"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Taking Care of Business

After a rewarding 6-2 victory against the Blue Jays yesterday afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees gained a game on the Red Sox who lost last night in Kansas City (Curt Schilling was not effective in his return to the rotation). Cliff and I feel that the anything less than a sweep of the Royals this weekend is unacceptable yet K.C. is coming off two consecutive series wins against the A’s and Sox which is nothing to sneeze at.

Randy Johnson is on the mound tonight. According to The Daily News:

“Still believe in my heart of hearts that the big guy is gonna be dynamite down the stretch, Joe Torre said. “It’s just that I have a sense that he is very close right now.”

…”He has had two bad innings in the last two starts and the one bad inning (in a no-decision at Tampa Bay) was just a three-run home run,” Torre said. “The (fourth inning) in Chicago was a bad inning, that (in Tampa Bay) was not a bad inning, just a bad pitch. I am just feeling that he is much closer than he ever has been (since being here) of being back on the dominant side.”

Wright pitches on Saturday, Leiter on Sunday making this an especially important start for the Big Unit. I will agree with Torre here and say that he’ll be on his A-game this evening.

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1 pmarcig   ~  Aug 26, 2005 5:55 am

1.  Agreed. Unit needs to start being "The Big" sometime really soon now...like yesterday. And come on, can the Royals batter Schilling and Johnson on consecutive nights? (Don't answer that). Also, is there anyone that has posted recently, our starters stats over the last 2-3 weeks?

2 JVarghese81   ~  Aug 26, 2005 6:02 am

2.  http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/StartingInfo.py?StartDate=08%2F05%2F2005&EndDate=08%2F26%2F2005&GameType=all&PlayedVs=0&Park=0&PlayerID=9

Cut & Paste my man - this is for the last 3 weeks but should be the info that you're looking for - just change the date accordingly - Dave Pinto's DbyD database is AWESOME.

3 JVarghese81   ~  Aug 26, 2005 6:07 am

3.  For a synopis - from 8/05 until now (8/26) - stats from the starters.
ERA: 3.52
Win Pct.: .714
K per 9: 7.1
BB per 9: 2.7
HR per 9: 1.15
K/BB: 2.68

Worst performances - 8/6, 8/21 - RJ and 8/24 by Moose.

4 Shaun P   ~  Aug 26, 2005 6:19 am

4.  Speaking of pitching - if any of our new heroes, including O, flops, we may not need Nomo to help us out:

"The right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who has missed seven weeks with shoulder inflammation, will make his first rehabilitation start on Monday for Class AAA Columbus."

Is there somewhere online I could 'watch' that game - even just a gameday like play by play - 'cause I'm definitely interested to see how Wang does.

5 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 26, 2005 6:57 am

5.  I haven't heard mention of Mel Stottlemeyer's incompetence in a while. Does he get credit when things are going well?

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 26, 2005 7:36 am

6.  Bravo, Nick, I've been meaning to ask the same. Chacon, Small, Wright, to a lesser degree Leiter (two of his best starts of the year bookending his Yankee stay thus far), all have pitched way above expectations. Scott Proctor has been better than expected too, especially in his spot start. So what do we think of Stottlemeyer now?

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 26, 2005 7:38 am

7.  Another interesting stat from Pinto's database, as linked to by JVarghese81, is that Yankee starters have hit 13 men in the last 20 games.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:00 am

8.  As Chris Maddog Russo would say, "Excellent point, Nicky, excellent point." Cliff, that's worthy of a post. Or at least mentioning it to Steve Goldman for him to write something about it. He's always been a Mel Stott fan.

On that note, I read in one of the threads recently that Jeter's defensive rate stats are even better than last year. Funny how we forget to give credit where credit is due sometimes (and I'm as guilty as the next guy).

Also, after a terrible start, Rodriguez has been very solid at third. And, after yesterday's article by McCarron, Jorge had a great game, base-running aside. Did you catch what Jeter said?

From The Daily News:

But after Jorge Posada (3-for-3) led off the sixth with a double and Jeter drove him in with a triple to the left-center field alley, there was a little more cushion. Jeter came around to score the final run on Hideki Matsui's single to right.

"I was thinking triple all the way," Jeter said with a playful smile. "It's good, too, because it usually takes a triple to score Jorge."

That's about as colorful as you'll ever get from Jeter: catch it.

Lastly, hopeful news about Wang, huh?

9 Dan M   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:01 am

9.  I wonder if the HBP is due to wildness or a more aggressive approach towards hitters who crowd, or both. Or just one of those random things. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts through the 11th.

