I’ve already admitted I’m the biggest loser in the world. Anybody who lets something as silly as a baseball team affect their moods and their disposition is just an idiot. I really don’t know how else to put it. But that’s me.
These days my stomach gets tight before I ever turn on the TV. I suppose a trip out to Anaheim will do that to you. This is about the time of the year when I start griping that MLB, always acting in the best interests of the bottom line, sticks the Yankees with ten games against the Angels every year. The Angels are the only team on the schedule outside of the division that you can mark down for ten games every single year. In fact, they are the only team outside the division that the Yankees face ten times ever. I’ve said this a million times. This is no coincidence, guys. MLB understands that these are marquee teams, and in the salad days of the Yankees the last few years, the Angels were just what the doctor ordered – a team that owned every pinstripe on the Yankees’ backs. So you can be sure that Texas was only going to get 7 games against the Yanks but the Angels were going to get 10. So now that my gripe is out of the way, let’s look at what happened.
The futility with runners in scoring position is getting to the point of otherworldly. And as I’ve said, the only measure we’ve got is the pathetic batting average with RISP. But it’s so wildly lacking in telling the whole story. The awful Melky Cabrera (I’m going to come back to him) comes up with runners on first and third with one out tonight. He swings at the first pitch (shocking) and hits into a double play. That counts as 0-1 with RISP, but it was a bone crushing two outs recorded with one swing, and even worse, the first swing. And the Yankees are legendary for it. They will have a pitcher on the ropes at 70 pitches in the third inning, and will swing at the first pitch and give him two outs. This bails him out of two jams – the one where he’s got a runner on third with less than two out and the one where his pitch count is out of control and he’s staring at a fifth inning shower. Yup. That’s where we are. The Yankees are so bad at something, there isn’t a stat that’s descriptive enough to capture it. And there’s one other useless stat. Ken Singleton on Sunday afternoon put a number to the recent suffering of Yankee fans. “The Yankees are less than 60% in getting the runner in from third with less than two out,” he said. What?! Less than 60%? If you’re dumb enough to watch every Yankee game, like I am, you wouldn’t have signed up for that number being any higher than 15%. Where the h*ll is he getting “less than 60%?” And then you realize what comprises that useless stat. That includes all of the garbage time blowouts when the Yankees actually do put a ton of runs on the board. Like the 7 run outburst against LA at the Stadium last week. Yes, it’s true. They got lots of runs home from 3rd with less than two outs. And it was all window dressing. Nothing that did us any good. But it pads the stats and makes a dumb number even dumber. Show me how many times they’ve gotten it done when it counted.
I’m going to say something stupid. I honestly don’t remember the last time the Yankees hit a sac fly. And I’m not trying to be funny, or to exaggerate. I honestly do not remember. It really is something.
I have to tell you. Joe Girardi is not impressing me as a playoff-run manager. In fairness, Joe Torre never impressed me in that regard either, but Girardi is making me sick. Kudos to Michael Kay on the YES broadcast tonight asking why Girardi, so adamant in the pre-game that “every game is crucial right now,” goes out tonight and sits Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi down. Giambi is an easy one. I said when the Yankees got Sexon that my one fear with getting Sexon is that they’re going to play him. And by that I didn’t mean that I didn’t like the move, believe it or not. I meant that you need to recognize him for what he is. He is a pinch hitter to face a lefty specialist. And a late-inning defensive replacement. That’s it. I meant that you cannot start platooning him with Giambi. You can’t sit Giambi down. He’s too important to the lineup, as even when he’s making out, it’s a tough out. He takes a lot of pitches, and on this free-swinging team, you can’t afford to sacrifice that. When Giambi isn’t in the line-up, pitchers go deep in games against the Yankees. Count on it. So what does Girardi do? Ughh.
Here is the crux of my problem. The Yankees are in the last leg of a grueling stretch of 20 games that will decide whether or not they will have a shot at making up the distance to a playoff spot. Knowing this, Girardi unnecessarily pencils three outs into the lineup last night, and he pencils three outs into the lineup tonight. And he pencils in one or two almost every night. First, yesterday. Sexon, Justin Christian, Molina. We’ve talked about Sexon. Justin Christian is not a major league hitter. He cannot be in the lineup. He’s a pinch runner. And why was Pudge not playing? Is he still hurt? I didn’t see anything to that effect in the news. The Yankees got Pudge not because they were afraid Molina couldn’t hold up to the rigors of being the starter. They got Pudge because he’s hitting .293, and Molina’s hitting .220. So why was Girardi putting Molina out there on Sunday? So tonight Girardi gets a little smarter and sits Molina. But he still played Sexon, Christian, and Melky. And what was the result of those combined three spots in the order for those two games? How about 1-17 with 6 strikeouts and 8 men left on base? How does that sound? Good?
So here’s my next question? Is Johnny Damon hurt? I get that he can’t throw the ball very hard. What else is new. But us he legitimately hurt? Because if not, he needs to be in the lineup and in center field every single day, period. I don’t care that he can’t throw. He’s leading AL in hitting, guys. Why is he sitting? Nady plays left, Damon plays center, and Abreu plays right. Every day. Pudge catches every day that Moose doesn’t pitch. And Giambi plays first base every day. If you want to DH Giambi and use Sexon at first against a lefty, fine. But you can’t sit Giambi. In that line-up, Sexon becomes your eight or nine hitter. Where he belongs. Certainly not sixth or something outrageous like that. You want to use Betemit on the other days, fine. Melky is not a major league hitter. He needs to go. Brett Gardiner is a better option as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, because that’s all Melky gives you.
I said this last week, and I’ll reiterate it now. I’m not inside Melky’s head, but I’ll tell you what it looks like from my perspective. Melky Cabrera does not share the same goals as his teammates. Melky is desperately trying to save his hanging-on-by-a-thread career, and to do that he needs to get his batting average up at all costs. And when the Yankees need him to be selective, take a pitch, let a pitcher walk him, move a runner over, etc, he can’t afford to do it. He needs to get hits to bring his average up. And the best pitches to do that are often early in the count. So he’s going to be up there swinging. Every single time. And that’s not going to help the team. You’re better off bringing up Brett Gardiner as a pinch runner and defensive specialist, because Melky is a rally cancer right now, and probably will be for the rest of the season.
I have so much more, but I’m going to give it a rest.
Seannie!! Your boy!!