Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lethargic - A's 7, Yankees 0

I love this quote from Jorge Posada: "Luck comes when you go after it. It seems like there are times we go through the motions and today was one of those games," Posada said. "I think everyone knows what I'm talking about."

The guy admitted that the team wasn't trying. They're just going through the motions, said Posada.

So much for that great motivator, Joe Torre. I've said it a million times, I'll say it again: Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, David Cone and the rest of the dynasty Yankees would've been motivated with Art Howe or Stump Merrill in the dugout. Torre was a non-factor. This year has been a real challenge in terms of motivation, and Torre has failed miserably. Heck, he's failed every October for the last five years. To me, the turning point was game 4 of the 2002 ALDS. When Wells got pissed when Bernie screwed up a fly ball, the team went limp and you knew Torre was not in control.

Maybe the pyromaniac Proctor can help things. The guy was burning his equipment out there? Whack-job. And Farnsworth got pissed when he was replaced by Rivera Friday night. This team has gone completely limp and off-the-wall. How long till someone punches a wall?

- Can't get excited about Mussina's outing Friday night. Oakland came into the game tied for the second-worst average in the AL, with a .257 clip. They've got 10 players on the DL, and it caught up to them against the Mets and Cleveland.

If anything, the fact they've hit Igawa and the Yankee bullpen hard tells you just how awful the Yanks are right now.

- Tomorrow's matchup looks like a great one: Danny Haren against Andy Pettitte.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Bullpen's Control Issues

Just wanted to build on a point in Despiser's recap of last night's game. The Yankee bullpen has allowed the most walks in the game, more than any other pen in baseball.

The Yankee relievers have allowed 138 walks, the most in baseball - Florida is second with 127. By contrast, in '01 and '03, when the Yanks made the World Series, their bullpen had the second-fewest walks allowed in baseball.

The '07 Yankee bullpen has an atrocious K-BB ratio - 1.18. By contrast, the Dodgers are at 3.36, and the Brewers at 2.47. The lowest K/BB ratio by any pen in the last 5 years? Tampa Bay, with a 1.34 mark in 2005.

And thanks to guys like Wang and Clemens last night, the Yanks pitching as a whole (including starters) has the worst K/BB ratio in the game, at 1.44. The only teams with lower marks in recent memory are the Royals, Rockies, Devil Rays, and the '03 119-loss Tigers.

- Why have the Yankee arms deteriorated so much in this department? I think it's because Cashman and Torre have fallen in love with power pitchers who have bad control. Farnsworth has always thrown 100 MPH but with lousy control, going back to his Cubs days. And Bruney throws gas too, but he's allowed 26 K and 24 BB. Not good.

The other guys are somewhat more surprising. Proctor had 33 BB allowed last year, but has 22 already. Luis Vizcaino's struggles are also surprising, at first glance - he allowed 29 BB all of last year, and is up to 27 BB this year already. I would blame the NL-AL switch here. Even the Devil Rays have a more daunting lineup than the Dodgers and Giants.

Many have discussed the causes of the Yanks' underacheiving, and focused on Abreu, Damon, and other struggling veterans. But in addition to having the worst bench in recent memory, the '07 Yanks might have the worst bullpen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bedard Shuts 'Em Down - Orioles 4, Yankees 0

Even with Boston getting swept in Seattle, it's still a good day, as the Yanks looked lousy on both the pitching and hitting ends. Clemens is looking like an $18 million bust, with the ERA now up to 5.32. Hey, Cashman, Tyler Clippard gives you the same thing for a fraction of the price.

And the hitting was horrible as well. After Abreu got the A-Rod treatment last night, he got moved to sixth tonight, and is now in a 3-25 (.120) funk. When he had a hot streak a few weeks ago, I felt like an idiot for comparing him to David Justice in '01. But after his average has dipped from the .270s to a bad .256, the guy still looks lost out there.

And Matsui is struggling too, 3-24 in the last week (.125). Between those two holes in the lineup, plus the joke at 1B and DH, it's no wonder the Yanks are a mess right now.

- In 2005, we thought the Yanks were done. But they were much closer to the playoffs than these guys. Here's a look at the standings two years ago and today:

2005: Yankees 39-37, 5.5 GB, 3 WGB
2007: Yankees 36-39, 11 GB, 8 WGB

After this date, the Yanks had the best record in the game, going 56-30 (.651 WP) the rest of the way. And even then, they were only able to tie Boston for the division.
The way this team is going, they're not playing .650 till the year's over.

Clemens Should Have Signed With Boston: Orioles 4, Yankees 0 - Tragic Numbers 77, 79

So far, Clemens is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.32. I told you guys he'd have issues in the AL after dominating the NL (Comedy) Central. But no, the Junkee fans didn't believe me. What can I say? This is not Ca$hman's year. So it's probably better he didn't go to Boston.

Once again, the Bronx Bombers failed to do anything offensively. Damon went 0-4, as did Abreu, and zero extra base hits for anyone.

This team is starting to remind me of the Yankees of 1989-1992, when they couldn't buy a win. But hey, I'm not complaining.

- One thing I've noticed but haven't pointed out is that Old York is issuing a lot of free passes this year. They're third in the AL in walks allowed, trailing only Texas and Baltimore. This means more baserunners, and greater pitch counts, which is why Snorre is killing the bullpen.

- They've also allowed the most stolen bases in the league.

- What makes these losses even sweeter is that it's the Orioles without Miguel Tejada. Before the series I thought, okay, what can you do? They're going to face lousy teams and beat up on them. Yet here I am a couple of days later, and the O's may take out the brooms.

- Not too upset at Boston's struggles, because Old York hasn't gained anything.

- As much as they may not be out of the wild card race, still like the fact that they have four teams to jump over. Obviously if they win 20 in a row it won't matter, but even if they pick it up, all those teams have to go in the toilet for them to get past them all.

- Wang faces Cabrera in the series finale. Wang was unimpressive in his last outing, but who knows. Could go either way. (Really insightful point, if I may say so myself.)

Pen Does It Again - Orioles 3, Yankees 2

In case there were any Yankee fans still believing that this team was the second coming of 1978, nights like tonight make it very hard to believe this team will go far.

The Yankee bullpen stinks this year. In fact, it really hasn't been the same since the Nelson and Stanton era. Karsay did keep things under control in '02, but after that, it's been a total disaster. Flash Gordon was a good reliever until October, when Torre's abuse caught up with him at the worst possible time.

You can't rely on Proctor. Big game, small game. He's above average, but you never know what you'll get from him. And at some point, Torre's abuse will catch up to the guy. Bruney's been a pleasant surprise, but Yankee fans wouldn't trust him in a big game. Vizcaino and Farnsworth have been terrible. And as mentioned in my Sunday column, Mike Myers can't get lefties out.

Hard to believe that just two weeks ago, the Yankees were making our worst nightmares come true. If they lose to the O's again, maybe we'll start hearing rumblings about Torre and Cashman again. And based on the bullpen's performance, some well-deserved rumblings.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ringo's and Nieves's Arms: Killing the Junkees

First let's start off with Nieves: After Sunday's debacle, with the Giants stealing five bases off Old York, Nieves has now allowed 10 SB's while catching 5 runners. That's a 33 percent success rate. Not great, but not horrible.

Now Ringo: It's great that Posada's having a career year at the plate, because behind the plate, he's been absolutely dreadful. So far, opposing base stealers have made it safely 55 times, and have been caught only a baker's dozen. That's 55 for 68. Horrible.

I know, they've played 73 games, so we're taking less than a steal per game. And even if it were a steal a game, how much does that matter?

Well, for one, on some occasions, a well timed steal makes a huge difference. Dave Roberts in the '04 ALCS, for example. So once in a while, a steal will be big. Another thing is that the other teams might catch on and start taking advantage. Old York is lucky that you have teams like the A's and the Blue Jays who don't believe in stealing bases. But teams that do will run all over you.