10 Dimelo   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:02 am

10.  JVarghese81 great website. I love it. I did a query to find out the Yankees win % from the 5th of July. They are at .625 and the Sux are at a .567 win %. This just goes to show you how well this team has overcome the adverse position they put themselves in earlier in the year.

Nick from Washington Heights great point. People are so quick to blame Mel and Torre and criticize their moves, but they've done a great job. I'm one of the few, at least it feels like that these days, that believes this is some of the best work Torre has ever done. This team has had to overcome terrible CF defense, suspect pitching for most of the year and tons of terrible losses to teams that are not their equal (i.e Brewers, Royals and Devil Rays). Torre is the calm before and after the storm, but still has the presence of mind to instill in this team the sense of urgency that is required of them. I'm Torre believer, I don't think Pinella would ever be any good with this current Yankee team. Go Yanks!!!

11 Murray   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:11 am

11.  "I was thinking triple all the way," Jeter said with a playful smile. "It's good, too, because it usually takes a triple to score Jorge."

Sure, when Jeter says it about Posada, it's fine. But when Mel Hall said it about Bernie, everybody got upset...

Just kidding, folks.

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:20 am

12.  Rodriguez has been great at third in recent months, especially since Pavano hit the DL. ;) But he was so bad over the first few months that his rate is still solidly below average (96). Still, he's been playing like a Gold Glover there of late.

Jeter's rate is 105, the only time he's been over 100 (average) in his career and he's well above 100 to boot. Last three years: 82, 99, 105. Wow!

By the way, Cano's a 98 at second, which is solid considering his 12 errors (Placido Polanco has 18 total in his 8 year career, then again Alfonso Soriano has 19 already this year). With a little work on his focus he should be comfortably over 100.

13 Dan-el   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:28 am

13.  Just thought I'd round out the infield Rate stats.

Giambi: 82 (somehow I had deluded myself into thinking that he wasn't THAT bad out there)

Tino: 92 (the days of his near-Gold-Glove defense are well behind him)

14 markp   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:37 am

14.  In re Mel getting credit:
Small learned under the AAA pitching coach before he was promoted.
Chacon went to Mussina to help him with his gameplan.
I don't see how either of them shows Mel in a good light. If anything, Chacon's choice may indicate Mel's shortcomings are known as far west as Colorado.

What's the formula for infield rate stats?

15 JohnnyC   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:41 am

15.  Why shouldn't Brian Cashman get the majority of the credit for the improved fortunes of the pitching staff? After all, Wang, Small, Chacon, and Leiter are here primarily because of him. And Wright's remarkable return has already been credited to Billy Connors by Torre himself. And the bullpen is still a mess, created by the misuse and abuse that is the trademark of Torre and Mel over the last few years. The question is still out there: name one successful young pitcher developed by Torre and Mel in this 10 year run. Even Steve Goldman concedes that point.

16 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:47 am

16.  I've said it before: When the pitching staff goes well suddenly Mel's critics are reliant on anecdotes they heard on YES. When the pitching is poor, it's all Mel. Of course there is a combination of factors in both cases. Why is it that Mel's detractors fail to acknowledge that he might actually have a good influence on certain pitchers?

Any theories about why Jeter has improved so much over the last two years? I wonder whether A-Rod's presence has anything to do with it. I think my biggest problem with Jeter in the past was his inability to get balls to the left. Could it be that A-Rod does such a good job of ranging to his left that Jeter is able to cheat toward 2nd base more?

17 ChuckM   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:51 am

17.  How may players have the Yanks devloped in this 10 year run, PERIOD? Kinda tough to develop guys when u have an owner drooling over every free-agent each offseason...

18 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:52 am

18.  anyone know if milton bradley cleared waivers? with the drama taking place in LA-LA land, he sure would look nice in pinstripes for the stretch. and if not, maybe this means he's tradeable for for 2006 while Melky gets another season in AAA.

or is the consensus that Melky's starting in CF next year, ready or not?

