The book on the Yankees is that they’ll make your pitchers work. However, we have not seen this early on in 2008. As a team, they have seen just 3.05 pitches per plate appearance, after seeing 3.88 last year. Derek Jeter is particularly troubling in his hacking, seeing a hair over 2.5 pitches in each of his 25 plate appearances. Clearly, this is something that will change as the season matures. But it does begin to explain the Yankees’ current offensive drought.
We saw this from the get-go yesterday. Johnny Damon hacked at the second pitch of the game, and Derek Jeter at the third. A-Rod swung at the first pitch of the second inning. Through two frames, James Shields had tossed just 17 pitches. This is not what we’re used to seeing from the Yankees.
Things got a bit better in the third inning, though. Three of the four batters took the first pitch, and it looked like they were putting together some sort of inning before Betemit decided to try for third. In the fourth inning (when we scored runs!), four out of the six hitters took the first two pitches. Cano took the first pitch before fouling off a ton en route to a single, and Jorge took the first pitch to the warning track. So thing weren’t looking all bad.
Still, you’d like to see a bit more patience from the team in the next few games. This is quickly starting to feel like late April/May of last year, when the offense was underperforming and as a result pressing. They really seem to be lunging for balls out of the zone, and otherwise taking poor swings. There’s little left to say, other than: I hope they settle in and get into a groove.
Johnny Damon has the same idea: “When I go, this team goes a lot smoother.”
Well, then. Get to it, Johnny.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Lehigh Valley)
Justin Christian & Cody Ransom: both 1 for 4 – Christian K’ed once … Ransom thrice
Juan Miranda & Alberto Gonzalez: both 0 for 4 – The Former Attorney General K’ed twice
Jason Lane: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Eric Duncan: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SB – 2 SB this year, 2 SB all of last year … 1.012 OPS
Chris Stewart: 2 for 3, 1 PB
Darrell Rasner: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 5-8 GB/FB – 51 of 73 pitches were strikes (69.9%)
Scott Strickland: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-2 GB/FB – Chad Jennings speculated that he could be cut to make room on the roster for Jon Albaladejo
Chris Britton: 0.1 IP, zeroes
Jose Veras: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Ben and Joe are at the game, so I’m your host for the day. Sunday day games have always been a personal favorite; there’s nothing better than rolling out of bed an hour or so before first pitch, and spending a lazy Sunday with my beloved Bombers. Except, of course, when they’re not doing any bombing at all.
The lineup has been anemic, batting .231-.284-.353 with a whopping 11 extra base hits through one turn of the rotation (Mr. Beltran already has 6 XBH of his own). Maybe they should start getting tips from the guys playing for Low-A Charleston.
While the offense is lacking, the pitching staff for the most part is excelling. Wang and Hughes were solid if not spectacular, while Pettitte and Moose were serviceable in their first go ’round. IPK, eh, not so much, but it’s just one measly start. Outside of Farnsworth and Hawkins (give it up, he’s not Paul O’Neill, we get it already) the bullpen has been outstanding, combining for 14.2 IP of 5 hit, 1 walk, 18 K ball. Goes to show that you don’t need big and sexy names to have a good bullpen.
Eventually the offense will start pulling their weight, but it sure is frustrating to get off to this kind of start year after year.
The lineup :
Jeter SS – I’ll set today’s over/under at 1.5 GIDP
Matsui DH – where he belongs
Betemit 1B – Morgan Ensberg, hello? Are you out there?
On the mound, number forty, Chicken-Wing Wang (trademark Tim McCarver).
Notes: Giambi’s hurtin’, still no word on how bad or how long he’ll be out … there’s a whole lotta stuff going into the New Stadium … two former Yanks celebrate their birthday’s today: Andy Phillips turns 31, Bronson Sardinha turns 25.
Via BBTF comes a good piece from the New York Observer about Jason Giambi’s 2008 campaign. Giambi, 37, is trying to make a move few his age make with much success: He is trying to move to the field after being a full-time DH.
