Monday, July 25, 2005

They Still Stink -- Yankees Update

The Yanks just finished off a 6-5 post-All Star roadie. That's not bad considering the opponents were the RedSawx, the Rangers (who used to not suck just 2 weeks ago) and the Angels. But it's not good considering that: Mooooooossina allowed just 2 runs in his last 17+ IP on the trip, Johnson pitched decently well twice, Matsui, Giambi and Cano all hit well, and Sheff/Arod whupped up on the Sawx and Rangers. There's plenty wrong in Yankeeville:

1) Jeter hits sub-.240 on the road;
2) Kevin Brown;
3) Inability to hit stiffs like Chan Ho Park and Jon Lackey;
4) Inability to pitch Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Vlady Guerrero.

But the worst thing the Yanks are dealing with is Torre's mismanagement of the bullpen. He fouled up FOUR games on this trip, but the team only got burned twice because Rivera is making his mark as a Cy Young Award candidate.

I've been critical of Torre's bullpen management in the past (see here for previous criticism of Torre's management of the pitchers) and this trip gave me more reason to be upset. Let's go through the four failures:

First, July 17 at Bahstin: Yanks lead 5-1 bottom nine, Gordon has pitched only 1/3 of an inning and Joe is going to keep him in to close out the Sawx. WRONG MOVE. The Yanks had taken two of three, Mo had wiped out the Sawx the day before so he would not be fatigued, and this game counts double in the standings because the Yanks KNOW if they win, they gain on the Sawx. Sure enough, Gordon serves up a bomb to fatboy1 (Ramirez), gets in trouble and Mo needs a minor miracle to pull off the save.

It's not a save situation? BFD -- Joe routinely brings in Rivera with a four-run lead in the playoffs. No reason not to do the same in a game of this magnitude.

Second, July 19 at Texas: The Monk watched this live and knew that Joe wouldn't bring in Rivera in this game because he'd pitched three straight nights. The Yanks had a 1-0 lead in the 8th and Joe would use Gordon as the closer (he didn't pitch on the 18th). So Joe wanted to cobble together a bridge to Gordon. He let Wayne Franklin take the hill and Franklin allowed the first two runners to reach. Then he pulled a DP out of his ear as Mark Texeira dribbled a twin-killing off a 3-0 pitch. Two out, runner on third. Franklin against Hank Blalock.

So Franklin had allowed two solid hits, barely scraped up a DP and still faced the prospect of an all-star caliber player with a runner on third. I said to my buddy: walk Blalock, get Gordon to face Soriano. Why, when Franklin-Blalock was a lefty-lefty matchup?

Managers love THE BOOK -- send out a lefty pitcher to face a lefty hitter, go with that matchup first. Problem: Franklin is a fastball/changeup pitcher, not a good breaking ball, so Blalock could get a good look. Problem 2: Gordon throws curves and splitters, Soriano swings at ANYTHING that's junky, low and outside. Gordon is a better pitcher than Franklin. To me, the answer is simple: pitch to Sori. But THE BOOK says don't put the go-ahead run on base. Instead, Torre let Frankin pitch and Blalock took him out (on a not-so-bad pitch, mind you) for the 2-1 Rangers win.

Third, July 21 at Anaheim in Los Angeles: The Yanks bomb four HRs off fat Bartolo Colon, hold a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the 7th but the suddenly fragile Randy Johnson left with a minor injury (Torre's babying him too much, and Johnson probably thinks that too). Instead of replacing him with hard-throwing veteran Felix Rodriguez, who had silenced the Rangers two days before, Torre puts in Scott Proctor. Proctor throws hard but straight -- no foolin' anyone. He walks Jeff DaVannon. Buddy Groom gives up two hits. Torre summons Gordon to face Guerrero. Vlady hits a pitchers' pitch for a Grand Slam. Simply stated, he should never have had that chance.

Fourth, July 24 at Anaheim in Los Angeles: Bottom 8, Rivera hasn't pitched in four days and there's an off-day on the 25th. The Yanks lead 3-1 and need the win to avoid an ugly sweep at Knott's Berry Farm. Instead of having Mo pitch two innings and put the kibosh on any possible comeback, Torre starts the inning with Gordon, who gets in trouble. Mo gets him out of it and cements the victory.

I'm still unhappy with Joe's bullpen management. Worse could happen, though, if the Yanks make a stupid trade at the deadline (read: Randy Winn).

No comments: