"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

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It was too little too late once again for the Yanks last night, as a ninth inning rally fell short, and the team lost again, this time 2-1. How about these sobering facts:

“We’re right where we deserve to be,” Jeter said. “We haven’t played well.”

He’s not kidding. The litany of numbers that demonstrate the Bombers’ futility seems endless. They’ve lost four straight series; they’re 0-22 in games in which they’ve scored three runs or less; they’re 0-28 when trailing after eight innings; and, in case you were wondering how they’re doing with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are 0-for-their-last-25 with the bases loaded, which is the longest such skid since the DH was introduced in 1973. (N.Y. Daily News)

Is Joe Torre’s job on the line? Tim Marchman doesn’t see why it shouldn’t be:

As bad as things have been for the Yankees, there hasn’t been much speculation about Joe Torre. There probably should be. A team’s lack of talent or desire or luck can’t be held against a manager, but what can and should be is careless play and a failure to get the most out of the talent on hand. Never the greatest tactician, Torre’s strength for nearly a decade has been his ability to get the most out of veteran players. If he’s not doing that, what use is he?

I don’t think Torre will be fired, but if this keeps up, Steinbrenner is going to sack somebody.

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1 STONER   ~  Jun 8, 2005 6:56 am

1.  Is Joe Torre's job on the line? Tim Marchman doesn't see why it shouldn't be:///

As much as I HATE to consider the possibility - I would not be surprised if Joe was shown the door and soon...if they finish the trip 1 and 11, someone's head will roll. I'm hoping they wakeup at the sight of the Cards - sweep'em!

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 8, 2005 7:23 am

2.  You mean the Cardinals that just beat the Red Sox 7-1 and 9-2 over the past two days? I'd be surprised if the Yanks don't indeed go 1-11 on this trip.

That's bad enough, but do they have to play the same damn game every night? They're currently 1-7 on this trip and in four of those loses they've threatened to tie the game in the top of the ninth. There haven't been any laughers (the 9-3 loss to the Twins was the only game they lost my more than three runs and they had a 2-0 lead in the sixth in that one). They haven't been shutout (thanks to their ninth inning rally last night). They haven't had any heartbreakers, games they've lead late and blown. The losing pitcher in all seven road loses has been that day's starter because the offense has scored between 1 and 3 runs in all seven games.

They're not just losing, but losing in the most mind-numbingly boring manner possible. Steve Lombardi over on Was Watching wrote about the Yankees needing an "event" to snap them out of their doldrums. There's a part of me that hopes that they get swept by the Cardinals by a combined score of 60-0. Something, anything to wake this team (or its owner) up. I'd welcome a classic Steinbrennian outburst at this point. Fire away, Boss. I've seen enough.

3 Simone   ~  Jun 8, 2005 7:33 am

3.  If anyone gets fired, it will be Mel for sure. Cash is a possibility, but probably more of a reach. I'm at the point where I can't blame George if he fires someone just to make himself feel better. Whatever George's cupability in putting together this dyfunctional team, he is paying $200 million for a talented team with a losing record. I'd be majorly pissed off if I was him.

4 Simone   ~  Jun 8, 2005 7:35 am

4.  Also, Joe and Mel deliberately skipping Wang when there is an off day is unexplicable.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 8, 2005 7:39 am

5.  Part of me fantasizes about Mel getting the axe and Jim Kaat moving down from the broadcast booth to the dugout (though I know it'll never happen, I don't think Kitty wants to coach anymore).

Meanwhile, I don't really expect it, but if Torre were to get canned, who would you like to see replace him? Because that's the real issue. Just like trading Kevin Brown or whomever, that's all well and good, but unless you can replace them with someone better, there's no point.

My vote? Pull a Jack McKeon and lure Whitey Herzog out of retirement. In his book he wrote about always wanting to manage on of Steinbrenner's Yankee teams. Whitey's a Stengel disciple who changes his style according to the talent he has and isn't afraid to buck convention. I'd love to see him come in and whip this team in to shape.