Giambi, according to Medgal, discovered running this off-season and with it, he hopes, a Fountain of Youth:
Since signing a seven-year, $120 million contract with the New York Yankees prior to the 2002 season, Giambi has been an increasingly irregular presence in the lineup, and seeing him in the field has been an even greater rarity. In his first two seasons with the Yankees, Giambi played in 313 of a possible 324 games, 97 percent, including 177 at first base. But in the past four seasons, Giambi played just 441 of 648 games, and just 211 of those at first base. Last year, Giambi appeared in just 18 games at first base, and often was replaced in the late innings for defense…
“I’d get hurt all the time, and I just took it as part of getting older,” Giambi said as he stood near his locker before yesterday’s game against Toronto, a bat leaning against his leg. “But when I worked toward getting back from the plantar fasciitis, I worked with a new doctor, who deals with—well—ballet dancers. And he told me that I had really high arches. I got these inserts”—he gestured toward prescription orthotics in his cleats—“and suddenly it didn’t hurt to run anymore.”
Giambi suffered knee and back pain so quickly, along with “dead legs,” when running in the past that it was never part of his offseason regimen. But this winter, he said, he ran every day. Giambi found a track near his Las Vegas home and learned how to run without pain for the first time, 60 yards at a time.
This winter was the first time in his career that Giambi went through a running program, and the Yanks are hoping that Giambi’s legs will stay fresher for it this year. While Giambi talks about regaining quickness, his apparent injury yesterday bodes ill for his legs.
Right now, the Yanks have to hope that this supposedly new and improved Jason Giambi is also willing to let himself heal. But at 37, it’s hard to roll back the baseball clock as it keeps on ticking ever forward.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass this along. Too funny.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 win over Lehigh Valley)
Brett Gardner: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – Chad Jennings said the homer was a no-doubter
Justin Christian: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 SB
Cody Ransom: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Juan Miranda: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 3, 1 BB – GIDP’ed
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP
Alan Horne: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 Balk, 8-4 GB/FB – take out the second inning, and his line would be 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Heath Phillips: 0.2 IP, zeroes – being used strictly as a lefty specialist this year, except in the occasional emergency spot
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K – 8 of 9 pitches were strikes … your garden variety Scott Patterson outing
Edwar: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
So Jason Giambi left the game today with sore left groin. So he made it through four and a half games before the injury bug bite. Not bad, Jason. Not bad. The Yanks have him listed as day-to-day even though Giambi says he feels OK. I doubt he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. · (0) ·
Andy Pettitte wasn’t at his sharpest today, but a few of his hits were of the bloop variety. He’s not why the Yankees lost. They lost because the bats were 9 for 37 with one extra-base hit. They walked twice and struck out seven times. The Yanks find themselves at 2-3 because the team is hitting .228/.289/.382 with nine walks and 22 strike outs. But it’s five games at the start of the season. They’ll snap out of it, and if the bullpen and starting pitching keeps doing what its been doing, the Yankees will be a-ok. And that’s all there is to it today. · (36) ·
The Yanks are mired in something of an offensive slump to start the season. As a team, the Bombers are hitting .227 with a .285 OBP and a .378 slugging percentage. For all the talk about their offensive, they’ve plated just 12 runs over the first four games.
The bats, of course, will wake up, and today’s game may be just what the doctor ordered. Facing the Yankees today will be the righthander Edwin Jackson. For years, Jackson has been hyped as the Next Big Thing. He started out with the Dodgers and made his Major League debut a few months later. But control — and Big League succes — have so far eluded Jackson. Over five seasons and 272.2 innings, he has an ERA of 5.64 and a WHIP of 1.71.
The Yanks haven’t shown their trademark patience at the plate yet. They’ve drawn just eight walks as a team. With Jackson on the mound, the Yanks’ bats may get the reprieve they so need after facing Toronto’s own big three starting pitchers and a surprisingly effective Andy Sonnanstine last night.
On the hill for the Yanks will be Andy Pettitte, making his 2008 season debut. No, my April Fools joke did not come true. He isn’t missing time due to his back right now, and he won’t be replaced by Kei Igawa. Against Tampa last year, Pettitte was 0-2 in four starts with a 5.32 ERA. Hopefully, he’ll find success this season. In all likelihood, Jonathan Albaladejo will be sent back to AAA to make room for Pettitte, and I am not a fan of that move.
The guys over at Saber Scouting made a trip to Triple-A Scranton’s season opener to take a look at the Kei-man, and figured out what’s wrong with him: A whole lot. It makes sense that it’s not just one big problem with Igawa, it’s a bunch of smaller problems building on each other. Surprisingly, they say there’s a lot to like about Igawa, and that whoever scouted and recommended him wasn’t completely wrong. Check it out.
PS: If you watch the video, make sure you turn the volume down. You’ll thank me. · (8) ·