Even from afar, Kyle is still killing the Yanks

While the Yanks managed to win a game despite their pitchers’ best efforts, the Tigers weren’t so lucky, and the Yanks were the ones to pay the price. Heading into the eighth with a 3-1 lead, the Tigers called upon Kyle Farnsworth to shut down the Rays. Well, six batters later, the Rays had scored three runs on home runs by Eric Hinske and B.J. Upton, and two innings later, Tampa walked away a winner. So there you go; Krazy Kyle had that meltdown we’ve all been waiting for, and it’s impacting the Yanks’ playoff chances.

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Farnsworth out, Pudge in

How do you solve a problem when your All Star catcher goes down? By going out and acquiring another one, of course.

According to Buster Olney, the Yanks have acquired Ivan Rodriguez in a trade for Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth, the beleaguered reliever, had been throwing well of late, but the Yanks had long soured on Krazy Kyle and his unreliability. In Pudge, the team gets back a catcher hitting .295/.338/.417 in 328 plate appearances this year (.377/.423/.526 over 124 plate appearances since June 8th). He’s thrown out 18 of 50 would-be basestealers, a mark not quite as good as Jose Molina’s but not too shabby.

Off the bat, I’d call this trade a clear win for Brian Cashman and the Yanks. They’re trading one rental — a relief pitcher — for another rental — a catcher, and they’re upgrading from Farnsworth’s status as a Type B free agent to Pudge’s Type A. Plus, starting catchers are always more valuable than relief pitchers, and a catcher who can hit better than Jose Molina is a real upgrade for this team. Pudge will become the starting catcher for the rest of the season with Molina backing him up. This should spell the end of Chad Moeller’s run on the Yanks as well.

Nice pickup.

Kyle Farnsworth may actually help the Yankees

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.

Kyle, Edwar make it exciting

Let’s start with the familiar refrain: Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez paced the Yankees with three hits apiece, including one loooong home run for A-Rod. Darrell Rasner did what a fourth starter should do and gritted it out for five innings en route to his fourth win of the year and the Yanks’ sixth straight victory.

Great.

Now, the bad stuff: The Yankees scored eight runs against the Padres tonight and led the game for eight innings, but they could never put it away because the bullpen continued to allow San Diego back in the game. In both cases, I blame the pitchers.

We begin in the sixth inning. Darrell Rasner had labored through five innings, allowing eight base runners but only two runs. Just 55 of his 96 pitches were strikes. Against a better team, Rasner would have ended up a with a much worse pitching line.

In the sixth, Joe Girardi opted to call upon Edwar Ramirez, and the righty responded by dispatching the Padres on nine pitches. Ramirez earned himself a second inning of work, and after two outs, he surrendered back-to-back home runs on bad pitches to the Padres. After getting the third out, the Yanks would emerge from the top of the 7th up by just a run.

In the bottom of the inning, the Yanks plated two more, and Girardi went to Kyle Farnsworth. The enigmatic and infuriating reliever promptly allowed a home run, and two batters later, Khalil Greene doubled. I guess Kyle just wanted to pitch with the tying run up at the plate for as long as possible.

Eventually, he worked out of trouble; the Yanks scored another run in the 8th; and Rivera would exert himself through all of 11 pitches to nail down his 19th save of the season. Little harm, no foul, I guess.

But the problem is that for Farnsworth — and, recently, Edwar Ramirez — these struggles are a common occurrence. Ramirez has now given up a terrible nine HR in 43 big league innings, and until he gets that long ball rate down, the Yanks will never be able to rely on him in tight games.

Meanwhile, Farnsworth has been nothing short of bad over the last month. Since May 17, Farnsworth has appeared in 13 games, throwing 13.1 innings. He’s given up 17 hits and nine earned runs (6.08 ERA). While he’s struck out 10, he’s also walked six and has surrendered five home runs. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 23 baserunners in 13.1 innings, and prior to Padres’ 2-for-5 evening , opponents were hitting .333/.423/.667 off Kyle since mid-May.

Joe Girardi, meanwhile, just doesn’t get it. While no manager would throw his own players under the bus, Joe has been a little too gracious: “You let them pass. They’ve been throwing the ball so well. Even Eddie tonight, he threw the ball so well. You hate for that to happen. I was happy with the way he threw the ball. Farnsy, he gave up a leadoff home run and then he bucked down. I’m not concerned.”

He’s not concerned, but the rest of us are. Right now, Farnsworth has done nothing to earn Girardi’s trust while Jose Veras, over the same time period, has put up numbers much better than Farnsworth’s. One of Girardi’s supposed strengths as manager was his approach to bullpen management, but so far, all we’ve seen is the same old “trust the same guys” approach that Joe Torre displayed to a fault. Tonight, it didn’t hurt the Yankees, but will they be so lucky next time?