The Yanks’ loss tonight sure was disheartening. They failed to hit; their star set-up kid — and remember, he’s just a kid — couldn’t deal with a swarm of bugs and was a little wild; the back end of their weak bullpen failed to get outs in key situations.
For a small but vocal minority of Yankee fans, the fault for this team lies with Brian Cashman. The Yankees GM hasn’t been able to field a World Champion team since 2000, and even then, that team was largely the product of his predecessors Bob Watson and Gene Michael. So Cashman, because his teams are continually flawed, despite a payroll that has finally grown to $200 million, should be fired.
Well, I do not buy it for one second. When Brian Cashman inherited the Yankees — a team he, as an assistant general manager, helped construct — they were at the start of a great run of World Series championships. His work led the team to three World Series championships, five American League Championships and a playoff berth every single season.
But for some Yankee fans, the team has failed every year after 2000. Who cares about the two AL Championships and the seven playoff appearances? Who cares about the 686-445 record with a.607 winning percentage tops among all Major League teams from 2001-2007.
So are we supposed to blame Brian Cashman because he’s put together a team that wins during the regular season but can’t win during the playoffs? I don’t think so. If you put together teams that win in the postseason but can’t get there, what’s the point?
The bad part are these best-of-five series. While I hate to make excuses, they’re hardly indicative of a team’s ability over the course of 162 games. Cashman has, while working with a very overbearing boss who insisted on giving Jason Giambi a contract about two years and $40 million too long, to name one, put together one of the most successful baseball games of all time. You can’t top that no matter how poorly the Yanks have done in October.
Meanwhile, the Yanks are down but not out at all. They face Jake Westbrook on Sunday and, if they survive, Paul Byrd on Monday. If the team clicks, there’s no reason to count them out and every reason to expect a game five. If they make it that far, you’ll see far less criticism of a team that, while flawed, isn’t exactly a disaster.
Nothing. Who cares? When your $200 million team has only two guys who get outs in the bullpen, you won’t win playoff games. It’s that simple.
Blame Luis Vizcaino for being utterly terrible. Blame Cashman if you want. Blame Torre for sticking with Matsui. Blame the bugs for the distraction and Posada for his inability to block Joba’s sliders in the dirt. But really, you need more guys who can get outs in the bullpen against the 7-8-9 hitters and you need hitters who are going to hit. What can you do?
The Yanks can easily beat Paul Byrd and Jake Westbrook in the Bronx. That’s hardly a tall order. Clemens on Sunday; Wang on Monday; Pettitte in Cleveland on Wednesday. We can do it.
So we’re seeing Joe Torre repeating the past.
Fact: Hideki Matsui is slumping badly and has been since mid-August. The guess is that his recently drained knee is bothering him more than we realize.
So what does Joe do? He puts Matsui, the weak link, in between Jorge and A-Rod. I guess he figures Carmona will attack Matsui while pitching against A-Rod and Posada. I would much rather see Giambi there, but such are things.
Win today and everything looks rosy.
Sorry for the extended down time. We were too depressed about last night’s game to keep up the site. Just kidding. Hosting problems.
Continue bemoaning what is only a game one loss here. And remember: The Yanks are 5-0 in DS history after losing game 1 and just 2-5 when winning game 1. Hooray for meaningless stats.
Not much time to talk today. Feel sympathy for me, please: I have a rehearsal dinner tonight which happens to basically run the length of the Yanks game. The groom is a huge Yanks fan, so I’m hoping he’s accommodated for this. I’m not banking on it, though.
There’s not much to talk about from last night. Wang was terrible, leaving balls up in the zone all night. Ohlendorf didn’t help. Hughes might have pitched his way into a Game 4 start (solo homer or not, that was the best he’s looked since returning from the DL). Matsui and Jorge failed in huge spots, and A-Rod didn’t really get a chance until the game was out of hand (yes, I realize that he popped up with Abreu on first in the third). But all of this was pretty clear; it’s not like anything subtle caused the Yanks to lose last night.
As Ben says, it’s a must-win today. I can definitely see this one going in the Yanks’ favor. And then it’s all up to Clemens and Mussina/Hughes. The Yanks will put themselves in the best position to win the game if they sit Hideki (thereby giving him another two full days off) and starting Giambi at DH. This is so obvious that I expect Torre not to do it. · (12) ·
In the end, the score doesn’t matter. The Yanks find themselves in a familiar position: down 1-0 in the division series. And tomorrow — or, at this point, later today — is another game. They’re 5-0 since 1995 when down 1-0 in the DS. Let’s see it happen again. Win today, and they head back to the Bronx with a split. It’s that easy. · (4) ·
So here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for since the Yankees bottomed out at 21-29. It’s time for Game 1 of the ALDS and time to take another stab at securing that elusive 27th World Championship.
