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May 3, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

New York Times - Acevedo Grabs Yankees' Goat Horns From Giambi (Registration Required)

Tough loss by the Yanks today, giving up two runs in the tenth after a dramatic 2-run homer by Giambi tied it in the ninth.
Had Mariano Rivera not pitched the previous three nights, he would have been the perfect candidate to pitch the 10th inning. But Manager Joe Torre had to bring in Juan Acevedo, and the Oakland Athletics' Eric Chavez pounded a juicy fastball by Acevedo even farther.
It's not easy to find a major flaw with a team that's 23-7, but there's one with the Yankees, and it's their bullpen. Even when (and who knows when?) Karsay comes back, the Yankees have issues with bullpen depth. The success of their starters has hid the weaknesses of the bullpen thus far, and the Yankees' powerful offense has kept them from being in too many close games for the bullpen to make a huge difference. But against the better teams, the Yankees are going to have to win the close games, and to do that, their going to have to get better work out of their bullpen. For this reason, I can see the possibility of this team winning 117+ games, but not winning the World Series.

It was nice to see Giambi break out of his slump a bit, going 2 for 4 including the big homer in the ninth. The Yankees have been fortunate that they've been so successful despite Giambi's slump, and you know he's going to bat around .300 with 35 homers at the end of the season, so there's probably good things ahead when they need it the most.

A couple of days ago I wrote about Fo-So (as a guy who used to be my friend called him. He's not my friend anymore because he screwed me over when he was my roommate, taking all of his stuff--and some of mine--and going to live with his mommy, leaving me with a $595 rent bill that he was supposed to pay. But I digress. He called him FoSo because he thought it was silly that Mariano Rivera was called "Mo", so he called him "Mo-Ra" and Soriano "Fo-So". He's a Red Sox fan, by the way. Bleah.). Yeah, so I wrote about Soriano, talking about how hot he's been, despite not improving his walk rate. I mentioned that "Maybe it's the fact that he's facing lesser pitchers, and we should wait until the Yankees are done with Seattle and Oakland to make a judgement". Along those lines, after five games versus Seattle and Oakland, Soriano's number have slid a bit. He's been 3 for 20, with a homer and....3 walks!!!

In fact, Soriano's had 12 walks so far this season, only 9 fewer than all of last season. If he keeps up this pace, he'll draw 65 walks this season, which is as many as he's had in his career before this season!

Okay, so 5 of the walks have been intentional, but he's on a pace to draw 38 unintentional walks, which is more than Vlad Guerrero had ever drawn before last season. And his strikeout rate is dropping, too. Perhaps Soriano has become slightly more disciplined, as his strikeout rate has also dropped. Perhaps it's May 3rd...

Anyway, Soriano's OPS has dropped 86 points to 1.053 during this homestand, and his batting average has dropped 35 points to .353. Which tells you how early it really is.

Clemens vs. Zito tomorrow, as the Yankees try to avoid losing their first series this season. Damn, I jinxed them.