"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Angels

Due to some technical difficulties (I’m breaking in a new laptop to increase my ability to post on the go, but it always seems you have to take one step backwards to get two steps forward when these new-fangled fire-boxes are concerned), I was unable to get a series preview post up yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t write one. Here’s how what I wrote yesterday afternoon kicked off:

The Yankees enter this weekend’s four-game series with the Angels having gone 5-2 on their current roadtrip and 8-3 to start the punishingly difficult portion of their schedule. Considering that fantastic level of play (for the month, the Yankees are winning at an even 75 percent clip: 12-4), it seems like sour grapes to complain about some of Joe Torre’s bullpen decisions, as I (among countless others) did following Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers. Still, having done so then, I feel I must follow up by pointing out that using both Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera with a four-run lead in last night’s 8-4 win is exactly the sort of thing that lead to letting Wayne Franklin pitch against the heart of the Texas line-up in the eighth inning with a one-run lead the night before.

Sure, watching Gordon and especially Rivera blow away Rangers hitters with a comfortable lead inspires tremendous confidence on the part of the team and its fans, but on a night that Aaron Small made his first major league start in seven years and held the Rangers to just three runs in 5 1/3 innings, it was worth a shot to see if Scott Proctor and the re-purposed Alex Graman could take care of business, saving Gordon and Rivera for a game such as Tuesday’s in which they were desperately needed. With a four-run lead, there was enough margin for error that Gordon and Rivera could have been brought in should either of those lesser pitchers faltered, but by going to those lesser pitchers first, one creates the opportunity for them to succeed thus rendering Gordon and Rivera unnecessary.

Well, last night, Joe Torre took my unpublished advice and turned to Scott Proctor in the seventh inning with a three run lead. Even better, he did so with the bottom of the order coming up, as per my assertion following Tuesday’s loss that with weaker hitters due up a manager can get away with using his less dominant pitchers.

Proctor threw nine pitches to pinch-hitter Jeff DaVanon, five were fouled off, four others were taken for balls resulting in a lead-off walk. That brought ninth-place hitter Macier Izturis to the plate.

And Joe Torre out of the dugout. Astonishingly, with a three-run lead, Joe didn’t even give Proctor a second batter. It wasn’t as if Proctor had walked DaVanon on four pitches or given up a hard-hit ball anywhere in fair territory. With a three run lead the worst that could have happened had Torre left Proctor in would have been a two-run Izturis homer that would have reduced the Yankee lead to one run, but left the bases empty for Proctor’s replacement.

Instead, Torre turned to neglected LOOGY Buddy Groom. Admittedly, the difference between Izturis batting lefty and Izturis batting righty is extreme (.278 GPA batting left, .156 GPA batting right), so turning him around with a lefty on the mound should have been a high percentage move on Torre’s part. Still, we’re talking about Macier Izturis, and a .278 GPA is fine, but not something to be afraid of, particularly when the tying run is still stuck in the on-deck circle.

The issue, as it so often is with Joe Torre is trust. Torre didn’t trust Proctor to fix his own mistake despite having enough of a lead to give him that opportunity, so instead he played the match-up. On it’s face, it wasn’t the worst decision, but again, trust rears its head. Joe Torre hasn’t trusted Buddy Groom since the Saxons invaded Britain. Prior to last night, Groom had pitched just once in the Yankees last eleven games and that one appearance came with his team trailing the Red Sox 13-1 last Saturday.

This is the flipside of Torre’s overuse of his Big Three. The Little Four often go so long without pitching that they loose whatever effectiveness they once had. Torre said as much when the Yankees DFAed Paul Quantrill, admitting that Quantrill didn’t get into enough games to stay sharp. Not that he felt the need to do anything about it as the sole individual who controls playing opportunities for his team. Last night, Torre’s burying of Groom came back to bite him, as it always does, as Groom promptly surrendered a single to the hopeless right-handed version of Macier Izturis that put runners on first and third and brought the top of the order up with no outs and a chance to tie the game. Two pitches later, he surrendered another single to Chone Figgins to load the bases.

