Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yankee Notes: September 23, 2006

Chien Min Wang is at it again. His GO:AO ratio was only 9:8 today and he gave up a leadoff homer to Rocco "Not the Next Coming of Joe DiMaggio" Baldelli, but he settled down nicely to finish 7 strong innings of 6-hit, no walk, 1-run baseball on only 82 pitches. Comfortable with the King of New York as our Game 1 starter? Yeah. So am I.

Wang's AL leading 18th win (tied with Johan Santana) also saw his ERA lowered to 3.57, which is good to tie him for 5th in the league with teammate Mike Mussina. He's only 26 years old and entering his pitching prime. It's easy to feel good about the future when you consider that Wang has been our ace, and....

1. Robinson Cano is hitting .340 and will soon qualify for the batting title. If he had a plate appearance or two more, he'd be 2nd between Mauer and Jeter, only .004 from the lead. Cano doesn't turn 24 until October 22nd. He has an .880 OPS with 40 doubles and 12 home runs in 113 games. To put those numbers in perspective, we are talking about another Yankees middle infielder who is hitting .338 with an OPS of .894, 36 doubles and 14 home runs in 146 games for the MVP. Cano is on a 162 game pace for 57 doubles and 17 home runs. Jeter is on a 162 game pace for 40 doubles and 15 home runs.

2. Melky Cabrera just turned 22 a month ago. He is hitting .285/.367/.400 for an OPS of .767, but the key numbers are since the All-Star Break. Melky is .294/.374/.420 after the mid-season break and if you eliminate his shaky June when he hit .214 he has hit .306/.382/.429 the rest of the year with remarkably consistent monthly splits. That's an .811 OPS by the way. The only thing missing from Melky's game at this point is power. He's got 125 hits in 121 games, but only 25 doubles, 2 triples, and 7 home runs. If he can find a little pop to go with all the other things he brings to the table, we have a very nice player on our hands.

3. Aaron Guiel has quietly done a very nice job for the Yankees. After being cast off by the Royals of all people, he has played the outfield and first base for us and he basically won yesterday's game by himself. His 7 home runs in 39 games would translate to about 18 home runs over 100 games. You have to figure that a 4th outfielder would get about 100 games under his belt on an average team. 18 home runs would be very nice from that kind of guy. For the Yankees, he's kind of like a 5th or 6th outfielder considering Matsui and Sheffield's presence on the team and Melky's emergence. If Guiel was a full time pinch hitter against right-handed pitchers and got the occasional spot start, he'd probably get about 175-200 at bats and hit 12 or 13 home runs. His OPS of .804 is about exactly what he'd done for the Royals in 2005 and 2006 and it's hard to figure how that dismal cast of characters couldn't find a spot on their roster for Guiel.

4. Gary Sheffield's back. He looked very nervous at 1st when the game started. I was really nervous too. The way his stuck his glove out while holding Delmon Young on in the first inning, gently poking at the air in front of him as if to feel the distance between him and the pitcher, worried me. He made all the plays, save perhaps the throw to second early in the game that he gave up in favor of taking the sure thing at the bag. He looked good on a couple of scoops in the dirt. Not bad. The hitting looks awful though. He was out in front of everything and didn't really hit a single ball hard at anyone. Everything off his bat was a little tapper. It'll come, but it's going to be interesting for a few days as he gets his timing back against Major League pitching. is the Devil Rays.....

5. I saved the best for last. Mariano Rivera is in the house!!! Life without Mo was not fun. It was very very scary. Fortunatley, we don't have to sweat it at this point. There's time to get the future in order, while we try to pin down another title in the present. Rivera was a little wild, but his stuff was still better than 90% of the pitchers in the league and he did strike out all 3 outs. Crawford got one of those sawed off hits that sent Jorgie careening into the Yankee clubhouse straight from the catcher's box. I was very worried, but it was shock rather than a real injury. A hit batsman was the only other blemish on the inning, but Mo was veru high in the strikezone on his out pitches and needs to get a little feel back. Great to see him out there though.

The last point is really a non-game related issue that has been driving me crazy recently. I used to like Michael Kay when he was in the radio booth with Sterling. I thought he was the voice of reason to Sterling's "Mad Hatter" character. As a YES announcer though, he's gotten increasingly out of control. The "Nazi" rant he made on the radio a while back was only the most extreme moment in a season of very disturbing commentary. I think Kay has fallen into a pattern of behavior on the air where he gets himself worked up on various pet peeves, or talking points, and gets very whiny. Case in point, in the 7th inning of yesterday's ballgame he actually asked himself a question and got pissed off at it. He said something like, "People wonder why Sheffield isn't rehabbing in the minor leagues rather than with the Yankees. (voice becomes shrill and slightly angry) The minor league season is over...there are no games left....he HAS to play up here. What is he supposed to do?"

I'm paraphrasing based on my recollection of the moment, but it's a perfect example of his current broadcasting persona. Make a point by yourself. Get annoyed with said point. Rant. During these moments, no one else in the booth is involved. They wait until he has engaged himself in cranky debate before chiming in with a low key answer to the diatribe. Listen for it. He does it every game.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I was reading over at Was Watching and saw mention of Jeter's suicide squeeze. I completely forgot that was on my agenda today. To follow Steve's point, if Jeter had been hurt on that play Joe Torre would have been tied to a stake and burned. I would have poured the gasoline myself. Why in God's name would you do something stupid like that? Was it necessary? Is that a smart play? Do the Yankees plan on doing that in the post-season? The answer to the first question is, "you don't do that". The answer to the other questions is, "no". Grrrrrrrrrr.....

That's all for now. Let's see if Randy Johnson can match Wang and head into the playoffs with some momentum. We could sure use the Big Unit of old as we get closer to the real season. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks. ROB-BEE CA-NO....ROB-BEE CA-NO....MVP....MVP....


Anonymous said...

Michael Kay is my arch rival. You are exactly right about the tactics he uses to launch a diatribe. He often starts it off with, "You know people are saying...some ridiculous claim I've never heard any respectable person make." I think Ken Singleton also finds this annoying. He sometimes takes up the contrary argument and still scores some points against the foolish supporting arguments that Danny Aiello's incompetent, pompous nephew makes. Al Leiter has occasionally been suckered into getting emotional in his support of Michael "nobody respects your opinion on any subject, O" Kay. Anyway, you're talking about an especially annoying instance here but, even in general, this buffoon relies on talking points more than George W. Bush. I hate him.

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