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Flights of Angels

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering Rally Monkey; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

Nothing stops a Yankee winning streak like the heavenly hosts of Anaheim, and tonight they overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Yankees 10-6. This Joba Chamberlain start was, unlike the last one,  not a complete disaster, but he once again threw too many pitches, worked too slowly, and didn’t get out of the fifth inning on a night when the bullpen very much needed a break. He had a 5-1 lead when he allowed a couple of singles, A-Rod made a throwing error, and Kendry Morales hit a three-run shot to tie the game; one double later, Joe Girardi pulled him.

The shorthanded Yankee bullpen, in the form of Melancon and Bruney, was no better – but about the only other arm available tonight was Brett Tomko’s, so I guess things could have been even worse. Meanwhile the Yankees hit Joe Saunders fairly hard – at one point Alex Rodriguez somehow launched a home run with an awkward swing at a calf-high changeup – but once he left, they scored just once off of five Angels relievers.

Forget it, Joe. It’s Anaheim.

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1 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:09 am

Rasafrasafrackin Angels. Argh! I got to sleep with the Yanks up 4-0, and wake up to this. And people here in Red Sox Nation look at me funny when I tell them if there's any team I really dislike as a Yankees fan, its the Angels.

2 ms october   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:20 am

[1] i went at 5-1.
how does this happen with these bloody angels?
joba and bruney are definitely in issue territory.

3 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:36 am

[2] Joba wasn't helped by his defense, but otherwise it's hard to offer much in defense of his performance. I am coming around to teh idea that he might need to be shifted to the BP (not permanently) or sent down to the minors. I don't mind that as a young starter he's not going to give much length, especially in these days of artificial pitch counts and BP specialists. But he can't keep failing to get through...or to...the fifth.

The main problem with pulling Joba from the rotation is, of course, the question of who is available to replace him. I guess you would have to hope that Mitre could do at least as well.

4 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:38 am

[2] As for Bruney--he too was hurt a bit by his defense. But otherwise he looks like he has little idea where the ball is going when he throws it, and he's getting spanked around.

5 The Mick536   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:40 am

[1] I say the same thing and people Sox fans get a quizzical look on their faces. In the olden days, we used to fear the Tigers. Still think this Sox thing is of very recent vintage.

Have Jeter and A-Rod made errors in the same game other than this one?

Joba makes me nervous. And he has no class.

6 Yankee Mama   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:42 am

Joba has gone from exciting to duller than statistics class He's shaking off pitches, working so slowly. Where is his rhythm? I know the mentality is different, but why won't he translate some of the bullpen mojo in the rotayion?
The waiting, the nibbling...ugh.

As for the Angels, even without Hunter and Guerrero and that killer bullpen of yore, they have an uncanny way of beating the poo out of us. This time it wasn't small ball that unnerved us, but the long ball.

Of course, Joba needed to pick up Alex after the error. A dinger instead. Glad I snoozed.

7 ms october   ~  Jul 11, 2009 8:54 am

[3] [4] thanks.

yeah that joba can't make it through 5 innings is just not cutting it.

the yanks went from have a surplus of starting pitchers between the big club and the mil to once again having to scramble - kennedy's situation couldn't be helped but some of the other stuff could have been.
there's not much that can be done with joba right now with wang also out of the rotation and hughes not a starter now.

the pen is a pretty simple animal. if the starters don't give length and if there is an over-reliance on the shitbums - things don't work out too well. those last 2 or so spots could use some upgrading, and if bruney doesn't get it together very soon, back to the dl - his arm probably isn't right.

8 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:04 am

[7] The one big positive about Joba's start is that his velocity was fine: River Ave Blues mentioned this and it confirms what I saw (anecdotal) when I looked at gameday occasionally last night. So hopefully the problem is just nibbling and approach rather than a problem with "stuff."

Worst case scenario, he lacks grit.

9 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:10 am

Oh, I'm not surprised I woke up to this today - yet it's still amazing to me how consistently the Angels expose Yankee weaknesses, and exploit our mistakes.

Whether it's the Bubba and Shef Show, or Joba and Bruney doing their Heartbreak Twins schtick, it's unfuggincanny how the Angels manage to undress us.

Joba and Bruney to Scranton seems like a fine idea to me. Scranton seems like a good place for the Heartbreak Twins to get lost, and find themselves again.

They sure ain't helping the team right now.

Igawa, Mitre, (or whomever else constitutes the organizational pitching depth we hold so dear) really couldn't be much worse. Maybe a bit worse than the Heartbreak Twins, but, you know, the damage is done either way.

Sending Joba and Bruney away together, as a unit, could help. Maybe it's the shock to the system they both require to reboot their baseball brains. I dunno, but all I know is they're not right, and I really wouldnt mind not seeing either of them for a coulple weeks.

