"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Searching For Quality

Last night, with a significant assist from their manager, the Yankees blew their chance to bum rush second place and the Wild Card race with a sweep of the current series against the Orioles. Instead, all the team has to show for their efforts on Tuesday are the on-going renaissance of Hideki Matsui (3 for 4 with a double and a homer and 2 RBIs, pushing his season line to .305/.372/.495, his best marks since late April) and the continued emergence of Robinson Cano (2 for 4 with a homer and two runs scored from the two-hole) and Chien-Ming Wang.

If Wang’s impressive outing against the hard-hitting Orioles wasn’t enough to silence his doubters, here’s a quick look at the quality starts (min. 6 IP, max 3 ER) the Yankees have received from their seven starters thus far this season:

Pitcher Quality Starts Total Starts Pct.
Wang 7 10 .700
Johnson 10 16 .625
Mussina 8 16 .500
Pavano 8 17 .471
Brown 4 11 .364
Wright 0 4 .000
Henn 0 3 .000
Total 37 77 .481

Pavano should rightly be even with Mike Mussina at .500, as it’s hard to blame him for the April 10 start which he was forced to leave in the third inning after being beaned by a comebacker. Meanwhile, Mussina will try to push his mark above .500 as he takes the mound tonight against the Orioles.

Rookie Hayden Penn will foot the rubber for the Orioles, making his seventh major league start. Penn’s only quality start thus far came against the Rockies, who are essentially a triple-A team anyway, at home in his second most recent start. His one outing since then was by far his worst in the majors as he gave up seven runs on eight hits and two walks to the Braves in just two innings. Still, Penn is regarded as a legitimate talent. Check out what Baseball Analysts’ Bryan Smith wrote about him in a recent post addressing some of the rookie talent to debut in 2005.

First of all, kudos to the Orioles for handling Penn correctly. While promoting the red-hot Penn might have been premature with John Maine in the International League, it hasn’t really come back to haunt the Orioles. They also have kept close watch on Penn’s pitch counts, only twice letting him go into triple-digits, and never over 103 [which could have cost him as many as three or four additional quality starts–CJC]. But, Penn has been getting hit up of late, with five home runs allowed in his last three starts. Sooner or later, if the ship is not righted, swapping Maine and Penn might be in the best interest of everyone involved. No matter what, Hayden is one fantastic talent.

Incidentally, Bryan has some very kind words for Robinson Cano in that post. Be sure to check it out.

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1 NealPhd   ~  Jun 29, 2005 2:41 pm

1.  "significant assist by their manager", is a HUGE understatement. He might as well have gone out there himself and given up the HR. Why is it that I think that anyone who has played a few seasons of MVP Baseball (for PS2) would be a better tactical manager than Torre?

2 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 29, 2005 3:00 pm

2.  And someone here accused me recently of having a "crusade" against Torre. Even his greatest detractors couldn't make up some of the "tricks" he's pulled this season. And now those "lapses" like the use of Weaver in Game 4 in 2003 and the blatant abuse of Quantrill and Gordon in 2004 don't appear to be isolated incidents but true signs of how he really manages. That George and Cashman have allowed Torre carte blanche up until now is as much to blame for the Yankees' current problems as their off-season moves. Maybe more. There's enough talent on this squad, aged, injured, what have you, that we shouldn't be 3 games out of the Wild Card.

3 NealPhd   ~  Jun 29, 2005 3:20 pm

3.  Torre excels at managing players egos, which is great, but the negatives in his on-field managing are becoming way too much to make up for. What the hell is his bench coach doing during these moves? Do you think anyone suggested putting Mariano in last night?

4 jonm   ~  Jun 29, 2005 3:40 pm

4.  Good points on Torre. I think that the weakness of the bench bears Torre's fingerprints as well (remember his devotion to Sojo and Girardi).

I appreciate everything that Torre has done. I support the Yankees retiring his number, etc... But, inevitably, even the best managers no longer fit with their teams. The Yankees should give Joe a chance to bow out gracefully and, when he does, they shouldn't replace him with one of his accolytes like Girardi. Some of the things that Mets fans are saying about Randolph (unproductive lineups, weak bullpen management) are things that Yankee fans have been saying about Torre for years.

5 rbj   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:33 pm

5.  If the Yankees trade Sheff for Cameron, maybe they can pry Marcus Thames loose from the Tigers. He's back in AAA, absolutely destroying the ball .382/.470/.818 21 for 55, 14 rbi & 11 rs, 6 homers. Maybe trade Kevin Brown for him (& throw in Womack)

6 Simone   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:37 pm

6.  I am loving that the game is delayed by rain, thereby sticking it to ESPN. I hope they don't start until 2 seconds before SportsCenter. Earlier on SportsCenter, Jeff Brantley was going on and on about how victimized Sheffield feels by the big bad Yankees because of the trade rumors. Whatever, Brantley. No one appointed you Sheffield's spokesman so just shut it.

7 yankee23   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:48 pm

7.  In Queens news, Randolph just tried to let Ishii get out of trouble (3 straight walks) and now they're down 5-0. Let's hope they don't bring up Torre's influence here...

Though regarding the Yankees, it's like Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh once said:
'A good friend of mine used to say, "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while.'

8 Chucksax   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:49 pm

8.  rbj - I don't think that I agree with you. We've seen Marcus Thames before, and having one 27-year-old rookie outfielder on our roster is enough. Thames only started to take off after six or seven years in the minors, and he has done nothing in several cups of coffee with big league clubs to indicate that he's anything more than a AAAA player. Granted, he would still be an offensive and defensive improvement over the Out Machine currently patrolling the outfield, but I'd rather take a flyer on a younger player and try to catch lightning in a bottle for a third time.

9 yankee23   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:51 pm

9.  Simone,
you mentioned sticking it to ESPN. I've been in Europe since August and thus haven't seen SportsCenter in quite a while. Has it gotten really bad?

10 Simone   ~  Jun 29, 2005 6:44 pm

10.  yankee23,
First off, I'm totally jealous of you. :) Everyone may not agree, but I think that ESPN has gone overboard with the Yankee hate. It isn't just the usual suspects like Gammons and Olney, it is the snide and the gleeful comments from the anchors on SportsCenter and ESPNews. Even BBTN has become unbearable, but that is probably because the only pro-Yankee host, Harold Reynolds had been doing the College World Series.

11 yankee23   ~  Jun 29, 2005 7:06 pm

11.  Well I guess I'm glad to be missing it then. I was tired of the "even the Yankees couldn't buy their way out of" jokes well before I left. I have to say I generally like ESPN's online content, but even the Sports Guy and the Daily Quickie can get a little tiresome. I don't know what I'd do without Alex & Cliff.

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