Sunday Night YFCR & HDLR; Odds and Ends

Please tune in to Yankee Fan Club Radio tomorrow night at 6 ET. I’m not sure who the guest will be, although Mike Sommer from The Sommer Frieze is usually on and full of information. It’s a great show and well worth a listen as run-up to the Yankees-Red Sox Sunday night game which, for interested participants, will be an HDLR game. Come on by, wag the chins, and have a good time rooting for the Yanks to get a much-needed split.

How good and valuable is Jose Molina? The guy leads the majors in base runners caught, having nabbed 23 out of 48 (48%) after today’s game in which he threw out Ellsbury. Although Molina is only batting .225, his defense alone (including handling pitchers extremely well) is why he’s in and a huge contribution to the defense while Jorge’s clearly hurt. He’s only a career .243 hitter before this year anyway, which is in good part why I gave him a B+ in my mid-year grades. He’s never been a full-time catcher, nor has he been a big-time bat. He’s capable of some power and some key base hits, but is not someone whose stick will carry the day. He shouldn’t have to, either, on a potent but underachieving Yankees offense. They should have more than enough ability to work around his perennial offensive shortcomings and utilize his defense. The Yankees would be in serious trouble without him backing up. Frank The Sage and I agreed while chin-wagging on the phone during today’s game. Unless he really regresses soon, Molina should stay a Yankee for some time to come. He’s very important to the team.

Bobby Abreu is 0 for his last 11 (a whole heap of zeros) after going 14 for his previous 35 (.400). Robinson Cano is 17 for his last 44 (.386). Derek Jeter is 27 for his last 87 (.310).

Mike Mussina had an ERA of 5.75 after his first four starts, two of which occurred against Boston. His numbers weren’t good–20 1/3 IP, 25 H, 13 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 5 HR. Since then, he’s had 14 starts and gone 81 IP, allowed 82 H, 28 ER (3.11 ERA over that span), 12 BB, earned 56 K, and allowed 7 HR. His WHIP over his last 14 starts is 1.16. While I’d like to think that the presence of my family and me at the Yankees game against Chicago on April 23 had a lot to do with his turnaround, it’s really been about his innate and well-honed abilities, his poise under criticism from many fans (including myself) and publicly from one of the owners, and most of all his ability to reinvent himself into a junk-throwing machine with a still decent fastball and terrific, precise control. I shudder to think where the Yanks would be without Mussina, and I have to smile when I think about how happy Mussina mainstays J-Boogie (Baseball and the Boogie-Down) and Jimmy (Baseball, the Yankees, and Life) have been as they rightly revel in his success. In a big game and must win today, Mussina was simply great.

In his last seven appearances, Jose Veras has pitched 7 innings and allowed 7 hits, 0 runs, 3 BB, and fanned 5, lowering his ERA from 3.32 to 2.54 in the last two weeks. He’s become a go-to guy.

Brett Gardner has come under criticism from some fans for not getting hits and, among some, simply for leading off. Understandably, he has only one hit thus far, batting .063, fanning 4 times in 16 at-bats. Let’s look at some positives for all those impatient folk, shall we? As the Yankees seemingly battle to score runs, Gardner got a sac fly that turned out to be the game-winning RBI today after the ninth-inning dramatics. He’s stolen two bases despite barely being on base. He’s scored three runs in five games. He had a terrific and vital assist in the first, throwing out Pedroia at second in what surely saved a run, since Drew doubled in the very next at-bat. For those who have tried to feel their modest oats by bashing a kid just called up, can we please exercise some patience for the kid? Gardner could have had two hits today, getting robbed by Lowell in the third and on a come-backer by Masterson to lead off the game. It’s really not fair–in fact it’s really jejune and simplistic–to revert to stats to say that Gardner isn’t producing. He’s not producing…yet. He’s contributed to wins, including one today with both offense and, from the beginning, defense. Time and patience to all naysayers, please. Willie Mays was hitless in his first 12 at-bats before homering for his first hit, then promptly went another 13 at-bats–to go 1 for his first 26–before getting his second hit. If Leo Durocher could show enough faith in a young Mays, who it’s easy to see through historical hindsight should have been granted patience because of our post facto assessment of his greatness, then I dare say that Gardner has at least ten more at-bats coming before anyone has any right to complain. Even at that, he needs more time and experience before we truly know what he can do. For most sentient and salient thinkers, I’m going to presume that’s a given.

Published in: on July 5, 2008 at 9:48 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Jason, you know that I have NO respect for certain fans at certain blogs (and you probably know their names or internet handles) because they have absolutely no intelligence when it comes to the game. No sense of history. They probably forget that Mantle was sent down in the middle of 1951 (they probably would have written him off for good then).

    I love the guy who said Gardner wasn’t even leading off at SWB. True. For a while he wasn’t. He was hitting 3rd. THIRD. That’s usually where your best hitter (or one of the best) hits, right? Gardner was hitting third in a weakened lineup because of his plate patience and BA. They had Christian’s speed to lead off. Once some guys got healthy, Gardner went back on top.

    As for K’s, check out Lou Brock’s 1967. All the Cards did that year was win the WS.

    Some people I just find it best to ignore because if they had brains they would be dangerous.

  2. absolutely right- both of you guys-and i hate to have to report this but there were a few guys around me yesterdat making sarcastic remarks about brett- how quickly they forgot they had been cheering him for nailing the mighty mite in the 1st . of course they were jackasses with something to say about everyone. still it bothered me.

    PS i sent both you and mike and nick an e mail from with a link to a download of brett’s sac-fly. check it out

  3. Dead on, Mike. I wonder if the people knocking Gardner for being a speed guy also boo Mickey Rivers on old-timer’s day?

    After all, what was Mickey? But for those of us who saw him energize the Yanks in 1976…he helped the Yanks to their first WS in 12 years.

    As for criticizing Gardner’s arm, my goodness, Rivers didn’t have one. As for plate patience, Gardner already has more than Mick the Quick ever did. For although he ignited those 1976 Yanks by hitting .312 and stealing 43 bases, Rivers walked just 13 times ALL YEAR.

    In 1977, the “Bronx is Burning” year, Rivers hit .326. The SB were down to 22 (caught 14 times, not a good pct.). Number of walks? 18.

    31 in two years combined. But I’ll bet you those guys don’t know that. All they know is that he was the CF on two WS championship teams.

    So, do they knock speed guys but love Rivers (making them hypocrites), knock Gardner’s arm but love Rivers (and Bernie, ditto), knock plate patience (Rivers had none)…or what?

    Gardner most likely will never put up the .312 or .326 that Rivers did in 1976/1977. Could he put up 43 and 22 SB? We hope so. Could he put up 31 walks in ONE season whereas it took Rivers two? I would think so.

    But you won’t know unless you give the guy a chance. And that means more than four games.

  4. “The Summer of Sam”

  5. All I got to say is the bottom half of the lineup is weak there hasn’t been a consintant lineup card since forever. When is the last time the Yankees didn’t have a starter on hurt or on the DL? I feel better now that the Redsox are in the second slot. It makes it hrder for the media to target the Yankees payroll.

  6. Did Alex just bust a Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe?

  7. If only they could attach Molina’s arm on Posada they would be set.

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