10 ms october   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:15 am

[8] well i have been slightly more in the approach camp than arm camp most of the season. he threw some of his nasty sliders last night, and though he didn't throw it enough his curve looked sharp, and as you point out, the fastball had good velocity.
i have thought a lot of his issues this year were young/inconsistent pitcher issues, and have been willing to cut him a good bit of slack. this is the most frustrated i have been with him all year. maybe because i missed most of his meltdown and am left to imagine it based on what i have read.

11 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:17 am

The Yanks took 2 of 3 from the Angels in the Bronx. So the season series is tied. Hardly "oh those Angels."

12 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:23 am

[11] Cliff,

I have been accused (rightly) of beating certain dead horses with regard to the Yankees' decisions about the rotation. I'm curious--what would you do at this juncture? At the ASG break, would you stay the course, or move Joba out of the rotation for a turn or two? If so, whom would you slot into the rotation?

Similarly, what would you do about Wang's slot in the rotation, assuming he is out for another month or month plus?

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:25 am

[11] true, but when you're consistently .500 or worse against a team it's hard to remember the wins -- and maybe it's just me, but when the Yanks lose to the Angels they usually seem to do it in the worst way (fielding errors and pitching meltdowns).

The Yanks are roughly .500 against the Red Sox in recent years, but you can easily remember the wins, or the games when you just had to tip yer cap to a Red Sox hitter or pitcher for beating us.

It's probably just my perception, but when the Yanks lose to the Angels, it's often not that they were beaten, but managed to beat themselves.

14 Raf   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:25 am

[11] Exactly

Having said that, this seemed like the "typical" Angels game. Another good game for Figgins.

15 RIYank   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:29 am

The "Angels are our nemesis" plaint might be the same deal as the "URP dominates us" anxiety: very salient and upsetting on the occasions it comes true, instantly forgettable when it doesn't.

I'd say they should now work on stretching Hughes. If that works, and Chamberlain's next start is also troubling in the same way, the two boys can switch places for a while.

16 Raf   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:29 am

I think they should keep Joba in the rotation. They have to. They need to figure out his rhythm, his pitch selection, whatever. If it means calling the game from the bench, so be it. But he needs to get in synch.

17 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:32 am

Agreed with Cliff, we're going to lose some games to a very good team playing at home - even beat up. It is like importing memories of 'Yanks can't hit lefties, we need a righty bench bat!' then looking up to see we're destroying southpaws this year.

It is always painful to blow a lead like that, especially when their starter looks dreadful. Alas, so did ours. How to Solve a Problem Like Joba? (Bruney has no command at all on his breaking pitches and the fastball is being waited on.)

Jeter is lucky is dropped that ball on the west coast, late, and it didn't literally end the game - though it essentially did. Otherwise he'd be getting it HUGELY from Mets fans.

We're clearly a starter short right now, maybe even two starters if Pettitte continues to flounder. Expect some brain trust meetings over the Break. Not Halladay, I still think Jays will NOT deal him in AL East. But there are 2-3 lesser 3rd-4th starter types possible. Seattle still thinks they are in it, or Washburn (yes, Washburn, I know) could be a target.

But I don't think the Yanks are going to look to Mitre as the solution, rest of the way. Hughes' morphing to 8th inning remains odd, but with Bruney awful, it seems the gameplan for now. Solving Bruney's woes may release Hughes. Any word on Marte?

18 ms october   ~  Jul 11, 2009 9:39 am

[17] on i believe thursday petey said marte was supposed th throw bp in tampa today

sliced hit it in [13] - it is the seeming to come undone at the hands of the angels that is frustrating. last night was a very winnable game.

oh the trials and tribulations of the rotation!

19 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 11, 2009 10:05 am

[13] Right on, Sliced. [15] RI is right too.

[16] I'm with you, Raf. The kid has now thrown 155 innings as a big league starting pitcher. He needs to learn how to pitch, how to trust his stuff, how to get it done. The way to do that is for him to struggle in the big leagues.

Joba is essentially the 5th starter right now, and that's fine.

This may be why Hughes isn't being stretch out to start, too - he's going to struggle, too. This team can easily carry one typical 5th starter; two is probably too much.

That said, I say make Aceves and Hughes a tandem starter - one works half the game, the other the other half. DFA Tomko and get someone who could server as as an effective long man - maybe Mitre could do that well? - in his place.

Just my two cents for the morning.

20 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 10:21 am

[19] I like the tandem starter idea...in fact, I have been calling for that for the last year or two, assuming the tandem would be Joba and Hughes (you can look it up in the archives!). Of course, with Wang down (himself a fifth starter or worse this year), that leaves two potential tandem turns in the rotation.

