Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Brian Cashman: Indicted for Criminally Negligent Transacting

Last night, against the Chicago White Sox, Hiroki Kuroda did pretty much what the Yankees and their fans preferred he do: Hold the ChiSox to 3 runs or less, and give the offense a chance to win the game.  He went 7 innings, allowed 3 runs on 9 hits, 1 walk.  It should have been good enough to win.

Aside from Alex Rodriguez getting hit with a pitch, drawing a lot of cheers from the South Side crowd, the Yankees didn't generate much action.  They got a run on a wild pitch in the 1st, but stranded A-Rod on 1st base in that inning.

In the 3rd, with 1 out, Brett Gardner walked, but Alfonso Soriano flied out.  Then A-Rod got hit, and Robinson Cano singled, which should have allowed Gardner to score.  But he was thrown out, and that was the turning point of the game.

Jayson Nix doubled with 1 out in the 4th, but got no further than 2nd.  Austin Romine led off the 5th with a single, Gardner struck out, and Soriano singled.  A-Rod lined out, but Cano drew a walk to load the bases.  But Vernon Wells grounded out, and very meekly.  He now has an on-base percentage of .285 -- better than the hideous .248 he put up in 2011, but well below the decent .343 he had in 2008 and the strong .359 of 2003 and .357 of 2006.  A-Rod led off the 8th with a single, but Cano lined out, Curtis Granderson took a called 3rd strike, and Lyle Overbay struck out swinging.

The Yankees rallied in the 9th, coming in down 3-1: With 1 out, Ichiro Suzuki singled, but Romine was called out on strikes.  Gardner was up.  Ichiro stole 2nd, and Gardner singled him home.  The tying run was on 1st, and the potential winning run was at the plate.

Strikeout Soriano struck out to end it.  White Sox 3, Yankees 2.

WP: Chris Sale (7-11).  SV: Addison Reed (27).  LP: Kuroda (10-7).

Addison Reed? Isn't that where Chicago's other team plays? No, Wrigley Field is at Addison & Clark.

The Yankees are now just 2 games over .500.  We are 10 1/2 games out of 1st, 9 in the loss column.  We are 6 out of the Wild Card.  And there are only 50 games to go.

Yesterday, I described our pitching staff as Kuroda and 4 guys with 4.75 ERAs.  That wasn't entirely fair, but of the 112 games we've played this season, all but 3 (those by Vidal Nuno) have been started by 6 guys:

Hiroki Kuroda 10-7, 2.45
Ivan Nova 6-5, 3.08
Andy Pettitte 7-9, 4.71
CC Sabathia 9-10, 4.78
Phil Hughes 4-10, 4.87
David Phelps 6-5, 5.01

Sabathia and Kuroda have started 23 games, Hughes 21, Pettitte 20.  If you combine the 25 starts of Nova, Phelps and Nuno, it looks like this:

they're 12-11, 3.89.

Kuroda 10-7, 2.45
Nova/Phelps/Nuno 12-11, 3.89
Pettitte 7-9, 4.71
Sabathia 9-10, 4.78
Hughes 4-10, 4.87

Defense hasn't been the problem, so unearned runs aren't the issue.  The Yankees have scored 423 runs this season.  That's 14th out of the American League's 15 teams.  It's 3.78 runs per game -- and we're allowing 3.77.

With an average score of 3.78-3.77, is it really so surprising that we're 57-55?

Think where we would be if Mariano Rivera didn't have an ERA of 1.56, David Robertson 1.75, Boone Logan (for all he drives me crazy) 2.08, Preston Claiborne 2.13.

For crying out loud, Kuroda (and, to a lesser extent, Nova) are pitching well.  Pettitte is still capable of giving a good performance at his age, and I still refuse to believe that Sabathia is burned out or that Hughes is hopeless.

But even wily old Japanese control pitchers and crafty young Dominicans need runs.  Here's the RBIs the Yankees get from their positions.  Keep in mind that we are now about 2/3 of the way through the season, so I'm going to project the seasonal totals based on these paces:

2B Robinson Cano 70 - 105
1B Lyle Overbay and Mark Teixeira: 59 - 88
LF Vernon Wells, Curtis Granderson and Zoilo Almonte: 51 - 76
DH Travis Hafner and Brennan Boesch: 45 - 67
CF Brett Gardner: 36 - 54
3B Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, David Adams and 2/3 of Jayson Nix: 33 - 48
RF Ichiro Suzuki: 27 - 41
C Chris Stewart and Austin Romine: 22 - 33
SS Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez 11 and the other 1/3 of Nix: 20 - 30

Keep in mind that we are now about 2/3 of the way through the season; Teix is now out for the season, and Jeter, A-Rod and Grandy have missed most of it.

Compare those totals with just last season, when we went 95-67 and won the AL East:

RF Nick Swisher, Ichiro and half of Andrew Jones: 137
CF Granderson: 106
2B Cano: 94
1B Teixeira: 84
C Russell Martin and Stewart: 66
LF Raul Ibanez and a mostly-injured Gardner: 65
SS Jeter: 58
3B A-Rod: 57
DH Eric Chavez and the other half of Jones: 54

Only in left field and at DH does this year's team have the edge over last year's.

And the guys Brian Cashman let get away, to make room for overage destroyers Wells, Overbay, Hafner and Youkilis? Here are their OPS+'s, HRs & RBIs:

Chavez: 140, 9, 39 -- at Chase Field, a pitcher's park
Ibanez: 131, 24, 58 -- at Safeco Field, a pitcher's park
Martin: 115, 10, 41 -- at PNC Park, a pitcher's park
Swisher: 108, 11, 33 -- at Progressive (Jacobs) Field, a hitter's park but still a decent OPS+

We'd still need a good left fielder -- Ibanez isn't much of a fielder, and putting either Ichiro or Swish there would put them out of position, keeping in mind that a healthy Grandy could play there or go to center and move Gardner back to left -- but with that kind of production, we'd be averaging well over 4 runs a game, and probably in the thick of the Playoff hunt.

And why did Cashman let these guys go? Was it to save money? If so, he did a damn poor job of it, what with signing the overage destroyers.

This is the indictment against Cashman, the case for the prosecution.  Say what you want about A-Rod, but, in terms of practical applications, it is Brian Cashman who has done the most to embarrass the Yankees this year.

Would anyone care to present the case for the defense?

At any rate, the series with the White Sox concludes tonight, first pitch 8:10 PM (7:10 local).  The starting pitchers will be CC for us, and Hector Santiago for the Pale Hose.

Santiago is a local kid: He's 25, a lefthander born in Newark, and graduated from Bloomfield Tech.  Uh-oh, a young guy, and a lefthander at that? Is he the proverbial "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before"?

No, although he has had some success against us: On June 28 of last year, he pitched in relief at Yankee Stadium and ended up the winning pitcher.  Yes, Logan pitched.  No, he didn't blow it: He pitched to 1 batter, the dangerous but strikeouty Adam Dunn, and got him to fly out... very deep to center, but an out nonetheless.

Santiago pitched against us again on August 20 in Chicago, again in a White Sox win although he was not the winning pitcher.  In fact, we tagged him for 3 earned runs.  That one, Logan blew.

Hopefully, we can break out tonight, and score so many runs that Logan can't blow it, and neither can anyone else.  (You might think I'm talking to Joba Chamberlain, but actually he's been pitching fairly well lately.)

Come on you Bombers!

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