"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Yankee Panky: Paralysis By Analysis?

The past 10 days have seen an immense range of stories leapfrog to the forefront of New York sports fans’ collective consciousness. In no particular order, with some analysis and commentary mixed in…

• The Yankees slashed prices for the primo seats, an altruistic move that still leaves many of us thinking, “You know, you have your own network, and it’s on my cable system. I’ll contribute to your bottom line that way and I won’t feel like I got stabbed in the wallet.”

• Alex Rodriguez did everything necessary in extended spring training and returned to the lineup Friday. He punctuated the return with a home run on the first pitch he saw, thus fulfilling his job as the media-anointed savior of the team’s season. He proceeded to go 1-for-10 with two strikeouts in the remainder of the series, and perhaps fearing aggravating the hip injury, didn’t hustle down the line to run out a ground ball, thus reclaiming his role as the team’s most prominent punching bag.

• The Yankees lost two straight to the Red Sox at home and have lost the first five meetings of the season. (Sound the alarms! Head for the hills! There’s no way the Yankees can win the division without beating the Red Sox! Except that they can, and they have. In 2004, the Yankees went 1-6 in their first seven games against the BoSox, ended up losing the season series 8-11 and still finished 101-61 to win the American League East by three games.)

• Joba Chamberlain 1: His mother was arrested for allegedly selling crystal meth to an undercover officer. Following Chamberlain’s own brushes with the law during the offseason, it stood to reason that the tabloids attacked this story like starving coyotes. It’s remarkable that he was able to pitch at all given the negative attention he received.

• Joba Chamberlain 2: Flash back to Aug. 13, 2007. Chamberlain struck out Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff in a crucial late-inning at-bat to end the inning and in the heat of the moment pumped his fist in exultation. Yesterday, following a three-run home run in the first inning that gave the O’s a 3-1 lead, Huff mocked Chamberlain’s emotional outburst with his own fist pump, first while rounding first base, and again when crossing home plate. Apparently, Mr. Huff holds grudges. Thanks to the New York Daily News’s headline, “MOCKING BIRD” with a photo of the home-plate celebration, this story will have wings when Baltimore comes to the Bronx next week. Even better, as it currently stands, Chamberlain is due to start in the series finale on Thursday the 21st. Get ready for a rash of redux stories leading up to that game.

• Mariano Rivera surrendered back-to-back home runs for the first time in his career last Wednesday night, a clear signal that something is wrong. Maybe.

• The team as a whole. The Yankees are 15-16 through 31 games, and some rabid fans (the “Spoiled Set,” as Michael Kay likes to call them; the group of fans between ages 18-30 that only knows first-place finishes for the Yankees) are calling for Joe Girardi’s head. As in the above note on the Red Sox, some context is required. The Yankees’ records through 31 games this decade:

2000: 22-9 (finished 87-74, won AL East)
2001: 18-13 (finished 95-65, won AL East)
2002: 18-13 (finished 103-58, won AL East)
2003: 23-8 (finished 101-61, won AL East)
2004: 18-13 (finished 101-61, won AL East)
2005: 12-19 (finished 95-67, won AL East)
2006: 19-12 (finished 97-65, won AL East)
2007: 15-16 (finished 94-68, won AL Wild Card)
2008: 15-16 (finished 89-73, missed playoffs)
2009: 15-16 (finish TBD)

No one is going to make excuses for the team with the billion dollar stadium and the highest payroll, least of all your trusted scribes here at the Banter. Looking at the last three years — including 2009 — it should be noted that similar issues of injury, age, and woes throughout the pitching staff have befallen the Yankees.

But in the same way announcers like to tout the “baseball card theory” with players who get off to slow starts and end up reaching or eclipsing their career averages, it stands to reason that the Yankees will reach at least 90 wins despite their slow start and myriad problems. A closer examination of the above list reveals that the Yankees averaged 92.7 wins per season in the three years they reached the 31-game threshold at or below .500. That is a testament to the overall talent of the players, and to the manager. It may not have made a difference if Joe Girardi, Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, Larry Bowa or Lou Piniella was managing this team. Given everything, a 15-16 record might be the best this team could have achieved to this point. As Joe Auriemma wrote on YESNetwork.com last week, you are what your record says you are.

• The release date for Selena Roberts’ biography on Alex Rodriguez was jumped to last Monday, May 4. The local broadcasters had a field day with the reviews (more on this below).

The combination of all those stories led to information and sensory overload. The dead horse couldn’t have been beaten any more, on any story. The question I tried to answer in examining all of this was: Which story was covered the best?

The winner: the Selena Roberts A-Rod book fallout. Taking a panoramic view — I can’t examine this with a magnifying glass since I haven’t read the book yet — the analysis not only of the book but of Roberts’ journalism was excellent. It got me thinking that the New York media are at their best when they attempt to discredit someone.

An invasive round of questioning regarded the issue of pitch tipping. To wit: On his interview with Roberts, SNY’s Gary Apple rightly asked who her sources were regarding incidents she documented during A-Rod’s time in Texas. Roberts answered, “They’re people who would know. Obviously I can’t tell you who they were. … They were people (with the Rangers) who saw him every day.” Apple followed by asking if she was as confident in the pitch tipping story as she was in A-Rod’s steroid usage. She said, “Absolutely.” Apple asked the tough questions and Roberts volleyed them right back, a theme throughout her New York junket.

Perhaps the most contentious interview came last Monday on WFAN, when Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton questioned Roberts’ overall credibility based on her coverage of the Duke Lacrosse case when she was a New York Times columnist. The morning duo agreed that Roberts covered the Duke case in a one-sided manner (DISCLAIMER: That is not my opinion; I am recounting the Boomer and Carton opinion), but while Esiason couldn’t get past that, Carton believed Roberts was the authority on A-Rod’s steroid usage, based on her February report in Sports Illustrated.

The additional details of the book angered the hosts. Esiason asked about the purpose of the book, and Carton asked her if she had “an axe to grind” with Rodriguez and was seeking to get wealthy based on the book’s salacious contents. Both grilled Roberts on the pitch tipping and asked if the other acts — wearing a Yankee hat into a strip club and tipping 15% at Hooter’s — were worth inclusion. All were valid questions, and Roberts, to her credit, defended herself without getting defensive. She even took the high road, giving Esiason and Carton credit for making good points, when the hosts weren’t necessarily as willing to give her points. Esiason, his words dripping with sarcasm, remarked, “Maybe Alex Rodriguez will read this book and take something out of it to turn his life around.” Roberts’ response: “You know, that’s a great point.” Esiason cut her off before she could finish the sentence and said, “Let’s not get crazy there, Selena.” Was the condescension necessary?

On the national front, Allen Barra’s review at Salon.com, which Diane Firstman excerpted in this space on Saturday, was spot-on in terms of his analysis of her knowledge base of PEDs, advanced stats, and standard operating procedure of the players’ union. All are subjects which Roberts should have researched in depth, especially if they enhanced the message she was trying to send through the book.

The Bob Costas MLB Network interview did little but leave one to wonder why MLB would devote an hour program to a book that, on the surface, destroys the legacy of one of its greatest players (prior to his steroid usage).

Roberts’ SI colleague Tom Verducci, himself the author of a controversial Yankee book that took Alex Rodriguez to task, predictably defended her protection of anonymous sources.

There was one hole for me in all the coverage: there was, in some cases, an overt gender bias in the analysis. In particular, the Esiason-Carton interview at times reeked of a “she’s a woman and shouldn’t be allowed in the locker room” tone. If we’re looking to get answers and call out your interview subject’s credibility, presenting your own agenda during the process does nothing to enhance your own credibility.