21 The Hawk   ~  Jul 11, 2009 11:12 am

It's times like these that make me think the veil has been lifted; the legend of Joba Chamberlain began and ended in 2007. It even had a mythical ending, with the swarm of insects felling the mighty right-hander. Everything since then has unfortunately been post-script. Okay maybe not that dominant start in Boston last year, but everything else.

More prosaically, he sure messed up a perfectly good game yesterday. Barring a sweep by the Angels I won't be too bent out of shape, but I'd still like to see the Yanks take two of three - flex their muscles in the house of a worthy adversary for once.

Come to think of it, without Hunter or Vlad, they really ought to win two of three.

22 seamus   ~  Jul 11, 2009 11:21 am

The Angels have definitely had our number in recent years. At least if feels that way.

23 Emma Span   ~  Jul 11, 2009 11:22 am

[11] Not this year specifically - but I think "oh those Angels" is a fair reaction to the last decade-plus. Since 1996 the Yankees are 60-70 against the Angels, and over .500 against everyone else in the league...

24 PJ   ~  Jul 11, 2009 11:55 am

Beware the injured animal. They are far more dangerous than a healthy one, especially in their lair.

Apparently that also applies to Rally Monkeys, too...

: )

25 Will Weiss   ~  Jul 11, 2009 12:18 pm

[23] Emma, does that record include the Yankees' 3-6 postseason mark against LAA?

To that end, [5] Sox fans give you a quizzical look because they're 9-1 against the Angels in the postseason.

I don't think Joba to Scranton is the answer. I maintain, as I've said in this space for the last 18 months, that he never should have been moved to the rotation in the first place. Now they're hamstrung. It would not surprise me to see him dealt before the trade deadline as part of a package for a frontline starter, perhaps even Roy Halladay. But I can't see Ricciardi trading Halladay within his own division.

26 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 12:42 pm

[25] But they are no more hamstrung than if they had left Joba in the pen and Hughes was ineffective. In either case, by dedicating one young starter to the pen they have eroded their starting pitching depth.

27 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 11, 2009 12:42 pm

[25] What frontline starter exists other than Halladay who could possibly be worth Joba at this point? Not Washburn, surely not Bedard, good as he is when healthy.

Yes, Joba + 3 would be worth pursuing for Doc, but I still maintain Jays won't, and the salary hit is very large. If Yanks took on Vernon Wells' contract (one of the worst ever, only Zito's feel worse) they could get Doc for Joba alone, probably. But ... that's 35 million plus added. No chance, no sense.

28 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 11, 2009 12:43 pm

[26] Best I understand, both of them were slated for pen time this year, watching innings. If Bruney hadn't been hurt and had stayed effective, Hughes would still be in the rotation now, with Wang history.

29 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 12:50 pm

[28] If that is the case--and I think you are basically correct--the Yankees have effectively decided to dedicate a potential starter to the pen rather than find a replacement for Bruney, himself a castoff, for the eighth inning. And in so doing, they have further opted to take a castoff/effective reliever, Aceves, and swap him into the rotation rather than let him fulfill the eighth inning mandate.

Again, I have no problem with young starters working out of the pen, especially to save innings. The Twins did this with Santana. Earl Weaver preached it.

Rather, I am irritated that they have not been used in "long" relief (i.e., for two or three innings at a time, not simply mop-up work). That would have kept Hughes' innings down and allowed him to work on his approach..and be ready to take his proper spot in the pen on shorter notice.

30 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:21 pm

oh, if only the Yankees didn't have to look so very far to find a fabulous example of a starter-turned dominant multi-innning reliever shutting down opponents and shortening the game ...

cough,cough ... mo ... cough,cough ... 1996 ... cough, cough.

does make you wonder how the current management would have handled things back then ...

31 Rich   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:22 pm

I wonder whether Joba's increased velo caused him to tire early.

32 Hank   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:25 pm

The A-Rod error certainly opened things up and got the Angels back in the game, but for me the key moment was Jeter's error. (Sure, you should expect Bruney to pick him up and get the next couple guys, but at this point can you really EXPECT Bruney to get crucial outs?) Anyway, after Jeter dropped that pop-up, I saw something that I've never seen before. He seriously looked like he was going to vomit in the middle of the field. Say what you will about his fielding deficiencies, but this was so routine that the Angels announcer announced it as an out and the operator in the score truck changed the graphic from 1 Out to 2 Outs -- both before noticing that the ball was rolling at Jeter's feet. A few minutes later a 7-6 game became 10-6. Again the cameras flash to Jeter, and Captain Clutch looked ill. This was Tiger missing a six-inch putt for par. This was Jordan pounding a dunk off the back of the rim. In short, this was the Angels.

