August 8, 2007



THE Yankees are going to have rules for how to use Joba Chamberlain, and let’s all just pause a second to catch our breath after laughing.

Joe Torre has the same chances of following restrictive rules on relievers, especially in a tight pennant race, as Bill Clinton has of keeping his head down at a wet T-shirt contest.

Torre browbeat a reporter who dared ask a follow-up question in spring training after the Yankee manager vowed Mariano Rivera would be limited to ninth-inning saves. Yet, it took Torre all the way to April 20 - the first edgy game at Fenway Park - to revoke that edict and summon Rivera in the eighth inning. Now only David Weathers and J.J. Putz have more saves of four outs or more than Rivera’s seven.

Which is why Chamberlain was summoned, because Torre is spending another season searching futilely for heirs to Jeff Nelson, Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Stanton. The problem is when Torre likes someone even a little he tends to use that reliever as often as TNT reruns Law & Order.

From 2004-2006, a righty reliever worked 80 or more games 17 times. The only person to manage three was Torre. Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon and Scott Proctor were never the same afterward.

It's too bad that young arms are likely to pay the price of the Yankees desperation this year. Philip Hughes, who they hope can be their Clay Buchholz, has already been injured in a start where Torre left him in too long and the Hutt, their Manny Delcarmen, isn't exactly noted for his physical conditioning. But given how bleak the future looks, it may be worth burning out these assets now if you can win the wild card.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 8, 2007 12:07 PM

I don't need to tell you this, b/c you know it already, but Buchholz is Hughes but w/o the command. (Not to mention he's what, 2 years older? and at least a year behind); Delcarmen is a reliever for a reason, while Joba has both the command and the plus-plus pitches -- 3 -- to start (unlike, say, Pamplemousse).

Those two are better than any pitcher produced by the Sawx in the last 50 years not named Clemens(who looked pretty darn good last night btw, against the 2nd best lineup in the East).

Meanwhile, the Sawx traded for the wrong man. They desperately needed Dye, but settled for an aging reliever with arm trouble who Tito won't throw unless the Sawx are winning, which is increasingly rare these days.

5 games! By the time we finish sweeping y'all at the end of the month, we'll be in first.

This is going to be the sweetest division title of them all. I just hope that both the Tigers and Cleveland can come on strong so that the loser in that race takes the wildcard and the Sawx once again go home with nada.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at August 8, 2007 1:18 PM

Rule of thumb: every time Orrin mentions the Yankees' "desperation", they gain another game on the Sox.

New York will win the wild card, anyway. Not that I like it. I'm as much of a Yankee-hater as Orrin. But I don't deny reality.

Posted by: Casey Abell at August 8, 2007 1:41 PM

Two arms--Mo & Joba--does not a bullpen make. Didn't it strike you as alarming that the new kid was stuck into the bullpen because they want to watch how many innings he's pitching but Torre immediately had him pitch two?

I, too, look forward to Detroit and Cleveland coming on strong as the Yanks are looking at 11 games with them shortly. At the end of the month the Bombers will be 8 games back in the East.

Posted by: David at August 8, 2007 1:43 PM

The Sox last game against a playoff team is tonight. Starting the 10th the Yankees play something like 17 of twenty against the three division winners. They got fat on the portion of the schedule where they needed to but started from too far behind to build up the lead they'd need to survive.

Posted by: oj at August 8, 2007 2:30 PM

And that sound you hear from "Sawx Nation" is the collective tightening of sphincters as their team's lead dwindles, and they sober up enough to realize that the Damnyankees also get to face Eastern Division pitching in September.

The Mariners may not make the playoffs, but watching the "Nation's" reaction to the Sawx trying as hard as possible to not even make the wildcard will be almost as much fun. A choke and collapse that'll make the Chicago Northside fans envious.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 8, 2007 2:56 PM

Exactly. Both the Sox and Yanks should play well over .500 against the Blue Jays. Orioles, DRays. The problem for the Yankees is that they're likely to struggle to play .500 against the playoff teams who the Sox are now mostly done with (except for a home series against the Angels, who are 20 games over at home but a bad road team).

Excited Yankee fans and upset Sox fans just fail to comprehend the schedule.

Posted by: oj at August 8, 2007 4:02 PM

I, too, can appreciate staying in too long and suffering a pulled hamstring. Happened to me playing racquetball.

My arm hurt for weeks.

Posted by: Ducks at August 8, 2007 4:04 PM

You know if it wasn't for this blog (and the fact that I hate the Yankees and have a brother-in-law living in Boston) I wouldn't even look at an AL boxscore.

As much as you might hate it, this year the world series champion will, again, be from the NL. ; )

Posted by: Bartman at August 8, 2007 6:51 PM


Posted by: David at August 8, 2007 7:46 PM

I mentioned the phrase "The Creeping Terror" to a friend of mine (from Boston) at the office yesterday. He had no idea what I meant. He does now.

I still think the Sox will win, but it seems they are more fragile than NY right now.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 9, 2007 7:11 AM

The Sox' most obvious need is for two bats on the bench, but whenever he's given a choice between a bat and an arm, Theo takes an arm. He's not wrong, but it's frustrating for fans when, close and late, there's no one to come in and hit who scares the opposing pitcher.

Posted by: Ibid at August 9, 2007 7:22 AM

Hinske is a fine bench player. They could use a righty.

But the real need was a starting catcher. They should have made the Gagne deal bigger and gotten Gerald Laird.

Posted by: oj at August 9, 2007 8:06 AM

Hinske is fine starting in order to give a starter a rest. There's no point sending him in to pinch hit in the 9th with a man on.

They didn't (and won't) replace Varitek in the off-season because he's popular with the fans, the starting pitchers love him, he calls a good game and, if he could throw to second, he'd be an excellent defensive catcher. His real problem is that he can't possibly catch four games out of five and still hit. What they need is a good young catcher who can hit and catch the knuckleball. Use him for Wakefield and Schilling, who likes having Varitek catch him but doesn't need him, and then have Varitek catch Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester.

Posted by: Ibid at August 9, 2007 9:33 AM

He calls a terrible game, which is why guys like Arroyo break out on other teams and Beckett had to take over calling his own game, as Schilling does. Note the Matsuzaka start that Mirabelli caught.

Varitek should be kept as the designated knuckleball catcher and Mirabelli, the worst person on the team, cut.

Posted by: oj at August 9, 2007 11:13 AM

The Yankees have already shot their load vs. the Cupcakes of the League and are about to get a very rude awakening over the next 3 weeks starting tomorrow night facing teams with a winning record!

Think about it: The yankees have gone 16-7 since the ASG vs. teams with record of .500 or lower. During that span they have only won ONE, count 'em, only ONE game vs. a team with a record of .500 or better!

Knowing that fact....are you yankee fans STILL all giggly and excited by what's taken place the last few weeks?


Posted by: SkyKing at August 9, 2007 11:16 AM

Fragile? They have the best record in baseball, a 6 game lead, an easy schedule the rest of the way and Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling, Delcarmen, Gagne, Okajima, Papelbon.

Most significantly, they've gotten no production out of their three best offensive players.

Posted by: oj at August 9, 2007 11:16 AM