Sep
07

Thoughts following the latest worst loss of the year

By

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

This isn’t the easiest of times to be a Yankees fan, as the club seems to find new and more humiliating ways to lose on a daily basis. They’ve lost six of their last eight games and 13 of their last 18. Since the start of the four-game series in Oakland, when all this losing really started, the Yankees are just 20-25 with a +1 run differential. During that same 45-game span, the Orioles are 29-16 with a +38 run differential. Last night’s loss was the latest worst loss of the season.

1. During these seven games against the Orioles and Rays, the Yankees have scored runs in eleven different innings. Five times have they allowed the other team to score in the next half-inning, so in other words they’ve followed up those eleven innings with just six “shutdown innings.” In the last three games, they’ve scored in six different innings and have had only two shutdown innings. The Yankees just keep letting the other team stay close, it’s an epidemic.

2. This David Robertson cutter stuff has to stop. We saw Phil Hughes fall in love with the pitch before getting burned on it in the past, and now it appears Robertson is going through the same thing. The Yankees weren’t planning to sign Robertson as their 17th round pick in 2006, but they changed their mind when he went to the Cape Cod League and learned the curveball from his summer pitching coach. That pitch is his moneymaker and he needs to use it. A lot, not once or twice an appearance. His control isn’t good enough to get by on the cutter alone, and a poorly located cutter is just a batting practice fastball. Robertson would be well-served to put the cut-fastball in his back pocket and go back to the four-seamer/curveball approach that made him so effective in the past.

3. The Yankees have to skip David Phelps‘ next start. They’re in the middle of a playoff chase and can’t afford to send the kid out there again if there is a viable alternative, he just isn’t effective enough. These last two starts were classic examples of a rookie pitcher getting overwhelmed and trying to do too much in a big game, I thought. The club can use Monday’s off-day to push his next start back to September 15th, next Saturday’s game at home against the Rays. Hopefully by then Ivan Nova or even Andy Pettitte will be ready to take over that rotation spot. If they don’t skip him, Phelps would make his next start in Fenway Park in the middle of next week. Even with their trade and injury depleted lineup, the Red Sox could make that ugly in a hurry.

4. Considering that pretty much everyone in in the bullpen not named Rafael Soriano has struggled of late, I’m all for giving Cory Wade some high-leverage work. He’s appeared in just one game since being recalled from Triple-A over the weekend, retiring all five men he faced last Sunday. When the alternatives are Derek Lowe and Cody Eppley, there’s really no reason not to give Wade a shot going forward. We know he can be effective (very effective even) if his command is right, and it appears he’s moved beyond his batting practice pitcher phase given his work in Triple-A. I’m actually kinda surprised he hasn’t seen more action this week given the bullpen follies.

5. I’m going to finish up with a positive here. I’ve been encouraged by the three multi-run rallies the Yankees have put together in the last two games. They got the timely hits they needed but more importantly, they’ve had high-quality at-bats. They laid off pitcher’s pitches out of the zone and punished mistakes while also showing a willingness to take the walk if they didn’t get anything to hit. I think the return of Alex Rodriguez has helped in a big way, adding some length to the lineup and providing a sort of “here, these are the types of at-bats we need to take in these spots” example. The offensive struggles have been at the forefront of this recent downward spiral, but the Yankees have started to show some signs of life with the bats lately.

Categories : Musings

69 Comments»

  1. Greg says:

    Let’s keep it simple for Joe. Never play Joba, Phelps and Andy Jones ever again… Realize that Ibanez is 40 and already setting tee times for his retirement. Talk to Cashman and get any prospect he can up to the bigs. Maybe Mason Williams isn’t ready yet, but we have plenty of OFs in Double A who are ready. CAn they be any worse than Raul and Jones??

    and then we must all pray that Grandy, Tex, Andy P and SuperNova arrive back soon, and come ready to play.

    We can still do this. I think. Maybe.

  2. mike_h says:

    another positive is the O’s and Rays have to play each other 6 times, the Rays also have to face the best AL team in the Rangers.

