"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Now That’s More Like It

Randy Johnson was not overpowering yesterday, but he delivered his best performance in pinstripes as the Yanks bombed the Rangers and cruised to a tensionfree 11-1 victory. Johnson’s fastball still isn’t blazing in the mid-to-high nineties, but he was still effective. The Rangers were impressed. Tyler Kepner reports in the Times:

“He was a lot different than what I’ve seen in the past and what I’ve experienced with him,” said Rangers catcher Rod Barajas, who caught Johnson with the Arizona Diamondbacks and went 0 for 3 yesterday.

“It’s not what we expected. We expected Randy Johnson to be throwing inside – hard four-seamers and sliders. He kept us off-balance. He hit both sides of the plate, and that’s not how you really know Randy Johnson. He was sinking the ball away and getting some weak ground balls. He did a great job of making adjustments.”

Third baseman Mark DeRosa added:

“It was like seeing a totally new guy out there,” DeRosa said. “He was throwing sinkers away and sliders away, where last year he would just be coming right in at 96, 98. But he still dominated.”

Derek Jeter (three hits including a solo homer) and rookie Andy Phillips (double, three-run dinger) led the offense. Jeter was one of several Yankees who spoke in a brief, players-only meeting before the game. Jeter would not comment about what was said, but Bill Madden hit the nail on the head:

The circumstances demanded a meeting, but as Lou Piniella was fond of pointing out during his tenure in Seattle as manager of the Mariners: “If you’re going to call a team meeting, it’s always best to make sure it’s the day before the Big Unit is pitching.”

Done and done.

Meanwhile, as expected, Jaret Wright will miss some time, four-to-six weeks to be exact. Chien Ming Wang will be called up later this week and start in Wright’s place.

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1 Murray   ~  Apr 25, 2005 5:25 am

1.  Welcome to the Big Leagues, Colter Bean. Make sure you prove you belong, fast, or you're going to find yourself playing at Columbus for the rest of your Yankee career.

2 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Apr 25, 2005 6:16 am

2.  Is it possible for the Unit to get any more run support? It may thwart his Cy Young chances in the end but it bodes well for the playoffs. Loading up on offense when he and Pavano pitch will go a long way come October.

Now I'll come back to Earh as it's not even May yet.

btw - who'd a thunk a D-ray would knock down a Red Sox before a Yankee got to it? I'm sure it's got nothing to do w/ their feisty manager.

3 STONER   ~  Apr 25, 2005 6:17 am

3.  Please George and Joe - give Andy Philips a chance, not just a one and done deal...the Yanks desparately need young blood. You bet Murray, let's hope Colter seizes the moment, as we hope Wang does this Friday...I'm so sick of the Alex Graman's of our farm system!

4 STONER   ~  Apr 25, 2005 6:20 am

4.  btw - who'd a thunk a D-ray would knock down a Red Sox before a Yankee got to it? I'm sure it's got nothing to do w/ their feisty manager. ///

Alvie...our Yanks have had MANY chances to make the Bosox move their feet - to no avail...I'd love to see Moose at least throw a knuckle-curve over Ortiz' head just once...as I said to friends at work - that was all sweet Lou Pinella!!!

5 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Apr 25, 2005 7:14 am

5.  Stoner, I believe Mussina has said in the past that he's against beaning players, thinks it's not right to put another player's career at risk. I guess I'm a sissy, but I think he's cool for that view.

6 jalexei   ~  Apr 25, 2005 7:47 am

6.  Did anyone else start wondering if the lead was big enough after Gordon's first few throws of the ninth? I was very happy to see him end with a couple of K's

7 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Apr 25, 2005 7:52 am

7.  There's a big difference btwn beaning (what Clemens did to Piazza, Pedro did to every Yankee) and some good ol' fashioned chin music. I'm advocating the latter.

Btw - Pavano vs. Colon twrw night at the Stadium. Supposed to be best night (weather-wise) of the week. Just snapped up 4 tix in tier box, 1st row behind home plate. Seemed to be plenty of good tix available for those interested.

8 rsmith51   ~  Apr 25, 2005 9:03 am

8.  I dislike Clemens as much as anyone, but I don't think that he was trying to hit Piazza in the head. I don't think he was trying to hit Piazza at all(At least that time).

9 KJC   ~  Apr 25, 2005 9:29 am

9.  // I believe Mussina has said in the past that he's against beaning players, thinks it's not right to put another player's career at risk //

I don't think a slow curveball in the thigh will end a guy's career. Keep the pitch low and just send a message. I don't think anybody's asking Moose to headhunt.

