and 19 shortstops with other teams according to FanGraphs:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....#038;ind=0

    For some reason, they don’t include Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro — both of whom have higher WARs than Jeter in far fewer plate appearances. So it would appear that there are at least 21 shortstops with better WARs. And if there are two such beasts on the Red Sox, I imagine that there may be lots of other shortstops with better WARs than Jeter so far this year on other teams, too. (That shouldn’t be so difficult — since, according to FanGraphs, Jeter’s WAR is 0.0 so far this year.)

    The bigger problem is that soon-to turn-37-year old players don’t tend to get better — and they generally tend to get worse. And this soon-to-turn- 37-year old player, as someone else pointed out earlier, has underperformed now for something like 700 at bats — which is not a very small sample size — and he’s in the first year of a three-year contract at $17 million per year (with a player option for a fourth year at a much lower rate).

    If he had been gracious in the offseason and acknowledged that he didn’t believe his skills were diminished despite the evidence to the contrary and agreed to take a one-year contract to prove the naysayers wrong, instead of accusing Cashman of disrespecting him by only overpaying him with a $10 million a year contract for two years, and he didn’t (falsely in my opinion) claim to be a team player and thus (in my opinion) show himself to be the hypocrite that he is, and thus make it more difficult for the team I root for to win, then I wouldn’t be on his case.

    But he did. So I am.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      While I generally agree with you, and I believe Jeter is in decline, it is still possible, even probably, that he gets better (.577 OPS) then he is now. Hell, a .680 OPS isn’t unreasonable, and that would put Jeter in the top 33%, or even top 25% of AL offensive SS’s.

      Jeter is NOT going to help this team this year. The question is: Can he not hurt it? Can he be ‘average’. That’s really all we need. Regardless of what Jeter does, we need ARod, Teix and Cano to mash. Grandy should be a bit better then last year, and Swisher and Gritner close to last year. It will be the ‘Big 3′ bats that determines how our offense goes.

  7. Will says:

    Silver lining in that mess of a game, as Mike correctly pointed out, was AJ Burnett. More than in any of his starts yet this season, it was clear today that he’s a different pitcher this year. Minus Nunez’ error, that 7th inning was actually pretty masterful considering how it began.

    We’ve all undoubtably noticed that the WS-winning Yankee teams of the last 15 years have all won more or less b/c of great starting pitching, and I think on that count this season has been extremely positive thus far, Hughes’ 3 starts excepted. If the rotation continues to be this good, we’ll be running away with the division by the All-Star break.

    Also, as far as Nunez, I disagreed with him making the roster over Pena, but I didn’t think he’d be this bad in the field. All of the Yankees’ starters except Garcia rely somewhat heavily on ground ball outs, so it is NOT helping the team to have Jeter’s/Cano’s fill-in be unable to throw consistently to first base. It doesn’t matter what he does at the plate.

  8. Kevin G. says:

    Look at this comment a Boston fan posted as a reply to me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ture=inbox

    Stay classy, Boston.

    • Pat D says:

      That comment was completely and totally warranted based upon what you had said previously.

      In…some alternate universe…I guess.

  9. Monteroisdinero says:

    I agree with Rookie and I was the poster who put up Nunez’s stats at SS in 2010. The guy will figure it out. He has a live bat and will produce-over a season-more than Jeter will at the plate going forward. I didn’t see the game but-how many throws in the dirt has Tex scooped from Jeter these last two years? Quite a few.

    Nunez at 475K for several years>>>>>Jeter at 51M (or more God forbid).

    Nunez at 24 in June>>>>Jeter at 37 in June.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      Except we are paying Jeter that $51m regardless…. unless he retires. Of course, if Nunez Pipps Jeter, he might retire after this year on his own.

      • JM says:

        If you were Jeter, why would you sacrifice tens of millions of dollars like that by retiring? I mean, I could see that he already has so much money that he would rather save his image. Either way, even though he may or may not provide any value to the team (Fangraphs basically is saying nothing, according to WAR) it would be really strange having a different everyday shortstop when he actually does retire.

