Newsday’s Neil Best had something of a shocker over the weekend: It’s looking very likely that Mike & the Mad Dog will go off the air in September. Apparently, Chris Russo and Mike Francesca, who hardly every do the show together anymore, don’t like each other much. As the Big Lead asks, is anyone surprised that two morons on the radio can’t get along? Meanwhile, we’ll just have to wonder what the YES Network and RAB regular Jamal will do with their afternoons once September rolls around. · (51) ·
It seems that Krazy Kyle isn’t so enthused about the Yankee fans these days. Via David Waldstein at The Star Ledger:
The Yankees reliever was forced out of the game after reaching out for a batted ball and needed three stitches, but not before giving up home run No. 601 to Griffey.
The fans cheered Griffey’s overall accomplishment as he rounded the bases, and Farnsworth couldn’t hide his disappointment in the gesture — especially because some fans had the gall to cheer as Farnsworth was later escorted off the mound by trainer Gene Monahan.
“I have no comment about that,” he said tersely.
When Farnsworth left the game yesterday afternoon, the comments in the game thread here on RAB expressed similar sentiments. A few people wished injury about Farnsworth and hoped he would be out longer than the few days Yankee manager Joe Girardi suggested.
But a few other fans offered up different takes. As Old Ranger wrote:
Real Yankee fans don’t want to see Fansy out. Only those that don’t see how much he is helping the team. Not everyone can be MO, Farnsy is OK, not great but OK.
And therein lies the rub. Is Kyle Farnsworth helping the team? On the season, his numbers are decidedly average. His ERA — a poor indication of a reliever’s success — is 4.05, a shade under the league average of 4.09. He’s thrown 33 innings and with 30 strike outs and 12 walks, much better numbers than his 2007 effort (27 BB, 48 K, 60 IP). But he’s also given up nine home runs already this year, and his WHIP stands at 1.47, a higher mark than his 2007 number (1.45). He’s given up runs in 11 of his 32 appearances this year.
From a more sabermetric perspective, Kyle has a 4.7 VORP, making Kyle as a reliever a bit better than league average. Baseball Prospecuts figures he’s added about 1.25 wins over replacement level, with replacement level being defined as whatever is available. For better or worse, 76 games into the Yankees 2008 season, that number puts him second in the bullpen behind only Mariano Rivera.
Now when the time comes, the Yankees may have better internal options. Of J.B. Cox, David Robertson and Mark Melancon, the odds are good that at least one of them turns out better than replacement level. My money’s on Melancon, but perhaps, we’ll be surprised by two or three of them. The question these pitchers may soon force is this: Are they better than Kyle Farnsworth? Right now, no one knows.
We may hate Farnsworth for the heart attacks he gives us; we may hate him because he hates us. But he’s not totally useless. Yet.
Triple-A Scranton (10-1 beatdown of Toledo)
Brett Gardner: 0 for 1, 3 R, 4 BB, 2 SB
Justin Christian: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – even he would be a better option than Melky at this point, no?
Shelley: 1 for 5, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 K – Chad Jennings says he made a great diving catch at the warning track as well
Juan Miranda: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI – 13 for his last 23
Jason Lane: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB – so much for joining the team in Pittsburgh
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
Chris Stewart: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 RBI
Jeff Karstens: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 2-7 GB/FB - had a perfect game broken up with 1 out in the 6th
Steven White: 2.1 IP, zeroes, 3-4 GB/FB - 1 baserunner allowed in 4.1 IP since being DFA’ed
In a game delayed nearly an hour by a rain storm that hit the Bronx but not Brooklyn, the Yanks downed the Reds 4-1. The rain, in fact, may have saved the Yankees.
Andy Pettitte continued his hot pitching, throwing 6 strong innings. He allowed just four hits — none for extra bases — and walked two while striking out four. He’s 8-5 now, and his ERA is 4.04. Pettitte, it seems, is back.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were again making a mediocre pitcher look like a Cy Young contender. Johnny Cueto and his 5.19 ERA threw five one-run innings, and the right hander had struck out seven before rain hit. Surprisingly, Dusty Baker removed Cueto after the rain delay, and the Yanks scored three runs in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada.
The Reds’ only run of the game came off of — surprise! — Kyle Farnsworth. It was the 19th home run of Griffey’s career in Yankee Stadium, and unless the Kid ends up on a AL team before the trade deadline, it was also the last plate appearance at the Stadium for Griffey. The homer marks the fitting end for someone so enthusiastic about Yankee Stadium and the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Yanks may have lost Farnsworth for a few days, as Krazy Kyle forgot to use his glove. In an attempt to barehand a ball hit by Brandon Phillips, Farnsworth tore up his hand. He needed a few stitches, but the Yanks don’t see a DL trip in his future.
Mariano Rivera came on for the somewhat shaky four-out save. It was his 21st of the season, a mark he didn’t achieve last year until August 28. When all was said and done, the Yanks emerged victorious, winners of 8 of their last 10 and 12 of their last 17.
I’ve beaten this drum quite a bit over the last few months, and today, Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger picks up on the theme too: Despite assurances from the Yanks that half the seats in the new stadium are going to cost under $50 — is that even cheap? — fans are going to be paying a high price for baseball in New York soon. Hard Rock Cafes, steakhouses and Martini Bars sound ostentatious for those people who just want to go to a baseball stadium to a watch a game, and someone has to foot the bill for it all. · (16) ·
Much like they did in 1976, the Reds have come to New York to steamroll over the Yankees. The only difference is that the 2008 Reds — 35-41 in the NL Central — ain’t exactly your Big Red Machine.