10 singledd   ~  Apr 25, 2005 10:00 am

10.  I was around when Tony C. got beaned. Really bad. When you see it, read about, hospital reports, chance of brain damage and permanent injury, a little 'chin music' doesn't seem so harmless.

You can 'brush back' without throwing at the head. Ever have a 90mph baseball coming right at your crotch? inside pitching will always push you back some. It doesn't have to be at the head.

When a player hangs over the plate, there is little they can do with an inside pitch. You can alway 'dive out' and put the meat of the bat on an outside pitch, but it's almost impossible to hit someone well off the bat handle. Take batting against Rivera, case in point. Jetes is one of the few who can SOMETIMES handle the inside pitch. And it takes that funny looking, inside-out, push swing to the opposite field to do it. You don't have to bean a guy who hangs over the plate to get him out.

Here's something radical. Teach Giambi to bunt down the 3rd base line. If he can get the ball past the pitcher, its a hit 90% of the time. Imagine 1st and 2nd, no out, and Giambi pushes a bunt to 3rd to load the bases. Think that might change how the infield defends him? Think he might get a feel for 'slapping' the ball the other way?
God, I'd love to see him do it. You might see 9 guys all scatrch their heads at once.

The bottom line is we don't need sluggers. We need thinking baseball players. We need players who will do ANYTHING to contribute.
This is our problem, both with Giambi, Sheff and ARod. While Sheff is batting well, and always dangerous, moving runners to 2nd, and scoring guys from 3rd with less then 2 out, must become a priority. I haven't done the math, but it seems our ability to score guys from 3rd with less then 2 out, is UNBELIEVEABLE bad. These are gift runs we give up, and loose ball games because of.

In 1966, Mickey Mantle could handly run. Just jogging around the bases on a HR looked painful. Rizzuto was announcing a game I was watching. Mic was up batting lefty. Rizzuto saw the 2nd baseman playing on the grass and said "Ooohhh... if he plays back there, Mic might drag a bunt on him". Mic took a big swing and miss on strike one. The 2nd baseman took a stp back and Rizzuto said "Holy Cow... he's in the outfield. He better watch out. Mic could drag one at anytime". Strike 2. With the 2nd baseman still on the outfield grass a few steps, Rizzuto said "I wouldn't put it past Mic to still drag one... even with 2 strikes on him". Sure enough, on the next pitch, Mantle drags one towards the 2nd baseman. He charges in to field it. Mic has got his head down and is literally running for first with everything he's got. This in itself is a truly painful, scary thing to watch. The guy simply had no legs at this point.

It was a bang bang play, but Mic was out by a hair. However, the ump called him safe, probably due to the sheer audacity of the play.

It was an unbelievable call by Rizzuto, but he knew the Mic and his desire to win at all costs. And Rizzuto, while being an extremely entertaining announcer, was also a very astute baseball man. And after a few "Holy Cows" and praise for the Mic, his simply analysis was: "Everybody respects Mantle... even the umpires".

I will never forget that play, or the sight of the greatest player and home run hitter charging down the line on a bunt, obviously in pain, as if his life depended on it. It almost brought tears to your eyes. This was a great call, a great play, and a great, great player who played the game like it should be played.

We need our guys to be players if we are going to win.

11 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Apr 25, 2005 10:46 am

11.  singledd,

Do you place the blame on the players, coaching staff or both?

12 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 25, 2005 12:01 pm

12.  I think Sheffield does a great job of adjusting with two strikes. I'm not sure Rodriguez and Giambi do the same. But Sheff's approach changes and he'll hit the ball the other way instead of popping up trying to yank a homer. Sheffield always hustles as does Rodriguez.

13 markp   ~  Apr 25, 2005 12:02 pm

13.  What you're saying is completely at odds with the facts. The Yankees had more "productive outs" (Moving the runner from second to third with nobody out, etc.) per season from 2001-2004 than they did from 1996 to 2000.
It's also at odds with what happened in 1966 (the Yankees finished dead last) and Mickey Mantle's overall career.
Mantle used the bunt when he was in a slump. He certainly never used it for small ball. And using Mantle as an example while complaining about getting runners in from third makes me think you don't remember much about him. He annually struck out more times than anyone on the team. And the Yankees of his generation never played small ball or worried about moving the runner from second to third or any of the stuff you cite in your post. They tried to get guys on base and they tried to hit HRs. In 19 games the current team has 1/3 the SB the 61 team had all year.