And why did no reporter, writer, or talkie comment on Girardi’s statement of “I don’t understand why anyone would write a book like that?” Girardi has an engineering degree from Northwestern. He played arguably the most intellectual position on the baseball field during his career. He is a smart man, yet he made himself sound like a simpleton. Worse, Girardi painted Roberts in a dark light without having read the book or talking to Roberts to get the full story.

Do you agree or disagree with the assessments above? Which story was the preeminent story of the past two weeks? Are you tired of all of it? Which was covered the best and why? Your feedback is respected and appreciated.

Until next week …


Show/Hide Comments 1-100
1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  May 12, 2009 7:46 am

Awesome post Will, thanks.

The Roberts book..I am not so familiar with the whole Duke incident (in fact, had not heard of Roberts before this whole thing erupted a few months ago), so would like to think I am coming to it as "objectively" as possible. I'll probably read the book at some point down the line (when it's $2 used paperback) but the whole pitch-tipping thing..this really sounds absurd. NO ONE ever talked about this before? A-Rod left Texas 5 years ago..not ONE team mate who had a grudge leaked anything to anyone?? It just seems way, way too implausible.

Oh, and even if we made the playoffs in previous years with similar starts..it doesn't make it any easier to watch right now..

in happier news, the great veteran Kanemoto Tomohito of the Hanshin Tigers (who recently joined the famed 2000 hit club here) just won the game with an opposite-field "Sayonara" home run! Broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the 9th. Very exciting, now time for some sake with the lady then off to bed, dreaming of a Burnett no-no and 4 taters from A-Rod tomorrow morning..

2 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 8:46 am

it stands to reason that the Yankees will reach at least 90 wins despite their slow start and myriad problems.

Which should put them in line for third place in the AL East. The problem with your trip down memory lane and first 31 games, is that 6 of the eight times the Yankees made the playoffs, they had a winning record through the first 31 games. In 2005, they were playing like crap, but had a legitimately great offense with an average pitching staff. And after compiling an 11-19 record, they reeled off 10 wins in a row. Interestingly, the Yankees today rely on 5 of the starting 9 from that 2005 team for offense and only two pitchers.

I'm no longer consoled by the fact that they squeaked into the playoffs once with a mediocre start. The construction of this team is pretty appalling once you get past the shiny superstars up front. WTF is Angel Berroa still doing on this team? Bret Tomko? Yay, we've got Casey Fossum in AAA. There's having a bench be decimated by injuries, but then there's just deliberate sabotage.

And Cliff's 25-man on the sidebar is actually 26, Robertson got sent down (which still leaves 1relief pitcher too many when there's three legit horses in the starting rotation). Why is a 24-yo AA relief pitcher using a spot on the 40-man? Is Dunn really that desireable?

3 PJ   ~  May 12, 2009 8:46 am

Hey Will! Welcome back! I'll try to contribute something to each of your most astute pernts...

* They get you either coming or going! For now, I'm sticking to my DirecTV access to YES, MLBEI, and in the event of FOX and/or ESRSN blackouts, MLB Gameday Audio on the computer.

* Considering the amazing fact that Alex was operated on a mere six weeks prior to his first game back, coupled with roughly one week of baseball activities, and against A ball to Rookie ball levels, all of our fears were realized, as clearly he's returned too soon and is still well within his time frame for ST. Still, his game-winning hit off of the first pitch he saw this season, will be the stuff of legend, as time goes by.

* I'd rather not discuss the Red Sox and their abounding luck at this pernt in their season. It's simply got to catch up to them sooner or later, preferably on their west coast road trip and other road games, unless they are going to be the 1998 Yankees, which I shudder to even think about.

* I would argue that Joba Chamberlain, despite all of his scrutiny, has begun a career that is actually better than Roger Clemens. If he can remain somewhat shielded from the media, and pitches with both blinders and earplugs, he will continue to improve, rather than succumb to the pressure of those outside influences.

* Aubrey Huff is a lame assed schlub, languishing in the obscurity of playing his career for a terrible Tampa team, and now a terrible B'more team. His stunt, which was obviously a feeble attempt to show up Joba, was something that smacked of a scene from "Mean Girls," rather than something from a MLB "veteran," considering Joba's displays of emotion are the result of successfully handling adversity from time to time in a fashion more consistent with Wayne Gretzky, who always pumped his fist after each of his trillion goals, when IIRC, he actually lost many of those games. IF it can be said that "The Great One" was deliberately showing up his opponents, than I would agree with the Joba bashers. If not, than I see nothing the matter with what Joba, Gretzky, Kirk Gibson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, etc. do in their respective sports (see also the NBA, NFL, etc.).

* Blaming Girardi for the Yankees sub par performances to date is like blaming William here for the same. He's still sticking pins in his handmade Girardi doll as I type this...

* As far as Roberts' book, I find it highly ironic that it's debut was reduced to back page tabloid relevancy, since Manny's suspension simply crushed it under foot.

Clearly, Manny's failed urinanalysis, not only taints his career, that coupled with Lou Merloni's "disclosure" of his time with the Duke-led-Red Sox, additionally undeniably taints RSN's two recent titles. I would state, without fear of contradiction, that is the "Number One Story" of this season to date.

: )

4 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 8:58 am

One thing that isn't being sufficiently noted, I believe, is that the Yankees are not having an offense problem. They're on pace to score 900 runs, with no significant contribution from A-Rod so far. Sure, Cano will contribute less than his numbers so far indicate, and so will Melky, but Teixeira is bound to increase his productivity, Posada will be back (knock on wood), and Alex will plaster a bunch of runs on the scoreboard.

The real question is the pitching. If Sabathia has a typical season and Wang can come back, the Yankees should still be one of the best teams in baseball.

There are a lot of "if"s buried in those thoughts, needless to say.

I can't agree about the "construction of the team", by the way. Yes, Angel Berroa is a bad player, and Cervelli is playing way, way over his head. But the back-up infielder on this team is Pena (let's pass over Cody Ransom in silence), not Berroa, and he's both good and cheap. The fourth OF, don't forget, is Nick Swisher, who was also the expected pinch hitter. And the back-up catcher was to be Molina. So the bench, as constructed, was quite a bit better than years past. As it stands now (do benches stand?), it's weak, because of injuries. All teams have that problem at some point, unless they're exceptionally lucky.

5 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 9:04 am

I was hoping last year would have ended the "The Yankees are allowed to shit the bed for the first two months of the season because they always turn it around!" argument

6 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 9:14 am

"thus reclaiming his role as the team’s most prominent punching bag."

Was Arod lambasted for that? If so, I missed it.

Also, you don't have to be a member of the "Spoiled Set" to think it's time for a new leader of the Yankees. Unless you think the Yankees have lived up to their potential over the past 1+ seasons, then it's perfectly reasonable to look to the top for answers. Condescending arguments like the one you presented are pretty weak at best.

Finally, no sympathy for Roberts on the Esiason interview. Her hatchett job and continued application of low brow journalistic standards make her ripe for just treatment. As for Girardi questioning why someone would write such a book...it may be simple, but it's nice to see someone ask the question. The reason, of course, is obvious...MONEY. Girardi may be naive, but that's a criticism often leveled against people with integrity...and one that Roberts doesn't have to worry about.

7 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 9:18 am

[3] No Girardi doll...I definitely don't wish evil on him...I just don't think he gets a free pass for a very talented team underperforming for 1 season + 30 games. I am sorry, but the injury lament doesn't cut it.

8 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 9:21 am

The fourth OF, don’t forget, is Nick Swisher

In April he was the 4th OFer, but Gardner was the starting CFer, too and looked how that played out. I had no doubts that even without an injury, Nady would have been outplayed. Swisher is the better player.