Another factor is that the pitchers might get paranoid every time there's a guy on first that in a few moments he'll be in scoring position. That could lead to more fat pitches. (I've noticed more pickoff attempts.)

Finally, once teams notice they may start running even if they normally wouldn't.

Of course, the counterargument is something like this: Obviously there are more teams that don't run a whole lot, because there's only an average of one attempt per game. If this were 1985, it would be a problem, but not so much in 2007. As for the paranoia factor, there's no clear evidence that there's anything to it, and even if other teams start running, Ringo will revert back to his old ways of throwing out guys 30 percent of the time, not 19, thus, this is just an abberation.

I guess we ought to hope it continues and that other teams catch on.

(To be fair, as bad as Ringo's been, Boston's Jason Varitek has been even worse. He's thrown out only 3 of 24! But when you lead by 11+ games, it's not that big a deal.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Roundup 6/24/07 - A Quieter Weekend

The past few weeks, the Yanks have been THE story on Sunday. Whether it was a Yankees-Red Sox game, Clemens' debut, or the Subway Series, there's been a lot to talk about.

But the Yankees-Giants, aside from Barry, is much less compelling. Anyway, here's what's happening:

Surprise, surprise, another piece about the trading deadline by Joel Sherman. Sherman discusses how Cashman and Minaya are much more reluctant to trade young arms for veteran help then they've been in the past.

One thing Sherman gets wrong is as follows:

“And don’t put three Grade-C prospects together and expect anything back just because of quantity,” an AL executive said. “Garbage plus garbage just means you are giving me more garbage.”

So don’t think the Yanks, for example, can take Eric Duncan, Bronson Sardinha and Colter Bean and spin it into Mark Teixeira."

Did Sherman forget about the Bobby Abreu deal? Because that was a trade of four grade C prospects for one of the better outfielders in the game. Granted, it was an unusual situation, but if a team needs to dump salary, the Yanks will be more than happy to give them some faux-prospects to make the deal look legit.

Plus, Sherman leaves out the George factor. If the Yanks keep struggling, there will be a sense of urgency that will make the Yanks give up some very good prospects.

This piece in Newsday says the Yanks are interested in Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka.

Tyler Kepner recaps yesterday's game. He mentions that lefties are batting .306 off Mike Myers this year. Well done, Cashman. Plus, Abreu is now in a 3-23 funk.

Yesterday's Yankee loss featured a dramatic Yankee HR, followed by a walk-off loss on a bloop single. Brought to mind one of my favorite Yankee losses of all-time, game 7 of the 2001 WS. Not the same without Rivera, though.

One difference between the '06 and '07 Red Sox? Pitching depth, says Tony Massarotti.

Who should be The Man after Torre? Bob Klapisch thinks it should be Bobby Valentine. Bobby V is definitely a better in-game manager than Torre. I don't think Torre could've taken a team with Benny Agbayani and Timo Perez to the World Series.

I know some people will say Torre is much better with a team's chemistry and confidence, but I think that's a load of bunk. When the Yanks were stinking it up in May, some people ripped Torre for not motivating the team. And dropping A-Rod to 8th last fall didn't do a thing. Bottom line: When Torre wins, he gets praised to the heavens. When he loses, he gets ripped, but not as much as he deserves.

And the same held true for Bobby V. He got much praise in the magical years of '99 and 2000, but when '02 was a disaster, he was blamed.

The days of Yankee games on free TV may be over, writes Bob Raissman. In the same piece, he also has a funny anecdote about Sterling and Waldman.

And check out this quote from Bill Madden's column, on Milton Bradley:"He'd be a natural for the Yankees," said one scout, "except for his temperament. Oakland was really the perfect place for him. Now it looks like he'll never reach his potential."

PICK OF THE WEEK: Excellent human-interest piece about Mets' pitching coach Rick Peterson and his unique, successful approach in the Star-Ledger. As discussed many times on this blog, Peterson may be the man most responsible for the Mets' success the past few years. And Yankee fans, keep in mind that if George and Cashman ran the Mets, Tom Seaver would be their pitching coach.

16 Men Left On - Giants 6, Yankees 5

I love watching games like this, even more than games where the Yanks get blown out. Games like these personify the post-dynasty Yankees.

These Yankees have all the superstars, all-stars at almost every position. They've got plenty of guys with gaudy numbers. But they can't pull it together. They can't get the hits when they count. And they can't get the wins when they need them.

Looked like the Yanks were cruising early on, but Wang and the pen helped the Giants in the seventh.

In a possible World Series preview, Boston beat San Diego Friday night behind Dice-K, but is getting shut out by Chris Young tonight. But with the Yankees' loss, I can live with it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another Despiser Classic: Do It George! Get Milton Bradley!

With the Yankees in need of another bat and Bradley having just been dumped by the A's, the guy is once again a perfect fit. And even though many of the facts below have changed, I don't really need a new post for it.


November 7, 2005

One of the rumors swirling around is the Yankees trading for Dodger CF Milton Bradley. There are also rumors about Brian Giles, though I would be surprised if the Junkees go there. The guy is 35, and, while getting out of Petco will help his numbers improve, the Yanks would probably want to go young. There's always Johnny Damon, too, but Boston is gonna try hard to keep him. And he's no youngster, either. So that means Bradley is more of a possibility.

Additionally, I think that George will try to get Bradley, for two reasons: he loves troubled people. Darryl and Doc? The Yanks were ready and willing to take them, with all their baggage. Now granted, Bradley has different issues than those guys (attitude as opposed to drugs), but George loves the idea of taking a troubled player and having him turn his career around in pinstripes. It makes for great PR. Remember Doc Gooden's no-hitter? If his 15 minutes of comeback fame wouldn't have ended so soon, they probably would have made a movie about that.

I also think that George likes to tweak Torre by bringing in clubhouse problems. Heck, that was one of the reasons that Ruben Sierra got a second go-round for the Junkees (although Sierra, to his credit, has matured and toned it down since '96). But even guys like Weaver and Brown: I think George was partly motivated by the fact that he knew Snorre wouldn't go for those guys. And while Sheff, A-Rod, and Johnson are players any GM would get if they could afford it, I'm sure George liked their attitudes, too. And so Milton Bradley might be the ultimate tweak.

Besides, he'd be a great fit with the Yankees. Too bad Brown is done, because I'd love to see him and Bradley try to get along. But the Yanks still have A-Rod, Sheff, and the Big Unit. And Jorge Posada, who didn't talk to Tino for a few months after one of their tiffs.

So for all those Yankee despisers out there, go for it George! Get Milton Bradley! And after that, try to convince Terrell Owens to try baseball.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Sweep It Is! Rockies 4, Junkees 3: Tragic Numbers 82, 86

What a day. Roger Clemens struggled big time. I know, he didn't give up a ton of runs, but anytime you throw 90 pitches in 4.1 innings, you know you don't have your best stuff. I'm sorry, 4 earned runs in 4+ innings is not why you're getting $18 million! Seven hits and a walk in 4+ innings - he's lucky they didn't score more runs.

Props to the bullpen -- Snorre's boyfriend in particular (Scott Proctor) -- pitching a scoreless rest-of-game, but it wasn't enough as the offense, once again, faltered.

Johnny Damon is absolutely killing them. He's now batting .249 with no power, and has no business playing. As I've said a zillion times, if you're injured, go on the freakin' DL. Who knows - perhaps there's an element of PR that the guy has never been on the DL, and gosh darnit, they intend to keep it that way even if he can't move.

Abreu, ever since that 4 for 4 day is 6-28, also known as a .214 batting average. Cairo's doing nothing, and Andy Phillips can't buy a hit. Otherwise, the Yanks had opportunities but sqaundered them. In the series, they went 1-18 with runners in scoring position.

