Monday, April 25, 2005

Weekend in Review

Yanks lost 2 out of 3 to the Texas Rangers.

Game 1 continued Kevin Brown's eternal march to the Glue Factory. Garbage Time gave up four runs in the first inning, five overall through six innings pitched. Meanwhile, Chris Young, a guy who walked into Yankee Stadium with an ERA over seven, shut the bombers down for 5+ innings. The score remained at 5-1 until the Yanks had a too-little-too-late rally in the ninth inning.

Game 2 featured the pitchiing stylings of Jaret Wright. More notably, it featured the injured pitching shoulder of Wright--you know, the same pitching shoulder that needed surgery twice before, and totally derailed Wright's career? The same pitching shoulder that might just've failed the first physical the Yanks put it through, when they signed Jaret as a free agent this winter?

Yeah, that shoulder.

As reported by, Joe Torre might've guessed that Wright wasn't doing too well on Saturday, when he grabbed the pitcher's non-throwing arm between innings in the 4th, and Wright winced. Still, it took things getting so painful that Wright doubled over on the mound, before he would let on that his shoulder was hurting.

It'd be easy to get a hate-on with Wright, for not being up-front about his condition. But, as much as I dislike the man, I can empathize with his predicament. There are lots of times that you can put yourself in denial of the maladies that afflict you, particularly if you fear them badly enough. Wright probably didn't acknowledge the pain not because he was trying to put one over on the Yankees and their fans, but rather because he remembered the misery of his previous shoulder woes, and didn't want to believe something bad was happening again.

It seems like no sooner was Wright off the field on Saturday, than he was on the DL. No tests, no questions, straight to the DL. The diagnosis today was that they think it wasn't as bad as expected, just some scar tissue tearing loose, 4-6 weeks out of the rotation. Colter Bean comes up for this week's games, until Wright's rotation spot comes up Saturday. With Tanyon Sturtze also on the now-crowded Yankee DL, Chien Ming Wang will come up from Columbus to take next Saturday's start. He'll have a few weeks to make an impression, make a hard choice for management between him and Kevin "Sunk Cost" Brown. It's a good opportunity for Wang and not much of a downgrade for the Yanks--it's pretty hard to imagine Wang doing much worse than Wriight's 9.15 ERA (now with an utterly jack-tastic 6 homers in less than 20 IP!).

By the way, the Yanks lost Game 2 big, to the tune of 10-2. The Yanks were unable to do anything with Texas's own fragile, overpaid starter, Chan Ho Park, even as Wright was getting creamolished.

In Game 3, the Yanks came to, behind strong pitching from the Big Unit, and a hard-pounding offense that brought the Yanks an 11-1 victory over the hot-streaking Pedro Astacio. The surprise hero of this game? None other than Andy Phillips, who found himself at first base to face what was considered a pretty tough righty. Phillips went 2-4 with a homer and four RBIs.

Here's hoping that this is the start of something. That the Yanks can actually give someone from the organization a chance. Not Colter Bean, though. Joe Torre has already announced that Bean's an emergency plan, for use only in blowouts.

Nah, I'm not bitter. The homestand continues, with the Angels and Blue Jays coming to the boogie-down. A year ago, with the same record on the same date, the Yanks ran the table against the A's and the Royals to have a winning month. Here's hoping they can do that again.

Friday, April 22, 2005

On Edge

So, two straight wins and all is right with the Bombers' world. Still, Mariano Rivera provided another white-knuckle experience in the Yankees' 4-3 win over Gustavo Chacin and the Jays. With a one-run lead in the ninth--and some nice middle relief work by Buddy Groom, Felix Rodriguez, Mike Stanton and the much-maligned Tom Gordon to bridge between starter Mike Mussina and the Sandman--Rivera gave up two two-out hits to Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske.

Just as we were saying "Ugh, get the Rollaids, honey, here we go again!" the closer got a groundout from Alexis Rios to complete the victory.

Still, the feeling of vulnerability hasn't worn off of this team, yet. In the Daily News yesterday, Vic Ziegel was likening this squad to the 1965 Yanks, a team depleted by age and injuries, plummeting from the top of the division to go into an 11 year funk.

I don't quite think we're there yet. I wonder if Yankee fans were thinking the same thing in April of '65?

In other news, Gary Sheffield avoided punishment in the Fenway Slapgate scandal, unleashing a mini-tempest of cheerless indignation and undignified cheering.

First about the cheering: Sheffield didn't do anything noble last Thursday. It's nice that he didn't go rampaging into the Fenway stands like Godzilla (the other one) going after Tokyo; but that was only what he was supposed to do. As Chris Rock might say, "What do you want, a cookie?"

About the indignation, that's pretty overwrought as well. Sheff took a swipe at someone who reach out onto the field and took a swipe at him. No matter what the various fans who, in the words of Brother Joe "went Zapruder" on the video clip may think, Sheff convinced the powers that be that he only swung his arms toward the stands to make sure he wasn't hit again.

While many absolutists wanted the Commissioner's office to send a strong message that a player is never allowed to make contact with fans in the seats, that position is itself absurd. If a fan was trying to grab Sheffield's armor jersey in order to prevent him from making the play, I doubt there would have been much controversy about Sheffield trying to shake him off violently. Meanwhile, there would also be a worrisome precedent set if fans in the stands were allowed to physically provoke opposing players into suspensions. Imagine what would happen the next time Kevin Millar goes for a foul pop-up in Yankee Stadium.

It was a marginal call, but the right call, I think.

Elsewhere in Yankeeland, Ruben Sierra has landed on the DL on what is only being described right now as "a bad right arm". Ruben's going for MRIs and whatnot, in the meanwhile, Andy Phillips gets to reprise his role as the Invisible Man in the Yankee dugout.

If Phillips escapes this tour with the club without getting a single plate appearance (as he did until Kevin Brown was called up) Joe Torre is doing something wrong. Again, it isn't excessive puffery to say that Phillips may be a better bet than Martinez or Giambi against a lefthanded starter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Optimal Performance!

Yeah, that George, he's a master motivator. The Yanks tore through the D-Rays a day after the Boss issued his statement that they weren't playing like "real Yankees."

C'mon...It's the Devil Rays! Sure, a 13 run inning is impressive, but the Yankees are still facing a team that has been, for the entirety of its existence, the dregs of the division, if not the American League.

Still, you have to wonder the role that Chad Bohling is playing in big wins like this. Chad who? Bohling is the Yankees' mysterious Director of Optimal Performance. A what, you may ask? A "mental conditioning" coach, if that isn't replacing one incomprehensible concept for another. Take a gander at Brian Cashman's description of Bohling's role with the club:

Cashman stated that Bohling would be responsible for mental skills and motivational issues for players and coaches at both the major and minor-league level.

"I don't want to get into too much about what Chad is going to provide for us," Cashman told the newspaper. "Ultimately, like anything else, our players are our assets. We just want to make sure that we support them in all aspects of what they do, on and off the field."

Yeah, OK. But who is it that gets the credit for all the Yanks...sub-optimal performances lately? Even in last night's laugher, it looks like Jaret Wright wasn't terribly optimal. He surrendered 8 runs in less than six innings. And everyone's favorite Yankee, Tony Womack, didn't quite get in on the hit parade, going 1 for 6 on the evening.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Yankees might have used up their runs for the week yesterday, because they haven't done much with Hideo Nomo tonight (one run through 6 innings, on a Jason Giambi homer).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Deep Funk!

You gives up a three game sweep to the Boyds in Baltimore, you gets an eruption from Mt. George. Here goes:

Enough is enough. I am bitterly disappointed, as I am sure all Yankee fans are, by the lack of performance by our team. It is unbelievable to me that the highest paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk.

They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around.

As Joe Torre said in George King's NY Post article (linked in the title) "He is right, what are you going to do?" The team's playing horribly, and Steinbrenner is paying a lot to watch them pay horribly.