Now, if Proctor was yanked after issuing a nine-pitch full-count walk to his only batter, you would think Groom would be sent to the showers after giving up two singles on five pitches, the second putting the tying run on first with no outs.

Ah, but you’d be wrong. With the lefty Darin Erstad due up following the switch-hitting Izturis and Figgins, Torre stuck with Groom and the lefty-lefty match-up (Erstad vs. lefties: .208 GPA, vs. righties .268 GPA). To Groom’s credit, he struck Erstad out on five pitches. Then Torre turned to Tom Gordon to pitch to Vladimir Guerrero, who represented the go-ahead run.

Which is exactly what he should have done in that situation. He used one of his two bullpen aces to pitch to the best hitter in the Angels’ line-up in the tightest spot in the game. Perfect.

Of course it would have been better had Gordon not thrown 26 pitches with a four-run lead the night before, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with the fact that Guerrero golfed what proved to be a game-winning grand slam off of Gordon (whom, I seem to remember the YES broadcasters saying, might not have gotten a full warmup in the pen because of the suddenness with which the inning got out of hand). Right?

Much as you might expect me to, I can’t blame last night’s loss on Torre’s in-game strategy. The bullpen blew it pretty well without his help. Despite the unnecessarily short leash he had on Proctor, Torre went to his lesser pitchers for the lesser batters with a multi-run lead, used his match-ups well and turned to his best when the opponents’ best was at the plate. Maybe in a perfect world he would have gone to Rivera instead of Gordon to face Guerrero, but that’s so far removed from the reality of modern day baseball, that I’m forced to give him a pass there (though Goose Gossage may not be so kind).

So, for the third time in their last four losses, the Yankees were trailing by one in the ninth thanks to the runs surrendered by their bullpen, and, as with the previous two times, they put together a rally that quite literally fell just short.

Leading off against the Angels’ best, the cartoonish Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez quickly fell into a 0-2 hole by taking a strike and fouling off the next two pitches. Those fouls must have locked Alex into what Francisco was doing, because he then creamed the fourth pitch to the warning track in left center.

Alex’s easy-going power stroke has taken some getting used to (especially coming as it does behind the brutal swing of Gary “The Punisher” Sheffield in the Yankee order), but when Alex lit into that Francisco Rodriguez pitch, I was convinced he had tied the game. Instead, he wound up with a lead off double. He was then promptly moved to third by a Hideki Matsui sac fly to deep center that, in part due to the strong arm of Steve Finley, few Yankees other than Rodriguez (likely only Jeter, Womack and Bubba) could have advanced on.

That brought up Jason Giambi with the tying run on third and one out.

Sigh. Look, I’m actually quite fond of Joe Torre. Despite all of my bitching about his use of the bullpen, I’ve refused to join the calls for his head that appear in the comments here because I don’t think anyone short of Earl Weaver or Casey Stengel could do a job so significantly better that it would be worth losing the other things that Torre does do well to make a switch, but the situation with Giambi at the plate brings me back to another of my pet peeves about Joe (though, again, it’s something that can be said of most of baseball): he never uses the squeeze bunt.

A squeeze bunt in the top of the eleventh would have won Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, and the absence of one, far more than the use of Jeff Weaver, was what cost the Yankees that game, and possibly that series. Last night, a squeeze bunt would have tied the game. Not that I think Giambi should have laid one down, because I’m pretty sure he can’t. Twice this season he’s taken advantage of the shift by bunting to third, but in those cases he was just directing the ball to an area where there was not a fielder. There was no need to deaden the ball, no need for perfect placement. With the tying run on third last night, the Angels infield was playing more or less straight away and in. There’s no way that Giambi could have placed a bunt well enough to avoid getting Rodriguez thrown out, or worse yet, a game-ending double play.

But just because Giambi doesn’t know how to lay down a good squeeze, doesn’t mean he can’t learn. Cripes, by “working in the cage with Donnie” he’s turned himself from a powerless statue at the plate, unable to catch up to a 90 mile-per-hour fastball, to the best hitter in the major leagues in July (.400/.538/1.080 on the month, that’s a .512 GPA, with two more homers last night for ten on the month). If he could learn to rotate his hips faster and shorten his swing (which is supposedly how he and Mattingly fixed his swing), certainly he could learn to catch the ball with the bat and get the runner home from third.