Regardless, Berroa is still using up a roster spot for no good reason (as is Brett Gardner, IMO [and, to a much lesser extent, Matsui, unless he can actually play passable OF D by June]).

it’s weak, because of injuries.

When the core of a team is in it's mid-30s, there are always going to be injuries. I don't think that's a valid excuse. Losing that extra one or two guys in addition to the fluke injuries is what really hurts. Guys in their mid-30s get hurt playing baseball regardless of the previous injury histories. It's a matter when, not if.

9 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 9:41 am

[7] Girardi's moves drive me nuts. I've said it here before and gotten shouted down, but it really seems like he periodically gets bored and decides to make a move regardless of whether or not it makes one damned lick of sense.

That and the old "lie for the sake of lying" Girardi occasionally shows up again. Last week, A-Rod shook hands, thanked everyone, packed his bags and left Tampa for Baltimore. That same day, hours later, Girardi was still pretending he didn't know if A-Rod was playing the next day. Why? What on earth did he accomplish?

With all that being said, I still think the Yankees biggest problem is a front office that is quick to dismiss red flags, slow to admit mistakes, and so desperate to be thought of as "brilliant" that they constantly try to get blood from a stone.

10 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 9:41 am

without going through a complete rehash, I don't see how Girardi gets "blame" for 89 wins last year. If anything, that team should have won less games than they did.

11 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 9:53 am

[9] I could care less about how Girardi handles the media, but his game management skills are definitely questionable.

[10] You can give him credit for 89 wins all you want. When I examine the 2008 season, I look at a 77-70 record on September 13 (11 games behind the lead). The fact that the team went 12-4 while playing out the string impresses me almost as much as they're great Spring record.

It took the Yankees until June 12 to finally put .500 in the rear view mirror; if it takes that long, and Girardi is still at the reigns, then the Yankees deserve their fate.

12 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 9:59 am

[11] They're = their in illiterate-ese.

13 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 10:01 am

[11] I'm not saying he deserved Manager of the Year last year or anything, but as constructed that was a 90 win team at best. And that's pretty much what they ended up being. Playoff teams don't give Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, Carl Pavano, and Ian Kennedy a combined 51 starts.

14 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 10:04 am

[11] I just don't understand the fucking point. And I think this obsession with tricking everyone has permeated his in game management. No one would ever expect him to pinch hit with Brett Gardner in a flyball situation, so that's the way to go. No one would ever expect him to pinch run for the trail runner with fucking Wilson Betemit and then not even put on a play, so its a genius idea. If no one thinks he'd actually use Edwar Ramirez in this spot, here he comes!

Because we need to trick everyone.

15 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:08 am

[13] I realize it's really hard to quantify the value added by a manager, but what do you think is Girardi's strong suit? Is it game management? Loyalty among his players? His ability to provide a calm environment in the clubhouse? The way he deflects media scrutiny? His talent evaluation?

What is it? And, if he doesn't have one yet, at what point should we expect him to exhibit it.

16 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:09 am

[15] Just to further the point...very quickly in their regimes, we knew Torre could handle a clubhouse and Showalter could manage a game. You could also weigh those strengths against the make up of the team. Right now, I don't know what Girardi's strength is.

17 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:12 am

[14] I am not sure what the point is...maybe he is trying to give teams as little time to prepare as possible. Qutie frankly, I don't really care though because I don't think it impacts the team or has any relation to how he manages a game.

18 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 10:20 am

[15] As far as loyalty among players and/or clubhouse calmness, I can't speak to those points any better than you can. We are yet to hear of any sort of rumblings of a mutiny in the clubhouse, so I can only think that that's not really an issue. Sure there have been moments (the candy ban comes to mind) but I don't think anything that has been a huge deal.

Deflection of media scrutiny? It's managing the New York Yankees, nothing outside of Boston and maybe Chicago compares to it. On that front I think he's shown steady improvement from the beginning of last year. Is he Joe Torre with the media? No, Torre was the master of that. But he's not Bobby Valentine or Billy Martin either, in terms of turning himself into a media lightning rod.

Talent evaluation, I have no major issues. Melky should have been sent down long before he was last year, but for who? Gardner 2009 was overmatched, so there's no reason to think that 3 months of Gardner '08 would've been any big improvement. I would've given Swisher RF out of spring training over Nady, but it ended up lasting a week anyway. This is a veteran laden team with a thin bench, there isn't exactly a whole lot of room for roster maneuvering.

Game management is of course the biggest sticking point. Just looking at this year however, outside of the Easter game in KC I'm hard pressed to find a game where I can honestly say "that was Girardi's fault" without letting the players off the hook, which I'm not willing to do.

19 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 10:20 am

[8] You can call Nady the fourth OF, that's fine. The depth was certainly there.

I agree, an older team like the Yankees is going to have injuries over the course of the season. But the injuries to the position players are not the problem -- the offensive production is just fine. The problem is with the pitching staff, and the injuries and underperformance have been suffered by younger players (Bruney, Wang, Sabathia).
I don't think there is any way to do both of these: use the gigantic bank account to sign superstars, and have a young team. The Red Sox probably come closer than the Yankees to doing both, but their depth is hurting too. So I don't buy the 'poor construction' line.

20 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 10:22 am

[17] When Joe Girardi is the only human being on earth who says Alex Rodriguez isn't playing tomorrow, I doubt the other team is fooled. It just makes Girardi look like Baghdad Bob.

21 Will Weiss   ~  May 12, 2009 10:23 am

[2] Chris, thanks for the note. To clarify, I wrote that they should get at least 90 wins, not that they would win 90. Recent history suggests that they need to get to at least 95 to have a shot at the Wild Card.

[4] Good point, RIYank. Basically, they know what they're going to get (for the most part), three out of every five starts, and it's clear that Girardi trusts no one in the bullpen outside of Coke and Rivera.

As for Girardi's game management, look at it this way, at least he's not Jerry Manuel.

22 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 10:24 am

[18] I think there have been games they won in spite of him. That game against Oakland where Brett Gardner was sent in to hit a fly ball sticks out real bad to me.

23 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:26 am

[18] I am not claiming any level of expertise...but that's kind of my point. I don't think we really know what Girardi is good at yet...and I think it's getting late for that.

24 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:28 am

[18] Also, I absolutely hold Girardi responsible for the non-squeeze play in the Boston game against Beckett. I think his complete inaction on that play and all game long was a major contributor to the loss. Even if it is only 2 games out of 30, that's a pace for 10 over the season.

25 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 10:29 am

[22] I'm sure looking back there are definitely games they won in spite of him, but what manager can't you say that about really? Torre had more of those games than I can count (they would get written off in October as "oh Joe pushed the right button again!") Hell the Diamondbacks won a championship with Bob Brenly at the helm, thats the definition of winning in spite of your manager.

26 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 10:34 am

[25] Well, if the team is a massive disappointment in the ~190 games under his helm, you can't point to anything he does well, and we can name many mistakes that the team played around, why exactly should we keep him?

27 Will Weiss   ~  May 12, 2009 10:36 am

[18] Game management is the biggest sticking point. It was that way with Joe Torre also. He was on auto-pilot when he had Don Zimmer on the bench with him, and when he went through three different bench coaches in consecutive seasons before leaving for LA, you saw a drastic change in his tactics. ... Girardi, I think, is a product of not only the era that he played in, but the era of how games are managed and in most cases, overmanaged. I can't place a lot of blame on him for the mediocre start, because he's not the one throwing the pitches. There have been too many games where it seemed like Alex, Cliff, Diane and me would have made a better bridge to Rivera than the multimillion dollar crew the Yankees have out there.