Right now the Yankees have scored 105 runs. That's two fewer than MLB co-leaders Boston and the Angels. The problem is NOT scoring runs. The problem is pitching. We're currently 23rd in MLB in ERA.

14 brockdc   ~  Apr 25, 2005 12:25 pm

14.  That was a truly enjoyable game to watch, not because we won 11-1, but because it made me feel at least a little more optimistic about this season. Andy Phillips: When he launched that homer, I hadn't yelled with that much exuberance since I don't know when. We've all been pulling for the guy; it's just nice to see some young blood out there. Colter Bean: You're next.

15 JohnnyC   ~  Apr 25, 2005 1:02 pm

15.  There's a false dichotomy being adhered to here: this is not about small ball versus three-run homers. It's about controlled aggression: something like what the 2002 Angels achieved under Sciosia/Hatcher. Granted, the Angels haven't done it as well since. The Angels were not about sac bunts, stolen bases, and "productive outs." They were about putting pressure on the defense. Using the entire field, spoiling pitches meant to be just a bit outside or just a bit low, taking the extra base, putting runners in motion, forcing the opponent to make mistakes in fielding and pitch selection. Except for Glaus, none of the Angels were remotely like the Yankees lineups of 2001-05, a bunch of pull-happy sluggers. Although I loathe Torre's act 2001-onward, his plea to the team recently to "play smarter" is, in a nutshell, what ails the Yankees offense. The problem may not be scoring runs in aggregate...it's scoring runs consistently. Problem with Torre's plea is he expects the players to "smarten" themselves. Uh, I don't think it works that way. That's what coaching staffs are for, Joe.

16 markp   ~  Apr 25, 2005 1:22 pm

16.  The Angels won 82.75 games per year from 2001 to 2004. (That's less than 2 games over .500 per year.) They went to the post season twice in that span and won three postseason series.
The Yankees won 100 games per year from 2001-2004. They went to the post season every year and won four postseason series.
Why would the Yankees want to be more like the Angels? They've won more regular season games EVERY YEAR in that span. They've scored more runs than the Angels and scored them more **consistently.

**Why would someone even say which team scores more consistently without even checking it out? Just because the Angel's hitters all got hot at once in the 2002 post-season and managed to spoil a lot of pitches doesn't mean they're better at it than the Yankees. They aren't. The Yankees (and Red Sox) hitters see more pitches per AB than the Angels hitters do.

17 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Apr 25, 2005 2:45 pm

17.  I don't agree that the 2002 Angels were the posterboys for 'controlled agression'. Like markp said, those guys caught lightning in a bottle and never looked back. But whipping out the '01-'04 ANA/NYY splits is an over-reaction to the main point being made: Yanks stink right now (overwhelmingly due to horrendous pitching which wasn't mentioned) but also due to failed execution (getting runners home from 3rd w/ less than 2 outs) and a lack of agression (though I think this has steadily improved). And there's a perception that Torre doesn't really have a plan to address their current woes other than juggling the line-up.

It's still early boys. I, for one, am looking forward to the next three vs. the... well, what do you know?... Angels. Go Yanks!

18 Clay Caviness   ~  Apr 25, 2005 3:45 pm

18.  It was a good game to attend, though a bit chilly in the shade.

I'm very happy Andy Philipps did his Bubba Crosby impersonation. Hopefully he'll stick and has been mentioned take some playing time away from Tino or Womack.

I haven't seen that many balls hit towards the triangle between Womack/Bernie/Sheff in one game before.

Cliff, did you know Phillips was starting before Sheppard announced the lineups? I expect your head exploded if that was your first indication. If not then, then after the double and homer. Also, did you have some family in the bleachers with you? They announced birthday greetings to a 13(?) year-old Emily(?) Corcoran in the bleachers, which seems like too much of a coincidence...

19 Clay Caviness   ~  Apr 25, 2005 3:46 pm

19.  I might add I hope Andy Phillips' Crosby impersonation doesn't carry on much past the first few games, because Crosby's looked a bit overmatched in the few at-bats he's had.

20 markp   ~  Apr 25, 2005 4:05 pm

20.  What offensive woes do they have? As I said, if they'd scored three more runs they'd be leading the league.
The business of "consistent offense" is a chimera. Nobody that scores 5 or more runs a game has a consistent offense.
The getting runners from third with less than two outs stuff is another oft-repeated statement that hasn't got a shred of investigation, analysis, or hard evidence behind it.
As far as being aggressive goes, the large number of guys thrown out stealing and especially the large number thrown out at home shows that we're way over-aggressive. Giving away outs doesn't help any team, and is a waste with a high strikeout high slugging percentage team like NY.