But not to worry, Snorre and Clemens had plenty of excuses: "I was taking deep breaths on the mound. My mouth got dry a couple times," Clemens said. "That was the more difficult part. Heat or cold is not a big deal. The one inning a storm blew in and the wind changed direction. The wind hit my chest and caused me to throw the ball out of the zone. But I made the adjustment. Then, the wind started to blow straight out." Can't make this stuff up.

So now it's on to San Francisco. We'll see what happens. Kei Igawa pitches Game 1, so we may as well pencil in another Yankee loss. Then Wang on Saturday and Mussina on Sunday. The Giants are a lousy team, they don't score any runs, but the pitching is not bad. In this series, they have (in order) Matt Cain, who's pitched way better than his 2-7 record, Matt Morris, who's having a really good year, and Noah Lowry, who has underachieved. I'm actually glad they don't face Zito, who stinks this year.

Because of the anemic offense of the Giants, I wouldn't be shocked if Old York takes 2 out of 3, but I wouldn't mind another series loss or sweep.

Yankees-Mets PR Blitz

When I first started following sports, I got excited every time I heard of a guy who played for both the Yankees and Mets. Rafael Santana was the big name in that category for a while. I got very excited when I found out that the awful Tim Leary had a cup of coffee with the Joe Torre Mets in the early '80s. I'll admit, that's creepy. And when Tim Burke and Lee Guetterman got traded, and then in '93 when the Yanks got Frank Tanana for the last week of the season, that was exciting. And then we got treated to some big names: David Cone, Darryl, Doc Gooden.

But now it seems like every few months, someone from the other Subway team gets called up or signed.

I was at the Mets game last night, and was talking to a friend about Ricky Ledee. He mentioned to me that there are 101 players who have played for both the Yankees and Mets. I thought the number sounded way too high. Turns out, he's right.

But I'm not crazy, either. What you may not know is, that ten years ago, following the 1997 season, there were only 61 players on the list. The size of the list has nearly doubled in the last ten years.

Or think about it this way. The Mets came into existence in 1962, and in the 35 years from then until '97, there were only 61 players to play for both teams. That's about an average of about 1.7 new Yankee-Mets a year.

From '98 to '07, less than 10 years, there have been 40 players added to the list. That's an average of 4 new Yankee-Met players per year! The PR war has gotten out of control, folks.

Next time a Met outfielder gets injured, who's gonna get called up first? Aaron Guiel? Do they trade for Bubba Crosby or Kevin Reese? At this rate, they'll be inviting Chad Curtis to spring training next year.

-- Today's the Rocket's biggest test of the year so far. The Yanks need a win today, to avoid slipping back to their old ways. You don't know what Igawa will give you tomorrow night. I know it's Coors Field, but Yankee fans better hope Clemens shows them why they gave him all that cash.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back To Double Digits - Rockies 6, Yankees 1

The two-week nightmare may still be going on for Met fans, but for Yankee haters, it's just a memory. The Yanks are back to their old ways - bad hitting and bad pitching. Pettitte stunk tonight, and the offense didn't show up again. And the Sox beat up on Atlanta, 11-0, pushing the lead to 10 games. The days of "the Yankees picking up games like candy" are thankfully over.

Torre was full of excuses as usual, claiming that the Yanks had trouble picking up Francis' pitches because they've never faced the guy before. Too bad.

One guy who's back to normal? Bobby Abreu, hitting 5-21 (.238) this past week. With a .333 SLG, to boot.

And with Damon a possibility to go on the DL, the Yanks need depth. Phillips won't help much at first. I think the Yanks will get a stopgap like Shea Hillebrand, and, come the trading deadline, go for a big name like Teixera. You knew Cairo wasn't a solution there.

Great to see the Sox back to their old ways. The way Tavarez is pitching, it takes away from the disappointment of Schilling's DL stint. But I think Gabbard and Lester should be fine filling in.

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Rockies 3, Junkees 1

Ah, life is back to normal. With a Red Sox win and a Yankee loss, I will sleep like a baby tonight.

Wow, this is not your father's Oldsmobile. These are not your father's Rockies, with scores like 16-15. Last time Mussina pitched in Colorado he said afterwards that he couldn't wait to get out of there and hoped to never go back again. Well, he pitched well (for him, 3 runs in 6 innings is pitching well), but Fogg was better, holding Old York to one run on seven hits.

The Yanks had oppotunities, leaving 13 runners on base, but the Rockies also left a bunch on (14 to be exact), nothing noteworthy other than Cano going 0-4, but the loss coupled with the Red Sox win makes the deficit 9 games, and they're 5 back in the wild card race. Couldn't ask for anything more.

Wednesday's game features Pettitte against Francis, two pitchers having outstanding seasons. For all I know, it could be a blowout, and I might be in a bad mood when all is said and done. But I'll take what I can get, and a Yankee loss always puts a smile on my face.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yankees Win, Ho Hum: Junkees 8, Schmets 2

The only good thing to take out of the weekend is that Boston swept the Giants, so with the Yankee loss on Friday night, Boston gains a game, so the lead remains 8.5.

But that's the only good thing. Everything else is still lousy. The outslugged the Mets on Saturday, and made it no contest on Sunday. Wang is pitching like Sandy Koufax, and A-Rod keeps hitting A-Bombs.

But I have a feeling, paranoia notwithstanding, that this will be a good week. Colorado is a tough place for visitors, Old York loses their DH (which, if you think about it, ain't much of a loss!), and you have the Mike Mussina and Ringo situation. Mussina's personal catcher is Wil Nieves, who can't hit a lick. But you can't DH Posada, so what do you do? Put him at first base and let him embarrass himself? And who the hell is Mussina that he has to have a personal catcher? For guys like Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, I understand, but Mike Mussina? Another example of the inmates running the asylum.

And of course, expect to hear grumbling from Mussina and company when they give up a ton of runs, blaming the high altitude, the heat, or whatever other excuses they come up with.

The Rockies are actually half decent this year. Looking forward to the series.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday Roundup 6/17/07 - Jeter and the Subway Series

The big story today is Jeter's performance in yesterday's game. I hate Jeter as much as the next Yankee-hater, but he and Rivera are the only current Yankees who have excellent track records in tough spots. Pettitte has a very mixed record (see game 1 of the '96 WS and game 6 of the 2001 WS), and the newer guys (Giambi, A-Rod, Mussina) have done very little. You can hate Jeter, but you've gotta respect him.

Still, I cringe every time the media has one of its Jeter lovefests, making him out to be the greatest ever to put on the pinstripes. And today is one of those days.

Ian O'Connor has a very good piece bringing us back to Jeter's early years, when it seemed like the Yanks wouldn't stop winning World Series. But over six years after the 200o Subway Series, Jeter is still waiting.

Kernan has the obligatory
"Jeter proves he's better than Reyes" piece. Kernan is the most predictable columnist in the city, and a big reason the Post's sports section has jumped the shark.

And here are a couple of Jeter love-rants: one from Newsday, one from the Hartford Courant.

But enough about Jeter. There's other stuff to talk about, too.

In this piece, Tyler Kepner writes about how Luis Vizcaino says Rivera helped him with his mechanics, and Vizcaino has had five good outings in a row (but keep in mind, mostly against lousy offenses). Also, with Clippard going back to AAA, Kei Igawa is most likely to take his spot in the rotation.

Dan Shaugnessy talks about how Dice-K has not gotten ripped by Boston fans despite a disappointing start to the season. And Dice-K was huge yesterday.

Joel Sherman's favorite time of year is coming up - trading season. Thankfully, he doesn't share any of his trading proposals in this piece. If anything, the impression you get from this piece is that there won't be a ton of action, because - a) many teams still have a shot, and aren't giving up their spare parts yet, b) some GMs of lousy teams (like Jim Bowden) won't give up their guys unless they get top names, and c) Boras clients in their walk years (like Mark Teixera) are unattractive to most contenders.

For the millionth time, Torre blames a lousy Rivera outing on rust.