Even with the game’s most dangerous hitter at the plate, I would advocate a squeeze bunt if the run being scored was the tying or go-ahead run. That said, I’m sure there are a lot of people who would rather that hitter swing away, particularly when down by one as the potential exists for him to do more than simply tie the game. Well, swing away, Giambi did. Once. After taking five pitches to load the count, Giambi took a mighty cut that couldn’t find a nearly perfect pitch from one of the game’s best relievers. Them’s the breaks folks.

Jorge Posada followed by pinch-hitting for Bubba Crosby (who, in a sad bit of irony, probably could have bunted Rodriguez home). Jorge took three pitches to get ahead 2-1, the laced what looked like a clean game-tying single in the hole between first and second only to look up and realize that Chone Figgins had him played perfectly. Posada out 4-3. Game over.

Tonight the Yankees try to make up for it by sending the miracle man, Al Leiter back to the hill. While the Yankees strong performance in July thus far is primarily attributable to their offense, it certainly hasn’t hurt that they finally received a pair of useful spot starts.

Prior to Al Leiter’s cavalry ride on Sunday in Boston, the Yankees spot starters (Tanyon Sturtze, Darrell May, Tim Redding and Sean Henn) had compiled the following line:

6 GS, 0-5, 13.72 ERA, 20 1/3 IP, 33 H, 31 ER, 7 HR, 18 BB, 9 K

Indeed, the only Yankee loss during this “punishingly difficult” stretch that wasn’t directly attributable to the bullpen was the 17-1 beating in Boston that was jump-started by spot-starter Tim Redding.

Then came Leiter: 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 8 K

and Aaron Small: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 3 K

Small will likely not make another start as his turn comes due on Monday’s off-day and Carl Pavano should be ready to pitch in the turn after that a week from tomorrow against the Angels at home on FOX’s Game of the Week, but Leiter, according to Joe Torre, has already earned a permanent spot in the rotation (which is a nice way of saying, he’s the best option the Yankees expect to have the rest of the way, short of Chien-Ming Wang making a miraculous recovery, and then there’s always the chance that someone else will be hurt).

Since we’re on the topic of Small, here’s the remainder of what should have been my series-preview post yesterday afternoon:

Compared to the 0.50 K/BB and 2.51 WHIP (not counting HBP!), and 13.72 ERA compiled by the other spot starters, Small’s performance on Wednesday–which resulted in a 0.75 K/BB ratio, 1.69 WHIP, and 5.06 ERA–was downright inspiring, and, with the help of the offense, put the Yankees in position to go home happy if with a mere split in Anaheim.

Speaking of which . . .

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2005 Record:
2005 Pythagorean Record:

Manager: Mike Scioscia
General Manager: Bill Stoneman

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Angel Stadium (99/99)

Who’s replaced whom?

Adam Kennedy (DL) replaces Dallas McPherson (DL)
Bengie Molina (DL) replaces Lou Merloni (DL)
Zach Sorenson replaces Rob Quinlan (DL)
Ervin Santana replaces Kelvim Escobar (DL)
Jeol Peralta replaces Jake Woods (minors)

Current Roster:

1B – Darin Erstad
2B – Adam Kennedy
SS – Orlando Cabrera
3B – Chone Figgins
C – Bengie Molina
RF – Vladimir Guerrero
CF – Steve Finley
LF – Garret Anderson
DH – Jeff DaVanon

Bench:

R – Juan Rivera (OF)
S – Maicer Izturis (IF)
S – Zach Sorensen (UT)
R – Jose Molina (C)
R – Josh Paul (C)
Rotation:

R – Bartolo Colon
R – John Lackey
R – Ervin Santana
L – Jarrod Washburn
R – Paul Byrd

Bullpen:
R – Francisco Rodriguez
R – Scot Shields
R – Brendan Donnelly
R – Esteban Yan
R – Joel Peralta
R – Kevin Gregg

DL:

R – Kelvim Escobar
L – Dallas McPherson (3B)
R – Robb Quinlan (IF)
R – Lou Merloni (IF) (60-day)
R – Bret Prinz (60-day)
R – Matt Hensley (60-day)
R – Tim Salmon (OF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

S – Chone Figgins (3B)
L – Darin Erstad (1B)
R – Vladimir Guerrero (RF)
L – Garret Anderson (LF)
L – Steve Finley (CF)
R – Bengie Molina (C)
S – Jeff DaVanon (DH)
R – Orlando Cabrera (SS)
L – Adam Kennedy (2B)

As they enter tonight’s game with the second-best record in the American League and a commanding 6.5-game lead in the American League West, it’s a bit surprising to recall that the Angels have had a couple of significant stumbles in the past few weeks. Having been swept at home by the lowly Mariners in a four-game series two weeks ago and having dropped the final two games of a three-game series at home against the surging A’s over the past two nights, the Angels are just 9-8 on the month of July.

As the Yankees learned back in late May–when they defeated tonight’s starter Bartolo Colon 12-4 behind Alex Rodriguez’s 3-homer, 10-RBI performance, then managed just two more runs as they lost the final two games of the series to Jarrod Washburn and John Lackey–-as the Angels’ pitching goes, so go the Angels. Though in the middle-of the pack in runs scored, the Angels are fourth in the majors in pitching (behind the Cardinals, White Sox and Twins). As usual, dominating short-relief has a lot to do with that (Francisco Rodriguez: 1.96 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 12.76 K/9; Scot Sheilds: 2.33 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.40 K/9; Brendan Donnelly: 3.32 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 7.52 ERA), but unlike last year’s AL West Champions, this year the starters have been keeping up.

The only member of the Angels’ rotation with an ERA over 4.00 is rookie Ervin Santana (whom the Yankees, thankfully, get to face on Saturday), and he’s only made nine starts thus far due to the injury to last year’s ace Kelvim Escobar (3.54 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.18 K/9 in seven starts when healthy this year). Washburn, whose primary contribution last year was giving up the David Ortiz homer that ended the Angels’ season, leads the team with a 3.27 ERA despite having he rotation’s worst peripheral numbers. The oft-injured Paul Byrd has avoided the disabled list and posted a rotation-leading 1.11 WHIP. John Lackey, best remembered for starting Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie, leads the current starting staff with a 9.00 K/9, helping the Angels as a team to the third-best strikeout rate in the majors (behind the unsurprising Cubs and Astros).

That leaves [last night's] starter, Bartolo Colon. The man whom the Yankees slapped around back on April 26. I wouldn’t expect that to happen again tonight. Colon leads the Angels in the oft-derided win column (11-6), but a quick look at his peripheral numbers shows that there’s a very good reason for that.

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16 comments

1 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 22, 2005 6:48 pm

1.  I've been reading the posts from yesterday's game and Cliff's analysis.

It was indeed a heartbreaker. I think Torre has mismanaged the use of the key bullpen pitchers recently, but I can't put this on his shoulders. His choices, which at times strike me as odd, are predicated on circumstances beyond his control in some ways.

A $200+ million team can't expect to live up to its potential if its key starters are over 40 (or pushing 40) and can't get through 7 innings. The Yankees knew that this was a problem months ago, but have taken little action to address the problem.

In the past we've dropped big money on Dave Justice, Cecil Fielder, and the like but pitching wins divisions and championships and we have a gigantic gaping hole in our staff that won't be solved by adding another starter this year.....we have to add a middle reliever. One way or the other we have got to add a bullpen guy. A guy to pitch the 7th so we can shift Tanyon Sturtze to long relief, or a long reliever that can pitch the 5th and 6th if our crap starters falter.

If we don't do this, we will give away games that we should win.

I know what's going to happen though. Cashman and Torre will wait to get Pavano, Brown, Mussina, Johnson, and Leiter in rhthym and healthy, and then they'll try to put Small in that role until Wright comes back (if he comes back). For the stretch run you'll look for Wright to take on that role to build up his arm strength.

BTW....for those of you wondering why Colter Bean hasn't been called up....the answer is that he is not close to being ready for the majors. I think he's blown the last two games at Colombus in the 9th.....correct me if I'm wrong, please.

