"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Oh, Whatta Relief it is

With their ace relievers Scot Shields and Fransico Rodriguez unavailable for yesterday’s game, the Yanks just had to find a way to take the final game of their long road trip. Having lost the first three to the Angels, Mike Mussina responded with an excellent performance. He was matched by Jarrod Washburn, who changed speeds well and allowed just one hit through six innings. Chone Figgins murdered the Yanks all weekend and got the Angels on the board quickly in the first inning (walk, stolen base, ground out, ground out=run scored). Figgins would follow with three more hits. Dag.

The score didn’t change until the seventh. With one out, Alex Rodriguez hit a hard ground ball down the third base line. Figgins not only snagged it–preventing a sure double–but he made an impressive throw to first that almost nipped the hustling Rodriguez. It was a closer play than I expected it to be. Hideki Matsui who was 0-2 on the afternoon (on three pitches), followed and plastered a home run to right center field. Washburn stayed in the game and the Yanks scored another run later in the inning when he failed to cover first base properly.

The Angels chased Mussina in the bottom of the seventh and had runners on first and second (Kennedy and Figgens) with just one man out. Tanyon Sturtze was in the game for New York and the Angels put on the hit-and-run with Daren Erstad at the plate. Erstad slapped a ground ball directly down the third base line. Alex Rodriguez, moving to the bag as the runners were moving, fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and side-armed the ball to first for the double play. It was a bit of good fortune the Yankees sorely needed.

The Angels threatened again in the eighth against Flash Gordon. Vlad Guerrero singled to start the inning and then Garret Anderson popped a short fly ball into right field. Gary Sheffield charged in but it was evident that he was not going to get to it when Robinson Cano made a nifty over-the-shoulder catch for the first out. He must be learning something from Jeter, who made a nice play himself in the fourth inning. But Gordon then walked Steve Finley on four pitches and his afternoon was over.

I was starting to feel quesy. Here we go again with these guys. The Angels have not only played well against the Yankees over the past few seasons, they display a kind of confidence that borders on arrogance. It makes for frustrating viewing as a Yankee fan. The Angels energetic displays of excitement aren’t simply irritating, but come across as amateur at times. I kept yelling at the TV, “This isn’t the College World Series guys, act like you’ve been there for cryin’ out loud.” This is a team who won a championship a few years ago? Maybe it’s just the bitterness talking, but these guys have no qualms about ‘spressing themselves on the field against New York.

Anyhow, Rivera got Maicer Izturis to hit a ground ball right back to the mound. Rivera then smoothly started the 1-6-3 double play and that was all the excitement left in the game. The Yanks added a run in the ninth on Tino Martinez’s RBI double, and Rivera retired the Angels one-two-three in the bottom of the inning to give the Bombers a 4-1 win. Although they finished the road trip 6-5, one game short of what I would have liked, it could have been worse, and the Yanks are still just one-and-a-half back of the Red Sox as they return home to face the Twins and then the Angels. In fact, considering the state their pitching is in, 6-5 was pretty darn good.

You Don’t Say?

Randy Johnson barked at reporters yesterday for hounding him with health-related questions all season. It comes as no surprise that the Big Unit would eventually get testy with the New York media. Nothing much to see hear, move along.

Oh, and Jason Giambi qualified for the league lead in OBP going into yesterday’s game. He walked and was hit twice and leads the AL with a .437 mark.

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1 singledd   ~  Jul 25, 2005 6:38 am

1.  Alex an Cliff: Would like your opionions....
Since ARod is ultimately a better HR hitter then Giambi, and Giambi is typically a better OBP then anyone, would it make sense to bat Giambo before ARod in the order?

I proposed:
(this assumes Giambi continues at close to his seasonal numbers)
Its better for the R/L thing... not as good for speed on the bases.

Splitting hairs or is there some value?
Someone suggested batting Giambi 2nd (and push Cano to the back of the order), to get his OBP in there. I like his OPS, but not his baserunning.

Batting him 6th just wastes his high OBP.
What order would you guys like to see?

2 STONER   ~  Jul 25, 2005 6:57 am

2.  The Angels do 'spress' themselves as arrogant - but I never saw a finer flock of sheep than when the Angels marched to the plate in the 9th and their shephard, Mariano, put them right in their places...BEAUTIFUL!