    The Yankees on the other hand have 16 games against the Twins, Red Sox, and Blue Jays. We have to win those games

    Nuff said!

  3. VCR1111 says:

    Everything’s not coming up Milhouse for the Yanks recently. Last night I would have turned into the Hulk if I was exposed to gamma radiation. I don’t remember being that angry with the Yanks (besides 2004 of course). Bad bad bad loss. Beauty about baseball is tonight is another chance to get into the win column…unfortunately, Phil Hughes is pitching. I’m scared to see what Reynolds, Hardy, and Jones will do to him.

  4. Syrio Forel says:

    1. Unacceptable

    2. Someone needs to tell Dave Robertson that he’s not Mariano Rivera. He’s trying too hard to be Rivera. Throw the curve. He threw it once last night and it went over the batters head.

    3. I agree. Phelps just isn’t ready for pennant race baseball. He’s pitching scared and just isn’t ready for these big ballgames.

    4. Wade is worth a shot. Make him the 8th inning guy.

    5. Alex has done everything he can to will this team and Robertson blew it twice, Phelps blew it, Hughes blew it, Garcia blew it, CC blew it, Kuroda almost blew it. There’s only so much Alex can do without decent pitching.

    • Scout says:

      I suspect Robertson is hurting, and may have been hurting for much of the season. It would not surprise me if, after the season, we learn about a physical problem. His velocity seems down and, as has often been noted, he has shelved the curve.

      • Chilango says:

        I agree. He’s thrown the curve 15.9% this year as opposed to 20.6% last. He stopped throwing the curve almost completely after he came back from the DL. His FB was 88-90 last night. Something seems physically wrong there.

    • DC says:

      These are your five points until the wind changes direction this afternoon, right Eddard?

  5. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    Even as badly as we have played in the last three weeks, we are still in first place. Let’s not lose sight of this. The hitting is starting to come around. Now the pitching has to do their job. If we are not in fist place by monday I would be surprised. I mean this is still a very good team compared to the others in the AL.

  6. Leg-End says:

    This Robertson cutter business is highly frustrating, he was pretty lights out last season with that fastball/curve combo so why the sudden need to change? I could understand it if he was looking to develop a third pitch for the long term and used it sparringly but he seems to have dropped the curve in favour of the cutter completely.

    • Ghost of Mariano Rivera says:

      He doesn’t throw a cutter. It’s his natural fastball.

      • Leg-End says:

        Well if thats the case then he needs to start using his breaking ball much more to offset it then.

      • Chilango says:

        I don’t think so. Last year, he used basically a four seamer/curve combo like Mike said. The FB had a cut to it at times, which makes sense because the grip and delivery are virtually identical so a good four seamer will sometimes cut. But it seems like he has tried purposely to develop the cutter, which is something else.

  7. MannyGeee says:

    “This David Robertson cutter stuff has to stop. We saw Phil Hughes fall in love with the pitch before getting burned on it in the past, and now it appears Robertson is going through the same thing”

    My bad. just thought I could help out while I was hanging in the bullpen. I didnt think they’d take it seriously.
    – Mariano Rivera

  8. blake says:

    the offense has at least shown a pulse the last couple of games and thats good…..but they have stop giving back leads as soon as they get them and they have to pitch better or it won’t matter.

    The bullpen isn’t very good and that stinks because its been a strength the last couple of years….they have to solve that issue and get their best guys healthy and in the rotation and then hope they can hang on….

  9. Ghost of Mariano Rivera says:

    Mike, that cutter IS his fastball. It has natural cut to it. PITCHf/x interpets it as a cutter because it has no tailside spin. Look at the spin charts for his career — there’s only one batch of fastballs there, not two separate ones. http://brooksbaseball.net/play.....yer=502085

    • Doug says:

      Then he’s gotta stop throwing just his fastball. At 91/92, it’s just not good enough to get hitters out consistently if he’s not mixing it up with something off speed.