George is paying Kevin Brown $16 or so Million this year. The pitcher, who I nicknamed "Crazy Eyez Killa" last year because he constantly seems on the verge of a mass murder spree when he's on the mound: "Garbage Time." Since mid-year last season, whenever he pitches, the game is going straight to your mopup relievers. He was hit early and often yesterday, giving up six runs in six innings, which is actually worse than it sounds since he gave up all six runs, including a Grand Slam, in the first two innings.

While I can't fault Big Stein for complaining, could we all agree to retire the term, "true Yankee" (along with the synonymous "real Yankee")? Calling someone a "true Yankee" used to mean that they were a class act, and/or that they liked playing for the Yankees and for the City of New York. Recent misappropriations by the Red Sox ("A-Rod's not a real Yankee") and the Boss seem to indicate the term has outlived its usefulness.

Simply losing does not mean that the players are not "true Yankees". One of the biggest "true Yankees" in history, Don Mattingly, never won a championship, or even a division title. If all the term stands for is victory, then it stands for nothing. So let's let it go.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Doldrums and Other Things...

As the Yanks try to close out Moose's nice, if stressful start (5 2/3, 7 H 3 BB, 2 R, at least a baserunner every inning), a few thoughts.

Can't blame Sheff for pushing off the Boston Slapper, and I can't quite push for the summary execution of the "fan" who it looks like accidentally made contact with the Yanks rightfielder in the Rubber Game of the Yanks/Sox series in Boston.

Still, they warn you before every game not to interfere with balls in play. When guys like Steve Bartman or the fellow that caught Sheff interfere with the fielders, you and I suffer. Even if the on Thursday didn't intentionally assault Sheffield, teams start thinking about preventing the trouble they've just had. Whenever I sit in the rightfield boxes, I look ruefully at the "Jeffrey Mayer bar" a railing that was put up after the 1996 playoffs, to keep anyone from reaching over the rightfield wall onto the field of play. It's just one more obstacle between the fans and the action on the field--an obstacle course I fear will someday include electrified fences and moats.

Folks blather endlessly about what a great ballpark Fenway is--and I like Fenway a lot--but when you come down to it, the big thing about Fenway is how close everyone is to the action. The Monster's nice, but the seats are uncomfortable, the seating areas look like they were arranged by a maniac on a Red Bull-and-Vodka bender (what's the next idea, string a bunch of harnesses on a giant cable between the Monster and the luxury boxes, and call them "prime, overhead seating"), and on occasion you have an obstructed view or seats that don't face the plate. The ballpark's "killer ap" is that a good percentage of the seats are right top of the action. For my money, Yankee Stadium is the more aesthetically-pleasing place to be, but the main section seats at Fenway might just have a better view of the field than field level seats at the Stadium. And that's what really matters.

While I was putting together that thought, the Yankee bullpen coughed up Mussina's 6-2 lead. Ugh. I think Joe Torre may just have pitched Tom Gordon's arm off last season. Flash's ERA is over seven since the playoffs started last year, and his stuff just doesn't have much life--I haven't seen his good curveball in 2005, and he's having a lot of trouble spotting the fastball. Sturtze, who looked like he was going to pick up some of the slack for the forgotten men (see Quantrill, P. and Karsay, S.) of the Yankee bullpen? That conceit lasted about a week.

You see, the nasty part about this Yankees team, is that every time they disappoint, you can reason: maybe this isn't just a slump. Maybe all these guys in the Yankee bullpen have just lost it. I mean, they're all in their mid-to-late 30's, and that's when ballplayers lose it, isn't it?

It's gonna be a long season.

OK, gotta think good thoughts...

The Daily News has details about the proposed new Yankee Stadium. The new structure is supposed to consist of an outer shell (literally, a facade, a word the article fusses over a lot), which will be a replica of the exterior of old Yankee Stadium, and a modern retropark within.

I don't know what's with this outer shell/inner stadium deal (if I recall correctly, the proposed Jets Stadium is also designed along similar lines)...

