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May 15, 2006

by SG

The Yankees had the good fortune of playing an injury-depleted Oakland squad over the weekend, which allowed them to take two of the three games. With the 1000 run offense now a distant memory, the Yankees scored just seven runs over the three games. Thankfully, Chien-Ming Wang dominated Oakland on Friday night, and Jaret Wright pitched well on Saturday, and Kyle Farnsworth picked up Derek Jeter on what could have been a huge ninth inning boot of a double play.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, they have to send out Randy Johnson to pitch every five days. Will Carroll wrote about Johnson's knee after his last outing.

From the very first pitch, Johnson was not extending, appearing instead to shorten his stride to reduce stress on that damaged front knee. Watch Johnson’s leg--it’s nearly straight. He’ll either “pop up” on his follow-through, getting taller, or rotate to the third base side. Both actions take the energy that normally heads to the plate in a delivery and redirects it. While this is taking some of the pressure off the knee, it’s taking velocity off of the ball, and adding stress to the elbow and rotator cuff. Adding insult to literal injury, Johnson’s changed mechanics are also inconsistent, leading to his newfound control problems. It's notable that his release point seems to change, at least according to the video. Video obtained from scouting sources and then seen through the Dartfish program makes this even clearer. Johnson’s release point is more than inconsistent--it's almost random, adding stress to the shoulder. Fastballs from the normal slider release point and sliders from a higher ¾ point are consistent only in their ineffectiveness.

The key here is the knee. Johnson isn’t complaining about it, but it seems that Johnson is either due for a refill on his Synvisc, or the treatment is no longer effective enough to keep him effective. He’s too crafty and talented to write off without another couple of starts, but you don’t have to be an expert to see when Johnson’s on. You probably saw it last night in your own way, but I’ll give you an easy key--watch the front of his jersey. When it pops out hard, as shown on the cover of “Saving The Pitcher,” Johnson is okay. Surprisingly, the gloveside shoulder seems to be okay, despite previously reported problems. The Yankees went ahead and had an MRI on Johnson’s pitching shoulder yesterday to make sure everything was fine, meaning something was bothering him physically. Johnson says that he wants to “put his best foot forward” in his next outing. He’ll need to make sure that's done in combination with a solid knee, good hip turn, and proper energy transfer.

I didn't watch much of the game yesterday, since it was Mother's Day and I couldn't ask my poor mom to spend her day staring at RJ's mug, but from what little I saw I was once again unimpressed. If it is the knee, the Yankees are pretty much stuck with what they've got.

The Yankees finally did what they should have done with Tanyon Sturtze by removing him from the active roster. However, they disable Sturtze so they could bring in a virtual clone. Erickson has not been league average since 1999, and had hadn't even been pitching that well in Columbus. For some comparison, here are some numbers from Columbus.

Erickson: 17.0 IP, 1 HR, 11 BB, 11 K, 4.24 ERA

Darrell Rasner: 35.2 IP, 2 HR, 6 BB, 34 K, 2.52 ERA
Kris Wilson: 32.0 IP, 1 HR, 8 BB, 28 K, 3.09 ERA
Colter Bean: 23.1 IP, 0 HR, 11 BB, 30 K, 0.77 ERA
Mark Corey: 21.1 IP, 0 HR, 3 BB, 22 K, 2.53 ERA
Jose Veras: 18 IP, 3 HR, 7 BB, 22 K, 2.50 ERA
Ramiro Mendoza: 11.1 IP, 0 HR, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA
Matt Smith: 9 IP, 1 HR, 3 BB, 8 K, 2.00 ERA

He is Scott Erickson. He's 38 years old. He doesn't have any upside, and he doesn't have any business being called up when he is the eighth best option in Columbus. Perhaps this was done with the expectation that Carl Pavano or Octavio Dotel would be back soon so they didn't want to yo-yo one of their better options, but it has the potential to cost the team some runs in the meantime.

Also, Scott Proctor is a wonderful story and I am hoping we're seeing genuine development from him, but does he need to pitch IN EVERY SINGLE GAME THE YANKEES ARE WINNING? Did Torre learn nothing from Quantrill?

Moose vs. Millwood tonight. Let's see if Moose can keep it going against a team that has recently seen him.