      • Ghost of Mariano Rivera says:

        Maybe he should throw more curves, but his fastball is still an excellent pitch. Moreover, it is deceptively fast. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....index.html

        Mark Reynolds is just swinging a really hot bat right now and Robertson missed with his location on that ONE pitch in the at-bat. We are trying to rationalize a bad outing by a good pitcher and in so doing making things up.

        • jjyank says:

          I’m inclined to agree with you. Besides, how is he supposed to just “stop” throwing his fastball, as Doug suggests? Every pitcher has a fast ball, it is the foundation of any pitcher’s arsenal. Even Freddy Garcia throws a “fast ball”.

          I think D-Rob is just having some command issues. Hopefully that gets ironed out soon. But if what you say is true, that D-Rob’s fastball simply has a natural cut, then it seems to me that this is just a command issue.

    • Matt says:

      No, of you go to the in game pitch f/x, it has it down as a cutter.

  10. Vinny S. says:

    The lineup has definitely come around since A-Rod got back and it should only be better when Tex returns as well. Lots of hard contact last night, lots of line drives that got caught. And they didn’t really look like they were sitting there trying to hit homeruns (with the exception of the Cano three-pitch strikeout).

    The biggest problem now is that Phelps and Garcia should not be in the rotation. I trust CC and Kuroda, and while Hughes is a crapshoot, he’s still a good major league starter. We need to get Andy back ASAP, and if we can get Nova to perform at least as well as Phil we’re going to be fine.

  11. Vinny S. says:

    Also, how long until we give A-Rod some serious props for being such a strong leader? I think we take for granted the fact that injured players aren’t just missed on the field, but off it as well. For example, Mo’s chat with Soriano the other day.

  12. Jim Is Bored says:

    So would last night’s loss have been better if we’d just rolled over after being down 6-1? If anything I thought the 5 run comeback made the loss much more tolerable, as at least we can take ONE positive thing out of it.

    It was painful, sure. But come on with the hyperbole.

    • VCR1111 says:

      I was thinking the same thing after Robertson gave up the homers. Losing 6-1 would have been something, unfortunately, expected with the recent play. What makes this so painful is how the offense battled back to tie the game, and in a matter of minutes, all the work was gone. It went from depressed with Phelps, to jubilation to depressed again.

    • It's a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok 'N' Roll) says:

      Sure it was nice to see, but they can’t crap the bed every time they show an ounce of life and spit back their lead. They could have “nice innings” from now until October and still miss the playoffs. You gotta win the games!

  13. jjyank says:

    Regarding Phelps, this is why I never jumped onto his bandwagon. Remember a couple months ago when so many commenters were crucifying the Yankees for not “letting the kids play”? I like Phelps as much as anyone, and he’s very much intrigued me this year overall. But many of us were getting carried away with counting on him as a rotation stalwart. I still think he can be a serviceable back end guy going forward, and there’s plenty of value in that. The key phrase there is “going forward”, meaning next year and beyond. Phelps got his feet wet, has experienced both success and failure at the MLB level, an important step for a prospect. But now (a pennant race) really isn’t the time to allow his growing pains.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Now what are probably the same people are off the Phelps bandwagon and mad the Yankees haven’t called up everyone from AA to start for them… It’s comical.

    • Bubba says:

      It’s not like they were calling for CC to be replaced. Do you have any confidence that Nova (had he been available)would have provided a better performance? Garcia?

      The Yankees rotation has been shaky most of the year. Part of the reason we are in a pennant race is because we kept trotting Nova out there. Does Phelps help the Yankees win those games, who knows? Unfortunately, we do know what happened when Nova pitched.

    • MannyGeee says:

      you know where they’re “letting the kids play”? Boston. you know why? because they traded all they’re stars away. You know why? because they suck and are an abortion of a sports franchise right now.

      so, yeah, fuck the kids. let the super duper stars play

  14. Hardy says:

    A little more than two weeks ago it was “Nova sucks, bench him, get Phelps into the rotation”. Now it’s “Phelps sucks, bench him, get Nova into the rotation”.

