Monday, April 24, 2006

Yankee Diary #4

by Michael Carlucci

Tuesday, April 11

It's very good that we pulled this one out. It's embarrassing to lose to the Royals, as we did three times last year. Bernie Williams had two hits, including an RBI single. But let's not get too excited about this. Yes, he was productive today, but Bernie -- who has had a borderline Hall of Fame career -- is no longer even an average player. For the good of the team, he should be shown the door. You don't win games with sentiment and memories. You'll see. Bernie will cost us a lot this year, both offensively and defensively.

By the way, I hate these day games. We will have two more this week. It's terrible not knowing what's going on.

Saturday, April 15

Today is a dark day, and not only because your taxes are due. Mariano blew it. We had miraculously ripped the game away from the Twins and Mo gave up two runs to give it back. It is always particularly painful when this happens. Yes, the hits were cheap and Hideki made a stupid play in the outfield, but still.

I am too sad to go on writing now.

Tuesday, April 18

We had a four-run lead before the Blue Jays came to bat. We trotted out one of the two or three best pitchers in his generation, an intimidating menace who could easily protect this cushion.

But then he started pitching, and he morphed into a 42 year-old slop thrower. The hits just kept coming. Boom. Another homer. Uh oh, Giambi's throwing. At least Johnny Damon made some great catches in center.

What can you say about a game like this? Randy Johnson isn't what he used to be. Maybe Mike Mussina can find the fountain of youth.

Even if RJ limits these outings to once per month, that's enough to lose the division unless we get good pitching from elsewhere. Where's that coming from? We have Phil Hughes, who might be ready by August. It won't be Aaron Small, who lucked his way into ten wins last year. And Carl Pavano, what with his sore ass, is on the shelf for a while. Can you imagine that? Pavano is on the DL with a "bruise in his buttocks." I can't believe we gave this guy $10 million a year.

Wednesday, April 19

We got a great effort from Mike Mussina today, and we needed it, since we only scored 3 runs. We should have had one more, but umpire Bruce Froemming missed an obvious call. The bases were loaded with two outs when Derek Jeter hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop Russ Adams flipped to second baseman Aaron Hill for the force, but Hill never caught the ball. E4, run scores, everybody's happy. Except Froemming, who was out of position, ruled that Hill had indeed corralled the ball and only dropped it while transferring from his glove to his throwing hand. Froemming was wrong on both counts, and his ineptitude cost the Yankees a run. Since this was the third out of the inning, Hill had no reason to make a throw, but this thought apparently never dawned on the beefy umpire.

Bruce Froemming is a bad umpire and a bit of a jerk to boot. In 2003, he was suspended for 10 games for calling a Major League Baseball executive a "stupid Jew bitch." According to a USA Today article, Froemming was leaving a voice message with umpiring administrator Cathy Davis when he incorrectly assumed the recording stopped. He then offered his opinion on Davis' intelligence, religious affiliation, and species. When forced to be contrite, he issued the following statement: "I made a stupid remark and I accept my punishment. I've apologized to Ms. Davis. There was no anti-Semitism whatsoever on my part." This is like taking a forkful of pasta, stuffing it into your mouth, chewing, savoring, swallowing, and then saying you never wanted to eat it.

Froemming was punished once before, in 1996, for attempting to have Mike Piazza sign some baseballs for him. And yet this guy continues to umpire and, worse still, cost the Yankees runs.

Friday, April 21

Another blown call, and another loss. This one came courtesy of home-plate ump Phil Cuzzi, who called a pitch that was clearly outside a strike. Game over, even though it should have been a game-tying walk.

Sunday, April 23

It's 11 am, and we stand at 8-8. The Yankee Offense has produced well, and is on pace to score 1002 runs. And still we're only a .500 team. You could point to poor pitching, and indeed we have had some of that. Our defense isn't great either. But we've been throwing away outs with Bernie, Miguel Cairo, and Kelly Stinnett receiving far too many plate appearances. Yes, the offense is good, but every loss this year occurred because we didn't score as many runs as the other team.

One way to score more runs is to use better hitters. That's where Bernie comes in. Or that's where Bernie should go out. How has he done? 48 plate appearances, 11 hits (10 singles and a double), 3 walks, and 34 outs made. The Yankees have played 16 games, meaning that they have had 432 outs to work with. Bernie has made 34 of them, or 7.9%.

Johnny Damon, Bernie's replacement, has made 76 plate appearances, with 19 hits (7 doubles, a home run, and eleven singles), eight walks and 49 outs made. So Damon has made 11.3% of the Yankees' outs so far this year, or 3.4 percentage points higher than Bernie. But Damon has made 1.58 times greater plate appearances, meaning that if he hit as poorly as Bernie, he would have made 12.5% of the Yankees' outs, or 54. So Bernie would have made 5 more outs than Damon. Those 5 outs in 16 games translate to 51 outs over a full season. Those are 51 outs we'll never get back.

Of note is that Damon is, at least at the moment, the lowest-hitting Yankee regular except Bernie. And still he easily outproduces Bernie, and possesses a much higher sluggling percentage (.426 to .267). It would be easier to accept Bernie's out-making tendencies if he compensated by hitting for power, but those days are long gone.

As if that weren't enough, Bernie's defense is, and has been the last few years, among the worst in the league. Yet Torre insists that he play in the outfield as well.

The solution? Use a platoon of Andy Phillips and Carlos Pena as DH. Pena, currently at AAA Columbus, could be useful as a backup to Giambi at first as well. Call up Kevin Reese, also at Columbus, to play the backup outfielder spot. Get rid of Bernie, the ex-Yankee Great and Bubba Crosby, the never was.

Forgive me, Bernie. You were once great but now are not even a shadow of your former self.

Michael Carlucci's column appears alternate Mondays


Post a Comment

<< Home

"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
- Carl Erskine