Saturday, September 06, 2003


Okay, that sucked more.

So a Boston win tomorrow could put them 1/2 game back.

The rest of the way the two teams have nearly identical schedules, the only difference being that Boston has three games against Cleveland while the Yanks have three against the Tigers and a make-up against the Blue Jays on Monday (Moose v. Escobar) to even up the standings.

I withhold comment until tomorrow evening.

According to the FOX broadcast David Wells has decided that this is indeed the end of the road for him. The first thing that does is speak to the condition of his back. The second thing it does is leave the Yanks 2004 rotation looking like this:

Mike Mussina
Andy Pettitte*
Jose Contreras
Jeff Lieber
Jeff Weaver

*Pettitte is a free agent. If the Yanks fail to resign him (31-year-old lefty groundballer, proven big game pitcher, career winning pct. of .650, never had a loosing season, never had fewer than 12 wins, assuming he gets minimum one more win he'll be a four-time 18-game winner) . . . I just don't know . . . I don't think I could deal.

Beyond the potential for the front office to screw up resigning Pettitte, the problem with Andy being a free-agent is that the effort to resign him may hinder the Yanks' ability to make other big free-agent moves, particularly for right field and another starter.

Meanwhile, does that rotation not look like the worst Yankee rotation since Melido Perez was involved? I mean having Moose & Andy up top is killer but after that it's nothing but question marks that just get bigger as you go down the list. Ever since Andy's rookie year of 1995 the Yanks have had at least two other stoppers in their rotation (Cone & Key, Cone & Wells, Clemens & Cone, a helping of El Duque in there along the way, Clemens & Moose, Moose, Rocket & Boomer 2.0). This leads to a pair of subjects I hope to write about in the near future:

1) The Yankee Dynasty is over, it's time to stop patching the raft and get a new ship (or something)
2) The only advantage the 2003 Yankees have over the 2003 Red Sox is (was?) starting pitching

Gee, sure would be nice to have Brandon Claussen around wudn't it? Anyone else notice that Jorge DePaula is the only pitcher the Yanks have called up since the rosters expanded? Anyone else notice his losing record (on a winning team) and 4.05 ERA in AAA? Yeah.

Right now I'm holding out hope for household bragging rights in college football as Rutgers, my alma matter, is making a surprising showing (trailing just 21-31 at the half) against my girlfriend's Michigan State Spartans. I figured the Spartans would be up at least 40-3 by now. I mean, does this game actually count?

posted by Cliff at 4:56 PM

BRB Jinx Lives! 

Hey, that sucked! Andy got rocked, Pedro did his job and the Sawx trounced the Yanks. Yeah, that sucked a lot.

Some happy thoughts:

Anyone else notice that Karim Garcia is hitting .337/.381/.551 since being traded to the Yankees? That's a .932 OPS. Take a closer look at his numbers since 2001:

438AB 32HR 93RBI .285/.318/.539 (.857)

Now throw out his abysmal .194/.238/.366 performance in 93ABs with Cleveland at the beginning of this year (a lot to ask, I realize, though there were some injuries involved) and look what that does to his rate stats since 2001:

.310/.341/.585 (.926 OPS) in 345ABs

Remember that despite being a nine-year vet, Garcia is only 27 (four years younger than Shane Spencer, who'd still be a Yankee if he had put up numbers like these), is a lefty power bat in Yankee Stadium (where all of his rate stats for this year are higher than any of the above figures with the exception of that .585 SLG) and has shown a good arm in the outfield. He's not the answer in right field (the achilles heal is a .133 AVG/.355 OPS vs. lefties this season), but he's certainly been a great pick-up and should continue to be a valuable asset off the bench.

Meanwhile, Enrique Wilson is now 10 for 20 against Pedro. That is why I love baseball.

Let's hope the Bombers can even it up tomorrow.

posted by Cliff at 12:50 AM


Bad reporting. I realized I forgot to account for the various make-ups in the Yankees remaining schedule when predicting the remaining starts for Wells, Contreras and Pettitte. Assuming each takes his normal turn, and that Torre will use a spot starter (Weaver?) for one of the games in next Saturday's double-header against Tampa Bay, Wells will actually get five more starts, adding the final game of the season vs. Balt. Contreras actually won't face the Orioles at all (big oops there), instead facing Tampa Bay a second time and Chicago once. Pettitte I actually got right, by chance. Sorry about that.

posted by Cliff at 12:36 AM

Friday, September 05, 2003

This is it! 