Last year, the Yankees didn't hit, after being projected to score 900 runs. This year, despite their continued penchant for swinging for the fences, I think they're a more complete and balanced offensive team and can hang. It's all going to come down to their pitching; the entire staff.

28 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 10:36 am

[25] I agree.
Also, it's very important to keep in mind that nobody remembers the games that a team won because the manager made an odd move, one that looked wrong at the time. (I don't remember those, for instance.) The true measure of a manager would be the number of games won because of his moves minus the number lost because of his moves, compared to, say, the sabermetrically correct moves in each case. Then all managers will have a negative score, but some will be better than others. My point is that it is very easy to overestimate the net detriment of a manager by overlooking or forgetting the games won because of non-ideal moves.
I doubt that there's more than a 4 game swing between managerial abilities, with maybe a few rare exceptions. But nobody really knows.

29 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 10:38 am

[26] That argument is based around the premise that this team was a massive disappointment over the course of 162 games last year, and I don't think they were. I don't think they were good, but I think they played to their level. You can blame Cashman for that, I'd probably agree with you, but I'm not gonna pin that on the manager.

So really I'm (this is just me now) looking at a team that is a disappointment over the course of 31 games. Do I think that is cause for heads to roll? No, not yet.

30 Will Weiss   ~  May 12, 2009 10:40 am

[29] Ah ... sanity. Good stuff.

31 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 10:41 am

I think a manager can be held responsible for losing a lot to an extent, but I definitely think they have to answer for how a team loses. Quite a few Yankees losses this year have been I guess "honorable" - the team fought, tried to come back, etc. But the swoon that started with the third game in Boston, there were quite a few games where the team looked flat, looked psyched-out.

And I really don't think the injury excuse holds much water. I mean, to put it in vague dollars and cents terms, I'm not gonna give the guy a pass simply because there's a $120 million dollar team on the field instead of a $200 million team. And even if that is "adversity" that's precisely when a manager should be earning his paycheck, by guiding the team to hold the line, or even better, perform higher than expectations (paging Terry Francona.)

32 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 10:42 am

[28] I can think of one right off the top of my head: starting Jose Vizcaino in Game 1 vs The Mets. But of course, that only looks like a genius move because Vizcaino goes out there and does his job, he goes 0-4 and the Yankees lose then Torre's an idiot. But that isn't what happened, so we just chalk it up to brilliant strategy.

33 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 10:44 am

[31] That's a good point. I don't think anyone knows how to measure the influence a manager has on the morale of a team, and for that matter nobody knows what influence morale has on winning. For what it's worth, the morale this year seems much, much better to me than the past four years.
What do you mean by "the injury excuse"? I was pointing out that the bench is weak right now because players who were supposed to be bench players are now starters.

34 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:45 am

[29] Regardless of the injuries, the Yankees should not have taken until June 11 to reach .500 and should not have effectively been eliminated by mid-August. Sure, they had holes, but sometimes that's when a good manager proves his worth.

Also, I still hold him partly responsible for the Wang injury, so he is also at least partly to blame for that, in my book.

35 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 10:46 am

[29] Cashman is another issue entirely. I think he needs to go as well, possibly even moreso than Girardi.

The thing that really sticks out to me about Girardi last year was his obsession with Betemit. For a guy that sucked at everything they asked him to do, Betemit got WAY to much playing time, including regular time as a late inning defensive replacement.

36 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:48 am

[32] Vizcaino had a .962 OPS in 27 PAs against Leiter. That was a good percentage move that paid off...definitely nothing out of left field on that one.

37 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 10:59 am

[29] [34] I didn't mean to argue that you should think the team was a disappointment last year. If you don't believe they were, obviously you'd have a different view of the job Girardi did.

38 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:06 am

Wow, William still beating (bleating) the same drum. No surprise there, except he hasn't presented any actual evidence to back up his specious claims.

Playoff teams don’t give Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, Carl Pavano, and Ian Kennedy a combined 51 starts.

That's exactly it. Playoff teams also don't give at-bats to the likes of Angel Berroa, Cody Ransom and Brett Gardner nor do they plan on Xavier Nady being a starter.

Regardless of the injuries, the Yankees should not have taken until June 11 to reach .500 and should not have effectively been eliminated by mid-August.

Yeah, you're right, except for them actually, you know, sucking. Just like 2009. It's a .500 team and getting older by the day. There's a reason Jeter is the captain - he sums up perfectly exactly what's wrong with the team.

An old team will continue to get worse. Change the manager and it's the same result.

39 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 11:07 am

[37] Yeah, thats clearly where the cruxes of our arguments differ. I just didn't really have very high expectations going into last year, and the Yankees just ended up confirming what I thought they were.

Now I thought they'd be about an 87-90 win team because they'd be going through the Hughes and Kennedy growing pains, turns out it was because of (in part) injuries and a rotation that was held together by scotch tape. But I can't classify a team that finished with about the record I expected of them as a "disappointment."

40 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:10 am

If you don’t believe they were, obviously you’d have a different view of the job Girardi did.

Wow, way to twist logic. Somehow you must think that Torre would have gotten them into the post-season apart from those 50 plus starts by AAAA pitchers? Yeah, because managers have more influence than 1/3 of the games started by utter trash.

Great analysis!

41 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:12 am

Playoff teams don’t give Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, Carl Pavano, and Ian Kennedy a combined 51 starts.


What about the starters in 2007? They made the playoffs then despite giving Mussina, DeSalvo, Igawa, Clippard, Kartsens, etc, a bunch of starts.

42 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 11:12 am

"An old team will continue to get worse."

The Yankees are younger than last year, though.
Swisher for Abreu, Teixeira for Giambi, that sheds 15 years. Cabrera and Cano are older, but not in the bad way. Jeter, Posada, A-Rod, Damon, those four players are a year older, but the new players bring the avg age way down.

I won't comment on the rotation, that's obvious.

43 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:13 am

As for 2008, the pitching wasn't the problem, the supposed 900 run offense that scored 200 runs less was the problem.

44 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:16 am

I'm still waiting for some list of games Girardi "lost" this year.

I only have to go back to the last game to show a game he "won". Using Coke for two innings, when the whole bullpen has been a mess, was exactly the right button on Sunday.

Of course, this whole argument is BS. A manager has a very small impact (3-5 wins either way) on a season. This is hockey or basketball or football where constant changes in strategy are necessary. The players have to perform. And an old team won't. Not this team any ways. It's the wrong players and with no safety net.

45 RagingTartabull   ~  May 12, 2009 11:18 am

[41] Yeah but how much of that in '07 was offset by A-Rod's career year, Cano hitting .300, and Posada hitting .340? That's three things that they didn't get to go along with the bad pitching a year later.

46 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:19 am

I’m still waiting for some list of games Girardi “lost” this year.

FWIW, there were two games referenced in this thread

47 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:22 am

They made the playoffs then despite giving Mussina, DeSalvo, Igawa, Clippard, Kartsens, etc, a bunch of starts.

How'd that turn out again? Actually though, Mussina doesn't belong and otherwise that group got 30 starts. How is that not a problem again?

And who spent $50 million on Igawa? Girardi or A-Rod?

As for 2008, the pitching wasn’t the problem, the supposed 900 run offense that scored 200 runs less was the problem.

Yeah, that's the manager's fault. Torre had the mojo to give a team confidence when they went to the plate. His support made all the difference. What kind of mumbojumbo psychobabble is that?

Jeter, Posada, A-Rod

The three most important players on the club. Who were their backups again?

