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August 6, 2005

The Big Useless
by SG

Randy Johnson's season has mirrored that of the Yankees in many respects. When he's good, he's really good, and when he's bad he's really bad. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they can't afford to have their purported ace being really bad as often as Johnson has this season.

With today's loss in Toronto, Johnson has now started 24 games this season.

In 2 starts, he's given up 0 runs.

In 3 starts, he's given up 1 run.

In 3 starts, he's given up 2 runs.

In 4 starts, he's given up 3 runs.

In those 12 starts, the Yankees are 9-3.

That's the good stuff. Now, for the bad stuff.

In 5 starts, he's given up 4 runs.

In 2 starts, he's given up 5 runs.

In 3 starts, he's given up 6 runs.

In 2 starts, he's given up 7 runs.

In those 12 starts, the Yankees are 6-6.

A 15-9 overall record in games started by a pitcher is pretty good, but the Yankees gave up a lot and are paying a lot for Johnson to be better than that. Add in the injuries to Carl Pavano, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jaret Wright, and the Yankees need more from Johnson. Particularly when Al Leiter is still making starts, a game like today's where Johnson was only able to go 4 innings can have a deleterious effect on the bullpen.

The good flashes from Johnson give hope, but then they are dashed by starts like his last two. Johnson and the Yankees claim there is no injury issue, which is a bigger concern than if there was. At least if there was an explanation for his continued ineffectiveness, we may feel better about his chances of improving. I'm tired of the excuses about him "rushing his delivery", etc., that the Yankees keep giving for his struggles. It may just be time to accept that he's losing it. 2006 and 2007 should be a blast, huh?

I think it's time to end the John Flaherty as Johnson's personal catcher experiment while we're at it. Flaherty's offense is abysmal (.153/.198/.224), and while Posada has struggled this season his upside is far better than Flaherty's.

A win by Johnson today would have lessened the need for a good game by Al Leiter tomorrow, something that right now he does not appear to be capable of. A bad outing by Leiter may end up being the best thing in the long run if it convinces the Yankees that he's done and they then let him go, perhaps for Jaret Wright.

I will say one thing though, as frustrating as this season has been, it's really been very entertaining in a trainwreck sort of way. The fact that the postseason is not a certainty is a good thing in my mind. As Yankee fans we are no more entitled to the playoffs than any other team. If the front office makes bad decisions then the Yankees should not be able to bully their way into the playoffs. We're finally seeing that come to fruition, and once again the regular season has meaning. I think a lot of us have lost perspective about getting to the the postseason and how the season is a failure if they don't win the World Series.

There is some good news for the Yankees beleaguered starting rotation.

TORONTO -- Chien-Ming Wang made some progress in his throwing program this week in Tampa, playing catch on flat ground for three consecutive days as he rehabs his injured right shoulder.

Wang threw on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and after taking Sunday off, the 25-year-old will throw again on Monday, possibly off a mound.

Manager Joe Torre believes that it is realistic that Wang will return to the Yankees this season, as he has been able to throw without discomfort in his shoulder ever since he began throwing.

"Just the fact that he's thrown the ball three days in a row," said Torre, "I think that's good."

Wang was one of the Yankees' most consistent pitchers in the first half, as he helped fill the void left by Jaret Wright's shoulder injury. Wang went 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 13 games, but he informed the team during the All-Star break that his shoulder was injured.

Initial tests brought major concern to the Yankees, as it appeared that the young right-hander would likely need surgery, costing him the rest of the season.

A second opinion showed a slight tear in his rotator cuff, and the team decided to allow Wang to try to rehab the injury rather than to go under the knife.