We’re on one helluva ride, folks. This actually feels a ton better than the 10-game winning streak back in 2005, because we played so much worse baseball for so much longer. This got to the point where many fans argued that “they haven’t shown us signs that they can put it together, so what should make me think that they eventually will?” Hell, I was at one time asking friends why I continued to bother watching. That’s bad.
However, it only makes sense that the Yankees would go through a market correction period, playing well better than anyone would have expected in order for them to be where they truly should at this point. While we were slumping in mid-May, many people cited the Yankees record in one-run games and their Pythagorean record as evidence that they’ll turn things around. By the end of May, many of those arguments were written off. All the sudden, they’re valid again.
The Yankees currently hold the third greatest run differential in the league. Since historical research shows that a team’s record heavily correlates to their run differential, you have to think that the correction will continue for a bit (maybe not in a string of consecutive wins, but certainly in a string of playing .700 ball). They’re 33-31 right now, with a Pythagorean record of 38-26. I’m not saying they’ll fulfill that expectation soon (in fact, given how they played in May, it will be exceedingly difficult to live up to their Pythag record — we’ll need as much good luck in the future as bad luck we had in the past).
(Also, for the record, Boston’s Pythag is 39-26. They’re coming back to earth, and we’re emerging from the depths. This is why we can’t get too worked up over the first two months of the season — though we already did and will continue to do so in the future.)
Back in 2004, Donald Rumsfeld, the then-Secretary of Defense, uttered his now-infamous words about the U.S. Army in Iraq. “As you know,” he said, “you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want.” While I’m loathe to ever think about Rumsfeld these days, as I ponder the Yankees and their nine-game winning streak that has rejuvenated a season many had written off, his words ring true with the Yankees.
Take Johnny Damon, the Yankees’ once and former centerfielder. When the Yankees signed Damon in December of 2005, we knew we were getting an aging, banged-up player who could still hit and cover ground in the outfield but could never really throw. The Yanks were okay with that. Fast-forward to 2007, and Johnny Damon has, in effect, turned into Bernie Williams. I don’t mean that in a good way.
Heading into today’s game, Damon has been a non-factor on this team. He’s dealt with a variety of aches and pains this season, and his defense and throwing arm have gotten so shoddy that he has, in effect, lost his starting job to Melky Cabrera, a far superior defensive outfielder. When (if?) Jason Giambi returns from the DL, Torre will have to sacrifice outfield defense if he wants Damon’s bat in the lineup. And that’s probably turning into a big “if” these days.
As Bobby Abreu, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui have, with help from Melky and Robinson Cano, carried the Yankees for the month of June, Johnny Damon hasn’t done much of anything. Damon this month is hitting .220/.291/.280, and he has just one home run since May 13. Johnny Damon 2007 is, so far, a far cry from the 24-HR Johnny Damon 2006.
Looking ahead to the next two seasons, the Yanks and Damon are wedded to each other no matter what. Much like the Bernie Williams situation, the Yanks have a banged up outfielder well on the wrong side of 30 showing drastic signs of decline in the field and at the plate. But it didn’t have to be this way.
Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Charlotte)
Kevin Thompson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Kevin Reese: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Andy Phillips: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 3, 2 BB, 1 K – broke modest 5 game hit streak
Angel Chavez: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB
Bronson Sardinha: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI – last 7 hits have gone for extras (6 doubles and a triple)
Alberto Gonzalez: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Raul Chavez: 2 for 5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing) – 6 for 15 after 0 for previous 17
Juan Francia: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS – picked off first
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1-13 GB/FB – 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67.4%)
Chris Britton: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
On June 4, just 10 days ago, the Wild Card standings looked like this:
Today, after the Yanks won their 9th in a row and the Tigers lost to the Brewers, the Wild Card picture looks markedly different:
What a different ten days of good baseball make.
The Nahant-born [Larry] Day got pre-draft invitation to work out for the Yankees in Yankee Stadium courtesy of ex-Harvard coach Matt Hyde, now a Northeast scout for the Yanks.
“I still never expected to be drafted. That was my gut feeling,” Day said.
Now for the kicker: he was the last player chosen in the draft, No. 1,453 overall.
Day signed with the organization and learned that he’ll probably be assigned to Staten Island (N.Y.) Saturday in the all-rookie New York-Penn League.
“My bonus? When you’re the last guy chosen, it’s not all about the money,” he chuckled.
There’s a bunch of rumors floating around message boards that a couple other guys have signed, but I have yet to see confirmation of this. BA is slow to update the signings in their draft database this year, although you can see that the Mets have begun to lock guys up.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
What’s sweeter than picking up an eighth straight win? Picking up another game on Boston. Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t be thinking about the standings right now; winning is the name of the game, and as long as the Yanks keep doing that, they don’t have to worry about much else. But it’s still nice to see that GB number dwindle. Eight and a half is still a big number, but remember, it was 14.5 just two weeks ago.
Things look to be getting better, too — if that’s possible. We’ve inserted Clemens into the rotation, which helps solidify one of the weak points that was exploited during the season’s first two months. Sure, he’s not going to win the Cy Young or anything, but he doesn’t need to. They Yanks just need someone on whom they can rely.
Here’s a lesson Bud Selig wants you to learn: If you tell the truth, you will be suspended. If you talk about the black mark on baseball’s past in an honest and frank way, your comments will be lorded above you and used against you unless you cooperate.
In a story bound to ruffle some feathers, mine included, Bob Nightengale of USAToday reports that Bud Selig will suspend Jason Giambi next week if the slugger does not cooperate with the Senator Mitchell’s spineless steroid witch hunt. The relevant parts follow:
Commissioner Bud Selig is heading toward suspending Jason Giambi next week if the New York Yankees slugger does not cooperate with former Sen. George Mitchell’s investigation on steroid use, according to a high-ranking Major League Baseball official.
The official, who talked with Selig but has not been granted permission to speak publicly because of ongoing talks, said Selig wants Giambi’s decision by Tuesday.
Now, let’s review: Jason Giambi has never failed a steroid test under MLB’s rules; he has never broken MLB’s drug policy. While I do not at all condone his use of steroids as detailed in the BALCO Grand Jury testimony and Game of Shadows, this is outrageous. Bud Selig wants to suspend Jason Giambi because he had the guts to come forward and discuss steroid use in baseball on the record.
Selig is trying to use Giambi’s comments to give some weight to what everyone already thinks is a spineless investigation. The Mitchell Investigation has floundered. It has no subpoena power and is instead relying on players to volunteer information. Well, the players have just learned a lesson: If you volunteer information to someone other than Mitchell, be prepared to face the consequences.
The Players Association will file a grievance in this case, and they would probably win such a case. Selig is about to start down a dangerous path that could threaten nearly a decade of labor peace in baseball. Let’s hope this doesn’t come to pass.