Tony Massarotti makes a great point in this piece:

"Since taking 2-of-3 from the Red Sox at Fenway Park [map] on the first weekend of June, the Yankees had played series against the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks entering this weekend’s affair with the Mets. In order, those three clubs ranked 30th, 23rd and 26th among the 30 major league teams in runs scored this season, which is just what the doctor ordered for a Yankees staff that has employed 12 starting pitchers this season and only one (Pettitte) who had made more than 10 starts."

PICK OF THE WEEK: Great job by Bob Klapisch giving an update on whether A-Rod will stay or go after the season. We all thought he was done after he was on the cover of the Post a few weeks ago, but he and the Yanks have only gotten better since then. I don't care if 1978 happens again - I still think if A-Rod has a lousy October and the Yanks get bounced in the first round, he'll be outta here.

Klapisch also discusses the Yankees other options at third, if A-Rod goes. Miguel Cabrera is a possibility, but will cost a few top prospects. I'd love to see the Yanks get him, because I don't think he can handle New York.

- My big brother, a big Pat Tabler fan back in the day, will be very excited about a note in Klapisch's piece: Jorge Posada is batting .667 (8-12) with the bases loaded this season.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Split So Far

After the Yanks finally lost Friday night, today's Yankee win doesn't hurt too much. Especially with the Sox winning two against the Giants. I know the Giants are awful, but I find Dice-K's excellent outing to be a sign of things to come.

Any Yankee fans still horny about Tyler Clippard? Time to give it up. The guy stunk today, and was bailed out by the even worse Glavine and Mota. Anyway, Clippard now has a 6.33 ERA; whatever the Yanks get from the guy is a bonus.

Mets have 10 steals in the series so far. Good job, Posada.

Hideki Matsui (.421, 9 RBI in past 7 gm) has quietly been on a hot streak. Melky Cabrera (1 for his last 14) has quietly cooled off.

Finally, it's mid-June, and Mariano Rivera has a 4.50 ERA.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reality Check For Yankee Fans

Great piece in the New York Sun by Steven Goldman, giving some important perspective on the Yankees' winning streak. With another easy Yankee win and Boston currently getting ripped by the Rockies, it's always good to remember that weeks like these will pass. We'll be back to normal soon.

And I think the Mets will bring it this weekend. They've been cold, the Yanks have been hot, but they'll step it up a notch against the Yankees. My prediction? Mets, two out of three.

Anyway, here's Goldman's piece. A couple of interesting points he mentions: Mussina's Ks have been declining, and Jeter has been very ordinary as of late.

"By the time you read this, the Yankees will either be in the middle of an eight-game winning streak or have won seven of eight games — a nice showing for a team that had struggled, either way. But whether the Yankees can sustain that pace or something like it and ultimately upend one or both of the wild card leaders, Detroit and Cleveland (they are currently tied), or the AL East-leading Red Sox will depend on general manager Brian Cashman's ability and willingness to summon reinforcements, both from inside the organization and out.

The "inside" refers to the bullpen. The Yankees need help in that area, but they have internal options, including the porcine but productive Chris Britton and the indie league find, Edwar Ramirez (the changeup artist has struck out 62 double- and triple-A hitters in 34.1 innings). On the other hand, the Yankees may or may not have the will to try those options and cut bait on familiar but pointless vets such as Luis Vizcaino, Ron Villone, and the exasperating Kyle Farnsworth. A hallmark of the Cashman/Torre administration is to accept poor but predictable performances rather than risk failure by chasing improvements — despotic rulers rarely have innovative subordinates — and no one wants to stick their neck out for a policy if it means getting your head chopped off.

The Yankees also have the internal resources to compensate should Mike Mussina prove to have reached the rapid decline phase of his career, which seems likely from his declining strikeout rates. With luck and smart management, the team can develop enough pitching this year that they won't be trading for any Shawn Chacon types for years to come.

The Yankees are hitting .316 AVG/.393 OBA/.501 SLG this month, which would seem to suggest that the offense has finally clicked and no enhancements need be considered, but it's unlikely the Yankees will sustain this pace over the hundred games still left on the schedule. What we're seeing is an 11-game hot streak, not a new Murderer's Row. The Yankees might stay hot to some degree, with help from their cast of pedigreed hitters, but they won't stay this hot for long. Bobby Abreu will not hit .488 during the rest of the season and finish with a batting average of .401.; the balance of Alex Rodriguez's June might look more like his May; Derek Jeter, whose meager six stolen bases in 11 attempts could be the first signs of the 33-year-old's declining speed, might continue to hit .261/.333/.391, as he has this month, and the durable Jorge Posada could get hurt, leaving the Yankees with a month or more of Wil Nieves 0-fers.

Not all of those things will happen, but some of them will, in addition to other unforeseen occurrences. When they do, the Yankees will need other hitters to pick up the slack. That will mean acquiring a first baseman, a designated hitter, or both — the Yankees have problems at both positions, and the answers, to put it plainly, don't reside in the organization.

As a DH, Johnny Damon makes for a fine gimpy centerfielder. Despite a recent hot streak, he's hitting .239/.314/.304 in June and .255/.359/.321 as a DH. The average hitter at the position is batting .260/.352/.432. First base is a joke; the Yankees have enjoyed some short-term gains from Miguel Cairo's singles and his middle-infield ability with the glove, but Cairo is a career .267/.315/.359 hitter and eventually the singles will dry up, and the Yankees will need big league offense from the position. Awaiting the return of Doug Mientkiewicz is not a serious solution.

The big fish in the likely trading pool are the Rangers' Mark Teixeira and the Reds' Adam Dunn, with a resurgent Dmitri Young bringing up the rear. But the potential catch of the day could also include any number of less desirable Royals (Mike Sweeney, who hasn't hit) and White Sox ( Jermaine Dye, who hasn't hit and doesn't fit New York's needs).

Unless the Yankees land Teixeira, a two-time Gold Glove winner currently on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps, they will have to accept less than stellar defense at first. Dunn is the worst left fielder in the game today and a largely untried first baseman — reviews of his time at the position have not been kind. Young is a very big man with a very small glove. Sweeney is a miserable first baseman who hasn't logged any real time at the position in years. Of course, if the Yankees accept that they have a problem at DH, they can find room for an offense-only player.

The good news is that they may be able to do both. The Yankees' pitching depth is now so good that they may be able to match up with a trading partner without ever bringing a Phil Hughes into the discussion. The Yankees could be this year's Cinderella team, but they're going to have to get someone to give them a glass slipper to complete their miracle comeback."

"Yankees picking up games on Boston like they're picking up candy."

Those words were spoken by the great Christopher Russo, AKA the Mad Dog from WFAN.

Why? Why do I subject myself to such torture? Why don't I just become a Pirate Despiser, so that I won't have to aggravate myself every year? Why didn't I become a Devil Ray Despiser?

Here we go again. The Junkees look like they're down and out, and they come storming back, ripping my heart out in the process. And they're not even sweating these games out. It's coming easy to them. Too easy. Like it did for the '98 Yankees. Show up, score a bunch of runs, shut down the opponent, and hello World Series.

Why? Why do I have to sit in my car, turn on the radio, and hear John Sterling tell me that A-Rod hit another A-Bomb? Why do I turn on the YES Network, and when the score pops up, my heart drops and I scramble for something else to watch?

Why? Why do I have to pick up the local papers to read the columnists laud this team as the greatest bunch since the '61 Yankees (after week of ripping them, no less)?

Why? Why couldn't I be like my buddy from LA whose dad took him to a Dodgers game when he was eight, only to decide that sports is stupid, and a waste of time? If I hated sports, would I care if the Junkee won or lost?

Why? Why do I waste my time? It's hopeless. They're going to the playoffs, and I'll have fifteen ulcers before all is said and done.