So far, in preparation for the playoffs, we’ve looked at why the Yankees won’t beat the Indians and why they will win. We worried a bit about Bob Sheppard and watched three other games yesterday as well as a riveting and controversial Wild Card playoff on Monday. What’s left to do?
Oh, that’s right. We have to debate the Yankees’ choice of Game 1 pitchers. The comments from here on down in the post on the Yankees’ playoff roster began a discussion I was planning on having, and Jay Jaffe over at Baseball Prospectus elaborated in his massive playoff preview piece. Let me quote the relevant passage from Jay:
Make no mistake: this Yankee rotation and its deployment may be the team’s downfall in this series. As good as Wang is, he’s shown a decisive enough home-road split (2.75 home/4.91 away this year; 3.04/4.62 career) to prefer that he not start in Cleveland once, let alone twice if the series goes five games. Pettitte has enough postseason experience (34 starts, 212 innings, 4.08 ERA, 14-9) to add a line to his resume virtually identical to his 2007 stats.
Therein lies the rub. While Chien-Ming Wang may be the ace of this staff for now, does it make sense to expose one of your weaknesses in starting your ace on the road? Andy Pettitte could easily be your games 1 and 5 starter based on his season success, and going with Pettitte, Hughes, Wang, Mussina/Clemens isn’t exactly terrible.
Hopefully, Jaffe is wrong. Joe looked through some of the game logs, and Wang’s bad starts on the road are few and far between. While the Taiwanese sinkerballer has a higher number of better starts on the road, which pitcher doesn’t? Last night, the numbers weren’t in John Lackey’s favor in Boston and he had another rough Fenway outing. But Wang’s numbers on the road are much better than Lackey’s were at Fenway.
But, hey, what fun is a playoff game without a little pitching controversy beforehand? Meanwhile, I’m standing by my prediction: Yanks in 4 after a game 1 loss. Maybe I’ll be wrong there too.
Chien-Ming Wang P
Play nice in the comments. Big game today.
Update 4:21 p.m.: There were rumors of an accident involving Doug Mientkiewicz this morning, and we can confirm the info right now. Mark Feinsand at Blogging the Bombers has the story. Mientkiewicz, leaving the team bus, was run over by a Cleveland photographer. His ankle is taped, but he should be good to go at first tonight. Not only has Doug been stellar in the field, but he’s hitting .424 over his last 10 games. We’ll update this if something changes.
I went to two Yankees games during the last home week of the season: One on Monday, September 17 and one on Sunday, September 23. Noticeably absent at both of those games were Bob Sheppard. I was more than a little bit worried.
During the telecast on Friday, Sept. 21, Michael Kay informed the folks watching at home that Sheppard was out with laryngitis and would be back in time for the playoffs. Now, Sheppard is no spring chicken. He won’t admit his age but the Yankees say he is just a few days shy of 97. He’s been doing games since 1951 or all of the years that my dad has been a fan (and just one year short of my father’s entire life).
A 97-year-old coming down with laryngitis is certain not a Good Thing. Today, SI.com via the Associated Press gave an update on Sheppard in this notebook. Reading between the lines, the prognosis is not good:
Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ public-address announcer since 1951, could miss the team’s postseason home opener Sunday night.
Sheppard wasn’t at the final homestand of the season because of laryngitis, and as of Wednesday it wasn’t clear whether “The Voice of God” will recover by the weekend. If Sheppard isn’t back, longtime backup Jim Hall will be behind the mike.
Sheppard’s birthday is reportedly Friday, October 12, and while he missed the Cubs last World Series victory by two years, he’s lived an incredibly long life. The fact that he still announces the games – even if his voice has slipped a bit over the last few years – is amazing. In fact, up until recently, he did the New York Giants games as well.
Meanwhile, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach has a few more details. According to Mary Sheppard, Bob’s wife, Bob is recovering from “a bronchial laryngitis infection.”
“It’s hanging on,”she said said. “He can talk now. But it needs rest.”
I don’t like this news. Sheppard’s been out for three weeks and any time a 97-year-old has an infection that’s “hanging on,” there’s reason to worry. The day Bob goes would be a very sad day indeed in Yankee history.