  10. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    I had to actually close out of the game thread yesterday because the things I wanted to say about Nunez would pretty much guarantee my banning.

  11. jayd808 says:

    I cringe when anyone uses the word “unacceptable.”

  12. Stevis says:

    Jose Reyes anyone??????
    Yes!!!!
    Please get rid of Nunez….. dreadful

  13. Rookie says:

    I posted these stats in the Open Thread dated May 5th. But I think they relate to one of the topics of this thread — namely the Yankees’ recent offensive woes:

    In response to my comment that ARod was hitting like a munchkin — much like an injured soon-to-be-36-year old player — bexaram correctly pointed out that ARod had awesome stats for the month of April with an OPS of .987 for the month.

    But by giving ARod’s numbers for ALL of April, he lumped together his performance before and after he had to leave a game with an apparent oblique injury on April 16th as reported by Mike Axisa here on RAB:
    http://riveraveblues.com/2011/…..son-46395/

    And according to my calculations, his stats before and after that injury are like night and day.

    Here are the splits:

    Before the injury, ARod’s monster stats by any measure:
    OBP: .511
    SLG: .865
    OPS: 1.376

    ARod’s respectable cumulative 2011 year to date stats through May 5th inclusive:
    OBP: .371
    SLG: .523
    OPS: .894

    My rough calculation of his munchkin stats from April 16th through May 5th based on his at bats before and after that date:
    OBP: .269
    SLG: .275
    OPS: 544

    Those are probably worse than Jeter’s stats during that period and are very likely the results of an ARod who’s playing injured and not doing himself or the team any good.

    Before the injury, his bat speed was amazing to watch. Afterwards, he was swinging like Jeter and getting Jeterian results.

    I’m not a doctor. But I think muscle injuries require rest for them to heal.

    If bexarama or anyone else thinks my stats are wrong, please do your own calculations and let me know what you come up with.

    If you think my conclusions are wrong, please tell me why. I think the numbers speak for themselves. Actually, I think they positively SCREAM for themselves.

    Let ARod heal please before he injures himself further.

    • Greg says:

      Unfortunately the issue is that, given his age, Arod is likely to be playing injured a lot of the time. You can point out his stats before the injury but there are going to be very few points during the year when his body is at peak condition.

  14. We’re not asking for miracles here, those were two plays a Major League caliber shortstop needs to make.

    Shit, Derek Jeter’s not a major league caliber shortstop anymore, and even he makes both of those plays.

  15. Monteroisdinero says:

    One thing Jeets never does (ok I’m sure someone will find an exception somewhere in the archives) is overthrow the first baseman.

    I will give credit where credit is due. He has, however, underthrown many and Tex has saved him many times.

    Is Swish over .100 hitting lefty? Guy has sucked from the left side but hey, it’s only 5 weeks of ab’s and he does have the one meaningless homer on a 3-1 fastball in a route at YS to get that monkey off his back.

  16. CBean says:

    I’m in Dallas this week and catching the game tonight in Arlington. I really really hope I see something better than i’ve seen all week.

  17. Rookie says:

    That’s true, Greg. Given his age, Arod IS likely to injured and playing injured a lot of the time.

    But:

    (1) if an oblique is what I think it is, it’s basically a pulled muscle or something very much along those lines, and requires rest for it to heal no matter what age the injured person is, and,

    (2) if it’s impacting a player’s performance as much as this one appears to be impacting ARod’s, then that player is not doing the team or himself a favor by playing through it, and,

    (3) while I’m not a doctor, I have to imagine that if someone uses a muscle too aggressively while it’s injured (which I think is clear in this case both from ARod’s stats and what I’m seeing with my eyes when he swings a bat) I can’t imagine he’s not doing further damage.

    If you owned a very expensive thoroughbred horse, would you let him race while he was injured? No way. You’d be afraid you would injure him further and end his career.

    While the analogy isn’t perfect, the Yankees are on the hook for something around $200 million to this guy. Playing him when you even think he MIGHT be injured seems incredibly shortsighted to me and difficult for me to fathom.

    This doesn’t seem like even a remotely close call to me. What am I missing?

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