A comment in Paul’s insightful guest post got me thinking. The idea was comparing the 1990 team to the 2008 team. Clearly, there is a huge flaw in this. The 1990 team wasn’t nearly as talented as its 2008 counterpart. The 1989 team did not win 94 games and make the playoffs. And the 1990 team didn’t have a handful of future Hall of Famers.

But this did get me thinking. How did we go from the bottom of the AL East in 1990 to dominating in the strike-shortened 1994 season?

Now, this is not as deep a look as we can take into this matter. I’m not going to be able to comment on the environment in baseball at the time, because I don’t remember it as vividly as I’d like. But we can at least take the moves as they happened, and show how a last place team became a first place team, in just the fourth year after dwelling in the cellar.

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Categories : Days of Yore
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  • When the Yanks had a mascot

    While I absolutely love the Phillie Phanatic, I can’t imagine a mascot of that ilk having much of a role in the Bronx. Yankee fans just wouldn’t tolerate it. It seems, however, that for parts of a few seasons in the mid-1980s, the Yankees tried to convince the public that this guy would make a good Bronx mascot. As Emma Span writes on the Banter, Yankee fans wouldn’t have any part of it, and they routinely tried to beat up the Yankee Dandy. In typical New York fashion, I laughed at that. · (8) ·

So that didn’t quite go as planned tonight, eh?

Joba Chamberlain, on a strict 65-pitch limit during his first Major League start, couldn’t last through the third inning today, and while Dan Giese held the Blue Jays to one run over 3.2 innings, a quick hook by Girardi and a subsequent bullpen meltdown led to the Yanks’ third straight loss. And, oh, yeah, they’re back in last place.

We’ll start with Joba because outside of Joba, there isn’t much to say about this game. Joba was not as good as we hoped and not as bad as his short outing makes him out to be. In 2.1 innings, he allowed one hit and one earned run while striking out three. The bigger concern tonight were his walks. He allowed an un-Joba-like four walks in this short outing.

Some Yankees fan on this site accused Joba of nibbling a la Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy earlier this year. Chris accused Joba of trying to make the perfect two-strike pitch. As I noted then, that simply wasn’t the case tonight. Rather, Joba couldn’t put his pitches where he wanted to put them, and when he did, he wasn’t getting the benefit of the strike from Ed Hickox. Admittedly, Hickox’s zone was small for both teams, but that’s baseball.

Who knows to what Joba’s struggles can be attributed tonight? While Harlan Chamberlain told Kim Jones that Joba wouldn’t show his nerves on the outside, it seemed clear that he was a bit amped up for this start. He was overthrowing in that long first inning and just didn’t have a feel for his stuff. He settled down in the second, but by the time the third inning rolled around, he had reached his pitch count. It’s encouraging seeing him maintaining a K/9 IP rate of better than 11 in his short outing, and I expect him be calmer and more on target on Sunday.

With Joba out of the game, the Yanks had to fashion a lengthy bullpen outing. This would give Joe Girardi a small opportunity to see if some other relievers could get outs. The answer, we know now, was that they could not. Girardi inexplicably yanked Dan Giese, a starter after 65 good pitches, and the rest of the bullpen was one disaster after another until Chris Britton pitched. Hmmmm.

In the end, it was more of what we know and hate from the 2008 Yankees. The bullpen couldn’t get outs, and the offense was inconsistent. Bobby Abreu, A-Rod and Robbie Cano combined to strand 15 runners, and Cano looks utterly lost at the plate. Jose Molina had a game that will have Yankee officials strongly considering Chad Moeller as the next backup catcher when Jorge Posada rejoins the team later this week, and the Yanks remain 0-for-June.

12 Hits

During the game, Michael Kay was really laying into Robinson Cano. “The Yankees have to be worried,” he over-stressed. “Cano’s really struggling.” Kay, as he often does, went on and on about Cano’s struggles.

Now, we know Cano is struggling, and we know he’s swinging at everything. But here’s the reality: At this point last year, Cano’s batting average was .050 higher than it is now, and the second baseman had just 12 hits more than he did now in the same number of at bats. 12! That’s hardly anything.