WHAT? OK, this is what happened: the Yanks threatened in the 8th, the O's brought in B.J. Ryan, who got Matsui. This I can deal with.

Then in the 9th, with 2 outs, the Yanks get 2 men on against Ryan. Someone is needed to bat for Tony Womack. Here are Joe Torre's options:

John Flaherty -- RHB and only other catcher on the roster
Bubba Crosby -- LHB and only defensive outfielder on the roster
Andy Phillips -- RHB and utility infielder, capable of handling 1B, 2B, and 3B

Obviously, the batter that Joe Torre turns to with the game on the line is Flaherty.

When I used to play strat-o-matic--a tabletop sim game in which each player had a card, and you rolled dice to see what the result of a given at-bat would be--I'd often hand the stack of cards that comprised my roster to Brother Joe for review.

Joe would rifle through the stack with the dexterity of a blackjack dealer, pulling cards out of the pile and putting them to one side. His comment, almost always, was "When on earth are you going to use this guy?" Sometimes I'd offer a bit of rebuttal, tell him what I was thinking when I drafted player X, justify the choice. Usually, I'd agree with Joe, and that player would go on my reseve roster, because what's the point of having a player on the roster if you're never going to use him?

Why is Flaherty in the game in that spot? If the Yanks score one run, you have to twist the Yankee defense in extra innings--likely with Rey Sanchez (who pinch hit for Tino Martinez) staying at 2B, Posada moving from behind the plate to 1B, and Flaherty taking over at catcher. Otherwise, Phillips has to come into the game anyway, and you've burned your backup catcher.

So what was on Torre's mind, here? Flaherty's 2 for 3 performance coming into this game against Ryan? Or was it simply that Torre will not use Phillips, under any circumstances?

Strikeout, end of game. A game the Yankees could've and should've won.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Triple Playtime, Rubber Game

First, there's a new Yankees (and Marlins, and Pirates) Prospectus Triple Play up at the Baseball Prospectus website, in which I take on the Mystery of El Papi, the dominance of the Marlins' staff, and the concept of putting your light-hittin' centerfielder in the #3 slot. Take a look, and tell 'em I sent ya.

Second, after bombing in the Boston home opener/Ring Ceremony/musical extravaganza, the Bombers bombed Schilling in his 2005 debut. I was at the pool hall, as is my wont on Wednesdays, as all this is going on, so I caught the game in a strobe effect, wandering over between shots, or whenever the guys who were watching the game looked excited. My opponent last night was a Red Sox fan and/or Yankee hater, so beating him, and the Yanks beating Schill, was a double delight.

The big man last night was Bernabe Williams, hitting in the #9 hole (as the Tony Womack Fan Club will doubtless declare, finally, Torre got wise and put Tony in the leadoff spot!). I'm glad, because for the past 12 months I've been on the edge of a knife, balancing between the idea that Bernie might yet have a graceful decline phase (move to DH and spend 6 years hacking a la Hal Baines?) and the thought that maybe Bernie is completely done as a useful player, and should be on the bench, or rather, composing his next record at his house in Puerto Rico, tuning up for Bernie Williams Day at the Stadium. Lately, I've been resigned to the downward spiral concept of Williams' future. Bernie posts a .446 OPS in Spring Training, and while I don't take those stats too seriously...he wasn't even within whistling distance of the Mendoza line. As Leo DiCaprio would say "This is bad!"

So every time Bernie hits a big home run, I let myself hope. He's the player I most identify with turning around the Yankee franchise, and I want to enjoy his swan song--even if he's not going to be a great or even good player for the rest of his career.

The other thing about last night's game was the intense nervousness I felt watching Mariano Rivera take the mound at Fenway. I've probably expended as much energy as anyone downplaying this rivalry, but last night I was holding my breath on each pitch.

No, I don't think that if Rivera had blown the save last night, it would have meant anything other than he's still rounding into form, or maybe his shoulder is still hurting. But these things take on a life of their own. Enough people start writing that you can't hold the Red Sox down, and heaven knows, you just might start to believe it.