The Yanks today will look to salvage the finale game of this weekend’s three-game set before hitting the road for Pittsburgh and Queens. On the mound for the Yanks is Andy Pettitte. After getting shelled by the Royals, Pettitte has won his last two starts, allowing just one run over 15 innings and striking out 15. He’ll face Johnny Cueto, the 22-year-old righty is 5-7 with a 5.19 ERA.
The Yanks are going with the same lineup as yesterday. Someday, they’ll have to give the slumping Bobby Abreu a day off. Game time’s at 1:05 p.m. No more baseball after this until Tuesday night.
In the fourth inning of the Yankees-Twins game on June 1, Bobby Abreu lined a ball off Nathan Blackburn’s face. Blackburn left the game but ended up being OK. Since then, however, Bobby Abreu has struggled. He was 0 for 1in his final at-bat of the day, and since June 2, he’s hitting .189/.241/.284 over 79 plate appearances. He’s struck out just nine times. So perhaps he’s just been unlucky. It’s scary to see a pitcher get knocked out by a ball, and it could be impacting the Yanks’ number three hitter. · (4) ·
Triple-A Scranton (9-5 win over Toledo)
Brett Gardner: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB – remember when Melky struck out swinging on a pitch over his head with the bases loaded in the second inning against a pitcher making his ML debut in Yankee Stadium today? so do I …
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K – 13 for his last 33 with 8 SB
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 3, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Juan Miranda, Matt Carson & Eric Duncan: all 2 for 5, 2 RBI – Miranda doubled, scored a run & K’ed thrice … Carson & Duncan each K’ed twice … Duncan also committed a fielding error at the hot corner
Cody Ransom: 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
JD Closser: 0 for 3, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
Chris Basak: 0 for 4 – welcome back Chris … remember his at-bat with the Yanks in San Fran last year? he hit a rocket into the gap, stood on second thinking it was a double, but he was actually out because the outfielder caught it? … ah good times
Sidney Ponson: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 7-3 GB/FB – 46 of 78 pitches were strikes (59.0%) … Steven White was recently DFA’ed (he cleared waivers and still with the team, no surprise), which could be a precursor to Ponson starting one of the games during next Friday’s split-stadium doubleheader against the Mets … or, it could be to open a 40-man spot for Jason Lane, who hasn’t played since Friday, to join the team in Pittsburgh (which is when they said they’d stop carrying 3 catcher) … they could easily shift Hughes or Wang to the 60-day DL to free up a spot for Ponson … [/thinkingoutloud]
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP – only 16 of 29 pitches were strikes, a very un-Patterson-like (55.1%)
Steven Jackson: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
David Robertson: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 18 baserunners & 31 K in his last 17.2 IP … hot damn
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Here’s a good stat for you: Teams that leave 12 runners on base without scoring a run lose 100 percent of the time.
We could complain about Dan Giese’s error. We could bemoan the state of the soft underbelly of the Yankee bullpen. We could question A-Rod‘s missed tag on a ball that wasn’t going to be a double play anyway. But the reality is that the Yanks’ offense couldn’t muster anything, and had Dan Giese given up just one run, the Yanks would have lost anyway.
For the game, Dan Giese pitched exceptionally well. Despite the loss, he far exceeded expectations and has earned himself a few more starts in the Bronx. He lasted 6.2 innings and gave up 3 runs — none earned — on 4 hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 5. He threw 53 of 75 pitches for strikes.
And therein lies the rub. While I hate to criticize Giese for his masterfully pitched game, his last pitch showed something of a mistaken approach. After throwing two curve balls that Edwin Encarnacion fouled back, Giese was ahead 0-2. It was the perfect opportunity to throw a few pitches out of the zone to get Encarnacion out on something junky and off the plate.
Instead, Giese came in with an 86-mph fastball that stayed straight, and according to Gameday, arrived at the plate right in Encarnacion’s wheelhouse. The two-run single would be all that the Reds would need. It was the perfect example of a pitcher throwing too many strikes.
In the end, the Yanks lost because they scored no runs. That’s all there is to it. They’ve scored just four over their last three games and are due for a big offensive day. And, hey, they’re still 7-2 over their last nine games, and as I said last night, I’d take that any time of year.
I have long been fascinated with Cuban baseball. The island nation, 90 miles away from the U.S. geographically, but a world a part politically, features some of the best baseball players that no one has ever heard of. In July’s Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame pens one of the best magazine pieces on baseball I’ve ever read. His title: Commie Ball: A Journey to the End of a Revolution.
Lewis’ story is fascinating on two fronts. First, he explores the sad and odd case of Gus Dominguez, a Cuban American serving jail time for allegedly smuggling athletes into the U.S. from Cuba. As Lewis makes abundantly clear in the article, Dominguez’s guilt is highly questionable, and despite a verdict from the jury and his current five-year sentence, the government’s case against him is both full of holes and indicative of the current state of the nation’s immigration policies.
The second part of the story involves a journey Lewis made — somewhat secretly, somewhat not, as you’ll see — to Cuba to explore the Communist nation and understand what baseball means to Cuba. While it clocks in at 25 printed pages, the piece is exceptional, and I highly recommend it for its stories, its characters, and Lewis’ writing. [Commie Ball with a hat tip to the Banter and Dayn Perry] · (4) ·