As Mike said to me tonight, the difference between a .275 hitter and a .300 hitter on the season is one hit every other week. For Cano, all this means is that when it all clicks and he breaks out of this slump, we’ll forget Michael Kay’s overreactions and all of our concerns. That said, he has to start zoning pitchers. Swinging at everything just will not do.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (57)

Bullet point DotF

By in Down on the Farm. · Comments (19) ·

Incredibly slow and boring night in the minors (plus I’m prepping the draft bunker for the end of the week), so I’m not going to drag this out. Here are the box scores for AAA, AA, A+ and A-. The highlights:

  • Eric Duncan took an 0-fer and Phil Coke struggled in his first start at the AAA level.
  • David Robertson and JB Cox combined for 2.1 perfect innings.
  • Jose Tabata left after getting hit by a pitch in his first at-bat. He later complained.
  • Austin Jackson picked up a single and Eric Hacker was eh.
  • Mitch Hilligoss racked up only his seventh multi-hit game of the year.
  • Kevin Whelan walked 5 in an inning and a third.
  • Rob Semerano made his organizational debut by giving up 4 hits and 2 runs in an inning of work for Tampa. Yanks picked him up as a MiL free agent, and he’s no spring chicken. Just filler.
  • Bradley Suttle hit a solo job.
  • Jon Ortiz picked up another save, his 17th.
Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (19)

I was under the impression that tonight’s Yankees-Blue Jays game was some sort of momentous game. But when I went to look at MLB.com, ESPN.com and all the New York news outlets, I couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary about today. It is yet another game in which the Yankees will aim to finish the day at .500. That’s getting old.

In real news, today’s a big day in Yankeeland for the 65-70 pitches that Joba throws will forever set the course of the universe. Will Hillary Clinton drop out of the Democratic race for president this week? Will gas prices continue to rise throughout the summer? Will the new Coen Brothers movie be as funny as it looks? All of these questions — and more — will be answered after Joba throws the Most Important 65 Pitches Ever Thrown.

Okay, okay. So maybe it’s not that big a deal. Maybe that is just step one in what is bound to be a process, but that’s the same as expecting Yankee fans to one day accept the fact that no team will go 162-0, that A-Rod won’t hit 1.000 with a 4.000 slugging and that no pitcher — outside of Mariano Rivera — is going to be perfect every time out.

For tonight, expect about four or five innings. Expect some Blue Jays hitters to be more patient than usual. Expect to see how Joba adjusts to pitching a game instead of pitching on adrenaline. Expect to see some secondary pitches. And expect — as Mike does — no less than two fist-pumps. Anything else would just be disappointing.

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Giambi 1B – His OPS of .910. Who saw that coming?
Cano 2B – Just take some pitches. Jeez.
Molina C
Cabrera CF

Number 62, Joba Chamberlain P

Game Notes: Dan Giese is up to fill in that long reliever role. A confused Chris Britton doesn’t understand why Scott Patterson is heading back to Scranton this time around.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (278)
  • What can you do in 65 pitches?

    Over at the World Wide Leader, Jayson Stark penned a column that could really use an editor (or five) about the transition from reliever to starter at the Big League level. The column clocks in at 2634 words or about 40 words for every pitch Joba will throw tonight. Talk about tempered expectations. So my question to you, loyal RAB readers, as we while away the hours before Joba’s start is this: What are you expecting tonight out of Joba as he faces Roy Halladay in his first Major League start? And, yes, Mike, I know you’re expecting a 27-pitch, 27-out perfect game. · (37) ·


Draft Roundup

By in Draft. Tags: · Comments (12) ·

Less than two days away … are ya ready? Here’s some stuff to hold you over:

Categories : Draft
Comments (12)

Joba Joba Joba

By in Pitching. Tags: · Comments (31) ·

In five short hours, Joba Chamberlain will climb aboard the Yankee Stadium mound and begin his tenure as a starter. We’ll have our thoughts and analysis as the afternoon goes on, but we’re not alone in assessing a move that’s made headlines among the Yankee literati for the last few months.

Today, though, the debate is flowing fast and furious, but it’s a different kind of debate. We start with Hank Steinbrenner’s predicting greatness for Joba over the next ten years. “This is about what Joba can do for us over the next 10 years,” Steinbrenner said to Pete Caldera of The Record. “That’s what we’re going to look at in a lot of way, with the new dynasty, hopefully, we can build.”