    • VCR1111 says:

      So true!

    • jjyank says:

      Yep. More or less the point I was trying to make above. Not that Nova was any good really, but there’s something to be said for the Yankees sticking with guys like Garcia in spots like this over the rookies. “Letting the kids play” sounds nice, but not when the team is tied for the division in September.

    • MannyGeee says:

      dont worry, those same people will be saying “Shoulda kept AJ” in a month

  15. It's a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok 'N' Roll) says:

    This team sucks, playing with no energy. They need to trade people. Fire Cashman and Girardi. Move the team to New Jersey.

    *Generic Yankees fan comment over the past week

  16. Neil Treeby says:

    I agree last night Phelps was bad, I considered switching off the game after the 1st and doing something else. Lethargy got the better of me though and whilst I slept through the first half of the 8th, well, that was some rollercoaster ride.

    The encouraging thing about this loss – and it’s not by any stretch the worst loss of the year, that’s still the Sori-3-Run-Homer loss to the Jays, it doesn’t even stink as much as the DRob blown save way back – was that it wasn’t the fault of the bats. Nor was it the fault of the middle relief (1 run – a solo homer – in 3 innings is to my mind pretty solid middle relief). It was a bad outing by a rookie starter, and a bad outing by 2/3 of the club’s best relievers. Both Logan and DRob have shown they have the closer mentality and can both go back out and forget about yesterday. Joba, solo homer aside, has suddenly found something. A-Rod’s brought stability back to the top/middle of the lineup.

    So – the things that were falling apart (lineup, middle relief) appear to be coming back together again. The things that were working – starting pitching, late-game relief – had a bad outing.

    In other words – I’m encouraged.

  17. stuart a says:

    phelps should be in the pen. he has looked overmatched/intimidated. he has not risen to the occassion, sad but true. nova and garcia the same… cano has 73 rbi/s that means the inept and 230 hitting granderson has more rbi’s in less at bats then the great robinson cano.

    tex still has more rbi’s then cano in many less ab’s while hitting in the low 250′s..

    yanks came back last night shockingly and then boom. why robertson is in love with a cutter(a 92 mph fastball) I have no idea, especially to righties……

    basically everything is going wrong…pen sucks, stud starters are coming up reallly small(CC and kuroda), and lineup is a wreck, what a formula.

    • It's a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok 'N' Roll) says:

      Yeah it’s not like employing two of the top starters in the league, a top closer plus a solid set up man, and a lineup where 5 or 6 positions rank above average offensively could ever work…

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        Have you watched any recent games? Does that sound like the formula they’re currently employing?

        • It's a Long Way to the Bronx (If You Wanna Hirok 'N' Roll) says:

          Yes it does in fact. The intention with this team is not to lose games, but that has been an unfortunate side effect of poor play. Saying what a formula means that there is anger at how this team was built, and if you had asked about the formula back when we still had a ten game lead, one would have said it was great.

  18. Mike, also think you have to point to the fact that night before last, Logan/Robertson were extended beyond usual workload because Girardi can’t trust his “specialists” anymore. I don’t care what pitch you throw if you miss location by 3 feet. If he executes the location–that 90-92 fastball gets Jones out. Instead, it’s heart of the plate and rest is history. My problem with Robertson is that he isn’t tough enough to limit the damage. Once he gives up lead, he gets rattled and doesn’t keep game in reach. It was important to keep that game a 1 run game and instead–he loses focus/misses location and lets Weiters beat him, then Reynolds too. Game over. A 1 run margin is not worst case with Swisher, Cano, and A-Rod coming up and they hit the ball hard in 9th–just too bad game was already decided.

  19. LennonJames says:

    The silver lining here is in the fact that the Yankees are being forced to play “must-win” games three weeks before the postseason. They aren’t, and haven’t been, a team that can just turn it on and off. Finding their way now against Hammel, Chen, Saunders, Britton, etc. is a hell of a lot better than coasting into October and trying to turn it on in a short series against the Weaver and Verlander types.