2 Yankee Fan in Chicago   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:30 pm

2.  Giambi's numbers against Lackey are nearly as good as Arod's against Colon:

10 for 18 going into tonight w/ 2 homers.

3 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:33 pm

3.  Amazing baserunning by Rodriguez for the first Yankee run. Reminded me of Game 4 against the Twins.

4 Shaun P   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:39 pm

4.  And Crosby made a nice catch on Erstad's fly in the first. Bernie does not make that catch.

BTW, everyone's comments yesterday about how awful the Angels announcers are were on the money. Ugh. I thought the Braves' announcers were the biggest non-objective homers in the league. I was wrong.

5 Dan-el   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:45 pm

5.  Uh oh ... this is really not looking good.

6 JeremyM   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:46 pm

6.  Damn, the real Al has arrived. Gonna have to shell Lackey tonight....

7 KYK   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:48 pm

7.  So this is why you have to work with the assumption to use TanGorMo when RJ and Moose start. They will more than likely give you a good start and keep you in the game. If this game keeps up like this, the TanGorMo will get plenty of rest.

8 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 22, 2005 7:52 pm

8.  It doesn't matter who starts, it matters what the score is. If it's close, use the Big Three, if there's room, use the other guys and try to rest the Big Three.

Atrocious inning by Leiter. Even the throwing error was his.

9 Xeifrank   ~  Jul 22, 2005 10:40 pm

9.  The Yankees are getting an up close and personal look at Mike Scoscia's "small ball" and are getting beat by it.
vr, Xei

10 Rich   ~  Jul 22, 2005 10:53 pm

10.  If pitching wins championships, why did the Braves only win one in the 90s, and the A's with MHZ won none?

The idea is to outscore your opponent, no matter how it's done.

Balance wins, i.e., pitching and hitting.

11 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 23, 2005 1:21 am

11.  The Yankees flaw since they last won the WS has been twofold.

First, the combination of starters and bullpen has proven to be insufficient, particularly since they lost to the Angels in 2002. During that period the Yankee starters have routinely struggled to make it to the 8th inning and almost never go the complete game. As a result, the bullpen which is lights out in the 8th and 9th gets exposed and we keep signing guys hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

The problem is, the Yankees haven't developed or scouted well in the middle relief area and each year our starters get older and our middle relief gets weaker.

As for hitting, we have bought an impressive collection of power guys, but the offense in no longer balanced. During our 4 WS run, we 1st and 3rd-ed teams to death and wore out their pitchers with stressful long innings. If you look at the recent champs, they've done the same thing.

2002 Anaheim - Think David Eckstein
2003 Florida - Think Juan Pierre
2004 Boston - Think Johnny Damon

When we were winning the championship we had guys like Knoblauch, Jeter, Bernie, and O'Neill on base and hitting doubles. If you remember the length of those games it was brutal. More than 3.5 hours was the norm.

Now, and for the last 2-3 years, we go deep or we strand the runners. No more 1st and 3rd. No more barrage of doubles. We can still score runs with the best of them, but we no longer seem to punish pitchers. The HR ball deflates the opposing pitcher, but it's like ripping off a Band-Aid. The old Yankee hitting makes guys sweat and expend energy. Teams feared the Yankees when we came to town because we punished them.

You listen to opposing fans over the last several years and they tell you that they were scared when the O'Neill Yankees came to town. They were intimidated and braced for a beating. Now, they will openly tell you that these Yankees are not to be feared and the Red Sox led the defiant charge straight into the heart of the Yankee mystique.

If we want to get that back, we need to replace our aging veterans with players like Carl Crawford, Coco Crisp, Brian or Marcus Giles, or Johnny Damon with a haircut.

Guys that get on base, steal, create havok, and hit enough doubles in the gap to force the action.

Combine that philosophy with strong middle relief and we will get back to where we were. If you need to visualize the strategy, look no further than the current Angels who set the table with Chone Figgins and proceed to thump you with Erstad (a former speedy guy), Guerrero, and Anderson (a doubles machine). They also blow you away with their bullpen.