6 Murray   ~  Jun 8, 2005 7:42 am

6.  How is Stottlemyre responsible for the team scoring about three runs or fewer in what seems like just about every game during this road trip?

As many of us feared, the twin bugaboos of the unbalanced schedule and interleague play made it difficult to assess quality during the course of the season. At this point, however, I'm having trouble finding the offensive talent beyond the three big offensive stars--Sheffield, Jeter and Rodriguez--and the 33 year-old catcher. The pitching we all know about.

7 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:04 am

7.  It really amazes me how fans still defend Mel Stottlemyre, possibly the worst pitching coach in the major leagues. Although Jim Kaat will not attack him by name because of loyalty to an old friend, he has repeatedly begged to differ with what Yankees pitchers are told to do: pitch side to side, throw a lot of breaking pitches, and generally to intentionally put a lot of balls in play. Even if the Yankees' defense were above league average (which they are not), it is not a good idea to consistently try to throw low strikes just for the sake of getting ground balls. One speed low strikes and bad breaking balls have killed Yankee pitchers for 3 seasons and more. Mel doesn't teach changing speeds, can't fix mechanical flaws, and, most disturbingly, can't figure out how to game-plan opposing line-ups (it's been ages since the Yankees actually shut down an Ichiro or Timo Perez based on great advance scouting). As Jim Kaat says almost every game: pitching to and fro, adding and subtracting speed, fouls up hitters' timing while location just gives the hitter a zone to look for a pitch...and if you're a low ball hitter who stands up in the box and next to the plate, Stottlemyre seems to believe you can't hit a mediocre slider.

8 Upperdeck   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:14 am

8.  Simone,

I have a conspiracy theory that they skip Wang because they don't want his trade value to drop with a bad start or two.

9 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:30 am

9.  Upperdeck, that's a waking nighmare that will now be with me through the remainder of the season (I hope). Thanks a lot.

10 Meg   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:35 am

10.  Cliff--my nightmare is worse...Wang AND Cano for another over-40 pitcher...Roger?

11 Murray   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:50 am

11.  Who's defending Stottlemyre? The question was: what does Stottlemyre have to do with the offensive funk the Yankees are suffering from on this road trip? How does firing Stottlemyre awaken a struggling offense? If you want blood, then at least explain how the sacrifice will motivate the team. Do you think that Tony Womack cares who the pitching coach is? Do you think Ruben Sierra will redouble his efforts to suck less because Mel deserved a better fate?

As for Whitey Herzog--interesting in the abstract. If I were Whitey, I'd rather sit at home than put my 70 year-old self through the ringer with a team like this.

12 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:52 am

12.  Simone, I don't know whether you meant it intentionally or not, but "unexplicable" made my day (and if you didn't do it on purpose, I'm just teasing, not trying to make you feel badly). I remember a guy once telling me that he didn't have a package ready for me and that "there must be some misconfusion."

Anyhow, I think the reason Wang is being skipped is because he's going to take Brown's start this weekend.

13 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:52 am

13.  Also, Cliff, I think you are right about them just being boring as batshit. It feels like "Groundhog's Day" with this team of late.

I've been secretly praying for a fight, anything, to shake things up.

14 murphy   ~  Jun 8, 2005 8:58 am

14.  as i mentioned in a comment a few posts ago, i, too, am becmoming increasingly concerned with mel. while RJ runs himself, pavano is really only pitching to half his potential, brown still hasn't fixed himself, wang is getting skipped, and we all saw what happened to vazquez last year. the really great pitching coaches out there are capable of helping veterans adjust with age and rookies develop through adjustments and experience. mel seems to be on auto-pilot. if ray miller can get the mets staff to string together two go-rounds of decent starts, then mel should at least remind kbrown to keep the ball down or make sure wang gets every chance possible. if every one of our starters had 11.00 ERAs and 1:24 K:BB ratios, then we would be hopeless, but with so many borderline quality outings, i can't help but think that a little tweaking could go a long way.