Sheffield does NOT cut down on his swing with two strikes. This is another myth perpetuated by Kay and Kaat repeating his "if I don't want to be struck out, I won't" remark. He struck out 83 times in 2004 and had 8 sac flies, one more sac fly than Arod. The guy everyone claims is the ultimate situational hitter on the Yanks, Jeter had 2.

More and more I agree with the fans of other teams regarding a lot of Yankee fans. We have the second best player in baseball, but all I hear is how he's "not worth it" or this comment from a recent thread (specifically the part in bold):
"Actually, Epstein is the luckiest GM at the moment. Contreras chose the Yankees over the Red Sox. The D'Backs stupidly traded Schilling to him for a bag of balls. The A-Rod trade fell through. If that isn't luck, nothing is. Of course, the luckiest thing of all for Theo is that George Steinbrenner isn't the owner of the Red Sox."
f I'm reading this right, the author is saying the Red Sox benefitted (and the Yankees are worse off) because Arod ended up in NY instead of Boston. How can anyone think that's a fair statement? I don't know why there's so much anti-Arod sentiment among Yankee fans on the internet, but this is really too much. He's saying when we traded an above average 2b for the best (by far) SS-now the best 3B in baseball we lost ground. Stuff like that reminds me of the writer that kept going after Maris in the movie "61."
He hated Maris, and nothing was going to stop him demeaning Roger at every opportunity. And just like the fans that believed that kind of writer and booed Maris, everybody now agrees that Arod is part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. I think it stinks. Instead of ripping him at every opportunity, why don't you spend a half hour and examine what he's done since he's gotten here. Start with him moving from SS, when he was already won gold gloves and was being discussed alongside Honus Wagner.

21 Simone   ~  Apr 25, 2005 4:44 pm

21.  "More and more I agree with the fans of other teams regarding a lot of Yankee fans. We have the second best player in baseball, but all I hear is how he's "not worth it" or this comment from a recent thread (specifically the part in bold):"

markp, your post really pisses me off. Where in my post did I say anything that A-Rod's "not worth it." Stop projecting your A-Rod issues onto me. I am sick of the group of Yankee fans who bash A-Rod unfairly and Yankee fans like you who attack irrationally at slightest percieved criticism of him. A-Rod has become the new Jason Giambi of the Yankees and it is downright sickening.

Of course, Boston was lucky that the A-Rod trade fell through. Didn't it work out perfectly for them? Theo was able to keep Manny and trade Nomar and improve the infield defensively at two position: at first and at shortstop. Manny along with these two players had key roles in the Red Sox World Series run. If the Red Sox had traded for A-Rod for Manny and Nomar for Magglio, they would been screwed on offense when Magglio's knee finally gave out. Where am I wrong here?

I never meant my post as an attack on A-Rod. In fact, that was the farthest thing from my mind. I was merely pointing out how a series of lucky events ended up working in Theo Epstein's favor. If you took my post as an indictment of A-Rod, then that is all in your head.

22 brockdc   ~  Apr 25, 2005 4:47 pm

22.  I think Yankee fans dislike A-Rod for different reasons than they disliked Maris. Maris was in the process of surmounting the most legendary of all Yankees. In the perceptions of many, he was an outsider and, compared to the legendary Bambino, an irascible recluse.

A-Rod was brought in to be the cornerstone of the Yankees franchise for the next decade. He has played extremely well at times but has had difficulty producing in clutch situations since donning the pinstripes. That he all but disappeared (yes, along with the rest of the team) during the final three games of the most important playoff series of his life didn't help matters with fans. What he has or hasn't accomplished while playing for the Mariners/Rangers is still material in the sense that many Yankees fans expect the same level (or better) of performance from him now. In many ways, he is a victim of his past successes.

So I think there's some disappointment that he hasn't lived up to such lofty - and possibly unrealistic - expectations. And then there's that 25mil. pricetag.

Finally, I disagree with this theory that the media goes out of its way to villify A-Rod just for the hell of it. True, there are a few inane columnists out there whose M.O. is to dig up gossip on A-Rod (and Jeter). But he has a ton of endorsement deals and has been dubbed - by the media - the best all-around player in the game many, many times over.

