“Everyone keeps asking me,” Big Joe said to me on the phone late last night. “I tell them…don’t hold your breath. Maybe one a month. If you’re lucky…“ Yup. That’s what it’s come to. So I promised him I would lay something down tonight while the missus is out at a birthday dinner for one of her crew. Big Joe tells me to get off my duff and hustle, I hustle. So here goes.
Bad day to get back on the wagon here. Down two straight to the Jays, who are playing pretty well. So here’s the Jays in a nutshell. A few young pitchers who are some blend of future aces and playing over their heads – Cecil, Marcum, and Ricky Romero. And a bunch of position players who are way over their heads. Last year everyone was gushing over Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. This year journeymen and career back-ups Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez have 18 and 12 home runs, respectively. Hmm. Am I going to scream that something smells PED fishy again? Probably…. Let me ask, guys. How many times have I steered you wrong? So here they are, a pretty good team that is playing head-scratchingly well. Cool. Either way, the Yanks have not played well here.
Twenty-three innings of baseball; three runs. And one of those was scored on a rally-killing double play when they were already down four runs, and the other two came on one swing when Jeter hit his bomb. One run in about every seven-and-a-half innings. The Yankees are 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position this series, which I think is a misleading stat. First of all, neither of the 2 hits scored the runner, and neither time did the runner in scoring position eventually score. So we really should be talking about something different. Something like 0 runs 18 opportunities with a runner in scoring position. A bit wordy, I know. But wait! There’s more! At least twice today (I didn’t see the game Friday night and I’m too lazy to look it up) the Yankees hit into double plays with a runner on second with less than two out. So that’s two additional opportunities blown. That needs to be factored in. So now we’re at 0 runs scored in 20 opportunities with RISP. See how much worse it is than the silly stat sheet shows? I was at the gym for the first part of the game today, and John Sterling was insisting on the radio that it wasn’t the Yanks cool bats that should be held accountable for the lack of output, it was that the Jays pitching was so brilliant. Fine. And then when the awful Jays bullpen, last seen puking every single game away to the Rays, shut the Yankees out with barely a whimper for 6 innings? What about then, John? Still not the weak Yankee bats to blame?
Texeira. Dude. It was bad yesterday when he was hitting .221 on June 4. It’s way worse after he took an 0-6 with 5 strikeouts to drop his average to .215 on June 5. And zero power. He has eight home runs, three of which came in one game. In one game the guy almost equaled his entire home run output for the rest of the season. And we’re more than a third of the way through the year. What is this? It looked like he was going to bust out of this a few times with some big hits, showing some progress. But as of today, he looked as bad or worse than he has at any point this season. An 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Stranded four runners by himself. He looked like Danny Kenny at Wifflemania III out there today. Is he hurt? Is it time to drop him down in the order? Seriously. He’s killing us. Flip-flop him with Cano. This is insane.
Alex. Where is the power? Eight home runs? Eight? Come on, man. What’s up? His average looks about right. His RBI’s look about right. Why so few bombs? Is this why only one guy has made a run at Babe Ruth in the last 80 years? (Yeah that’s right. I’m ignoring you Barry Bonds.) Maybe that’s just it. You have only so many bombs in you, and then it shuts down. There was a time when people thought Junior Griffey was a shoe-in to take down Hammerin’ Hank. And then it just didn’t happen. Maybe that’s just the way it goes. I hope not. The guy should have been bumping up against 600 by now…
I have no idea how the Yankees are leading the major leagues in runs scored and batting average. It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like they go through monster stretches where they just flail away. On the other hand, people say that the Yanks haven’t really gotten going yet, but if you look at the numbers, the averages look high. Swisher, Gardner, Cervelli, Posada, Crazy Al, and Cano are all significantly higher than the back of their baseball card. Jeter’s about right, and Granderson is low. Texeira’s average is about the same as Acc’s Wifflemania average (although Mike Sherry would argue Tex’s current average is 215 points higher than Acc’s Wifflemania average). I’m not sure how much more offense people think they are going to get. Part of the problem is they’ve gotten away from the patience at the plate. Too many starters going really deep into games against them. Come on, guys. This is the formula: if a guy has his A-stuff going, you get prickly. Get stingy, start battling him, start frustrating him. Romero was 73 pitches deep in the 5th inning today. And yet there he was throwing an easy eighth inning. How is that possible? Well, because the Yankees made him throw exactly six pitches in one of those innings, and 4 guys made first or second-pitch outs. Awful .
All that said, I get it. They still have the second best record in baseball. They’re still only two games out of first. But it doesn’t feel right. They have no DH. No DH. I’m glad we’ve disproved this ridiculous notion that you can use the DH spot as a parking space for all of the starters that you want to rest. You can’t expect that you can do that unless you have a rotation of starter-caliber players to take their spots in the field. You can’t use the DH to continually give Crazy Al and Jeter a rest if the best you have to throw out there is Ramiro Pena. Your lineup very quickly becomes a National League line-up when you do that. You saw it in spades a few weeks back when clever Jim Leyland and his Detroit Tigers pitched around everybody to face Pena every time through the line-up. Pena left 6 guys on base that night by himself. The rest of the Yankees left 4 combined. You know when that DH-by-committee works? When you’re using an outfield rotation of Swisher, Gardener, Granderson, and Johnny Damon. Three of them in the field, one at DH. Thanks Mr. C. (I’m still so sour about that deal. Especially since Max Scherzer just threw a monster game for them the other night. If Dombrowski doesn’t get exec of the year something is foul. What a highway wagon-robbery that guy pulled off).
I’ve got a lot more stuff on my list to cover. I want to get to the Jim Joyce affair. I’m going to crawl up one side of him, crush his life, and crawl back down the other side, laying waste to Bud Selig, MLB, and most of the media coverage I’ve seen in the process. Tomorrow. Big Joe, I promise….