Then again, another October choke would make it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Will It End? - Yankees 7, D-Backs 2

I hate seeing the Yankees on winning streaks like this one. I'm just waiting for them to lose again. Because right now, everything is going right for this team. Abreu and Cano are hitting, and A-Rod and Posada are still hot. Most importantly, the pitching has been pretty good lately. Moose pitched very well tonight, and Wang and Pettitte have been great. And even when a kid like Clippard gets knocked around, they still score 13 runs.

This streak isn't gonna last forever. But I think the Yanks are officially a threat again. Amazingly, even after this streak, they've still got 8.5 games to make up. And I don't care how well they've done; it's not gonna be easy. Bats will cool off, pitchers will slump, and this team will lose again.

But I think it's safe to say that we've seen another false alarm, just like 2005. That year, we thought their run was over. And then they stormed back with a big second half, thanks to Jason Giambi and Aaron Small.

But this year, they're heating up early, leaving open the possibility for a late-season collapse. Plus, they've got more competition to deal with, in Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit. And Minny and the A's will heat up in the second half, as always. So 2007 still may give us a Yankee-free October.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Okay, Now I'm getting Nervous! Junkees 4, D-Backs 1

I could write about Johnny Damon's lousy offensive year, especially following an 0-4 night. I could write about Farnsworthless's shaky inning, allowing a walk and a hit before wiggling his way out of it. I could mention that Melky was 0-3 dropping his average to a mediocre .253.

But I won't.

Old York won, they're back at .500, and here we go again. My dreams of a Yankee-free October are going the way of Katie Couric's viewers.

All I want is one loss to prove that they are not invincible. Tuesday night's game would have been a good night for a loss. Boston won, so the lead would have been back to 10.5. Instead, I have to sit and wonder if Livan Hernandez has any shot of beating them. After all, if the NL Cy Young award winner can't beat them, who can?

Very upsetting. Very, very upsetting.

Yankee Despiser Classic: Pavano: Another One-Year Wonder


Going back to the theme of George loving guys who had beaten the Yankees, here you go: Pavano in the 2003 World Series.

Now there's no doubt that he had a great season in '04 - 18 wins, 3.00 ERA. But two points:

(a) His lifetime record is 57-58. So we're not talking Tim Hudson here. For the first five years of his career he did nothing. He was 12-13 in '03, and last year he was his breakout year, so granted, as a Yankee despiser you hate seeing him picking up the pace, but at the same time, let's take it easy.

(b) You might say that unlike Vazquez, he has postseason experience. True, but you have to admit that pitching for the Marlins isn't exactly pressure. It's not like being a Junkee, where you have to win. They knew that even had they got knocked out of the first round, the Florida fans would have been happy that at least they made it that far. And after the '03 ALCS (Aaron Freakin' Boone), there was a letdown by the time the Series rolled around. Nobody was paying attention. So let's be fair.

Now to be honest, I would not have thought of him as a one-year wonder, but Harold Reynolds of Baseball Tonight made the point. "They're giving him four years $39 million because he had one good year?" So I'll take it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Good for Them: Yankees 13, Pirates 6

Okay, now that the exhibition series is over, we can get back to real baseball.

Boy, this series reminded me of the late '90s Yankees - they'd give up ten, but score eleven. They'd score two, but give up only one. And as usual, my paranoia has set in that perhaps Old York is destined to never lose another game in 2007.

But then the rational side takes over and says, you know what? This was not a great series for them. Yes, a win is a win is a win. But then I think about how I asked whether Tyler Clippard was this year's Aaron Small. Well, after a dismal outing, an ERA of 5.32, and 14 walks in 23.2 innings, I think not.

And as Manny mentioned, Pettitte and Clemens were no great shakes, either. So who knows how they'll handle a major league team when they face Arizona on Tuesday.

Obviously they've been much better offensively, especially Bobby Abreu (still only three homers), but this hot streak can't go on forever. Or can it?

I suppose you still have to look at the overall picture. They still trail Boston by a wide margin, and with the Sox taking on the Rockies, there's a chance to pad their lead. Oh well, what else is there to do but pray?

Sunday Roundup 6/10/07 - Drinking The Clemens Kool-Aid

Yesterday was one of those days where I hated going through the papers. Most writers had gotten caught up in the hype (this Kevin Kernan piece is simply ridiculous), and were making Clemens out to be the one who will make this year just like 1978 or 1999 or 2000.

Today, Clemens' mediocre return still made the covers of the tabloids. But surprisingly, there were a few rational pieces in the papers. Here are some:

Jack Curry of the Times points out that Clemens was facing the pitiful Pirates, and even those guys gave Clemens a rough time.

Mike Lupica gives his take
on the Clemens love affair - everyone's horny about him because he reminds Yankee fans of the old times, before the annual October chokes. I guess Jeter, Pettitte, and Rivera don't have that effect.

Lupica is a week late in this piece, contrasting the Mets' inexpensive young arms with the Yankees' Clemens. Three writers discussed Minaya's moves last week, and we talked about it on this blog a few days ago. Plus, Lupica totally ignores the Rick Peterson factor. It's an old story, and Lupica does a poor job here.

One guy not drinking the Clemens-as-savior kool-aid is Newsday's Shaun Powell. He says that the timing worked out perfectly for Clemens, as he joined the team when they were on a roll, with Abreu and Damon heating up, and having won a few games in a row. Thus, there wasn't a whole lot of pressure on Clemens yesterday. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Clemens was waiting for an opportunity when there'd be less pressure, and using the groin as a convenient excuse. But that's pure speculation.

Bob Ryan in the Globe has the obligatory Clemens piece, and doesn't add much to the above posts, but I like his last paragraph:

"If what Roger has to give is worth $4.5 million a month to the Yankees, more power to them. But Jon Lester might give the Red Sox the same thing while being somewhat more cost-effective. It's something to think about."

Now, allow me to ruin your day:

Here's some Clemens kool-aid from the New York Post.

Bill Madden tells us about some of the kool-aid drinkers, including Yankee employees and Yankee fans.

And there's a lot of kool-aid in this piece from one of my favorite writers, Bob Klapisch. Disappointing.

What I hate the most about some of these kool-aid pieces, including Klapisch's, is the idea that Clemens' presence will help every other pitcher from Mussina to Clippard improve. Please. The guy's gonna be spending more time at home that with the team. His pitching for the Yankees is merely a hobby, although an $18 million hobby at that. Clemens' impact will only be the results on the field. I don't see how he can have any off-the-field impact on the pitchers if he won't even be around.

Speaking of kool-aid drinkers, Suzyn Waldman was surprisingly subdued yesterday, writes Bob Raissman.

PICK OF THE WEEK: Joel Sherman provides the best analysis of Clemens' outing yesterday.

Sherman's pieces are either very good or very bad. Last week's pieces were awful, but this week, you can tell from the opening paragraph that Sherman is in good form:

"Clemens enjoyed his fourth and final minor-league tuneup yesterday while winning his 349th major-league game."

And a few more paragraphs:

If Clemens throws this exact way against a top-flight AL offense such as that of the Red Sox, Tigers or Indians, it is hard to imagine 54,296 at the Stadium saluting him off the field with a standing ovation after six innings, like they did yesterday. Because he would not last six innings.

“With what he had today could he compete against a good offense? No,” said a scout who attended the game.

The Pirates are a poor offensive team that is not particularly patient. Yet they forced Clemens to dispense 108 pitches to muster 18 outs. Clemens’ fastball was a hardly Rocket-esque 89-91 mph. His control was good, at best."

Medicore Clemens, Bats Lift Yanks

You can't get too excited about Clemens' start. 3 runs in 6 innings, and over 100 pitches. I'm surprised he even lasted that long. He got a lot of run support, however, as the Yanks ran all over the Pirates (5 steals for New York), and hit their awful pitching.

And you can't get too excited over the Yanks' performance this weekend. Friday night they won a close game, as the Pirates chased Pettitte. And today's game was a joke, too.