23 markp   ~  Apr 25, 2005 7:25 pm

23.  "Of course, Boston was lucky that the A-Rod trade fell through." How the hell is saying Boston was better off not getting Arod not a criticism of Arod? There's nothing "percieved" that isn't real. Saying somebody is lucky they didn't get a player can't possibly be interpreted as a compliment or even as a neutral comment.

Where are all of these Tankee fans defending Arod? Aside from me, I see only criticism of him. Even after your post yet another person has said he "has had difficulty producing in clutch situations since donning the pinstripes." (I guess out-hitting Jeter by a mile in both the Minnesota and Boston series doesn't matter-apparently they weren't clutch situations.) Why aren't you responding to that remark if you're " sick of the group of Yankee fans who bash A-Rod?"

24 Don Fiedler   ~  Apr 25, 2005 8:31 pm

24.  Lots of people "perceive" me as a nice guy...but that's not real. I'm really a jerk.

It is lucky for Bob that he didn't get the Porsche and had to settle for the Chevy. He found $5 million in the trunk of the Chevy. And I got the Porsche. That's a neutral comment...nothing bad to say about his Chevy (+ $5 mil) or my Porsche.

25 markp   ~  Apr 25, 2005 9:17 pm

25.  yeah, right. Theo was lucky he didn't get Arod because the Red Sox won the series.

The Maris comment by brock shows just how good the press is at manipulating how the public sees someone. Maris, according to everyone that didn't have an axe to grind, was easy to get along with and a friendly person. He was a bit shy, but that's hardly the same thing as reclusive. After three months of being ripped and lied about on a daily basis, after being booed at home and even having a seat thrown at him in Yankee Stadium, he finally started getting testy. His teammates were surprised he lasted as long as he did.
In 1961 Maris replaced Mantle as the target of the press villification and Yankee fan's derision. Up until then, the Mick had been their target-especially after one of his many strikeouts.

Arod isn't getting booed at home (yet), but he's one of the biggest targets on every baseball website on the internet. Every other thread here has some comment on it.
I would think anyone that's really sick of the anti Arod stuff would have said something in opposition by now.

But hey, I'm the dope that didn't realize if you say a team is better off without someone it's not an insult.

26 Simone   ~  Apr 26, 2005 4:26 am

26.  markp, in not one of your TWO rants have you directly responded to my explanation of my original post. You have yet to dispute that I am right that the Red Sox are lucky that the A-Rod trade didn't come through given the series of events that followed whether he had been eventually traded to the Yankees or stayed in Texas. Of course, according the common internet debate rules this means that I am right and you have no valid rebuttal to rebut my comment. Also, what other posters say is irrelevant to my post. Stop with the projecting. My advice: get the therapy that you need for your A-Rod problems and leave me out of them.

BTW, you ARE a bigtime dope when it comes to your responses to my posts. Since acknowledging the problem is the first step to dealing with it, good for you.

27 nicole   ~  Apr 26, 2005 6:57 am

27.  markp, I understand your frustration at Yankee fans and especially the media for the A-rod negativity.

I hate that this happens. I feel like I am constantly defending A-rod and the fact that more than half the time it is to Yankee fans is a travesty. More people(Yankee fans) should be supporting the greatest player in the game right now.

Simone, I do not take your comments as anti-A-rod, but I disagree that the sox are "lucky" the trade fell through. There is no real way of knowing what would have happened had A-rod been a member of the Red Sox. They still could have won. I really don't even want to think about it.

I, for one, am glad the trade fell through.

28 brockdc   ~  Apr 26, 2005 11:41 am

28.  MarkP,

I made sure to indicate in my post that there was a PERCEPTION of Maris as an irascible recluse. I did not imply that he WAS one.

Also, why isn't it OK to criticize a player - be it A-Rod, Sierra, Jeter, or Lou friggin' Gehrig? These people are not demigods. They are not beyond reproach. Just because we're debating A-Rod's efficacy, doesn't mean we hate the guy. He actually SEEMS like a pretty damned good teamate.

Just a few weeks ago, this blog had a forum about the one player on the Yanks who takes the brunt of our wrath. Most readers chose Sierra - how come no one rushed to his defense?

And, by the way, while he is in an elite class among current MLB 3rd basemen, I DON'T think A-Rod is the best player in the game. THAT is propaganda. Right this moment I can think of 5 other players that I'd rather have up at the plate in a two outs, bottom-of-the-ninth, down-by-one, man-on-first situation.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver