Anything to bust out of a slump I guess!
As Aaron Hill tore down the third base line and slid safely under Jorge Posada’s tag, I couldn’t help but think that maybe the extra infield practice the Yanks held before the game was all for naught. Or maybe the Yankees just need more rest. They sure seemed asleep at the wheel in the field tonight.
Enough ofÂ all this doom and gloom crap, Yankee fans need something to smile about: Joba Chamberlain is the FSL Pitcher of the Week, and the 2nd hottest prospect in the baseball. Glad to see Mitch Hilligoss get some love on the Hot Sheet, he’s on quite a roll. Did he keep the streak alive tonight? Find out after the jump…
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss toÂ Toledo)
Andy Phillips: 0 for 4, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 3 for 3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 HBP – he’s been showing flashes of it for weeks now, but I think he’s starting to put it all together…
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 4, 3 K
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 4, 2 K
Alberto Gonzalez: 2 for 4, 1 SB – hitting .324 over his last 9 games…
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 Balk, 1-7 GB/FB – picked a runner off first
Justin Pope: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Sorry about the outage, folks. Our (increasingly unreliable) host had yet another power outage and it took them three hours to check all of the servers. 1-0 Jays here in the top of the 6th. Would be nice to score some runs off of Shaun Marcum.
According to today’s playoff odds report over at Baseball Prospectus, the AL Wild Card winner, on average wins 91 games. At 21-28 right now, the Yanks would have to go 70-44 to win 91 games and put them into contention for the Wild Card. That’s .614 baseball, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so improbable to see the Yanks playing in October.
In his most recent piece this afternoon, Peter Abraham dispelled what he feels are some myths about the Yankees’ current situation. Abraham feels like firing Cashman is a bad idea.
“The Yankees donâ€™t have a lot of roster flexibility and Cashman has improved that to some degree. Firing him now could drop this team into a 10-year slump,” he wrote. Well, I disagree. In fact, I think many of the moves Cashman has made since supposedly taking full control of this team have led to this disastrous first two months.
Most notable from the last few months were the trades of Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson. The Yankees received few usable parts in return for these two players. Right now, Sheffield’s 10 home runs would put him second on the Yanks, and his .832 OPS is over .200 points higher than Abreu’s .613 OPS. The Yankees were a better team with Gary Sheffield and don’t have much to show for sending Detroit one of their missing pieces. I don’t miss Randy Johnson, but Luis Vizcaino, the only Major Leaguer in that deal, has been downright horrible.
Then, Cashman went out and threw $50 million at Kei Igawa when even his own scouts were telling him that Igawa would be, at best, a fifth starter in the Majors. Considering the Minor League pitchers in the Yankees’ system, this money could have been better spent just about anywhere else. The Yanks could have replaced Igawa with someone making just $380,000 this year. And that someone would probably have put up better numbers than Igawa.
He also re-upped with Mike Mussina for two years. The jury is out on that deal, but the early returns aren’t too promising.
Then, Cashman figured he could solve the first base hole by shoving Doug Mientkiewicz into it. Dougie’s .295 OBP is killing the team, and his defense just doesn’t make up for the number of outs – 98 in 133 plate appearances – he’s making at bat.
Finally, the Yankees’ bench is terribly weak. If Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez were to go down, Miguel Cairo would be the replacement. Wil Nieves, before this weekend, had been an unqualified disaster, and Melky Cabrera probably should have been traded last winter when his stock was at an all-time high. This is the weakest Yankee bench in years.
So I blame Cashman. While the team has been saddled with contracts that dole out millions of dollars to over-the-hill players (Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon), Cashman’s answer to this problem was to throw a pro-rated $28 million at Roger Clemens, an unnecessary piece considering the Yankees’ other problems right now.
I doubt the Yanks will fire Cashman. There are no real viable internal candidates right now, and the Yankee braintrust wouldn’t want to look outside for a mid-season replacement. So Cashman, the originator of this problem, will have to be the one to find a solution too. I can tell you this: Todd Helton ain’t the answer. Let’s see where he goes from there.
Ozzy Osbourne, in his final offering with Black Sabbath, sang words that ring so true for the Yankees season:
“Don’t you ever, don’t ever say die.”
It’s easy to give up on the team, to say “the season is over.” But what is accomplished by this? Is it that we’re showing how rational and logical we are? Are we trying to be super-pessimistic, so that if things do turn around we’ll be glad to say “I was wrong”? Or is it the ever-present fear of being viewed as a homer?
Baseball is a funny game, though.
The bats are all cold now, which is always unfortunate. You’ll see a few guys hitting well in the “Last 7 Days” bit at the end, but when the majority of the team is hitting below .260, you’re going to have trouble scoring runs. OBP is great — the most valuable single offensive statistic in baseball — because it means more men on base. But sooner or later, you’re going to need to drive those runs in, and only on rare occasions will a walk do the trick. The guys gotta start hitting; it’s that simple.
But what if the bats all get hot at once? Yeah, Jeter and Posada already lead the league in hitting. What if they go on a two-week tear where they hit .500? What if — God Forbid — Giambi finds his stroke and starts planting homers and gappers? What if Cano stops swinging at pitches at his eyes? What if Bobby finally finds the groove he was in last August?
I’ll tell ya: the bats all getting hot at once is just as likely as the bats all getting cold at once. So if the Yanks can string together two weeks of hot-hot hitting and can mix some down days (three or four runs) in with some solid pitching performances, they can still go on a tear. The Oakland A’s won an AL-record 20 straight games in 2002. Our team is better than that. So who’s to say we can’t rattle off 22 straight? Probable? No. Possible? Certainly.
This happened in 2005, remember? Yeah, people point out that we were 27-23 on May 29, 2005, and that we’re 21-28 this year. Well, on June 7 of that year, we were 28-30, seven games behind the surging Orioles. So it’s not like we were rolling at this point in the season that year, either.
(By the way. On May 29, 2005, the White Sox were 33-17, whereas the Red Sox are 35-15. Chicago ended at 99-63. We ended that season at 95-67. Four games. And we were running around with bottles that year, trying to catch lightning. We should — and yes, anything can happen — but should have a more established and solid pitching staff in the second half.)
In 2005, things weren’t working out at second base. So the Yanks dipped into the minors for Robinson Cano. He had been passed over by the Diamondbacks twice: once at the trade deadline in 2004, once over the winter, both in trade proposals for Randy Johnson. Yeah, he tore up AAA in April, but to think he could sustain that would be silly given the small sample size. But he came up and made a difference.
In 2007, first base isn’t working out. While there seems to be no solution in AAA, why not give Eric Duncan a shot? I know, I know. He’s hitting just .234, and has a .683 OPS. But in his last 10 games, he’s walked eight times to just two strikeouts. For some guys, it just clicks. Maybe we can catch that lightning again with Duncan. Or hell, even give a shot to Shelley Duncan, who is just hammering the ball. We’ve already infused some youth into the rotation — and may have found a useful starter in Clippard. Now it’s time to try the same thing with the offense.
It ain’t over. And so what if it is? Are you going to just stop watching? If you do, we don’t want you back when the Yanks start winning again.
Last 7 Days