The Angels don't have outstanding starters, but they are good enough to go deep in the game and turn it over to lights out bullpen guys. If they are down late in the game they can scratch out a run or two on the bases or pop the big HR (see Vlad's grand slam).

I picked them to win the Series last year but they couldn't capitalize on their late season run in the West. They had too many injuries. They are my current pick to win it in 2005.

12 rbj   ~  Jul 23, 2005 6:01 am

12.  Damn, A-Rod & Giambi both work the counts to 3-2 (4th? 5th inning) but then he comes back to strike them out.
And so far I'm going with the nomination of the Angels broadcasters as the worst. Any other nominees?

13 alasky   ~  Jul 23, 2005 7:17 am

13.  Mikeplugh...where to begin with this junk

1) "As for hitting, we have bought an impressive collection of power guys, but the offense in no longer balanced. During our 4 WS run, we 1st and 3rd-ed teams to death and wore out their pitchers with stressful long innings. If you look at the recent champs, they've done the same thing.

2002 Anaheim - Think David Eckstein
2003 Florida - Think Juan Pierre
2004 Boston - Think Johnny Damon"

We are averaging the most runs per game in the majors...dissect that any way you want. People love to romanticize that old Yankee offense of small ball, productive outs, 1st to third baseball...wearing pitchers out. Well, at the end of the day, and we don't play in a hitter's park, nobody averages more runs than us. Nobody. To even mention the offense is ridiculous on a macro level. Baseball has proven again and again that over 162 games it comes down to how many runs you score versus how many runs you allow. Now, the players you mention:

David Eckstein: I would suggest that in the 2004 alds when he went 5 for 18 with zero walks and zero extra-base hits and one steal he was among the least valuable contributors offensively. Glaus, Salmon, and Garret Anderson combine for 6 home runs, and you mention Eckstein because it's been ingrained in your head that that's why they won the series and we didn't...their hustle that he exemplified...if those guys aren't bangin the ball of the walls all night his hustle means shit

Juan Pierre

The guy had a hot 6 games where he reached base at almost a .500 clip...that was the key...if he's goin 1st to 3rd at his usual .350 clip with no power, we're not talking about him...I wouldn't suggest that he's a great type of player the yankees need (aside from his cf defense) any more than I'd suggest Luis Sojo proved he was a clutch performer in the 2000 Subway Series to be signed before every stretch run for the rest of Joe Torre's life!

Johnny Damon...no seriously, are you kidding me...1st to 3rd? He had 6 hits in 35 at bats, batting well under 200...he finally does make an impact and it was with 2 HOME RUNS in game 7...so ummm how does this 1st to 3rd crap apply again?

2) "You listen to opposing fans over the last several years and they tell you that they were scared when the O'Neill Yankees came to town. They were intimidated and braced for a beating."

Well, ummm, actually I try not to. While I do appreciate the opinions of Joey from Queens in section 216, it seems like "Yankees Suck" has been the most prevalent opinion they've held for years. Where did you do this poll? The 2002-2004 Yankees averaged over 101 wins. The 96-2000 yankees won 100 games once. Thus, maybe these fans should have been getting ready for that mean old Yankee paddle beating after all. Is intimidating opposing fans how you do it? Those '03 Marlins were pretty scary after all.

and finally...my personal favorite

3) Combine that philosophy with strong middle relief and we will get back to where we were. If you need to visualize the strategy, look no further than the current Angels who set the table with Chone Figgins and proceed to thump you with Erstad (a former speedy guy), Guerrero, and Anderson (a doubles machine). They also blow you away with their bullpen.

The Angels don't have outstanding starters, but they are good enough to go deep in the game and turn it over to lights out bullpen guys. If they are down late in the game they can scratch out a run or two on the bases or pop the big HR (see Vlad's grand slam).