So tonight's the rubber match, Johnson versus Bronson. A win would put the Yanks ahead in the year-long series 4-2. Right now, that means nothing...and everything.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dark Days, Dark Thoughts

Actually, the weather was pretty nice in the Tri-State today. But after a weekend where the Yanks lost a series to the Baltimore Orioles, where our shiny new pitcher got his head busted open, and at the end of which the Red Sox got their rings, their bragging rights, and a win, to boot...Well, the sun seems a little dimmer.

So here are some disoriented thoughts about the past few days:

Can anyone do more to lose a ballgame for you than Jason Giambi did on Sunday? He cost the Yanks a run in the second, by making such a show of the fact that he didn't think he should have to hold Rafael Palmeiro on first, that Palmeiro stole second out of spite, and almost immediately scored on a single. Then, he got undressed on a drag bunt by Dave Roberts. Then he flubbed the popup in foul turf, keeping Melvin Mora's at bat alive. Mora would later hit a scorcher up the middle that tatooed Carl Pavano on the noggin.

So in less than three innings, he's responsible for three runs, and for his pitcher getting injured. Forget steroids, this is the kind of stuff that I boo.

Quick! While the old man is paying attention to his horsey, someone fix the farm system!

You have to admit that it was worth a try.

Remember when Lee Mazzilli couldn't beat the Yankees? Seems like a long time ago, don't it?

I was halfway expecting some sort of bloody incident today, where the Red Sox decided to have special rings made up for the Yankees, for helping them win the World Series.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Not Quite Off to Never-Never Land

The Yanks-Red Sox series ended Wednesday, so this is kinda stale; but I don't want to be one of those guys that only writes about his team when they win.

So the big story is that the Sandman hasn't done his game closing duty through the first series of the 2005 season, which makes people remember that he didn't quite manage to close things out his last two times out in Fenway last fall. People don't have to be terribly smart to see a pattern there (even if, as Brother Joe points out, that pattern's pretty darn flawed) which has lead people to gin up some theories.

A big, popular one amongst the New Englandy-types, is that the Red Sox own Rivera. I tend to doubt it, but it's not completely far-fetched. While player-on-player matchups (and team-on-player matchups) are often sample size illusions, every once in a while there's something to them: I remember the palpable fear a John Wetteland/Ken Griffey Jr. matchup would give me, back in the day. You just knew something bad was going to happen.

Sure, maybe Junior just got lucky. A whole bunch of times. Getting back to Rivera, it's possible that the Red Sox might've picked up on something the rest of the league missed--some pitch-tipping, or a pattern in the way Mariano throws. However, given the amount of yapping these guys did over the winter, if that were so, I think we'd've read it in a Gammons column by now.

Another, more likely, explanation is injury. He missed time with elbow bursitis this Spring, and was shut down over the winter, off his normal throwing regimen. Counting the postseason, Rivera threw 83 games and over 92 innings last year, the most he's thrown since 2001. For those of you that forget, after being the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2001 Series, Mariano had an injury-shortened season in 2002.

If we're talking about a bad arm, as a fan my biggest reaction is "better now than October". Given the number, if not the quality, of righthanded relievers on staff, the team could survive a short DL stay from Rivera, in the interest of having him healthy come crunchtime.

A more troubling thought is if you look at the pattern as: Rivera hasn't been the same since his relatives were electrocuted in his pool in Costa Rica. It's easy to give short shrift to players worries and emotional problems, because their effect on the field can be so hard to predict. Don Larsen, after all, pitched a perfect game the same day he was served divorce papers. Still, what can you do if the problem is that Rivera's head isn't in the game? There's no surgery for that type of wound, no cortisone shot that will grant temporary relief.

Still, the likeliest answer is that the season is still young. Rivera might be slightly out of condition, since he changed his winter routine, and lost time during Spring Training. In that case he'll get better as the season gets going.

