Sunday, April 30, 2006

Looking at it Half-Empty

Confusing week in Yankeeland, frustrating losses and decisive wins alternating. Today's game leaves things on the edge of a knife, the difference between a winning record on the week or .500.

The frustration comes from some really weak baseball on Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday, the Yanks lost 4-2 against the Devil Rays, may be be an all-time frustrating game.

(Brief digression, before I continue this rant. I've always wondered if its' just me that thinks the Tampa team's name is horrible; I was heartened by this exchange with La Chiquita as I watched Tuesday's game--"Who are they playing?" "The Devil Rays," "Really? That's really their name?" "Yep," "What the heck is that, anyway?" "It's a ray. It's like a manta," "What, did they run out of fish to name things after?")

Anyway, on Wednesday, the Yanks got 20 baserunners--14 walks, six hits. As you can tell by the score above, they only managed to produce two runs. I only got to see the tail end of this one in strobe fashion at the pool hall (awful experience all around, this week) and it seems like every inning the Yanks had a couple of people on base, and every inning the Rays got out of it. Chien Ming Wang pitched well, two runs in his seven innings of work, but he couldn't help the Yanks with their offensive futility. The Rays won the game in the 10th against Mariano Rivera, working his second inning. That in itself has sprouted a tempest in a teapot, from folks who don't seem to know much about baseball.

One random comment about the Yanks this season, which is applicable to Wednesday's game--this is a brutal baserunning squad. I haven't seen so many senseless run-downs in a season as I've seen from this team this April. Wasn't Larry Bowa supposed to beat the Yanks' runners into shape? Isn't that why he replaced the largely-inoffensive Luis Sojo?

Frustration on Friday was primarily about Jaret Wright. In terms of adjusted dollars, I wonder if Wright is a bigger bust than Pascual Perez, another fellow who signed a big-dollar deal with the Yanks despite a bum wing. Wright has been miserable, and his line on Friday--five innings, six hits, four walks, four runs, no strikeouts--has been pretty typical of his performance as a Yankee. Just awful.

Carl Pavano got more money than Wright, but Wright's the bigger bust. You couldn't really see Pavano's injuries coming, except in a TINSTAAPP-type way (TINSTAAPP stands for "There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect" which means that generally speaking pitchers, particularly young ones, get injured often enough that it's hard to rely on them). Wright sucked and was unhealthy for a number of years prior to pitching for the Leo Mazzone Braves in 2004, failed his medical exam when the Yanks signed him in December, 2004, and the Yanks signed him, anyway. That's just a class in mismanagement.

On Friday, the Yanks again had some chances against the Blue Jays, and they simply couldn't get things done. Aside from Wright, a lot of the blame has been doled out to Alex Rodriguez, who had a bad week.

Now, Alex has been hearing the boos at the Stadium, even though he didn't quite have the worst week among Yankee batters. He just hasn't looked good at the plate lately, and he's a frustrating guy to watch when he's not in sync.

After Wednesday's game, folks I spoke to were angry--out of all proportion to the Yanks' record. At the office, a title company rep who sometimes offers me tickets was simply livid, "...everyone trying to hit home runs..." he hissed. The Yanks took two out of three against the D-Rays, and are in a position to do the same to the Jays today. Sure, it's not dominance, but it's not last April.

Back later tonight or early tomorrow with the Week in Review.

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