Arizona should be more of test for New York, as should the Mets, although they've struggled lately. But as long as Boston keeps playing well, the Yanks will have to keep winning and winning until Boston slumps.

- Should have the Sunday roundup ready later today.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Minaya vs. Cashman, part 2

If you missed part 1, click here.

Now, it's the Ca$hman's turn:

Good moves -

Chein-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano - Cashman struck gold by bringing up these kids in early 2005, and deserves credit for not trading them. They have turned out to be huge contributors.

Andy Pettitte - I thought he'd miss the easy NL Central, but so far, he's been the Yanks' best pitcher.

Bad moves - Where do we begin?

'04-'05 - Carl Pavano. Jaret Wright. Randy Johnson (was horrible in October). Tony Womack. Tino Martinez (did nothing in the second half of '05). Felix Rodriguez.

'05-'06 Re-signing Hideki Matsui. The Yanks and their huge payroll could've gotten someone much better for left field, both defensively and offensively. I don't care how much ad revenue he brings in.

'06'-07 Kei Igawa - The Yanks gave tons of money to the guy, who's made Hideki Irabu look good.

Humberto Sanchez, Chris Britton, Luis Vizcaino - This is the biggest difference between Cashman and Minaya. Ca$hman traded Sheffield, Wright, and Randy Johnson this offseason, and got nothing. He got a couple of prospects with serious injury issues, and got another Felix Heredia in Luis Vizcaino. Oh, and a decent mop-up man in Chris Britton. Terrible job there. On the other hand, Minaya's been excellent in getting young pitchers in trades.

Money moves -
Bobby Abreu -- a total salary dump. Can't give him credit for that one.

Lucky moves -
Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon. Yeah, these guys saved the Yankees in 2005. But hey, they could've worked out as well as Scott Erickson, Sidney Ponson, or Tim Redding. Also, those guys were useless in 2006.

CONCLUSION -- But in evaluating both GM's success, the discussion has to include pitching coaches. Rick Peterson has been a huge part of the Mets' pitchers success. The Yankees have a PR guy there, Ron Guidry. And who has Guidry helped? Which pitcher has done better as a Yankee, thanks to Guidry? In fact, I wonder if Small and Chacon did better in '05 due to Stottelmyre.

When you're the Yankees, with a huge payroll and all, you've gotta splurge for a great pitching coach. The Yanks have tried to draw fans with Guidry, and he hasn't helped the pitchers much.

And then there's the pathetic Yankee bench. Notice how it's gotten much worse since Cashman took full control. That's been a big reason for their early-season struggles.

So while Minaya's made his share of mistakes, overall, his good moves have had much more impact. I'd take him over Cashman any day.

Minaya vs. Cashman - Not Even Close, Pt. 1

As promised, time for the Minaya-Cashman comparison.

Cashman has been with the Yanks since '98, and in the first weeks of this blog, we covered his track record. But because Minaya has only been with the Mets since late 2004, I'm only gonna compare Cashman and Minaya's performances since that time.

One big big factor comes up when you evaluate two big-market teams; a lot of good moves are made simply because a team had tons of money. So, for example, I can't give Minaya too much credit for signing Beltran, because it was move he made because he had the resources. On the other hand, when a team ties up a ton of payroll in a lousy player, then a GM deserves to be ripped for that.

I've structured this piece as follows: I will divide each GM's moves into four categories: good moves, dumb moves, guys they only got because they had the most cash, and lucky moves.

I'll start off with Minaya.

1) Good moves -
Pedro Martinez - Very good move. Even though Pedro hasn't performed too well as a Met, count me as one of those who believed that signing Pedro gave the Mets credibility to attract other guys like Beltran.

John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jorge Sosa, Endy Chavez - In the winter of '05-'06, Minaya got ripped for trading Jae Seo and Benson, to the point where people accused him of favoring Latino players -- but hey, those two aren't even pitching right now. And right now, Minaya's reputation has been bolstered by John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Jorge Sosa. Endy Chavez and Joe Smith have helped as well.

And give Minaya credit for not taking Mike Franseca's advice to trade Jose Reyes for Alfonso Soriano.

Bad moves -
Doug Mintkiewiecz - lousy at first in '05 - not a good signing.

Kris Benson - Re-signing Kris Benson for $7 million/year seemed crazy at the time; on the other hand, that ultimately got John Maine to the Mets.

El Duque, Shawn Green, Moises Alou, Julio Franco -- Minaya's biggest weak spots are where he gets players for PR. He got El Duque because he was a Yankee, and the guy couldn't even pitch last October. He got Green because he's Jewish, and the guy had a good start, but now he's injured. I think he'll cool down as the year progresses. Minaya also got the injury-prone Moises Alou because he urinates on his hands. And of course, Alou is on the DL. The ultimate PR guy on the Mets is easily the ageless Julio Franco. He did hit .273 last year, but hasn't done much this year (.552 OPS). Will Minaya ever have the nerve to dump the guy?

The only defense of Minaya's signings for the outfield is that Green and Alou are temporary placeholders for long-term solutions like Milledge and Gomez. But if the latter two guys don't pan out, Met fans will wish Minaya had splurged on Soriano or Carlos Lee this past offseason.

Jorge Julio - was a disaster in New York, but at least Minaya didn't give up a kid like Kazmir to get him.

Money guys

Carlos Beltran - but see Pedro (above).

Billy Wagner - after suffering through Looper and Benitez, the Mets would've given Wagner more money than Clemens will make this year.

Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca - both came from Florida's fire sale; can't say Minaya's a genius for getting those two. However, Minaya does deserve credit for not giving up any top prospects in those deals. Mike Jacobs has had more lasting power than Kevin Maas, but the Mets don't really miss him.

Lucky moves -

Jose Valentin, Damion Easley - I don't give Minaya too much credit for Jose Valentin. It was a no-lose signing, kind of like the Yankees picking up Aaron Small. The same is true of Damion Easley. But I do give him a lot of credit for getting Endy Chavez. He showed sparks of talent with the Expos (32 SB in 2004) and has come through so many times, I don't think it's flukey.

Part 2 is gonna cover Cashman.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wow, They're Bad - Yankees 5, White Sox 1

The White Sox have looked awful the last two nights. They couldn't hit a lick tonight, and Vazquez pitched poorly against his former team. No wonder Ozzie may be on the hot seat. You get the feeling that in '05, they won it all because everyone was hot that year. Contreras, Konerko, Buehrle, Jenks, etc. all had great years. This year and last, however, it simply hasn't worked out for them.

And you look up and down that lineup, and man, are they cold. Dye is batting .224, Pierzysnki .246, and Konerko .232. And center field has been a disaster since they traded Rowand. So I wasn't surprised that Wang pitched so well tonight.

- And some of the Yankee hitters are starting to heat up. Abreu's been very good over the past couple of weeks, and hit his third homer of the year tonight. His average was in the .230s for most of May, but is now at .254. Melky's done pretty well too, up to .250. And defensively, he's a big improvement over Damon. At least Melky throws like a guy.

- Boston's been stinking it up lately, but I'm not too worried. Manny and Papi haven't heated up yet, and I still think we haven't seen the best of Dice-K. So even if Youkilis and Lowell cool down, I think they'll be fine.

Snorre Kisses Up to His Players

According to an article in today's New York Post, Snorre tells of how he approached Jeter and A-Schmuck about giving them a day off. Both refused. Snorre pointed out what gamers these guys are, not wanting to take even one day off. Snorre's lucky that they both had good games. Had they both gone 0-5 and had Old York lost, he'd look like a fool, and like a guy who lets the inmates run the asylum.

Instead, he lucked out, and now he probably thinks he's a genius.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lousy Night for Yankee Despisers: Junkees 7, White Sox 3

Is Tyler Clippard this year's Aaron Small? The guy threw 89 pitches in 5 innings, walked three and gave up five hits, but a win is a win, and it doesn't matter how ugly it may have been. And the bottom line is that if he keeps winning games, even if they aren't pretty, that's all that matters.