IMO, Cashman gets the credit. He promoted Wang (despite Torre/Mel's hesitation), steal of the trade-deadline in Chacon (even if he regresses over time), and he identified and got Leiter, even while convincing Florida to pay the bulk of the salary, while not going after Sele and at least not promoting Nomo. Small was just plain luck. Nobody really deserves credit for luck. (it wasn't the Brach Rickey residue of design kind)

19 Shaun P   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:52 am

19.  Nick (and everyone else), I'm on the fence when it comes to Mel Stott, but if I was a Mel-hater, I'm guessing my response would go something like:

1. Leiter has pitched well in only 4 of his 8 starts
2. Wright pitched well his last 2 starts; don't forget his first 4 starts back in April
3. Small pitched very well 3 starts, not so well in the other (5.1IP 5H 3R 4BB 3K = 5.06ERA)
4. Chacon has been very good in all 6 of his starts

So that's: 15 good starts, 9 bad. But if you eliminate the other-worldly Chacon: 9 good, 9 bad. And this doesn't include the streaky Moose and undependable Unit, for whom Mel also shares credit and blame.

Again, I'm not a Mel-hater, and I'm really happy with how Small, Leiter, Chacon, and Wrighty have done lately - certainly over expectations - but I'm just saying . . .

20 justin   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:57 am

20.  How much of that credit should be given to Kerrigan and his "Advanced Scouting". I've been reading all the comments here everyday and it seems to me (though my mind is probably deceiving me) that a lot of the Mel bashing stopped after Kerrigan's arrival. We read about the Unit talking to him for 30 minutes about his mechanics, where have we read that about Mel with anyone.

21 Shaun P   ~  Aug 26, 2005 8:58 am

21.  Joe, I like Bradley's CF play and his offense, but he just went on the DL and is likely going to miss the rest of this year and maybe part of '06 as well.

22 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:02 am

22.  Nick, It seems rather coincidental that Jeter's defense, at age 30 and 31 seasons, suddenly improved drastically (rather than declining, which is more common, at least by age 32-33) when a GG SS began playing 3B right next to him.

I think he's positioned more to the right.

Although, I have to admit, I don't know the "rate" stat Cliff and Dan-el quote. Jeter's Zone Rating hasn't changed much (.789-.855 over his career), he's at .818 this year, which makes sense. He's not getting to more batted balls, just more of the ones to the right, leaving some of those to the left to ARod.

23 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:03 am

23.  I dont' know what the defensive statistics say about Rodriguez's range, but it seems to me that he's got a lot more than Ventura or even Brosius. I don't recall that being Brosius' strong suit especially. I don't think Rodriguez has spectacular range but he's probably good enough in that department to have lent Jeter a hand being able to cheat up the middle.

24 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:04 am

24.  Didn't know Bradley went on the DL, Shaun. Thanks. Too bad for the Yankees.

25 ChuckM   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:10 am

25.  From the NY Times: Carl Pavano, who worked with Stottlemyre on mechanics after giving up four homers to the Mariners on May 11, bounced back with a five-hit shutout in Seattle on Tuesday night.

Al Leiter in Newsday Aug 8: "I get amped up. I rush and I don't allow my arm to get up to a decent release point," he said. "But I worked with Mel on being a little more deliberate. I feel comfortable with Mel. I told him, if you see anything wrong, tell me. It won't hurt my feelings."

From the Aug 9th Star Ledger: Sturtze got some help from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who worked with the pitcher on his mechanics before the game.

"It was great that Joe called on me, because I wanted to get back out there," Sturtze said. "Toronto was so awful, and I wanted to get that taste out of my mouth."

You can read all about people working w/Mel on their mechanics-try looking for it...

26 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:22 am

26.  Shaun P., I'm actually not sure what to think about Mel either. That said, for some reason it bothers me that the line of argument that many Mel critics have used in the past seems very one-sided. If you're going to say that Mel is influential in the bad cases and not influential in the good cases then you've set up a very winnable argument for yourself.

Suppose I think that Wang is a young pitcher that did very well under Mel's tutelage. Well, Mel's critics have set up a sure-fire way to discredit that argument. It was the way his minor league pitching coach dealt with him that contributed to his success. What about the wonder that has been Mariano's healthy career? Well, Mariano is Mariano. He's basically a diety and he didn't need help. And Aaron Small's performance against major league hitters? Well, that's his minor league coach again. Mel hasn't even spoken to him since he got to the Big Show.

27 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 26, 2005 9:34 am

27.  Enough of this wild card talk! It's time to dust these Boston punks but good. Let's start by unmercifully disposing of KC and then running roughshod over OAK & SEA a la May '05. By 9/12, I want to see the stars re-align w/ the Bombers back atop the AL East.
Let Curt Blowhard and his Idiots spend September trying to hold on to a post season spot.

Would there be anything sweeter than officially eliminating those punks from postseason contention in their own park the last series of the year?

(Yeah, I put the cart before the horse. So what!)