And Jeter will be the next to miss significant time.

48 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 11:22 am

[44] Leaving Coke if for two innings: yeah, that worked out very well.
I hope he remembers that move. I'm convinced the Yankees will do better if Girardi lets a successful relief pitcher stay in the game longer. Bullpen Roulette is not going to work out well most of the time. (It's also excruciating to watch, which is probably influencing my perception.)

49 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:26 am

That game against Oakland where Brett Gardner was sent in to hit a fly ball sticks out real bad to me.

Who else did he have on the bench?

A manager hamstrung by a crappy roster has very few options. Like, for instance, why the fuck are Gardner and Berroa still on this team? And Girardi isn't making those decisions.

50 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 11:27 am

[45] Fair points, but the Yankees 2008 ERA+ of 104 was their highest since 2003 and markedly better than 2004-2005. While the offense did take a step back, is Girardi to blame for any of that? Could Jeter have been better with more rest, esp. after the injury? Would a May benching have revitalized Cano? Maybe if Melky was pushed harder, he would have responded better?

Again, no one can say they know for sure, but I don't think the 2008 team was as bad (maybe mediocre is more accurate) as you do.

51 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:27 am

[45] What happened was that Posada got hurt, Cano and Cabrera regressed & Jeter had an off year by his standards.

Even with Rodriguez's & Posada's career years, their regression should've been mitigated by Damon & Giambi bouncing back.

52 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:33 am

How’d that turn out again? Actually though, Mussina doesn’t belong and otherwise that group got 30 starts. How is that not a problem again?

Mussina posted the following season in 2007; 11-10, 5.15

The point was that they had shit pitchers in 2007 and they made the playoffs, so saying that they missed the playoffs in 2008 because they had shit pitchers doesn't hold water. The 2008 staff performed similar to the 2007 staff. The offense didn't.

53 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 11:36 am

Who else did he have on the bench?

Having been familiar with Mattpat's rantings, Gardner could've (should've?) bunted in that game. Or maybe hit and run. Gardner wasn't deployed correctly which is the issue (IIRC) Mattpat had with Girardi inserting him in that situation.

54 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:44 am

I don’t think the 2008 team was as bad (maybe mediocre is more accurate) as you do.

You know what's interesting about baseball? All that matters is the final numbers and that team finished with 89 wins.


The point was that they had shit pitchers in 2007 and they made the playoffs, so saying that they missed the playoffs in 2008 because they had shit pitchers doesn’t hold water.

Mussina vs. Igawa, DeSalvo, Rasner = big difference.

Also, a decent GM would have expected the offense to decline with age and fortified the team accordingly. Just like this year - nothing was done.

55 Will Weiss   ~  May 12, 2009 11:48 am

[41] Or 2005, with Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon? The last two years, and in many respects this season, have been repeat performances of the same ills that have plagued the team since then: age, inconsistent pitching, and an offense that does not perform as a team (small ball when warranted, productive outs, etc.).

56 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:48 am

I can't believe that the esteemed Banter has descended into psychobabble land. Yup, all Melky and Cano needed was to be "pushed".

Nothing like an opinion that's impossible to refute. It holds as much weight as religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, why the fuck are Berroa and Gardner still on this team? And, seriously, Kevin Cash? People complain about tactical moves when the only guy on the bench is all-glove, no-hit 22 year old shortstop (who should be the starter)?

57 ny2ca2dc   ~  May 12, 2009 11:50 am

I think most of the Girardi criticism is off base, inconsistent, and inconsequential. That said, I think a very strong complaint can be made against Girardi's (and the organization as a whole's) handling of injuries. They are way too eager to see no evil and trust their players. I really see Girardi's kind of tough-it-out approach shining through, and I think it's lead to the issues we've seen with ARod, Po, Jeter last year, Marte, Wang, Tex, etc. Ignoring Damon's shoulder issues has worked out just fine so far this year, and at least he's in the last year of his contract. But that seems to be the outlier in the string of "it's minor, he's day to day" and then "it's a bit serious, but he'll try to play though it with some more rest and treatment" to "grade 2 tear, out for 6 weeks".

58 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 11:50 am

@ 55

That's what kills me. We have been watching the same team since at least 2005. The only constant? Not the owner. Or the manager. Or the traveling secretary.

It's the GM, stupid.

59 ny2ca2dc   ~  May 12, 2009 11:53 am

[56] "I can’t believe that the esteemed Banter has descended into psychobabble land."

Why ya gots to be rude, dude?

60 williamnyy23   ~  May 12, 2009 11:54 am

[59] Ignore, ignore, ignore.

61 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 12:05 pm

Also, a decent GM would have expected the offense to decline with age and fortified the team accordingly. Just like this year - nothing was done.

The offense wasn't supposed to decline as much as it did (though they were expected to decline a bit). Duncan, Phillips, Ensberg & Co got significant at bats, and the Yanks still managed to score 968 runs. They scored 930 a year earlier, and 886 the year before that, and 897 the year before that. So when an offense slumps to 789, like they did in 2008, I'd say it was unexpected.

And the team got younger; Swisher, Nady & Teix are younger than Giambi & Abreu.

62 Ben   ~  May 12, 2009 12:07 pm

If Joe G sat on the bench instead of watching the game from the front step, the Yanks would be in first place. It's true. I've done the study that proves it. ;)

63 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 12:11 pm

And the team got younger; Swisher, Nady & Teix are younger than Giambi & Abreu.

Except none are as good.

64 zack   ~  May 12, 2009 12:14 pm

[63] Except, Teix is better than both of them.

65 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 12:14 pm

The last two years, and in many respects this season, have been repeat performances of the same ills that have plagued the team since then: age, inconsistent pitching, and an offense that does not perform as a team (small ball when warranted, productive outs, etc.).

Age & defense was allegedly addressed with Swisher, Nady & Teix. Inconsistent pitching was allegedly addressed with the additions of CC, AJ & the return of Pettitte to round out the rotation. I don't think anyone saw Wang, for example, being as bad as he is. The Yanks had one of the best bullpens in the league last year, I don't think anyone saw it underperforming as it has.

As for the offense, the Yanks are scoring runs, averaging 5.55 runs a game, which puts them 4th behind Toronto, Boston and Texas.

66 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 12:16 pm

[63] Uh, wrong.
Swisher and Tex are vastly outperforming Giambi and Abreu. And their BP expectations are much higher, too.

67 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 12:16 pm

Except none are as good.

I'ma have to call bs on that one...

68 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 12:19 pm

Except, Teix is better than both of them

Really? How's that eight year contract looking?

And only out of luck Swisher got playing time. He wasn't going to be a starter. That says everything.

69 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 12:47 pm

The Yanks had one of the best bullpens in the league last year, I don’t think anyone saw it underperforming as it has.

Bullpens are hit and miss (which is why I saw the acquisition of Marte as so mindbendingly stupefying: we don't believe in high-priced bull-pen arms as evidenced by our large stock of interchangeable bull-pen arms in the minors. Wait, I can get a 34-yo lefty and a journeyman OFer having a career half-year for a couple of million dollars, a top-end prospect, and some interchangeable AAA arms? Sold! I wonder what the price of Jason Bay was for the Yankees or if Cashman even asked).

I questioned giving 8 years to a first baseman when there's a perfectly good one at 3B, SS, or C. Matsui can play one position, DH. Damon is going to play himself into a decent contract this year and I pray it's not the Yankees who overpay him. For the record, I remain optimistic about this team's chances for a deep run into the play-offs. But there a slew of roster problems that are popping up. Seriously, Berroa? Give me the choice between Gardner as a pinch-runner or Duncan-stein as a PHer after the 7th with runners on and less than two outs, and Gardner is staying on the bench. I'd rather Double or nothing Molina hit. I really want to like Cashman, he does a lot of the, to me, right things (Betemit+$ for Swisher was f'n brilliant), but then does some Phillipsian moves to make me question his sanity.