This is it folks. Sure the division could come down to the final week, making some of the Yanks’ games against the White Sox and Orioles into big ‘uns. But as far as head-to-head marquee matchups this is it! The three game series that starts tonight marks the last time that the Yankees and Red Sox will face off during the regular season. Saturday will see Rocket face Tim Wakefield, Sunday (a game I will be attending) will see Boomer take on Jeff Suppan, but tonight . . .

Andy Pettitte vs. Pedro Martinez, Yanks vs. Sox, 7:05 tonight in the Bronx!

Can you tell I’m excited?

Before I get into this Sox series, last night’s win was a big one. Contreras fed me crow by pitching seven solid innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven. I’m happy to eat it. With the way David Wells has struggled over his last four starts (the Yanks have lost his last five), this team needs Contreras to help fend off the Red Sox. In fact, if Wells doesn’t show marked improvement over the remainder of the season, Contreras could sneak into the fourth spot in the playoff rotation. This will be fun to watch. Both pitchers should get four more starts, Wells against Boston on Sunday, then Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Chicago, Contreras against the Tigers, Devil Rays, and twice against the Orioles. Clearly the schedule favors Contreras, which means he’ll have no excuse for poor performance. At the same time, Baltimore will have seen him three times in one month by his final start, which should reveal a lot about Contreras’s ability to retire hitters familiar with his stuff. It should also speak loudly about his potential for next year (and if Wells is as done has he’s looked of late, with Brandon Claussen in Cincy the Yanks need to be able to write Contreras into their rotation for next year).

The game the Yanks won last night was basically the same one they lost the night before, a low-scoring one run game decided in the late innings. Playing two close games like that helps erase the memory of the 8-1 blowout loss on Monday, and sets the stage nicely for what is sure to be an intense series against the Sox this weekend.

As for tonight, once again Alex Belth over at Bronx Banter is anticipating defeat at the hands of Pedro Martinez, as he has throughout the season. But check Pedro’s lines in his three starts against the Yanks this year:


More importantly, the Red Sox have lost all three of those games. Despite holding Yankee hitters to a .188 batting average over the previous three years (2000-2002), Pedro is only 4-5 in 14 starts against the Yanks. Of those five no decisions three of the last four were Red Sox loses (I don’t have access to his 2000 game log, if you know of a useful site for this lemme know). Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte has an outside shot at 20 wins. He’s at 17 now and has five starts left including tonight. The other four are against Detroit, Tampa Bay and Baltimore twice. Andy’s second 20-win season is hardly out of reach, even if he doesn’t score a “W” tonight.

I’m not going to make any full-on predictions for this weekend’s series (already scared off by the emerging BRB jinx), but I will say that with Wells on the hill on Sunday the first two games of this series loom especially large. Add in tonight’s marquee pitching matchup and tomorrow being Clemens’ last regular season start against his old club . . . aw, man. It just doesn’t get any better, does it?

posted by Cliff at 3:14 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Back with a whimper 

I'd been planning to get back in the groove with some massive analysis of what the Yanks have been up to while I was away the past few weeks, but with all the catching up I've had to do since getting back home (and back to work) I realized that I better start small or I'll never write anything.

Last night's game was a tough loss, but not an ugly one. I have a theory that Mussina's susceptibility to the long ball is what keeps him from having that season that everybody talks about (the one where he wins 20+ and the Cy Young and moves into the "dominant" category). It's not a very strong theory, though. What makes last night's loss so tough is that with Contreras set to go tonight against Lidle the Blue Jays are set up for the sweep. That's not the way this team wanted to follow up on taking 2 of 3 at Fenway, and not the way they want to prepare for three more vs. the Sox at home this weekend.

You'll probably hear a lot of "which Jose Contreras will show up?" on the TV and radio broadcasts tonight. I'm not holding my breath for the one that dominated Baltimore (remember: Baltimore). I do find it interesting that Contreras's two worst performances this year (by far) are also his only two performances against (and also at) Boston, but two games (be they the two against Boston or his two since returning to the rotation) are not enough to judge anybody by. I think the only thing we know for sure right now about Jose Contreras is that he's not going to dominate anybody. He may get the kinks worked out and be a solid mid-rotation starter. He may find a home in the pen. He may continue to crash and burn and take the Hideki Irabu Express out of town. But he is not and will not be a front-of-the-rotation guy on a competitive New York Yankees ballclub.

When things get ugly tonight just remember that tomorrow night is Andy vs. Pedro at the Stadium. Hot damn!

posted by Cliff at 4:43 PM

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