After all, this is only week one.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

First Impressions...

One of the new Yankees who gives me "the Fear," Carl Pavano, made a good impression in his maiden pinstriped voyage against the Rosy-Hosed Bostons of, well...Boston.

OK, so much for the attempt at 19th Century baseball writing. Pavano looked good facing a Red Sox lineup that gave the Yanks fits last season. Carl got touched up by David Ortiz, but he got through 6 1/3 innings, surrendering only 2 runs and whiffing 7. His splitter was a much more impressive pitch than I expected.

On the down side, the Red Sox's "we own Rivera!" thing keeps going, as Jason Varitek--who at bat alternately looks like the girlfriend brought in to round out a softball team, or like an in-his-prime Mickey Mantle--hit a ninth inning bomb that tied the game at three. Luckily, Rivera escaped the inning, and Derek Jeter did some of that Captain Clutch thing, hitting a lead off, walk-off shot against Red Sox closer Keith Foulke.

Other negatives from the game--another Yankee who gives me "the Fear" is Bernie Williams. In the 4th inning, with a good shot to crack the game open--one out, bases loaded--Bernie tapped into a really weak 3-2-3 double play against John Halama. The bottom of the Yankee lineup--Giambi/Williams/Martinez/Womack--inspires a lack of confidence not seen in the Bronx since 1995 (remember Dion James batting 6th? Admit it, you wanted to forget).

Still the good news outweighs the negatives. Carl Pavano...I haven't wanted to be wrong about someone so badly since my first girlfriend, back in high school. The performance analyst in me thinks this is just a blip in this guy's career, that any moment he's going to wake up and be just a league-average innings-muncher. The fan in me, though, wants to believe that this is a guy that suddenly figured out how to be Greg Maddux, or Jamie Moyer.

That's the cool thing about getting a brand-new season. You get to dream for a little while. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, April 04, 2005

For Openers...

Baseball opened up shop today, on what I still think should be a national holiday. Sadly, no one wants to give up a day in April for the National Pastime, so until then, I work on this day under protest (sure, it's a silent protest...).

Anyway, things led off last night, under weather conditions that had to bring to mind October, as the Big Unit outdueled the just plain big David Wells in a 9-2 Opening Night showdown at the Stadium. Having the Red Sox in this early is borderline absurd, but it might be just what the doctor ordered, to wash the bad taste of the ALCS out of Yankee fans mouths, and get the season started right.

Now, speaking of the season, this space has been decidedly light on "season previews," predictions or projections. Part of me balks at the practice, because everyone spends a good chunk of March on previews, and I sometimes feel like I have nothing to add to the conversation. So I'm taking a suggestion from the Back Bay to the Promised Land blog--I'm going to give you my picks, then spend some time telling you who is likely to surprise us, or at the very least surprise me.

AL East ......... AL Central ..... AL West
1. Red Sox ... 1. Twins ....... 1. Oakland
2. Yankees* .. 2. Indians ..... 2. Angels
3. Blue Jays . 3. Tigers ...... 3. Rangers
4. Baltimore . 4. White Sox ... 4. Mariners
5. Devil Rays .5. Royals

MVP: Manny Ramirez; Cy Young: Randy Johnson; ROY: Nick Swisher

NL East ......... NL Central ..... NL West
1. Braves .... 1. Cardinals ... 1. Dodgers
2. Mets* ..... 2. Cubs ........ 2. Padres
3. Marlins ... 3. Reds ........ 3. Giants
4. Phillies .. 4. Brewers ..... 4. Rockies
5. Nats ...... 5. Astros ...... 5. Diamondbacks
.............. 6. Pirates

MVP: Albert Pujols; Cy Young: Josh Beckett; ROY: Andy Marte

Yawn. Am I done yet? Talk about groupthink: my AL picks exactly match the aggregate picks of the BP staff. Overall, it's boring, staid, and nearly banal. With these picks, I likely have the Yankees meeting the Dodgers in the World Series, which is just about as plain vanilla as you can get.