33 Hank   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:29 pm

By the way, I just re-read my comment, and even I'm not sure what a "score truck" is.

34 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:32 pm

[31] Maybe, but his last five fastballs thrown (according to gameday) were 92, 95, 93, 93, 92. So it doesn't look like he was losing velocity from fatigue. I guess it is possible that being tired could have made him lose location.

If he did get tired, I suspect it was rather because he ran up his pitch count. If you throw out his 14 pitch start, when he was knocked out by the line drive, he has averaged 95.8 pitchers/start, with a high of 108. It's not unlikely that once he gets to around 90 he starts to run out of gas. If so, then he will need to 1) be more efficient with his pitches, and 2) eventually be allowed to stretch to 100 or 110 pitches more often.

35 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:34 pm

[33] If the score truck's a rockin', don't come a knockin'?

36 PJ   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:36 pm

[33] "I’m not sure what a 'score truck' is."

Isn't that where the Michael Kays of the world go to "score?"

: )

37 RIYank   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:36 pm

[33] [35] It's used to transport the Rally Monkey.

38 Bobtaco   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:45 pm

"Forget it, Joe. It’s Anaheim."

Awesome, Emma ;-)

39 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:46 pm

"Score truck" has potential to become a Banter Mantra, yup. Bases are loaded, get on the score truck!

Monkey, as to the kidstartersrelievers, the problem I have with long relief is how random the scenarios are. When you have long relief up odds are good you have a failed starter and a losing game (not always but odds are). Many here were pushing earlier for Hughes to be used in 'meaningful' situations. You are essentially arguing for the opposite - treat him as an appendage to probable losses in order to get him 2-3 inning stints. I think this wastes an asset even more than turning him into a 3-5 out 7th/8th inning guy.

If you were to argue that he should still be starting ... I think I'm onside with that, though Girardi and others may be aware that the bullpen has been generally very good lately and not want to mess with it for a bit. (I fault Joe G for the Bruney switch last night, mind you. THERE is a guy who needed to be eased back in, to regain command and confidence.)

There are about 80 games left, Hughes' role is probably not locked in. Neither's Joba's and he CANNOT start the rest of the way, especially if (score truck willing!) we get to the playoffs.

40 cult of basebaal   ~  Jul 11, 2009 1:59 pm

[39] Again, the Yankees seemed capable of figuring out how to use Mo in both "long relief" and hi-leverage situations in 96, why can't they now???

41 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 2:01 pm

[39] In the abstract I agree with you. But the evidence from this season seems to indicate that meaningful, multi-inning opportunities are frequent, especially in this era of starts averaging around 6 innings/start. Basically every start by Joba, Wang, and Hughes himself, and most of the starts by Pettitte stand a very good chance of yielding a "long" relief opportunity. I have a hard time believing that the team could not find, say, four meaningful innings a week (i.e., two appearances).

So no, I am not talking about turning him into an appendage for probable losses.

42 Rich   ~  Jul 11, 2009 2:02 pm

[34] Yes, a loss of command is often the biggest tell that a pitcher is becoming fatigued. The pitch he threw to Morales was his 23 of the 5th inning.

43 PJ   ~  Jul 11, 2009 2:05 pm

[33] [37] Oh wait, I know...

The "score truck" is where they type in those fictitious radar gun numbers from pitch to pitch you know, on a whim...

How else would Phil Hughes throw a 94 MPH "12-6" curve ball that breaks a foot and a half?

: )

44 PJ   ~  Jul 11, 2009 2:06 pm

[43] "Only on YES"...

45 monkeypants   ~  Jul 11, 2009 2:11 pm

[39] One of the problems is that Girardi (whom I have generally defended) has used Hughes for outs rather than pitches. That is, when the kid dusted the opposition in 8 or 11 pitches, he was then removed. Those were opportunities to let him throw 20 or 25 pitches, which would have made it easier to re-stretch him.

THe Yankees have three very reliable relievers right now: Hughes, Aceves and Coke. In my view, they should each be used for two innings pretty much every time they go out (assuming each is effective). They could be rotated every third day, or even every other day no and again. You carry Mo for the ninth, and maybe two other arms. Such an arrangement would likely eliminate the need to carry a useless 12th pitcher (like Tomko). In any case, using your better relievers for a couple of innings in some type of rotation would cut down on the reliever-roulette that managers seemingly play at the end of the game.

46 Emma Span   ~  Jul 11, 2009 4:02 pm

[33] I believe that's what Stephon Marbury drives. (http://tinyurl.com/mltpnp)

[25] Will, actually it looks like that's just the regular season (http://tinyurl.com/l2kcus) - add in the postseason and they're 63-76 against LAnaheim since '96.

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