I'm curious to see where Gardner plays when he hopefully heads back to AAA. Does AJax stay in CF to continue to learn the position or does Brett the Jet push AJax to LF (where he has been playing of late)?

70 RIYank   ~  May 12, 2009 1:27 pm

I thought I was [4] disagreeing strenuously with your [2], Chris, but I agree completely (with [69]). Esp. about the bullpen stuff. A bullpen composed entirely entirely of the Yankee-grown players we have would have been perfectly acceptable -- indeed, quite a bit better than what we've actually seen. And, except for His Moliness, dirt cheap.

71 zack   ~  May 12, 2009 1:44 pm

[68] As everyone else also agrees, your statement is pretty much flat out wrong. And trying to say that the contract to Teixeira is suddenly looking like a bad decision after one month where he has historically struggled to the tune of an ops nearly .200 below his career mark yet has still been above average, is just silly.

Let's see, Teixeria and Swisher have outplayed their counterparts in Giambi and Abreu thus far this season, and will in all likelihood outperform what those players provided the Yanks last year. Whether Teixeria outperforms giambi over the long haul we shall see, but considering he is two years younger than Giambi was when he signed with the Yanks, and far far better fielder, and in much better physical shape, I wouldn't be against it.

72 Horace Clarke Era   ~  May 12, 2009 2:10 pm

I'm happy to see Zack and RI and a couple of others holding the fort for sanity here. It actually baffles me that anyone who is (or claims to be) baseball savvy is making longterm assessments based on 30 some games for a player like Teixeira, with a clear track record. How ELSE do you evaluate talent except on track record? Is 8 years too long? I'd say so. Is it what brought him here? A big part of it. Is the money the issue in NY? Obviously not.

Cash landed, in competitive scenarios, with a team many players do NOT want to join (because of us, in part!) three major free agents and he made the call NOT to trade Nady or Swisher, which a lot of people here and elsewhere were shouting he should do. Those here pointing out that Nady or Swisher WERE bench depth are surely right - and the proof is in right field. Same with not dealing Melky, letting Girardi have time to see who deserved CF.

All the talk about Kevin Cash or Berroa is - it seems to me, micro-obsessing. Fun to do, but little real impact on how the team will do, and I am of the group that do not regard the Yankees field and front office management as cretinous slobs unworthy of even posting to the Banter, let alone making the big bucks we ain't when any of us could do better.

We are younger, too, than last year. Every team has older guys. New York will always be one of the older teams because we lack the patience to live with 80 wins or less while the cheap young ones learn to play, or don't. We will sign the 30 somethings, and be competitive, for twenty+ years now. I said it last week: no one here, or only the old ones I suspect, could tolerate a true rebuilding. Passing on Santana was a step in that direction for Cash, and Hughes and Kennedy were supposed to be young and fun - AND win. Didn't work out, but there he was GOING the youngsters route, not signing the vet.

Finally, are people saying, still, that Tex, Jeter, Damon shouldn't have been allowed to play through minor hurts? THAT would have given us a line up, all right. EVERYONE in the game plays through hurts. It is, as I like to say too often, a long season. If we had the x-rays and medical/trainer info, maybe we could comment intelligently. We don't.

73 Horace Clarke Era   ~  May 12, 2009 2:11 pm

[68] And only out of luck Swisher got playing time. He wasn’t going to be a starter. That says everything.

So Melky only starts now out of luck? You think Girardi can adapt in one case and not the other if there's a talent/performance gap? Why so?

74 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 2:50 pm

And only out of luck Swisher got playing time. He wasn’t going to be a starter. That says everything.

Says more about Girardi, than Swisher or Nady.

75 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 3:03 pm

The Blue Jays are 73-49 since Cito Gaston took over as manager in the middle of last season. In comparison, they were basically a .500 team under John Gibbons from 2007-08.

While I am not calling for Girardi to be fired at this point, sometimes a managerial change produces a benefit that transcends the net effect of the on the field talent.

76 SteveAmerica   ~  May 12, 2009 3:04 pm

[68] Normally I find you annoying but generally smart, but insinuating that you can judge Tex 8 year contract after six weeks is pretty atrocious thinking.

Cashman got Tex, Sabathia and Swisher. All upgrades, all younger. That they haven't yet performed to projection isn't his fault.

Bad scouting? Maybe. Bad managing? Who knows. Random fluctuations? Probably. Lingering wrist injuries? Possibly. Hanging 6 bad weeks of Tex on Cashman is flat out ignorant, or more likely a feeble attempt to bolster your argument that Cashman is the problem.

77 SteveAmerica   ~  May 12, 2009 3:07 pm

[75] Show me 3 other instances in which a managerial change led to that kind of uptick in WP as immediately as it did in toronto.

smells fluky as all hell.

78 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 3:19 pm

How many managers are fired because of games they were directly responsible for losing, ie "making the wrong move" or whatever? Not very many. The fact is, mangers are let go all the time for a team's poor performance overall. Think there's something wrong with that? Fine, but it's not some kind of esoteric idea. Debating whether or not Girardi deserves to be fired is one thing, but it's a bit ridiculous to be looking for football-like play calling to back either argument up.

79 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 12, 2009 3:21 pm

[12] While you're at it, reigns=reins.

80 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 3:23 pm

[75] I will be very surprised if Millar, Lind & Scutaro (among others), maintain their current level of production.

81 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 3:26 pm

All the talk about Kevin Cash or Berroa is - it seems to me, micro-obsessing.

They're not to blame for the team being mediocre, necessarily, but they do limit the ability of the team to get better. The Yankees have shown that they need roster flexibility with their bullpen because basically it's throw slop at the wall and see what sticks (as it should be, really), and a bat off the bench for PH-duties. Berroa takes 1 25-man spot so that he can sit on the bench and not be used, Gardner uses #2 for a no-hit, good glove, pinch runner, and an extra bullpen arm (that doesn't get used because they have three guys in the rotation that can go 6-8 innings no sweat) takes #3.

Cashman got Tex, Sabathia and Swisher.

By writing blank checks for two, which I don't really call a skillset. He also overpaid for Burnett, Nady, Posada, and Marte. Anytime I see "Team A signed Player B, a 34-year old journeyman reliever, to a 3 year/$12 million dollar contract" just makes me wonder if the GM was high. Pure Phillipsian. But I'm torn, he's the same guy that didn't trade Hughes+ for the chance to sign Santana to massive contract and he acquired Swisher for Boom Boom Betemit.

As for trading a Nady or Swisher, for me it was that Nady's value was the highest it was going to be last season when the Yankees picked him up. I felt that as this season progressed (prior to his injury) his value would only diminish as Swisher pushed him on to the bench and occasional DH role. If he left as a FA, the most the Yankees could get would be a Type-A compensation, likely Type-B, but now definitely type-B. Best to trade him for some positional prospects over the off-season then to get a 2010 2nd rounder for him. And now that he's injured, he's not going to get half as much interest as he got last season. Cashman will have traded his 2nd best OF prospect for 250 PAs of a league average OFer and an overpaid bullpen arm.

From Joel Sherman: "In the offseason, the Yanks seriously considered dealing Nady, but GM Brian Cashman said no suitable return was ever offered." Hmm, why was that, Brian?

It's all nitpicky if the Yankees are 20-10 and not getting blown out in AL-east games. But they're not and a win here or there makes all the difference.

