Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

July 31, 2005

July, a good month
by SG

The Yankees came back strong from a Friday night loss to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles to win the next two games of the series. Particularly satisfying was the way they took advantage of a fatigued Angels bullpento rally late in both games, which was the mark of last year's team.

The Yankees have continued to shuffle their bullpen around to try and find two lefties that Joe Torre can use. Here are the recent participants in LOOGY roulette.

Alex Graman (age: 27)
In Columbus
G: 23
GS: 16
IP: 96.1
H: 95
HR: 12
BB: 36
SO: 96
ERA: 3.18

Wayne Franklin (age: 31)
In Columbus
G: 41
GS: 0
IP: 35.2
H: 30
HR: 3
BB: 11
SO: 41
ERA: 3.79

Alan Embree (age: 35)
This season:
G: 44
GS: 0
IP: 37.2
H: 43
HR: 8
BB: 11
SO: 30
ERA: 7.88
2005 Vs. Lefties (.314/.342/.557)
2002-2004 Vs. Lefties (.221/.247/.361)

Wedsel Groom (age: 41)
This season:
G: 24
GS: 0
IP: 25.2
H: 32
HR: 3
BB: 7
SO: 13
ERA: 4.91
2005 vs. Lefties (.265/.294/.449)
2002-2004 Vs. Lefties (.261/.304/.406)

Out of the carnage this weekend have emerged Embree and Franklin, with Groom and Graman designed for assignment. Groom blasted Torre on his way out, saying:

"I wouldn't encourage anybody that's thinking about coming here. Don't come here thinking you're going to get any opportunities. Because unless you're one of Joe's boys, you're not. ... It was the same way last year in Baltimore with (Lee) Mazzilli, because this is where he learned it."

Maybe Groom should join this blog, because we've been saying the same thing for 2 years.

Groom hasn't been great, and some of his comments are probably just the typical denials of an athlete who can't face the fact that the end is here, but there is definitely some merit to his comments. A case in point would be the management of Saturday's game. Shawn Chacon pitched well, and was pulled after six innings for Felix Rodriguez. Rodriguez walked Jeff DaVanon on a full count. If this was Tom Gordon, he'd have stayed in, but since Rodriguez is not one of "Joe's boys", he was immediately pulled for Embree, Torre's new toy. Embree used to be one of the top lefty relievers in baseball, with a 95-97 mph fastball. With some injuries and perhaps other factors, he's lost about 5 mph on that fastball, and not adjusted. His HR rate is horrendous. He didn't pitch particularly poorly from what I can tell in the box score, although I didn't see the game, but I really think that spot would have been a good one to see what Rodriguez could do. Adam Kennedy is not Barry Bonds, there was no need to go to a lefty there.

All that being said, the difference between Groom and Embree is not particularly huge, and not worth getting that upset over. Groom has been traded to Arizona for either a PTBNL or cash considerations. I doubt it will be anyone of consequence if it is a player.

The larger issue that I had was the designating for assignment of Alex Graman for Wayne Franklin (I realize that technically it was for Chacon, but they could have DFA'd Franklin instead).

The Yankee starting pitching is in shambles right now. It can't really be called a rotation, because there's nothing circular about it. They've already used 13 different starters this year. Despite this fact, the entire Yankee bullpen is comprised of short relievers, who are not good bets to pitch more than an inning or two. Graman was a converted starter, who had put up very good numbers in Columbus as both a starter and reliever. He has been bad in his brief major league time, but he hasn't had enough of a chance to show anything, and he's not been used in a manner conducive to success. In his first outing, he was brought in with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. He had not pitched in 5 days. He didn't pitch well, but it was a tough spot to come into. In his second game he gave up a leadoff HR to Justin Morneau followed by a walk to Michael Cuddyer, then settled down and retired the next three hitters.

And that was it. Those were the only chances that Graman got to make the team.
Meanwhile, Wayne Franklin allowed 2 hits and 2 runs in his first outing. In his second outing, he pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. In his third appearance, he allowed 2 hits and a 1 BB, and 1 run in retiring one hitter. In his 4th game he allowed another 3 runs. In his 5th game, he provided what was in my mind the most painful loss of the season, the one I am still seething over two weeks later, as he allowed Hank Blalock's game winning 2 run HR.

Can anyone provide any rational explanation as to why Franklin was a better choice than Graman for the second lefty spot? I guess it's his major league experience, the experience that includes a career ERA of 5.53 and an ERA this season of 9.64.

Despite these shenanigans which I find irritating, the news is overwhelmingly positive, both in the short-term and the long term. July has seen the Yankees face their strongest competition of the season, with only Detroit below .500 at the time they played the Yankees. The Yankees went 17-9 in this month, and outscored their opponents 161- 130. They averaged 6.2 runs per game, allowing 5 runs per game. The 6.2 runs per game is good, the 5 runs allowed not so much.

Fueling the offense this month has been the much-maligned, much criticized, much-eulogized Jason Giambi. Giambi had a monstrous month. In 103 plate appearances, he had 27 hits, 14 of them HRs. He walked 21 times, and struck out only 20 times. He drove in 24 runs and scored 20. He hit .355/.524/.974 for the month, for an OPS of 1.498. This month has pushed Giambi into a tie for the league lead in OPS(with teammate Alex Rodriguez), at .998. I see no conceivable way that he doesn't win player of the month. And again, I told you that the upside for Giambi was too great to not give him a chance to shake off his rust. Thankfully, Joe Torre and the Yankees showed more patience in this instance than many Yankee fans.

The best part of July was that the Yankees knocked off 26 games from the schedule that will hopefully get them closer to getting some of their starting pitching healthy and are still only 2 games back of first in the loss column. The addition of Shawn Chacon paid immediate dividends, and Aaron Small and Al Leiter have both been reasonably good. There should be a Chien-Ming Wang update tomorrow. Let's root for Hideo Nomo to lead Columbus to the playoffs and never wear Yankee pinstripes.

The good long-term news is that the Yankees did not panic and make any significant deadline deals giving up any of their promising young players. The Yankee farm system has received a lot of flack, but it's starting to show some promise with people like Eric Duncan, Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, and Melky Cabrera starting to get some respect. Not to mention the contributions of Robinson Cano and Wang. Kudos to Brian Cashman and Stick Michael for resisting the urge to overpay for a stopgap that would have made minimal difference to this team's chances of winning and likely hurt future Yankee teams.

There's an off day tomorrow, then the Yankees head on a 6 game road trip to Cleveland and then Toronto, followed by a seven game set at home (3 against the White Sox and 4 against Texas). After that, the Yankee schedule gets much easier, as they face Tampa, Kansas City, and Seattle in 16 of the next 29 games. The Yankees have had their problems with Tampa and KC this year, but now that they're playing better that should be to their advantage.