    • LennonJames says:

      …even if those number one types will be wasted during the Wild Card Game.

    • VCR1111 says:

      You made a pretty interesting point here. If the Yanks make the playoffs, pressure should definitely not be an issue for them.

    • LennonJames says:

      Theoretically, this should really help those that have traditionally struggled in October. Swisher and Teixeira (when he comes back) mainly, but also Cano and his seemingly weak mind.

  20. Pat D says:

    This isn’t strictly relevant to this article, but it was being discussed in a similar one the other day.

    Mike mentioned he feels Girardi would get canned if they miss the playoffs. Going from the assumption, I saw a lot of people throwing out Francona’s name, and obviously he’d have to get strong consideration.

    Yesterday my dad brought up a name that I think is slightly interesting, because he’s been paying his dues in the minors for several years, but has no connection to the Yankees: Ryne Sandberg.

    He’s managing the Phillies AAA team in my backyard right now. I saw that team when they had Ryan Howard rehabbing, but they struck me as being a team of no real prospects and not even that many true AAAA players. Yet they very nearly made the playoffs. He also managed the Cubs AAA team previously, so he has that experience.

    Does anyone think he’d be worth a look should disaster strike?

    • Syrio Forel says:

      He’d be in over his head even more than Girardi. Tito Francona is the #1 option. Maddon just signed an extension so he wouldn’t come here. 2nd option is Jorgie. Tito as manager, Jorgie as bench coach, Paulie as hitting coach, Coney as pitching coach, Mo as player/bullpen coach.

      • jjyank says:

        I don’t know about the other guys, but Cone as the pitching coach intrigues me. As we know from listening to his YES broadcasts, he’s very knowledgeable about the art of pitching and is saber-friendly. That’s an interesting thought.

      • Pat D says:

        Posada would be a disaster as manager at this point.

        • TomH says:

          I have to agree. The New York Yankees are not a team for a rookie to manage, especially when the rookie manager will still have a number of pals and former teammates to deal with.

      • Hall and Nokes says:

        We can’t deplete YES that much, they’ll give Lou a more full time role!

    • Nick says:

      A lot of people just assumed Donny would follow Girardi at some point but I don’t think many of them expected Joe to be in danger so soon. Donny’s half-way through a job in LA and I’m not sure he’d walk away even for the Yankees.

  21. Yankeegirl49 says:

    “This isn’t the easiest of times to be a Yankees fan”

    Unless you are old enough to remember the late 60′s early 70′s and most of the 80′s…as disgusted as I am with this team, they are still in first place, it could be much much worse.

  22. Mark L. says:

    We’re just seeing what we’ve seen every September – October from 2005 to 2011 (2009 excluded) except it is a month early. Inconsistent pitching coupled with ineffective offense, old and brittle hitters who can’t produce when it really counts. This is a particularly unlikeable cast with Jones, Ibanez, Chavez, Ichiro, and Lowe just clinging on to their careers and hoping to coast towards the ring that has eluded them for years (or ever).

    If the Yankees somehow make the playoffs, I’ll be rooting as hard as anyone, but I’m fully expecting, and hoping, that a lot of dead wood will be cut this offseason.

  23. Assapopulus says:

    Someone please tell me what Larry Rothchild’s job is again. Isn’t he the guy that’s supposed to tell DRob to ease off on the fucking cutters and through some curves?

    These Orioles are pesky MoFos.

  24. IWannaBeAHirokstar says:

    Kemba Walker.

  25. Paul VuvuZuvella says:

    I’ve missed so much Yankee baseball over the last 3 weeks, first due to travel but recently due to the fact that I’m an even bigger Political Junky than Yankee Junky so been watching the conventions last two weeks. Will be tough to jump back in right now…like trying to catch a falling knife…

  26. Jimmy McNulty says:

    This team’s pretty fucking awful isn’t it?

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