82 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 3:30 pm


The Twins

1968: 79-83
1969: 97-65 (Billy Martin took over)

The Rangers

1973: 57-105 (9-14 after Martin took over)
1974: 84-76 (full season with Martin)

The Yankees


Billy Martin: 52-42
Bob Lemon: (48-20)

There are probably many more examples, and again, I'm not saying that Girardi should be fired now, but to this point, I have been dead wrong about what kind of effect that he would have on this team.

83 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 3:31 pm

[80] They lost AJ. Is that a positive or a negative? (half-kidding)

84 SteveAmerica   ~  May 12, 2009 3:36 pm

it could have easily been Swisher who got hurt. Then we'd have Nady to back him up. Nady isn't all that expensive, and I'm not sure what he would have brought back. If you want to say that cashman stinks because he didn't trade Nady, fine, but I think it's a pretty ticky tacky criticism.

To me the one glaring bad thing that Cash has done, where he absolutely should have known better was the marte signing. Even if Marte comes back this season and is lights out, signing a reliever like him to a contract like that is nonsense.

85 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 3:44 pm

[53] Honestly, I would have just left Ransom in. If your only option on the bench gives you less of a chance, theres no reason to just make a move.

Otherwise, if he must pinch hit, have him bunt. Swinging away with Brett Gardner should have never been an option.

86 Horace Clarke Era   ~  May 12, 2009 3:48 pm

[81] Chris, good discussion. Of your examples, I'd say Berroa is the biggest surprise he's on the roster. Gardner is the 4th OF, right? We need one, right? If and when Nady returns, Gardner goes back down (if Melky's still performing) though it leaves us shaky for CF, as neither Swisher nor Damon belong there. Right now I'd keep the extra bullpen for a bit, myself, but don't see it as mattering a whole lot. What player to sometmes pinch hit would make a real difference?

The blank cheques is a bit unfair ... and takes us back to my point above about expectations in NY, not being able to actually rebuild with real youth, suffer a few years, then emerge. We won't tolerate it. There IS a wooing job to be done to get people here ... at the level of money these people command, a lot goes into making that choice and NY is NOT seen by most as a nice place to play. Again, that's not the team, the manager, the GM, it is the media, and us.

Posada got too many years, not too much money. I called it his Long Service Award, and Mo got one too. The 'overpaid' for Burnett or Marte turns on whether you want the players ... if they perform, the money matters very little to THIS team. If you didn't and don't want them (Cliff, on AJ) then ANY money is too much. Cash is also the Man we Love for getting ANYTHING for Farnswhacker.

I still think he was thinking right, for this year, in keeping Nady/Swisher as the two-headed beast. Let Girardi figure out who gets the most playing time, and if they are both here, Damon can rest more, which matters. I think it is unfair to assail our shallow bench, and then dump on Cash for keeping a GOOD bench OF.

My sad prediction: Halladay's fierce tonight, and rumblings continue, big time. This is a bad moment to run into the best pitcher in the AL (Greinke aside, I guess).

87 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 4:01 pm

I'm always amazed at the polar views of Cashman's competence, but a probable explanation for the argument that he is a terrible GM is that he is assigned blame for moves that occurred without his consent prior to receiving more power after the 2005 season. A realistic assessment is further complicated by the fact that even though he now has more power, he still has been overridden on the decision to re-sign A-Rod after he opted out, and to give Posada a four year extension, to cite two oft reported examples.

Similarly, he opposed the trade for Randy Johnson and wanted to allocate the available funds toward signing Carlos Beltran. How much better would the team be if Cash had prevailed?

One thing to keep in mind is that part of the reason that Cashman was forced to sign (or trade for) a number of starting pitchers that didn't work out (Weaver, Pavano, Brown, Vazuez) is that the mL system was producing < 0 talent, but he had no control over the draft until 2006.

At this point, the Yankees' most glaring vulnerability going forward is the age of some of their core position players and the accompanying lack of many ML ready position players in their mL system.

To that end, Oppenheimer has done a decent, but not great, job under Cash's auspices of rebuilding the farm system, but he has not had enough hits with position players, which by implication is on Cashman.

Their strategy has been to use the amateur draft for high end pitching talent and use Latin American signings for position players. Unfortunately, the LA signees are so young that they are years away from the MLs.

Consequently, Cash should be judged, at least imo, on his ability to supplement the ML roster with a few high end position players (especially if Jeter and Posada face a precipitous decline either offensively or defensively) to fill the gap until the position players they currently have are ML ready. Another way to achieve that goal is to trade excess pitching prospects for ML ready, or young veteran, position players.

If they are unable to do that, they risk a period of decline in the division.

88 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 4:07 pm


Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera RF
Gardner CF
Cash C

89 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 4:15 pm

[87] I don't know why Brown is lumped in with the rest, believe it or not, he was a decent acquisition.

90 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 4:16 pm

Gardner is the 4th OF, right? ....

Sure, but over the last 17 games, he's started 3, appeared in 14 for mostly the 9th and contributed a .462 OPS. If he's not going to play, or contribute offensively, he's just riding the pine soaking up a spot. I think I'd rather have Duncan, Linden, or Rodriguez up (none of whom are on the 40-man, which leads back to why Angel Berroa is on there soaking up a spot still). None of them will set the world on fire, but I suspect they can do better than a .460 OPS and they're still a 4th OFer. Melky is a pretty good defensive CFer, and Swisher can play it.

not being able to actually rebuild with real youth, suffer a few years, then emerge. We won’t tolerate it.

Who won't tolerate it? I know a good many fans are pretty pissed about seeing their favorite team pay top dollar for veteran talent to see them play mediocre baseball. I think this "Win now" mentality is crippling. And I think that if I was GM for a day, and said, "Hi, CC, I won a WB Mason contest and as a result, I'm the GM of the Yankees for a day, and I would like to give you more money than any other pitcher in the history of the game, plus provide you the opportunity to be a free agent again in just three short years." I'm sure I could get him to sign as well.

Anyway, before I cap this completely unproductive work day, I think I'd rather have a bunch of middling to good players in the minor league system to pick and choose from for the bench than one or two super-subs, which is my opinion of the '09 Yankees. A bench guy is always going to get bench guy playing time, IMO, regardless of whether he would be on another team's depth chart. In baseball, it's really hard to play a hot hand and judge when a cold guy will turn it on or when a hot guy will slump.

91 PJ   ~  May 12, 2009 4:16 pm

[88] Against Halladay???


I wonder what's the matter with Swisher?

I sure hope Burnett brings his "A" game tonight (he should considering his many years pitching in Toronto)!

They are going to need it!

: /

92 ChrisS   ~  May 12, 2009 4:26 pm

I don’t know why Brown is lumped in with the rest, believe it or not, he was a decent acquisition.

I respectfully disagree. Was he better than Jeff Weaver whom he replaced? Yes. But they gave up quite a bit for a guy that wasn't likely to (and didn't) contribute much for more than one season. Potato/potahto, I guess.

I'm firmly in the anti-win-now-world-series-or-bust contingent and one-year rentals.

93 Horace Clarke Era   ~  May 12, 2009 4:31 pm

Chris, usually when teams use their bench a lot it is because starters are not very good, and the differential is slight. Or because banged up starters need to sit (Youkilis). In other words, on a team with solid starters, the bench guys WILL soak up pine. Whether that's Duncan (pinch hit for the catcher, I guess) or Gardner doesn't feel important - but I know you mostly agree it isn't. If Nady was healthy, I suspect we'd see a rotation of the OFs, built around best-guess match-ups with starters, and aches and pains. If Melky was hitting poorly, we'd see more of Gardner, and a LOT more complaining, too.