28 Dimelo   ~  Aug 26, 2005 10:00 am

28.  It's funny, I only started hearing and reading about all the criticism about Mel after the book, The Bad Guys Won, by Jeff Pearlman was published. It was there that the first big criticism of Mel was produced and how he destroyed Doc Gooden. Lest we forget that Doc was doing more lines than Tony Montana in the final scene of Scarface.

Mel is an easy target, Clemens and Pettite thought the world of him, but like Nick from the Heights said, the naysayers
always put themselves in a pretty favorable position to knock him down and diminish what he's done.

29 Shaun P   ~  Aug 26, 2005 10:11 am

29.  Nick, I think that's why I'm on the fence with Mel. There certainly seems to be convincing evidence that he's not a good pitching coach . . . but, like you say, anything contrary to that conclusion always gets brushed aside.

I like sabermetrics so much because it lets me look at the information and made the conclusions on my own. When people discuss Mel, here and elsewhere, too often we're told the conclusion first - he sucks - and then the evidence is stacked to support that conclusion. I'd rather just get the objective evidence of both good and bad, and figure it out for myself.

Jay Jaffe and Steven Goldman were supposed to do something like that - at least the Pinstriped Bible/Blog said so once - but then it never happened. Maybe this offseason?

30 rbj   ~  Aug 26, 2005 10:51 am

30.  Are Small, Leiter, Chacon something to be given credit for, or are they just good luck. Sort of like Wang, Pavano, Wright going on the DL bad luck.
Brown getting hurt wasn't due to any sort of luck, that was eminently predictable.

At this point, for the playoffs, is Chacon the #1 starter?

31 brockdc   ~  Aug 26, 2005 10:53 am

31.  Two things:

First, I refuse to believe that Torre has been a plus this year. His calming influence has been negated by too many enigmatic and ill-conceived on-field moves (starting Womack so frequently, his poor use of the pen, et. al.).

Secondly, I really have no idea how much influence Mel has on his pitching staffs - good, bad, or indiferent. Still, I've always been alarmed at the number of former Yankee pitchers who go on to post significant improvements elsewhere, away from Mel and NY (Contreras, Javy, Claussen, Halsey, Clemens, Lilly, Marte, Weaver, and on, and on...). And, I don't know if this is commonplace, but what does it say when some of your top pitchers get tutelage from outside sources (Kerrigan with Johnson and Pettite's dad with Pettite)?

32 Dimelo   ~  Aug 26, 2005 11:16 am

32.  brockdc -
Some of those pitchers you list there weren't with Mel long enough or there wasn't a place for them in the rotation.
For example, Marte got traded to the Pirates for Enrique Wilson he didn't play enough for Mel at the major league level. Claussen pitched, I believe, one game for the Yankees. Halsey's another one that didn't play any significant amount of time under Mel, there was no room for Lilly when he was playing, Contreras sucked from the begining - hard to blame that on Mel. Clemens won a Cy Young - w/ Mel as his pitching coach.

33 Murray   ~  Aug 26, 2005 11:51 am

33.  Before counting certain guys as being improved as the result of leaving Mel's watchful eye, discount the stats to reflect the Yankees' poor fielding numbers. I'm not sure that Contreras has improved much, but his fielders certainly catch better.

The crime against pitching for which Stottlemyre is continually retried is Dwight Gooden. Stottlemyre's big sin was excessive concern with Gooden's ability to hold baserunners, but he didn't notice that there weren't any. It led to a noticeable change in Gooden's mechanics. As with everything, however, a confluence of factors affected Gooden: workload, immaturity, drug use, and, yes, Stottlemyre. At the time, nearly nobody in baseball worried about babying the arms of young pitchers. Who except for Weaver believed that the best way to develop starters by making them into long relievers first? Sabermetricians were starting to count pitches because they hadn't been counted before, but nobody truly knew what do do with the information.

Without consulting any reference sources, these are players developed by the Yankees over the past ten years:

Derek Jeter
Jorge Posada
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Nick Johnson
Eric Milton
Alfonso Soriano
Brad Halsey
Brandon Claussen
D'Angelo Jimenez
Robinson Cano
Dioner Navarro
Yhency Brazoban

With a few exceptions, the noteworthy thing about the list is how good the Yankees have been at identifying the best players in the bunch to keep for themselves.

