Time after time, some little thing disrupts Mike Mussina’s rhythm, and he feels the need to make excuses for himself. After watching this go on and on since 2001, I’m beyond sick of it.
Yesterday afternoon, during the postgame interviews, Mussina claimed that he had nothing coming out of the bullpen and that he really struggled to make it through his half-assed start against a White Sox club that came into the game batting .220 with a sub-.300 OBP AS A TEAM.
But really, Mussina didn’t like the rain-out and the extra day of rest. It bothered him. For a smart guy – Stanford, crossword puzzles – Mussina sure can’t conquer the mental aspects of the game. He falls apart when someone makes an error; he can’t deal with a disruption to his routine.
Mark Feinsand said it best in his blog recapping 14 hours spent at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago:
Mike Mussina needs to just go out and pitch. I know heâ€™s a huge creature of habit, so being pushed back two extra days is a big problem for him, but after playing as long as he has played, he needs to find a way to get past it and give his team 100 pitches.
I know Feinsand isn’t the only sports reporter who questions Mussina’s fortitude. You have to believe that an accomplished pitcher in his 17th season in the Majors could just suck it up now and then. But more and more, it seems like Moose cannot, and it’s a let down.
Tyler Clippard left today’s game against Norfolk with an injury after the 1st inning. No idea how serious it is, but when I find out, I’ll let ya know…
Update: ThereÂ are some rumblings that Clippard was pulled early because he’s going to start Sunday for the Yankees. The NEW YORK Yankees, not the Scranton variety. Good grief…
Just wanted to make a quick little announcementÂ and say that Joe and I (and maybe Ben if he’s interested) will be acting as co-scouting directors for the Yankees inÂ this year’sÂ Mock Draft over at John Sickel’s Minor League Ball.
If you don’t know what the Mock Draft is, go hereÂ to find out. We’ll periodically update youÂ on our progress, and I’m sure we’ll do something cool for draft day.
We’re looking for some help with scouting guys/doing research, so if you’re interested in lending a hand, here’s the diary thread. Remember, this is NOT about who we think the Yanks should pick, it’s about who we’d pick if we were in charge. But most of all, this is about having fun, so come join in and help pick the next wave of great Yankee prospects!
Aren’t we all thankful for Chien-Ming Wang? On a night defined by frustration (which was only exacerbated by the rain delay), he provided some relief. Just imagine how you would have felt last night (or this morning, depending on when you had to pry yourself away from the TV) if the Yanks had dropped the second half of that doubleheader. It would have been devastating. It would have been inexcusable. So you can thank Mr. Wang for the emotional swing.
Here’s the question, though: is it better to savor the victory, or point out the Yankees flaws? On one hand, you have a much-needed boost, both emotionally and statistically, and it feels wrong to undermine that. However, it also feels somewhat irresponsible to not point out what went wrong, and why it’s a signal that things might not have changed all that much. After all, we don’t live in the land of sunshine and lollipops; if the Yankees demonstrated a flaw last night, chances are it’s going to be exposed over the next few days.
Isn’t it fitting, then, that Bobby Abreu led off this game with a strikeout? Talk about poetry: in a game where much went right, yet plenty went wrong, Bobby Abreu embodies both poles. His leadoff strikeout was repeated two more times, leaving little faith left for (what could have been) his final at bat. Of course, the run wasn’t necessary — but with the unpredictability of the bullpen, every run counts. After taking a ball, Abreu looked absolutely silly on a Contreras splitter, whiffing on the pitch well before it got to the plate. The next pitch was a similar speed, and why not? Abreu had been out in front all night. The main difference: the pitch was right down Broadway (as opposed to the first two pitches being right around the corners). It’s a pitch that many hitters would crush, but with Abreu still mired in a slump, he did what he could with it. Base hit and an RBI, and the Yanks got some breathing room.
Another guy who’s been a bit iffy is Matsui. He doesn’t seem to be eyeing the outside part of the plate well, which results in him getting way on top of pitches and grounding out. This is something I’m sure he’ll work out; you don’t suddenly lose the ability to take pitches the opposite way. However, if you leave that pitch over the plate, he’s still going to crush it, as he did on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning. That was a fat pitch. What’s crazy is that the pitch on which he struck out in the sixth inning was in the exact same spot. I can’t speak for the velocity (Enhanced Gameday doesn’t have the pitch data for either at bat, just the locations), but the location was right there. In fact, all three strikes were right over the plate. I’m very surprised that Matsui, following his crush shot in the previous at bat, didn’t whale the first pitch Contreras threw him. If there was ever a time to hack at the first one…
The best inning, however, was clearly the ninth. Melky’s homer was super-sweet. Not just because it’s a rarity, but because he freakin’ whaled a 93 m.p.h. heater on the inside corner. So it’s not like he took advantage of a bad pitch; Sisco put it where he wanted, and Melky said, “I think I can state my case for playing tomorrow by depositing your best effort over the left field wall.” And so he did. The home run to Jorge was in the same exact location. I guess it was a changeup, since it came in at 86 m.ph., and was directly preceded by a 97 m.ph. heater. At this point, you almost have to feel bad for Sisco: he hit the corner with two pitches (though coming inside to a righty with a change is a questionable call), and was taken deep. He threw another good one to GIambi, on the outside corner, but Giambi reacted and punched that baby to left. The Giambi of 2002-2006 tries to pull that and whiffs. It’s good to see that he’s adjusting to his sapped power.