When you say "I think this “Win now” mentality is crippling." I wouldn't disagree at all, and remember I was very young, passionate fan through the er, Horace Clarke Era. Survived it. Just. But realistically, today? The furor that greeted the Hughes/Kennedy 'failure' tells you all you need to know. Yankeeland wanted BOTH the kids for fun AND a World Series ... and there are people here who seriously declare that making the playoffs only .. sucks, marks a failed season, was cause for Torre to be dumped.

If those midges only knew what they did.

Oh, and I agree it is really hard to call hot and cold hands ... a lot of luck goes into it. Sometimes sitting DOES help ... Peralta was benched two games and has 6 hits in the two games since. If only it was always that easy! But wise old Cito Gaston declared that Rios' swing was 'a mess' the day before Rios went 3 for 5 with a homer and 3 rbis.

94 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 4:35 pm

[92] All they gave up was Jeff Weaver and Brazoban. Or are you referring to the trade that brought Weaver here?

Brown had a decent 2004, posting a 4.03 FIP (to a 4.06 ERA) and was sabotaged by the defense in 2005, posting a 3.61 FIP (to a 6.50 ERA).

95 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 5:00 pm

New lineup:

Gardner CF
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera RF
Cash C
Pena S

96 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 5:04 pm

Gardner's leading off... :facepalm:

97 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 5:05 pm

[89] I don’t know why Brown is lumped in with the rest, believe it or not, he was a decent acquisition.

I actually think that trading for Vazquez made even more sense, with the only caveat being that he led the NL in abuse points in 2003. Similarly, many baseball people thought that the Weaver trade and the Pavano signing were sound moves.

But like the Brown acquisition, they didn't work out.

98 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 5:06 pm

Per Ham: Jeter has an oblique pull. It doesn't stop.

99 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 5:08 pm

Similarly, many baseball people thought that the Weaver trade and the Pavano signing were sound moves.

The Weaver trade was sound, the Pavano signing wasn't.

100 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 5:18 pm

[99] Yet five teams, including the Sox, offered him a similar contract.

TBH, I supported the signing, but I had done insufficient research on his peripherals.

Show/Hide Comments 101-114
101 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 5:57 pm

I clearly remember Pavano being sought after and conventional wisdom was he was someone you should go after. That doesn't mean EVERYONE thought so but a lot of people did.

Weaver and Vasquez - those moves seemed to be in the right direction, they just imploded here. Of course they weren't sure things, but there was upside there. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little risk. In fact, it's necessary sometimes.

Wright, Johnson, Brown ... All bad deals from the get-go. Okay now I'm talking about my opinion only but I didn't like the looks of any of those.

102 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 5:57 pm

Oh and Igawa was a pathetic move, besides being bad. Playing catch up to the Red Sox, yuck.

103 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:06 pm

[100], [101] Pavano's peripherals showed that 2004 was a fluke season.

From THT
However, even assuming for a moment that he has gotten over the injury bug and will now be a healthy pitcher for the foreseeable future, what Pavano did in 2004 screams fluke. There is no denying that his 3.00 ERA this year was excellent, but when you look a little closer at some of his numbers you can see some problems. Take a look at Pavano's pitching with the Marlins in 2002/2003, compared to this year.

2002-03 4.18 15.6 5.7 2.1 .303
2004 3.00 15.3 5.4 1.8 .282

As you can see, his strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed occurred at nearly identical rates in both time periods. From 2002-03, Pavano got a strikeout against 15.6% of the batters he faced and he struck out 15.3% last year. He allowed a walk 5.7% of the time in 2002/03 and 5.4% of the time this season. He gave up a homer 2.1% of the time in 2002/03 and 1.8% of the time last season (a difference of about 3-4 homers over the course of a season). The one major difference in his performance (aside from ERA) is the fact that 30.3% of the balls put in play against Pavano in 2002/03 went for hits, while that number dropped to 28.2% in 2004.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. If Pavano had duplicated hit ball-in-play numbers from 2002/03 this season, he would have allowed 15 more hits than he did, which would have inflated his batting average against from .253 to .271. If you choose to believe that Pavano learned how to better prevent hits on balls in play in 2004, then he is likely to repeat that feat in future seasons, but I choose to believe he benefited from some good defense and a little luck (particularly considering the Marlins as a whole allowed 30.0% of balls in play to fall for hits and the entire NL was at 30.5%).

104 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:07 pm

[102] Igawa was planned to be a back of the rotation starter, and a perfectly reasonable gamble given the information. The Yanks weren't counting on him to be an ace.

105 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 6:11 pm

[104] Then they sure laid out some serious cash for a back of the rotation starter. Some might say ... too much.

106 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:15 pm

47. Bum Rush
May 12th, 2009 at 11:22 am

Jeter, Posada, A-Rod

The three most important players on the club. Who were their backups again?

And Jeter will be the next to miss significant time.

98. Rich
May 12th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Per Ham: Jeter has an oblique pull. It doesn’t stop.


Yeah, this team sucks because of the manager. Old and rapidly declining. And they have been for at least five years.

107 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:18 pm

Then they sure laid out some serious cash for a back of the rotation starter.

Igawa was signed to a 5/$20M contract. Reasonable, considering the market (Gil Meche signed for the same number of years for nearly 3 times as much.

108 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:22 pm

perfectly reasonable gamble given the information

Please stop carrying the water. $49 million on a Japanese scrub not good enough to make their WBC team is not reasonable. And that money on the back of the rotation is really, truly overspending.

Igawa was signed to a 5/$20M contract.

That's not what was spent. What next, you're going to claim Pavano was a "reasonable" signing because the insurance picked up the cost?

109 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:28 pm

After Jeter, using my Carnac-inspired abilities I predict that Damon or Matsui will be next. All in all, we're now at three of the opening day nine to hit the DL and we aren't even two weeks into May. And Teixeira should have been disabled. Now Jeter. It's only a matter of time before Matsui's knees start acting up and Damon pulls a hamstring. At least that's something to look forward to: When 7 of the opening day 9 have been on the disabled list. But I suppose then it will still have been the manager's fault.

Can't wait for the day that Ramiro Pena, Brett Gardner and Kevin Cash start the same game! Whoops that's tonight! And against Halladay!

110 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:29 pm

$49 million on a Japanese scrub not good enough to make their WBC team is not reasonable.


What were Igawa's stats with the Hanshin Tigers?

He was a consistent strikeout pitcher in Japan, showing an ability to miss bats. He has pitched in the playoffs there, which shows that he had the ability to pitch under "pressure." He won a Sawamura Award and an MVP in the Central League...

It was a perfectly reasonable signing.

111 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:37 pm

Did Igawa play for their 2005 WBC team? He was never one of their best pitchers no matter how much you want to believe otherwise. The last two years he's shown exactly why. Unless you think his AAA proves he deserves another shot?

112 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:40 pm

Actually, don't answer that. Your "pressure" point shows I'm completely wasting my time. Yup, Igawa knows how to pitch under pressure. You're also leaving out the part when they demoted him to the minors in 2005 because he liked to fly RC helicopters more than pitch.

The Japanese knew he sucked. And they gladly took the Yankee money.

113 Bum Rush   ~  May 12, 2009 6:46 pm

And in Igawa's last three Japanese seasons he averaged 23 homeruns....in a AAA league. Yeah, great signing!

114 Rich   ~  May 12, 2009 9:41 pm

[103] I agree,and as I said, I was wrong for failing to do the proper research (it won't happen again!), but that doesn't change the fact that multiple well regarded organizations pursued him.

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