That said, let's be fair. The White Sox offense is pathetic. You have a bunch of guys right around the Mendoza line, and horrible power. They're dead last in the AL in slugging percentage at .368. And they play in a pretty good hitter's ballpark.

This was an old-time Yankee win, reminding me of the dark years of '96 through 2000. Tons of hits, rallies, solid pitching.... Drives me crazy. Can't criticize any of the hitters, all of whom got at least one hit, 17 in total.

Only thing we can pick on is the bullpen, although Proctor was solid. Farnsworthless gave up a run in one inning, and Bruney had to be rescued by Charlie Brown after surrendering a hit and a couple of walks.

But the bottom line is that the Junkees won the game, and that's never a good thing. It's scary that a lot of the stinkers are heating up at the same time.

- Prediction: I know it's early, but here it is: Clemens shuts down the mighty Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, getting Junkee fans all horny.

Yankee Despiser FAQ

LAST UPDATED: 06/08/07

When we started this blog a few years ago, I looked at it as a form of therapy -- a way of blowing off steam -- only a whole lot cheaper. Don't get me wrong - what we write is not hyperbole. We genuinely hate their guts.

Anyway, we've got a lot of new readers lately, so welcome, and for those of you who are new to the blog, allow us to explain some of what goes on here.

Q: Who are the Yankee Despiser and Manny Ortiz?
A: We're two guys from New York who've loved baseball for a long time, and when the Yankees started ruining baseball a few years back, our hatred for them intensified.

Q: Why do you call them the Junkees?
A: Two reasons. (a) That's what Manny's older brother called them many moons ago, and (b) With Giambi, Matt Lawton, Dale Berra, and all the guys over the years who've been on drugs, I think the answer becomes quite obvious.

Q: What about Old York?
A: Look at all the old men on their current roster and on the rosters of previous years.

Q: Why do you give most players nicknames?
A: First off, it's fun. It breaks up the monotony of writing the same names over and over. Second, many of them accurately reflect the personalities of the players.

Q: So what are the nicknames?
A: Joe Torre - Joe Snorre, because he always looks half asleep in the dugout.

Jason Giambi - Juice-On Giambi. Need I say more?

Doug Mientkiewiecz - Doug Smith, because the Junkees got him for PR. Ex-Red Sock, Ex-Met, and funny last name. Makes me wonder if they would have gotten him with a name like Doug Smith.

Derek Jeter - Derek Cheater. Don't remember how that one came about. May have been from a commenter.

A-Rod - A-Schmuck. Between his dirty play in the '04 ALCS and the screaming "I got it!" incident in Toronto, it's pretty self explanatory.

Hideki Matsui - Shemp. Looks like the Stooge.

Jorge Posada - Ringo. Looks like the ex-Beatle.

Kyle Farnsworth - Farnsworthless. Look at his numbers. Has been a $6 million pitcher? Have you noticed that he's only brought into 10-1 games?

Mariano Rivera - Charlie Brown. Looked like the Peanut when he flailed at the ball in Game 4 of the '04 ALCS when Bill Mueller tied it up with the single up the middle in the ninth. Also the way his ears stick out under his cap.

Q: Aside from blowing off steam, what else are you trying to prove?
A: Generally we try to further prove that the aura and mystique are long gone, now that Old York is full of jerks. We try to show how Ca$hman has been a buffoon with some of his moves, how Snorre falls in love with relievers and overuses them until their arms fall off, how they're constantly blaming the umps and coming up with excuses when they fail (especially Mike Mussina), and how so many moves are made for PR.

Q: What do you mean making moves for PR?
A: Often the Junkees will pick up guys not because they're the best guys available for their needs, rather because it'll wow others. Why did the Mets pick up a washed-up Shawn Green? PR. He's Jewish, so presumably more Jews will show up to the games or root for the Mets. Likewise, the Yankees have made tons of moves for PR. One is to pick up guys who used to be Yankees and then went elsewhere. They've done this just about every year during the Ca$hman era:

1997 - Mike Stanley
1999 - Jim Leyritz
2000 - Roberto Kelly
2001 - Randy Velarde
2002 - David Wells
2003 - Jeff Nelson
2004 - Homer Bush
2005 - Tino Martinez
2006 - Miguel Cairo

Have any of these guys really made an impact? No, they didn't have to. It was simply PR. Another PR tactic is to get ex-Mets. Among them (since Ca$hman took over in '97): Allen Watson, Jose Vizcaino, Ryan Thompson, Lance Johnson, Darren Bragg, Robin Ventura, Alberto Castillo, Todd Zeile, Bubba Trammell, Jesse Orosco, Tony Clark, Matt Lawton, Al Leiter, Octavio Dotel, and so on. Again, mostly non-impact players.

Finally, they love ex-Red Sox. That list includes Johnny Damon, Doug Mienkiewicz, Mike Myers, Tom Gordon, Alan Embree, Mark Bellhorn, and let's not forget Ramiro Mendoza in 2005.

Q: What is the Curse of Jeff Nelson that you have on the top of the page?
A: When the Junkees let him go at the end of the 2000 season, he was ticked off. He said "They'll never win without me." So far he's been right. To me it ranks right up there with the billy goat in Wrigley Field.

Yankees Power Numbers: Anemic

Yes, they rank sixth in the AL with 60 homers, which is not horrible.

But a third of those are coming from one guy, A-Schmuck.

That is pathetic.

When Old York won all thoe championships in the '90s, they had more balance. The home run leaders those years were as follows:

'96: Bernie Williams - 29
'98: Tino Martinez - 28
'99: Tino Martinez - 28
'00: Bernie Williams - 30

Nobody hit more than 30 those years, but the difference is that you had a bunch of other guys who hit in the 20s or high teens. This year, A-Schmuck is on pace to hit 59 dingers. No one else is on pace to get close to 30. Right now, after A-Rod you have the Juicer and Ringo Posada tied for second with seven each. We know that the Giambino is out of commission for a while, and Ringo may very well cool off considering that he's a 35-year-old catcher.

Abreu, Jeter, Shemp, Damon, Phelps, and Cano are simply not hitting homers. So I'm reminded of those teams with one huge home run guy, say the Cardinals of the late '90s with McGuire, or the Giants with Bonds, or the Cubs back in Sammy's heyday, and those teams never got anywhere, save for the '02 Giants.

So when Snorre is teeing off in early October, we can add this as reason #1017.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Back to Business as Usual: Junkees Drop One to ChiSox 6-4

So much for the momentum of A-Schmuck's home run, which John Sterling called A-Rod's most dramatic home run yet. Puh-leez. Then again, what the heck should I expect from Pa Pinstripe?

Anyway, Matt DeSalvo got into some trouble, thanks in part to some typical shoddy Yankee defense, and Snorre had no patience for him. I was a little surprised that Snorre went to the pen so soon, but I think it's safe to say that DeSalvo is NOT this year's Aaron Small. (Speaking of which, why not bring back Small for PR?)

Villone came in to give up a couple of runs, and before you knew it, the Junkees were way behind. Can't completely kill the Junkee offense as they did get 10 hits, but until the ninth, didn't string much together.

- Has anyone noticed that Jeter is having a horrible June? He's now 3-20, 3 for his last 27, and in that time his average has dipped from .355 to .326. Yeah, he'll blame his latest 0-5 on getting run into early in the game, but don't worry - he'll probably pull a Damon and play through it, further ruining the second coming of 1978.

- Damon, by the way, is also having a horrid June, and has absolutely zero power. If he's your DH, forget it. Another great signing by Brian Ca$hman.

- Tyler Clippard pitches on Tuesday. Pressure's on.

Yankees Outfield Defense: Horrible

Want to know why the Angels own Old York over the past few years? Because they're a very aggressive team who most often tries to take an extra base, and the Junkee arms are absolutely horrendous.