So tomorrow, I'll come back to tell you why I'm wrong, wrong, wrong about some of these picks (and to justify making a few of the choices I made that might seem a bit off).

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Real April Fools

Kind of an early, nasty, April Fool's trick on some roster hopefuls:

Award-winner: Infielder Andy Phillips was presented with the James P. Dawson Award before Thursday's game, an honor given annually to the top rookie in the Yankees' spring camp.

Phillips was presented with the award by Pete Caldera, the chairman for the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Bubba Crosby received the award last season.

Phillips hit .333 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 22 games this spring. He is slated to be the starting first baseman at Triple-A Columbus this season.

Oh, yeah, that's some prize Phillips got there. Here's your award for having a nice spring, kid. Now go back to Columbus for the rest of the year. See you in September, maybe.

Another guy caught in the same bit is Buddy Groom, a fellow looking for some of that Jesse Orosco love. Groom had a pretty good spring, also: one run allowed in nine innings. He, too, goes to Columbus, Ohio, because the Yankees' roster resembles a flea market--a bunch of misfit items, most of them old and used. From the right side of the bullpen, you have Tom Gordon, and Paul Quantrill, and Tanyon Sturtze, and Felix Rodriguez and Steve Karsay (not to mention, the vestigial 5th starter the team doesn't need until mid-month), all backing up Mariano Rivera. From the left side, you have Mike Stanton alone patrolling the shores for the likes of David Ortiz and Trot Nixon.

Still, Groom has something I bet Andy Phillips wishes he had: an out. If the Yanks don't call Groom up by May 1, he's free to shop his wares to a team that actually wants a second lefty. Phillips doesn't get that freedom until the Yanks take him off the 40 man roster, or until he runs out of minor league options. The option process has set free Brett Prinz this week, and stands to liberate Alex Graman in the near future. Graman sucked this spring, but at least he got a full try-out, compared to Colter Bean--who got 4 2/3 admittedly crappy innings to show that he wasn't worth the team's attention. Bean struck out 6 batters in that time frame, something which should at least bring some positive attention to the big soft-tosser.

But back to the 2005 Dawson Award winner. We were teased with the idea that Phillips would get to platoon with Tino Martinez at first base. There's some logic to this, when you consider what happens to some of the Yankees against a lefty reliever:

RHP 2004 LHP 2004 LHP 2001-2004
Hideki Matsui .977 .776 .745
Jason Giambi .633 .924 .845
Ruben Sierra .791 .703 .685
Tony Womack .757 .655 .602
Tino Martinez .811 .856 .732

Next player on the depth chart when Tony Womack faces a lefty in the late innings? There's Sierra (if he's not already in the lineup) who sucks against lefties, there's Rey Sanchez (.697 over the last 3 years against lefties), there's Tom Flaherty, who's also that vestigial creature--the second catcher you don't dare use lest Jorge Posada get injured.

Given the situation, you could probably find some use for Andy Phillips, who can play at least three infield position, and who has some righthanded pop.

Now, I'm not overselling Phillips--reportedly, his defense at second and third is bad, and his bat isn't proven on the Major League level. Still, he's 28 years old, and he's hit quite a bit at AAA. If he isn't ready to help the ballclub now, when will he be ready?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Link o' the Day: 4/1/05

The Tony Womack Fan Club

I don't know why they let people like this out of the asylum. Check out what this dingbat has to say about the upcoming season:

In other preview news, the Yanks are going to win the AL East and win the World Series, under Womack's guidance. The Cardinals will learn the same lesson that the Diamondbacks did: you get rid of Tony, you pay the price! They won't make the playoffs. Neither will the Cubs or Pirates, othher teams that were fool enough to let Tony leave. I guess that means the Houston Astros will win the NL Central, 'cause they're the one team (other than the Brewers, who suck!) that's not dealing with the Curse of Womack.

That's it. I quit blogging, and heck, I just plain quit writing about baseball. It's just no use, you just can't get through to these people!