3 jedi   ~  Jul 25, 2005 6:58 am

3.  jeter SS righty
bernie DH switch
sheff RF righty
arod 3B righty
matsui LF lefty
giambi 1B lefty
posada C switch
Cano 2B lefty
Crosby CF lefty

4 Clay Caviness   ~  Jul 25, 2005 7:07 am

4.  Yes, it was a successful road trip, all-in-all, but I think with some better bullpen management by Torre we would have had a good shot at 7-4 or 8-3.

5 JohnnyC   ~  Jul 25, 2005 7:14 am

5.  Amen, Clay, but the team will have to win in spite of Torre's bizarre moves. That's just the way it is. Hopefully, they have enough stomach to do it. BTW, if Graman had been moved to the pen to be molded into a LOOGY, why does Torre refer to him and use him as the long man out of the pen? Methinks Torre is jonesin' for a Ron Villone or Eddie Guardado...so that he and Mel can turn him into every other lefty reliever who's crossed paths with them in the last 4 years. I love the way Joe communicates with his GM.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 25, 2005 7:25 am

6.  I think in theory Giambi batting in front of Rodriguez makes some sense, but I think his OBP is tempered by his base running. I don't really pretend to know much about this, but my guess is that he might clog the bases putting him in front of a good base runner like Rodriguez. But again, I'm not really sure. I wouldn't mind seeing Matsui bat second, Giambi fifth, and moving Cano. But right now, the line-up doesn't seem to be a real problem to me.

7 dtrain   ~  Jul 25, 2005 7:49 am

7.  Jedi,

I don't think it makes sense to bat Bernie 2nd. He's giving us nothing, why would you want to maximize his number of at bats? It's a damn shame that with a $200M payroll, his two-forty-something average and 6 HRs are the best we can send out there in the DH spot.

8 ChrisS   ~  Jul 25, 2005 8:03 am

8.  I was watching the Kevin Brown game the other night at the bar, and the D-Backs game was on another TV. As I watched Brown give up that 3-run bomb to Vlad, I turned my head just in time to see Brad Halsey retire the side on about 4 pitches.

Not relevant really to this thread, but it hurt a little to watch.

9 jedi   ~  Jul 25, 2005 8:13 am

9.  dtrain,

bernie is a speedy contact hitter and puts the ball in play. But the whole point is to move jeter over and work the count, which cano has trouble doing. I don't think we should even have this convo if you think the second spot is made for a HR typical hitter. If anything, ideal hitters for the 2nd spot should be jeter and bernie, who represent contact and speed. Cano still needs to learn what "contact" means in the big lead level and I don't think youll earn any praise if you rebute he is a speedy 2b. Guy is slow as shit.

10 singledd   ~  Jul 25, 2005 8:56 am

10.  jedi,
While Bernie USED to be speedy, I don't think he is anymore (especially in CF). He has not had more then 5 SB since 2002. I don't know how slow Cano is, but my guess is he's faster then (bad knees Bernie).

From a clinical standpoint, our 3 best HR hitters are ARod, Shef and Giambi. Therefore, we should have our best OBP guys in front of them. Since Giambi has a better OBP then Shef or ARod, he should be in front of them. That leaves us with:
Jetes, Matsui, Giambi, ARod and Shef... follwed by any order. This however is not as 'even' as having Cano bat 2nd.

While Matsui can hit HR's, he has a really nice left-field stroke when he needs a hit. Batting him second might allow him to concentrate on BA/OBP as opposed to RBI's.

jeti... I love Bernie but he is not as reliable as he once was. He also leads the team in GIDP, although this may be a misleading percentage because it needs to be compared to how many ABs you have with less then 3 out and a man on first. It would be interesting to see:


.... and while its a shame to waste some ABs for Cano, having him in front of Jetes would be nice.

HOWEVER... it is really splitting hairs.