34 jedi   ~  Aug 26, 2005 11:53 am

34.  Sidenote...

Season Stats:
Javier Vazquez
10-12 4.67ERA 148K 34BB 1.26 WHIP
Brad Halsey
8-10 4.39ERA 79K 34BB 1.46WHIP
Randy Johnson
11-8 4.34ERA 167K 34BB 1.22WHIP

I remember in the beginning of the season there were alot of people saying, "Look at the game Halsey is pitching...", "Look at how good Vazquez has been..." Every post seem to bring down the notion that Johnson wasn't worth it. Did we really make a worthwhile trade?

Well, if you look at the numbers recently vazquez/halsey's seasons seem mediocure after all. Vasquez seems to have reverted back to his last year self with his poor second half, and Halsey is proving everyday he is a project with his inconsistency. The diamondbacks pitchers are in the weakest division in baseball while the yankee pitchers are battling it out in one of the toughests divisions. Dont give me the old line that "their young, johnson is old, they will develop" because vazquez and halsey have seen the big lights in NY and now the little lights in Arizona and nothing has seemed to changed in my mind. They seem like the frail pitchers we have seen all along. Let's just admit they will always be projects while Johnson will always be the show!

Yes, Johnson has had one horrible inning coupled with a few bad pitches thrown at the wrong time. Yes, he has shown this season that he has been sub par from his previous years. But one thing I am glad about is that we have him going into september where it matters most. Just knowing he can shutdown a team anytime is good enough for me. Just knowing he is taking the mound against the sox later this season will get me hyped. Just knowing that he is a winner will let me keep on believing. The stats may not reflect that this year, but I just have a gut feeling he is not going out like that. Johnson will prove that stats do not define a season but moments. He is due for a big moment. The unit is on the hill tonite. Shut the critics up and give 'em hell!

35 Joe in NYC   ~  Aug 26, 2005 12:02 pm

35.  brockdc, I agree with Dimelo, but also, I would hardly say that Vazquez and Weaver have posted significant improvments. Vazquez had an ERA+ of 92 last year, 93 this year. Weaver had an ERA+ of 108 and then 73 with the Yanks, then 103 his first year with LAD, 97 this year (I think I calculated this year's right). The point is, they are not exactly shutting down the league.

36 Dimelo   ~  Aug 26, 2005 12:14 pm

36.  Also, RJ was consistently clocked last year with a fastball that was at 95 - 97 MPH. This year it's usually around 91 - 93. His slider hangs more than it breaks down and in on righties. RJ suffered through a calf injury in spring training, he's been scratched a couple of times from the rotation, it's pretty hard in my book to blame any of that on Mel or Torre. The guy is just old and his pitches look like piñatas. BUT Tonight, RJ is going to right the ship. Tonight he'll pitch like the 15 million dollar man we thought we were getting. Tonight...the Yankees will win.

37 rilkefan   ~  Aug 26, 2005 12:20 pm

37.  "At this point, for the playoffs, is Chacon the #1 starter?"

I expect we'll be in a race down to the wire and whoever's up will start game 1. That said, I'd imagine Torre would try to shade things so Chacon would happen to be the guy up - or anyway I would. Though if Moose gets it together (not unlikely) or RJ does (seems unlikely) that would change. Chacon is still riding a small sample size.

38 Dan M   ~  Aug 26, 2005 2:07 pm

38.  Speaking of revisiting arguments, remember when everyone was pleased that Ruben Sierra was "mentoring" Cano? Steve Goldman's latest PB today reminded me why I was afraid of Ruben's influence (remember, my problem was that it was reported that Ruben was giving him hitting advice, and I thought Ruben had too many bad habits to be coaching anyone on that subject; I had no problem with Ruben giving him "adjusting to the big leagues" advice). Steve writes:

"Cano sees an average of 3.01 pitches per plate appearance. There have been 368 players in the majors this year who have had at least 125 plate appearances. Three-hundred and sixty-seven of them have looked at more pitches per plate appearance than has Cano. He is dead last."

And please don't tell me that "Cano's slumping because Ruben's in Tampa."

39 randym77   ~  Aug 26, 2005 2:20 pm

39.  I'm not so confident in RJ. But hopefully this time, Torre will have a quicker hook if there's a meltdown. Small is nice and rested...

40 Shawn Clap   ~  Aug 26, 2005 2:47 pm

40.  Watch for Andrew Sisco out of the Royals bullpen this weekend. He's a Rule 5 kid that the Yanks need to make an all-out push for in the off-season.

He's a 6'10" lefty and I can only think of one other player that fits that description. But imagine getting him BEFORE his prime, not 3 years after the fact.

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