15 uburoisc   ~  Jun 8, 2005 9:23 am

15.  I don't think Mel is a very good pitching coach, and I'd like to see him replaced, but I agree with Murray, this disasterous roadtrip is not due to pitching. Our pitching has been mostly good; the hitting and D has been appalling, and the overall baseball IQ has been lobotomized (and a lot of that is Joe's fault). I don't even bother listening to the 9th because I know that the rally won't come. But considering the thin bench, who are you going to can, and who will replace them? Whatever George does, it should begin with the end of Ruben, no more Tony in left, and Andy up for another shot. This team is on drugs.

16 Simone   ~  Jun 8, 2005 9:31 am

16.  Alex, glad that I brought some humor to someone's day. :) I caught it when I did the edit, but decided leave it because I think that "unexplicable" is an appropriate and creative way to describe the nuttiness of the situation.

17 brockdc   ~  Jun 8, 2005 10:18 am

17.  Yes, these games have been painfully boring to watch, mainly because the teams that are beating us don't have a whole hell of a lot to offer either. We're getting our assess kicked by Jeff Cirillo and Ben Hall.

18 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 8, 2005 10:25 am

18.  That's Bill Hall (a mistake that I think makes your point).

19 rbj   ~  Jun 8, 2005 11:15 am

19.  How about trading Joe to Tampa for Lou? Lou's been a Yankee, won a World Serious as manager, and is on the opposite end of the spectrum, tempermentally, from Joe. Plus, I liked the way he had the Devil Rays hustling when the Yankees were in town.

20 Oscar Azocar   ~  Jun 8, 2005 11:19 am

20.  Is "Georgie Porgie" going to go after Mattingly for this hitting slump? It's hard to fault the guy when the team is 5th in the majors in runs scored, but you know how George can be. Even through the recent championship run, the Yanks went through their fair share of hitting coaches.

21 brockdc   ~  Jun 8, 2005 11:36 am

21.  Yeah, both of 'em are killing us.

22 uburoisc   ~  Jun 8, 2005 12:36 pm

22.  I'd love to have Lou, if for no other reason than he's great entertainment. I bet he gets into a fistfight with Kevin Brown (and wins) within 2 weeks if they get him.

23 Marcus   ~  Jun 8, 2005 1:17 pm

23.  Newday says that Wright will likely be on the DL long enough (at least 29 more days) that the Yankees will be able to void his contract with a $4 million buy out after this season.

If the Yankees trade Wang this season (please God no), they will have quite a task of revamping the staff next year. Along with Wang, Brown will be gone, Wright will likely be gone, leaving them with Mussina, Pavano, and Johnson. Not exactly formidable, considering age and results this season. Plus, who fills in the two other slots? AJ Burnett, fills one hopefully, but with Penny out of the free agent pool now that he signed an extension, AJ's basically the whole kit-and-caboodle when it comes to starting pitching. Who else? Sean Henn? Hopefully refilling 1B and LF will not be as unsurmountable.

My hopeful conclusion is that Wang is here to stay. Maybe this is looking too far ahead, but it's beginning to look like one of those "there's always next year" kind of seasons...

24 Marcus   ~  Jun 8, 2005 1:20 pm

24.  Whether it's unsurmountable or insurmountable, it's going to be hard!

25 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 8, 2005 1:27 pm

25.  Sean Henn, if he keeps up what he's doing in Columbus, could be a legitimate option for next year's rotation (though expecting the Yankees to use two home grown youngsters in their opening day rotation is likely still a pipe dream).

As for Wright, I though his option for 2007 was a player option, but it turns out it becomes a team option if he hits that DL threshold (or so it now appears). Good news that. Would have been better news had they never signed him in the first place.

26 Fred Vincy   ~  Jun 8, 2005 1:43 pm

26.  Lou Piniella -- now that is inspired!

My gut tells me Torre will be fired by July unless things improve substantially, and if I had to lay odds I'm betting on Bucky Dent as a successor. Don't remember much of his brief stint as manager in 89-90, so I really have no idea if he'd be a good choice.

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