11 singledd   ~  Jul 25, 2005 8:58 am

11.  make that less then 2 out... he he he

12 singledd   ~  Jul 25, 2005 9:03 am

12.  P.S. Anyone notice where the (dead-in-the-water) Oakland A's are in the WC standings?

13 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 25, 2005 9:06 am

13.  The A's are really something. They seem to surge in the second half each seaosn. If they make the playoffs this year, it'd be a real feather in Billy Beane's cap. Rich Harden is a really tough pitcher and I guess that kid Swisher is doing very well too.

14 Oscar Azocar   ~  Jul 25, 2005 9:16 am

14.  On a side note, I wanted to check out Cano's ability to make contact and see how bad he was. Believe it or not, Cano's actually a decent contact hitter, which is completely contradictory to his tendency to swing at everything:

Cano: 33K, 8.6PA/K, 8.2AB/K
Bernie: 34K, 9.4PA/K, 8.1AB/K
Jeter: 66K, 6.8PA/K, 5.9AB/K

The AB/K ratio is probably more relavant to analyze contact, since the PA's include other "non contact" situations such as BB, or HBP. I didn't believe it until I saw it, but Cano actually makes more contact than Jeter and just about as much contact as Bernie.

15 Clay Caviness   ~  Jul 25, 2005 10:04 am

15.  Cano swings at a lot of pitches, sure, but he seems to have pretty good pitch recognition and only swings at pretty good pitches.

He doesn't walk much, but it appears that's not due to swinging wildly and breaking balls off the plate (hi, Sori!) but instead putting a good pitch in play.

16 dtrain   ~  Jul 25, 2005 10:43 am

16.  Jedi,

I understand that the 2-hole is not a power spot. But I also know, as singledd points out too, that Bernie hits into a ton of DPs, as he has throughout his career. I also don't recall him being a particularly good bunter, and while he may still make contact, his low batting average means that he's making outs most of the time he does make contact. True, some of those outs could be productive outs when he moves a runner over, but a lot of them are going to be pop-ups and GIDPs.

Bottom line, Bernie's not going to help very much no matter where he hits at this stage of his career, so I think the best move is to keep him at the bottom of the order to minimize his number of at bats.

17 Ben   ~  Jul 25, 2005 11:15 am

17.  Anybody here have any real baseball playing experience? I was just wondering how hard it is to become a decent/good bunter? It may be more of a craft than I understand, but it seems pretty easy as compared to hitting HRs. If it's just a matter of practice, why isn't someone like Cano, or bernie, or Matsui practicing the shit out of the bunt. In my recollection, Girardi, Brosius, Paulie-O, Knoblach were all capable of laying out down if necessary. Any ideas on this?

18 JohnnyC   ~  Jul 25, 2005 11:18 am

18.  Who do you suggest they practice bunting with? Sojo? Roy White? Joe Torre? Usually, when taking lessons, someone has to give them. Anyone have the Scooter's home number?

19 Oscar Azocar   ~  Jul 25, 2005 11:29 am

19.  If nobody on the coaching staff can do it, then maybe Jeter can give bunting lessons?

20 Ben   ~  Jul 25, 2005 12:17 pm

20.  It's a good point that there might not be the best teacher on the Yanks staff. I guess it just speaks to the kind of players they have in the organization right now that some of those scrappy fundamentals are just overlooked. Maybe there is a statistical reason, a la Moneyball's stolen base analysis, that bunting isn't stressed. It just seems to me that the Yanks success, or the Angels in 2002, or the Marlins in 2003, was based on so-called manufacturing of runs.

I just like watching a team capable of playing small-ball.

21 Ben   ~  Jul 25, 2005 12:18 pm

21.  As for teachers, since Mariano is supposed to be the best centerfielder on the team, he's probably the best bunter too. Give him a bat and let him instill the almighty into Cano.

22 aboveavg   ~  Jul 25, 2005 1:01 pm

22.  I agree that Cano should learn to bunt but Matsui should never, EVER be asked to lay one down even if he had the ability to do so.

And bunting is not easy, especially learning to place and/or deaden the ball.

23 David   ~  Jul 25, 2005 4:29 pm

23.  Over the last 30 days, Cano's OBP is .377, which justifies batting him 2nd.

I think Giambi's huge OBP should be moved up in the batting order, despite his slowness. Even leadoff wouldn't be ridiculous.

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