There were other little flaws that cropped up during the game, like Kyle Farnsworth’s imitation of John Wetteland: he can’t get out of an inning without putting a guy on base and making us all clench our teeth. But all in all, especially considering the 9th, it’s a good sign moving forward.
Last 7 Days
Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Norfolk)
Kevin Reese: 2 for 5, 1 R, 3 K
Chris Basak: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
Andy Phillips: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K – it took 34 games and a 1.093 OPS, but he’s finally hitting cleanup…
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – first XBH in 9 games…
Kevin Thompson: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 3 RBI
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 3, 2 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Eric Junge: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K – signed to fill out the rotation, but he was a big-time prospect like, 8 years ago…
Tim Lavigne: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – another guy signed to bolster the staff
Edwar Ramirez: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – moved up a level, but still schoolin’ guys…
Sorry for the cynicism, but that was just an ugly game. I’m short on time, so let’s just go over some of the good and bad from the game.
Josh Phelps homered.
It was too little, too late.
Melky had an RBI double to tie the game
Joe left Cairo in to hit with runners on second and third.
Vizcaino didn’t let all of his inherited runners score.
Joe used him in a high leverage situation, which at this point is too risky.
Bobby Abreu homered and singled (the opposite way, no less).
Miguel Cairo: 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Jorge with 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.
Alex went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.
Bruney and Meyers didn’t allow a run.
Moose allowed five.
Damon struck out thrice (sorry, I squeezed all the good I could out of this game).
We allowed five runs to a team that had exactly zero players enter the game with a BA over .250 (Erstad started with a BA of .250).
We lost to a team whose best hitter is Darin Erstad.
And it goes on and on. There is no excuse for this. None.
From left to right: Phil Hughes, Jeff Karstens (back turned, blackish shirt), Billy Connors (you can see his white hair sticking out), Joba Chamberlain (back turned, grey shirt), Christian Garcia (hat tip to Yankee1010), a mystery man*, and some guy named Roger.
* it’s been established that it’s not pitching guru Nardi Contreras, but it might be Jose Veras…or about a million other guys…
It’s only fitting that Rocket’s standing up on the mound, at a higher level than the other guys.
Do the Yankees see Clemens as a mentor to Hughes? â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s by chance that Billy Connors has him out there playing catch with me,â€ Clemens said.
Sean Henn, over his last five appearances, has given up 7 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings (with 4 of those runs coming in one outing). So the Yankees shipped Henn to Scranton and called up Ron Villone on the last day before he could exercise his opt-out clause in his contract. Villone, who has already thrown 23 innings at AAA while giving up 21 hits but few runs, will now be used every day by Joe “Autopilot” Torre until his arm falls off or his ERA climbs above 10.00. For those of you wondering, Luis Vizcaino, who in his last five performances has given up just 6 earned runs in 5 IP (10.80 ERA), is still with the team. Barf. · (0) ·
According to Pete Abe, ESPN will televise Roger Clemens’Â Friday startÂ with High-A Tampa. I’m sure you’ve seenÂ Rocket pitch countless times over the last 24 years, but if you wanna grab a look-see at guys like Jose Tabata, Juan Miranda, Colin Curtis andÂ Frankie CervelliÂ (OMG, he’s like, sooooooo hot), just tune in. If we’re lucky, Alex Smit will be pitching for Fort Myers, and we’ll get to see his underhanded knuckle curveball.
Game 1 (2-1 win over Norfolk in 7 innings) makeup for an April 8th rainout
Kevin Reese: 1 for 3, 2 K – threw a runner out at home from RF…
Andy Phillips: 1 for 3, 1 K – playing lots of second base down there…
BronsonÂ Sardinha: 0 for 3, 1 K
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 2, 2 R, 1 BB – first XBH-less game since last Friday
Eric Duncan: 2 for 2 – having his first good game in over a week, and he gets himself ejected in the 5th…
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 0, 1 BB, 1 SBÂ - he was sittin’ on the bench until Duncan got kicked out (picked off second)
Kevin Thompson: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
Colter Bean: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K – way to go Beanbag!
Jim Brower: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0-3 GB/FB
While the start of tonight’s Yankees-White Sox game will probably be delayed by rain, the game is scheduled to start at the odd time of 7:11 p.m. Why the odd choice of time instead of the usual 7:05 p.m. start? Because the White Sox are making money from 7-11. The South Siders are earning $500,000 a year to start their night home games at 7:11 p.m. as part of a promotional tie in. Baseball teams really do sell everything nowadays. · (5) ·