Monday, June 19, 2006

Yankee Diary #8

by Michael Carlucci

Thursday, June 8

This was a bad night. Not only did we lose to the Red Sox and Curt Schilling, but I was present to witness it. The Yankees held a 3-1 lead until the sixth, when the bullpen first strained under the weight of their own ineptitude, then collapsed. Scott Proctor, still possessing Torre's Most Favored Status, allowed three runs to come in (one on A-Rod's error). Next inning Proctor served up a three-run homer. Then came Scott Erickson, who let in two more. Suddenly the game was a blow out. A-Rod was due up in the bottom of the seventh, and you could sense the crowd was going to let him have it. Nourished by who knows how many $8 beers, a patron stood up to complain about A-Rod's salary and inability to get the "big hit." While most of the man's rant was either vulgar or incomprehensible, I can summarize by saying he wished A-Rod would've hit a home run at some point earlier in the game, considering the exorbitant compensation he earns. Many people laughed at this buffoon, some shouting comments of their own, the gist of which was now that the game was out of reach, A-Rod would probably homer. This was an impossible situation for anyone, even for a guy who makes $25 million a year. He was going to get booed. I was actually happy to see him pop out, because I would've hated to see a Yankee Stadium crowd boo a Yankee homer.

It's easy to understand why A-Rod is hated. No one can live up to his expectations. Of course, being handsome, impossibly talented and obscenely rich doesn't endear him to slobs in the stands. It's when intelligent sports fans suggest that A-Rod is a problem that I scratch my head. He -- and not Jeter or even the great Mariano -- is the reason we made the playoffs last year. Yes, he played poorly in those five games, but nobody was spectacular. The question no one can answer is, If not A-Rod, who would you prefer at third base?

Friday, June 9

Randy Johnson provided yet another sub-par outing tonight, this time against the weak-hitting A's. 6 runs -- 5 earned -- and three homers allowed in only four innings of work. One of the bombs came courtesy of Frank Thomas, one of the greatest hitters of his generation. The other two were by weak hitters, including the guy who might be the worst hitter ever to hit a home run against the Big Unit, Antonio Perez. Until this at-bat, Perez had managed one hit in thirty-three trips to the plate. He hadn't homered in over a year. His OPS was lower than Derek Jeter's batting average. And yet he hit a two-run shot that ended up being the difference in the game. He would not have even fouled the ball off the Unit in his prime, but the Unit left his prime in Arizona.

A run scored tonight because Bernie Williams was in the outfield. A shallow fly ball to right, a slow runner at third, and still the sacrifice fly worked because Bernie Williams simply can't throw the ball. Why is he still out there? Honestly, I could've made that throw. My wife could've made that throw. In any case, while I can't back up that last claim, I can say that any other major leaguer -- I mean anyone, at any position -- would have prevented that run from scoring. We lost by that run.

Wednesday, June 14

Obviously, it's good that Randy Johnson pitched well tonight. But let's not go crazy. We know he can't do this consistently anymore. And anyway, it wasn't vintage Johnson, seeing as how he only struck out 6 over 6 1/3 innings. Much was made of Posada's overreaction to being hit, and Johnson's subsequent "defense" of his catcher by throwing inside to Perez. But that move was probably unnecessary, at least not until the ninth. He could've saved the bullpen some work.

In any case, I remain a skeptic about Johnson. I don't think he will keep it up.

Sunday, June 18

To say that these last two games were the worst two losses of the season might be a little melodramatic, but these were the worst two losses of the season. You can't blow seven-run leads to weak teams like the Nationals, especially with Mo serving up the last three. Today was even worse, but you can't go a whole season without losing a few like today's game. Wang pitched very well, but he still lost the game in the ninth on a home run. Those are always crushing.

The team desperately needs another starter and another bullpen arm. This is because we invested $40 million in Carl Pavano, $25 million in Jaret Wright, and $17 million in Kyle Farnsworth. Those who say the Yankees have too much money might be right, but if you squander it ($16 million for Randy Johnson this year and next), it takes away your advantage. These four pitchers alone are making what many teams make, but they're all performing horribly (except Pavano, who's too injured to perform at all). Wouldn't you rather they hadn't acquired these guys?

Michael Carlucci's column, "Yankee Diary", appears alternate Mondays

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