When yo have erstad and figgins playing 1st and 3rd, 2 power positions, they are part of the problem...not part of the solution...not to say that they don't have their merits, but come on...Garrett Anderson has been a solid player for a long time, but not incredible...overrated for his rbis, but underrated by the sabermetric community for his ability to stay in the lineup...at this point an average offensive corner outfielder at best...Vlad Vlad Vlad...finally you got one right...The Angels are 8th in the AL in runs...if they want to win the whole thing, I'd suggest that they consider the Yankees approach to offense a bit more, not the other way around...but this is the best part man, no...I mean it:

"The Angels don't have outstanding starters"

They have 1 starter with an ERA over 4, 1 and he's gonna be replaced by arguably their best starter later this year when escobar comes back (ERA 3.54)

Gimme the Angels starters with out offense and I'll give you the best team in baseball, center fielder and middle relief be damned...guess what though...and here's my favorite part...if you get that center fielder, it makes your pitching better too

Nothing personal, Mike, believe me I didnt anticipate a 20 min. post, but sometimes I read things like this and wonder if your last name isn't really Francessa?

14 rilkefan   ~  Jul 23, 2005 2:29 pm

14.  Comity, please. We've fallen slightly out of first, but still...

15 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 23, 2005 4:48 pm

15.  alasky,

I obviously get the "crap" that I write from somewhere that you haven't looked. No offense.

Yes, we score runs. Yes, that wins games. My contention is not that we CAN'T win games, ot that we have some festering problem with our offense. My suggestion is that an offense that works best is an offense that keeps runners on base, keeps the pitcher in the stretch, makes the fielders work on every pitch, and applies severe pressure.

When you blast me for my choice of players to highlight on the last 3 championship teams, you pick out some narrow timeframe to prove me wrong. I was merely suggesting that a culture of frenetic offensive baseball with a leadoff man that creates runs is the best possible scenario, and while you can win a title with big bats, the long grueling season features a lot of low scoring affairs and late inning rallies that would benefit from the applied pressure of a guy like Damon, or Knoblauch, or Carl Crawford.

I'll tell you where I get my knowledge of the opposing fan attitude. While I live in Japan now, I travelled the country quite frequently by car between 1998 and 2003. I visited a lot of ballparks, basketball arenas, and local watering holes. If you stay online and judge the "Yankees Suck" crowd as the norm, you are missing the world around you. Many opposing fans have keen insight into the game, their own team, the league, and yes, the Yankees.

I think of conversations with people in Cleveland. People in Baltimore and Seattle and Oakland. They were all great competitors during our best years and to a man or woman, these fans told me that they hated to see the 1990's Yankees come to town. They had to respect the players character and dedication, but they knew a grueling series had made its way to town.

Now, when I talk to the same people, and others, they say that these Yankees are tough and competetive, but they only hold their breath when the big bats are in the batters box in the late innings.

Can you relate to that? I can. On the other hand, the Red Sox make my heart beat faster during each inning. All of those guys seem to be "Yankee Killers". You start with Damon and go all the way down through the #7 hitter and they find a way. Sure, Ortiz kills us with the long ball, but there always seems to be a Nixon, Varitek, Damon, or Renteria on base when he comes to bat.

I know they're a Money Ball team, but they sure seem to have guys rounding third in a full sprint a lot.

I'm not saying that the Yankees have it wrong. I'm not saying that we need to radically overhaul the roster. What I'm trying to illustrate is the fact that our team has flaws that we have a chance to remedy, and in doing so we can get back to a more balanced offense that relies less on the long ball and more on long innings. If you look at the top HR teams in the majors the division leaders most highly ranked are Chicago and Boston at 6 and 7, while Anaheim is 24th. Atlanta and St. Louis are 10th and 11th, and Washington (for what it's worth) is dead last.

I'm not saying that we can't win the division with a long ball lineup. I'm ONLY trying to illustrate that it's not necessary to lead the majors in HRs to win, and that we'd benefit from a fresh and more balanced approach.

16 JohnnyC   ~  Jul 23, 2005 5:24 pm

16.  I have to agree with alasky. Our offense may be annoyingly inconsistent at times but we do score runs, plenty of them. Our problems are pitching, both starting and relieving, and sub-par defense. alasky also understands correctly why the Angels won in 2002...their OPS in the post-season was an historic rate. They were also one of the worst pitching teams to ever win the World Series. They won with power and relief pitching. There is no one and only way to win, although somewhere in that formula is always pitching.

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