Watching Bobby Abreu reminds me of Darryl Strawberry in the late '80s, when he always let balls dunk in a couple of feet before him. Additionally, he misplayed a couple of balls in the Red Sox series, and has an unimpressive arm.

Johnny Damon gave me a good laugh a while back when he handled a sac fly against the Blue Jays in shallow center field and when throwing the ball in, reached Cano above second base on two hops. Let's face it - he throws like a girl.

Shemp Matsui was a better outfielder when he first came to the Junkees, but seems to have lost a couple of steps since then. He is, by far, the best of the three out there, but come on. He's in left field, the least important of the three positions.

Teams that don't take the extra base against Old York are foolish. Statistically speaking, they are below average in outfield assists, with 7 so far, the MLB average being 11. Who knows - perhaps word will get out and the other teams will smarten up. That will make 1978 less and less likely.

Let 'Em Enjoy It

Last night's Yankee win will ultimately be viewed in one of two ways: (a) the momentum-changing win that started an improbable comeback, or (b) an isolated highlight for Yankee fans in an otherwise very disappointing season.

As the Despiser discussed yesterday, my money is on "(b)."

What's funny is how, in years past, when A-Rod had a moment like this, the media would proclaim it as his coming of age as a Yankee. Whether it was the fight with Varitek in '04 or the homer off a rehabbing Schilling in '05, we heard all about it. At least the media has finally realized what we've known all along: until A-Rod does anything in October, he'll leave New York with the same legacy as Randy Johnson: a future Hall-of-Famer who came to the Yanks to lead them to a championship, but left the fans disappointed.

A-Rod deserves credit for the homer last night. Papelbon threw a very good pitch, and A-Rod went the other way. As much as we rip the guy, and deservedly so, he's still one of the most talented on the diamond today. Once in a while, he lets us know why he gets paid $25 million.

- Is Pettitte injured? And what is it? If he is, then the Yanks and Cashman have another excuse. Never mind the fact that Pettitte's health issues were part of the reason the Yanks weren't interested in bringing him back after 2003.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Roundup 6/3/07

- With apologies to Buster Olney, time for a new Despiser feature: links to the best Yankee-related columns in the Sunday papers, with quotes and my opinions thrown in for good measure.

Interesting performance/human interest piece in the Times about Mike Lowell; some good tidbits at the end.

Murray Chass talks about the "most expensive groin in baseball history," and how the Mussina-Nieves battery flopped. In that piece, Torre does Mussina's job for him, blaming his lousy performance on the rain delay.

Mike Vaccaro talks
about the Yankees' horrible seventh inning yesterday. He does a good job pointing out how Abreu's screwing up a fly ball led to the Yanks falling apart that inning.

Typical outlandish outside-the-box piece by Joel Sherman, suggesting how the Yankees could try to opt our of Clemens' deal, considering that it's technically a minor-league deal. Sherman, do you think George would ever allow them to just drop Clemens? No way. Clemens could be out till August, and he's not going anywhere. Although if the Yanks would opt out of the contract and Clemens doesn't end up pitching for New York, it would make Suzyn Waldman's call all the more ridiculous.

Sherman does a slightly better job in this piece, quoting a bunch of scouts saying that Clemens will have a much harder time with the AL East than with the NL Central last year. But we've discussed that here, already. Not an epiphany.

Wally Matthews talks about Captain Clutch's failures yesterday, and throws in a great line about how "Joe Torre is sounding more like Art Howe every day."

Tony Massarotti believes
that the Sox and Lowell played hard because they were ticked about Proctor getting a free pass for hitting Youkilis Friday night. It's Yankees-Red Sox. That's reason enough to play tough.

PICKS OF THE WEEK: I've been meaning to do a Minaya vs. Cashman comparison, and there a bunch of columns praising Minaya this week. The Record's Ian O'Connor, the Daily News' Bill Madden, and Newsday's Shaun Powell all sing Minaya's praises. O'Connor and Madden throw in the occasional dig at Cashman, too. Expect my take later this week.

1978 Will Not Happen in 2007

The Junkee fans like to get excited and delude themselves into thinking thst they can easily come back from a 13 game deficit. After all, they say, it happened in 1978, so why not this year?

Here's why. To have a 1978, two things have to happen: (a) The Red Sox play lousy baseball; and (b) The Junkees play incredible baseball. You could have either (a) or (b), but the likelihood of having (a) AND (b) is slim.

The Junkees could go on a tear, but it's a lot harder now than it was in 1978. Back then, you had two teams in their second year of expansion, the Blue Jays and the Mariners, with both teams losing over 100 games. This year, maybe you'll have one in the Royals, or even the Rangers, but Old York doesn't play them as often as they used to. Instead, they play half their games against the AL East, and none of the teams is an easy win.

Also, the Yankees had a dominating ace in Ron Guidry, who had one of the all-time seasons for pitchers, going 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA. Overall the Junkees led the AL in ERA and were second in strikeouts. This year, props to Andy Pettitte for doing a great job so far, but no one else has been any good. You've gotten decent starts here and there, but so many times Snorre has had to pull pitchers before the fifth inning, and you don't stage a 14 game comeback with guys like Mike Mussina and Kei Igawa. Right now the Junkees are tenth in ERA, and dead last in K's. Oh, and they've also issued the third most walks. Meanwhile, Boston is third in ERA, fourth in K's, and only two teams have issued fewer walks in the AL.

I'm not saying it can't happen. I won't rest until Snorre and company are mathematically out of it. Just realize that they really have their work cut out for them.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Your $18 Million At Work

I know it's Yankees-Red Sox this weekend, but I'm gonna talk about Clemens first. The injury issues are already acting up, and is anyone really surprised? The guy is 44 years old, and has had the occasional groin and hammy issues. On Friday, Mike and the Mad Dog ripped the guy for not wanting to pitch in this weekend's series. I guess now we know why. So for all you Yankee fans who thought Clemens would bridge that 14.5 game gap, think again.

- I don't know what it is, but the Yankees have killed Tim Wakefield this year. Wake has a 10.93 ERA against the Yanks this year. Yanks batted .191 against him from '04-'06.

- Today's game was fun. Mussina had another lousy start, and Proctor was lousy, as he's been lately. And 19 BB in 29 IP is just awful.

But the big story today was Captain Clutch, Derek Jeter, making a couple of errors to lose the game for New York. Abreu botched a fly ball, too. Sloppy plays.

- Credit where credit is due to Joe Torre, for calling Mike Lowell's taking out Cano at second in the 4th a "clean play." Can't remember the last time I've seen Torre act like that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Abreu: Another Justice

The biggest disappointment for the Yanks thus far? Easily Bobby Abreu. In '06, his arrival was the turning point for the Yanks. They had trouble catching the Sox in the division, and once Abreu came, opposing pitchers were up to 90-100 pitches in the 5th inning, and the Yanks pounced on teams' lousy middle relievers. After Abreu came along, the Yanks were able to knock Boston out of the race and easily win the division.

Abreu's numbers as a Yankee last year? Excellent. .330 batting average, .926 OPS.
This year, his average has fallen over 100 points, to .228. His OBP (.313) and SLG (.289) are both worse than his average in '06. The .602 OPS is pathetic.

In 2000, David Justice was huge for arguably the weakest of the dynasty teams. He had a .309 AVG and a .976 OPS, with 20 HR to boot. He capped it all off with a huge ALCS, winning the MVP in that series.

But in '01, Justice fell apart. He hit .241, and his OPS fell over 200 points. He hit .167 in the World Series, and was shipped to Oakland after the season.

One can speculate about the reasons for Justice and Abreu's dropoffs. Did they just get old? Did the Indians and Phillies know something Cashman didn't? Did they need a change of scenery to succeed, and then lose that motivation?

Last year, Yankee fans owed their October to Abreu. This year, Abreu may be the reason the Yankees miss the playoffs.