Meanwhile, as PeteAbe notes, Hank doesn’t understand innings limits. “Again, I would have perferred to start the year with him as a starter, but this is the way they have come up with,” Hank said. Always good for a quote, that Steinbrenner. I’m sure he’ll have some in-depth analysis after the game tonight as well.

Picking up where I left off this morning with claims of a mishandled transition as it relates to the bullpen, Brian, the world’s only Yankees/Flyers/Eagles fan writing at Depressed Fan, believes that the transition on the Joba end was handled poorly as well. Brian, who feels that Hank is just contributing to this circus, writes:

The problem: He isn’t ready. He can’t be. The Yankees have completely botched this transition and there’s no way he should be starting a game this soon, and there’s no way he’s ready to be stretched to 70 pitches. If I had to guess, I’d say the pressure is coming from the top down. Hank said he wants Joba to start, so they began the transition. The transition consisted of three outings of 35, 40 and 28 pitches, respectively. His previous high this season was 33. Hardly a stretch.

Yes, he followed those outings up with a bullpen session, but there was no pressure on him. Joba’s arm and his body are not ready for 70 pitches. He very well may get through 70 later tonight, but at what price? He’s going to be running on adrenaline. I can only hope he doesn’t get hurt.

I’ve toyed with this idea in my head over the last few weeks. I think it was especially glaring when Joba didn’t pitch in the extra-inning game in Baltimore and then threw just 28 pitches the next night. It seemed like the Yanks were implementing half of a plan, and now, they’re just throwing Joba into the fire for a few innings.

In the end, I have to put my faith in the Yankees Brain Trust. They know what they have in Joba Chamberlain, and they appear to know what they are doing with him. They managed to stretch him out without losing him to the Minors for ten days. I just wish today’s start didn’t have that Hail Mary feeling about it.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (31)

Unsigned Gems

By in Draft. · Comments (74) ·

(Damon Oppenheimer pic via NoMaas’ PhotoBucket album)

Yankee fans disagree about a lot of things: Melky Cabrera‘s potential, the Johan Santana non-trade, Joe Torre’s dismissal, Brian Cashman‘s body of work, and Phil Hughes‘ fastball are just the tip of the iceberg. However, one thing we can all agree on is that Damon Oppenheimer has done a superb job since taking over as the Yanks’ Vice President of Scouting back in 2005. With the Yanks’ newfound philosophy of shunning overpriced, underachieving and over-the-hill free agents in favor of cheap, young players developed from within, Oppenheimer’s work has received more attention that any of his predecessors, and the man has delivered.

Baseball America recognized his potential way back in 2003 when they called him a “rising star in [the Yankees'] Tampa office,” and ESPN’s Keith Law recently said “[Oppenheimer] is freaking smart, doesn’t get enough credit … definitely among my top 10 GM candidates.” His drafts have already produced two big leaguers in Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, and he’s mixed high ceiling talent (Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson) with high probability talent (JB Cox, Zach McAllister, Colin Curtis) while adding depth (Justin Snyder, Alan Horne, Mitch Hilligoss). A whopping 17 players on my preseason Top 30 Prospects list were drafted during his tenure. It’s a rather impressive resume.

While we focus on players who are with the organization for obvious reasons, what often gets overlooked are the quality players that Oppenheimer has drafted, but was unable to sign. The Yanks are flexing their financial muscle in the draft more and more these days, but there’s plenty of signability guys that they’ve missed out on. Here’s the best of the unsigned, eight talented players that Oppenheimer & Co. have selected, but couldn’t add to the organization. The good stuff starts after the jump.

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Categories : Draft
Comments (74)
  • The once and former heir apparent

    George Steinbrenner’s Yankees sure have seen their fair share of heir apparents pass through the Front Office. A few weeks after Kat O’Brien checked in on Steve Swindal, Kieran Darcy, the editor of ESPN.com’s Page 2, spent some quality time with Joe Molloy, Jessica Steinbrenner’s ex-husband and one of the key Front Office players behind the signing of Derek Jeter and the construction of the 1990s Yankee Dynasty. For all the young’uns out there who don’t remember Molloy or the folks like me who never realized the impact he had on the organization, Darcy’s piece is a fascinating glimpse at some of the behind-the-scenes history from the most recent great Yankee dynasty. Check it out. · (5) ·